I came across this blog post today, and thought it was genius! Make your own "I Spy" mat! When I taught third grade, my kids loved my "I Spy" books. I was constantly getting new ones because the old ones would get worn out!
Here's what I love about making your own...you can totally make them about LEARNING! You could use objects that represent things you are studying. Different geometric shapes, things to represent historical events, parts of speech, the possibilities are endless! You could make sheets to go along with them, asking kids to look for all the cubes, or all the nouns, or all the things Albert Einstein would have used. It's genius! Where would you get all these objects to photograph? I don't know about you, but at my school if I sent out an e-mail looking for ANYTHING I could find it within minutes. Teachers are notorious collectors of randomness. Ask around at your school for the things you want to include, and then borrow them to make your picture. Or, if you're handy with a computer, find pictures of the items on Google Images and photoshop your own "picture" to print out. Your kids will love it, and they won't even know that they're using their brains!