Video segment about me, by the school district

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Fun With

Good morning, all!  I'm interrupting my Donald Crews author study to talk about  I'm a member of the site, and when I'm too busy to make my own paper, games, or activities, I turn to this website.  I like how when you're looking for something, you can really zero in on what you want by narrowing it down by grade level or type of resource.  A representative of sent me the following game.  Take a look:

Activity: Play the Rounds of Sounds Game

​For early readers, the printed page is so tantalizing. Kids can see words they know, interspersed with ones that have them stumped. It can be a challenge for parents: while you don't want to discourage your child with books that are too hard, you also want to help him stretch his “decoding” skills so that when he does run into new words, he's ready to take them on. Here's a kindergarten activity that teaches this skill, wrapped into a cute take-anywhere game.

What You Need:
Nothing — just a kid who's learning phonics

What You Do:
Remember that old chant, “Concentration!” (snap, snap) “Are you ready?” (snap, snap), “If so…” (snap, snap), Let’s go!” (snap, snap)… This game has a major educational component—it works on beginning sounds, but kids love to play it. Why? Giving games rhythm makes them more fun, not to mention, challenging.

In the game Rounds of Sounds, you’ll clap your hands, snap your fingers, or slap your knees to a slow beat. Then, after you’ve set your rhythm, say these words: I’m thinking of the ______sound/Now let’s try a round/Ready/Set/Go!

You can substitute any blend into the rhyme, whether it be sh, oa, ing, ee, or fr. It’s your pick! Let’s say you chose the sh sound. First, you’d explain to your child that you’re going to go back and forth coming up with sh words. The sh can be any part of the word, beginning, middle, or end. So words like brush, mushy, and shut are all possibilities.

Set your rhythm, and try it. Here’s how a sh round might sound:

I’m thinking of the SH sound/Now let’s try a round./Ready, Set, Go!

(Wait about 4 beats and then point to your child)

CHILD: Shout!
(Wait 4 beats)

(Wait 4 beats)

CHILD: Shampoo!
(Wait 4 beats)

(Wait 4 beats)

CHILD: Bash!
(Wait 4 beats)

PARENT: Pushy!
(Wait 4 beats)

CHILD: Mushy!
(Wait 4 beats)

Keep going with other sounds. You can pick anything you’d like to play this game. Just make sure you set a slow, steady beat when you start, especially when introducing a new sound. Take this game outside, to a party, or on the road. No supplies needed—just your own two hands, and a child that’s game!

I like this game because kindergarten kids love to slap and clap, and no materials are needed. I can picture myself using this as a whole-class activity, small-group activity, or when we're waiting to go to lunch.  I don't know about your kids, but mine are very talkative when we're lined up unless we're playing a game.

One additional feature that I appreciate about is that when kids go to a particular game, everything is read out loud to them.  This is particularly wonderful for ESOL kids.  When they're reading a story on the website, each word is highlighted while it's spoken.  When they answer comprehension questions about the stories, there's a particular sound if they get it right, and a different sound if they get it wrong.  I think this is a good feature because it gives the child immediate feedback about how they're doing, and they can think about it and try again to pick the correct answer.  I also like how the illustrations for the comprehension questions name the character or item when you hover your mouse over it.

The games on this website are interesting, filled with developmentally appropriate activities such as songs, puzzles, matching, and drag-and-drop games.  Finally, it's cool that you can do one-shot activities or a whole series of connected activities for any of your students who need extra help with a particular skill.

Have fun exploring!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Two Great Train Books

Book Cover of "Freight Train" by Donald Crews
Book Cover of "Shortcut" by Donald Crews

Happy summer everyone!  I'm continuing my Donald Crews author study because I think it was a very valuable unit.  Today, I'm going to talk about my students' two favorite train books: Shortcut and Freight Train.

Shortcut is a book in which Donald Crews talks about himself as a young child visiting Bigmama's.  A dangerous situation occurs in the book when the students are walking on the railroad tracks and there's a train coming.  My ESOL students were really able to describe how the children felt when the train was coming, and how they felt when they jumped off the tracks.  We also discussed, after reading the book, how it is unsafe to walk on a railroad track.  In fact, my children were telling me, when we read the book for the first time, that you don't do that because it's so dangerous!

I used this paper to talk about what happened before the train came, while the train was going by, and after the train passed the kids:

Freight Train was also written by Donald Crews, and it mostly describes colors of different train cars.  There's a song by Dr. Jean Feldman called "Color Train" that really works well with this book.  I use laminated pieces of construction paper with the color word printed on each car.  This is a great way to get kindergarten kids spelling their color words.

The students really enjoyed talking about trains from long ago and today.  I was surprised by the great detail my students could give me about the similarities and differences between different kinds of trains.  We talked about speeds of long-ago trains being a lot slower than they are today.  The kids told me that you had to shovel coal into a furnace.  I was pretty impressed with that!  They also told me that cowboys used to jump onto the trains and rob them (they must be watching old movies).  And one boy told me that trains now don't pollute the environment as much as they used to.  I nearly fell off my exercise ball when he said that!

Just to let you all know, I don't sit on a classroom chair.  I sit on a large exercise/yoga ball.  That was the best money I've ever spent for my classroom!  My back feels SO much better, and the kids really don't touch it.

Here's one more paper I made for what we've learned about trains:

Have a great time reading!

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Book Cover of "Flying" by Donald Crews

The second book in the Donald Crews book study that I would like to talk about is Flying.

This is a great book for discussing sequencing.  It also illustrates, through pictures, the process of boarding a plane, lifting off, what you see when you're flying, and the landing process.  The book is a little old-fashioned, because of course it shows the plane from Donald Crews' perspective when he was little.  My kindergarten kids really thought it was a cool book, though.

I made two papers for two different days that were very successful.  The one idea was a writing paper with a picture and a word bank, where the students could use sentence starters to write their own story about getting on a plane:

Airport Writing Prompt by Sharon A Blachowicz Dudley on Scribd

I came up with some easy-to-read sentence starters that my kids have used since January to help them in their writing.  I laminate these posters for each table, and they keep them in a bucket in the middle of the table, that they can pull out at any time.  It really helps them to not keep writing "I see" a thousand times:

The second paper that I came up with is for them to write about a place they would go to on their airplane.  This was so open-ended, it made for great conversation!  Some kids told me they would fly to Mexico.  Some told me they would fly to an island in the middle of an ocean; that was very popular.  Others mentioned locations such as New York, Texas, and Florida.  One little girl told me she would fly on an airplane to see her grandma, because that's the person she loves the most.  That was so sweet!  The conversations before they wrote were so rich that it was actually hard to get to the writing.  The kids wanted to keep talking about where they wanted to fly!

Donald Crews Flying Prompts by Sharon A Blachowicz Dudley on Scribd

Here are some samples of my kids' writing:

I'd love to hear from you about your favorite Donald Crews book!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Book cover of Parade by Donald Crews

Happy June, everybody!  We've been doing a Donald Crews author study, and I'm going to start this series of blog posts with a wonderful book called Parade.

I like this book so much for kindergarten since Donald Crews takes us back to his childhood, where he was a young boy experiencing a parade.  I use the word "experiencing" because you can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste things at a parade.  I wanted to help my students to write more colorfully and explicitly, so I made up this "Moment in Time" poster to help my students think about what they could experience with their five senses:
I also made this picture graphic organizer so they could collect their thoughts before making their own Parade book:
I added a Parade writing folder to my package of Warm Weather Writing Folders that you can purchase on TPT.  Here are just a few samples of my children's writing:

More Donald Crews books to come!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Spring and Clouds

Hi all!  When I think of spring, I think of rainy weather and clouds.  We have also been talking about the seasons in language arts.  So, I looked through my collection and found Little Cloud by Eric Carle.  I like this book because I think it helps kindergarten students to imagine what they can see when they look up at the sky.  When I was a little girl and I was sighted, I loved looking up at the clouds.  I always imagined that if I went up high enough, I could touch a cloud and it would feel like soft cotton.  The book really transports you into thinking creatively.  I made these writing prompts to go along with the book after reading it.

I hope you enjoy these writing prompts and this lovely spring season!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Back to School with Beanbags

So, with about a week-and-a-half left before I have to go back to school, I've been thinking about the first day.  It's definitely true that we have to do rules and routines, as well as explain procedures for how we want our students to do different things in the classroom.  But I think it's also crucial that our students have brain breaks that first day, and something really fun and enjoyable to make them excited to get up for school the next day.  Therefore I thought I'd share a post about beanbag activities!

I love teaching position words with beanbags.  I teach position words such as "over", "under", "on top of", "between" "behind", and "in front".  Some really great songs for this are:

"Beanbag Balance" by Kimbo Educational
"Beanbag Boogie" by Greg & Steve.
"Beanbag Bop" by Jack Hartmann

I also like to play with alphabet beanbags.  I have the children march in a circle, using the song "Freeze Dance", and have them pick up a beanbag with a letter on it when the music stops.  You simply point to a child, and they say the letter they have.  If they don't know it, you can give clues to help them out.

Lakeshore Learning has some great beanbags, such as:

Number beanbags are really cool as well.  Using any kind of music, sort of in the same ideas a "Freeze Dance" where when you stop the music, the children pick up a number.  They have to identify the number and do something (such as hop, clap hands, or blink) that many times.  The beanbags can also be put in sequential order.  Or if you have a few sets, kids can look around for their partners with the same number.

I'd love to hear what you do in your class with beanbags!  Write a comment below if you'd like to share.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tick, Tock, Telling Time

"Grouchy Ladybug" by Eric Carle

First Grade is finally finished!  I feel both sad and happy at the same time: sad because I've had some of the same kids for two years and I'll miss them very much, happy because I think I did pretty well.  I am going back to kindergarten, though, next year.  I have more things for kindergarten, and I'm very excited to be going back.  I made some things for first grade that my seven-year-olds really enjoyed.

Ladybug clock with moving hands

These ladybug clocks were a big hit.  They worked really well with the story Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle, which is one of my favorites.  I also found Time for Tom: A Veggiecational Book About Time by Phil Vischer and Train Leaves the Station by Eve Merriam.  I had my husband make CD's of all of these books being read aloud, and I placed them in the Listening Center.  Here's the paper that my kids complete when they're in that center:

My core beliefs about using music in the classroom held true for first grade.  My students loved singing and dancing to these time-related songs:

"Clock Rock" by Dr. Jean
"Match My Clock" by Jack Hartmann
"Hip-Hop Around The Clock" by Jack Hartmann
"Counting Time" by Jack Hartmann

The kids' favorite was "Match My Clock" by Jack Hartmann.  He has one version to match clocks to the hour, and another for half-hour.

I pulled math groups a lot and found some excellent games on TeachersPayTeachers, such as:

I Have, Who Has Time Game  from Friendly Frog on TPT
Bunny Time Matching Game  from Positively Learning on TPT

Both of these games were free and they worked like magic for the kids!  I used to be scared of using "I Have, Who Has" games with my kids, but this seller cured me of my fears.

I made a Time Bundle of my own for TPT as well that includes worksheets, games, and two PowerPoint slideshows.  The kids really liked the slideshows because they could see them, and I made it so that the numbers fly in.  That way, you can ask the kids what the time is and they can see if they're correct.  I also made an Alice-In-Wonderland-inspired time board game where the students roll a die, move a manipulative around the board, and say the digital time aloud based on the analog clock they landed on.

See you next time!  😄