Video segment about me, by the school district

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!  😄

Monday, May 1, 2017

Great Graphing

Happy May Day, everyone!  I found some really wonderful books about graphing for first grade that I wanted to share with all of you.

Lemonade For Sale by Stuart Murphy is a really nice book that explains bar graphs in a fun and interesting manner.  Four kids and their pet parrot sell lemonade Monday through Friday.  The bar graph shows highs and lows, and the group finds out there's a juggler on another block who is making their sales go down.  After some problem-solving, they get the juggler to join them and their sales go back up again.  I love the plot of this book, how the children are raising money to get their clubhouse into shape.  The story is understandable for first-graders and even kindergartners.  I think this is an excellent way to introduce graphing!

Bar Graphs (Making Graphs) by Vijaya Khisty Bodach and Bar Graphs by Sherra Edgar are also very cool for teaching graphing.

As I was searching for more books about graphing I found this treasure: The Great Graph Contest by Loreen Leedy.  This book is really phenomenal because it shows a wide variety of ways to represent data (picture graphs, pie charts, tally charts, Venn diagrams, etc.).  I was really impressed how my students started using all kinds of new graphing vocabulary.  The book was also lively and funny!

I also made a new Graphing Package on TPT that focuses on bar graphs but also contains picture graphs and tally charts.  There are PowerPoints, games, and worksheets that your first-graders or kindergartners will love.  If you have time, check it out!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Place Value

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you all had a beautiful holiday.  Since moving to first grade, I've spent a lot of time researching curriculum and getting to know my lovely new class.  That's why I haven't blogged for a while.

I think one of the hardest things to teach is explaining tens and ones to first-graders who sometimes don't know how to read larger numbers.  As always, I think games, music, and books really help the kids to explore and understand the concept.  Some cool songs I found that delve into this concept are:

Climbing Up This Mountain (Counting by 10's up to 100) by Harry Kindergarten
Count By 10's to 120 by Jack Hartmann
"Grouping by Tens" by Mar Harman
"Counting by Tens" by Mar Harman

I also found a video for teaching place value:

Introduction to Place Value from Khan Academy

It was really funny.  A high school teacher friend of mine told me about Khan Academy.  I had never heard of it before.  I guess the story is that this man started making videos for his niece to explain mathematical concepts.  He's really thorough.  My kids were spellbound when they watched the video.

I haven't found a lot of books that talk about place value, but here are some books that I used this year:

The Cheerios Counting Book by Barbara McGarth
Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 by Bill Martin, Jr.
A Collection for Kate by Barbara deRubertis

Because I'm extremely new at teaching first grade, I thought it would be good to go to TPT and see what other first-grade teachers have made for this concept.  I found this terrific "I Have, Who Has" game that worked great for my kids:

I Have, Who Has Tens and Ones Blocks Game by Math Minds

I also made a clip card game for greater than and less than with numbers up to 100:

Greater Than and Less Than Clip Cards to 100

I hope this helps.  If any of you have ideas for teaching tens and ones, please leave a comment below.  Or just leave a comment say say hello!  I miss talking to all of you.