Video segment about me, by the school district

Thursday, July 23, 2015

3 More ABC Ideas

This is my second post about ideas to help your students learn their ABCs.  Using various modalities to teach letters is a brain-friendly way to get your students to really progress.

1. My kids love the song "Learning Letter Sounds" by Jack Hartmann.  I use these pictures along with the song:

There's also a beautiful YouTube video of the song:

2. You can use ABCMouse for free in your classroom.  It's really excellent for pre-k, k, and 1st grade.  Your students can read books, do puzzles, play games, and all kinds of very interactive activities.  The website will also keep track of each student's progress.

3. I love making and playing games with my students.  I especially like this Superhero ABC Bingo game that I made especially for pre-k and kindergarten students.  They're my own creation and I did it because I wanted to have a set of interesting, non-violent superheroes that the kids could make up their own stories for.  See what you think!

I would LOVE to hear what you do with your kids to teach them their ABCs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sight Word Surprise

Happy Wednesday, everybody!  The reason I called this post "Sight Word Surprise" is because I went to a super website today that's totally free and has tons of fantastic sight word games for either your classroom or to use at home with your own children.  There are customizable Bingo games, Snakes and Ladders games, Go Fish games, and much more.  It's a really cool site and truly brightened my Wednesday!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

3 ABC Tips

Eight more days of school left, but who's counting?  :)  It's been SO hot here in Maryland.  I think the kids are really done.  I'm sorry that I haven't been blogging for a while.  May was filled with school, celebrations, and - best of all - Alicia's wedding!  The flowers arrived on time, the caterer was fabulous, the sangria was cool and refreshing, and everything went off without a hitch.  Our guests loved the new house, and it was really not too trashed after the party.  I'm also happy to announce that I am going to be a grandmom!  So, if any of you have great gift ideas for a grandbaby please let me know.

Ok.  Well, since this is an educational blog, I guess I should say something about school.  I love using songs, YouTube videos, games, and special books to teach the ABC's, so I'm starting a series of alphabet posts that hopefully will help you in your quest for fantastic ideas for learning the ABC's.

I really enjoy the song "Phonercise" by Dr. Jean from Sing to Learn with Dr. Jean.  For this song the children stand up and raise their hands as they say the letter, touch their shoulders as they say the letter sound, and then touch their toes as they say a word that starts with the letter.  According to brain research, it really helps kids to be up and moving.  Having a very active kindergarten class this year with a large number of boys, I can tell you that I use this song almost every day to help get out their wiggles.  I also do this song along with the kids, and since I'm trying to lose weight this year I feel that doing the song with the kids helped me as well.  I made some picture cards to go with this song.  Here they are:

This year I also worked on books for every single letter of the alphabet, which I made to be interactive and so that the children could take them home and have their own library of books.  It took me a year, but I finally finished all the alphabet books and they are now up on TPT.

I've also been doing a lot of Freeze Dance with my kids this year, holding up sight word cards, letter cards, addition sentences, subtraction sentences, anything that I can think of to get my kids up and moving.

Keep an eye out for my next post in this alphabet series!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Beautiful Bread

If you're a regular follower of my blog, you'll know that my daughter Alicia is getting married soon.  So, we had the bridal shower.  It went very well!  She liked the butterfly decorations and little umbrellas.  My husband actually suggested the umbrellas; he thought "April showers bring May weddings," and said "Why don't you do umbrella decorations everywhere?"  Can you believe I forgot to use the little colored drink umbrellas that I bought?  :-(  So now, all I have to worry about is the WEDDING!

I have felt a little overwhelmed lately with trying to juggle school, my personal life, TPT, and blogging.  Sorry that the blogging has been infrequent.  I want to share with you two really cool multicultural series.  One is the "Around the World" series which introduces children to houses, shoes, hats, and bread from a wide variety of countries.  They're very colorful and are terrific for kindergarten.  The second series is all about making different types of food: bread, noodles, rice, and soup.  These books are so filled with factual information about different tastes, smells, and cultures from around the world that I think they would be a great addition to any elementary teacher's library.  They are a little high for kindergarten.  My children were especially interested in Everybody Bakes Bread because we had people come to school to show them how to do it.

Before we actually made the bread, and before we read the book, we created a prediction poster showing what ingredients the children thought you would need to make bread.  Their responses were all over the board.  Some children nailed it, but I did get answers like cauliflower, roses, candy, and perfume.  After reading the book, we went back to our poster and discovered which ingredients you could use, and which ones you shouldn't use.  The kids loved the bread-making experience.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous.  I didn't know how five classes would do it at one time.  There were many volunteers, though, and that helped the process along.

The people who did it were very organized and had a lot of games for the children to play when they were kneading the dough.  One of the games that I thought was especially cool was "Mountain, Mountain, Earthquake."  It's just what you think.  The kids make a mountain and then destroy it, make a mountain again, and destroy it, as they're saying the words "Mountain, mountain, earthquake."  They actually took the bread home for the actual baking.  I think it would've been nice to smell it baking, but I'm sure the children got to do it when they got home.  I was thinking maybe I could bring a breadmaker to school and do it in the classroom, since it only takes a few hours.

Have any of you ever done this?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

National Head Start Conference

Hi everyone, and Happy Easter!  On Wednesday, April 1st, I presented at the National Head Start Conference in Washington, DC.  It was so much fun, and a dream come true!  The strange thing is I'm more nervous about giving Alicia her bridal shower next Saturday than I was for presenting to 70 people who I didn't know at all.  The session was on one of my favorite topics (STEAM in the early childhood classroom) and it was a total blast!

I talked about making gingerbread houses for all the seasons, using Duplos in cross-curricular centers and small group projects, and a few really cool edible experiments.  It went really well, and I met some lovely people who came up and talked to me afterward.  They made me feel so warm and fuzzy.

I was wondering if any of you have a way to do seasonal gingerbread houses that don't include candy?  It was a question that came up during the presentation.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Friendly Letters

Teddy the Bear
Hi, everybody! I can't believe it's already March 8th. This has been the CRAZIEST winter I can remember. I grew up with a lot of snow, because when I was a kid I lived in Buffalo, but living in Maryland, I didn't think I would get so many days off for snow storms and so many two-hour delays. I'm not complaining! It's just super weird to only have two days of school in a week. I've definitely noticed a difference in my kids' behavior. It's harder for them to get through a full day when they're used to coming in late.

Last week, we read the book Dear Bear, by Joanna Harrison. It's such an adorable story about a little girl who is scared of a bear that lives under her stairs. I actually told my kids that I used to think there were monsters underneath my bed, and in my closet. The kids tried to console me and they told me, "But there really isn't, Mrs. Dudley, and you shouldn't be scared, because when you look there's nothing there." I thought it was really sweet how they wanted to make me feel better. The thing I love about this book is that the parents of the little girl ask her to write a letter telling the bear to go away. A pen-pal relationship develops, and the bear and the little girl become friends. At the end of the book, the little girl has a tea party and meets the bear, who turns out to be a stuffed animal. She isn't scared of him anymore, and invites him to come and live in her room. I love happy endings!

Dear Bear by Joanna Harrison

My children were so excited when I told them that the same thing happened to me when I was little. I told them that I wrote to this bear that lived in my closet, and that I still had him in my room at my new house. They asked me to bring it in the next day to school and I did. OK, I know, I'm a grown woman with a 24-year-old daughter getting married, and I still have a Teddy bear! Good thing I'm a Kindergarten teacher, right? I made this paper for all my children to write to Teddy about things that they would like to tell Teddy, and questions they had for him.

The next day when I came into school, I was so amazed to find that Teddy had written back! OK, maybe it wasn't a total surprise to me. This is the letter that Teddy wrote to the kids.

I put extra paper in the writing center along with more colored pencils and markers so that the kids could write more letters to Teddy the Bear or us, and they've been going like crazy. Well, that is when we have school!

I'm just curious: how is this winter going for you? I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

3 Easy Math Lessons With M&Ms

Involving all five senses is truly the way to get to deep learning. I came up with a few connected lessons that activate all the senses and get their whole brains working. M&Ms are a convenient, cheap, easily available manipulative that you can find in any grocery or convenience store. The colors really catch the eyes of the children, and when they know they're going to get to enjoy a few yummy chocolates when the lesson is over, it makes learning that much sweeter. I don't like to use absolutes when I describe my lessons, but ALL my kids were engaged in these activities. Here are 3 things you can do with one bag of M&Ms.


With a handful of M&Ms, students were told to sort them. Since it's so close to Valentine's Day, I like to use one of my heart sorting mats, like the one below. You can print it out and laminate it for all kinds of math activities.

The children were told they would be allowed to eat one M&M from each group when they were finished They were also asked to try and spell color words during the activity.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.MD.B.3 - Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category


After they sorted the M&Ms, I asked them which group had the most, which group had the fewest, and if there were any equal groups. Since each child had a different amount, it was fun for the kids to talk to each other about their different answers.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.C.6 - Compare Numbers


We read The M&M's Addition Book, by Barbara Barbieri McGrath, to introduce some new Math vocabulary, such as addend, sum, and equation.

I don't read the whole book to the students; I don't think it's necessary, and it's a little high-level for Kindergarten. I usually just read about a quarter of the book. This sets up the idea that we are going to use M&Ms for adding. When I do this lesson, I read the book while the students are on the rug, and THEN they do the first two activities. After that, we do addition, using two regular six-sided dice. I told the children to only use two different colors of M&Ms to keep it simple. They would roll the dice, and take the number represented on one die from one color, and the other die from another color, and add them together. This gave them lots of exercise in reading the numbers on the dice, counting out the candies, and then doing the addition. They barely notice that their lessons are being reinforced! You can use dice with numerals or dice with pips, depending on the needs of your students.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.OA.A.1 - Understand addition, and understand subtraction

Have a wonderful week, and happy Valentine's Day!