Video segment about me, by the school district

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to School Songs and Games

Thanks, Tammy, for inviting me to join this Blog Hop!

About a week ago, all of the kindergarten teachers on my team met at my house.  There are six of us this year, more than ever before at this school.  We started talking about the beginning of the school year.  We discussed how we always do rules and procedures the first week, and how we get to know our kids' personalities, likes, and dislikes.  The conversation then moved on to songs, music, and fingerplays that we love to do with children during that first week.  We like to use music because it builds language and team spirit, and it really gets the wiggles out.  My true reason for using music is that it calms me down as well as the kids, and it's just plain fun!  Some of our favorites include:

Chant:  Who Took The Cookie From The Cookie Jar?
Chant:  Bippity Boppity Bumble Bee, Won't You Say Your Name For Me?
Movement Song:  Going On A Bear Hunt
Dance:  Mack Chicken Dance Medley

Since I've been teaching for a long time (shh, don't tell anybody - over 20 years!), I thought everybody knew about Dr. Jean Feldman.  But some people don't.  I was lucky enough to see her early in my career.  I love, for example, how you can tell kids to "kiss their brain" when they do something right.  Former students of mine have returned in their 20's and said "Mrs. Dudley, I remember when you told me to kiss my brain!"  I think Dr. Jean songs are a must-have for any teacher.  For the first week of school, I like:

Name On Your Paper
Scissors Snip
Tooty Ta
Peanut Butter

Over the summer, I've also been watching free teaching webinars from EdWeb.  They're really informative and convenient because you don't have to watch them all at once.  They're usually about an hour in length, and you can even get a certificate by taking a quick and easy test afterward.  I think these webinars are good for veteran teachers or new teachers, because there's always something new to learn.

During the first week of school I introduce a set of gentle superheroes that I had especially designed for kindergarten and pre-k.  I did this because my students kept telling me that they wanted superheroes in the classroom.  I knew I couldn't do things like Batman and Superman because of copyright laws, and also because of the violence.  So I made my own!  Over the summer, I created a new set of alphabet word wall headings using these heroes.  I also recently wrapped up all the superhero products that I made so far into a big, discounted superhero bundle that I think teachers will really love, especially for the beginning of school.

Below is your chance to enter the giveaway for the big K-2 prize pack.  Good luck, and have a wonderful opening week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Newly Discovered Treasure

This is just a quick post about a book that I discovered this summer called Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One by Kate Duke.  I was so surprised that I had never heard of this book before since it was published over 20 years ago!  It's adorable for any pre-k or kindergarten classroom.  It's not just the cute story of two little mice falling in love, but the book explains to young readers how to build a story from start to finish.  The brilliant way in which the author incorporates a conversation between an aunt and her niece about story elements such as characters, setting, problem, and solution is so appealing to me.  The book even has a few moments of danger to add spice to your story time.  I had been looking for a very long time for a book that would really inspire my students to write stories, and I'm so glad that I found this treasure.  I would love to know if you've ever seen this book before, and how you use it in your classroom.

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!