Video segment about me, by the school district

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rhyme Time

Hi all!  I've been doing some cool rhyming songs for my classroom and wanted to share what I'm doing with all of you.

When I was a little girl, I loved doing Patty-Cake-style songs.  I did them at school.  I did them at home.  I did them in the car.  I just love them!  Dr. Jean has a very awesome version of "Miss Mary Mack" on her CD Totally Reading.  The neat thing about this song is, beside the fact that your children are learning how to rhyme, they're also crossing the mid-line (which is great for building synapses in the brain) and they're learning how to cooperate.  There's a song by Raffi called "Willoughby Wallaby Woo" which is basically a name rhyme song that I did a lot at the beginning of the school year.  I thought about it, and figured why not do it in April?  The kids went nuts for it and were singing "Willoughby Wallby Wennifer, an elephant sat on Jennifer," substituting all their names, when they were at centers.  Talk about magical!  I love hearing them sing when they're at centers.  Another song that I do a couple times a week is "Make a Rhyme, Make a Move" by Jack Hartmann, where the students are singing and dancing.  It's on the CD Hip-Hop Alphabop 2.  I've seen Jack Hartmann do this at conferences and he mixes it with a little rap flair.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned how much teaching stuff I have.  I've been teaching for over 20 years, so I have over 4 rooms filled with teaching stuff.  A couple months ago I was going through my stuff and found these unusual-size big books that are the best treasures!  They're the "Pat the Cat and Friends" series by Colin and Jacqui Hawkins, published by DK.  They're not available new anymore, but you can get them used on Amazon and from other sources.  They're really great for teaching rhyming!  I like them so much because they tell little stories about characters in whatever particular word family you're learning about.  These books led me to thinking more about word families and how I could help my kids learn certain patterns.  I decided to make Word Family Half-Size Guided Reading Books where the kids could color, write sentences, and highlight or circle the rhyming words.  Check them out if you want on TPT!

I really love it when people leave me messages, so feel free to comment about rhyming or  current projects that you're working on.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentine's Week Freebies

In pre-k or kindergarten, have you ever noticed that your kids have problems telling you the number that comes before another number?  It's so weird!  9 out of 10 times, my kids can tell me a number that comes after, but you should hear the answers for what number comes before.  Today I tried these heart number lines with the kids:

I just cut them and laminated them.  They worked really well, and not only for more/less but also for helping the kids understand which way you go on a number line when you're talking about a number that's less than or greater than a given number.

I made a worksheet to go with it, for independent practice and for assessment purposes:

Later this week, I'm going to have the kids read this book, which takes them step-by-step through the process of making a Valentine's Day card:

I also have a Valentine's Writing Folder on TPT.  I think this folder is really sweet because it saves me from having to spell Valentine words many times around the classroom, and it helps the students to be self-reliant.

I hope you have a lovely week!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snow Days & A Freebie

Happy snow days, everybody!

We have had a pretty big snow storm here in Maryland. My husband took a time-lapse video of the snow falling in our back yard. He has described it to me and it sounds pretty cool. Here it is:

That took about 28 hours for those 28 seconds. That's a lot of snow, isn't it? Our county has closed schools all week so far. 

Here is the view from our front porch:

When we finally do go back, I plan to read this book:

Snowmen at Night

I love connecting the children's experiences to learning. I really want to find out what they did over their long break and how they played in the snow. Of course we are going to write about it and draw illustrations to match our writing. This book is especially wonderful at capturing children's imaginations with the beautiful illustrations and rhyming text. When I was little, I often thought snowmen had their own secret life at night, just like in this story. A few years ago, I read this story to my kids and they were really interested in how the snowmen did all these secret games when nobody was looking. Then I had the cutest little girl raise her hand after we finished. When I called on her, she said "Wait a minute... Snowmen don't HAVE feet!" It was funny to me that out of all the things that the snowmen were doing, that she focused on that one element. I still use that phrase today with my husband whenever something is strange.

I also just made these winter vocabulary cards. I plan to put them in the writing center so children can make their own little stories and books. You can download it for free with the down arrow link. Enjoy!

Vocabulary Words - Winter by Sharon A Blachowicz Dudley

Stay safe and warm!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Senorita Gordita and Freebie

Merry almost-Christmas!  Hi everybody!  I've been spending a lot of time with my new grandson lately, and being a grandmother is the high point of my life.  I'd like to share with you a new multicultural gingerbread-type book that I found: Senorita Gordita by Helen Ketteman.  My kids thought this book was very fun and the Spanish words really grabbed their attention.  The story follows the familiar theme of gingerbread stories where the gordita comes to life and gets chased by a rattlesnake, a scorpion, a spider, and a lizard, then finally gets eaten by an owl sitting on top of a cactus.  I've done comparing and contrasting (more about that in a previous post, if you'd like to take a look).  This year I made a graphic organizer to go with this book, and the kids did a really fab job on it!

I also wanted to tell you about something that we've been doing in Writing Fundamentals for the last few weeks.  Our whole unit is a list-and-label unit, and I decided to make some really cute Christmas labeling papers.  Some of the things that I have included are a Christmas tree, gingerbread house, reindeer, snowman... Well, there are ten different ones.  If you'd like to take a look at it, here is the product on TPT:

Christmas Labeling

I can tell you that these really sparked the children's interest.  To be completely honest, they gave me the ideas for the next picture each day.  Sometimes the best inspiration comes from our children.

Have a wonderful holiday season!  If you have time, leave me a comment.  I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

3 Take-aways From the NAEYC Conference Recap, and TPT Cyber Smile Sale

Hello, everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I got to see lots of friends and little baby Osric. Being a grandma is SOOO fantastic! I'd like to give a shout-out to all my new friends that I met at the NAEYC conference. Everyone in Florida was so kind and welcoming. It was a great time.

Here are three things that I came away with from the conference.

1. You can have students lay on their stomachs during story time with their hands propping up their chins. I tried this in my own room, and it worked like a dream. It made story time so much more cozy and comfortable.

2. Use more songs where students can play patty-cake style movements, such as Miss Mary Mack. The presenter told us that crossing the center line of the body (hand clapping across) exercises more of the brain and helps kids become more alert.

3. Allow children chances to use their whole body. Have them move around more. Walk and talk. Use whole-body games. Jump around.

I also wanted to let you know that I'm going to put my Teachers Pay Teachers store on sale for Monday and Tuesday as part of the sitewide Cyber Smile Sale. Everything is 20% off, so enjoy shopping and saving!

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Subitizing Snowmen

Hi all!  I'm in Orlando, Florida today at the NAEYC conference.  I will be presenting a session this Saturday morning at 8:00am, so if anyone's around and wants to stop by for a quick hug, I'll be there.  Also, I put up a new free product on TPT for December, if you'd like to take a peek:

Subitizing Snowmen

I realized that some of my children really need extra practice with subitizing.  When you use these, you just flash the cards really quickly.  It's not a counting activity, it's just for them to visually recognize (from the position) how many are there.

Have a great night!

Monday, November 9, 2015

I Just Became a Grandma!

Hello, everyone! What a fabulous week! I became a grandmother on Wednesday, November 4th, at 7:11am when my daughter gave birth to little Osric! He's SOOOO adorable! Does anybody know any great books about being a grandmother? I would love some titles.

Here I am holding him for the first time. He sure sleeps a lot so far. Isn't he a beautiful baby?