Video segment about me, by the school district

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolution Solution Linky Party

Teaching Maddeness

Amanda Madden over at Teaching Maddeness is hosting a terrific linky party to encourage bloggers to choose (and stick to) New Year's resolutions!  I thought I would join in with some resolutions of my own.  Here goes:


1. I like to have one-on-one conversations with my students to learn how they're doing and what really interests them, so that I can make motivational books, worksheets, books, etc.  But it always seems like there's a time crunch, and there are a few kids that I just don't get to because they're really shy or hard to approach.  I'm resolving to start the New Year off by finding out a little more about those hard-to-reach kids.  I think in the end it will be very beneficial for everyone.

2. My second resolution is to help my four lowest students to learn their numbers to 20.  Sometimes I feel like I've already explored every option, but the truth is we know that there's always something else that we can try.


3. I have a difficult time relaxing.  I always feel guilty on weekdays if I'm not doing schoolwork all night.  My New Year's resolution is to take one hour a day to listen to a book, or watch an episode of "Chopped" or "Cupcake Wars" - these are my two new favorite shows!  :-)  They describe everything really well, and being blind, some TV shows are hard to watch.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gingerbread Friends and More

"Gingerbread Friends" by Jan Brett
I'm not sure if all of you know, but Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett is the sequel to Gingerbread Baby.  It picks up where the gingerbread baby is living in the house that Mattie made for him, and he's happy except for when Mattie goes out with his friends.  So the gingerbread baby goes out into the wide world to find somebody to play with.  This is such a cute story!  He goes to a bakery and sees many decorations, but none of them are alive like he is.  When he comes back home, Mattie shows his love for him by baking him many gingerbread friends.  This book is really lovely for this time of year.

I always make gingerbread houses at this time of year.  Here is a little gift to you, if you'd like to use a guided reading book.  This is one of my children's favorite books, because they really feel like it connects to what we're about to do.  We discuss the sequence of building the house before we actually make it.  It helps SO much!  I think it's really important that kindergarten students have a clear picture of what we want them to do.  Years ago, I did this project without using the book, and I can honestly tell you the houses come out much nicer with the instructions.
My Gingerbread House Big 2

Another thing I like to do at this time of year is make sight words really fun and accessible to my kids.  So I made this Christmas tree where the children have to match the sight word ornaments to the words that are already on it.  I did it first in large group, and they went crazy for it.  They begged me to put it in the ABC center!  Since it's laminated, I did put it in the center, and they've been recognizing sight words all week.  Below are the ornaments in PowerPoint format so that you can make it your own.  What I did was cut a green tree from posterboard and put it on black backing for contrast.  Then I printed the white ornaments on sticker paper, cut them, and attached them to the tree.  Next, I laminated the finished tree and then put velcro above each of the words.  I printed the colorful ornaments, laminated them, cut them, and then put velcro on the back of each one.  Then it was ready to go!

Sight Word Christmas Tree
Sight Word Christmas Tree

I also wanted to tell you that I just put up Christmas Guided Reading Books and Winter Sight Word Board Games on TPT, and I think they're two of the best products I've ever made, mostly because they were inspired by the wishes of children in my class.  If you have time, take a look and let me know what you think.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Twelve Days of Christmas

Sometimes I struggle with how to make counting and sequencing numbers fun for my children.  I mean, seriously, how many times can we count to 12 in interesting ways?  Well, you all know that I love using music.  So, how about teaching your kids the twelve days of Christmas using this sequencing paper?
Twelve Days Sequencing

I made this paper to help my little cuties to be able to count each set with one-to-one correspondence.  Of course, I also play a version by Harry Belafonte.  There's also one by Burl Ives, and many others.  This song really brings back sweet childhood memories for me.  There's also a very cool version of the Twelve Days of School by Dr. Jean which uses the melody from the Twelve Days of Christmas.  So, why not do a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the different things in the songs?  Think of all of the Common Core standards you're covering:

K.CC.2:  Count forward beginning from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at 1).
K.CC.4:  Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.
K.RL.5:  Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.
K.RL.9:   Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series).

These cards can be laminated and placed in a center on a cookie sheet for an independent sequencing activity:
Twelve Days Cards

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.  I also made larger pages, for books.  If you think you'd be interested in Twelve Days books, mention that in your comment.  If there's enough interest, I'll post those files too.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

I really can't believe that Thanksgiving is already here!  This year has just gone so incredibly fast.  With that said, this morning I was making and gathering up all of my Thanksgiving work and realized that I could share these ideas with all of you.

To start off with, I posted a carousel at the top of this post with six delightful books that all capture the meaning of Thanksgiving in some way.  Thanksgiving Day by Anne Rockwell is going to be very helpful for me to read to my kindergarten students, because it talks about the first Thanksgiving.  I haven't found many books that discuss this topic in an age-appropriate manner.  I also like this book because it shows pictures of Native Americans, pilgrims, the Mayflower, etc. in a kid-friendly way.  Students in a class are acting out the story.

My students lately have been asking me how to spell words when they're doing writing projects, so I thought I would make a Thanksgiving Folder specifically for next week.  This folder is like my "Things I Can Read" Writing Folder and my Fantasy Folder that I already had up on TPT.  It sells for $1.00 and has three different writing prompts added to it.  I make these folders because it allows the kids to be totally independent.  I read them their writing prompt and they can go and write completely by themselves at their tables while I'm working with another reading group.  I love it when they can work independently!

Some fabulous songs that I use at this time of year are

"Friends and Family" by Jack Hartmann:  The children do a little drum beat and sing to this one
"Tommy Turkey" by Mar Harmon:  This song is SO cute - the kids get to shake their tail feathers as they dance and sing
"Going on a Turkey Hunt" by Mister Q:  This song and dance is very similar to "Going on a Bear Hunt", and my kids beg for it every day in November
"Five Fat Turkeys" by Francyl Gawryn:  A really cute subtraction song
"Five Little Turkeys" by Bill & Tammy:  This is a nice rhyming song that counts up using ordinal numbers

I made these turkey number lines so the children could move their fingers along the number lines as they're singing the last two songs in the list:
Number Response Strips Turkey

For guided reading next week, I'm going to be using this book.  It's really for my high kids; they're ready for more kindergarten sight words.  My low group is still struggling with letters.
Where is My Turkey 2

In math, to keep with the turkey theme, I'm going to be doing this number fill-in-the-gap paper using turkeys.
Number Fill in the Gaps Turkeys 1 to 15

I would really enjoy hearing about what you all are doing for Thanksgiving, and if you are using any special materials.  Please leave a comment below.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Comparing Numbers and Amounts

"Five Creatures" by Emily Jenkins

I recently did a math lesson for my principal to observe, based on the following three goals.

1. The students will compare two numbers using sets and 1:1 correspondence, and be able to explain and express the relationship verbally, through pictures, and in writing.
2. The students will analyze a number line to find out if written numerals are in correct sequential order.
3. The students will use deductive reasoning as they problem-solve scenarios in books related to "more" and "less".

The first two goals were specifically math content goals.  The third one was a literature goal integrating the math concept.

During language arts, we read the book Five Creatures by Emily Jenkins.  This was a great book for several reasons.  It lent itself really well to using the vocabulary words "more" and "fewer".  For example, on one page it said that there were three humans and two cats.  So I would ask the students "Were there more humans or more cats?"  On another page, it said four of them liked fish and one did not, so I asked "Did fewer of the creatures like fish, or more?"

I started off the math lesson by having the children look at the Visualizer, which had number lines that were each incorrect in some way.  The students had to turn-and-talk and figure out what was wrong with the number line, and then we discussed their ideas.  This worked really well.  Here are the number lines that I used.

Number Lines Missing

One of the next things we did was to use this "Number of the Day" poster to practice writing our numerals:

"Number of the Day" poster
We all wrote the numbers with dry erase markers on individual whiteboards as the "Number of the Day" student wrote them on the poster.  That way, the children had a model to go by.

Since Common Core focuses much more on numbers, I think it's important that my students know how to identify numerals, count, match quantities, and understand how amounts look on ten frames.  Our county's module assessments also incorporate ten frames, so I made these books to help the children have a frame of reference so that when they saw the question on the test, they wouldn't be confused.

My Ten Frame Book 2

My Ten Frame Book 3

For differentiation purposes, I made two levels of books.  I used the first book with my lower students who still need to match numerals with amounts.  The second book was used with my students who do understand matching numerals with amounts and are now ready to compare numbers.

We also played a game with large flip-circles (yellow and red) on a giant ten frame mat.

Single Ten Frame
Double Ten Frame

I used the back of a Twister mat to make the ten frames sturdy and durable enough for the children to crawl on.  This game can be played in several different ways, depending on the level of your students.  I had children place flip-circles on the ten frame with some red-face-up and some yellow-face-up.  Then they had to tell me which color had more, which color had less, and how they knew that.  For a variation, we played "Are there more squares empty or are there more squares filled?"  That was a little tougher.  We've also started doing addition with problems such as "If you have five red flip-circles and you want ten, how many yellow flip-circles have to go on the board?"  This game is mostly for my high group, which is composed of eight kindergarten kids.

I found a real treasure at Really Good Stuff.  They're ten-frame dry-erase boards that are magnetic, and you can purchase flip-circles that are also magnetic.  I think these are fab for any pre-k, k, or 1st grade classroom.

Magnetic Ten Frame Boards from Really Good Stuff
Please let me know what you are doing to compare numbers.  I'd love to hear what you think of these ideas. Also if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in a comment.

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's Pumpkin Time!

"It's Pumpkin Time" by Zoe Hall

If you're looking for a realistic fiction book that discusses the life cycle of a pumpkin, look no further.  It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall is fabulous for any kindergarten or advanced pre-k class.  I like the colorful illustrations and the way the author makes dry facts seem really interesting and cool.  At this time of year your students are seeing pumpkins everywhere, so why not take a closer look at pumpkins by cutting them open, letting them feel inside, pulling out the seeds, and comparing the weight and size of pumpkins to a variety of fruits and vegetables.  My class also made a Venn diagram comparing a pumpkin to an apple, and they really learned a lot.

I'd like to share with you some really great pumpkin fingerplays and songs that you can use for math, reading or science.  These also fit in wonderfully with the Common Core curriculum.  The first song is by Sharon Macdonald, and it's called "Five Round Pumpkins."  I print the numeral pages of the file below on orange paper and cut them out.  Then I print the remaining pages of the file on white paper, cut them out, and attach them to the back side of the pumpkins to match the song lyrics.  Here is the download:
Five Round Pumpkins

Sharon Macdonald also has another great song called "Pumpkin Seeds."  It talks about the life cycle of pumpkins and what they need to grow - a super connection for science!

A fingerplay that I've used in pre-k and kindergarten is "Five Little Pumpkins".  Singlish performs two versions of this song, one with lyrics and one instrumental.  I like to use the instrumental version and change the second lyric from "There are witches in the air" to "There's a chill in the air."  I have plastic pumpkins that I bought at an arts and crafts store to go along with the song.  My kids just love them because they look so realistic and they're 3D.  I also place them in Math Center so the kids can do the rhyme independently, taking away one pumpkin each time they do it.  Here are the complete lyrics that I use:

Five Little Pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said;
"Oh my it's getting late!"
The second one said;
"There's a chill in the air."
The third one said;
"Well I don't care."
The fourth one said,
"Let's run and run and run!"
The fifth one said,
"I'm ready for some FUN!"
WHooooooosh went the wind
and OUT went the light,
and one little pumpkin,
rolled out of sight.

Then I start the song over from the beginning, and take another pumpkin away, and so on.

A nice circle time pumpkin song is "Pumpkins" by Newbridge Songs for Learning.  This dance has the children forming a circle around five pumpkins in the center, and as the song counts backwards pumpkins are taken away from the center group one at a time.  This song is good for teaching the concepts of subtraction or "one less."

I made the following paper to help my students identify color words as well as classify pumpkins by size:

Pumpkin Color by Size

My students kept commenting about how everything matched on this day, and wondering how that happened.

Please leave a comment below and tell me what type of pumpkin activities you do in your classroom.  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumn Activities

I can't believe it's October 1st!  Fall is my favorite season, and I think it's really important to celebrate the change of the seasons with my students.  So I read all of the books in the carousel above, plus Fall, Leaves, Fall which is a great large-size book, but Amazon did not have a picture of it.  I want to share what I did for Leaf Man, because some of my children who normally don't like to do seat work were really motivated by this activity.  We read Leaf Man, of course.  Then I had little pieces of paper cut out in red, yellow, orange, green and brown so that the students could make their own leaf man pictures.  I hung the originals in the hallway, but I also wanted to make a class book so that students could practice reading the sentence frame "My leaf man is a ______," and so that they could see their own writing.  If you're interested, take a peek:
Our Leaf Man Book

I've been working a lot on math plans lately, to match the Common Core standards.  I came up with this idea to have the children count leaves, identify numerals, and then color the squares on the ten frames.  Since Common Core wants us to recognize up to 20, I made twenty different Velcro spots for leaves, and 20 different numeral cards.  There are also two ten-frames on the tree so that children can color the appropriate amount of squares up to 20.

This week, we started working on number lines, so I designed a leaf number line paper to keep with the theme:

Number Fill in the Gap Leaves

I feel that my posts are never complete unless I share some of the songs that I've been using.  There's a fabulous song by Jack Hartmann called "Follow Me to the Apple Tree," which has the kids actively hopping, paddling, skipping, walking, etc. to an apple tree and then picking the apples.  After they pick the apples, they hurry back through the same motions, sort of like the song "Goin' on a Bear Hunt."  I also really like the song "Seasons" by Dr. Jean, because the kids can easily picture different activities for each of the four seasons.  Both of these songs go really nicely if you're discussing and making connections between the books and the real world.

I also recently put up Four Seasons Writing Folders on TPT, and I think they could be really useful in any writing center throughout the year, especially when you're focusing on seasons.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quick and Easy Math Idea

"6 Sticks" by Molly Coxe
Things have been pretty hectic lately, but I wanted to share with all of you a very easy activity that my students really got into.  We were focusing on the number 6 today (part of the new Common Core curriculum that really digs deeper into numbers).  We wrote the number 6, made 6 tally marks, drew a picture of 6 things, sang Dr. Jean's song "Chant and Write", and read a great book called 6 Sticks by Molly Coxe.  The book basically shows 6 sticks arranged in many different configurations to produce a variety of designs.  I was going to have the children glue popsicle sticks onto a sheet of paper, but I decided to just let them manipulate the sticks on their tables to make whatever designs they wanted.  This worked really well, because the children got to make their design, break it apart, and make another design.  I was able to walk around and talk to each student about what they made.  How many times do we get to do that?  By the way, I have 25 students, and some of them don't speak any English.

Since our county's math test (which will be given in about a week and a half) has the children writing numerals, I made this book to help the children understand quantity and how to draw the number:

My Number Writing Book

If you like this book, please leave me a comment below!  It's always wonderful to hear from you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Super Science and Social Studies

"What's Alive" by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

I really enjoy writing posts about science and social studies, because it's so necessary for logical thinking and problem solving, which are big parts of the core curriculum.  The book What's Alive by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is beautiful for kindergarten.  It's appealing and factual at the same time.  It talks about similarities and differences between us (people) and plants and animals.  It very clearly states what living things need to stay alive.  I also like how the girl in the story has a wall display of living and non-living things at the end of the story, and how she talks about things that were once alive but not anymore (such as a plant that has wilted, or a bird that has fallen from a nest).

A fabulous song to use with this book is Dr. Jean's "Basic Needs".  It's sung to the tune of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", but it talks about different animals (including people) and what we need to stay alive.  I don't know about you, but I love matching books to songs.

Here is a graphic organizer that I will use as an assessment for my students after I do some sorting of magazine pictures.

Living Nonliving Graphic Organizer

Please let me know what you think of this graphic organizer, and if you'd like me to make more for units dealing with needs and wants of living things.  If you'd like to look at other graphic organizers in my TPT shop, check out my Animal Graphic Organizers or Motion and Matter Graphic Organizers.

I just remembered two other really great songs for a living things unit: "Growing" by Hap Palmer and "I am a Flower" by Jack Hartmann.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Perfect Position Books

As my children would say, these books are all "awesome"!  They completely match common core standard K.G.1: Describe objects in the environment using names and shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.  They're also loads of fun!  My children never get tired of them, and especially in the beginning of the school year, when they don't have the stamina to sit for a long time, these books really keep their attention.  I also have them show the position words; it keeps the read very exciting.  They also know that when the story is done, we will most likely do a song that matches the book.  The songs I have found to match these books are:

"Cool Bear Hunt" by Dr. Jean
"Going on a Picnic" by Dr. Jean
"Lion Hunt" by Melinda Caroll
"Goin' on a Treasure Hunt" by Jack Hartmann
"Going on a Turkey Hunt" by Mister Q

I recently found a very cool web site called that does a great job of asking the children to identify position words.  In fact, there are lots more than just papers for position words.  There are games, printables, and worksheets for a wide variety of subjects including alphabet, math, science, nursery rhymes, geography, hand writing, and more!

My last two weeks at school have definitely presented some challenges, but one simple activity that I tried worked remarkably well.  I placed a tape square on the floor and gave a child a Beanie Baby bear.  I told the child to stand inside the square and outside the square, then had them do it in different ways (slower, faster, crawling, standing, etc.).  Every child wanted to do it, and they waited patiently for each other to take turns; I couldn't believe it!  I also had 23 kids that day (2 were absent).  So, I guess it goes to show that sometimes simple is best.

I also used my Superhero Bingo game that I talked about in an earlier post, and it really is helping my kids to identify more letters.  On Friday, they asked me to make an Animal Bingo game, so of course I did and it's now available on TPT and TN.

I found myself eating chocolate a lot last week.  I'm just wondering, do any of you have tips for lessening the stress of these first weeks of school?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First Week Back in Kindergarten

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Hello bloggy friends!  I'm sorry that I haven't done a post for a week.  I've just been exhausted every day!  My class is really wonderful; I actually had 14 of them in pre-k last year.  So the funny thing is, whenever they tell me they don't know something, I say "I know your teacher taught you that, and you do know it."  And they say "Wait a minute... You were my teacher!"  And then I just smile.

So, to the heart of the matter: things that really worked this week.  Over the summer, I discovered the Pete the Cat books (thanks to my good friend, Lauren, who is also on my team).  We read I Love My White Shoes, Rocking In My School Shoes, and His Four Groovy Buttons.  My kids sat SO wonderfully for all three of these stories.  They were actively listening, they were engaged, and they were able to answer comprehension questions about them (and this is a feat, because I have some children who don't speak any English).  I made this paper to go along with the White Shoes book, and my students did such a great job that their papers are now hanging on my Thinking Board.

Pete the Cat Worksheet

We did some shape collages that worked really well.  My family helped me cut out many different circles, triangles, squares and rectangles out of a variety of scrapbooking paper.  Then the children had to find one particular shape each day and glue examples of it inside one large corresponding shape.

One thing that was challenging for me this year but did work nicely was the opening of math time.  In previous years I had made calendar CD's that focused on the day of the week, the month, spelling the days of the week, etc.  Since time has been taken out of the core curriculum, I felt that I really needed to change my focus for the beginning of math.  So we very briefly work with the calendar, simply focusing on today's date and singing "Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow" by Jack Hartmann.  Then we say the numbers up to that date (if it's August 24th, we count up to 24).  Next we do a number line activity (I purchased a number line from Lakeshore).  At this point, I'm just asking various students to find particular numbers.  Later in the year we'll jump ahead 2, go back 1, etc.  There's a fabulous song by Dr. Jean called "Country Countdown 1-20" that I use right after the number line to have the children bend their legs to each number as we count forwards to and backwards from 20.

I'd love to hear what things worked for you this week!  Please write me a comment below.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Literacy Centers and Freebies

ABC Word Wall
I just made a new ABC Word Wall, and I wanted to share what it looks like with my bloggy friends!  Here is a Scribd version if you would like to download it:
ABC Word Wall Headings 2

I use a song by Barbara Milne called "Letter Sounds (apple, apple)" which matches the pictures on my word wall.  The song is available from her web site, and also on iTunes.  I really like this alphabet song when the children are using the pointer to follow along with the ABC's.  It's a slower song and gives the children plenty of time to find and point to each letter.  Here's a really cool YouTube video for it:

I place mini word walls in the children's chair pockets, with sight words on them.  That way, they don't have to get up and go over to the ABC wall.  They can simply grab it from their chair pocket.  You could also leave them in a bucket on the table.  I'm selling a variety of these on Teacher's Notebook and TPT.

Here's a picture of my writing center:

Writing Center
I struggled with writing center in the past, and what has really helped me is placing the theme words in a pocket chart.  That way, the kids can take them out, use them, and put them back themselves.  Plus, they can see all of the words from the theme at one time.  I downloaded the vocabulary cards from Eduplace.  The lapboard supply centertracing letters, and magic boards are all from Lakeshore.

The final picture for today is of my library center:

Library Center

It's not quite done.  I'm going in to school tomorrow to finish before the kids show up on Monday.  I did add a basket of Beanie Babies so the kids can read books to them.  I also found some Viewmasters online that I think will be a beautiful addition to this center.  The children will be able to tell the story as they're viewing illustrations.  This toy was really popular when I was little.

I'd love to hear what all of you are doing for your literacy centers.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back-to-School Freebies

If you're anything like me, you're spending money like crazy, trying to buy last-minute resources for the classroom.  The problem is that I keep finding more things I want to buy!  As I checked my basement, I realized that I already had these cans made that I can re-use in kindergarten:

You can browse through the file below and simply print out any of the labels that you like.  You can also change them because I left them in PowerPoint.  Take an empty can from your kitchen, whatever size you prefer, and take off its original wrapper.  Print and cut the label you want/make, laminate it if desired (it lasts for years if you do), wrap it tightly around the can, and secure it with clear packing tape.

Can Labels

Can Labels 2

For the word family cans, I write the words onto popsicle sticks to match the cans.  Then the students look at the pictures on the cans and try to put the popsicle sticks into the correct cans.  "Hey, Diddle Diddle" is a nursery rhyme that I love doing with my students, so I made pictures that can be taped onto popsicle sticks to retell the story, and stored them in a matching can.

Story Props Hey Diddle Diddle

I also made similar retelling props for "Little Red Riding Hood".  Here they are:

Little Red Riding Hood Props 2

I just wanted to let you know that I put up a new product in my stores that I think is really cool for the beginning of kindergarten: "Things I Can Read" Writing Folder.

Please let me know what you think.  I love hearing from all of you!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books

My wonderful daughter found me another new treasure: There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books.  She keeps saying that she's going to change jobs and be a waitress instead of working in a book store.  I really hope she stays in the book store!  I love these books.  I have every single one of them, and I think that this book is so fabulous because I can use it to teach school vocabulary words to my brand new kindergarten class.  Many of my students will come in with no pre-k and not speaking English, so I think this book will be a great introduction to school for them.  Here is a free version of the sequencing pictures that I will use, both in large group and for seat work:
Old Lady Swallowed Books Sequence

I usually put magnets on the back of the pictures that I would use for large group.  I give the pictures to the students, and then we read the story.  Each child has to recognize when their picture comes up in the story, and then they come up and put it on a story timeline on the magnetic board.  Later, I place these cards in the Listening Center with the book and a matching CD.  I give my students sentence strips and the mixed-up version of pictures, and they glue the pictures onto the sentence strip in the correct sequence.

A great math tie-in for these wonderful Old Lady books is a song by Dr. Jean called "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a One" from the CD "Sing Along and Move Along with Dr. Jean".  The song goes up to ten, and each verse rhymes.  It's very catchy and it's wonderful for numeral recognition.  Dr. Jean also has a gentle version of "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" (the song is called "I Know an Old Lady" and is on the CD "Keep on Singing and Dancing with Dr. Jean") where she sings "perhaps she'll cry" instead of "perhaps she'll die".  At the end of the song, she says "this is a silly song, of course" instead of the woman dying.

I use one of the Old Lady books for every month of school.  It's really beneficial to compare and contrast the books using Venn diagrams or  T-charts, for example.  Even pre-k children could remember at the end of the year that we did "Old Lady who Swallowed a Bat" around Halloween, and that we did "Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell" around Christmas.

If you're interested in more ideas, check out two previous posts I wrote:

I Know A Smart Woman
Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New School Year Resolutions

Amanda Madden over at Teaching Maddeness had a great idea for a linky party: New School Year Resolutions!  As soon as I heard about it I wanted to join the fun.  So, without further ado, here are my resolutions for the upcoming school year:

1. I need to let the children speak more and listen to what they are saying.  I'm going to do this by planning more cooperative games and think-pair-share times.  I'm also going to do less explaining and more asking them why they think the answer is right, or why they made a choice that they did.

2. I'm going to set up my centers with very concrete picture directions so that my students don't need to ask me for help but can ask each other, look at the picture directions, or listen to the pre-recorded directions.

3. I plan to not eat the snacks that I buy for the students, so that I can lose weight!  Last year, students were kissing my stomach and saying hello to the "baby"!  I told them that I was not having a baby, and that I was just eating too much.  Then, at the end-of-year ice cream party, my smartest little girl told me to put down the ice cream!  She said "Put down the ice cream, Mrs. Dudley!  You'll get fatter!"  That was it!  I'm on a diet!

4. I want to include more art.  It's not one of my strengths, but I feel it's SO important for five-year-olds.  I'm not going to make excuses this year.  I will incorporate art with science, math, social studies and language.  I am counting on all of you to keep me honest with this!  Please, post integrated art activities!

5. I want to post more things that I make on TPT and TN.  Sometimes I'm a slacker and I make great things for the classroom without posting them in my stores.  A fellow kindergarten teacher is going to keep me on track this year, because she's the friend who got me into TN in the first place.

Have a lovely school year!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What A Find!

"The Water Hole" by Graeme Base
I don't know if I've ever mentioned before that my 21-year-old daughter works in a bookstore.  This is so neat because she knows exactly what kind of books I like for the classroom.  I went in yesterday and picked up The Water Hole by Graeme Base.  I don't know how I missed this book before!  It counts up from 1 to 10 (which I love - so many books count backwards instead), it shows realistic and beautifully colored animals from all over the world, and it incorporates science by having the animals drink from a water hole that gets smaller and smaller as you turn the pages.  So many number books are just not interesting.  This one integrates social studies, science, math and literacy, all at the same time.

I just made these number sequencing cards that you can use to retell the story.  You could laminate them and place them in a math or science center, or assess the students by having them glue them onto a sentence strip.  I think that I am going to do all of the above, because numbers are so important and I really need additional number activities and books.  The Core Curriculum focuses so much on numeral identification, counting, sequencing, etc.

Water Hole Cards 1 to 10

I think I've mentioned this idea in an earlier post, but it works so well that it's worth mentioning again.  Sometimes I use tablecloths to represent different habitats or terrains.  For this story I would use a blue tablecloth, have the students sit around in a circle, and when it's their turn they would come up and drink the water from the "watering hole".  I would then start folding the tablecloth so it gets smaller each time "animals" take a drink.  I'd also fill a clean spray bottle with water and squirt the children a little as they take their drink.  My pre-k and kindergarten students have always been SO into being squirted!  They totally pay attention so they will get their turn to be animals.

Here is another free matching sheet that you could also use to help your students identify numerals and amounts.  If you like this paper, I have a whole collection of these including snap cubes, cars, balloons, and other things that kids really like.  In fact, their preferences inspired me to make most of these sheets.
Number Fingers 6 to 10

Your comments, critiques and questions always help me to improve myself and make better posts/products!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rockin' Resources Linky Party

Kelly Dolling over at Teacher Idea Factory is having a great Rockin' Resources Linky Party, and this is so timely for me because I just got back from a week-long Lego Education conference in Kansas City!  I have used Duplo and Lego products in my classroom for years.  I love the way the kids are so motivated and excited to learn math, science, language and social skills that are essential in kindergarten and in pre-k.  At the convention I found out that they make many great products that I never heard about.

1. Duplo Early Simple Machines

Duplo Early Simple Machines

I feel that science should not just be something that is talked about, but that the children should have their hands on the materials, actually seeing and feeling how things work.  What better way to teach about Simple Machines such as pulleys, levers, gears, wheels and axles than to experiment and build with working parts?

2. Duplo Wild Animals

Duplo Wild Animals

The Wild Animals Set is also absolutely fabulous for combining language and science in a uniquely special way.  Children can build different habitats while cooperating with others and having a tremendous amount of fun at the same time.  I know it's a big investment, but this product will last forever.  I have worked with Duplo products and the kids can't break them because it's hard plastic.

3. Measuring Motors

Measuring Motors
A friend bought me Measuring Motors for my birthday and I can't wait to use it in kindergarten this year.  Measuring toys are so hard to find.  This one is so kid-friendly!  It's rubber cars in three different lengths (small, medium and large) with tracks.  Children can place different combinations of cars on the tracks to see how many 1-inch cars it takes to fill the track, how many 2-inch cars it takes, and how many 3-inch cars - or a combination of them.  I like this toy because it shows the children that there's more than one way to arrive at an answer to a problem.  I hate it when students are not allowed to find different solutions to problems.  The cars also come in different colors so they can additionally be used for sorting and patterning.  This is such a multi-purpose tool for mathematics!

4. King School Books

King School Books
These King School books are simply phenomenal.  The books portray friendly, multicultural kids in a kindergarten or first grade setting, depending on the reading level of your students.  Another great thing about these books is that the characters repeat throughout the stories.  So your children are so excited to see Derek or Jasmin in their kindergarten classroom, and then later as they progress in reading they can see those same characters in first grade.  The topics the author chose to write about are things that kindergarten and first grade children actually experience.  If you buy the set, it also comes with a teacher manual, a poster and storage bins.

I'm very curious to know how many of you use Duplo or Lego in your classroom, and what you use.  Please leave a comment below.  I would greatly appreciate it!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gentle Superheroes

"SuperHero ABC" by Bob McLeod
Alright, my secret is out!  I LOVE superheroes!  Many of the students in my class speak Spanish as their primary language.  The most fabulous thing that I discovered is if I start to talk to my students about superheroes, suddenly they're speaking complete sentences in English.  Now, I'm not saying it's perfectly grammatically correct English, but the point is that we're having a conversation.  And isn't that what we want for our pre-k and kindergarten-age students?

SuperHero ABC by Bob McLeod is a really cool book.  Each page has a beautifully illustrated superhero who has a phonetic connection to what the superhero's power is.  For example, "Danger Man does daring deeds every day."  When I read this book to my class, the kids were SO excited!  It sparked a great deal of conversation about which superhero they wanted to be, and what powers they would have.  At the time, I did not have a followup activity for this book - it was just read for fun.  But now that I'm going back to kindergarten, I'm going to have the students illustrate and write about their favorite superhero on a T-shirt.

Superhero T Shirts

This year, I really discovered the joy of playing ABC Bingo games as a way to reinforce connections between letters and sounds.  I commissioned an up-and-coming graphic designer who I know (he loves comic books, too) to make me an entire set of superhero clip art, carefully designed to motivate young children.  I wanted to have a Superhero Bingo Game that would be gentle and appropriate for my new kindergarten classroom.  I really don't like a lot of the violence (guns, swords, claws, axes, etc.) that are used in today's animated characters.

Hence this new product, Superhero ABC Bingo (view it on TPT or TN).  I also made a Superhero ABC Mini Poster (view it on TPT or TN) to send home with my kids so that every night their parents can help them learn a new letter of the alphabet.  Finally, I just finished a Superhero Sight Word Wall Folder (view it on TPT or TN) so the children can learn kindergarten and first-grade words that correspond to each letter of the alphabet.  I will give one of these to every child in my classroom so that they can independently spell the sight words and have a feeling of growing confidence instead of always asking me to spell sight words for them.

Please let me know your opinions about using superheroes in the classroom, and if there are other products you would like to see these characters appear in.  I really enjoy hearing from all of you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fun with the Five Senses

Since I talk so much about being a "five senses" teacher, I thought it fitting that I write a post specifically about books, songs, and projects related to the five senses and people who are differently abled.

There's a wonderful book, Lucy's Picture, about a little girl whose class is given an assignment to create a picture.  Lucy decides to make a tactile collage for her grandfather, who is blind.  You don't know that her grandfather is blind until the end of the book, and this is a story that is fun and keeps the attention of any pre-k or kindergarten class.  I like how the teacher encourages Lucy to explore in her own way instead of stifling her creativity.  I think that creating collages (using different types of materials) is an excellent way to teach new vocabulary, textures, colors and shapes.  When my students finish their collages, I ask them to describe their pictures to me using a variety of adjectives.  This is a great way to assess how your children's language has grown over time.  I also keep the finished collages in their portfolios, with the children's own descriptions of their work attached.  I have gotten into the habit of collecting scraps of material (denim, silk, corduroy, aluminum foil, sandpaper, and scrapbooking paper, to name a few) and cutting them into many different shapes over the summer, because one of our first units is about the five senses.  And I LOVE having the students make these collages!

Textured Collage Shapes from Lakeshore

Lakeshore sells an assortment of Textured Collage Shapes that makes this a thousand times easier if you don't want to sit and cut out the fabrics.  They're on sale right now!

Some fabulous songs for a five senses unit are:

Five Senses by Dr. Jean
5 Senses by Jack Hartmann
Listen to the Sounds by Jack Hartmann
Five Senses by Mar Harmon

I found that these songs are all very easy for the kids to sing after just listening to them one time.

The Listening Walk, from the carousel at the top of the post, is a marvelous book for focusing on hearing.  I collected many sound effects (by searching for and downloading them in iTunes) to match the sounds in the book, so that I could enhance the story telling by playing the sounds in my classroom.  One album that was especially helpful was "Greatest Sound Effects" by Audio Environments & Co.  The kids truly enjoyed guessing what sounds were on the CD.

Students exploring scent bottles in science center
I also created scent bottles for my science center by adding store-bought extracts and cotton balls (to help prevent the liquids from leaking out) to clear bottles, gluing the pull-out caps on, and letting children try to match bottles to picture cards.  My students loved playing with these in science center, and it was a safe way for them to explore their sense of smell.

Dog Bones Tactile Set from Learning Resources
I am always looking for new toys to put into my science center.  Last Christmas, a friend bought me this oh-so-cute Dog Bone Tactile Set from Learning Resources that fits into an adorable dog house for easy storage.  Again, this is a great way to have your students use their sense of touch while learning new vocabulary and comparing and contrasting textures.

Mystery Box from Lakeshore
This Mystery Box from Lakeshore is much larger than the dog house and can be used for years because it's wood and very sturdy.  Inside mine I have placed tactile pillows, letters, numerals, and a wide variety of objects found around the house for the children to guess based on feeling the items.  This center is always exciting for the kids, especially if you frequently change what's inside the box.  You can also specialize the activity for phonemic awareness, for example, by filling the box with items that start with one particular letter.

If you're interested in some really fabulous Graphic Organizers about the five senses, I've made a nice set on TPT that's easy to use with your children.

Please feel free to ask me any questions about the books or projects in this post.  I especially enjoy talking to people about this topic.  ;-)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Over in the Ocean

"Over In The Ocean" Book Cover

When I could still see a few years ago, I thought the pictures in Over in the Ocean by Jack Hartmann were simply gorgeous.  It's very much like the book Over in the Meadow by Ezra Jack Keats.  I think it's a wonderful book because it can be used it to teach habitats, one-to-one correspondence up to ten, new vocabulary, sequencing, and numeral recognition.  Another nice thing about this book is that it changes which family member is talking to the sea creatures each time.  On one page it might be a mommy, on another page a daddy, on other pages an auntie, stepmom, etc.  It covers 10 different family relationships in all.  Jack Hartmann has also written a beautiful song called "Over in the Ocean" that matches the book perfectly and encourages your students to perform different motions such as paddle, dive, slither, hunt, and more.  I believe that this really helps them to stay focused on the book.

Here is a guided reading book (approximately DRA level 1) that you could use with your kiddos:
What Lives in the Ocean

If you're not aware that National Geographic has a great link for kids, please check this out:

Animals on National Geographic for Kids

From this site you can show your children great videos, play real animal sounds, view maps that show where each animal lives in the world, and print out fact cards for animals from any habitats that you're studying.  I even used this site with pre-k, and my children were so excited by the videos, especially the one showing baby scorpions climbing all over their mother!  I was sort of glad I couldn't see it - it was creeping me out just hearing about it!

This is a unique graphic organizer your kids can use to place things below and above the water.  The first page is a model that they can color in, and the following pages provide opportunities to cut and paste.
Ocean Above and Below

Coloring by numbers was one of my favorite activities when I was five years old.  It just seemed so magical to me - I don't know why.  Here are two color-by-number papers that are ocean-related:
Color by Number Fish

Finally, if you're looking for a great way to save money, I made a few free table nameplates that are on TPT, including dolphins and happy faces:

Dolphin and Happy Face Nameplates

If you prefer a free butterfly nameplate that also has numbers 1 to 20 and the alphabet, pick it up from Teacher's Notebook here:

Butterfly Nameplates

As always, I LOVE hearing from all of you.  Please feel free to leave a comment, critique, or question below.