Video segment about me, by the school district

Friday, February 24, 2012

More Money Ideas

There is a great song by Jack Hartmann called "Show Me The Money."  It's really cute because you can hear the coins as the song starts, and it's also rhyming: "A penny, a penny, as quick as a bunny.  Show me, show me, show me the money!"  I made these bunnies, so as the song is playing, different students can pop up. You can make 4 or a whole class set.  You could also then sort the bunnies in Math Center.
Bunny Money

Another game I made for Math Center was this set of adorable, little pigs that you can turn into a matching game.
Money Pig Matching

As an assessment, I made this worksheet that simply has the children matching each coin to its corresponding value.  It also allows them to practice their fine motor skills, since they have to cut the coins from the bottom of the sheet.
Money Matching 2

I always appreciate comments.  Let me know if these giveaways are helpful!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Magnificent Money

I found out a few days ago that the kindergarten team at my school was starting their unit on money.  I remembered that I had some things that I could share with them, and with you!

I hope you can use this money sorting mat, done on long paper to provide plenty of room to sort each type of coin.  The nice thing about this mat is the illustrated coins are actual size.
Sorting Coins Mat

I also tell my children that the dime and the quarter have rough edges, while the penny and the nickel have smooth edges.  Being blind, that is how I tell coins from one another.  You can also play a game where you put coins in a sock and have students pull out (by touch alone) a type of coin chosen by their partner.  It's important, before playing this game, to make sure that children understand that the dime is the smallest coin, followed by the penny, nickel, and quarter.

During small group time in kindergarten, I try to integrate math and reading as much as possible.  I made this book to use the sight words we were working on at the time, and combined it with coin identification.
I Have Money Big

My students had a little difficulty remembering the value for each coin, and I found that the following songs really helped them:

"How Many Pennies" by Ron Brown
"That Makes Cents To Me" by Jack Hartmann
"Starts With A Penny" by Mar Harmon

Here is a factual book that I used with my kindergarten students, called The Coin Counting Book by Rozanne Lanczak Williams.

"The Coin Counting Book" by Rozanne Lanczak Williams

I'm wondering if any of you have other great books that you would recommend for kindergarten or pre-k students?  I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Know a Smart Woman

Ok, so if you're anything like me, you've eaten a couple of extra chocolates this Valentine week.  It's ok.  Don't feel guilty.  Let's get back on track, though, and focus on songs and activities that cover healthy foods!  There's a great song by Mar Harmon called "I Know a Smart Woman" that's in the same family as "I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly."  The twist is that this woman eats foods that are healthy, like bran, fruit, cheese, veggies, and lean meats.  The song is so cute, and so valuable for teaching the difference between healthy foods and unhealthy foods.  When I first bought the song I made and used these pictures to feed to my Old Lady puppet:

Smart Woman Pictures

Then I found plush toys on Childcraft's web site that match the song exactly!

Plush toy props for "I Know a Smart Woman"
Either one of these (the printed pictures or the plush props) could go in your Library Center or Listening Center.  The kids really like this song!  The cool thing is you can buy it for 99 cents on iTunes.  If you don't have iTunes, you can download the whole album from Songs For Teaching.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marvelous Music

I found a marvelous treasure a few days ago while I was looking for songs to use for a presentation.  I came across a web site called Songs For Teaching and it has everything!  There are songs and plays ranging from pre-k to about 8th grade.  One thing that I like about this web site is that everything that would normally take me hours to look for is there at my fingertips.  You can browse by artist, subject, or skill focus.  While you're browsing you can see lyrics on the screen and listen to previews.  If you decide to buy an album, you can also download a packet with lyrics and sometimes suggested activities too.

For my presentation I chose a song or play from each grade level  (pre-k to 6th grade) to present to the staff, and most of these came from Songs For Teaching:

Pre-K:  "Everybody Do a Pattern" by Dr. Jean
K:  "Macarena Math" by Dr. Jean
1st:  "Diagraph Walk" by Dr. Jean
2nd:  "Parts of Speech Slide" by Mar Harmon
3rd:  "Boogie Woogie Measurement" by Learning Math by Song
4th:  "Point, Line Segment, Ray" by Learning Math by Song
5th:  Geometry/Polygons Musical Play by Ron Fink & Jon Heath
6th:  "Mean, Median and Mode" by Mr. Duey

The presentation was a success, and all of these choices worked extremely well.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Perfect Fit for Valentine's Day

Cover of the book "The Biggest Kiss"
We had such a lovely time reading the book The Biggest Kiss (by Joanna Walsh and Judi Abbot) today that I felt compelled to blog about it.  I had been searching a long time for books that lead into great discussions about size, length, height, and weight.  I have Leo Lionni's Inch By Inch and Just A Little Bit by Ann Tompert, but I could not find many others for the pre-k/kindergarten level.  I was so happy when I found The Biggest Kiss because it's about kisses from a wide variety of animals.  After reading the book, we had a discussion about which animals are tall, which animals are short, and which animals they would like to kiss.  It was hysterical!  We have also been measuring different plastic animals with snap cubes.  My students are getting really great at estimating how many cubes tall the animals are.  When we first started, two weeks ago, they would tell me "Oh, you need 100 cubes to go to the top of that animal!"  Now their guesses are much more accurate.

A really great song that I found for length is "Herman The Worm" by Mr. Al.  It's a really funny song where a little worm starts off being an inch long, and eats other animals until he's two feet long.  At the very end of the song, he's an inch again, and - well, I won't spoil it for you, but you'll love the ending!

Last night, I made this new Play Doh mat for my children to help them recognize small, medium and large.
Heart Size Sorting Mat

Thank you, Dr. Jean, for suggesting Chocolate Play Doh.  My kids just loved it!  They said the room smelled so delicious.  I also gave my students rolling pins and three different size heart-shaped cookie cutters to really get into this Art Center activity.  Here are a couple of photos of my kids enjoying it:

A student proudly displaying a heart that he cut from Play Doh
Students rolling out Chocolate Play Doh
Another thing I added to my centers today, with Valentine's Day coming soon, was this alphabet board game that the children learned how to play in small group but continued to play with independently in ABC Center.  This game is available in my TPT store!

Alphabet Board Game, with letters inside hearts

Please let me know if you have any great books that you use for your measuring units.  I would be so grateful!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Dream Come True

On January 24th, my county had a Pinning Ceremony for the new National Board Certified Teacher recipients. At that ceremony, one of the guest speakers said that it wasn't an ending, but a beginning.  He said that we should be prepared to work even harder, and that "great things would start to happen" for us.  Two days later, my county called me and told me they wanted to feature me in a spotlighted article.  They also said that our local news station, Fox 5, wanted to bring TV cameras into the classroom!  If this wasn't enough, my school system also approved accommodation for my blindness in the form of a full time assistant starting next school year, so that I could go back to teaching kindergarten.  All of these things made me so happy that I thought I was dreaming.  And to make my life complete, as I was walking down the hall, holding hands with my line leader, she asked me if I knew what the happiest day of her life was.  I said that I didn't, but that I wanted her to tell me.  I was expecting her to talk about a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, or a visit to her grandmother.  She said it was the day that she met me.

I have the sweetest kids in the whole world!

Here's a video of the Fox 5 broadcoast:

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Cover of the book "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" by Paul Galdone

I have been working with Wolf Trap performing artists for about three years now.  They have taught me how to use music, dance and drama so effectively with my children!  I just want to share a little about our retellings of the classic story The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone.  We read the book several times.  We also use this great song by Greg & Steve called "Three Billy Goats Gruff."  It's so bluesy and catchy; I just love it!  It really helps pre-k and kindergarten kids to get into the character voices.  The tables in my classroom are very sturdy, so we have one child pretend to be the troll underneath the table, and then I assist the "billy goats" (children) across the "bridge" (table).  This really helps them to be part of the story, and they all beg to be the billy goats.  Needless to say, we do this several times so that everyone in the class gets a turn.  I also place the song and paper puppets in Listening Center so that children can independently hear and act out the story during center time.  Here is what my props look like:
Three Billy Goats Props

I put the storytelling props from Childcraft in my Library Center.  Since they're plush toys, they're nearly indestructible.  I've had this set for at least 10 years.  My kindergarten and pre-k kids are simply adorable when they play cooperatively with each other to retell the story using these props.  The nice thing about this set is that it's only $14!
Plush "Three Billy Goats Gruff" props
Here are a couple of my pre-k students' pictures and retellings of the story.  My students barely spoke any English at the start of the school year.
Three Billy Goat Sample Retellings

Friday, February 3, 2012

Marvelous Math

Heart/number cards on a standard calendar kit for February

Somehow, one of my darling students lost a number from our calendar last week.  So I thought, why not make a new set for February that would help focus their attention more.  They noticed right away that the numbers for each day were inside hearts.  Immediately students started asking why there were hearts on the calendar.  Of course I asked them why I put hearts up.  Some kids thought it was because it was February, one said because I love them, and a few more said it was because we were learning patterns.  I'm just so proud of my children.  They're speaking so much more English.  Here are the heart numbers in case you want to sweeten up your calendar time:

Calendar Numbers in Hearts for February

Now, I know that using candy is a controversial issue in some classrooms, but I personally believe it's a great way to motivate students and to instill in them the idea that math is super fun!  So, I made these pattern strips to be used with Valentine M&M's.  I am going to buy the M&M's, have my daughter sort them (while wearing gloves, of course), and make up Ziploc bags for the students in my small groups.  Every time I do something like this, my children inevitably say that math is the best subject.  Let me know what you think about using candy in the classroom.
Pattern Valentine M&M Strips

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Valentine Winners

Congratulations to the winners of my Valentine Contest!

Thanks everyone for entering, and stay on the lookout for more contests!

Happy Groundhog Day!