Video segment about me, by the school district

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mouse Shapes

The book "Mouse Shapes" by Ellen Stoll Walsh
I went to a Math Solutions workshop last year, and they mentioned the book Mouse Shapes.  Of course, I had read Mouse Paint and Mouse Count before, but Mouse Shapes was new to me.  The story is about some mice trying to hide from a cat, and they  hide in a box of - yes, you guessed it - shapes!  The mice make different pictures by holding up the shapes.  So I thought, "Why not teach my children how to do that?"  I cut out large pieces of poster board.  The children would look at the book, look at a giant pile of poster board shapes on the floor, and then arrange themselves and their chosen shapes into the correct design.  I also followed up this activity by cutting out tiny shapes, having them make a design at their table, and asking them how many of each shape they used.

Students holding shapes to make a house and a moon

Students holding shapes to make a fish


Students holding shapes to make a wagon
Here is another really cool shape place mat that I've used before.  I had students match and identify foods and other items by gluing pieces to the mat.  I assessed my students by asking them to point out what shapes they had on their mats.  It's really not that bad if you walk around with a chart while the children are gluing and placing their shapes.

Students gluing shapes onto their place mats.
These two songs  are excellent for teaching shapes:  "We Know Our Shapes" by Mar Harmon and "Spy a Shape" by Dr. Jean.  What I really like about Mar Harmon's song is that she makes a sound effect for each shape.  For example, for a triangle she'll say "Ting!  Ting!  Ting!"  This is so fab because the children can draw it, see it, and hear it.  Dr. Jean's song is also fantastic because the children are singing, drawing, and then finding the shape around the room.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Triple Treasure Giveaway

I wanted to do a three-grade-level Valentine giveaway so that everyone who enters has a choice of prize depending on what they need for their students.  Here are the three prizes and the grade levels they're intended for, although of course you can use them for any grade:

Pre-K:  Heart Letter Matching Game
Kindergarten:  Valentine Sight Word Board Game - Kindergarten
1st Grade:  Valentine Sight Word Board Game - First Grade

How to enter:

1. Write a post on your own blog about this giveaway
2. Follow me on TPT
3. Follow my blog
4. Tell me a favorite song that you use in the classroom.

Each of the above steps gives you 1 entry in the giveaway.  For each entry, make sure that you write a comment on this post and include your name, your email address, and which prize you want to win.  You can look at each of the prizes on my TPT store.  The contest will end on February 1st at 7:00pm.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Moments in the Wild

Four Animal Books: Tender Moments, Amusing Moments, Peaceful Moments, and Beautiful Moments
I just had to post about these books, because they're fantastic:

Tender Moments in the Wild: Animals and Their Babies
Amusing Moments in the Wild: Animals and Their Friends
Peaceful Moments in the Wild: Animals and Their Homes
Beautiful Moments in the Wild: Animals and Their Colors

They all use realistic photographs of animals, and give little facts that are just perfect for kindergarten or pre-k.  Fiction books about animals have their place, but if you're really trying to integrate science with language, I think these four books are perfect.

We also made this T-chart today, classifying animals by whether they live on land or in water:

T-chart to classify animals that live on land or in water
I gave every student in my class a plastic animal so that they could feel how many legs the animal had, whether it had fins, tail, trunk, etc.  Then each child came up and placed their animal in the appropriate category.  Some children could even describe why their animal was suited for land or water (by saying, for example, "My animal is a lion.  It walks on land.  It has legs.")  Sometimes we get so stuck in the routine of using two-dimensional materials in the classroom that we forget that young children love to feel and explore materials.  I purchased these animals from Lakeshore Learning and they're very detailed and realistic models.

My post would not be complete without talking about some fabulous songs that discuss animal habitats:

"Habitat" by Walkin' Jim Stoltz:  My students pretend that they have guitars when they sing this song, and you'll find yourself singing "Habitat, habitat, have to have a habitat" as you leave the school building - it's very catchy!  My 21-year-old daughter teases me about singing songs like this.

"Habitat Scat" by Mar Harmon:  If your tastes lean toward jazz and playing with words, try this song.

"Habitat Homes" by Dr. Jean:  If you want a slower, more sentimental type of song that also describes the physical features of animals' environments, then see if this suits you.

What are your favorite songs and books to use when teaching about animals and habitats?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink

"Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink" by Diane deGroat
Years ago I saw the book Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink and had to buy it because it really helps bring up the issue of how words can affect us so deeply.  I use this book as a springboard for discussions about how to say and write positive things to one another.  I model how to do this by making every student in my class a beautiful written compliment heart.  I post them all on a bulletin board and then have the students write compliment hearts for each other.  Here is a PowerPoint file that you can change for your own students.
Valentine Compliment Hearts

I think this idea is especially useful if you have children in your classroom who are picked on by other students.  It's one of my pet peeves, but I just hate when children are thoughtlessly mean to other kids.

A friend gave me some upper- and lowercase foam fish for Christmas.  I thought my pre-k students would really enjoy playing with them, but they did not.  Since there's no way for them to check and see if they're right when they try to match them, arguments started in the center.  "That's not a lowercase p!  That's a b!"  So that night, I tried to think of an idea wherein the children could match uppercase letters to lowercase letters and have some sort of self-checking device to help them.  Therefore I made these upper- and lowercase letters that have a picture of the same object on the capital as well as the lowercase.  I'm selling them on TPT.
Self-checking alphabet matching game on hearts
I am a music fanatic!  I buy appropriate songs from iTunes and various stores, then I make different playlists for every month, to use in Calendar time.  Here are some fabulous songs for February, if you're looking for that special way to sweeten up math time for your kids:

"Valentine" by Mar Harmon:  This song is cute because it spells out I L-O-V-E Y-O-U.  I just write the words on cards and call up three students to stand and hold each word card while we sing the song.  You could also have each student hold an individual letter card to involve more children.

"Will You Be My Valentine" by Dr. Jean:  This song is totally awesome because it's sung to the familiar tune of "Do You Know The Muffin Man."

"Be My Valentine" by Jack Hartmann:  This song is more of a dance, where the kids can act out being a fish and a dog.  They copy your motions such as swimming, diving, jumping, and begging for a bone.

"The Year's Shortest Month" by Jack Hartmann:  The thing I like about this song is that it talks about February being the shortest month and it also states that on February 14 "we take time to say we care" with valentines.  This song also helps the children understand, when looking at the calendar, when Valentine's Day is going to occur.

I hope you enjoy these songs and ideas as much as I do.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kindergarten Lifestyle Giveaway

Jeannie at Kindergarten Lifestyle is having a contest to giveaway a $25 Target gift card!  I'm thinking I can use to buy Valentine candy for my sweet kiddos.  :-)  Jeannie is so incredible.  She's a teacher and a mother of 6!  I only have 1 21-year-old and I'm constantly moving - I don't know how she does it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Conversation Hearts

Do you ever get inspired when you walk through dollar stores?  I was walking through a Dollar Tree store thinking about using conversation hearts in February for centers, and then I found these plastic conversation hearts with the word already printed on them.  I also found this cute heart basket for a dollar.
A bucket of plastic conversation hearts from a dollar store
I'm going to have the children look at the hearts and match them to each other.  I'll fill another bucket with magnet letters and see if they can find the letters to spell out the words on a cookie sheet.  I also read on another blog that you can spray-paint cookie sheets to make them any color you want.  I'm thinking red or pink.

I made pattern strips that kids can use to lay out real conversation heart candies to duplicate color patterns.  I bought conversation hearts to check the colors, and these pattern strips use the exact same colors from the bag of candies.
Pattern Heart Strips

I usually place each child's candies in a Ziploc bag for them ahead of time so that there's no problem with students touching one another's candies.  A couple of great songs to go along with this pattern activity are "Everybody Do a Pattern" by Dr. Jean and "Make a Pattern" by Jack Hartmann.

I'm going to laminate this sorting mat and put it in Math Center for my students to sort conversation heart candies.  You could also use it with construction paper hearts if you want to cut them out. Sorting Mat Hearts

Finally, if you're doing skip counting here is a sheet where they can color each row of hearts a different color to help them group by 5's.
Heart Number Line 35 Full Page

More sweet ideas are coming soon!

Monday, January 16, 2012

And The Winners Are...

Drumroll please!

And the winners of 100th Day packet giveaway are...

Kim from Growing Up Teaching
Kelly B from Busy In Kindergarten
Jennifer from Keys4Education

I have email addresses for Kelly B and Jennifer.  Kim, could you let me know your email address so that I can send out your packet?  Thank you everyone for entering the contest.  I will be putting up my TPT Valentine packet next week as another giveaway contest.  Please stop by!  I'm always happy to hear from you.

The Button Box

The cover of the book "The Button Box" by Margarette Reid
The Button Box by Margarette Reid is a great book to use if you're working on sorting by attributes.  I always use it with real buttons, because I think it really allows the children to experience the wonder of classifying by shape, texture, size, color, sparkles, button holes, etc.  I think sometimes we fall into the rut of only sorting by color.  When I still had my sight, color sorting was the first thing I thought of to do with the kids.  The problem was that if I asked the kids what sorting was, they would reply "That's when you put the yellow ones with the yellow ones."  Although that answer is correct, I think it's really important for them to realize that you can sort or classify by many different factors, not just color.


This year, my students really got into the activity.  They were so happy to find buttons that were the same that they put them in my hands and said "Feel my buttons!  I have stars!", "I have smooth buttons", or "I have wood buttons!"  I was so proud of them, especially because their language has improved so much since August - almost 90% of my students did not speak English when they entered my class.

Here is a book that I used in kindergarten for guided reading.  The students can shadow-write the sentence for most of the book, and then at the end they write their own sentence and draw their own pictures of buttons.  I hope your kids enjoy this.
I See Buttons Writing

Friday, January 13, 2012

Who Hops?

The book "Who Hops," by Katie Davis
If you're looking for a cute and funny book to read with your kiddos, Who Hops? is perfect!  It's really simple, and the kids can read it themselves in the Library Center.  We read it today, and when we got to the page that said "Cows hop," the kids laughed and said "Cows don't hop!", which is exactly what the next page of the book says.  The cow also gives facts about itself for the pre-k and kindergarten level, which I really like as a science link.  The end of this book is also great, because it asks the children who can hop, swim, fly, slither, and crawl.  We had the children try to predict who can do all of that.  Nobody in my class guessed it.  I think one year, in kindergarten, somebody did say "I can!"  And they were right.  Of course, the children and I laid on our stomachs and slithered, we pretended to fly, and did all of the other motions that go along with the book.  We also graphed the animals by motion.

Here are some animal cards that match the book.  You can have the students hold them, or you could make necklaces out of them.

Animal Cards for Who Hops

Two great songs to go along with this book are two different versions of "Animal Action" on the CD Kids In Motion by Greg & Steve.  I have my whole class sit in a circle, with lots of space in the middle, and I call them up by table to dance.  In other words, I'll call out "Orange table, you're elephants!", "Green table, you're cats!", and so forth.

I made a giant graph for my classroom today, but if you're interested in an assessment-type graph to use with each student, check out my Animal Graphic Organizers on TPT.  They link directly to the Common Core standards.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

100th Day Giveaway

Kim at Growing Up Teaching inspired me to give away an entire package of 100th Day center ideas and materials, which I'm selling at TPT.  I will pick three lucky winners out of a hat.  You get one entry in the hat for each of these steps:

1. Follow my blog  (1 entry)
2. Comment on this post, suggesting an idea for me to write about in future posts (I have SO many files that I want to offer - I just don't know what most people want)  (1 entry)
3. Mention my blog on your own site  (1 entry)

If you take any of these steps to enter the giveaway, make sure to tell me your email address so that I can send you the package if you're one of the winners.  I'll choose the winners at 7:00pm on Monday, January 16.  Good luck!

Now, for more about 100th Day...

I'm all about having children feel objects.  I really think that when our students are able to interact with things in a tactile way, the concepts really stay in their brain.  With that said, I had students place 100 Fruit Loops on a pre-made chart in rows of 10.  I laminated four of these and put them on the table in my Math Center.  I've also had parents come in on 100th Day, so they keep an eye on the students to see that they don't eat the Fruit Loops until 100 are on the laminated mat.  By the way, I designed this file to print out on legal size paper (8.5"x14"), to help fit all 10 rows on the page.

100 Fruit Loops

Another thing I did was to send this letter home, asking the parents to help their child create a 100th Day poster.
Letter 100th Day

Here are two pictures of sample 100th Day Posters made by my former students:
100th Day poster with each group of 10 as a stripe in a rainbow

100th Day Poster in columns of 10
Finally, here is a 100th Day certificate that you could modify and give to your students:

Kim's Giveaway

Kim at Growing Up Teaching is having a really cool giveaway!  Please go to her blog, which is really warm and friendly, and check it out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Preparation for 100th Day

I wanted to do this post today to make sure that I could share some ideas with all of you before it's too late.  Three fabulous books for 100th Day are: Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten by Joseph Slate, 100 School Days by Anne Rockwell, and Henry's 100 Days of Kindergarten by Nancy Carlson.
Three 100th Day Books
Each of these books is fun and adds its own magic to the big day.  I think the activity that my kindergarten students enjoyed the most was gathering 10 items from each of 10 different bowls to total 100 items on their plate.
Students taking 10 things from each of 10 bowls
I know what you're thinking: "How am I ever going to afford this?"  Well, you don't have to buy a thing!  I send this letter home with my students, and they bring in the items for the bowls.
Letter for 100th Day Food

As the students take 10 items from each bowl we discuss how they're skip counting, and I loved experiencing the moment when they "got it."  Some songs that also helped with this concept were "100 Days of School" by Miss Jenny, "100 Days of School Today" by Jack Hartmann, and "Zero the Hero Number Stomp" by Dr. Jean.  If you want to find their web sites, they're in my list of Favorite Teaching Web Sites on the side bar.

I have an entire packet (100th Day Worksheet Package), including reading prompts and math ideas, as well as a book (100th Day Book) on TPT, and I will post more freebies here on my blog in the next few days.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Pair of Socks

Cover of the book A Pair of Socks by Stuart Murphy
This book is so cute!  It's about a sock that's looking for its match.  The story contains very nice rhymes as well as great adjectives such as grimy, sudsy, puffy, and fluffy.  I find that this book really helps expand my students' vocabulary.  I've used this book in kindergarten and pre-k, and there are many skills that you can focus on for either grade.  This year, in pre-k, I have a bin of socks that I've collected from thrift stores, and my children love to look at, feel and match them.


Pairs of socks in various sizes and colors

In kindergarten, I followed this book up with a skip counting lesson by 2's.  It worked great with the real socks!  I gave pairs of socks to students and they stood in a line.  I also made this skip counting worksheet where the students can count socks by 2's and write the amounts.

Number Socks 1 to 16

Sometimes, for guided reading, I notice that if I mix things up a bit by making interactive books for the kids, they're more interested in participating.  Therefore I made this interactive book where the kids trace the dotted font for each sentence, and decorate their sock according to what the sentence says.  Please enjoy these giveaways and let me know what you think.

The Sock Book for Students

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Go-To Books - Linky Party

Stephanie from Teaching In Room 6 is hosting a great linky party!!!

What is your teaching Go-To book? What is that one resource that you couldn't live without?
The one book that is above all others?  Link up & Join the PARTY!

My favorite book is The Best of The Mailbox: Songs, Poems and Fingerplays (Pre-K-K).  I love this book because they give you the ideas and everything that you need for centers, projects, and group activities.  I especially enjoy finding materials for lessons that integrate math and science with nursery rhymes and fingerplays.  This book is perfect for that.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Environmental Print

Do you ever get stuck for ideas for bulletin boards?  I love this "I Can Read" environmental print board.

Bulletin board with cut-out box fronts for grocery products
My best friend, Tracie, gave me this idea while we taught kindergarten together.  It's simple, colorful, fun, and a great learning tool.  I also use this board now in pre-k.  I ask my pre-k students if they can tell me what's on the board.  Of course, they can, because they recognize the logos, pictures, and other visual cues.  I then tell them that they're reading, and they get so excited!

Another thing I made was this environmental print restaurant book, which my kids went crazy for!  They begged me to let them take home the guided reading books, which I actually had every intention of giving them.

Places We Like

I also went out into the community with a sighted friend and he took digital photographs of restaurants and stores located near the school, so that my students could see and recognize actual places that they visit.  I made these into another book that the kids loved.  Here are a couple examples of the photos we took for the book:
Burger King restaurant near my school

Domino's restaurant near my school
These books truly motivate the kids.  There's a Dr. Jean song called "Pizza Hut" that's really great for sequencing, and which goes along perfectly with environmental print books.  What do you think?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beanie Baby Directions

I'm sure many of you know the song "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear."  You know the one.  It goes "Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around.  Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground."  Well, last year I was having one of those days when I just wanted something new and fresh to do with my kids.  I needed something to do for a pre-k small group for math.  I grabbed six of my daughter's teddy bear Beanie Babies and six washcloths.  What happened next was simply magical.  I sang the song with the kids and had them act it out using the Beanie Baby teddy bears.  Then I told them the bears were going to go on a picnic, and that they were going to use the washcloths as blankets.  We had our bears sit on their blanket, crawl under their blanket, go beside their blanket, jump up and down on their blanket, and put their blanket on their teddy bear's head.  Let me tell you, this activity went so well that even one of my kids who would usually crawl away from the group was completely engaged.  When I got home that night, I asked my daughter to gather up as many Beanie Babies as she could.  I found that over the years we had collected not only Beanie Baby bears, but tons of Beanie Baby cats, dogs, and bunnies.  I was in teacher heaven!

The next day, I used Jack Hartmann's song "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear."  I did it whole-group and gave each child in my class a teddy bear.  Can you believe I had 22 teddy bears?!  Today, I used Dr. Jean's song "Kitty Cat Position Scat" with a class set of cat Beanie Babies.  Here is a picture of the activity:

My class and I putting Beanie Baby cats on top of our heads
Since we have also been talking about same and different, we compared and contrasted our kitties in a class discussion.  At first, my students had trouble noticing how the cats were alike because they were focusing on the color, and all of the colors were different.  As soon as we started looking at body parts, my students got the idea.  They began to point out how they all had 2 ears, they all had a tail, they all had a nose, etc.  I'm going to use the Beanie Baby bunnies that we've collected over the years to teach my students left, right, up and back using the song "Bunny Hop (Rehearsal Version).". I found this song on iTunes, and the artist was listed as Karaoke.

I hope these ideas help you today, and I'd like to know what you do with stuffed animals in the classroom.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger

It really made my day when I saw that I was awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by Christina at Sea Bears Kindergarten.  Christina, thank you so much!  It was really special receiving the award from you, because I think your blog is phenomenal, especially your post about Starfall.

Here are the blog award rules:

1. Thank the person that nominated you with a link back to them.

2. Tell 7 things about yourself. (see below)

3. Pass this award on to 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know that they’ve received an award.

Seven things about myself:

1. Before I was a teacher, I was a music major for 4 years.

2. My favorite food is Mushroom Matar (an Indian dish with mushrooms and peas).

3. I have one daughter and she loves to read.

4. My husband and I do ballroom dancing together, and my favorite two dances are Salsa and Cha-Cha.

5. I miss not being able to see my students' faces.

6. Two years ago I won the Outstanding Educator Award for my county.

7. I would like to get back into doing community theatre.

Here's a list of the 15 blogs that I passed the Versatile Blogger Award to:

A Special Kind of Class
Primary Perspective
Little Learners
Kinderzoo
Look at My Happy Rainbow
Robin's Nest
Go Figure!
For the Love of Kindergarten
Planting a Kindergarten
A Little Kinder Told Me So!
KinderTastic
A Teacher's Touch
A Place Called Kindergarten
Little Warriors
Busy in K

Season Songs

This post was inspired by one of my favorite kindergarten teacher friends, who is working on a unit for seasons.  These three songs are excellent for learning about what people do during each season, what they wear, and what the season looks like.

I like all of these songs for different reasons.  "The Four Seasons" by Newbridge Songs For Learning is really nice because the children repeat after you, and it can be used very simply with gestures that are obvious when you listen to the song.

"If You Know All The Seasons" by Kidzup Music is sung to the tune of "If You're Happy And You Know It."  The children are very active during this song, and I particulary like music where the students are standing up and moving.

"Seasons" by Dr. Jean is packed with facts about each season.  I remember on one of my tests about the seasons in kindergarten, one of my students started singing this Dr. Jean song quietly to herself to help her with one of the questions (and she got the right answer!).

Here is a graphic organizer that I used in kindergarten to assess whether the children had a basic concept of what each season looks like:

Season Graphic Organizer

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January Songs

Since today was the first day back for me and my students, I wanted to share three special songs that I put on my January playlist (I create playlists for each month based on the best songs I've found for that time of year).

"The First Month Of The Year" by Jack Hartmann is basically talking about January being the first month of the year, and that it's "a happy time for me and you, and your family too!" I've used this song in kindergarten and in pre-k, and the students learn it very quickly.  In kindergarten I used this song during Calendar Time, and in pre-k I use it during Opening.

The second great song, which I just found, is "Jjjj January" by Dave Bodemann.  This song has a very Latin feel to it.  I sang it today and the students loved stretching out the /j/ sound.  Beside being great for science and math, it's also a terrific letter connection song.  I think I'm going to use my egg maracas when we sing it tomorrow.  Sticks would also work for this song.

The third song that I want to recommend is "Weather" by Dr. Jean Feldman.  What can I say about Dr. Jean songs?  They're amazing, and she is the coolest presenter that I've seen in 22 years of teaching.  Her weather song works so nicely because it integrates science and letter recognition so well that the kids don't even know that they're learning how to spell four words as they sing the song.  Kiss your brain, Dr. Jean!

Enjoy this book that I made to go along with Dr. Jean's weather song:
Weather 2

I would love to hear from you!  What are some of your favorite January songs?

As Dr. Jean would say, keep on singing and dancing!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cupcake Collaboration

As I was visiting other people's blogs I found some cute cupcake ideas by Mary at Sharing Kindergarten.  It reminded me that when I taught kindergarten I made a sequencing cupcake book.  I also had the children practice writing by copying the sentence on the lines provided in the book.  After they finished their book, they were able to use raisins, M&M's, and other small candies to decorate their own cupcake faces.  The students were also able to take the books home to read to their parents.  I like making and giving guided reading books that they can take home so their parents can notice their progress with reading as well as how their letter formation is developing.  Please enjoy this book and cupcake patterning worksheet.  If you like the patterning paper, take a look at my pattern worksheet collection on TPT.

My Cupcake Face Book

Pattern Cupcake

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Food Graphs

I’ve noticed that sometimes January feels like a very long month to me, as a teacher.  I try to liven things up by doing several types of food graphs in January.  I especially like using food because it involves all five of the senses.  My kindergarten students used to tell me that graphing was one of their favorite things.  One day, my principal came into my classroom and asked me what I was doing with the Teddy Grahams and Goldfish.  I was ready!  I said “Well, they’re learning more vs. less, columns vs. rows, how to create a graph, one-to-one correspondence, sorting, and how to follow directions.”  My principal was satisfied, and we continued our fun activity.

A Goldfish/Teddy Graham graph completed by a student
I have been doing graphs for many years now, and I have discovered some really great tricks to make this activity very successful with as many as 30 students at a time.  First I count out sets of 5 Goldfish crackers and 3 Teddy Graham cookies for each student, and put each student's set into a Ziploc.  I tell the students to color in each Goldfish on the graph using an orange crayon and each Teddy Graham with a brown crayon.  It's important to remind the students to only color in the amount that they have.  It's also important to show them where to start coloring each row.
Graph Goldfish Teddy Grahams Landscape

If you're interested in more graphs, please take a look at my TPT store.
My Candy Graphs on Teachers Pay Teachers