Video segment about me, by the school district

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bunny Hop

My class dancing to "The Bunny Hop"

When I was little, I remember doing a dance where I put my right foot out two times, my left foot out two times, jumped forward and back, then jumped forward three times.  I searched and searched for a bunny hop that was the same as what I remembered as a little girl.  Well, I found it on iTunes, and it's called "Bunny Hop (Rehearsal Version)" by Karaoke.  I found these ears at Target for $1 each!  Ok, I'm a little crazy, because I HAD to buy them.  I love props to use with dancing.  Whether it be scarves, wands, or boas, I just have to add these things to my collection.  The kids were so excited!  We pretended to put on all our bunny parts like we do when we imagine being different animals.  When we got to the ears, I told them "Hold on a second.  I have a special treat!"  I was a little nervous that the boys in my class might balk, but they didn't.  They loved it as much as the girls.

"The Three Little Rabbits" by Ivan Gantschev 

Have you ever seen this book?  It's The Three Little Rabbits by Ivan Gantschev.  We compared this book to The Three Little Pigs.  My darling little "bunnies" were so into it!  They told me that the three little rabbits had to make houses just like the three little pigs.  One of the kids added "except they're making them in the ground, not above the ground."  Anthony, one of my really shy kids, said "but the bad guy is a fox in the rabbit book, and a wolf in the other book."  Giselle said "the fox was being tricky, just like in the gingerbread boy story."  These are the moments when I really feel that the hard work pays off.

I found Jet-Puffed marshmallow bunnies at a Giant grocery store, and of course I had to make up some activities for them.  Here is the book that we used in small group reading.  It matches the marshmallows exactly.  I laminate the book and show the children how to put the marshmallows on top of each page.

I See Bunnies Big


This is a sheet that I made for sorting and counting.

Bunny Marshmallow Color Sorting

My daughter is 21 and in college now, and I have to say that her old toy chest is so useful when it comes to gathering materials.  I can't believe all the Beanie Baby bunnies that I bought for her over the years!  I had enough for a full class set, and we have been practicing counting, graphing, and position words.  The children even read their favorite books to the Beanie Baby bunnies.

My students practicing position words with Beanie Baby bunnies

I'd be so interested to know what teaching treasures you find in your child's toy box.  If you have time, please leave me a comment.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beautiful Butterflies

This post is filled with butterfly books, songs and activities!

The books "Waiting For Wings" and "Where Butterflies Grow"
The first two books that I would like to tell you about are Waiting For Wings by Lois Ehlert and Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder.  They both have beautiful pictures, and in my opinion are appropriate to read to pre-k, k, or 1st-graders.  Both books discuss the life cycle of the butterfly and introduce vocabulary that our students will find really interesting.

The books "From Caterpillar To Butterfly" and "A Monarch Butterfly's Life"
The second two books, From Caterpillar To Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman and A Monarch Butterfly's Life by John Himmelman, are a little higher than pre-k - more appropriate for K, 1 and 2.  They still talk about the life cycle, but in a more factual, scientific manner.  I've used From Caterpillar To Butterfly when I've actually had the caterpillars in a jar in my room.  When I first started teaching, I was scared to get the Painted Lady Butterfly kit, but I assure you that it's really easy to use, and the kids love watching the process.

My pre-k kids still have problems with identifying numerals, so I used the song "Five Butterflies" by Tiana to have the children look at the number and go to drink from the "daffodil" when it was their turn, as well as showing the other students in the room the number on their butterfly.  The "daffodil" was made from a yellow tablecloth bought at a Party Store.  Here is the video if you'd like to see us doing the song:



Over the years, I've searched the internet for great songs about butterflies that my students could act out or move to in some way.  My favorite songs are:

"Butterfly Addition" by Miss Jenny (she also sings "Butterfly Subtraction")
"The Butterfly" by Dr. Jean (a really pretty fingerplay with nice movements)
"Beautiful Butterfly" by Jack Hartmann (a mellow butterfly song that's very factual - best for K and 1)
"Caterpillar" by Sharon Macdonald (a really cute story song - you can have the children use their index finger, starting at their shoe, and have the "caterpillar" crawl up to different parts of the body)
"Caterpillar's Story" by Dr. Jean (an adorable song that the kids can act out, sung to the tune of "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around")

Finally, here is an activity where the students match lowercase letters to uppercase letters.  The kids really liked this because the letters are on butterflies.  Because I had to fit so many letters and pictures on the page, this is done on legal size paper (8.5" x 14").
Alphabet Butterfly Matching

I want to make my posts as beneficial as possible.  I would appreciate it so much if you could tell me what your favorite things to see in posts are.  Do you like song lists?  Activities?  Book ideas?  Please let me know, because then I can try to include those things more often in my posts.  Thank you!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Giveaway from The Hands-On Teacher & Wild About Teaching

Marie at The Hands-On Teacher and Lacey at Wild About Teaching are teaming up for a great giveaway the ends Sunday night, so if you want a chance at a TPT gift card or some great packets from Lacey, hurry to their sites and check it out!  And if you're reading this after the giveaway ended, it would still be worth your time to visit them - both of their sites are amazing!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Songs and Sight Words


April at Wolfelicious is having a Sight Word Linky Party!  I just had to tell you all about some of my favorite songs that teach the sight words, because when I first started teaching I didn't realize that you could use music and movement as well as visuals to teach sight words.  Now that I'm a 20-year veteran, I realize by using movement, music, and a visual, you're really including all types of learners.  The first great pair of songs is by Jack Hartmann and they are called "Popcorn Words" and "Popcorn Words (4, 5 & 6 Letter)" from the CD's Hip Hop Alphabop and Hip Hop Alphabop 2.  You can listen to the first one on Jack Hartmann's web site, and the second one is the exact same song but with different words.  I give the children popcorn word cutouts (the file shown below, printed on yellow paper) and have them "pop up" when it's their turn.  The children are positioned on their knees so that they can easily bounce up and down during the song; when it's their word, they stand up.
Popcorn Words for Board

I also have a Popcorn Word Wall in my room so the kids can easily see the words and use them in their writing daily.  Here are two quick-and-easy popcorn word sheets that I made, where kids are just practicing saying the word and visually matching it to its identical partner:
Popcorn Words Cut Paste

Another really fabulous song is "Singing the World Wall" by Dr. Jean, from her album Kiss Your Brain. It's a really cool teaching song because once you get the melodies down, you can use this song to springboard to other sight words.  For example, Dr. Jean uses the melody for "Three Blind Mice" to teach the word "and," but really any 3-letter-word can be used with that melody.  She does the same thing for 4-, 5-, and 6-letter words.

I also make sight word board games for each month of the year.  I just put a new kindergarten egg sight word game on TPT.  I really like making and using these games, because the kids play cooperatively with others, and they really take pride in being able to spell and recognize the sight words.  I also made a special poster called "Super Sight Word Spellers."  When the children know all of their sight words for your class, you simply put their name on the list and give them a prize.  My children kept asking me to re-test them because they wanted to be the next person on the list.

Have a super time singing and spelling!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Eggs

"The Easter Egg" by Jan Brett

If you're looking for the perfect book for the spring season, look no further.  The Easter Egg by Jan Brett is one of my newest favorites.  I am told that the pictures are simply gorgeous, and the kids really enjoy describing everything they see to me.  Not only is it visually beautiful, but it has a lovely lesson at the end about helping others.

Beside dying eggs and mixing colors, I also fill my water table with plastic eggs and grass, and I turn it into an educational activity by writing capital and lowercase letters with permanent marker on each half of an egg.  I've also done the same thing with sight words.

Water Table filled with grass and plastic alphabet eggs

Since I teach in a public school, I do not call the eggs "Easter eggs", I just call them "spring eggs" because a lot of animals are born in the spring time.  Discussions of eggs can also be matched with some great books that I'll talk about in my next post.

Kids absolutely love going on hunts.  I remember when I was little, even though I was visually impaired I loved finding eggs.  When I taught kindergarten I put these little messages into the eggs along with one or two treats, and the kids went crazy for them!  You'll never believe this, but actually they were more excited about what the little messages said than eating the treats!  I told them to try and read the messages themselves.  If they couldn't figure out a word, they could ask three friends for help.  If they still couldn't understand the words, then they could ask me.  It was such a wonderful time!  All the kids were showing their friends what their "magic egg" said to them.

Easter Egg Notes 2

I used this sheet to have the kids practice writing their numbers, because many of my children still wrote their numbers backwards.  I was surprised that my kids really like this paper, because the sheet is so simple.  But what I told my children to do was first trace the numbers with a black crayon, then color over the eggs with light colors such as yellow, pink, orange, or light blue.

Counting Eggs

If you're interested in guided reading books for your small group that use a huge variety of kindergarten sight words, I just put up a new packet on TPT called Egg Guided Reading Books.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them for me below.  I love hearing what you all have to say.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jelly Bean Giveaways

As I started collecting materials for the beginning of spring, I realized that I have many sweet activities for jelly beans.  First, why not make sure that your students can recognize their color words by using this simple but effective jelly bean coloring sheet?
Coloring Jelly Beans 2

For a math lesson, you could sort, count and graph, either by making a real graph or this bar graph:
Graph Jelly Beans Bar

For small group reading, I made two different books for my high group and for my on-grade level group when I was in kindergarten.  I hope you enjoy these books that reinforce K sight words.  I made both of these as half-size books - I printed each book on three pieces of paper front and back, stapled them along the mid-line, then folded them.
Here Are Jelly Beans
Do You Like Jelly Beans

These pattern strips can be used in a small-group math lesson or in centers (if you trust your students with real jelly beans).  I prefer to do it in a small group and give each child their own Ziploc bag filled with jelly beans.

Pattern Jelly Bean Strips

If you like these activities, please let me know by leaving a comment below.  I'd really like to share activities that are useful to all my sweet friends out there!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

K-2 Linky Party



Jeannie over at Kindergarten Lifestyle is hosting a terrific linky party to bring together early childhood bloggers from all across the internet!  I can't wait to explore all of the great teachers who are joining.  If you're interested, here is a link to the party:

http://kindergartenlifestyle.blogspot.com/2012/03/kinder-2nd-linky-party-woot-woot.html

Head on over and join the fun!

Eating The Alphabet

"Eating The Alphabet" by Lois Ehlert

Eating The Alphabet by Lois Ehlert is a colorful ABC book that encourages your sweeties to learn new vocabulary as well as phonics and letter identification.  Let me be completely honest when I tell you that my kids really are into this book up to about letter K.  Then the wiggles start.  You know what I mean.  Sally starts touching Sarah's hair, Billy starts poking Carole, etc.  It's a long book.

So, this year, when I was preparing to use this book with a kindergarten class, I got smart.  I went to the grocery store and bought dates, a kiwi, and peaches.  I actually wanted mangoes, but the particular store that I went to didn't have any.  I also prepared a CD with alphabet songs on it, to get the kids up and moving.  When the students came in, I started with a song by Dr. Jean called "Phonercise."  This is such a wonderful song because it has the kids stretching up to say the letter, touching their shoulders to make the letter sound, and touching their toes to say a word starting with that letter.  I paused the song at letter K so that we could read the book up to letter K.  We read each page, clapping the syllables for each word.  This really allowed the students to be involved with the story.  It also helped tremendously with the wiggles I talked about earlier.  Showing them the real fruits also piqued their interest.  This is such a great book for introducing new fruits and vegetables to your children.  The kids told me they didn't know what dates were, so it was sort of a mini-science lesson within the language lesson.  We also check any food allergies before we let the children eat anything.  So, when we got to letter K in the book, I showed them the kiwi and then we finished the rest of the Dr. Jean song.  After finishing the song, we went back to reading the book.  It went so much better than trying to read the whole book without any kind of movement in the middle.  I will always do it this way from now on!

Sample game boards for ABC BINGO

If you're interested, I have an ABC BINGO game (available on TPT) using very colorful pictures along with letters and words on the game boards and teacher cards.  I tried this out the same day as reading Eating The Alphabet, and my small group loved it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

St. Patrick's Giveaway

With St. Patrick's Day approaching, I'd love to give two lucky teachers a really useful St. Patrick's Day Package that I sell on TPT.  All you have to do is blog about any of my posts (including a link to the post you chose), and leave a comment here to say that you did.  In your comment, make sure to include your email address so that I can send you the package if you're a winner.  This contest ends Wednesday, March 14 at 7:00pm.

Good luck!  :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wow!

I love my county!  Two really sweet gentlemen from the Communications Office of my school district came to my classroom last Tuesday to film a video segment about me.  There was an interview and they recorded us doing our morning message and circle routine.  I found out today that the video is on the front page of my county's web site.  Here it is:



With all the excitement, I forgot that I wanted to share with you some ideas for March.  "Sing Into Spring" by Jack Hartmann is really great for calendar time because it talks about how winter will end and spring will begin.  "The Leprechaun Song" by Newbridge Songs For Learning is sort of a little story that the kids can act out as they're singing the song.  Another cool song that I just found yesterday on iTunes is "The Leprechaun" by Joe Guida the Singing School Bus Driver.  I like this one because it has a very Irish folk sound to it.

I have really been trying to make calendar time more exciting for my kids by changing the numbers every month.  Here is a giveaway that you can use in your calendar kit, or as a number sequencing game in Math Center:

Calendar Numbers in Shamrocks for March

"The Story of the Leprechaun" by Katherine Tegen
I think it's also helpful for the children to hear books about different holidays so that they can recognize what special days occur in each season.  I really enjoy reading books about magical creatures to my kids.  School is so tough these days with so many facts that we have to impart to our children.  I think some of the sparkle and magic has been lost.  The Story of the Leprechaun by Katherine Tegen helps restore a little of that fantasy that children need, and it teaches a nice message about not being greedy.  I think what I'm going to do with this story is tell the children that the leprechaun must have visited our classroom early in the morning because I found some green Play Doh that smells like mint.  Then I can have the students continue working on making shapes with part-part-whole.

I would love to know which books you all use in the month of March.  Please leave a comment below.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Simply Symmetry

As I've been searching the internet for wonderful books to use with my kids to teach symmetry, I found this little treasure:  Let's Fly A Kite by Stuart J. Murphy.
"Let's Fly A Kite" by Stuart J. Murphy
It's only $6 from Amazon.com.  It sounds like just the thing I need to teach how to draw a line of symmetry in a fun way.  I also have other books from this series (Math Starts) that are really great.  I'm really interested in books that all of you use for this concept.  If you can, leave a comment below.

Yesterday, when we were working on equal parts, I had the children dividing shapes with Play Doh, but I thought for more independent practice they could use this simple but effective Play Doh mat.  I laminated four of these and put them in my Art Center.
Symmetry Play Doh Mat

During small group today, my pre-k students practiced fine motor skills and learned part-part-whole with this worksheet.  They did a fabulous job with it in class:
Symmetry Shapes

Jeannie, thank you for your sweet comment on my previous fractions/symmetry post.  Here is another symmetry paper that I hope you'll like too:
Symmetry Gingerbread Girl

Finally, here's one more book that you might like to use in kindergarten or in pre-k if you're working on fractions: Eating Fractions by Bruce McMillan.  Let me know what you think.




"Eating Fractions" by Bruce McMillan

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fabulous Fractions

Teaching fractions, in my opinion, starts with symmetry.  I just found a great song by Judy & David called "The Symma Tree" (it's available on iTunes for 99 cents), and it really explains the concept very well for pre-k and kindergarten students.  I think cutting Play Doh in half is a great way to get started teaching the children about part-part-whole.  It's easiest if you start with circles and squares.  Next I get out the masking tape and put a line down the center of my body.  The kids crack up laughing at first, but then they all want to volunteer to be the person with the line of symmetry down the middle of their body!  I then play games like "Simon Says," but when we freeze, I ask them if they're symmetrical or asymmetrical.  You can also use the song "Freeze Dance" by Greg & Steve for the same activity.  I like to use slices of cheese, graham crackers, and candy bars to show children how you can cut things down the middle to leave two equal parts.

For fine motor practice, I had the children complete this symmetrical house picture.  If you hold a mirror across the page you can show the students how the whole image should look, to help them draw the correct parts.  I have many more of these; if you leave a comment that you like this one, I will put up more as freebies.
Symmetry House


When you actually start exploring fractions, I have found two fabulous songs that I use all the time.  The first one is by Dr. Jean and it's called "Fraction Pizza".  When we sing the song, I use plastic fraction pizzas that I bought at a local teacher store.  I've also seen velcro pizzas at Toys R Us.  If you can't find these toys, you can just make an art pizza with markers on a paper plate.  The second song that I like to use is "Fraction Is Part Of A Whole" by Miss Jenny, and it's also about pizza.

I made these books a few years ago when I was in kindergarten, and I hope they are helpful for you:
My Fraction Book
My Circle Fraction Book


Enjoy working with fractions!