Video segment about me, by the school district

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!