Video segment about me, by the school district

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Funny Stories

Lego Person
For two years, I've served on the Lego Education Advisory Panel.  I love it, and it's a lot of fun.  When I found out that the Lego Education people were going to be at the NAEYC national conference here in Washington DC, I volunteered my classroom for them to come and see what an American classroom looks like.  One of the ladies is from Denmark.  Like the good teacher that I am, I let my kids know several times that Lego people would be coming later that day.  I let them know at breakfast.  I told them in the middle of reading.  Before lunch, when we were lining up, I said "Don't forget, the Lego people are coming after lunch.  Please make sure that you walk nicely into the classroom."  Sometimes my kids come back from lunch and they start tattling.  They'll say things like "Andy butted to the front of the line again!", "Josh stepped on my shoe!", "Nasya looked at me!", and, you know, a million other things.  So I really wanted to make sure that they understood that we were going to have visitors, and that they were just supposed to come in and sit on their letter on the carpet for math time.

So, I picked them up from lunch, brought them back to the classroom, and told them "Ok, the Lego people aren't here yet, but we're going to start math."  We read our math message, and then our visitors arrived.  I was shaking hands with one of the people, and Jesus stood up and said in a very affronted tone "They're not made of Legos!  You said Lego people were coming!"  'Oh my gosh,' I thought, as I realized my mistake.  I had been saying 'Lego people.'  Poor Jesus!  I said "These are the Lego people.  They work for Lego Education."  He said "But they're just... They have bones and blood and stuff!  They're just humans!"  My guests thought it was funny, and I learned a valuable lesson.  When I told my husband this story, he laughed for a solid five minutes.  He said it was one of the funniest stories I ever told him!

Washington Convention Center
...until Thursday, when I went to the NAEYC conference.  Ok, you all know that I'm totally blind, so when I go to these conventions I need a sighted guide.  I also take my cane with me.  I have a dear friend, a pre-k teacher, who also likes going to conferences, so she offered to take me this time.  First you have to understand that my friend, Tracie, is really bad with maps.  She will tell you this herself.  A couple years ago, we couldn't find the parking lot that we left her jeep in.  I mean, we walked around for 45 minutes trying to find the vehicle.  This time, she said we would absolutely not get lost trying to find the car.  We parked in a lot two blocks away from the Washington Convention Center.  Both of us really hate DC.  When you ask people for directions in DC, for some reason everyone you ask isn't from the area - maybe understandable since there are a lot of tourists.  :)  There's also a great deal of construction.

We had a great day at the conference (more on that in another post) and thought it would be very easy to get back to the jeep which was just on 7th and New York.  We were on 9th and L Street.  Ok, you guessed it, we got lost!  I was trying to be oh-so-sweet to one of my best friends, saying "It's ok.  We'll find it.  Remember, you wrote down the streets that it was on, and it's next to that restaurant The Fringe."  So, Tracie shouted out "Oh!  I see the restaurant.  The awning is the same."  Then, "Oh no," she said.  "It was a truck."  I didn't really understand what had happened, but I just smiled and said "Let's backtrack.  Let's go to the doors of the convention center and walk the two blocks to the parking lot that's next to The Fringe."  We walked halfway back, and she said "I see my car."  Oh, I was so happy!  She said "Oh, we just have to-- Watch out Sharon, the pavement is a little uneven."  Oh my gosh!  It was like walking through a mountain range.  I said "Are you sure this is right?  We didn't come through this way before."  In a very soothing tone, she said "It's ok, honey.  I can see the car.  We'll be there in 2 minutes."  Then she told me "Umm, I just need you to step up on this ledge.  It's really very tiny, but there's a lot of water in the gutter and there's a truck blocking this area."  I trust my friend, so I got up onto this ledge.  I'm a little ploofy, so it was challenging, as a blind person, to squeeze onto a 2-inch ledge.  Then she told me we were going through a hole in a fence.  The pavement was really rough again, and I heard the sound of a jackhammer.  I heard her say something about having to climb a fence to get out.  "Where are we?" I said.  "Are we inside of a construction site?"  I suddenly heard men calling to us pretty anxiously "Ladies!  You can't be in there!"  Tracie kept walking us forward.  I pulled on her sleeve.  "Tracie, I think those men are talking to us.  What's happening?"  I started feeling very nervous, like if I took one more step the ground beneath my feet was going to explode.  Tracie, in a very lady-in-distress voice, started yelling back to them "I just need to get to my car.  It's right there!"  The construction men said "There's no way out!  You're in a live construction site!"  I almost started to cry.  We must have looked a pitiful sight.  The men helped us out, and we did get to the car.  At that point, Tracie said "Don't you think that was better than last time?  It didn't take us as long!"  I laughed and said "It's never boring with you, Tracie.  And how dangerous was that, really?"  When I told my husband that I had almost died, he thought that this story was even more hysterical than the last.  The next day, when we were walking on the correct side of the street, the men recognized us and yelled "Much better, ladies!  You're doing great!  Keep going!"  I swear, I felt like I was on that old-time "I Love Lucy" show.

I hope these two stories bring you a little bit of laughter.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Solid Shapes

Book Cover of "Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes"

Every year, I struggle with my solid shape unit.  I can't find books or songs, and I also feel like manipulatives and fun games are virtually nonexistent.  I just purchased the book Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy from  It is a totally awesome book and perfect for any unit on solid shapes!  The story is about a boy who is a space captain along with his dog, Comet.  I told my kids that I had a special treat for them, and when I presented it they were thrilled!  They'd been asking me for space books for so long, and it felt fantastic to find the perfect book for them.  The book is really in the style of a comic book, but very appropriate for kindergarten.  Captain Invincible has to overcome many dangers and obstacles, and he uses solid shapes to get rid of the threats of the poison gas and galactic beast.  Seriously, my kids were spellbound!  They've asked me to read it every single day this week in math.  It's also great for beginning/middle/end and comprehension questions.  By the end of the book, you find out that Captain Invincible is a little boy in his bedroom, using his imagination.  His whole family comes in, in their pajamas, and they just want to get a little sleep.  In writing, we are currently working on list-and-label books.  This story really inspired my children to start writing their own books with little word bubbles.

After a lot of searching, I found a song called "Solid Shapes" by Miss Jenny.  There's also a wonderful YouTube video by Harry Kindergarten called 3D Shapes I Know.  My kids walk around the centers singing that song - it's SO cute!  Since I've never been able to find any good games, I made my own Solid Shape Bingo.  Again, I couldn't find any worksheets that I liked, so I made my own solid webs.  Here's a sample freebie that you can use:

If you want a whole set of products like this one, ready to use, take a look at my Solid Shape Unit on TPT.

I would really enjoy hearing about what all of you do for solid shapes, and I'd be very grateful for any advice or pointers that you'd like to leave in a comment.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Social Studies Saturday

I could just kick myself!  I thought of this really fantastic idea for Halloween too late to do it that day.  You know how excited kids get about wearing costumes to dress up as all kinds of different people.  Since there is such an intense focus right now on writing, I thought "Why not have my kids look at picture cards for community helpers and other jobs such as magicians, clowns, and jugglers, and express what they would like to be through drawing and writing?"  So, I made a Community Helpers & More Writing Folder.  I chose pictures of things that the students are always asking me how to spell, such as "princess", "magician", and "fire fighter".  If you'd like to take a look, I'm selling it on TPT for $1.00.

Being intensely anal retentive reflective and thoughtful, I realized that I could use the writing folder that I made at any time.  The kids LOVE talking about pretend play.  Then my businesswoman side came out, which is very rare because I'm a kid at heart.  But I thought "I have tons of really cool community helper stuff that I can put in one package."  I'm really proud of the stuff I make because it's on the kindergarten level and has a lot of picture support that allows my ESOL population to be successful with matching workers to their vehicles, tools, and clothing.  It's hard to put this in words, so here's a freebie that shows the kind of thing I'm talking about.


I also just put up on TPT a really beautiful Community Helper Package that I think would be useful in any pre-k or kindergarten classroom.  There are guided reading books for emerging readers, writing prompts, graphic organizers, and some very nice day vs. night worker materials.

Here are three songs and their artists that I use all the time for community helpers.  The first one is really funny and sort of a rap style.  The second one is just sort of teacher-ish and it brings the kids back together after looking at pictures.  I used it for one of the videos for my National Board social studies lesson.  I'd have to say the third one is very jazzy and sometimes my favorite.  If you like jazz, it will definitely put a smile on your face as well as your children's faces.

"Community Helpers" by Shawn Brown
"Community Helpers" by Mar Harmon
"Community Workers" by Bubbly Vee

I know this is a weird place to mention the carousel up top, but they are my absolute favorite community helper books, with beautiful illustrations and rich content.  They would really help make any community helper unit a snap!  I also chose a lot of the books because they show people with disabilities and of various races and genders.  Please let me know what you're doing for community helpers!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Spectacular Sorting Ideas & Freebies

Boy, I am tired today!  I feel like I've run a marathon.  Well, I did go to my school's Halloween dance on Thursday and all of my little kinders wanted to dance with me.  So I guess that's similar to a marathon.

We started a new unit in math this week: sorting and classifying.  I feel that I'm teaching this unit very concisely.  The books from the carousel above really helped to bring home rules about sorting and classifying.  In the past, when I've asked my students what sorting was, they've told me "You know.  You put the red ones with the red ones.  You put the yellow ones with the yellow ones."  This year, when I ask them what sorting is, they're telling me that you can put similar things in a group.  Yes!  Why am I so excited?  Well, on our mandatory quarter test the students have to be able to look at a group of objects and know how to sort them by the sorting rule.  They also have to sort and then tell which group has more objects and which has fewer objects.  I made this paper specifically for that purpose.

Another reason I made this paper was that a friend bought me these sorting rabbits for Christmas.

Sorting Bunnies with Hat from Learning Resources

There is something so magical about pulling rabbits out of a hat.  Ok, maybe it's just me, but I love unique manipulatives.  Some people collect shoes, some people collect purses.  I collect all types of unusual math manipulatives.

I found a video on the internet about sorting and classifying that's just so cute!  I love the woman's Indian accent.

Sorting and classifying songs are hard to find, but I spent a while researching and I found these and bought them from iTunes:

"Socks in the Dryer - Sorting" by Jeff Johnson
"Sorting Socks (Sorting by Attribute)" by Judy and David
"The Sorting Song" by Heidi Butkus

In years past, I've used:

"Make a Group" by Jack Hartmann
"Color, Shape & Size" by Jack Hartmann

If you know of more sorting songs, please tell me about them in a comment!

This week I also sorted by size with bear manipulatives and plastic pumpkins that I found in a variety of places.  I have a freebie on TPT for coloring pumpkins by size.  And here is an apple size sorting paper:

I'd love to hear about what all of you are doing for sorting and classifying this year!  If you can, leave a comment below.