Video segment about me, by the school district

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Concerning Cats and Freebies

"Bad Kitty" Book Cover

Hi everyone!  Do you ever feel like you really want to blog but your life is just so intense and crazy that you don't have time?  Well, I have one more week of summer school, then one week off, and then regular school starts.  Summer school has been pretty nice, though.  We have 22 kindergartners who are going into first grade, and we split them so they can receive more attention.  So really, my highest amount of kids at one time is 12.  This allows me to have full conversations with the children and find out unique things about each and every one of them.  Many of the children told me that they had pets at home, and how much they enjoyed taking care of them.  We did one complete day about dogs, another complete day about horses, and last week we did a day about cats.

I looked through my things for a funny book about cats, and found Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel.  Summer school is overloaded on boys this year, and they really loved the naughtiness of the cat.  See, in this alphabet cat book the owner runs out of cat food and tries to substitute A to Z healthy foods.  Kitty reacts badly, performing a complete list of bad A to Z actions around the house such as clawing curtains and hurling hair balls.  After that, the mother comes home with A to Z appropriate foods for the cat, who is so grateful that it carries out nice A to Z actions around the house.  I would definitely use this book over two days, because it is a little long to read in one sitting.  But if you're looking for a great alphabet book which is humorous, this is it!

I made a guided reading book to go along with the cat theme, focusing on position words.  Now, you may think "Why would kindergartners who are going to first grade still need position words?"  I was surprised too!  But I found that some of my ESOL children did not know the words "between" or "above", for example.  The book also helps them to see it in context.  Here it is:



During our morning message, we also talked about cats and what the students would do if they had one.  I made sure that every student was able to express their idea, in a complete sentence or two.  Then we used this paper to write about our ideas:



I didn't use it last week, but there's a great song by Dr. Jean called "Kitty Cat Position Scat" that completely ties in with position words.

Finally, I've been thinking more and more about Common Core and writing for the beginning of the school year, so I created an ABC folder with hollow letters, dotted fonts, pictures, and words.  I'm really satisfied with the way it turned out.  Let me know what you think.

What are you doing to get ready for school, or what new products have you created for the upcoming school year?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell, and Freebies

Book Cover for "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell"

Hello everyone!  Have I ever told you that I am obsessed with matching things?  Clothes, furniture, and, yes, teaching stuff too!  I'm going to the beach today, and I had an idea to do a beach post.  So, here it goes.

On Monday, at summer school, I'm going to read There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell by Lucille Colandro.  I'm going to bring some shells back from the beach, some sand, and whatever other treasures I can find.  I really believe in connecting real life objects to books that we read in the classroom.  I'm going to use these retelling cards to help the children name the objects in the story as well as the order in which the old lady swallows them:



I've noticed that when I use these cards, the children are more attentive during the story and it gives them a chance to stretch their legs by getting up and putting the card on my magnetic whiteboard.  After we finish that, to really check for understanding, they'll do this worksheet:



To stay with the beach theme, I want to sing "Five Little Crabs" by Dr. Jean.  You can purchase the album that this song is on by visiting the Songs for Teaching web site.  I also made these crabs with numerals on them to add a visual component to the experience:



Songs for Teaching also sells a really great album by Jack Hartmann called "I've Got Music In Me", featuring a song that counts up called "Five Little Fish".  Here's another freebie for you: fish with numerals on them.  This file is in black-and-white so that you can print it on any color of paper that you like.



I don't know how many of you still have water or sand tables, but there's an excellent toy from Lakeshore called Sift and Find Alphabet Shells:


I've used these shells both in sand and out of sand, and the students really love them.  They can find letters in their name or their friends' names, or words that relate to the beach (crab, sand, fish, clam, wave, castle, water, etc.).  As another way of helping your students practice beach vocabulary, you can use this word search that I made:



I hope you like this beachy post!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

Carolyn Kislowski, one of my newest and dearest blogging friends over at Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together, was kind enough to bestow upon me the Liebster Blogging Award!  I am so excited and honored that she would think of me for this award.  You should definitely check out her blog when you have a chance.  She has some terrific ideas and a great sense of humor.

So, in the tradition of this award I will follow the rules and nominate more bloogs for this prestigious award.  And the blogs that I'm now nominating are asked to follow these same steps:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

So, I am nominating the following blogs, all of which I discovered recently and really admire:

Mrs. Ward's Land of the Little Learners

Miss Galvin Learns

Primary Classrooms are Oceans of Fun

Teacher Laura: Kindergarten Adventures

Mrs. Ring's K-Crew Kids


Here are my answers to the 11 questions that were posted by the blog who nominated me:

1. How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time reading, ballroom dancing, and making games for the classroom and EdWorld Exchange.

2. What is your favorite candy?
Dark chocolate with nuts is my favorite candy.

3. What is a favorite childhood memory?
Playing in bell choir is a favorite child memory of mine.

4. If you had to live in a decade other than the current one, which would you choose?
I would have liked to live in the 1950's because dance was a bigger part of  life and because of the clothing (poodle skirts and sweaters).

5. Chinese, Mexican, or Italian for dinner?
I would have to choose Mexican because I really like spicy food.

6. Your life is going to become a script for a movie. Who would you want to play you?
Finola Hughes

7. Not counting family, what do you think your greatest accomplishment is so far in life?
Not counting family, I would say my greatest accomplishment was becoming National Board Certified and getting a 4.0 on one of my portfolio entries in the process.

8. What is your favorite TV show?
Dr. Who is my favorite TV show, and I also like Chopped.

9. What was your favorite childhood toy?
My cassette player was my favorite toy, so that I could "read" books.

10. You can have a half-hour conversation with anyone no longer living. Who do you choose? Why?
I would choose my sister, Lori, to ask her if she thinks I've done a good job raising her daughter.

11. You can have a half-hour conversation with any fictional character. Who do you choose? Why?
I would choose Riversong from Dr. Who.  She's just so awesome that it would be great to learn some of her secrets through a half-hour conversation.


Here are the 11 questions that I'm asking my 5 nominated blogs to answer:

1. What is your favorite room in your house, and why?
2. Where would you travel if money was no object?
3. If you could rename yourself, what name would you pick?
4. What is your favorite fairytale, and which character in it do you like the best?
5. When teaching, do you prefer using manipulatives, music, games, or books?
6. If money was no object and you were building a school, what would you put into the building?
7. Which famous actor would you pick to have lunch with, if you could?
8. If you could be the lead in a musical, play, or TV show, what would you pick, and why?
9. Do you prefer wearing jeans, dress pants, or skirts?
10. What flower best represents you?
11. If your life was made into a movie, would it be categorized as a comedy, romance, drama, or action movie?


Here are 11 random facts about me:

1. I am a ballroom dancer.
2. I love tomatoes.
3. I put hot sauce in my V8.
4. I collect comfortable shoes with low heels.
5. I give out my home and cell phone numbers to the parents of my students.
6. New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day are my favorite holidays.
7. When I'm on stage or in front of a lot of people, I feel very relaxed and contented.
8. I have made more than 1,700 guided reading books on the computer.
9. I've met and spoken with Felicia Day and Dar Williams (two of my favorite people in the university).  Felicia Day is an actress and Dar Williams is a folk singer.
10. I lived in England for a year and visited Canterbury Cathedral, London, Nottingham, and Stratford-on-Avon.
11. I love getting massages.


That's it!  Again, thanks so much to Carolyn for nominating me!  Have a great day!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Super Sight Word Bingo

Playing Sight Word Bingo with my students

Hi everyone!  I don't know if I mentioned that I'm teaching summer school this year, but today I have off for the 4th of July.  I know, you probably think I'm crazy, but I really wanted to teach summer school because I only have ten children in each group, I get to teach reading (which I love), and it's only 4 days a week.  Beside all of that, I really wanted to buy hardwood floors for our living room and dining room at home.  Our rug is disgustingly old!

Anyway, I started thinking about the children I have in my summer school class who don't know all their sight words.  So of course I'm going to be using all the modalities to try and really get them to feel, see, and hear them before they're off to the land of first grade.  We've been singing "Popcorn Words" by Jack Hartmann and "Singing the Word Wall" by Dr. Jean, and having a good time writing sight words in sand.

My "Sight Word Bingo" game


This week, I made a really beautiful Sight Word Bingo Game.  I decided to make it so it would be beneficial for the lower kids, the middle kids, and the higher kids in the summer school class.  I used 30 of our kindergarten sight words and 10 more from first grade.  I also thought of complete sentences that would use each sight word, to help the children to make connections to the real world.  To flesh out these sentences I added words such as "cat", "dog", "fish", etc. that are easy to sound out.  I tried it out this week with the kids, and they really enjoyed it.  Ok, you might ask me how I know they enjoyed it.  Well, the second day that I pulled it out, they started yelling out "Yay!  Bingo!", "I want to be blue!", "I want to be red!".  I was really pleasantly surprised because I thought it would be difficult to get the kids out of centers.  I think adding the color choices to the player boards helps them to become engaged from the start of the game.

Please let me know what you think about this game, and any suggestions you have to make it better.  Solid Bingo is coming soon!