Video segment about me, by the school district

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Multicultural Gingerbread Books

Season's greetings everyone!  I hope you're all having a restful and happy vacation.  I think most of you know that I have a fascination with books that have similar themes.  I think that the gingerbread story is one of my top favorites.  It's so wonderful how every culture has their own version of the story.  I've been doing research this week on even more multicultural versions of the story, and they're displayed above in the carousel.  I did further research by asking the cutest little Russian boy that I saw about half an hour ago if he knew the story of the Kolobok.  He told me that it's a roll, like a gingerbread boy, and that his grandparents read him the story.  I was thrilled to find out that it really is a popular story with Russian children.  I haven't read The Runaway Tortilla yet for this year's students, but I think they'll adore the sassy little tortilla.  It takes place in Texas and the kids will really get into the Spanish words as they learn about another part of the country.

The kindergarten team at my school decided to compare and contrast The Gingerbread Boy with The Runaway Latkes.  We made sure that they had a strong foundation with The Gingerbread Boy by retelling the story and singing Jack Hartmann's song "The Gingerbread Man," which is basically the same story.  We then looked at the cover of The Runaway Latkes and predicted whether they would get eaten or not.  Next we read the story and discussed what was unique about each book and what they had in common.  We took dictation, noting each child's name along with what they said on a smaller Venn diagram.  Then we made a larger poster version over the holiday break.

Venn Diagram to Compare Gingerbread Stories
We let the children taste gingerbread cookies and latkes.  Susan, a retired teacher from our county, was kind enough to come in to school for the whole morning and make latkes for all five of our kindergarten classes.  The children were able to see how the latkes were cooked, smell the delicious aromas, find out why latkes are eaten during Hanukkah, and finally taste them.  Our students were so into the experience that they begged for seconds!

I would love to discover more versions of the story, or how you use them in your classroom.  Please feel free to leave me a comment below.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Magic

Playing Bells
Happy Holidays, everyone!  I don't know about all of you, but the last month has been very intense for me.  There has just been a lot of testing.  So, I'm not going to talk about the testing but I will talk about some fun things that really lifted my spirits and made my students very happy.  Hopefully you can use some of these ideas if you're still teaching before Christmas, or even afterward in the long month of January.

I purchased some bells at a conference and then completely forgot about them.  I do things like this ALL the time because I have too much stuff and I'm just a little ditzy.  Organized, but ditzy.  So I took them out and placed them on the shelf in my classroom, and wow!  When I started playing "Doe, a Deer" and "Jingle Bells", teachers would come in from other classrooms to see what was happening.  The music teacher came in.  Now, the funny thing is I believed he was one of my students, and thought "Oh my gosh!  I have a prodigy on my hands!"  After he played the song, he said hi to me, and I have to say I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn't one of my students.

These bells are SO easy to play.  My students started picking up how to play "Jingle Bells."  You just tap the top of the bell and it rings.  It's a little more challenging to play them as a completely blind person, because of course I'm doing it by ear and not by the color coding at the top of each bell that also matches the disc you can buy.  But it worked beautifully and my assistant, who also plays the flute, played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "The First Noel."  I guess the great thing about these bells is even if you're not musically talented you can look at the screen and just follow the colors.

Another really nice thing that happened was a little girl who couldn't count to 8 came over and played the scale with me.  I showed her how to count as she tapped the bells, and the second time we did it she counted by herself.  She doesn't have much English, and this is the first time that she's counted to 8 and back down again with the bells.  Sometimes music really does act as a bridge to other subjects.

Sight Word Christmas Tree
We practiced sight words with this Christmas tree that I made a few years ago.  But if you didn't see that post, here are the ornaments again if you'd like to make the tree.

I also laminated it and added velcro to it so the children could play with it in ABC and Word Center.  It's really amazing to see children who know their sight words use this tree to help those who are having a little trouble.  If you'd like to purchase some easy-to-use sight word coloring sheets, take a look at this product.  I used them all week and the kids said they were super fun.

We were also working on solid shapes and I found that using real objects is so much better than using pictures.  It's just more hands on and the children can actually roll and slide the objects to see how they move.  I think there are so many things we have to do that are just flat; it really excludes those kinesthetic, 3D learners.  I sat the children in a circle and assigned each child a 3D shape.  Then everyone sorted the real-life objects.  Here is a free solid shape book where the kids can color each solid shape on its own individual page.

The last thing I'd like to tell you about is a really awesome solid shape video where a girl, with help from a fairy, is decorating a Christmas tree with solid shapes.  It talks about faces, corners, and angles, and it's really perfect for kindergarten.  It's just so festive and it's a fabulous connection between the holidays and mathematics.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

50th Day of School

Hi everybody!  I wanted to tell you about a really cool day we had at my school.  We celebrated the 50th day of school.  Ok, I know, you're probably thinking "50th day of school?  Most people celebrate the 100th day of school."  I've celebrated the 50th day for the last two years and found that it's really helped my children understand the higher numbers in more depth.  I think that counting by fives and tens really is the basis for so many skills that our students need for mathematical concepts later in life.  It's really essential that we give them a firm foundation in kindergarten.

I dressed as a 1950's girl!  I got the costume from a Party Store right before Halloween, and I danced to a swing song by Elvis Presley with my husband.  We discussed how life was different in the 1950's (sock hops, soda shops, how people dressed) and even made root bear floats with our kiddos!  Here is a great video that we showed.  Thanks Stephanie for bringing it to my attention!

My class has also been learning about sorting and classifying, so I combined sorting with grouping by tens by using Fruit Loops to count to 50.  I used the following paper, laminated, and the children placed the Fruit Loops on top of the appropriate colors.  The great thing about laminating the sheet is you can use it year after year.  In the past, I've had them paste the Fruit Loops onto the sheet using marshmallow fluff, but I think that method is just too much sugar.  It's healthier with just the cereal.


I also made the following 50's chart where the children can trace the dotted font to help them understand how to make the numbers.  My students are constantly making numbers backwards.  I know that this is age appropriate for kindergarten, but my county does expect them, on standardized tests, to be able to write the numbers.

Two super songs that I found on Songs for Teaching are:

"Rockin' to 50" by MMMKids
"The Counting Creatures" by Ron Brown

I had the children hold up a plastic hundreds chart, but of course we only used numbers 1 to 50 so that they could see the numbers as we sang the songs.

One project that I loved doing when I was a girl scout (many, many years ago) was making paper chains.  I have several kids with fine motor problems this year, and I thought it would be oh-so-nifty to combine counting to 50 with patterning and the fine motor practice.  My blue and green tables, for example, used blue and green strips.  Each table made their own chain and we hung them up in the hallway along with the 50th day of school projects that my kids made.

Now my kids are super excited about doing the days in school chart that we've been using, and they can't wait for the 100th day!  I think I'm going to do this every year now.  It was so much fun!  Do you do anything special for the 50th day of school?  I'd love to hear about it.  Write a comment below.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The 13 Nights of Halloween

With Halloween soon approaching, I looked through my holiday books to find something special for this time of year.  I found this spooky tale: The 13 Nights of Halloween by Rebecca Dickinson.  It's perfect because right now we are writing and comparing numbers to 12.  My students also really like The 12 Days of Kindergarten, which I mentioned in my last post.  I made some cards that match this book, as well as sequencing sheets.  Here they are; I hope you like them!

13 Days of Halloween Sequencing by Sharon A Blachowicz Dudley

Dr. Jean also has a song called "Five Days of Halloween" which is done in a very spooky sort of Igor-type voice.  The song only goes up to 5, but it's definitely a favorite of my students.

If you have time, I'd love to hear what special things you're doing for Halloween.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New House and 12 Days of Kindergarten

I can't believe how long it's been since I've blogged!  I've really missed it.  It's been crazy, though!  My husband and I bought a new house.  It's huge because we're going to be adopting more kids.  Many of you know I have a 23-year-old daughter, but I guess I just did not have enough fun.  So we made sure to buy a house with 4 bedrooms so that when we foster-to-adopt there will be plenty of room.  Between electricians, roofers, home improvement people, fixing up our old place to sell, and getting our new place ready for us, it's been extremely chaotic!  Not bad, but just very busy.

One thing that I'm very excited about is that there's a storage room in the basement where I can keep all my teaching stuff.  Over the years, I've just acquired bins and bins of stuff.   As I was sorting through the mountains of teaching supplies, I found triples and quadruples of some things.  For example, I have 4 ABC train puzzles and 3 mother and baby animal puzzles.  I don't know if this has ever happened to you, but do you ever buy books that you've already purchased?  A number of times in the past I thought "Oh, I just have to have to have these weather books.  I guess I'll buy them from Scholastic."  Well, it turns out I now have 4 sets of those!  So I guess over holidays and breaks I'm really going to try and inventory more of my stuff.

Speaking of school stuff reminds me that I made some new things for the book The Twelve Days of Kindergarten by Deborah Lee Rose.

I did a previous post about The Twelve Days of Christmas and The Twelve Days of School.  But I also just put up a free product on TPT that you can use with both of those books as well as The Twelve Days of Kindergarten, which are all perfect for this time of the year!  I like them because they show the quantity, the numeral, and the sequence.  I also prefer books that count up before using books that count down.  It's also funny how the kids have a little trouble with left-to-right sweep when gluing numbers.  I'm sure you've experienced this, where you have them do some kind of paper where they're gluing things from 1 to 10, or 1 to 12, and when you get the papers, you notice that they've done it from right-to-left instead of left-to-right.  So I hope it helps that my sequencing sheets have some filled in for them.  This way, it's easier for them to understand the left-to-right sweep and they get practice with the concepts of "one more" and "one less".

Please leave me a comment below.  I would love to know what you think about the new house and these papers.  And beside that, I've just missed all of you!  :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Monday Music & More

Happy Monday everyone!  This week will be my second week of school, and can I tell you that I am so grateful for the CD "Kids In Motion"?  I always fall back on that music when I have a very active class.  There's a song on it called "Freeze Dance" where I have the children dance around with scarves and then I ask them to identify a letter when the music stops.  Therefore the active kids are getting out their wiggles and I'm still doing something academic.  It's also giving them a great brain break.  Another song that's really great for the beginning of kindergarten is "Show Me What You Feel."  It's so wonderful because no matter what class I try this with, they really get into showing emotions such as angry, happy, silly, etc.  Even kids who normally don't like dancing will act out the feelings in this song.  I think that it's very important for the kids to understand how to verbalize how they're feeling about things.  That makes solving conflicts and problems much easier.

I also read a book in my new Wonders reading series called Animals In The Park: An ABC Book.  I liked it, and the kids sat pretty well considering it was their first week of school.  Of course, the part that was really fun was doing the song "Animal Actions" from Kids In Motion, where the kids got to move like the animal that the singer indicates.  I have the children sit in a circle on the carpet.  I pick four students at a time to do each animal.  For the first try, the kids were being really shy until I got up and started moving like an elephant.  Then they were much more willing to try it themselves.

For science, I love the song by Dr. Jean called "Five Senses," which pairs perfectly with the book My Five Senses by Aliki.  I wanted to also have some guided reading books for science, so I made a complete set of them in color and black-and-white.  You can find them here on TPT.

Music is something that I truly enjoy using in my classroom.  I used the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams with letter balls to play a kind of "hot potato" game.  I bought the balls from Lakeshore, and each one has an uppercase and lowercase letter on it.  But really you could just use any kind of ball and just write whatever letter you choose on the ball with a permanent marker.  The kids pass it, and then say something that starts with that letter if the music stops while they're holding it.  If you don't want to write on the ball, you could also just show them a letter card when the music stops.

Please let me know if you use any of these songs, or if you have special favorites of your own for the beginning of the school year that you'd like to share.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back To School Sale August 4-5

300 × 250

I want to let you all know that I'm joining the big Back to School sale on Teachers Pay Teachers, and TPT is adding an extra discount as well!  You can get a total of 28% off all my products during the sale, so please browse my shop on Monday, August 4th or Tuesday, August 5th and see what you might want while the terrific discount lasts.  Here's a link to my shop:

Sharon Dudley's TPT Shop

Make sure to enter BTS14 as the discount code when you checkout to get the full 28% off.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Seashells by the Seashore

I'm linking up with Deanna Jump's Book Talk Tuesday to discuss the book Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes.  I went to Myrtle Beach in July with my husband and thought it would be really cool to collect some seashells for the classroom.  I also purchased a collection of shells from a seaside shop - I think they were about $8.  I already have magnifiers in the classroom, and I was thinking this could make a really fabulous science lesson.  The kids can sort them by kind, size, or color as well as make observations about their favorite shells and how they are alike and different.

I searched for a book about seashells and found Seashells by the Seashore.  It just arrived yesterday, and it's going to work perfectly.  It has watercolor illustrations and counts up from 1 to 12.  I think this book is really cool because it's a story that kids can relate to and it also has nice facts about seashells.  The sister and brother in the story are collecting seashells for their grandmother's birthday.  I'm planning on using this book in August, when children's memories of summer beach trips will be fresh in their minds.

I did a previous blog post about the beach last year, and it includes some freebies if you want to take a look.

Earlier this summer I made an Ocean ABC Bingo game and a Warm Weather Writing Folders package that includes a beautiful folder with beach words.

I'd love to hear about your summer vacations, beach or otherwise, if you'd like to leave me a comment below.  :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Tortoise and the Hare

Hi all!  Today's post is about a classic:  The Tortoise and the Hare.  I remember this story from when I was little.  Since then, I've read many versions and done puppet shows for it countless times.  It's amazing how you can capture children's attention by putting puppets on your hands.  I use these to retell the story:

I particularly like this version of the book by Janet Stevens:

The expressions on the character's are really intense.  You can see that the tortoise is sad because of the Hare's bullying.  I also think this is a great book because you can really explain to kindergarten students how bullying makes others feel and how it looks when somebody is being bullied.  This version is also very cool because the animals help tortoise to get ready for the race by cooking him healthy foods and exercising with him.  It's such a positive message about working together.  Unfortunately bullying still happens, but reading about it and discussing it will teach the children how it affects people and ways to combat it.

I recently visited some friends of ours who have a tortoise, and they let me hold it.  It was so cute, and I even got to stroke its neck.  I really want one for my classroom, but I'm not sure if our county will allow it.

I want to make tortoise puppets this year with the kids, using paper plates.  Maybe something that looks like this:

What kind of pets do all of you have in your classrooms?  I would love to hear about them.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Club Ideas from Chapter 2

Hi all!  Here are my thoughts about Chapter 2 of the book The Literacy Teacher's Playbook: Grades K-2.  This is my second post as part of the book club run by Abbey Giombetti Bannon over at A Teacher Mom.

I think this book is really great for first grade teachers.  As a kindergarten teacher, though, I feel that the author doesn't focus enough on important details about kindergarten, which is where we have to spend a lot of time teaching children the basics of how to read and write.  I can see that the author's purpose was to write a book that could be useful to K-2 teachers, but it just doesn't do it for me.

The author writes a great deal about running records.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I have had SO much training on running records.  I already know what to look for.  She does mention that kindergartners should be working on retelling and answering comprehension questions orally.  She also says that observations are the best way to assess whether children are comprehending what they're reading.

There's nice information in the book about what teachers should be focusing on when choosing DRA levels.  For example, for levels 1 and 2 they're really not expecting fluency because the children are reading with one-to-one correspondence.  For levels 3 and 4 they're linking words together and starting to see more phrases in sentences.  And really beyond that, you can look for fluency.  As my husband was reading this book to me and I was thinking about my higher readers at the end of the year (levels 8 to 12), he pointed out that if they're reading with expression and fluency, their eyes are tracking ahead to look at the punctuation.  I thought about it and realized that he was right.  I've also noticed that my high group really does have a lot more expression and emotion when they read.

The author also reinforced the fact that turn-and-talks and think-pair-shares are helpful to improve students' speaking ability.  Every day, during my morning message, after about 3 or 4 sentences about what we were doing that day, I would put in an open-ended question for the kids such as "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you like to go, and why?"  In the first few weeks of school I modeled doing this, and after about a month my kids would actually turn to a partner, ask the question, and answer the question in a really collaborative manner.  Let me honest about this.  I had 24 kids this year.  Most of my children were ESOL.  I usually had one or two who really had trouble with the turn-and-talk.  When that happened, I would go over and talk to that child.  Sometimes it was just that they did not have enough vocabulary to answer the question.  I found sometimes that if I stuck to subjects like toys, TV shows, and where they went the night before, it was easier for the kids to answer and talk about their feelings.  The problem is you can't talk about their favorite things for 180 days.  I'd be very interested in the kinds of questions that other kindergartners ask their kids during whole group sharing time.  I also attended a workshop this year where the presenter said that a good conversation between children should go back and forth several times.  I've noticed that I ask questions like "Did you have fun last night?", to which the children often just answer "Yes" or "No" and do not wish to elaborate.  I realized this last year and tried asking questions like "What did you do last night?" and got fuller, deeper responses.  If they responded "I went to Chuck E. Cheese," for example, I would respond "That sounds cool.  Tell me what you did at Chuck E. Cheese."

With regard to writing, I like the descriptions the author gave for narrative writing, opinion writing, and informative writing.  In my experience, kindergartners do the best at opinion writing because they can use "I like..." sentences and explain why they like that person, thing, or place.  I think they also do pretty well, with assistance, at narrative writing (drawing lots of pictures), but I think the most difficult thing for them is to write to inform.  I started making writing prompts (such as Fall and Winter) for my kids this year to help them write about different times of year.  I tried asking them to look at the picture and say what they could see, hear, touch, smell, or taste within the scene.  I also made a diary cover (you can see/download it below) so the kids could just write whatever they wanted in individual composition books.  They felt it was really neat because every day they got to write "Dear Diary..." and something that was special to them.

I'm actually at Myrtle Beach right now, and I think I'm going to collect some seashells so the kids can have real artifacts to examine with magnifiers.  I hope all of you had a great 4th of July and weren't affected by Hurricane Arthur.  The waves were really big here, and it was extremely windy!  My sister-in-law teases me that whenever my husband and I travel we bring bad weather with us.  If we go to New York, we bring snowstorms.  If we go to Myrtle Beach, it's a hurricane.

I would love to hear what worked in your classroom last year for collecting data.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

4th of July Sale

Hello everyone!  I wanted to let you all know that I've just put my entire TPT shop on sale to celebrate the 4th of July holiday!  Every product in my store is 20% off from now through Saturday (July 5), so come on over and take advantage of the discounts while they last.  If you've been to my shop before, you may notice now that I've put a lot of effort into creating great new products as well as improving existing products to give you the best quality possible.  There are also some really nice freebies there for you.  I hope you find some things you can use.

If you have any questions about my products or suggestions for new products that you'd like me to make, feel free to leave a comment here on my blog or contact me through my shop.  Have a great day!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Club Thoughts and Freebie

Hi everyone!  Abbey Giombetti Bannon over at A Teacher Mom started a new book club based on the book The Literacy Teacher's Playbook: Grades K-2.  I just finished reading chapter one, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.  I really enjoy doing book studies, because I love learning new things.
I had mixed feelings from reading the first chapter because the author puts a lot of material into the book.  It's hard to differentiate between K, 1, and 2.  Even within my own school, one class is doing things differently than another class.  So I was worried there wouldn't be enough information for a K teacher in the book.  When I started looking at the chapter as more of a springboard to help me come up with new ideas for my own class, it put me in a more positive frame of mind.

The chapter talks about taking running records, looking at reading inventories, collecting book logs, and evaluating engagement levels of students.  The idea that I want to start using more this year in my classroom is how to do some sort of picture survey to see what kind of books my kids love to read, or will be excited to read.  As I was thinking about that, I remembered that I had a picture survey that I made in pre-k which might help you to know information about your children, not just necessarily in reading but the overall child.

In the next couple days, I'm going to try and make a new version of this to gauge their interest in books (fiction vs. nonfiction, for example).  I know this survey will have pictures so that the children could complete the survey themselves.  I usually do ask my children what kind of guided reading books they would like me to make for them.  Inevitably, I get answers like superheroes, unicorns, and rainbows.  I already have those, and am very happy when students share that they would like me to print them out for them.  But I would like to go a little deeper and find out what genres they like, such as science fiction, comedy, scary books, etc.

For many years now, I've kept portfolios on all of my students and I'm a little obsessive-compulsive about it.  Beside taking running records, I keep extensive notes on things that the children tell me, dictated stories, photos from centers with captions, and one of my favorites, pictures of students holding a book and retelling important details from the story.  I normally audio-record students in whole group so that I can get what they said about the book word for word.  I do it with a tape recorder, but I'm sure you could also do it on your cell phone.  This really provides excellent evidence for whether your students can recall information, pick out the main idea, speak in a full sentence, and much more.  I often use this information with our special ed team to get help for kids who have extra challenges.  I also use it to drive instruction, to tell me whether the kids are remembering to talk about plot, character and setting when they describe what happens in the book.

Here is a picture of my retelling board that I hang in the classroom.  As the year progresses, the children get to read what they've said about stories, which is really cool to watch.

Story Retelling Bulletin Board

Don't forget to visit some of the teachers contributing to the book review.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Meet Me

Since it's Monday, I'm doing a Monday Meet Up with The Teaching Tribune.

I think this is a great way to meet other bloggers and pinners.  Here are my answers to the fill-in-the-blanks.

I also wanted to let you all know that I just started a collaborative Pinterest board for pre-k and k games.  If you'd like an invitation, leave a comment with a link to your Pinterest page.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Behavior Management System

Stacked trays for behavior management slips

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!  A co-teacher and very good friend of mine told me I should do some blog posts about organization.  Since this wonderful teacher got me into blogging and TPT in the first place, I really had to take her advice.  She always seems to know what's really hot and what's not in the teaching field.

Years ago, when I was taking my Master's degree classes, my study group was talking about behavior management.  I had read about a system with colors to let young children know how they behaved each day.   It was based on a stoplight system with green meaning "go", yellow meaning "caution", and red meaning "stop".   I liked it, but I felt that two of the colors were negative while only one was positive.  I added blue and also added descriptions in English and Spanish to every card.  I also designed a mini-poster with faces so that children could understand a little bit better what color they received for that day.

Behavior management mini-poster

I sent home a letter at the beginning of the school year, explaining the behavior system and how their child will receive a colored slip of paper with a description every day.  I print the behavior slips on colored paper and cut each page into 6 slips.  This really works for me.  It's fast, it's easy, the students understand it, and the parents do too.  I store them in stacked trays (pictured at the top of this post), which you can buy from Lakeshore Learning.  I love those trays because the colors match.  I'm really into matching.

Ok, so over the years I've tried many different ways to display the children's names and what color they're on at any given point during the day.  I've used a rack with the children's names and a blue, green, yellow, or red card.  That didn't work because sometimes children would move their card to a different color.  I also tried a system on the board with faces, but if I stacked the faces on top of each other it was too tall for the kids to reach, and if I had them side-to-side it took up too much of my board space.  Anyway, the method that works best for me is to use a cookie sheet and square tiles with magnets on the back of them.  I bought the square tiles from Michael's arts and crafts store, and I put their names on them using sticker paper.  In pre-k, I used student photos on the tiles.  I applied colored tape on the cookie sheet itself to indicate each behavior color section.  Students can move up and down depending on their behavior, and the cookie sheet is so convenient.  You can take it with you in the hallway, out to recess, and even on a field trip.   You don't have to hold it flat, either, because the magnets stay firmly on the sheet.

Cookie sheet and name tiles for behavior management
If you'd like to take a closer look at my Behavior Management System, I have it on TPT.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

On Mother's Lap

Book Cover of "On Mother's Lap"

Hi all!  I found this treasure, On Mother's Lap by Ann Herbert Scott, among my Mother's Day books and decided to use it this week.  You may ask why it's a treasure.  Well, I think it has a great lesson, that a mother's love is all-encompassing and there is always room on her lap.  This book is especially good for any little one in your classroom who has a new baby sister or brother.  We forget sometimes, as adults, that it can be difficult for youngsters to share.

I also like this book because you can have your kids rock "back and forth, back and forth," as you say the words in the story.  It's kind of funny, because I'm talking about different movements and motions in science right now.  So I added a new graphic organizer page to my Motion and Matter set that includes a rocking chair.  The kids really made the connection between science and reading.  If you're interested in looking at this science pack, here's the TPT link.  These graphic organizers are really wonderful to use as assessments for science.

Ok, so here are some freebies.  I use these pictures to teach the lesson and to discuss different types of movement:

I also used scarves to have my children simulate "around and around", "back and forth", "side to side", and "up and down."  Some of the songs that I used were "The Freeze" by Greg & Steve, "The Body Rock" by Greg & Steve, and "Spin and Stop" by Music Together.

Last, but not least, for comprehension I used this graphic organizer to see if the children could notice details by choosing which items Michael took with him on Mother's Lap:

I hope this post is helpful!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mother's Day Magic

Ok, I'm going to be honest.  I was out of school for the last two days at a teacher workshop.  I didn't even remember that Mother's Day was Sunday until about half an hour ago.  I nearly started pulling out my hair!  I love all of my students' moms, and I had to come up with a quick idea.  Since we've been working so much on writing lately, I thought "Why not use these Mother's Day cards that I created last year?"

I also really love this book, My Mommy Is Magic by Carl Norac.  The son in the book talks about all the ways in which his mom is amazing and magical, accomplishing feats that nobody else could.  She can chase monsters away after a bad dream, conjure a delicious cake out of thin air, etc.  It really captures the admiration and awe that children have for their mothers, and your students will absolutely love it.

For guided reading, I wanted to use this book:

When I was little, I sang the song "M-O-T-H-E-R" to my mother.  I did it when I was six years old, and I still remember all the words, and I'm almost 45 now!  So it really made an impression.  It's a great song for kids to learn about their mothers, because it's so true.  Here are the lyrics:

M Is for the Many things she gave me,
O Means only that she’s growing Old.
T Is for the Tears she shed to save me,
H Is for her Heart of purest gold.
E Is for her Eyes with love light shining,
R Means Right and Right she’ll always be.

I would love to hear what other mother-teacher's are doing for Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Writing Work Samples

Hi all!  I wanted to share with you some of my kids' writing samples.  I think these writing prompts are really working.  I can't believe that at the beginning of kindergarten it was a challenge just to get them to write one word!  Now look at what they're doing!

If you're interested in purchasing these, you can find them on my TPT store.

Have a wonderful Wednesday night!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Exploring Social Media

Hi, everybody. I've been blogging here for a while now, and my husband is trying to get me to explore other social media. So to try to get the word about my blog out, I created a twitter account! I'm brand new and I don't really know what I'm doing, but if anyone does twitter, maybe we can talk and you can give me some pointers. My Twitter name is @teachingwsight. I wanted to make it @teachingwithsight, but Twitter doesn't let you have a name that long! I hope to be able to post some of my stray thoughts, ideas, and stories in between blog postings. Let's connect on Twitter!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Down on the Farm

With the implementation of Common Core, I'm trying to expose my kinders to more non-fiction books.  In the carousel above, three of the books have really great science and social studies connections to things that come from farms.  It's funny how kids in the city think that ice cream is made at the grocery store and really have no concept that it actually comes from milk that's produced by cows.  The series by Lerner Publishing Group called "Start to Finish" really helps young children to see the process through realistic pictures.  The other three books in the carousel are fun and filled with nice rhymes and colorful pictures.

I just made some farm-themed vocabulary words that I'd like to share with you.  I'm going to place these in a pocket chart so my students can look at them to write stories and sentences independently.

I also placed on TPT a free Farm Writing Prompt that I'm going to use this week to help my children make more complex sentences.  If you like this farm prompt, you might want to check out my Spring and Fantasy writing prompts.

I think I'm also going to try some planting.  The warm weather really makes one think about blossoming plants.  Yay!  Spring is here, finally!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Hi everyone!  I hope you're all having a very wonderful Easter.  Many shops are having sales right now on TPT, including mine for 20% off all products.

Since we're on Easter break, I was able to make a new product that I'm very proud of, called Writing Picture Prompts - Fantasy.  My students liked my spring writing prompts but were asking me for things like dragons, unicorns, princesses, 3 Pigs, etc.  All the research says that things are much more motivational when the ideas come directly from the kids themselves.  Hence the new writing prompts!

Ok, enough about that.  I want to tell you a little about my trip.  Poconos Stream is a destination honeymoon/couples resort.  Everything is especially designed with couples in mind.  The rooms are huge, and some of them have pools within your own suite.  Ours also had a champagne tower, star ceiling, tanning bed, steam room, sauna, and circular bed.  The pool area that was not in our room had beautiful waterfall jacuzzis.  There are all kinds of games during the day, as well as night-time entertainment such as comedians, beer tastings, trivia, and more.  The wait staff is so nice, you feel like you're a millionaire.  There was one waiter who was so sweet to me.  Each time he put down a dish, he told me exactly where he was placing it.  This was so nice for me, because most waiters don't even talk to me.  They ask my husband "What would she like?"  I asked our waiter if he had ever worked with blind folks, and he told me that he did work at a camp for kids with all kinds of disabilities.  I wish more sighted people knew that they can speak directly to a blind person.  Anyway, it was an absolutely fabulous trip.

I'd love to hear if you did something special for spring break!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Inspiration

"Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure" Book Cover

This is an EGGcelent book!  Ok, I'm sorry, but it is about Pete the Cat helping the Easter bunny with eggs, so I couldn't help the pun.  We can't use candy this year at my school :-( so I decided to have the Easter bunny wrap a gift and leave it with a note for my students.  They had written letters the day before to the Easter Bunny, asking him to stop by our classroom.  Here are different levels that you can use with high, middle, or low kids.  Choose the paper that is right for your class.

I also wanted to do some patterning with my children, because I really think it helps with problem solving and logical thinking.  You're probably thinking "But it's not in Common Core, so why do it?"  I don't entirely agree that patterning should have been taken out of the kindergarten curriculum in the first place, and I know they still teach it in pre-k (at least in my school system).  We sang a song called "Everybody Do A Pattern" by Dr. Jean.  The song uses clapping, snapping and stomping, so it's very kinesthetic for wiggly kinders.  Then the children made different patterns by using pastel-colored, laminated eggs that I made the night before.  If you don't feel like cutting out paper eggs and laminating them, simply use the plastic eggs that you can buy in any grocery store around this time of year.  I think that would probably be better for the children anyway, but I just didn't have time to go to the store that day.  As an assessment to see if the children understood the lesson, I used this paper:

I also sent home these two different levels of sight word board games.  My higher students got the first grade board game, and my on-grade-level and below-grade-level students got the kindergarten board game.

Easter Sight Word Board Games & Worksheets

I'm going to the Poconos this week for a little rest and relaxation.  I would love to hear what all of you are doing with your students for Easter this year!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dear Diary

Diary Books
Hi all!  It's been a while.  I just finished a Lego Education presentation for Rainbow Station.  It went really well.  I wish I could present more.

I was doing a unit on writing letters in Writing Fundamentals, and I remembered that I had some books about diary writing.  I wasn't sure if Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin would hold the students attention - it's a pretty long book.  I was so pleasantly surprised, though, when we read it.  My kindergarten students got the jokes and were entranced by the worm character.  I thought that if the book worked, I would make diaries for all of my kids simply by putting the following cover on a composition book.

The funny, marvelous thing is that before I even mentioned my idea to the kids, they started asking "Can we do what the worm's doing?", "Could we write stuff like that?", "Can we have diaries?", and "Can you make us diaries?"  I thought for a second, and said "Well... I suppose, if you'd really like to write in diaries, I could make them for you if you're really good."  This was really one of those moments where I just wanted to shout "Yes!!"  I played it cool, though, and continued the week with Diary of a Spider and Diary of a Fly.  By the time I put 24 covers on composition books, my students were bursting with excitement to write!  I realized that it's important for my assistant and I to have diaries too, and to show the students what we are writing in them.  Here is a sample page from my diary that I showed my students to get them started.

I'd love to hear what you're doing for writing!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Introducing Subtracto!

Hello everyone!  I've been a little sick with asthmatic bronchitis and some lower back pain.  It's been challenging to keep up with everything while feeling a little under the weather.  I wanted to share some fabulous, kid-friendly subtraction books that really explain the concept of taking away.  You see, many of my children were confusing addition with subtraction.  So, I thought bringing in an element of language arts might help the children to understand that when you take away, there's less of what you started with.  I've also been using songs, Duplos, and other manipulatives.  Some of the song titles that I especially like are:

"Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed" by Twin Sisters
"Five Little Hot Dogs" by Dr. Jean
"Five Little Crabs" by Dr. Jean
"Roll Over" by Jack Hartmann

They're all very catchy songs, and they can use either their fingers or manipulatives, whatever you prefer.

I really think it's important to ask your students what motivates them.  So I did, and my students told me again that they would like me to do some of their subtraction papers with robots.  "Ok," I thought.  "Robots.  I can work with this.  Thank goodness they didn't say zombies!"   I discussed with my husband how my students seem like they get the concept when we're doing it whole group and small group, but when they go to do the worksheets, they clearly start adding instead of subtracting.  I asked him what we could do with a robot theme.  Here's the difference between men and women.  My husband immediately said "Removable arms."  He told me I could tell stories about arms getting blown off, exploding, and I thought "Wow, awesome!  Perfect!  Why didn't I think of that?"  Seriously, I think little boys (and big boys) just love dramatic battle action scenes.  Meanwhile I think more about cute little robots doing a dance.  Anyway, here's what we came up with:  Subtracto!  With removable arms!

Subtracto the Subtraction Robot!
Hopefully Jesus will not say "What?!  That's not a robot!  That's just cardboard and stuff!"  (see my Lego post)

So after we use Subtracto in whole group and small group, their seat work is going to be a robot-themed worksheet:

Last year, I made this robot guided reading book, and it was such a hit that I'm going to use it again to go along with Subtracto.

I would love to hear if any of you have songs or ideas to go along with the robot theme.  Please leave me a comment below and let me know what you're working on.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dice Number Freebies

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!  I'm going to Washington, DC tonight, to a wonderful chocolate-specialty restaurant called Co Co Sala.  I've never been there before, so wish me luck!  I hope it's delicious.

I wanted to share with you that my children were having a little trouble with addition.  Alright, to tell the truth they were having a LOT of trouble with addition.  So, I reflected on my teaching and thought I needed something a little more motivating than what I was doing.  I start off my math lesson with a little bit of calendar, then I do a math message on the whiteboard where I talk about what we're going to learn for that day.  Then I give the children a problem to solve together.  That always works fine, because the kids turn-and-talk and my smarties always help the kids who are really confused.  I made a slideshow for the computer, for addition, using dice.  I thought this way the kids could count the pips and also see the numbers.  On one slide they have to guess the answer, and I don't tell them whether they're right or not until they see the following slide with the answer.  I also had kids explain why they thought the answer was right or wrong.  This was done whole group.

Then I had my class divided into three groups: centers, table work with dice, and a group with me with large, foam dice.  Some of my group still need practice writing their numerals.   I mean, I get papers back where the number is upside down, backwards, etc.  I also use manipulatives to show the different equations when they're working with me.  When they're at their seats, each child has two dice and these papers:

I also placed this mini poster on their desk to help them write their numerals when they're not with me.

Addition Dice Poster by Sharon A Blachowicz Dudley

Enjoy these freebies, and let me know if this works for you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Science Sunday: Valentine Flowers

Hi all!  I just got done doing my science fair project.  We took yellow roses and added blue food coloring.  I know this project sounds really simple, but my kids were really into it and the predictions they made were outrageous!  I got answers such as brown, purple, black, everything under the sun!  Two kids made the prediction that the flowers would turn green, but I think that only happened by accident.  I guess we need to read Mouse Paint and some of those other great color-mixing books again.

Anyway, the science fair is on Tuesday, and I thought that since the kids really got into observing the changes in the yellow flowers, why not use white carnations with red food coloring to change them pink for Valentine's Day?  Here is a prediction sheet so that your kids can predict what they think will happen if you put red food coloring into the water:

I also used 20 drops of food coloring and clear cups so the children could see the colored water as well as the stem of the flower turning that color.

If you have any great Valentine science ideas to share, please leave me a comment!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Science Sunday: Aquarium and Zoo

"My Visit to the Aquarium" by Aliki
For my Science Sunday post today, I'm going to be talking about trips to the zoo and the aquarium.  First of all, I found this totally awesome book about a family going to the aquarium called My Visit To The Aquarium by Aliki.  I never even knew this book existed - what a find!  I knew Aliki had written a terrific book about the five senses, but you really have to check out this book.  It's so super-cool because it's realistic and filled with facts and detailed pictures.  I think the narration style of the book also allows children to feel like they're really going along with the characters on the field trip.

I wanted to provide a link for you to take a virtual trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, in case you don't have an aquarium near you.  The main page displays colorful photo samples of many varieties of animals at the aquarium, which you can click on for more pictures, information, and videos.  From the main page you can also narrow it down to only show you animals that meet certain requirements such as features (beak, fur, scales, etc.), colors, or where in the world they live.

I just made a brand new product on TPT for $2.00 that includes aquarium, zoo, pet, and farm writing folders.  It's a great way to integrate science with reading and writing, which I'm especially fond of.  I don't want to forget about science, but I also want to give my students unique opportunities to write about things connected to the real world.  I don't know about your kiddos, but mine love ANYTHING to do with animals!

"My Visit to the Zoo" by Aliki
A second book that Aliki has written is My Visit To The Zoo.  I like it for the same reasons I liked the aquarium book, but I wanted to mention that the people in this zoo book are very multicultural.  I think it's very good for our children to see themselves represented in books.

Here is a link to a virtual tour of the National Zoo.  The web site offers really interesting facts about animals, shows you maps of the trails and exhibits at the zoo, and even has live webcams so you can see the animals moving around in real time!

I'd love to hear about other virtual tours that you do with your kids.  Please leave a comment below.  :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Science Sunday: Four Seasons

"Very Hairy Bear" by Alice Schertle

Hello, bloggy friends!  I have this new idea to start doing science posts every Sunday.  I feel guilty sometimes about concentrating so hard on reading and math that science gets left behind.

A few years ago, when I was teaching pre-k, a really fabulous teacher retold the story of Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle.  It was awesome!  She dressed like the bear in the story and had props for each season, including berries, a fish, and some honey.  I think it really helped the children to understand that seasons are different from weather.  I've noticed that my kindergarten students now struggle with that concept.  The more natural things I bring into my lessons, the better my students understand that seasons are specific times during the year and weather is what happens during each season.

I brought these Barbies in to concretely show my kiddos what people might wear during each season:

Barbie dolls for all four seasons

The great thing about this is when I held up the first Barbie, the kids were really motivated and eager to tell me everything about the season.  They also explained to me why you wear boots and a long coat during the winter season.  To be honest with you all, I sort of borrowed these Barbies from my daughter.  Ok, she's 23 now, so I don't think she'll miss them.  :)

Another really great center activity that I found is from Lakeshore:

Seasons game from Lakeshore
I like this game so much because it has four mats and lots of realistic props that the children can touch and feel before placing on each season mat.  Using games like this really helps my ESOL children to gain new vocabulary and get a more solid sense of what kind of objects we use in each season.

When I was searching for season graphic organizers with pictures on TPT, I didn't find much.  So I decided to make my own Season and Weather Unit this year.  I recently bought a really sweet clip art package and it makes it very fun to make colorful graphic organizers, guided reading books, and writing prompts.    So, if you need some kid-friendly resources please check out this product!

I would love to hear what season or weather activities you're doing.  I can't wait to hear from you!