Video segment about me, by the school district

Monday, December 21, 2015

Senorita Gordita and Freebie

Merry almost-Christmas!  Hi everybody!  I've been spending a lot of time with my new grandson lately, and being a grandmother is the high point of my life.  I'd like to share with you a new multicultural gingerbread-type book that I found: Senorita Gordita by Helen Ketteman.  My kids thought this book was very fun and the Spanish words really grabbed their attention.  The story follows the familiar theme of gingerbread stories where the gordita comes to life and gets chased by a rattlesnake, a scorpion, a spider, and a lizard, then finally gets eaten by an owl sitting on top of a cactus.  I've done comparing and contrasting (more about that in a previous post, if you'd like to take a look).  This year I made a graphic organizer to go with this book, and the kids did a really fab job on it!

I also wanted to tell you about something that we've been doing in Writing Fundamentals for the last few weeks.  Our whole unit is a list-and-label unit, and I decided to make some really cute Christmas labeling papers.  Some of the things that I have included are a Christmas tree, gingerbread house, reindeer, snowman... Well, there are ten different ones.  If you'd like to take a look at it, here is the product on TPT:

Christmas Labeling

I can tell you that these really sparked the children's interest.  To be completely honest, they gave me the ideas for the next picture each day.  Sometimes the best inspiration comes from our children.

Have a wonderful holiday season!  If you have time, leave me a comment.  I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

3 Take-aways From the NAEYC Conference Recap, and TPT Cyber Smile Sale

Hello, everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I got to see lots of friends and little baby Osric. Being a grandma is SOOO fantastic! I'd like to give a shout-out to all my new friends that I met at the NAEYC conference. Everyone in Florida was so kind and welcoming. It was a great time.

Here are three things that I came away with from the conference.

1. You can have students lay on their stomachs during story time with their hands propping up their chins. I tried this in my own room, and it worked like a dream. It made story time so much more cozy and comfortable.

2. Use more songs where students can play patty-cake style movements, such as Miss Mary Mack. The presenter told us that crossing the center line of the body (hand clapping across) exercises more of the brain and helps kids become more alert.

3. Allow children chances to use their whole body. Have them move around more. Walk and talk. Use whole-body games. Jump around.

I also wanted to let you know that I'm going to put my Teachers Pay Teachers store on sale for Monday and Tuesday as part of the sitewide Cyber Smile Sale. Everything is 20% off, so enjoy shopping and saving!

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Subitizing Snowmen

Hi all!  I'm in Orlando, Florida today at the NAEYC conference.  I will be presenting a session this Saturday morning at 8:00am, so if anyone's around and wants to stop by for a quick hug, I'll be there.  Also, I put up a new free product on TPT for December, if you'd like to take a peek:

Subitizing Snowmen

I realized that some of my children really need extra practice with subitizing.  When you use these, you just flash the cards really quickly.  It's not a counting activity, it's just for them to visually recognize (from the position) how many are there.

Have a great night!

Monday, November 9, 2015

I Just Became a Grandma!

Hello, everyone! What a fabulous week! I became a grandmother on Wednesday, November 4th, at 7:11am when my daughter gave birth to little Osric! He's SOOOO adorable! Does anybody know any great books about being a grandmother? I would love some titles.

Here I am holding him for the first time. He sure sleeps a lot so far. Isn't he a beautiful baby?

Monday, October 26, 2015

My Almost Halloween Post

Hi, everyone! Happy almost Halloween! My kids have been loving this book that's really the classic 5 Little Pumpkins finger play. We have been using this story for subtraction. Here we are holding our pumpkins over our faces while doing the song (because I have not gotten picture release forms back yet)!

Here's a little video if you'd like to hear how the song goes. My ESOL kids know all the words to the song now. If you leave the pumpkins in Math center, it's really sweet to watch the kids singing and talking with the pumpkins.

So, my county decided that this year we would do addition and subtraction in October! :) Yikes! Some of my kids don't even know their numbers yet! I have to play catch-up and surround them with numbers all day long, especially for those that didn't have pre-K. My kids have also really expressed an interest in all things Halloween-y this year. Hence the creation of my Halloween Addition Cards.

I found that the party store has spiders and bats, and the grocery store has candy corns and pumpkins. I haven't done the ghosts yet (you can see the ghost clip art in the product), but I'm thinking of using white marshmallows. The thing that I like about the candy corns and the pumpkins is that they are not mushy like chocolate candy. I put them in Ziploc bags, ten to a bag, and the kids can use them during math class for problem solving, then take them home and ask their parents if they can eat them.

You can check out the Halloween Addition Cards HERE

I would love to get messages from you and find out how it's going in your classroom!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Captivating Numbers

Hello, everybody!

My curriculum this year for math is very different from every other year. In the past, we've started with shapes and positions. But this year, we started with numerals, quantity, and counting. I found that many of my students that did not have pre-K were calling numerals "letters," "shapes," and all kinds of other terms that weren't numbers. You know what I mean. So I thought it would be really motivating to make differentiated number puzzles for my kids and have them work on them during morning work, and whenever they finish their other school work. After I assessed them and found out what numbers they needed to work on, I differentiated instruction by giving them these puzzles: 

We used Microsoft Publisher to fit the range of numbers on a single page. Then we printed them out on colored card stock. We cut them individually, without guide lines, so that each puzzle would be unique. And the color of puzzle matches the color table they sit at. I put the cut-up puzzles in sandwich bags and had them in the kids' chair pockets by the time they arrived in the morning. They LOVED them!

We also took pictures of the students. I can't put them up yet, because I don't have all my photo release forms collected. But the students really enjoyed having their pictures taken while they were saying the numerals and putting the puzzles together. Teacher tip: You can also use these pictures for your students' portfolios and conferences.

Monday, September 14, 2015

My Super Class

Hi, everybody! This year I changed my theme to Superheroes. I took the advice of a lot of people out there in blog-land who said "Make your theme your own." Since my son-in-law made me kid-friendly superheroes, I decided to use them all over the room and in as many creative ways as I could think of.

To start off with, I'm using them as headings for my ABC word wall. Right now I have the kids' names underneath them, and later in the year, I will add sight words as they come up in the curriculum. I took a chance on this because I've never used this before as a large word wall. The kids LOVE it, though, and seem to be connecting to letters quicker than they have in previous years.

I made a reading poster for the library center which worked out really nicely. I think that all kids aspire to be superheroes, so if you tell them that superheroes are also super-READERS, they'll want to be super-readers, too. The kids really recognize the superheroes on the posters around the room because I play Superhero ABC Matching and Superhero Bingo with them.

I'm kind of getting a lot of mileage out of the superhero theme by using these characters across the curriculum in all subjects. I'm also always teaching letters while I'm teaching values, helping each other, turn-taking, and when someone is NOT doing the right thing, I'll ask them "Is that superhero behavior?" This is the first year that my kids really seem to understand that they're doing the wrong thing. They DO understand that superheroes protect others and take care of others. I really don't believe that the group that I have this year is any different. I really think it's the theme.

Here is a great song that I'm going to use during morning message.

I love action songs where kids can pretend to swim, fly, climb, etc. I just found this song, and it's got a really catchy beat, and her voice is very easy to listen to. Her name is Patty Shukla, and I'll be looking into more of her work now that I've discovered this.

Also, I wanted to make a special present for my daughter for her baby shower. Because her husband drew the superheroes that I'm selling on TPT, I had two of them made into stuffed animals. Take a look at Noodle Ninja and Tough Teddy! Adorable, right?

You can have your own drawings or creations made into stuffies, too. The site is called Budsies, and they'll make whatever you send them. It does take a couple months, though, so best not leave it to the last minute.

I hope you all have a SUPER week!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to School Songs and Games

Thanks, Tammy, for inviting me to join this Blog Hop!

About a week ago, all of the kindergarten teachers on my team met at my house.  There are six of us this year, more than ever before at this school.  We started talking about the beginning of the school year.  We discussed how we always do rules and procedures the first week, and how we get to know our kids' personalities, likes, and dislikes.  The conversation then moved on to songs, music, and fingerplays that we love to do with children during that first week.  We like to use music because it builds language and team spirit, and it really gets the wiggles out.  My true reason for using music is that it calms me down as well as the kids, and it's just plain fun!  Some of our favorites include:

Chant:  Who Took The Cookie From The Cookie Jar?
Chant:  Bippity Boppity Bumble Bee, Won't You Say Your Name For Me?
Movement Song:  Going On A Bear Hunt
Dance:  Mack Chicken Dance Medley

Since I've been teaching for a long time (shh, don't tell anybody - over 20 years!), I thought everybody knew about Dr. Jean Feldman.  But some people don't.  I was lucky enough to see her early in my career.  I love, for example, how you can tell kids to "kiss their brain" when they do something right.  Former students of mine have returned in their 20's and said "Mrs. Dudley, I remember when you told me to kiss my brain!"  I think Dr. Jean songs are a must-have for any teacher.  For the first week of school, I like:

Name On Your Paper
Scissors Snip
Tooty Ta
Peanut Butter

Over the summer, I've also been watching free teaching webinars from EdWeb.  They're really informative and convenient because you don't have to watch them all at once.  They're usually about an hour in length, and you can even get a certificate by taking a quick and easy test afterward.  I think these webinars are good for veteran teachers or new teachers, because there's always something new to learn.

During the first week of school I introduce a set of gentle superheroes that I had especially designed for kindergarten and pre-k.  I did this because my students kept telling me that they wanted superheroes in the classroom.  I knew I couldn't do things like Batman and Superman because of copyright laws, and also because of the violence.  So I made my own!  Over the summer, I created a new set of alphabet word wall headings using these heroes.  I also recently wrapped up all the superhero products that I made so far into a big, discounted superhero bundle that I think teachers will really love, especially for the beginning of school.

Below is your chance to enter the giveaway for the big K-2 prize pack.  Good luck, and have a wonderful opening week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Newly Discovered Treasure

This is just a quick post about a book that I discovered this summer called Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One by Kate Duke.  I was so surprised that I had never heard of this book before since it was published over 20 years ago!  It's adorable for any pre-k or kindergarten classroom.  It's not just the cute story of two little mice falling in love, but the book explains to young readers how to build a story from start to finish.  The brilliant way in which the author incorporates a conversation between an aunt and her niece about story elements such as characters, setting, problem, and solution is so appealing to me.  The book even has a few moments of danger to add spice to your story time.  I had been looking for a very long time for a book that would really inspire my students to write stories, and I'm so glad that I found this treasure.  I would love to know if you've ever seen this book before, and how you use it in your classroom.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

3 More ABC Ideas

This is my second post about ideas to help your students learn their ABCs.  Using various modalities to teach letters is a brain-friendly way to get your students to really progress.

1. My kids love the song "Learning Letter Sounds" by Jack Hartmann.  I use these pictures along with the song:

There's also a beautiful YouTube video of the song:

2. You can use ABCMouse for free in your classroom.  It's really excellent for pre-k, k, and 1st grade.  Your students can read books, do puzzles, play games, and all kinds of very interactive activities.  The website will also keep track of each student's progress.

3. I love making and playing games with my students.  I especially like this Superhero ABC Bingo game that I made especially for pre-k and kindergarten students.  They're my own creation and I did it because I wanted to have a set of interesting, non-violent superheroes that the kids could make up their own stories for.  See what you think!

I would LOVE to hear what you do with your kids to teach them their ABCs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sight Word Surprise

Happy Wednesday, everybody!  The reason I called this post "Sight Word Surprise" is because I went to a super website today that's totally free and has tons of fantastic sight word games for either your classroom or to use at home with your own children.  There are customizable Bingo games, Snakes and Ladders games, Go Fish games, and much more.  It's a really cool site and truly brightened my Wednesday!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

3 ABC Tips

Eight more days of school left, but who's counting?  :)  It's been SO hot here in Maryland.  I think the kids are really done.  I'm sorry that I haven't been blogging for a while.  May was filled with school, celebrations, and - best of all - Alicia's wedding!  The flowers arrived on time, the caterer was fabulous, the sangria was cool and refreshing, and everything went off without a hitch.  Our guests loved the new house, and it was really not too trashed after the party.  I'm also happy to announce that I am going to be a grandmom!  So, if any of you have great gift ideas for a grandbaby please let me know.

Ok.  Well, since this is an educational blog, I guess I should say something about school.  I love using songs, YouTube videos, games, and special books to teach the ABC's, so I'm starting a series of alphabet posts that hopefully will help you in your quest for fantastic ideas for learning the ABC's.

I really enjoy the song "Phonercise" by Dr. Jean from Sing to Learn with Dr. Jean.  For this song the children stand up and raise their hands as they say the letter, touch their shoulders as they say the letter sound, and then touch their toes as they say a word that starts with the letter.  According to brain research, it really helps kids to be up and moving.  Having a very active kindergarten class this year with a large number of boys, I can tell you that I use this song almost every day to help get out their wiggles.  I also do this song along with the kids, and since I'm trying to lose weight this year I feel that doing the song with the kids helped me as well.  I made some picture cards to go with this song.  Here they are:

This year I also worked on books for every single letter of the alphabet, which I made to be interactive and so that the children could take them home and have their own library of books.  It took me a year, but I finally finished all the alphabet books and they are now up on TPT.

I've also been doing a lot of Freeze Dance with my kids this year, holding up sight word cards, letter cards, addition sentences, subtraction sentences, anything that I can think of to get my kids up and moving.

Keep an eye out for my next post in this alphabet series!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Beautiful Bread

If you're a regular follower of my blog, you'll know that my daughter Alicia is getting married soon.  So, we had the bridal shower.  It went very well!  She liked the butterfly decorations and little umbrellas.  My husband actually suggested the umbrellas; he thought "April showers bring May weddings," and said "Why don't you do umbrella decorations everywhere?"  Can you believe I forgot to use the little colored drink umbrellas that I bought?  :-(  So now, all I have to worry about is the WEDDING!

I have felt a little overwhelmed lately with trying to juggle school, my personal life, TPT, and blogging.  Sorry that the blogging has been infrequent.  I want to share with you two really cool multicultural series.  One is the "Around the World" series which introduces children to houses, shoes, hats, and bread from a wide variety of countries.  They're very colorful and are terrific for kindergarten.  The second series is all about making different types of food: bread, noodles, rice, and soup.  These books are so filled with factual information about different tastes, smells, and cultures from around the world that I think they would be a great addition to any elementary teacher's library.  They are a little high for kindergarten.  My children were especially interested in Everybody Bakes Bread because we had people come to school to show them how to do it.

Before we actually made the bread, and before we read the book, we created a prediction poster showing what ingredients the children thought you would need to make bread.  Their responses were all over the board.  Some children nailed it, but I did get answers like cauliflower, roses, candy, and perfume.  After reading the book, we went back to our poster and discovered which ingredients you could use, and which ones you shouldn't use.  The kids loved the bread-making experience.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous.  I didn't know how five classes would do it at one time.  There were many volunteers, though, and that helped the process along.

The people who did it were very organized and had a lot of games for the children to play when they were kneading the dough.  One of the games that I thought was especially cool was "Mountain, Mountain, Earthquake."  It's just what you think.  The kids make a mountain and then destroy it, make a mountain again, and destroy it, as they're saying the words "Mountain, mountain, earthquake."  They actually took the bread home for the actual baking.  I think it would've been nice to smell it baking, but I'm sure the children got to do it when they got home.  I was thinking maybe I could bring a breadmaker to school and do it in the classroom, since it only takes a few hours.

Have any of you ever done this?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

National Head Start Conference

Hi everyone, and Happy Easter!  On Wednesday, April 1st, I presented at the National Head Start Conference in Washington, DC.  It was so much fun, and a dream come true!  The strange thing is I'm more nervous about giving Alicia her bridal shower next Saturday than I was for presenting to 70 people who I didn't know at all.  The session was on one of my favorite topics (STEAM in the early childhood classroom) and it was a total blast!

I talked about making gingerbread houses for all the seasons, using Duplos in cross-curricular centers and small group projects, and a few really cool edible experiments.  It went really well, and I met some lovely people who came up and talked to me afterward.  They made me feel so warm and fuzzy.

I was wondering if any of you have a way to do seasonal gingerbread houses that don't include candy?  It was a question that came up during the presentation.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Friendly Letters

Teddy the Bear
Hi, everybody! I can't believe it's already March 8th. This has been the CRAZIEST winter I can remember. I grew up with a lot of snow, because when I was a kid I lived in Buffalo, but living in Maryland, I didn't think I would get so many days off for snow storms and so many two-hour delays. I'm not complaining! It's just super weird to only have two days of school in a week. I've definitely noticed a difference in my kids' behavior. It's harder for them to get through a full day when they're used to coming in late.

Last week, we read the book Dear Bear, by Joanna Harrison. It's such an adorable story about a little girl who is scared of a bear that lives under her stairs. I actually told my kids that I used to think there were monsters underneath my bed, and in my closet. The kids tried to console me and they told me, "But there really isn't, Mrs. Dudley, and you shouldn't be scared, because when you look there's nothing there." I thought it was really sweet how they wanted to make me feel better. The thing I love about this book is that the parents of the little girl ask her to write a letter telling the bear to go away. A pen-pal relationship develops, and the bear and the little girl become friends. At the end of the book, the little girl has a tea party and meets the bear, who turns out to be a stuffed animal. She isn't scared of him anymore, and invites him to come and live in her room. I love happy endings!

Dear Bear by Joanna Harrison

My children were so excited when I told them that the same thing happened to me when I was little. I told them that I wrote to this bear that lived in my closet, and that I still had him in my room at my new house. They asked me to bring it in the next day to school and I did. OK, I know, I'm a grown woman with a 24-year-old daughter getting married, and I still have a Teddy bear! Good thing I'm a Kindergarten teacher, right? I made this paper for all my children to write to Teddy about things that they would like to tell Teddy, and questions they had for him.

The next day when I came into school, I was so amazed to find that Teddy had written back! OK, maybe it wasn't a total surprise to me. This is the letter that Teddy wrote to the kids.

I put extra paper in the writing center along with more colored pencils and markers so that the kids could write more letters to Teddy the Bear or us, and they've been going like crazy. Well, that is when we have school!

I'm just curious: how is this winter going for you? I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

3 Easy Math Lessons With M&Ms

Involving all five senses is truly the way to get to deep learning. I came up with a few connected lessons that activate all the senses and get their whole brains working. M&Ms are a convenient, cheap, easily available manipulative that you can find in any grocery or convenience store. The colors really catch the eyes of the children, and when they know they're going to get to enjoy a few yummy chocolates when the lesson is over, it makes learning that much sweeter. I don't like to use absolutes when I describe my lessons, but ALL my kids were engaged in these activities. Here are 3 things you can do with one bag of M&Ms.


With a handful of M&Ms, students were told to sort them. Since it's so close to Valentine's Day, I like to use one of my heart sorting mats, like the one below. You can print it out and laminate it for all kinds of math activities.

The children were told they would be allowed to eat one M&M from each group when they were finished They were also asked to try and spell color words during the activity.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.MD.B.3 - Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category


After they sorted the M&Ms, I asked them which group had the most, which group had the fewest, and if there were any equal groups. Since each child had a different amount, it was fun for the kids to talk to each other about their different answers.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.C.6 - Compare Numbers


We read The M&M's Addition Book, by Barbara Barbieri McGrath, to introduce some new Math vocabulary, such as addend, sum, and equation.

I don't read the whole book to the students; I don't think it's necessary, and it's a little high-level for Kindergarten. I usually just read about a quarter of the book. This sets up the idea that we are going to use M&Ms for adding. When I do this lesson, I read the book while the students are on the rug, and THEN they do the first two activities. After that, we do addition, using two regular six-sided dice. I told the children to only use two different colors of M&Ms to keep it simple. They would roll the dice, and take the number represented on one die from one color, and the other die from another color, and add them together. This gave them lots of exercise in reading the numbers on the dice, counting out the candies, and then doing the addition. They barely notice that their lessons are being reinforced! You can use dice with numerals or dice with pips, depending on the needs of your students.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.OA.A.1 - Understand addition, and understand subtraction

Have a wonderful week, and happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ways to Make 10

Students Wearing Number Hats To Show Ways To Make Ten

Happy Sunday everybody!  I have off tomorrow and I'm so glad, because last weekend I went to a 3-day workshop and I really needed to rest this weekend.  It was one of the best training classes I've ever attended.  The presenter was Frank Kros from the Upside Down Organization.  The workshop was called Creating Connections, and it was all about presenting but with brain research totally at the forefront.  I love how Mr. Kros mixes factual information with games, fun, and realistic ways to take the knowledge that you've learned back to your job.

I wanted to share with you some of the ways I implemented what I learned at his workshop in kindergarten this week.  We are told over and over again by experts that moving is one of the keys for learning.  I've often heard presenters say this in the past, and I think "I have my kids moving.  I use music, dance, and games to teach content."  But this time I really internalized everything that was being presented.  I reflected on how, when we ask questions to the students during whole group time, we're usually talking to one student while the rest are just listening.  Why do we do this?  I think because it's the way we've done it in the past, and it's the way that we were taught.  This week I tried having them draw on whiteboards ways to make ten, instead of just having one child show it.  It worked beautifully, and my assistant and I could really see which of the 28 students got it and which had no clue.

Another little movement activity I did was based on the game "Rock, Paper, Scissors."  Instead of saying "Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!" you say "One, two, three, math!"  When you play with a partner, you both put up a certain amount of fingers on one hand, and you can add up the fingers.  My kids loved it, and they told me I was the best teacher ever!  Even my lowest ESOL kids got it.

Another thing I tried was having the kids use sticky notes as exit tickets, and they stuck them on the door so that everyone could see different ways to make ten.  It worked beautifully in the workshop with Mr. Kros, and I think it would work a lot better in my classroom if I use the right sticky notes.  I used old, cheap sticky notes that weren't quite sticky enough on the back.  So the kids were complaining a little bit that their notes weren't staying on the door.  Live and learn!  I told the kids that teachers aren't perfect, and because the activity didn't go as well as I thought, it would just make me a better teacher.  Nathan, a really cute, curly-haired boy in my class, said "Mrs. Dudley, don't worry.  I think you're still the best teacher I ever had."  They always say that, and I think it's so funny because in most cases I'm the ONLY teacher they've ever had.  :)

JiJi, a co-teacher at my school introduced me to this YouTube video, and since brain research says that music can really engage and stimulate learners, I added this to my repertoire.  Take a look.  It's really adorable!

The song is about numbers going to a party, so I thought to bring it home I could use party hats so that the kids would have to find a partner who, together with their own hat, would add up to ten.  I made an anchor chart in case they got stuck.  Here it is:

And here is a paper that I used with my students to give them opportunities to show and write different ways to make ten.  I used 2-color flip chips so they would have a manipulative to work with.

We took a walk down the hallway to show and tell another kindergarten class how we could make ten, and it was really enjoyable.  Yesterday I gave the hats to that teacher, and her kids came and did the same thing for my class.  Each pair also got to say the numbers, so even more practice and repetition but in a really active manner.  Think about all the opportunities for movement!

I'm wondering for what other subjects I could do the matching party hats.  What do you think?  Write me a comment below and share your ideas.  It's always so nice to hear from you.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Maryland Sellers Giveaway!

Hello everyone!  I wanted to let you all know about some great giveaways involving Maryland TPT sellers starting today, January 17 and running through January 24, hosted by the terrific Cheryl at Techie Turtle Teacher.  She has done a ton of planning and organizing for this giveaway, including several ranges of grades, so that everyone can benefit!  Please feel free to check out the Maryland Sellers Giveaway starting this Saturday.  You can also directly access the K-2 Rafflecopter giveaway using this additional link.

Enjoy the giveaway, my friends!