Kathy the Kangaroo Comes to Life

Yesterday, my classroom aide gave me a costume idea that was way better than mine. “You should be one of your puppets,” she said. “You should be Kathy the Kangaroo because she has a baby in her pouch!” (Did I mention I am 39-and-a-half weeks pregnant?) So last night I whipped up a joey and a pair of ears using the same felt I use to make my finger puppets. My students knew who I was right away, of course, but everyone else thought I was a bunny. Come on, people, I’ve got a baby in my pouch! (Maybe that’s just my pregnancy crankiness coming out!) In any case, Happy Halloween from Kathy the Kangaroo and her baby joey, Kia!

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Common Coins

I often find myself using the tune of an existing song combined with my own set of lyrics to help my students remember various reading or math concepts. My latest creation might remind you of Oh, My Darling Clementine, but the intention is to help kids learn the names and values of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters (those are the most common coins). Maybe you’d like to sing along!

Thank you, BOB

I adore BOB books. They are a perfect homework extension for my reading program The Monaco Method for Early Literacy. The books start with simple CVC words and work up to more complex words and sentences, and finally long vowel words. These books also use a font that is similar to my original font “Get Real” that I use to teach handwriting. In fact, I contacted BOB to see if I could buy their font (nope) before I created my own. These books are the only resource I know of that use a font I “approve of”, that is one that uses letters that look like they would if a student had written them with their own hand.

As soon as my students are reading, which starts happening very soon after the beginning of kindergarten with my system for introducing phonics, I send home one BOB book per week for reading homework. Naturally the kids become ready for reading at slightly different times so I can usually provide books for homework with just one set of BOB books (but maybe that’s because I only have twelve students)!

Trying to keep track of who has which book and which book each person gets the following week can get confusing, so I created a “Take Home Schedule” to keep track of the books. I write each student’s name on a Post-it arrow flag and stick the arrow in the box to the right of the book I send home with them. Then when I am preparing homework for the next week I just move each sticker down to the next box (book) to figure out which book each student gets next. This system has made my reading homework a breeze, and (bonus!) if a book ever turns up missing I know who had it last!

If you are interested, you can download my BOB Books Homework Schedule for FREE at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Happy reading!

Write Your Numbers Right!

Since joining Teachers Pay Teachers, I have uploaded a number of items that can be download for free. The most popular has been “Write Your Numbers Right”, which has been downloaded by 86 people in just 2 days! The one-page document gives instructions for writing the numbers 0-9 in the same style I use to teach handwriting. Click here if you are interested in downloading “Write Your Numbers Right”.

Teachers Pay Teachers

Have you heard of TeachersPayTeachers.com yet? It’s an online marketplace where teachers can sell their curriculum to other teachers in digital (downloadable) or “hard goods” form. My student’s mom told me about the site last week and since then I’ve uploaded the majority of my curriculum. I created two dimensional versions of my Teacher’s Creatures Phonics Puppets that can be printed, laminated, and attached to a tongue depressor. I must say the flat creatures are no where near as charming as the ones made from felt, thread, googly eyes, and puff paint, but they are less expensive and just as effective for teaching reading. I thought this might be an attractive option for teachers (or parents) who are looking for new curriculum but have a limited budget. Please spread the word about my TPT store to anyone you know who might be interested! (My original curriculum, including the “real” Teacher’s Creatures and Letter Bags, are still available at Monaco Lane.)

With this ring…

…I thee bind.

Part of my reading curriculum incorporates homemade books using Oxford Elementaries 5×8 primary ruled index cards. After my first graders complete a long vowel house, they write a related sentence that uses some of the words they learned in the house. After building all of the houses in each of five Long Vowel Neighborhoods, my students will have a Long Vowel Collection that they can share with their families and treasure for years to come. Below is the “sounds like E but it’s a Y” sentence from the Long E Neighborhood. Notice the handy metal book rings holding the index cards together…

Puppets at Work

As a teacher who created my own phonics puppets, getting to watch the little creatures do their job is a splendid treat. My students have a handwriting workbook with a review lesson that recaps the first six letters we’ve learned this year. In the review lesson, they read, trace, and write CVC words using those letters. This morning, one of my students read the word ham, making the motions and sounds of Huff the Horse, Antoinette the Alligator, and Mika the Mouse as she read the word. I am one happy teacher! Click here to see a (reenactment) video of the puppets in action!