Saturday, May 25, 2019

Featured Teacher Tuesday: Meet Karen Wasdin from Silly Sam Productions!

Meet Karen Wasdin from Silly Sam Productions!

Karen has been teaching 1st Grade for almost 30 years. She is a Baseball Mom from New Jersey and loves to watch her son play for the High School team and travel teams. Her husband is a Videographer/Photographer and she enjoys assisting him in producing sports and educational videos in his business, MoonGate Video Productions.

Finding ways to help her young learners understand the trickiest concepts has driven her to create multi-sensory approaches and engaging lessons that MAKE LEARNING FUN! These techniques can be found in her products at TpT.

Color-Coded Fact Families Mental Math uses the color-coding technique to help learners make connections to math strategies.

is an integrated Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop unit that has students look at the story of the Three Little Pigs through the eyes of different characters. Then they do the same with their own personal narrative about their first day of school. This helps them truly discover and empathize with others and recognize feelings other than their own.

is an extensive unit covering the heart of the first grade phonics curriculum. Word Houses use patterning chunks and vowel sounds to help students become stronger readers and writers. Creating their own Vowel Books helps students celebrate all that they have learned.

You can find and follow Silly Sam Productions here:
Blog: Laugh and Learn with Silly Sam        Twitter:  @sillysamprod
TpT: Silly Sam Productions                          Pinterest:  Silly Sam Productions
Facebook:   Silly Sam Productions                   Instagram:  sillysamproductions

Saturday, August 4, 2018

What was the First Gift 
you ever received?

It was..............


Your name was specially chosen for you.
Do you know the story of HOW your beautiful name was chosen for you?

Well, now we want you to go home and ask your family and caregivers and loved ones to tell you the story of how your very special name was chosen for you.

Ask to hear the Story
Listen Carefully
Write your story
Add a Baby Picture if you have one
Or Draw a picture of You when you were a baby

Bring your Story Poster to School
Share your special Story of Your Name

Then Posters will be part of a special 
Bulletin Board Display to...


This is how our beautiful lesson begins.

What comes next is special Family/Caregiver Time,
when some students are hearing the story for the first time, about how their name was chosen for them.

Then the Listening & Speaking skills are abundant! 
Retelling and Writing 
the story that they have heard.

The Share Session in class, is one of the most profound ways to bond with your students and to have them bond with each other.

Learning the history, the stories, the languages and countries of origin, the faiths, the personal meanings, the historical meanings and most of all...

How each student pronounces their 



We practice pronunciations.

We also discuss how some names come from other languages, with some different sounds, and it may take us some practice to get it just right.

But, to please be patient with us, because we want to say your name the same way that YOU do.
So, if we are not quite right, please help us say it correctly.

Ask parents to help you with pronunciation when you meet them. Sometimes, actually many times a student has not wanted to point out a mispronunciation, and I and the class have been saying it wrong, because they are so polite and considerate. We want them to know it is alright to correct us, and help us.

Parents and Caregivers often have a little trick to help with pronunciation. Then, we always have a class discussion to teach and correct ourselves, and to get it right.

The very first connection to a student, I believe, 
is to let them feel 
how important it is to you...

to say their name,
the way They say it.

It shows respect and honor and how special they are to you.

When a student has a name that is a first for me, I always let them know how happy I am to have that name for the first time. 

We also discuss how we help others to learn the correct pronunciation as well. Whether it is a Substitute, a student from another class, another Teacher, or Parent, we politely say our friend's name correctly. It does help too, when the student themselves are not always the "correctors". This actually happens very naturally when we experience this lesson. Students understand that our names are an honor, and we want to show our respect and help others, too, to get it right.

After this lesson, one of the most common things you will hear me say in class is...

What is the most important WORD that you WRITE every day?

You guessed it...


So, that should be the NEATEST
most proudly written word that you write.

No rushing, because you write it so often.

You need to show honor and respect for your name as well.
You need to write it proudly.
Each time.

So, here is how we work on this beautiful Caring Classroom Activity.

We start out with the question about the first gift that you received.

Then, the poster page is sent home with the instructions page.

A wonderful Teacher asked me if these pages were editable for her Spanish speaking families. Adaptations were added to provide Spanish versions and an Editable format, so that text boxes may be over laid to change the text to meet your classroom needs.

Share the sweet stories and the adorable baby pictures, photos and drawings.

I promise you, this day will be memorable for you and your class.

You may develop private jokes from these experiences that mean something special to your caring students, because they are sharing such personal stories.

Last year one of my firstie girls, could not help her spontaneous response as she uttered,
at how cute one of the boy's baby picture was.

It became a connection between 2 students that had had no connection before.

It meant a lot to him, that immediate reaction, that he didn't expect.

You know that little smile in the corner of their mouth, that they are trying so hard not to leak out. 

Yeah, he had that.

Then comes the Bulletin Board Display. We had our on the side of our door, not on the cork-board bulletin board that gets changed monthly.

That way it could stay up all year.

It was Proudly displayed for Back to School Night, Conferences, Class Parties and every other day when we could find students soaking up Baby Pictures and personal stories.

Everyone in our school knew...

that those are our Special Stories...

and these are our Special Names...

and we are so Proud of them.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Manatees! A Wonderful Unit to Explore!



Inspire your students and add excitement to reviewing skills. Research and explore all about Manatees!

Join the Save the Manatee Club and have your students read about Manatees.

Adopt a Manatee and receive a photograph with the story and history of your adoptee!

Have students review and practice skills with the Manatee Unit Bundle.

*Research and Write an All About Manatees Book to share all that you have learned.

*Practice Math and Language Arts Skills

*Create a Watercolor Art Project to display on a bulletin board

*Even extra Manatee Writing sheets to just keep on sharing your excitement!

Students love learning about these amazing creatures and learning how they can make a difference in protecting them!

This is a wonderful unit for any time, for Life Science, Ocean Animals, Earth Day, or even as an extra review unit at the End of the Year or for over the Summer!

Some wonderful children's books about Manatees!
Image result for j rooker manatee

J. Rooker, manatee

Mary Manatee: A Tale of Sea Cows by Suzanne Tate - Used (Good) - 0961634499

Mary Manatee


Your students will love exploring these incredible sea animals!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Color-Code Technique: Help Students SEE and Understand Tricky Concepts

Color-Coding has been a major theme in my career as a Teacher right from the beginning.

When working with students that were struggling with difficult concepts in Tutoring, I was always trying to find a way to explain things,
or show them in and easier way.


was the best way I could find to show the subtle differences.

It worked.
And worked.

Today, I still use Color-Coding to teach tricky concepts.
Not just to struggling students, but to all of my students.
If Color-Coding could help struggling learners get a handle on tricky concepts...

maybe all students would benefit.


Here are a few ways to use Color-Coding to help explain some tricky concepts to your students.

Color-Coded Contractions

Use 2 colors for the 2 words.
Copy the Whole First Word.
Then add an apostrophe instead of the vowel (or letters).

So, they have = they've

Color-Coded 120 Chart
One More-One Less
Ten More-Ten Less

Start with the Black Box #
Then Follow the color codes

One More = RED BOX
One Less = BLUE BOX
Ten Less = GREEN BOX


Students can create their own or copy color-coded sentences.

They write in pencil and then use markers or crayons to trace over the 


This technique, we practice each month with seasonal or holiday vocabulary. Students become so solid on parts of speech when they color-code their Nouns, Verbs & Adjectives! 

They even ask if they can color code parts of speech in their journals and other writing too!

Color-Coded Mental Math Fact Families

Use color-coding to demonstrate the Fact Families for each of the Mental Math Strategies!

We show each equation with Cube-a-Links to show for example that 1 RED + 9 BLUE = 10

So, the 1, 9, 10 Family House would go like this...


We actually say Red + Blue = Black

You can find more ideas for 
Color-Coding in the Custom Category section in my TpT Store: Silly Sam Productions.

Here is a FREEBIE Sampler with some pages to try out the technique.

I am joining some of my friends with a 

  • Visit each blog and enter each rafflecopter.
  • A different winner will be chosen from each rafflecopter.
  • Enter between May 1-5, 2017.
  • Each of my friends will choose a winner.
  • Winners will be emailed.
  • Winners will also be announced on our FB pages. Make sure you follow our FB pages.
PLEASE NOTE: Winners will have 48 hours to respond to our email. If no response, we will choose a new winner.

To enter my giveaway: 
*Follow My Blog & Leave Your email in the Comment Section so that I can notify you if you win.

*It will also help to Follow my FaceBook Page to see the announcements.

My prize is 3 Sets (36) Flair Markers for great COLOR-CODING ahead!

You can win the following: