Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Canoe, who?
Canoe tell us some knock knock jokes today?

These jokes are meant to make children smile and think, but they are also good for auditory discrimination and playing with sounds.

*Write one on the board each day and use it for choral reading.

*Fold over the end of a lunch bag as shown. Write the joke on the bag and the answer under the flap.

*Tape a 3" x 5" rectangle to the middle of a sheet of paper. Have children write the joke at the top and illustrate the answer under the flap.

Knock knock! 

Who's there?
Orange who?

Orange you glad it's Halloween?

Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Olive who?
Olive Halloween!

Knock knock!
Who's there?


Boo who? 

I didn’t mean to make you cry.

Knock knock! 

Who's there?

Frank who?

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Wanda who?
Wanda go for a ride on my broomstick?

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Phillip who?
Phillip my bag with candy.

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Ben who?
Ben waiting for Halloween all year.

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Who who?
Are you an owl?

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Lettuce who?
Lettuce have some candy, please.

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Justin who?
Just in time for Halloween!

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad you visited my blog today?

Monday, October 5, 2015


Jokes and riddles are a delightful way to develop children’s sense of humor as well as language standards (Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases…).

*You might want to choose one joke each day and write it on the board.  Invite the children to read it with you.  Ask children who "get it" to “think out loud” and explain their interpretation to classmates. This will enable children who “don’t get it” to scaffold to a higher level.

*Satisfy writing standards by asking children to write and illustrate jokes and riddles.  Peek-a-boo flaps and lunch bags work well for this.  Put their jokes together to make a class book.

*Encourage each child to learn a joke that they can share with their classmates. (Speaking and Listening Standards) Let children decorate craft sticks with their names and put them in a “Joke Can.” When you have a few extra minutes, choose a stick and let that child tell a joke to the class.

Note! “Bat” you’ll “scream” for some of these Halloween jokes! However, you can use riddles all year long. Non-holiday jokes are plentiful on the internet.

What kind of bats fly around the school at night?

What do ghosts put on their cereal in the morning?
“Boo” berries and “boo”nanas.

What do you get when you take the inside out of a hotdog?
A “hollow” weenie.

What are the birds giving out for Halloween this year?

Why was the baby ghost sad?
He wanted his “mummy.”

What did the boy ghost say to the girl ghost?
You sure are “boo” tiful!

How do you make a witch itch?
You take away the W.

What pants do ghosts wear?
BOO jeans.

What do ghosts serve for dessert?
I scream!

What did one jack-o-lantern say to the other jack-o-lantern
on their way to the party?
Let’s get “glowing”!

Why do witches fly around on broomsticks?
Because their vacuum cleaners are too heavy.

What did the little ghost say to his mom?
“I’ve got a boo boo!”

How do you make a skeleton laugh?
Tickle it’s funny bone.

Why did the vampires cancel their baseball game?
Because they couldn’t find their bats.

Where do baby ghosts go during the day?
DaySCARE centers.

Who did Frankenstein take to the party?
His ghoul friend.

How do you mend a broken jack-o-lantern?
With a pumpkin patch.

What’s a ghost’s favorite party game?
Hide and go shriek!

What do baby ghosts wear on their feet?

I hope I got a little smile out of you!!!
This could go on and on….but I think you get the idea!  How about a few knock knocks?

Sunday, October 4, 2015


To give homework or not to give homework, that is the question! There are two sides to every story and certainly two sides to the homework debate. If young children go to school and sit and listen and work and learn for six hours, they deserve to do what they want when they get home. They need to play, move, laugh, yell, imagine, and be KIDS! (Not to mention the fact that most parents have worked hard all day and they don’t want to sit at the kitchen table with their child crying for an hour each evening!)

However, all things in moderation, and homework can be a positive way to help parents see what their child is learning at school. Homework can nurture the executive function by giving children responsibility and an activity where there is “task initiation” and “task completion.” Homework can also provide purposeful practice for skills if it is meaningful.

If I were in charge of the world, primary grade children would NOT be allowed to spend more than 30 minutes on homework each night. They might be asked to read 15+ minutes and then have ONE other assignment. I would try to make the assignment engage with the parent and connect the real world with what’s going on in the classroom. For example, the assignment might be to ask their parents what a veteran is and to find out who the veterans in their family are. The assignment might be to ask their parents how they use math in their jobs. Instead of paper/pencil tasks, give interactive activities, such as reading together, playing a game, taking a walk, or doing a chore around the house.

Note! You know how I’m always negative about worksheets, but recently a teacher made an observation that helped me realize the benefit of using them for homework. She said most of her families did not speak English at home. A worksheet was actually something tangible that gave parents a tool for talking with their children.

Here are some organizational strategies that can simplify homework for children and parents.

Tic Tac Toe Homework
Write 9 assignments in the grid. Children must complete at least three during the week and color them in. If children enjoy homework or parents want their child to do more at home they have that option.

Clipboard - Each child will need a clipboard that she can decorate with her name, stickers, etc. Each day clip the homework assignment to the children’s clipboards. Make sure parents know that their job is to look at the clipboard each night, help their child with the assignment, and send it back to school the next day.
Monthly Activity Calendar
Send home a calendar at the beginning of each month with simple activities children can do with their parents. Ask them to do 10-15 and return the completed sheet by the end of the month. (You can download these free on my website.)

Homework Folders - You will need a pocket folder, crayons, and markers to make a homework folder. First, let children decorate the outside of their folders. Trace around their “left” hand on the left pocket. At the end of each day children put completed work in that pocket and it is “left” at home. Trace around their “right” hand on the right pocket. Use a homework sheet similar to the one below. Fill out assignments for the
whole week and place it in the “right” hand side of the child’s folder on Monday. On Friday, put homework sheets in each child’s folder and review at conferences.

            Sample Weekly Homework Sheet

Monday ________________        Tuesday ______________
______________________           ______________________
_______________________         ______________________

Parent Signature/Comments     Parent Signature/Comments

Wednesday______________       Thursday______________          
_______________________         _____________________ 
_______________________         ______________________

Parent Signature/Comments     Parent Signature/Comments 

Saturday, October 3, 2015


This is a song your students will enjoy singing, but there are lots of standards “camouflaged” here. 
*This song reinforces the concept that when you put letters together you make a word.
*Children can learn to read the color words.
*More advanced children can learn to spell the color words.

The Color Farm
(Tune: “BINGO” - Sing to Learn CD)
There was a farmer had a cat
And Black was her name-o
B-L-A-C-K (Clap on each letter.)
And Black was her name-o.

Horse – GREEN
Bird – BLUE
Chick – YELLOW
Pig – RED

Use the attached patterns to make stick puppets that the children can hold up as you sing.

Write the color word and put a picture clue by it on a sentence strip. Pass these out for the children to hold up as you sing.

Cut a 7” circle out of the top of a file folder. Add ears, tails, and other features for each animal. Children hold it up around their face as you sing.
Make up additional verses for other colors. For example, a pink flamingo, tan turtle, grey goat, white sheep, etc.

Friday, October 2, 2015


It's still a few days away, but here are some ways to help children relate to this holiday.

Columbus Day
(Tune: “Going Over, Going Under” – Happy Everything CD)
Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 (March and salute.)
The Nina, and the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, too.
Going over going under in the Atlantic Ocean’s thunder,
(Make hands go up and down.)
What a brave thing to do! (Thumbs in to chest.)

When Columbus set sail he knew the earth was round.
(Make a circle with arms.)
He was amazed at all the lands and the people he found.
Going over, going under, in the Atlantic Ocean’s thunder,
(Make hands go up and down.)
What a brave thing to do! (Thumbs in to chest.)

Columbus visited Bahamas, Cuba, South America, too.
(Hold up fingers – 1, 2, 3.)
On October 12 we remember him and his crew. (Shake finger.)
Going over, going under, in the Atlantic Ocean’s thunder,
(Hands up and down.)
What a brave thing to do! (Thumbs in to chest.)

*You can download this book at drjean.org.

Sailor Hats - Make sailor hats out of newspaper. Fold in half. Bring corners down until they meet. Fold up top edge and then turn over and fold up the bottom edge. Let children decorate.

Globe – Point out where Columbus started in Spain and the islands he visited. How has travel changed since Columbus’s voyage over 500 years ago? Compare a map and the globe. Which one is two-dimensional? Which one is three-dimensional? What shape is the earth?

Sailor’s Chest - Make a sailor’s chest for each child out of construction paper similar to the one shown. Explain that every sailor had a chest (like a suitcase) that they used to pack everything they would need on a long journey. What would you pack in your chest? (Children could write items or draw pictures.)

Sail Away - Columbus didn’t have motors on his ships. What made them move? Have you ever seen a sailboat? Put a piece of paper on a table or on the floor. How can you make this paper move without touching it? Let the children practice blowing a sheet of paper across the floor. Divide the class into teams and have relay races to see who has the most “hot air.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Oral language is the foundation of literacy. However, as children spend more time in front of a screen, their oral language skills and ability to engage in conversations is diminishing. And, that's why I'm presenting this webinar in a few weeks:

You'll also find a 30 page booklet on my website this month with tips, routines, rhymes, and ideas to engage children in oral language.

It’s interesting that the two top skills employers look for when they hire someone are good oral communication skills and the ability to get along with others. With technological advances in years to come, educators need to recognize the value of developing oral communication skills. Children need to speak in complete sentences, organize their thoughts, speak clearly, and use appropriate English to convey their thoughts.
Death is silent. Learning is NOISY! Please check out my website and join me for the webinar so YOU'LL HAVE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT!I

Super Power
I met some amazing teachers last weekend in Las Vegas, including James Varga. Don't you love his shirt?

Hey, Hey, Good Lookin'
Here's a call back that Debby Schmitt taught me.
Teacher: Hey, hey, good lookin'
Students: Whatcha got cookin'

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Once I Had a Pumpkin
(Tune: “Lassie and Laddie”)
Oh, once I had a pumpkin, a pumpkin, a pumpkin. 
         (Hands over head like a pumpkin.)
Oh, once I had a pumpkin with no face at all.
With no eyes and no nose and no mouth and no teeth.
         (Point to facial features.)
Oh, once I had a pumpkin with no face at all.
So I made a jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern.
         (Draw a jack-o-lantern in the air.)
So I made a jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern.
With big eyes and a big nose and big mouth and big teeth.
         (Draw facial features in the air.)
So I made a jack-o-lantern with a big funny face.

*Draw a jack-o-lantern on the board as you sing the song.

Pumpkin Paint – Mix equal parts of flour and salt. Stir in orange tempera paint. (Obviously, if it’s powdered, you will need to add some water, too.) Add a spoonful of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to the paint and stir. Children can paint a pumpkin, pumpkin pie, or whatever they want. Their painting will be textured and smell good, too!
Pumpkin Seeds – Before carving your pumpkin, have the children estimate how many seeds they think it will contain and write down their estimations. Have the children separate the seeds and count them. Who guessed more? Who guessed less? Who guessed the closest amount? Cook some of the seeds by rinsing them and frying them in a little butter and salt. Save some of the seeds to plant in the spring.

Paper Plate Pumpkins – Make pumpkins out of paper plates. Choose five children to hold the pumpkins as you say the rhyme. You could also cut pumpkins out of felt and use on a flannel board.
Pumpkin Play Dough – Make homemade play dough and add red and yellow food coloring to make it orange. Let the children knead in pumpkin pie spices. They’ll have fun making pumpkins, pies, and other characters. 
Hint!  Add pumpkin pie spice to make aroma play dough. 
Math Games - Make games where children seriate pumpkins from large to small or put pumpkins in numerical order.