Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Today is National Nut Day, but those of you with peanut allergies don’t have to worry about this blog. Here’s a nutty song for you!

I’m a Nut
I’m a little acorn brown
Lying on the cold, cold ground.
Everybody steps on me.
That is why I’m cracked you see.
I’m a nut. Click! Click! (Move head from side to side as you click your tongue.)
I’m a nut. Click! Click!
I’m a nut, I’m a nut,
I’m a nut. Click! Click!

Called myself up on the phone (Extend pinky and thumb and hold to ear like phone.)
Just to see if I was home.
Asked myself out on a date.
Said to be ready about half past eight.
I’m a nut…

P.S.  I can't upload long videos on my blog, so that's why I could just sing one verse.

Activities: What happens if an acorn gets buried? It just might grow into a big oak tree.
Take a nature walk and look for nuts on your playground.
Bring in a bag of mixed nuts for children to sort, count, and crack.
*Be aware of nut allergies in your classroom! You could even have a discussion of what it means to be allergic to something and why you have to be careful about allergies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Did you know that today is Babble Day? What will they think of next? It might be a good day to talk about what the word "babble" means. How many synonyms can you think of for the word "babble"?

I'm going to get on my soap box about the importance of babbling/talking/oral communication. Download the free app called "dragon." Or, just hit the microphone the next time you want to send a text or email and you'll have an "ah ha" moment! The children in your classroom will probably all have voice activated computers in the near future. They need to be able to organize their thoughts and express themselves clearly for the message to appear accurately on the screen. Like anything else, if we want children to be able to communicate orally, we have to provide them with opportunities to talk, talk, talk.

Babble Breaks
Plan several three minute "babble breaks" where children can talk to their friends today. You could give them a topic to discuss that relates to a unit of study, let them tell jokes, or just chit chat.

Traffic Light
Traffic light colors are a visual way to help children regulate the volume in the classroom. Hold up a green circle when they are free to talk. Yellow means they are a little loud and to turn it down. Red means "stop" talking and focus on the teacher.

Quiet Friends
When I taught I had a lunch box with some little toy figures in it. Before we had sharing time I would explain that my quiet friends wanted to visit our class, but they had teeny tiny little ears. Could everyone remember to use a quiet voice so they wouldn't hurt their ears? I know you think this sounds stupid, but it worked. If a friend got too loud I could count on one of the students to go, "Shhh! Remember the quiet friends." The quiet friends went back in the lunchbox until the next time we had a class discussion.

Whisper Wednesday
If you let your students babble today, why not make tomorrow Whisper Wednesday? Make a sign for your door that explains you will whisper all day long. Whisper read, whisper sing, whisper might find it such a soothing interlude that you will make every Wednesday WHISPER day!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Several years ago while visiting a school I saw two shiny new bikes on display in the library. Every time a child read a book they got to put their name on a ticket to win the bike. What a great way to motivate children to read! These ideas aren’t quite as big as a bike, but I bet you might spark a little interest with them.

Book Drawing - You will need a roll of tickets (purchase at an office supply store) or make your own. Each time a child reads a book she gets to write her name on a ticket.  Collect these in a sack during the week. On Friday, draw a name out of the sack and that child WINS a book! 
*It could be a book that you purchased or a book that the class has made.

Stay Up Late and Read - To reward children make copies of “Extra 15 Minutes” coupons similar to the one shown. Children who earn the ticket get to stay up an extra 15 minutes at bedtime and read to their parents.

Lottery - Put children’s names on strips of paper in a cup. During the day encourage children to practice reading their favorite sentence or page. The last few minutes in the day, pull “winning” names from the cup and let those children read.

Popcorn Party – Get a large jar and write “Popcorn Party” on it. Every time any student  reads a book she gets to add a cotton ball to the jar. When the jar is full the whole class gets a popcorn party.

P.S.  I asked Mr. Google about "reading incentives" and he gave me lots of great links.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Tired of giving out candy and stickers?  Try these inexpensive rewards for a special treat!   Choose activities that you think would work best for your students from the list below.  You could even let your students suggest activities.  Write these on jumbo craft sticks with a permanent Sharpie and then put the sticks in a cup.  Act like the children are “winning” something when they get to draw a happie stick from the can.

Eat lunch with your teacher or a special friend.
Be excused from a homework assignment.
Choose an indoor game to play.
Select the book for story time.
Sit by a favorite person all day.
15 minutes of free time.
Help the teacher do a special job.
Decorate the bulletin board or door.
Sit at the teacher’s desk.
Take off your shoes.
Listen to an iPod or headset while you work.
Chew sugar free gum.
Use the teacher’s stamps, pens, or markers.
Be leader of a class game.
Be excused from a written assignment.
Play games on the computer for 10 minutes.
Visit another class in the school.
Have the teacher call your parents to tell them what a great kid you are!
*A coupon book with a few of these makes a great holiday gift for students!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Want kids to get excited about learning letters and sounds? Well, just try this rap and you’ll see some enthusiasm.

Happy Birthday Letters   (Totally Reading CD)
Yo, A,
It’s your birthday. (Bend over like a rapper.)
Let’s all read
Like your birthday.
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ (Fists together and make circular motion clockwise.)
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ (Fists together and go counterclockwise.)
Yo, B…etc.

*Have children stand in a circle. When the letter their name starts with comes up in the song, they get to dance in the middle of the circle and break dance.

*Pass out a magnetic letter to each child. When the letter is sung in the song they can put their letter on the board.

*Fist bump sign language letters as you sing.

*Cut out a birthday cake and cut a square in the middle as shown. Put magnetic tape on the back. Attach this to a magnetic board and let children choose letters and sing sounds.

Friday, October 17, 2014


In the new book “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens” (Random House), Benedict Carey says, “The brain wants variation…It wants to move, it wants to take periodic breaks.” Although Carey’s research is focused on older learners, anybody who teaches young children knows this for a fact. You’ve got to vary the stimulus to focus children’s attention, and you’ve got to give them an outlet to release wiggles every 15 minutes. 

Scott Ertl recently emailed me about bouncy bands that he has created so students can bounce their feet and stretch their legs while they work quietly at their desks. Kiss your brain, Scott! I’m sure everyone who is reading this has a child in mind who is a candidate for a bouncy band. (Actually, the person who is writing this blog could use a bouncy band sometimes!) Go to to learn more.
Count Down

If you’ve ever been to one of my workshops you know that this is one of my favorite brain breaks. It’s simple, easy, effective, and a great way to practice balancing.
Shake your right hand and count five times.
Shake your left hand and count five times.
Shake your right foot and count five times.
Shake your left foot and count five times.
Shake your right hand four times…(Do other limbs 4 times.)
Shake your right hand three times…(Do other limbs 3 times.)
Shake your right hand two times… (Do other limbs 2 times.)
Shake your right hand one time…(Do other limbs 1 time.)
Oh, yeah! (Make a circle over your head like an “O” and they outstretch arms like a “Y.”)

*You can do this softer, louder, faster, slower, etc. If children are all wound up do the silent version.
*Count in other languages.
*Do the vowel shake down by shaking each limb as you say, “A, E, I, O, U.” Then shake and say, “E, I, O, U.” Continue until you just say “U.”

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Counting is a basic strand across math standards. There’s even research that suggests counting with pre-k children can build math concepts they will use later on in kindergarten and primary grades. To avoid rote counting without meaning, let TOUCH AND COUNT be the mantra you repeat and model over and over. Counting will also have more meaning if you tie it into exercise with one of these ideas. 

*Adapt these activities for younger children by just counting from 1-10. Older students can count to 100 and beyond.

Karate Chop Count
Feet out, knees bent, karate chop with your right hand and then your left as you count by ones.
*Do leg curls and chops as you count by 5’s to 100
*Kick front and back as you count by 10’s to 200.
*Wax on, wax off as you count by 100’s to 1000.

*You can also karate chop spelling words and word wall words. Chop with right hand as you say a letter and then chop with the left hand as you say a letter. Hands folded together and bow as you say the word.

Shoelace Counting
Write numerals 1-20 on a cotton shoelace with a fabric marker. Slide a bead on the shoelace and move it up and down as you count.
*What’s one more than___? Two less than___? 

Pump Up to 100
Pretend to hold weights as you count.
1-20 - bicep curls (Elbows in, pretend to hold weights in fists with palms up as you bring forearms up and down.)
21-40 - for overhead press (Fists face forwards as you start at your shoulders and push the weights overhead.)
41-60 – side raises (Elbows at 90% angles as you raise them out to the side.)
61-80 – upright rows (Fists together close to the body and raise elbows out and up until fists are at your heart.)
81-100 – frontal raises - (Fists together and arms stiff as you raise them in front of your body to eye level.)
Whew! (Wipe brow!!!)

*Let children get an imaginary jump rope and jump as they count to 100.

Dance and Count
Choose a different dance move for each ten as you count.
1-10 – Disco (Index finger up and down across body.)
11-20 – Hitchhike (Thumb out across body.)
21-30 – Swim (Make swimming motions.)
31-40 – Bollywood (One hand up in circular motion and one down.)
41-50 – Pony (Step from side to side.)
51-60 – Twist (Twist at waist.)
61-70 – Salsa (One arm bent up and other hand on elbow.)
71-80 – Monster (Arms out in front of you.)
81-90 – Bird (Flap your arms like a bird.)
91-100 – Do your own thing!