Tuesday, September 22, 2020


Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize sounds in oral language (rhyme, alliteration, syllables, etc.) and is a key to reading success. Children must first hear the sounds before they can relate them to letters (phonics). Let's start today with rhyming. Learning to rhyme doesn't happen it one lesson...it takes a lot of oral language (nursery rhymes, finger plays), songs, books, and games to help children develop this skill.

Note!  Over the next few days my blogs will focus on alliteration, syllabication, blending, and onset and rime.  Most of these can be adapted to the different learning situations where you might be teaching this fall.

Rhyme Detectives
Tell the children that they will get to be detectives andlisten for words that rhyme. You say a word, and they put their pinkies up if they hear a word that rhymes with it. Pinkies down if it doesn’t rhyme.
For example: Cat - hat (pinkies up), run - dog (pinkies down).


Rhythm Rhyme
Start a beat by slapping legs two times, clapping hands two times, and snapping fingers two times. On the first snapping beat the teacher says a word. On the second snapping beat the children say a word that rhymes.
For example:
Slap, slap, clap, clap, snap, snap.
Slap, slap, clap, clap, mitten.
Slap, slap, clap, clap, kitten.
Slap, slap, clap, clap, star.
Slap, slap, clap, clap, car.

Rhyming Song
Do this activity to the tune of “Skip to My Lou.”
Cat (hold out right hand)
Hat (hold out left hand)
Those words rhyme.
Cat (hold out right hand)
Hat (hold out left hand)
Those words rhyme.
Cat (hold out right hand)
Hat (hold out left hand)
Those words rhyme.
They all end with “at.” (Roll hands around as you say this.)

Rhyme Dance
The children stand and begin dancing to some catchy music. When the music stops the children must "freeze." The teacher says a word and tells the children think of a word that rhymes. The teacher then calls on several children to say words that rhyme. The teacher can "unfreeze" the class after a few rhyming words have been said.  The game continues as children dance, freeze, and say rhyming words.

Riddle Rhyme Game
Let children make up their own rhymes in this game. First, they choose an object. Next, they say a word that it rhymes, along with another clue. For example: “This rhymes with hair and it is something you sit on.” “This rhymes with look and it is something you read.”

Rhyme Bag Homework
Give each child a lunch bag and for homework ask them to bring two objects that rhyme. As they take turns sharing their items encourage classmates to think of other words that rhyme with their objects.
Note! You don't need to use the bag.   Just ask them to find two objects that rhyme for homework.

Monday, September 21, 2020


Take advantage of the upcoming season with these science activities using leaves.

Leaf Hunt
Ask each child to get a lunch sack and collect 2 or 3 leaves from their yard for homework. Use this for sharing time by encouraging the children to describe their leaves.  Talk about the shapes, colors, likenesses, differences, etc. 

Do a little research on the internet. Can children match up their leaves with those online to identify which tree they came from.

Leaf Rubbings
Lay a sheet of paper on top of a leaf. Remove the paper from an old crayon and rub the side over the leaf to make a print.

Leaf Book 
This is a book that children might want to make with their parents.  Let each child find "favorite" leaves and preserve them by placing the leaves between newspaper and putting a book on top overnight. Place each leaf in a zip baggie. Encourage children to dictate or write a sentence about their leaves.
*Put several baggies together to make a book.

I Wonder Why?
Brainstorm why leaves turn colors and fall off trees in the fall. Have children do a little research with their parents and report results in class the following day.

Deciduous Trees (Sandra Kelley)
Tune: "Do Your Ears Hang Low?"
Do your leaves fall down?
Do they tumble to the ground?
Do you lose your leaves in the fall?
Then you are deciduous that we know
because in the fall your leaves all go!

*What's the difference between deciduous trees and evergreen trees? Invite children to take a nature walk with their families and identify both types of trees.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


Who doesn't love scarecrows?  They have entertained crows and children for years!

Scarecrow's Chant
You can say this chant or sing it to the tune of “Skip to My Lou.” Have the children stand up and stretch out their arms like a scarecrow. Ask them to echo each line as they make the appropriate movements.

Can you turn around? I can turn around.
Can you touch the ground? I can touch the ground.
Can you wiggle your nose? 
Can you touch your toes?
Can you wave up high?
Can you let your arms fly?
Can you give a clap?
Can you give a snap?
Can you jump, jump, jump?
Can you thump, thump, thump?
Can you wiggle your knees?
Can you sit down, please? Yes, yes, indeed! (Children sit down.)

Scarecrow Picture Talk
Download a picture of a scarecrow from the internet. Discuss what a scarecrow does. How many details can children notice about the scarecrow? Ask them to draw lines to label their descriptions.

Scarecrow Collage 
Invite children to create their own scarecrow with paper, crayons, construction paper scraps, etc. What is their scarecrow’s name?  Write or dictate a story about their scarecrow.

If I Were a Scarecrow... Make a language experience chart where children complete the sentence. Older children could write creative stories about what they would do if they were a scarecrow.


Squirrels are another seasonal character. This is a sweet old song about Gray Squirrel that my students always loved. They probably loved it because I had such fun acting like a little squirrel when I sang it. Who can resist wrinkling your nose and swishing your tail?


Gray Squirrel
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, (Hold hands close to chest like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Wrinkle up your little nose, (Wrinkle nose.)
Hide a nut between your toes. (Pretend to hold a nut in your paws.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, (Hold hands close to chest like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Climb up in the tallest tree. (Arms climb up above head.)
Let your tail blow in the breeze. (Wiggle bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, (Hold hands close like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
If you’ll be a friend of mine, (Point to self and then a friend.)
I will be a friend of yours.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.

Note! Visit drjean.org and you can download this free book.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Pandemic or not, seasons change and there's "fall" in the air because Tuesday, September 22nd, is the official first day of fall.  Here are some activities to celebrate the week.

Leaves Are Falling
(Tune: “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
Leaves are falling (Echo song. Children repeat each line.)
Leaves are falling (Flutter fingers down.)
To the ground. (Touch the ground.)
To the ground.
Red, orange, and yellow (Flutter fingers.)
Red, orange, and yellow
Falling down. (Touch the ground.)
Falling down.

*Let children dramatize being leaves and dancing in the wind. As the song ends they fall quietly to the ground.

*What happens to leaves after they fall from the trees? Later in the fall when there are lots of leaves on the ground demonstrate how to pick up a handful of leaves and crumple them in your hands. Explain how those leaves will decay and turn into soil.

Why do you think they call this season “fall”? What’s another name for fall?
What season comes before fall? What season comes after fall? Fall is a cool off time between hot summer and cold winter.

Signs of Fall
Brainstorm signs of fall and write them on the board. What kind of clothes do we wear in fall? What’s the weather like in the fall? Are there any special seasonal foods we eat? What kind of sports are popular in fall? What holidays do we celebrate in the fall? What do animals do to get ready for winter? What do plants do in the fall?

*Let children make an attribute web and label it with pictures or words of things that remind them of fall. Older children can do this as a writing assignment, but for younger children this can be an opportunity for the teacher to model writing and develop vocabulary.


Nature Walk
Ask children to go on a nature walk with their families and look for signs of fall. Remind them to take tablets, paper, and pencils so they can record their “observations” on the walk.

I Like Autumn Language Experience Chart
Let children dictate sentences about why they like autumn. Older children could write their own original stories about, “Fall, Fall, Best of All!”

Acrostic Poem
Write the words “fall” or “autumn” vertically down the side of a sheet of paper. Children think of a word that starts with each letter that relates to fall. 

Friday, September 18, 2020


Here are some tried and true activities that you can adapt online, in class, or in one of the thousand other ways school districts are operating!!

Environmental print is one way young children “read pictures” and develop visual literacy. Using environmental print at the beginning of the school year is a great way to help children make print connections, develop visual memory skills, and motivate them to read. 

Note!  Some of these activities would be great to share with your parents so they could encourage their children to "read" around the house.

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

Glue wrappers from snack foods, cereals, etc. that children would be familiar with to sheets of paper and write this rhyme at the top of each page:
 "Old Mother Hubbard
  went to her cupboard
 to get her poor dog a bone.
 But when she got there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had...(Children read food logo.)"

What’s for Breakfast?
Ask children to bring their favorite cereal box to class.  Let them take turns holding up their box and challenge their friends to "read" what they like to eat.


Read sayings on T-shirts, sports jerseys, shoes, and other clothing the children wear.

Read at Home Book

This is a project that children can do at home with their parents.  
Directions:  Cut five 9” x 12” sheets of construction paper in half. Write “I Can Read” on the front and let the children decorate with their name and picture. Encourage parents to help their child cut out words they can read from boxes, magazines, and advertisements. 

I Like

Invite children to save labels from foods.  Write the words “I” and “like” on index cards. Model how to place the cards "I" and "like" on their desk or table.  Choose a label to put after the index cards.  Encourage the children to read, "I like (logo)."  Comment, “Look at you reading!!!!”

Block Engineers
Cut store logos from Sunday advertisements. Tape to wooden blocks and make your own mall in the block center.

Out the Door
Last January when I was in Pleasanton, TX, Nadine Barrow shared this idea. She posts words and environmental print on the inside of her door. Students have to read two of the words before exiting the classroom.

Thursday, September 17, 2020


Several years ago I read a powerful book called LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS. It reminded me that children need to be connected to nature, and in our technical, fast paced society they are just not getting to spend enough time outdoors. 

We all need balance in our lives or things get out of whack. Most would agree that children are having too much screen time, so it’s especially critical to make sure they have plenty of sensory stimulation, time to be creative, time to use their imaginations, and time to experience all seasons of nature.

Children love to collect things. Aren't they always picking up rocks or leaves or flowers or nuts? A nature center in the home would be a perfect place to display their treasures and give them the opportunity to observe and investigate natural items. What a great idea to share with your families!


Materials:  plastic tub
magnifying glass
clipboard, pencils, paper
natural objects (rotate according to seasons)

Directions:  Take the tub to a natural area in your community.  Let children collect rocks, leaves, pine cones, sticks, nuts, and other natural items.  Place the tub on a table or quiet place in the home and encourage children to do some of the activities below: 

*free sensory exploration (see, feel, smell)
*seriate by size
*observe with a magnifying glass

Note!  When children tire of the nature tub return the natural items to where you collected them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


National Comic Book Day (September 25) is another September holiday that you can celebrate this month. What a treat when I was a kid to get a new comic book! No, we didn’t have videos or computers, but friends would come over and we’d read comic books together. I know! I know! Sounds corny now, but it was a favorite indoor pastime when the weather was bad. Let me tell you, if the weather was good our mothers would say, “GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!”

I also remember sitting on my grandpa’s lap as he’d read the Sunday comics to me. I think the cartoons were much more “child friendly” in the 50’s than they are now. However, it might be interesting to save some of the comics from the newspaper this weekend and share them with your class. Explain how cartoonists use “bubbles” to let you know what the characters are saying.


Invite children to draw a picture of you and make a bubble with something you frequently say coming out of your mouth. You might be surprised!!!!

You could also let the children draw pictures of themselves or their friends and then use bubbles to make them talk.

Comics can also be used to reinforce standards. Start off by giving children copies of a cartoon frame with 2 sections. Tell them to think of a story that has a beginning and an end and draw it.

Next, let them think of a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Finally, challenge them to create a story with 4 sections.

*Have children recall the sequence of a story with comic frames.

*Use comic frames to illustrate the life cycle of a butterfly, the water cycle, plant growth, and so forth.

Here’s a link to download blank cartoon frames:


Cartoons That Move
Would you like to learn how to make cartoons that move? It’s easy peasy, but you’ll surely impress your students (and parents) when you teach them how to do this.

Hint! I would demonstrate this with kindergarteners, but the primary grade children could do this with some guidance.

Materials: white copy paper, stapler, black pen or pencil


1. Fold the paper into fourths and cut on the creased lines.

2. Take two sheets and staple them at the top.

3. Lift the top layer and draw a simple shape on the bottom. Keep your drawing on the bottom half of the page. 


4. Now, place the top sheet over the bottom and trace over the lines. Vary one or two features, such as arms, ears, mouth, etc.

5. Take a pencil and roll the top sheet up around the pencil.

6. Quickly move the pencil up and down to bring life to your cartoon. Waalaa!


*Connect this activity to literature, science themes, or social studies.