Monday, May 2, 2016


I was looking through my old files and I found some simple art activities to do with paper and crayons. Easy, peasy to set up and lots of fun for the kiddos!

Dancing Crayons

Materials: crayons, paper, music
Directions: Hold a crayon in each hand. Put on some music, and let the crayons “dance” on the paper.
*This would work well at the listening center using a variety of music, such as classical, country, march, lullabye, etc. 

Materials: crayons, rubber bands, paper
Directions: Wrap a rubber band around 3 or 4 crayons. Children can hold the “bundle” and draw a design or picture on their paper.

Dot to Dot
Materials: crayons, paper
Directions: Make a specified number of dots (six, ten, whatever) on a piece of paper. Exchange papers with a friend. Connect the dots. What does it look like? Add details to create an object or design.

Wiggles and Squiggles
Materials: crayons, paper
Directions: Have the children close their eyes and make a design on their paper with a black crayon. When they open their eyes, ask them to create something out of their design.
Adaptations: Have children exchange papers with wiggles and squiggles with a friend.

Folded Designs
Materials: paper, crayons
Directions: Have children take a sheet of paper and fold it several times. Next, open it and trace over the creases on the paper with a black crayon. Finally, fill in each section with a different color, design, or pattern.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


If it's May, then that means summer is just around the corner. My May website ( is loaded with great ideas for parents and children to do this summer. You'll find links for summer activity calendars.... 

You'll also discover how to make "Fun" Shine can.

Best of all, Carolyn Kisloski has created a free download of the summer fun journal. You're going to LOVE it, and we hope it will inspire your students to write over the summer.  (Each writing prompt has three choices so you can choose your favorite one.)



Saturday, April 30, 2016


Bugs are everywhere this time of year and children are fascinated by these little critters. Here’s a simple song to sing to the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” where children can learn the basic body parts of insects.

Head (Point to head.)
Thorax (Point to chest.)
Abdomen – abdomen! (Point to stomach.)
Head, thorax, abdomen – abdomen!
And eyes (Point to eyes.)
And mouth (Point to mouth.)
And antennae, two (Stick 2 fingers up.)
Six legs (Wiggle 3 fingers on each hand.)
And there’s an insect for you!
(Leave off a verse each time you sing and hum.)

Bug Hunt – Give children pipe cleaners that they can twist into a magnifying glass shape. Let them use these to hunt for bugs on the playground.
*They could also use clipboards to draw insects that they find outside.
Entomologist – Explain that an entomologist is a person who studies insects. Brainstorm different ways that they can study insects, such as checking out books at the library, looking on the internet, and so forth.

Roll a Bug – Remember the old game “Cooty Bug”? Here’s a similar game your children can play where they roll the dice to make their own bugs.

So, have I sparked your interest in insects or just “bugged” you? Carolyn Kisloski ( and I have created a unit called “Bugs and Insects.” There are 40 pages (QR Codes, Prezis, children's books, writing prompts) of hands-on activities and games that will help you STEAM ahead.

Where did April go? Can you believe tomorrow is May 1st? Carolyn and I have a BIG, FREE, FANTASTIC surprise for you tomorrow. Hurry back!

Friday, April 29, 2016


Some of you only have a few days left of school, but some of you have weeks to go.  The end of the school year should be like "dessert" with lots of sweet memories.  Finish those tests and let's party and celebrate with one of these special days!

Sports Day – Enjoy the warm weather with a “Sports Day.”  Children can wear t-shirts and hats from their favorite teams.  Let them bring sports equipment to share with friends on the playground.

Beach Party – Bring beach towels and wear sunglasses, shorts, and bathing suits.  Set up sprinklers or other water activities on the playground.  Play beach ball games, beach music, and have a “cool” snack like popsicles. 

Book Party – Encourage children to dress up like their favorite book character.  Play “Guess Who I Am?” or have children describe why they like a particular character.  Let them bring favorite reading material (books, magazines) from home and sit or lay wherever they want for independent reading.

Talent Show - One of my favorite memories is of a Talent Show we had at the end of the school year.  I just invited all the children to think of a “talent” (song, dance, story, gymnastic stunt) they could do.  We sat in a circle and they all got up and performed!  We clapped and laughed and cheered!

Pajama Party – Have children wear pajamas and bring pillows and stuffed animals to class.  Read books, watch a movie, and eat popcorn.

Career Day – Children come dressed for the career they’d like when they grow up.  After sharing with friends, have each child draw a picture (or take a photograph) and make a class book.

Luau – Make grass skirts from draw string garbage bags.  Cut straws in 1” pieces and alternate stringing with paper flowers on dental floss to create a lei.  Hula, surf, and eat pineapple fruit kabobs for snack.

Toy Day – Children bring a favorite toy from home and share with their friends.

Wash Day – Wear old clothes and bring sponges, pails, and squirt bottles.  Let children wash tables, desks, toys, etc.  (You could tie this in with a water play day.)

Teddy Bear Parade – Children bring in a teddy bear or stuffed animal and parade around the classroom.  Have them write stories and draw pictures of what they like to do with their bear.  Have a “tea party” with your bears.

Board Game Day – Let children bring board games from home.  Set aside the last hour in the day to share games and play with friends.

Take a Vacation
Carrie Tibetts shared this brilliant idea last week when I was in Austin.  First, children get to choose a "vacation location."  This is any special place they like in the classroom.  If a child needs a break they can "take a vacation" and go to their quiet spot.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


You will need a pocket folder for each child for this summer writing activity. Remind the children what wonderful writers they have become and how important it is for them to keep writing over the summer. Explain that many famous writers started keeping diaries and journals just like them when they were young. Motivate them to make their own “Summer Fun Journal” so they can record all the special things they will be doing over the summer.  
Provide the children with markers, crayons, construction paper, and other art media to decorate the front of their pocket folders. (You might suggest they title it “Summer Fun.”) Run off copies with the attached writing prompts or create your own based on the interests of your students. You might even want to ask your class to brainstorm topics for these journals.

Hint! Be sure and include some blank paper at the end.

*Encourage students to add photos, brochures, or other special keepsakes.

*Add a line for the date on each page.

*Tell your students you’d love to see their journals when the come back for the new school year.

*For younger children encourage parents to have their children illustrate the topic and then dictate sentences for their parents to write.

Here are some summer writing prompts.

I like summer because

My favorite book is

This is one of my chores

My family is going

This is what I like to do outside

These are my favorite summer foods

My goal for this summer is

These are my friends

I wish

When it’s hot I

These are games I like to play

This is what I like to wear in the summer

This is my favorite place to play

These are my favorite toys

My worst day ever

My best day ever

I can’t wait for school to start because

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Reading is like anything else.  The more you do it, the better you will become.  Here are a few ideas to get children started on a summer reading adventure.

Library Card – What better gift can you give your students at the end of the year than a library card?  Take a field trip to your local library or ask the children’s librarian to visit your school and describe all their summer reading activities.

Summer Reading List – It’s easy to do an internet search and find a suggested reading list for your grade level.  Parents would probably appreciate this when helping their child choose books to read over the summer.
Postcards – Cut card stock the size of a postcard.  Let children decorate one side with markers or crayons.  On the reverse side draw a line down the middle.  Have the children write the teacher’s name on one half.  Explain that if they send you the postcard over the summer and write you a note that you will write back to them.
*You could also give the children a pre-stamped envelope addressed to you.
Explain that whenever they write you, you will write them back.

Journals - Make travel brochures for children to write in over the summer.

Top Ten – Have each child make a list of ten things they would like to do over the summer. (Younger children could dictate five things they would like to do.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Last weekend was WONDERFUL in WINONA, MN!  What a beautiful town amongst Minnesota's lakes, and what incredible teachers!!!

I will always treasure the beautiful quilt that Nancy Nelson made me!

As summer approaches, I know you’re brainstorming ways to encourage children to read, write, and practice skills over their summer vacation. Here are three projects that may encourage your students to continue to practice sight words.

Note! You can adapt these activities to letters, math facts, or other skills you want the children to master.

Treasure Boxes for Lifetime Words
Ask parents to send in empty mint cans. Cut paper into 1 ¾” by 3” rectangles. Have children write sight words on these rectangles and store them their containers.
Hint! Explain that lifetime words are words you will need to be able to read all your life. They are like a “treasure” because they will belong to you forever!!!

Word Wallet
Make wallets from construction paper. Lay the paper horizontally and fold up the bottom to 1” from the top. Fold in half. Glue the sides. Decorate with markers and stickers. Cut green paper into rectangles 4” x 2.” These are your “dollars” for your wallet. Children can write their words on the dollars and “save” them in their wallets.
Word Pockets
Seal envelopes and cut in half. Cut down 1” from each side and fold down the flap as shown. Punch holes in the sides and tie on a piece of string or yarn. Give children strips of paper cut 2 1/2” x 4” on which to write their sight words. Students can take the words home in their little pockets for summertime practice.

How about some games parents and children can play with the flashcards?

Hide and Seek
Hide the words around the room. Children find them one at a time, bring them to you, and read them.

Sentence Makers
Children choose a word and use it in a sentence.

*Older students could write a sentence.

Sidewalk Words
Children practice writing words with chalk on the sidewalk.

Sort the Words
Put all the one letter words together, two letter words, three letter words, and so forth.
Sort the nouns and verbs.
Sort the words by syllables.

Can You Find?
Can you find the words in a book? Can you find them printed on food labels or other things around the house? is a website I'd definitely recommend to parents.  It's a good free resource for games and activities based on grade level expectations.