Thursday, July 2, 2020



Some of you just finished the school year and some of you will be starting in a few weeks. One thing for sure is that it will be DIFFERENT! I’ve decided to focus my blogs this month on simple materials that can be used in multiple ways that engage multiple senses. (NO TAP AND SWIPE FROM THIS OLD TEACHER! I mean, that’s O.K., but we need to balance it with hands-on experiences!)

If I were in charge of the world, every child would have a whiteboard for an online or traditional classroom.  Whiteboards encourage each child to respond and they are reusable.  Think of all the trees we can safe with whiteboards!

Individual whiteboards (or wipe off boards) and markers can purchased many different places. (I got my whiteboard and a pack of colored dry erase markers at Walmart for less than the cost of a latte.)  Add a butterfly clip at the top and it will double as a clipboard.


Many lumber companies will cut shower board into 9” x 12” pieces that you can use like whiteboards.

Plastic plates or laminated white card stock are also great substitutes for white boards.

Several weeks ago I asked teachers on Facebook to suggest ways they used whiteboards. Their responses were so creative I wanted all of you to be able to use them.

My Kinders LOVED the “Show Me” game. They would write the response to my question (keeping it a secret by not showing anyone). When I said “show me” everyone held up their board. We celebrate trying our best- they then check my screen to see if they have it- if not we fix it. Of course, we read/review together. It all happens fairly quickly. I began by randomly calling out letters for them to write. We then moved on to letters to go with a sound, sight words, numbers, etc. Total engagement and a crowd pleaser. Everyone feels successful.

Draw one detail of a picture at a time and see if the kids can guess what it is. Keep adding details until they figure it out. You can also give them their own white board and they could draw along with you. They could also draw their own picture and have others guess. We liked to do this activity while waiting on lunch to arrive.

I used a white board with the musical chairs game. Every time the music stopped we would sit and complete one part of a directed drawing. Great fun, movement, and working those fine motor skills.

I use white boards for guided drawings (something about them being non-permanent builds their confidence), interactive read-aloud responses, and for fine motor/writing center. My kids LOVE them and anytime I say we are going to get them to begin our work they all get excited!

Kindergarteners totally buy into anything if you say “we are going to play a game”. Play a game of secret letter. Give clues about the secret letter. The clues could be naming objects that start with this letter or end with this letter. You could give clues such as “it is the letter before m”. As you give clues the students are guessing on their whiteboards. Finally the students show their guesses.

Show them a math problem and they have to complete the calculation correctly on their whiteboards.

For white boards, I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of shower board. Home Depot cut it for me into squares and I came out with over 40 dry erase boards for $24!! And if you tell them you're a teacher, you might get lucky and they'll cut it for you for free. I'm sure Lowe's could do this too

Use whiteboards to help children practice skills and settle down in the morning. They can practice drawing shapes, letters, or numerals.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


                              Watch new Ready, Set, Go! Video

Teachers are like sales people. We SELL kids on reading, taking turns, doing their work, and so forth. There are going to be many different ways that schools operate, but we need to be as positive and resilient as we can with whatever happens.

Here's a chant that my granddaughter helped me write and record. After visiting many online classes this spring it was obvious that children (and parents) didn't know appropriate behavior. (Laying in bed with your pajamas and a sippy cup is no way to learn.) My underlying message was basically what we expect in the traditional or virtual classroom.

     1. School is FUN.

     2. You need to be prepared.

     3. You'll have friends.

     4. You need to sit up and be attentive.

     5. You're going to learn lots of new things.

By Dr. Jean and Kalina Karapetkova

We like to come to virtual school. (Slap thighs and step from side to side.)
Learning from home is really cool.

Gather all the supplies you need.
Are you ready? Yes, indeed!

Come on in and wave hello.
Smile to all the friends you know.

Sit up straight in your chair.
Show your teacher that you care.

When you talk, please take turns.
Look, listen, and you will learn.

Reading, writing, we are smart!
Math and science, music and art.

We share, sing, and have a great time.
When we go to school online.

Here's a book that Toni Mullins (Teacher Toni) made to go with 
the chant.  You can download it at


Note!  Downloaded books will last much longer if you glue the first page to a pocket folder and then insert the other pages in clear sheet protectors.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


Are you excited? I am!! Baseball season starts tomorrow and I am ready to root, root, root!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Take me out to the ball game. (Hand in fist as if cheering.)
Take me out to the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts (Hold up one palm and then other.)
and Cracker Jacks.
I don’t care if we never get back, (Shake head “no.”)
For I’ll root, root, root for the home team. (Cheer with hand in the air.)
If they don’t win it’s a shame. (Open up palms and shake head.)
For it’s one, two, three strikes (Hold up fingers as you count.)
You’re out! (Stick up thumb like “out.”)
At the old ball game.


Cracker Jacks Book
Cut the front and back off a bag or box of Cracker Jacks. Cut paper the size of the bag and staple it inside to make a book.  Let children draw and write prizes they would like to find in a box of Cracker Jacks.

Here's a simple visor that you can wear to the game. Cut a moon shape out of a paper plate and let the children decorate it with markers and crayons. Punch holes in the ends and tie on strings so you can fit the visor to children's heads.


Monday, June 29, 2020


I'm almost out of ideas and I'm almost "out of June"!  But don't worry because I've got other surprises for you in July.

Rhyming Chant
(Tina Ponzi)
(Slap knees and clap hands to get the rhythm.)
When I say bat, you say cat.
Bat – cat
Bat – cat

*You can also use this chant for opposites.
When I say hot, you say cold.
Hot – cold
Hot – cold

This would be a great way to develop phonological awareness and oral language online.

Read with Me If… (Betsy Martin)
This idea makes it seem like the students are special and they “get” to read with the teacher!
Read with me IF you…like chocolate ice cream
     like broccoli
     like to play outside
     have brown eyes
     are wearing blue
What a great way to encourage children to listen and reread big books.

State Song (Jodie Slusher)
(Tune: “Farmer in the Dell”)
Virginia is our state.
Virginia is our state.
Richmond is our capitol.
Virginia is our state.
Insert your state and capitol and sing wherever you are.

Sunday, June 28, 2020


Sign language is useful for classroom management, but it can also be a "hands-on" way to get information to the brain in the VIRTUAL CLASSROOM.


When introducing letters teach the manual signs.  
Make the signs as you sing different alphabet songs.

Sight Word Cues
Teach students the sign for each sight word to help them scaffold and make the connection.

As you introduce new vocabulary words, learn to sign them by using the dictionary on

Spelling Words
Use sign language to spell sight words, color words, CVC words, names, and so forth.

“Handy” (pun intended) Signs 
Teach children signs for “tissue,” “bathroom,” etc.

Calendar Time 
Use sign language for the days of the week and the months of the year as you sing calendar songs.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

GOOD IDEA #27 Sign Language

If you've ever been to my workshops, you know how much I LOVE sign language.  Yeah, I know I'm no good at it, but I TRY!

Let me tell you why I think sign language would be especially meaningful in the VIRTUAL CLASSROOM.

1.  It’s multi-sensory.
2.  It’s engaging.  Children are fascinated by the ability to "talk" with their hands.

3.  It's a great learning tool for teaching letters, sight words, vocabulary, etc.
4.  It’s good for differentiated instruction and for children who are non-English speakers.
5.  It’s free and it’s simple.
6.  Sign language can be a powerful tool for classroom management.

7.  Sign language integrates both hemispheres of the brain.

These are some signs that may be useful for classroom management online.  I'd introduce one sign at a time (or maybe each day).  Practice that sign and then teach another one and then another one...
Look! Listen! Learn (“L” by eyes, ears, and then brain.)
Stand Up (Two fingers standing on palm and then point up.)

Sit Down (Two fingers sitting on 2 fingers of other hand and point down.)

Stop (One palm open. Pretend to chop it with the other palm.)

Finished (Brush hands away from chest.)

More (Fingertips touching.)

Understand (Wiggle index finger near brain.)

Don’t Understand (Shake head “no” as you wiggle index finger.)

Please (One palm open on chest and make a circular motion.)

Thank you (Touch fingertips on chin and extend out.)

I love you! (Fingers up with middle finger and ring finger bent down.)


Check out this FREE ASL app:

Here are websites with sign language videos:

Friday, June 26, 2020


I found this KINDNESS PLEDGE in a guest blog that Drew Giles wrote several years ago.

Kindness Pledge (Drew Giles)
As kindness is such a focus in my life, I always enjoy sharing the following pledge at the beginning of each year with so much enthusiasm and joy. We teach the children how to sign the pledge’s keywords in American Sign Language. If you’re unsure how to sign the words, there are several online dictionaries, like or, that you can use to learn the words.

The Kindness Pledge
I pledge to myself, 
On this very day, 
To try to be kind, 
In every way.
To every person, 
Big or small, 
I will help them, 
If they fall.
When I love myself,
And others, too,
That is the best, 
That I can do!

Our world definitely needs a little - NO, A LOT - of kindness now!

Twiddle Your Thumbs (Sandra O’Laira)
Tell children if their hands get wiggly they can “twiddle their thumbs.”
Literally cross fingers and wiggle thumbs around each other.
Try twiddling your pointer fingers, pinkies, and other fingers.

This would be a simple way to release fidgets and help children focus.

Who Ate the Sound? (Candice Hall)
Adapt “Who Stole the Cookie?” to letters and sounds. Write letters on cookie shapes and place them in an empty cookie box. Pass the box around as children pull out a letter say:
     Who ate the letter or sound from the cookie jar?
     Child’s name ate the letter/sound from the cookie jar!
     Who me?
     Yes, you!
     Couldn’t be.
     Then who?

This would be a fun game to play when you have a few extra minutes.