Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Children can only manipulate two "chunks" at a time, so focusing on word families is a powerful strategy for beginning readers.
“Onset” refers to the initial letter or blend. “Rime” is the vowel and letters following it.  

Rime Time  (Tune:  "The Addams Family")
Rime time, (Snap! Snap!)
Rime time, (Snap! Snap!)
Rime time, rime time, rime time. (Snap! Snap!)

There’s can and there’s pan. (Touch hands to alternate knees to the beat.)
There’s fan and there’s ran.
There’s man and there’s tan.
The “an” family.

It would be meaningful to take one word family and sing it every day for a week in this song. If you made a “house” similar to the one shown the children could contribute additional words throughout the week.

Word Family Song 
Here's another song to the tune of “BINGO.”
          There is word family you should know
          And at is it’s name-o.
          M-a-t, mat
          H-a-t, hat
          C-a-t, cat
          They end in at you know.

*Write the words on a chart and point to them as you sing.    
Block Rimes
Cut paper the size of square and rectangular unit blocks.  Write onsets on the squares and rimes on the rectangles. Children put blocks together and read words.
Rime Eggs
Using plastic eggs, write onsets with a permanent marker on one half of the egg. Write a rime on the other. Children twist the egg and read the words.
Flower Rimes
Cut 4” circles out of construction paper. Cut paper petals similar to the ones shown. Children write the “rime” on the circle and then write words on the petals.

Monday, January 22, 2018


How about a story today? Here's a video where your children can watch me "tell and draw."


I like to tell this story multiple times. Each time I tell it I'll stop and let the children fill in the missing information. After several times I'll have them draw and tell it along with me. What a great way to practice retelling a story in sequential order!

Snug as a Bunny
1. One day a man went walking with his arms behind his back.
2. It started to snow.
3. He got a sled so he could play in the snow.
4. But after awhile he got cold and decided to build himself a house with two stories.
5. He put two windows in the top floor and divided them in half.
6. Then he built two chimneys.
7. He threw some sticks on the fire.
8. And soon he was snug as a bunny!


Sunday, January 21, 2018


Just in case you get bored today, here's a cheap, simple prop that you can make for your classroom and use in a multitude of ways.

All you’ll need are cheap, white paper plates. Put two plates together and staple about ¾ of the way around. Leave an opening large enough so you can stick your hand in and use like a puppet. Write letters, numerals, shapes, math signs, etc. on the plates and use to really involve your students.

*Write the letters “B-I-N-G-O” on the front of the plates as shown. Cut out hands and write numerals on the back. Choose five children to wear the letters as you sing “Bingo.” Explain that “Bingo” is a word that has five letters. After each verse you will turn over one letter and they should clap instead of saying the letter. Children will learn to go from left to right; they’ll learn that letters make words; they’ll learn number concepts.

*Give each child a letter to put on their hand. Have them come to the front of the room as you call out their sound. Put the letters together to make words. This can reinforce CVC words, word families, silent “e,” etc.

*Give children letters to hold up as you sing alphabet songs like “Happy Birthday Letters” or “Who Let the Letters Out?”
*Write numerals on plates and use for ordinals, number sentences, “Ten in the Bed,” and other numeral songs and finger plays.

*Play "I have___" "Who has___?"

*Divide children into small groups and let them make puppets of characters from a story. Let them act out the story for classmates using their puppets.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


One thing about being in this business for over four decades is that I’ve been through the revolving door many times. I’m excited about putting a little “STEM/STEAM” back in the curriculum by integrating art activities again.
Here’s an art/engineering project that my students always enjoyed. Erik Erikson believed that children aged 5-12 were in the age of “industriousness” and needed opportunities to feel confident in their ability to achieve and produce. If you watch children as they work on these projects you can almost see their brains firing away as they create and problem-solve.

2 lunch bags
old newspapers
scissors, tape, glue, markers
construction paper scraps and other art media

Decorate one bag with construction paper, markers, paint, and your imagination to look like a building.  Open the second bag and stuff with wadded up newspaper.  Insert the decorated bag over the stuffed bag to make a rectangular cube.

Tie these sack structures in with a unit on community helpers by asking children to make buildings in their community.

Let children make places from a book they have read and use them to retell the story.

Divide children into small groups and let them collaborate in designing buildings and structures. Can they make a city in the future? Can they make dwellings from other cultures and countries?

Now that's what I call building skills for the 21st Century!  Cooperation, collaboration, communication, and creativity all rolled into a fun thing for children to do!

Friday, January 19, 2018


Did you know you that “Twinkle Little Star,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and “The Alphabet” are all sung to the same tune?

You can also use the tune to sing any of your alphabet books or the pictures on your classroom alphabet.  For example:

     A is for apple.
     B is for bear.
     C is for cat.
     D is for dinosaur….

It’s also fun to go around the room and use the children’s names in the song. For example:
D is for Daniel. K is for Karla. M is for Miguel. L is for Lisa....

Here are some other tunes you can use to sing the ABC's:

     “Amazing Grace”
     “Braham’s Lullabye”
     “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
     “The House of the Rising Sun”
“Coming Round the Mountain”

Are there any other tunes you use to sing the alphabet?

Here's a video where I demonstrate these tunes.

Rhyme and Read
Here's a book you can make to sing nursery rhymes and letters to the tune of "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

Materials: file folder, 2 book rings, glue, alphabet letters, nursery rhyme posters (I downloaded the nursery rhyme posters from “rhyme a week” at curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/wil/rimes_and_rhymes.) 


Directions: Glue the alphabet to the right side of the file folder. Place the rhymes on the left side of the folder, punch two holes, and attach with book rings as shown. Sing the rhymes and then sing the ABC’s between each verse. 
*Have children clap, snap, tap, thump or make other movements as you sing.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


This was a great game to play when I needed a few minutes to organize or while waiting in the hall. I kept the toy mouse in my pocket and would just pull it out and start the game. It’s one of those simple little things that the kids loved – and it worked!

All you need is a toy mouse or another small animal. Hold the toy in your hand as you say:

          Mousie, mousie, how quiet can you be?

          When I clap my hands, 1-2-3, we shall see!

Clap your hands 3 times, and then pass the toy to a child who is standing/sitting quietly. That child holds the toy, walks around the room, and passes it to another quiet friend. The game continues as children pass the toy to friends who are sitting quietly.

*Use seasonal toys, such as a jack-o-lantern, snowman, or leprechaun.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Last week my friend Leigh Ann Towater said when she put on my DVD a little boy talked to me on the smart board and said, "Get it, girl!" I mean, what 70 year old wouldn't be tickled to death by a comment like that!

I wish I could get in my car and drive across the United States and just "pop" into your classroom. There's nothing that fills my heart quite like being in front of a group of children! Since I can't do that, I've decided to start making some little videos you can share with your class. If you and your children enjoy them, I'll make more and more and more.

"King Kong" and "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" in sign language are my first two. Let me know what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrw8gDd8_b0 (King Kong)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEtRphEBTT8 (Sing and Sign "I Know an Old Lady)