Thursday, July 2, 2015


*Do you remember playing games at school or in your neighborhood when you were a kid? You never wanted to go inside because you were having so much fun with your friends. The world keeps changing, but children still want to play games.  In addition to creating summer memories, games develop friendship, fitness, and a sense of well-being. 

This week I’ll share some games I’ve collected through the years. Yep, some of them are “dumb,” but the kids always liked them. As with anything else, YOU can add the magic to these games with your enthusiasm and encouragement. Here are a few hints to make these games a “winner”:
         *Adapt games for the level and interest of your children.
         *Keep the rules few and simple.
         *Play on soft surfaces and keep it SAFE!
         *Emphasize cooperation and the joy of playing, rather than
         competition and scores.
         *Encourage children to problem solve and work out their own differences.

Circle Soccer
Materials: playground ball
Stand in a circle and hold hands. Place the ball inside the circle. Children try to kick the ball and keep it inside the circle. If the ball goes out of the circle between two people, then both people are out of the game. If a player kicks the ball too high and it goes over someone’s head, then the player who kicked the ball is out of the game. The game continues until there are just one or two players left.

Hot Potato
Materials: ball, whistle
Children stand in a circle and pass around the ball (hot potato). When you blow the whistle, the child holding the ball must leave the circle. The game is played until there is just one child left standing.
*This game can be adapted easily to play inside. Have the children sit in a circle and pass a beanbag while you play music. When the music stops, the one holding the beanbag is out of the game.
Name Ball
Materials: playground ball
Have the children stand in a circle. “It” stands in the middle of the circle with the ball. “It” throws the ball in the air and calls out a child’s name.  That child tries to run forward and catch the ball after one bounce. The game continues as “it” calls out different children’s names.

Call Ball
Materials: playground ball
Divide the class into two teams and have them form two lines about 30 feet apart. Give each child a number by having them count off. (Two players on opposing teams will have the same number.) The teacher/adult stands between the two teams, calls out a number, and throws the ball in the air. The first child with that number to catch the ball wins a point for their team.

Silent Ball
Materials: koosh ball or other soft ball
Have the children form a circle. Give one child the ball. He or she throws it to another child without calling the child’s name or saying anything. If a child fails to catch the ball or drops the ball, the child is out of the game. Continue throwing the ball silently until there are just two players left.

Ground Basketball

Materials: playground ball, large box or laundry basket
Have the children form a circle with the basket or box placed in the middle. First, let the children take turns trying to throw the ball into the basket. Next, divide the children into two teams and let them try to make points for their team by throwing the ball into the basket.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


It was a lucky day when I met Carolyn Kisloski (Holding Hands and Sticking Together –! Years ago I created some “gift cards” with games, toys, recipes, and simple, fun activities to do with children. Carolyn gave them a facelift with her magic touch with graphics and design! She’s made them so much more “inviting.”

If you are a teacher, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor….I bet you’ll find something that you’d like to share with a child this summer. I can’t wait to do some of them with Kalina and K.J. when they come visit. I think I’ll run them off and let them take turns choosing which ones they’d like to do.

There all waiting for you FREE at my website ( this month! 

            Let’s Make Something!
            Craft projects and homemade toys
            Let’s Cook Something!
            Recipes for kids in the kitchen
            Let’s Play a Game!
            Indoor and outdoor fun
            Let’s Experiment!
            Simple science projects
            Let’s Read and Talk!
            Books to make

P.S.  Wouldn't this make a great gift for a child?  What better gift than the gift of time and attention?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Summer Camp in Indy was the BEST!!!! We all left with peace in our fingers and love in our hearts! If you’ve never watched this video of Susan Salidor’s song it will put a smile on your face! It should be the theme song for your class this coming school year.

I'll be doing Summer Camps in Detroit in July and Austin in August,.  (Go to to get details.)  It's just like real camp with songs, crafts, games, and new friends.  There won't be any bugs, but we'll learn how to turn standards and rigor into fun and games!!!

No matter how they try to overwhelm us with academics and assessments, we will never let them take away our JOY! Look at these fantastic celebrations the teachers did to end the year on a happy note. 

Camp Kindergarten (Michelle Page)
Last two weeks of school -
*We meet at the flagpole for camp songs, the pledge, etc. (“Baby Shark,” “The Ants Go Marching,” “Banana Dance,” “Chicka Boom,” and “Calamine Lotion” are a few songs we sing.)
*Parents write letters for “mail call” and the children write back.
*Look at our camp t-shirts with the kids’ names on the back. 


*Take an ABC nature walk.
*Make s’mores and trail mix.
*Bring blankets, towels, sleeping bags – take off shoes to read, do work, listen to a story.
*Go fishing for words (plastic pool and words with magnets).
*Go on a bear hunt.
*So a bug/insect/worm study.

Frozen Day (Natalle Oxley)
Watch the movie.
Dress up as Elsa, Anna, Olaf…
Eat “frozen” Chex mix (vanilla).
Make a snowstorm in a bottle (small water bottle with glitter).
Do Epsom salt snow painting and snowflake snow paint.
Eat blue hard candy.
Do a sight word snowball fight.
Find “S” balls and write the word.

Kindergarten Graduation Block Party (Kelisha Chandler & Traci Johnson)
*Block off the end of the hallway area with table clothes, banners, and balloons.
*Set up stations like a carnival. (Parent volunteers work each station.)
*Students rotate freely through the stations.
*Stations include:
            face painting
            popcorn stand
            cookie decorating
            jewelry bracelet making
            3-4 arts & crafts stations
            button making
            sun visor hat making

Daddy/Daughter Dance (Heather McKinney)
We charge $5 admission per couple and do the dance from 6-7 pm on Friday. (We use the money to pay for an end of the year ice cream party.)  Everyone dresses in their Sunday best and the gym is decorated like a party. (There’s a background wall for pictures.) Cake, punch, and cookies are set up at tables around the dance floor. The DJ runs through a play list with songs like “Casper Slide,” “Cha Cha Slide” and other “clean” songs. End with John Legend’s “Give Me All of You.”

Kindergarten Prom (Brenda Fella, Annette Kimball, Ashley Cramer, Myra Stumler, Michelle Miller, and Hannah Flamion)
We decided to plan a day of fun for our students at William Tell Elementary in Tell City, IN. We all dressed up, decorated the hallway, and danced to music on the playground. We learned about manners and tied other standards in as well.

Fairy Tale/Nursery Rhyme Festival (Stacey Kaiser, Tiffany Youngbloogd, Regina Padgett, and Heather Baden)
(This could be done instead of a Halloween celebration or at the end of the school year.)
Children and teachers dress up like their favorite nursery rhyme or fairy tale character. They have to bring the book or a paper with the nursery rhyme on it. Each of the four kindergarten rooms has an activity to go along with the theme.
*”Itsy Bitsy Spider” – pipe cleaner with a spider ring taped to the rhyme – Oreo cookie and string Twizzler to make a spider
*”Mary Had Little Lamb” – sheep craft with cotton balls – hang them up and then they have to find their sheep
*“Three Little Pigs” – make pig masks for retelling the story
*”Three Bears” – character puppets – taste porridge (instant oatmeal) 
After the students have visited the different classrooms and finished the activities we have a parade down the hallway for other grade levels.

Here are a few more ideas from Indy Summer Camp.

Peace Corner  (Jillian Teder)
Set up a "peace corner" in your classroom where children can go to self-regulate and regain self control before returning to the group when they are overwhelmed or frustrated.

Thank You Song (Heather McKinney)
Two little words I'm learning today.
Two little words so easy to say.
To show my gratitude I've found a way..
I can say, "Thank you!  Thank you!"

Good-Bye Song (Heather McKinney)
Good-bye, good-bye, we worked hard today.
We'll see you tomorrow, tomorrow is ______.
(Or, we won't see you tomorrow because tomorrow is Saturday.)

Time for Story (Heather McKinney)
Tune:  "My Darlin' Clementine"
Time for story, time for story 
time for story come right here.
Quiet hands are in your lap.
Time to look and time to hear.

Whack a Word Game (Megan Schultz)
Materials:  fly swatter, Velcro, flashcards
Directions:  Attach Velcro to the fly swatter and to the back of the cards.  Place the cards face down on the floor.  Kids "whack" the cards with the fly swatter and then identify the information.
*Use it for categories (farm animals, things we eat, etc.), beginning sounds, rhyming, sight words, letters, etc.  It can be used in a small group, whole group, or independently.  
*We also have boards that they can stick them on after they swat them.


It was HOT outside in Orlando, but look at all my COOL new friends!

Monday, June 29, 2015


It's time to give math some "love."  Write numerals on plastic cups and ask children to put them in order.  
Hint!  If you use bathroom cups you can store them in a Pringle's can.
*Use cups for place value - one color for hundreds, one for tens, and another for ones.

*Write fact families on cups for children to rearrange.  Can they write the different equations? 
*Have children sort the cups by odd and even numbers.

Build a Pyramid
Write math problems on the tops of the cups.  Write the answer on a sticky dot and put it inside the cup.  Children can self-check and then use the cups to build a pyramid.

Secret Pennies 
Place a certain number of pennies on the table in front of a cup. Explain that you will hide some pennies under the cup. Have children close their eyes as you hide a few pennies under the cup. Can they guess how many are under the cup?
*This would be a fun game for children to play with a partner.

Matching Games
Trace around the bottom of cups on a file folder. (Bathroom cups work best for this game.) Write numerals on the circles or letters on the circles. Challenge children to match cups and circles as fast as they can. Mix the cups up and then see if they can stack them in order. 

ODD/EVEN Number Cheer (Brenda Fella)
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
They are odd all the time.
0, 2, 4, 6, 8
They are even -keep it straight!
*Explain to look at the last digit and then recall the poem!

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Phonics Fingers
 Why? making words, CVC words, two letter words

What? 3 pairs of white garden gloves, permanent marker

How? Cut the fingers off the gloves. Write a letter on each finger with markers. (Write
consonants in blue and vowels in red.) Children insert glove fingers on their own fingers to make CVC words.

More! Give children a list of two letter words to make and read.

Let children make word families with letter fingers.

Play Dough Phonics
Why? letter recognition, phonics

What? plastic plates, permanent marker, play dough
How? Write a letter on each plate. (You can do uppercase, lowercase, or both.) Children take the play dough, roll it, and place it on top of the letter. Can they make an object that begins with that sound?

Friday, June 26, 2015


Letter Cups

Why? letter recognition, making words, alphabetical order

What? plastic cups, permanent markers or letter stickers

How? Write letters on the cups. Children can use these to make sight words, match upper and lowercase letters, make CVC words, etc.

More!  Ask children to stack the cups in alphabetical order.

Write words on cups and use for making and reading simple sentences.

Letter Links

Why?  making words, word families, singular an plural, affixes

What?  unifix cubes, dot stickers, Sharpie

How?  Place dot stickers on the cubes and write letters on them.  Children can use the cubes to make sight words, word families, singular and plural, etc.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Right now I'm tiptoeing through the tulips in Amsterdam. My husband and I are meeting Holly and her family there. (They have been at the University of Adelaide for several months.) The windmills will come in second to seeing Kalina and K.J. We can't wait to take the pancake boat trip where you cruise around the harbor and can eat as many pancakes as you want. We're also going to Brussels and top on the list are the chocolate museum and comic book museum. We've got our priorities straight!!!

I've got blogs ready to post while I'm gone, but I'll share some photos when we get home.  Wishing you happy summer days!

Why?    cvc words, word families, sight words

What?   cookie tin, magnetic letters

How?    Place a set of magnetic letters inside the cookie tin. On the inside cover make three lines with a permanent marker. Have the children take out the letters and place them around the lid in alphabetical order. Call out a sound and have the children select that letter and place it on the first line in the lid. Call out a second sound. Call out a third sound. Blend the sounds and read the word.

More!   Use for other phonics lessons. “What other words can you make by changing the first sound?” “Can you make a word by changing the end sound?”

Use letter tins for spelling words and other word games.

Letter tins are useful for partner activities or small group instruction.

Store small magnetic letters in a breath mint tin.

Use magnetic letters on a cookie sheet to make words.

Hide magnetic letters in a sandbox and let children hunt for them with a magnet.