Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Thanks to all the teachers in Houston, Lake Charles, and Marquette, MI, who sang, danced, and shared some new ideas with me last week. 

Tying Shoes (Pam Rusnak)
Use two different colors of strings. 

*I think this is a brilliant idea that could really help children learn to tie their shoes.

Sign for Your Door (Monica Welch) 
My curriculum is NOT in a book.
It is in the mind of the child who walks through the door.

Attention Grabber (Patricia Young)
Look up, point to the ceiling, and move your hand as you make the “Ahhhh!” sound. The children will all get quiet and try to see what you are looking at.

Bunny Salad (Marie H. L’Anse, MI)
Here’s a healthy bunny snack.
Put a lettuce leaf on a plate.
Put half a pear upside down. (You can used canned pears or a peeled fresh pair.)
Add 2 cloves (or chocolate chips) for eyes.
Add 2 almond halves for ears.
Put a teaspoon of cottage cheese for a tail. 

Someone emailed and asked if I had a song to teach “heavy” and “light.” I didn’t, so I made this one up.
Heavy and Light (Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread”)
Heavy and light, (Tighten up arms like you're doing a bicep curl on 'heavy.'
Heavy and light, (Lift arms up in the air and open palms on 'light.)
Heavy and light,
give a little clap.

Bricks are heavy,
feathers are light,
heavy and light,
give a little clap.

Elephants are heavy,
butterflies are light,
heavy and light,
give a little clap.

Let children suggest other things that are heavy and light and insert them in the song.

Monday, March 30, 2015


How many times have teachers asked me, "What do I do with the child who wiggles all the time?"  My guest blogger Margaret Rice has some excellent suggestions today.  And, I'm sure you'll want to check out her website for more practical ideas.

Most classrooms have a few children who are constantly on the go. All children like to move but some have trouble settling down for activities that require sitting still and listening. Here are 5 suggestions to help movers and shakers during group activities such as circle time or large group instruction. 

1. Start the activity with a movement warm up. Depending upon your group of students you may need some whole body activities, crossing midline activities or simple stretches. When in doubt, activities that require heavy work such as pushing, pulling and jumping always work wonders. These types of activities help to activate the joints and muscles to get the body and brain ready to learn.

2. Mix up how and where the students are seated during group time. For example, can they stand to complete the activity, lay on their bellies on the floor, sit in a rocking chair, etc?

3. Use visual cues for personal space. During listening tasks, can each student sit on a carpet square or perhaps inside a hula hoop? Put painter’s tape on the floor around the student’s desk to indicate personal space.

4. Take a break half way through the lesson for an additional movement activity like a quick brain break. A few examples of easy brain breaks are: jump over a pencil on the floor 20x, run in place for 30 seconds, do 10 jumping jacks, etc.

Another option is to incorporate movement into the academic lesson. For example, look for .books that include animals, sports, transportation, or other movement type activities in the story. It will make it easier to incorporate actions while reading. Try reading the book through the first time. Then the second time you read it the children can act out the motions to go along with the story. Perhaps make some cards with the action verbs on it from the story. Use those cards during other times during the day for movement break activities.

5. Establish a routine that you stick to each group session. Every time you are leading a group try and keep the same routine. Over time, the students will know exactly what the expectations are helping to reduce negative behaviors. 

About the author: Margaret Rice is a pediatric physical therapist and owner of Your Therapy Source Inc., an online resource for sensory motor, fine motor and visual perceptual publications. You can download many free activities at http://www.YourTherapySource.com/freestuff

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Spring is popping out all over!!!

Popcorn Tree
(Tune: “Turkey in the Straw”)
I looked out my window (Hand over eyes.)
And what did I see?
Popcorn popping on my cherry tree. (Hands on hips.)
What a surprise spring left for me.
Popcorn popping in my cherry tree.
Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. (Wiggle hips to the beat.)
Pop! Pop! (Jump up twice.)

Sing faster…faster…super fast!

Popcorn Tree

Trace around the child’s hand and arm on a sheet of paper to resemble a tree trunk. Color or paint the tree. Glue popcorn or cotton balls on the branches to look like blossoms.

Hint! If you shake popcorn in a sack with a little dry tempera it will look like pink blossoms.

Flower Bookmark 
Grow into a book with this idea! Each child will need to collect small flowers, petals, and leaves outside. (Remind them to only take things off the ground and never pull live flowers from a plant!) Give each child 2 pieces of self laminating paper cut in 8” x 2” strips. Children take the back off one sheet and place it sticky side up on the table. After they arrange their natural objects, they place the second sheet on top and seal. 

Hint! You can also use wide packaging tape to make these book marks.

Flower Power 
Several weeks ago I shared an idea for making flowers from word families.  Look how beautiful Jeannie Podest's bulletin board turned out!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Butterfly Handshake 
Extend your right thumb and hook it with your partner’s right thumb. Stick out your fingers and then flutter them around like a butterfly.

Caterpillar Finger Play

A caterpillar crawled to the top of a tree. (Hold up right arm and wiggle left index finger up like a caterpillar.)
I think I’ll take a nap said he. (Wiggle left index finger.)
Under a leaf he began to creep, (Wiggle left index finger under right palm.)
He spun a chrysalis and went to sleep. (Make fist with right hand around left index finger.)
Spring came along, shook him and said,
"Wake up, wake up, you sleepy head.” (Shake right fist.)
Out of the leaf he spread his wings to fly, (Hook right and left thumbs together. Spread out fingers like wings.)
“Look at me! Look at me! I’m a butterfly!” (Fly fingers around.)

Hint! Butterflies hatch from a chrysalis, a life stage made of a hardened protein. A cocoon is spun from silk and surrounds the pupa of many moths.

Baggie Butterfly

Make a butterfly by tearing up little pieces of colored tissue paper and putting them in a zip lunch bag. Gather up in the middle and twist on a pipe cleaner to make the body and antennae. Attach a string for flying.

Smoosh Painting
Cut butterfly shapes out of newsprint. Fold in half. Children drop paint with a spoon or eye dropper on one half. Fold and rub. Open to view a beautiful butterfly.

Life Cycle
Tell the lifecycle of the butterfly with a stick, a bean, and pasta. First, take children on a nature walk and ask them to find a stick that is as long as their arm from their wrist to their elbow. Glue the bean to the left of the stick for the egg. Next comes a spiral pasta for the caterpillar. Then a shell pasta for the chrysalis. Finally, a bow shaped pasta for the butterfly. 

Informative Writing
Let children write factual stories about the life cycle of a butterfly.
*How about a step book or flip book for this activity?

What does symmetry mean? Butterfly wings are a good example of symmetry. Cut paper into butterfly shapes and challenge children to make them symmetrical.
*Check out some books on butterflies from the library. Can children decorate their pattern to look like one in the book?

Friday, March 27, 2015


The Butterfly
(Tune: “Up on the Housetop”)
First comes the butterfly who lays an egg. (Clasp thumbs and wiggle fingers.)
Out comes a caterpillar with many legs. (Wiggle index finger.)
Oh, see the caterpillar spin and spin, (Roll hands.)
A little chrysalis to sleep in. (Insert right index finger in left fist.)
Oh, oh, oh, look and see. (Hands over eyes.)
Oh, oh, oh, look and see.
Out of the chrysalis, my, oh, my,
Out comes a beautiful butterfly. (Clasp thumbs and make butterfly.) 

Let children dramatize this song. Curl up like an egg, wiggle like a caterpillar, twirl around to be a chrysalis and flap arms and fly like a butterfly. 

Make a butterfly puppet from an old sock. Glue pom poms to the toe of the sock for the eyes and mouth.
Turn the sock inside out and glue a butterfly made out of felt.
Begin the song with your hand in the sock. When the caterpillar spins a chrysalis pull the top of the sock down over the toe. Turn the sock inside out to reveal the butterfly at the end.

Butterfly Bites
Children will enjoy assembling and eating this butterfly. You will need celery cut in 4” pieces, cream cheese, and pretzel twists. First, spread cream cheese in the hollow part of the celery. Insert two pretzels on either side for wings.
Hint! Make a language experience chart with the directions so children can make these at a center.

There is a story about children that is similar to butterflies. If you find a chrysalis before it hatches and you gently try to open it, the butterfly will not live and it will never be able to spread its wings and fly. Children are like that as well. If we try to push them and force them to do things before they are ready, will they ever be able to reach their full potential and truly fly?

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Here Is a Bunny
Here is a bunny (Hold up index and middle fingers.)
With ears so funny. (Wiggle fingers.)
And here is his
Hole in the ground. (Make hole with fist of the other hand.)
At the slightest noise he hears,
He pricks up his ears, (Wiggle fingers.)
Then hops to his
Hole in the ground! (Pretend to hop bunny ears into the hole.)

Handprint Bunny

Trace around children's hands and cut them out.  Cut off the middle finger and bring the pinky finger and thumb finger down to make arms as shown.  Decorate and there's your bunny!

Where Is My Bunny?
Where is my bunny? (Put hands behind your back.)
No one can see. (Shake head.)
I think that my bunny
Is hiding from me. (Look over shoulder.)
Here is my bunny. (Hold up 1 thumb.)
He’s found a friend. (Hold up other thumb.)
Look at all the others. (Slowly stick up fingers.)
Now there are ten! (Wiggle fingers.)
Bunny Ears
Cut ears out of construction paper and glue them to a headband. You can also trace around children's feet and use them for the ears of the headband.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Flip, Flop, Hop
(Tune: “Wheels on the Bus”)
The ears on the bunny go flip, flop, flop (Hands over head and wiggle.)
Flip, flop, flop,
Flip, flop, flop.
The ears on the bunny go flip, flop, flop,
Flip, flip, flop.

The nose on the bunny goes twitch, twitch, twitch… (Wiggle nose.)

The eyes on the bunny go blink, blink, blink… (Blink eyes.)

The tail on the bunny goes wiggle, wobble, wobble… (Wiggle hips.)

The feet on the bunny go hop, hop, hop… (Hop up and down.)

Drawing Rabbits - Teach children how to draw a bunny from two circles. Add detail to the bunny as you sing the song.
*You can also make bunnies out of play dough.

Bunny Basket – Fold the sack in half lengthwise as shown. Draw ears on the sack similar to those shown. Cut on the lines and then cut off the sides. Open the sack. Staple the top points to make ears. Put a face and cotton tail on your bunny basket.

Milk Jug Bunny – Ask parents to send in clean milk jugs. Cut the top off as shown. Add ears and a bunny’s face. Place a small amount of dirt in the bottom of the milk jug and sprinkle with grass seed. Water and place in a sunny window. If you start this project soon you will have an adorable bunny with green hair!  Otherwise, you can just put Easter grass inside.

A Bunny Tale (Tell and Draw Story)
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.