Wednesday, October 28, 2020


The ATTRIBUTE WEB another great graphic organizer that can be used with different age

levels across the curriculum.  It can be used as a large group, small group, or individual project. 

Concept – Write something you are studying and have children add details.

Phonics – Put a letter in the middle and ask children to draw pictures or write words.

Prefix/Suffix – Write the prefix in the middle and children make words.

Vocabulary – Children write synonyms.

Feelings and social skills – Put an emotion in the middle and children give examples.

Brainstorm a new unit – Children write all they know about a theme you are going to study.

Assessment – Children “show” what they have learned with an attribute web.

Hint! Make the web symbolic of what it is about. For example: a spider web with details about spiders; a flower with information about plants; a smiley face with ways to be a friend; a triangle with things that are triangular, etc.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


Try using a T-chart instead of a worksheet to encourage children to THINK and organize information.

A T-chart helps students sort information. It can be used to discriminate:

Odd and even numbers

Facts and fiction

Nouns and verbs

Science concepts (float/sink, magnet attracts/repels, manmade/natural, recycle/not recyclable, mammals/reptiles, etc.) 

Synonyms, antonyms

Positive/negative behaviors (friends/bullies, healthy foods/junk foods)


Time lines can be used to sequence a story (beginning, middle, end), plant growth, life cycle, and the day’s events. It can also be used to help children consider where they are now and what they want to be when they grow up.

Monday, October 26, 2020


Graphic organizers provide a way to organize information and put a “visual” picture in the brain. They are open-ended and encourage critical thinking. This week I'll share a variety of visual graphics for lietracy, math, science, and social studies that will challenge your students. Put those worksheets away and get your students to put on their thinking caps!

Everybody knows how to play tic-tac-toe, but did you know that the lotus diagram could also be used instead of a worksheet.

Tic-Tac-Toe- This is what I know!


Phonics - Put a letter in the middle and ask children to draw a picture or write a word with the sound in each section.

Math - Write a number in the middle and have children put different ways to make that number in each section.

Concept -Write a concept (science, social studies, etc.) in the middle and ask children to add a detail or fact in each section.

Homework - For homework, write a different activity in each section. Children can do three in a row or all of the items. It’s their choice!


*You could do the same thing when doing a unit of study. Children choose the three (or however many) that they like best.

Tasks – Children write the activities they need to do each day or during the week. (They can color them in as they complete assignments.)

Affixes – Write the prefix or suffix in the middle and then write words using the affix.

Vocabulary or Spelling – Children write a spelling word or vocabulary word in each section. When the teacher calls out words for children get to color them in.

Directions – Children listen and follow directions. (For example: Put a smiley in the upper right hand corner. Draw a star in the middle section on the left. Write your middle name in the middle, and so forth.)

Sunday, October 25, 2020


I originally recorded this workshop last summer for school districts, but there was so much interest from individual teachers that my webmaster (Alex May) edited it so I can share it FREE with all of you.  Whether you are teaching in person or online, my hope is that you'll find some strategies and ideas that will make your teaching better than ever!!!


Welcome Kit – Getting to Know You

Communicating with Families - Expectations


Start with a Song

Morning meeting (calendar, goals, etc.)

Singing and Dancing Letters and Sounds

Musical Moving Math

Tips and Tricks (Attention grabbers, transitions, etc.)


Active Learning

Intentional Teaching

Learning Games

What to Do Instead of a Worksheet

Brain Breaks That Reinforce Skills

Memory Makers - Special Days



Saturday, October 24, 2020


This blog is a repeat from seven years ago.  It certainly was a different world then, and it makes me a little nostalgic to read some of the posts I used to write.  K.J. still talks about "Mr. D" and what a great teacher he was.  Funny, but it's not the academic skills that children remember, but the little personal "touches" such as Balogna Day.

K.J.’s third grade teacher (Mr. D) told them each day about a national holiday and tied in a vocabulary word. For example, on National Milk Shake Day they learned the word “savor” because you want to savor it and make it last. Well, October 24th is National Bologna Day and Mr. D. taught them this song from the 70’s. K.J. sang it to his mother and she got a kick out of remembering the song as they sang it together. Those are the kind of experiences and bridges that are not in your curriculum that children will remember.

October 24th National Bologna Day

My bologna has a first name,
It’s O – S – C – A – R.
My bologna has a second name,
It’s M - A – Y – E – R.
Oh, I love to eat it every day,
And if you’ll ask me why I’ll say,
Cause Oscar Mayer has a way
With B – A – L – O – G – N – A.

*Here’s the original 1973 video some of you might remember:

Sandwich Book

I always like to give you something that you can use in your classroom, so here's a sandwich book that’s perfect for descriptive writing.You'll need two cheap paper plates to make this book. Fold both plates in half. Cut in 1 ½” from the rim on both sides as shown. Cut off the folded edge between the rim on the second plate. Roll up the first plate and insert it in the hole in the second plate. Unroll and you’ll have a book.


*Let children write about their favorite sandwich.
*Have children write a “how to” make a sandwich.
*Invite children to be chefs and create a new sandwich.

Friday, October 23, 2020


I know that some of you are not allowed to dress up on Halloween or celebrate this year, but here's an idea that could make October 31st - or any day - a little more fun.  Ginny McLay shared this with me when I was in New Hampshire several years ago and I think it could be adapted to online or in person.

Vocabulary Word Costume!
Ginny McLay and was inspired by her love of vocabulary to help her kids love learning new words with a costume party.

After focusing on words (synonyms, antonyms, nouns, verbs, and adjectives) invite children to think of a word that they LOVE, ADORE, AND ADMIRE and create a costume for their word.

Easy steps to make a costume!

1. Think of a few words that are really interesting.

2. Choose a word that you can make into a costume.

3. The word and definition must be somewhere on the costume.

4. Practice the word and definition

My word is _____. It means:_________.

Ideas for costumes:

1. Write the word and definition on a headband.

2. Write the word and definition on a piece of paper and make a necklace out of it.

3. Write the word and definition on a t-shirt and decorate with fabric paint.

4. Write the word and definition on a brown paper bag…cut it like a vest!

5. Use a costume you already have at home and think of a great word. Write the word and definition on a sash.

Can you tell? "Mysterious" and "celebrate"?

Another substitute for Halloween for younger children might be to have a nursery rhyme party. Children could all dress up like their favorite nursery rhyme character and then take turns reciting their rhyme.

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Graphic organizers (aka mind maps) are a visual way of putting information in the brain. Graphic organizers are frequently used in reading, but they can also be used to reinforce math skills and help children understand how things fit together. Here are three good reasons to give them a try:

1. They encourage children to “think outside the box.”

2. They are much more open-ended and challenging than a worksheet. 

3. They can be done independently or with a partner.

Some common graphic organizers used in the classroom include the attribute web, Venn diagram, T-chart, and tic-tac-toe frame. First, I would model using the graphic organizer with a large group, and then I would assign it for an independent or center activity.

Hint! After completing a graphic organizer invite children to explain what they did. This will enable you to “understand” their thinking process and will help make learning more meaningful. (Remember, writing and talking are two powerful ways to store things in the brain!)

Attribute Web
Have children write a numeral in the middle and then web different ways to represent
that number.

*Write “shapes” in the middle and then draw all the shapes they know.

Venn Diagram
Write numbers made with a straight line on the left, numbers made from curves on the right, and numbers made from lines and curves in the middle.

*Put a number in the middle. Write numbers larger on the left and smaller on the right.

Write odd numbers on the left and even numbers on the right.


Write “tens” on the left and “ones” on the right.

Write a number in the middle and facts that equal that number in the other sections.

*Write “10” in the middle and other teen numbers around it.


*Can you think of other ways to turn mind maps into math maps?