Wednesday, April 16, 2014


We didn't have many books in our home when I was a little girl, but we did have this copy of A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES.  "The Swing" was always my favorite because I loved to swing and the rhythm of the poem made me feel like I was actually swinging.
Poems provide a wonderful opportunity for children to close their eyes and use their imaginations.  Children don't visualize much any more because they are always sitting in front of a screen.  
The Swing
By Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

I memorized "The Duel" when I was in 3rd grade and I loved to recite it to relatives or anyone who would listen to me.  (You'd probably get in trouble now because "The Duel" is so violent!  LOL)  Brain researchers claim that memorizing poetry is actually good for short term memory.  There you go!

The Duel 

by Eugene Field
The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I was n't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate—
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

*Wouldn't it be delightful to let children illustrate this poem?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 24th. It’s a day when people of all ages all over the United States select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others. What a perfect way to make those standards meaningful! (R.L.4)

This is a picture of some children from Minnesota who recycled pockets from old jeans and filled them with poems. My version might be a little easier for younger children. Just seal an envelope, cut it in half, decorate, punch holes, tie on a piece of yarn, and let children choose a favorite poem or nursery rhyme to tuck inside. 

*Have children make the pocket at the beginning of the week and then select a special poem to put in it with their parents. is a great website where you can find more information about different ways to celebrate Poetry Month. Here are a few that I adapted for young children.

Put poetry in an unexpected place – How about taping poems underneath a table or a desk? Children can lay on their backs and read with a flashlight or finger light. You could also put poems on the back of bathroom doors, above water fountains, or other places where children have to wait.

Put a poem on the pavement – Pair up younger students with an upper grade student and let them write poems and decorate with chalk on sidewalks.

Read a poem at an open mic – Plan a “poetry jam” and encourage children to memorize a nursery rhyme or poem that they can recite for their friends. A plastic mike from the dollar store would certainly make it more realistic!

What poem are you going to put in your pocket?  Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you what's in my pocket!

Monday, April 14, 2014


Fifteen years ago I was invited to Millville, NJ, to do a workshop for kindergarten teachers. Nancy May was the principal and her husband, Alex, was the technology “go to” for the school system. I wonder now where I would be without Alex. I mean, who had a website 15 years ago? Alex offered to help me and I guess the rest is history. Alex and Nancy are both retired, but a more active couple you’ll never find! From skiing, to boating, to hiking, to geocaching…they are always on the GO with their dog
Wigo! Alex still does consulting for charter schools and has an unquenchable thirst to learn new things. (He’s also the definition of PATIENCE as anyone who’s had trouble with a download from my Song Store will agree.) Alex and Nancy both have COMMON SENSE, which many in the field of education have lost recently. I thought you’d enjoy his insight and wisdom from a recent email:

We met two teachers from Indiana the other evening and had a very interesting conversation. During that time I remembered that I had recently read about Indiana backing out of Common Core.
Here is a link:
The woman was upset about it as her school and her team of teachers had put so much effort over the past three years into aligning curriculum, preparing materials and trying to teach to the Common Core standards. She said the state just tossed all of their work and no one at her school really knows why.

We commented about how many times we were forced to embrace a new program knowing that in about three years we would be trading it for another new program. I think it could all be much simpler.

All students should:
Get along and work well together
Read well enough to understand and apply what they read.
Perform whatever math they need for personal finance and for employment.
Be able to analyze a problem and suggest a solution.
Strive for excellence.
Just think if we were able to accomplish this with most of our students!

Just think if we could appoint Alex May to Secretary of Education!!!!

I'm "hoppy" "hoppy" because Kalina and K.J. are coming this week.  Here are some of our projects.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Many of you know this attention grabber:
         Tootsie roll, (Roll hands around.)
         Lollipop, (Pretend to lick a lollipop.)
         We’ve been talking, (Open and close fingers like a mouth.)
         Now, let’s stop. (Pretend to chop one palm with the other hand - sign language for “stop.”)

Lori Whitehouse, Principal at Owensboro Catholic (K-3 Campus), sent me this note:
Your little “tootsie roll” attention grabber is used throughout our school and the children all love it. I can get a student body of 415 students all ages 8 and under quiet in 3 seconds just by starting off with the words “tootsie roll”!!

When they had a contest for the yearbook cover one of the kindergarten students entered the picture below. It’s got to make you smile!


Here are a few other attention grabbers you might want to try this week:

Student Heroes
5-4-3-2-1-zero (Hold up hand and put down one finger at a time.)
I’m looking for my (Make circles with index fingers and thumbs and place 

                      student heroes. around eyes like glasses.)

Hocus Pocus
Teacher says:
“Hocus Pocus!” (Stick out index finger and circle around like a magic wand.)
Children respond:
“Everybody focus!” (Children make circles with fingers and thumbs and place
                               around eyes like spectacles.)

Hands on Top
Teacher says:
"Hands on top." (Teacher puts hands on head.)
Children respond:
"Everybody stop." (Children put hands on head and freeze.)

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Bibbity – bobbity – boo!
Ideas from Iowa and Illinois for you!

Bibbity Boppity Boo Cheer (Emily Matus)
Bibbity boppity boo - (Pretend to tap wand three times.)
Three cheers for you! (Wave pretend wand in the air.)

Bubble Cup (Emily Matus)
(Pretend to hold your cup and blow 3 bubbles with your wand.)
Clap! Clap! Clap! (Pretend to pop the bubbles.)

Basketball Cheer (Emily Matus)
Dribble, dribble, dribble… (Pretend to dribble a basketball.)
Slam dunk! (Pretend to slam dunk a ball.)

Journal Book Idea (Becky Bertrand) 

1.  Take a cereal box and open both ends.
2.  Cut the bottom and top flaps off.
3.  Flatten the box so it has the food information on the left side.
4.  Cut a thin part off the right side of the box.
5.  Open on crease and place blank paper inside.
6.  Close and staple papers on the crease. Flip open and write. 

Giant Magnetic Board
(Gerry Gilbert)
Purchase 3’ x 4’ metal oil drip pan at Walmart in the auto department. The children can write on them with dry erase markers and make roads for cars or they can be used with magnetic letters, numbers, and shapes. They are very versatile and can be used inside or outside.

Friday, April 11, 2014


You know all those cardboard food boxes you throw away?  Well, here's a great opportunity to give them a second life, teach your children to recycle, and make some cool materials for your classroom.  Send a note asking families to save their cardboard food boxes for a week and then let the fun begin!

Cardboard Castle – Let children use masking tape to create a castle or other play sculpture.
What's for Breakfast? Book - Each child chooses the front of their favorite cereal box.  They can write original sentences or fill in the blank "(Child's name) likes (cereal)."

Puzzles – Cut box fronts into puzzle shapes. Store in zip bags. For younger children use two like boxes. Cut one up and let them place the pieces on the second box.
Fronts and Backs – Cut front and back panels off of boxes. Mix them up and then ask the children to match up the ones that go together.
*Play a memory game where you place the fronts and backs face down on the floor. Children try to match up pairs.

Stencils and Templates – Cut geometric shapes out of box fronts. Children can trace these with colored pencils, crayons, or markers.
*Cut seasonal shapes or objects that relate to a unit of study for the children to trace.
Sewing Cards – Punch holes around the sides of boxes. Children can sew these with yarn, string, or old shoelaces.

Weaving – Cut notches around the sides of boxes and let children weave through these with yarn.

Fractions – Give each child the front panel off a box. Can you cut it in half? Fourths? Eights?
Math – Have children sort the boxes by product, size, etc. Graph favorite cereals, cookies, crackers, etc.

Nutrition – Cut the side panels with nutritional information from cereal boxes. Have children rank them according to sugar content, food value, etc.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


The Green Team (Tune: “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”)
We are on the Green Team. (March in place as you swing your arms.)
Hoorah! Hoorah! (Fist in air as if cheering.)
We can recycle every day. (March in place as you roll your arms around.)
Hoorah! Hoorah! (Fist in air as if cheering.)
Aluminum, glass, tin, (March in place.)
Put paper and cans in recycle bins. (March in place.)
Join the Green Team, (March in place.)
Defend the earth and keep it clean. (Put both fists in the air like a hero.)

We are on the Green Team. Hoorah! Hoorah!
We can reduce what we use. Hoorah! Hoorah!
Turn off water and the lights.
Walk, take a bus, or ride your bike.
Join the Green Team.
Defend the earth and keep it clean.

We are on the Green Team. Hoorah! Hoorah!
We can reuse many things. Hoorah! Hoorah!
Share old toys and old clothes, too.
Give away what you don't use.
Join the Green Team,
Defend the earth and keep it clean.

We are on the Green Team. Hoorah! Hoorah!
We can keep our planet clean. Hoorah! Hoorah!
Pick up all the trash you see.
Protect wildlife and plant new trees.
Join the Green Team.
Defend the earth and keep it clean.

*Make a language experience chart of children’s suggestions for what it means to be on the “Green Team.” Have children dip their thumb in green paint and “sign” it on the list to signify that they are going to join the “Green Team.”


*Walk around the school and encourage the children to draw pictures or write suggestions for conserving energy and making the learning environment “green.” Compile results and ask the principal to visit your class and discuss improvements that can be made.

*Make a naturalist kit by recycling a detergent box or similar container with a handle. Make binoculars by cutting a cardboard paper towel roll in half. Tape the halves together and hole punch at the top. Tie on a piece of string so children can easily take the binoculars on and off their heads. Add a magnifying glass, field guide, tweezers, film canister (for collecting specimens), paper, pencil, etc. Talk about what naturalists do. Can you be a naturalist? Divide children up into groups of two and let them take turns playing “naturalist” on the playground.

*Put out scrap materials in the art center and encourage children to make “Green Team” badges. You can also let them decorate sheets of newspaper and staple them around their necks to make “Super Green Hero” capes. Let children dramatize what they would do if they were a “Super Green Hero.”