Monday, January 23, 2017



Yeah, I know February is still over week away, but I'm going to be traveling next week so I wanted to give you some "LOVELY" ideas for February.  I'll post ideas all this week on my blog, and I'll demonstrate everything tonight on LIVE AT FIVE!  See you then!  

Will spring be early or late this year?  I guess we'll have to wait until February 2nd to find out!
Groundhog Day – February 2nd 

(Tune: “Say, Say, My Playmate” Happy Everything CD)
February 2nd, (Hold up 2 fingers.)
Is Groundhog Day.
Gather round his hole (Make circular motion.)
To hear what he’ll say. (Place hand by ear.)
Will spring be early
Or late this year?
Watch and listen
To what you’ll hear.

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with one hand.)
On a sunny day (Stick the index finger from the other hand
His shadow will frighten him (up through the hole and wiggle.)
And he will say,
“I’ll go back in my hole (Tuck finger in your fist.)
And go back to sleep.
You’ll have winter
For six more weeks.”

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with fist and stick up finger.)
On a cloudy day
He’s not frightened
So he will say, (Wiggle finger.)
“I think I’ll stay out
And the weather should clear.
Spring will be here
Early this year.”

*You can download the book at

Cup Puppet – Let children draw a groundhog or download one 
off the internet.   Staple to a straw. Punch a hole in the bottom of a paper cup and insert the straw in the cup. Raise and lower the groundhog as appropriate in the song.

Sidewalk Shadows – Go outside on a sunny day and have children stand with their backs to the sun. Let them make silly motions and play “Guess what I am?” Give them chalk and let them trace around each other’s shadows.
*Draw shadows at 10, 12, and 2 and compare.

*Play shadow tag where they try to touch each other's shadows.

Where’s the Groundhog? – Cut twenty 4” squares out of heavy paper. Write high frequency words, math facts, letters, numerals, etc. on the cards.  Glue a picture of a groundhog on a 3" circle.  Have the children sit on the floor in a circle. Mix up the cards and place them face up on the floor. Identify the numeral (etc.) on each card as you place it down on the floor. Tell the children to turn around. Hide the groundhog under one of the squares. Children turn back around and try and guess where the groundhog is hiding. One at a time children call out a number and then “peek” to see if the groundhog is under it. The first child to find the groundhog gets to have a turn hiding it. The game continues as children hide the groundhog and then try to discover his whereabouts.

Dramatize - Invite children to dramatize the groundhog peeping out of his hole. What if it's sunny? What if it's cloudy?

Note! Visit for more great ideas!

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Here ’s a true story that prompted this blog.

There was a shy little girl who took a dance class. (My granddaughter, actually.)  She stood in the back of the class and half-heartedly followed directions. At the end of the class the teacher pulled her aside and said, “You are special. I want you at the front of the class next week.” She beamed as she reported to her mother, “The teacher said I was SPECIAL!” That’s all it took! She was hooked and totally engaged the next class because of one little word.

I wonder how many of your students have never been told that they are SPECIAL? How are they ever going to be SPECIAL if they don’t believe they are? And the good thing about the word SPECIAL is that it encompasses many attributes. You can be a special reader or artist or athlete or talker or block builder or friend… There’s got to be some special little thing about each child in your classroom.

This week make it a point to pull aside each child individually, hold their hands, look in their eyes and say, “You are special.” You don’t have to say why or explain. YOU ARE SPECIAL! You might want to take your class list and cross through each name as you do this so you make sure you don’t leave anyone out.

Special Me
Here’s a song to sing to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
Special, special, special me.  (Open and close fingers like stars.)

I'm as special as can be.  (Point to self.)
There is no one quite like me.  (Shake head "no.")
I'm as good as I can be.
Special, special, special me.  (Open and close fingers.)
I'm as special as can be.  (Point to self.)

Writing Activity
Have children complete this sentence. “I am special because….” They can write or dictate why they are special and then illustrate their sentence. Put their pictures together to make a class book called “We Are Special!”

Thank a Teacher
I had a special week singing at some low income schools in Charleston. I admire the teachers more than I can express. School is the BEST thing that happens to some of those children and I am grateful for such loving teachers. As difficult as their jobs may be at times, there's always something to make you laugh when you work with young children. These are some comments the kids made when they watched a video after my visit:

     How she come out that Smartboard?

     I knowed her!

     She my friend!

     That’s Ms. Dr. Jean!

     “Dr. Jean Luther Jr.”
  (My favorite!)

I've got games, stories, songs, books, and
 art activities to fill your February with love!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

B "Sees" D

Someone at a recent workshop asked if I had any “tricks” for helping children discriminate b and d. Most experts suggest that it is developmental and you shouldn’t be too concerned before the age of 7. However, I looked through my files and here are some tips.

B and D (Mary Ann Rosier)
Make a fist with each hand and put up the thumbs with fists facing each other. “B” comes first in the alphabet so the stick is first. “D” comes after “B” so the stick is on the right.
Using a copy of the alphabet underline “b c d.” Explain that “b” /c sees/ “d.”
B and D Discrimination (Mary Marsionis)
Children use left hand to make a sign language “b” and right hand to make a “d.” Say “big dog” to remember “b” and “d.”

B vs. D (Mary Myers)
Here’s another idea for helping children distinguish these letters. “B” has the bat (stick) and then the ball (circle). “D” has the doorknob (circle) and then the door (stick).
Draw a bed. Use a lowercase “b” for the headboard and a “d” for the foot of the bed. 

Write "b" on 10 index cards and "d" on 10 index cards.  Shuffle the cards and then ask the children to sort them.
Sensory Activities
Practice writing “b” and “d” in the air as you say:
Make a line and then a circle for “b.” Make the circle and then the line for “d.”

Have children roll play dough and place it on top of the letters.

Trace over letters in a sand tray.

Friday, January 20, 2017


How about some indoor games with "rigor"!  These games can be adapted from something as simple as shapes or colors to letters, numbers, words, vocabulary, math facts...whatever skill your students need to practice and master.

It’s important to remember that it takes several times before children “get” how to play a game. Introduce the game, play a few rounds, and then try it again the following day. Never drag out a game, but “quit while you are ahead” so they will want to play it again. In addition to reinforcing skills, these games will also develop the executive function (self-regulation) and 21st Century Skills (cooperation, collaboration, critical thinking).
Hint! Paper plates are cheap, durable, and make perfect flashcards for these games.

Skills: words, letters, math facts, colors, shapes, etc.
Materials: paper plate flashcards with information you want to practice
Directions: Do you remember the old game where you placed chairs in a circle and walked around until the music stopped? If you didn’t find a chair you were OUT! This is a similar game that can reinforce letters, words, colors, math facts, etc. Scatter the paper plates on the floor. Play some catchy music for the children to dance to. When the music stops each child finds a paper plate and picks it up. The teacher randomly points to various children to identify the information on their plates. Have the children place the plates back on the floor and continue dancing.
*If the child is unsure about what is on their plate invite them to “ask the audience.”

Skills: words, letters, shapes, colors, etc.
Materials: flashcards
Directions: Divide the class into two teams and have them stand on opposite sides of the room facing each other. Give each player a flashcard to hold in front of them. The teacher goes to one team and asks, “Who do you want to call over?” The children select someone from the opposite side and say, “Red rover, red rover, send (word) right over.” The child holding that word walks, hops, tiptoes, or jumps to the opposite side. The game continues as sides take turns calling words over.

Skills: words, letters, math facts, etc.
Materials: flashcards
Directions: Have the children close their eyes as you hide the flashcards around the room. Children open their eyes and hunt for the words. When they find one they bring it to the teacher and read it. Then they hide it again and look for another word. The game continues as long as the children are interested.

Skills: words, letters, numerals, shapes, etc.
Materials: flashcards
Directions: Seven children come to the front of the room and are given a flashcard. The rest of the class places their heads down. The seven tiptoe around and place a flashcard by a friend before returning to the front of the room. The seven join in and say, “Heads up! Seven up!” Children who received a flashcard stand up and identify the information on their card. They then get three guesses to determine who gave them the card. If they guess correctly they get to switch places that person.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Snow, sleet, rain, oh, my!
Need a new game for when Mr. Winter won't let you go outside?
These are some of the games my children used to love to play.

Silent Touch
This is a great game to quiet children and build memory skills. The first child gets up and touches an object and then sits down. The second child gets up, touches the first object, then touches an additional object. The third child touches the first object, second object, and adds a third object. The game continues as classmates touch what the previous children have touched in sequential order and then add a new item. When a child forgets, simply begin the game all over again.

Four Corners (This is the BEST indoor game ever!)
Number each of the corners in the room ~ 1, 2, 3, 4. (You can write the numerals on paper and hang them up if you want.) Choose one person to be “it.” “It” hides their eyes and slowly counts from one to ten as the rest of the class tiptoes to a corner in the room. When “it” says “freeze,” everyone must be in a corner. “It” then calls out a number (1, 2, 3, or 4) and the children in that corner are out of the game. They sit down in the “stew pot” in the middle of the room. “It” counts to ten again as everyone moves to a new corner. The game continues until there is one person left. That person becomes the new “it.”
Hint! Shorten the game by having “it” call out two corners at a time.
*If there is no one in the corner, ask “it” to call out another number.

*Label the corners with sight words or vocabulary words.


One child is the “detective.” The detective describes a “missing child” (classmate), giving their eye color, hair color, description of clothing, likes, etc. The first person to identify the missing child gets to be the new detective.
Hint! Here is another variation of this game. Send the detective out in the hall. Select one child and hide him or her under your desk or behind a shelf. The detective returns to the classroom and tries to identify the missing child. (You can also let two children exchange seats and see if the detective can spot the switch.)

Hot Potato
You can use a small ball, bean bag, or stuffed animal for this game. Children sit or stand in a circle. Children begin passing the “hot potato” (ball or bean bag) around the room when the music starts. Explain that it is a “hot potato” and they need to pass it quickly to the next friend. When the music stops, the one holding the “hot potato” is out of the game and must leave the circle. If two children are holding it they are both out. The last child remaining is the winner. Begin the game again.

Silent Ball
You will need a small, soft ball for this game. Explain that the object of the game is to see how many times you can toss the ball without talking. Look at the person you are throwing the ball to so they will be ready. Silently count how many times we can throw the ball without talking or dropping it. If someone drops the ball then the game begins all over again.

Build a Snowman  (Peg Caines, Greensboro, NC) 
Talk about a fun activity on a snowy day! And what a perfect way to encourage children to cooperate, collaborate, and problem solve! Peg said she gave each group a snowman kit with a construction paper hat, nose, buttons, and mittens. There was also a crepe paper scarf, a roll of masking tape, and a roll of toilet paper. (It took them awhile to figure out what to do with the toilet paper.)                              

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


My webmaster just finished making this video where children can practice writing numerals. Have them stand and use their finger to make the numerals in the air as they follow along with the song.

Chant and Write
(Children echo each line.)

Zero is where it all begins- (Slap thighs to the beat.)
Curve down around and up again.

Number one is so much fun—
Pull straight down and you’ve got a one.

Number two is easy to do—
Up around down and across makes two.

Number three is simple to see—
Draw two humps sideways and that’s a three.

Number four I do adore—
Go down, across, then down some more.

We’ve reached five, now let’s not stop—
Pull down, circle round, put a hat on top.

Number six is easy to fix—
Big curve, small loop will give you six.

Number seven is really sizzlin’—
Straight across, slant down, and that’s a seven.

Number eight isn’t very straight—
Make “S” then back up for an eight.

Number nine I think you’re fine—
A loop on top of a long straight line.

Number ten we’ve reached the end—
Put a one by a zero and count again:

Activities: Challenge children to write the numerals with their elbow, foot, and other body parts.

Squirt shaving cream (non-menthol) on children’s desks and let them trace numerals as they sing.

Let children practice writing numerals on a paved surface with chalk.

Run off the attached book. Put little drops of glue on top of the numerals so children can trace over them as they sing.  Wouldn't this be perfect for the listening center?


Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Where is Dr. Jean?
Where is Dr. Jean?
Here I am!
Here I am!
And here is where that I will be -
Hope that you'll come and see me
Look and see -
Where I'll be.

Las Vegas , NV. January 31, 2017
Salt Lake City, UT February 2nd, 2017
College Park, GA February 15, 2017
Omaha, NE March 1, 2017
Cincinnati, OH March 13,20147
Murfreesboro, TN April 18, 2017
Aloca/Knoxville, TN April 19, 2017
Grand Rapids, MI April 25, 2017

Go to for details and to register.

One of the best things about doing workshops is learning new ideas from other teachers. Last week when I was in Pleasanton, TX, Nadine Barrow shared this idea. She posts words and environmental print on the inside of her door. Students have to read two of the words before exiting the classroom. Perfect for print knowledge/environmental print!!!