Tuesday, October 25, 2016


I thought of a few more activities with magnetic letters.  All kids love birthday parties, so why not celebrate the letters’ birthdays!

Happy Birthday Letters (Totally Reading CD)
Yo, A, (Hands like a rapper and dance to the beat.)
It’s your birthday.
Let’s all read
Like your birthday.
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ (Circle hands around as you make the sound.)
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
Yo, B…etc.

*Have children stand in a circle. When the letter that their name starts with comes up in the song they get in the middle of the circle and break dance.

*Make sign language letters as you sing.
*Cut out this birthday cake and add magnetic tape to the back. Place on a magnetic board and spread magnetic letters around the cake. Children take turns choosing a letter, putting it in the cake, and leading their friends in the song.

Who Let the Letters Out?
Put magnetic letters in a dog dish.  Pull one letter out at a time and use it in this chant?
Who let the A out?
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
Who let the B out?
/b/ /b/ /b/ /b/....

Monday, October 24, 2016


I’ll be demonstrating these activities when I go LIVE AT FIVE ON FACEBOOK this afternoon. Magnetic letters are kind of like comfort food in early childhood. They have been around forever and they can be used in a multitude of ways from preschool to primary grades. They are inexpensive, plentiful, and they are REAL – as opposed to the screen.

Letter Monster – Make a letter monster out of a milk or orange juice jug. Cut an opening in the side of the jug and then make a monster face similar to the one shown with felt and art scraps.
     *Feed the monster all the letters you know.
     *Feed the monster the letters in your name.
     *Feed letter monster all the red letters. Can you name them?
     *Feed the monster the letters of your favorite color.

     *Choose a letter.  Can you write it?  Can you draw a picture that starts with that sound?
     *Grab a handful of letters.  How many words can you make?
     *Make sight words with the letters and feed them to the monster.
Can You Find Bottle? Fill a large plastic bottle with salt or sand. Insert magnetic letters and shake. Children shake the bottle and try to identify letters.
*Give them a grid with the alphabet letters. They can color in the letters as they find them in the bottle.
Letter Pops - Glue magnetic letters to jumbo craft sticks. Children can use these to match letters on classroom print. They can also find objects in the room beginning with
that sound.

*Can they find some friends and make a word with their letters?
*Have children hold up letters as you sing alphabet songs.
Hint!  E6000 is the BEST glue for these projects.  You can find it at any of the big box stores.  Make sure you use it at home because it is toxic and should not be around children.
Play Dough – Put magnetic letters in a center with play dough. Children can make “pancakes” and then press the letters on them.

*Make sight words and press them in the play dough.
Sand Box Treasure - Hide magnetic letters in your sand table. Children can take a magnet and try to identify letters they “attract.”
*Can they make the sound? Can they think of a word that starts with that sound? Can they write a word that starts with that sound?

Letter Password - Place several letters you are working on around your door frame. As children leave the room, ask them to touch a particular letter. (You could also ask them to touch the letter they hear at the beginning of particular word.)

Letter Match Up - Create a class alphabet book by having children draw pictures for each letter. Children find magnetic letters and match them up in the alphabet book.

Shadow Letters - Place letters on a copy machine.  Have children match up real letters with their shadows.

etter Hunt- Hide letters in the classroom. Children will love to go on a “letter hunt.” Can they identify the letters they find?
Can they make a word with the letters they find?

Touch and Tell - Place a magnetic letter in a sock. Can children reach in the sock and identify the letter by feeling it?

Building Words - Demonstrate how to build words with magnetic letters using a document camera.

Alphabet Soup - Place magnetic letters in a mixing bowl.  Children take a big spoon and scoop out some letters.  How many words can they make with their letters?  Ask the children to write the words they can make.
Letter Tin – Place magnetic letters inside a cookie tin. Make three lines with a permanent marker on the inside of the lid. As you call out sounds children place the letters on the lines to make CVC words.

Hint! Place in a center for children to make and write word families.
Letter Play - Let children play with magnetic letters on a cookie sheet or file cabinet.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


A long, long time ago I used to self-publish a little book called MAGICAL MUSIC. I forgot all about a pattern I had in that book for a “Letter Baby” until someone tweeted her kids singing the song with their visuals. Maybe some of your children will enjoy it as well.
(Tune: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”)
I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth,
I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth.
I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth
and I can read!
I’ve got A - /a/ /a/ in my mouth
I’ve got B - /b/ /b/ in my mouth
I’ve got C - /c/ /c/ in my mouth…Z
And I can read!
I’ve got all the sounds in my mouth,
And I’m ready to read!
*Children spin the wheel around to display the letters as they sing the song.



Here’s another visual to help children focus on letters and sounds.
Color and cut out the bus using the pattern. Add magnetic tape to the back and place it on a magnetic board. Put magnetic letters in the window as you sing the song. 

The Letters on the Bus  (Tune: “The Wheels on the Bus”)
The letters on the bus all make their sounds,
Make their sounds,
Make their sounds.
The letters on the bus all make their sounds
All around the town.
The B on the bus goes /b/ /b/ /b/, /b/ /b/ /b, /b/ /b/ /b/,
The B on the bus goes /b/ /b/ /b/ all around the town.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


You can count on me to give you a few more interesting ways to develop math standards today.

Counting by Two’s (Melanie Hope)
Have students identify body parts that come in sets of two. Stand and count by two’s as you touch the following body parts:
     2 – hands on eyes
     4 – hands on ears
     6 – hands on elbows
     8 – knees
     10 – feet
     12 – eyes
     14 – ears….
You’ll be able to count to 100 by 2’s before you know it!

High Five Book

Trace around each child’s hands on a 6” square and let them decorate it with markers or crayons. Make a cover that says “High Five Book.” Tape the pages together to make an accordion book. Number the pages 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. Read over the book counting by 5’s to 100.

*Make a “Piggie Book” by tracing around children’s feet. Number the pages 10, 20, 30, etc. and practice counting by ten’s with this book.

Whisper Skip Count
One (Touch head as you whisper “one.”)
Two (Touch shoulders and say “two.”)
Three (Touch head and whisper.)
Four (Touch shoulders and say “four.”)
Five (Touch head and whisper.)
Six (Touch shoulders and say “six.”)
Seven (Touch head and whisper.)
Eight (Touch shoulders and say, “eight.”)
Nine (Touch head and whisper.)
Ten (Touch shoulders as you say “ten.”)

*To count by 3’s, touch shoulders and whisper “one,” touch shoulders and whisper “two,” touch waist and say “three.”
*To count by 4’s, whisper on 1-3 and touch knees as you say “four.”
*To count by 5’s, whisper on 1-4 and touch toes as you say “five.”

Odd and Even  (Tune: “Old MacDonald”)
There was a teacher who had some numbers
And ODD was their name-o.
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
And ODD was their name-o.

There was a teacher who had some numbers
And EVEN was their name-o.
0, 2, 4, 6, 8…

Circle Count
Students sit or stand in a big circle. Explain that the group will be counting around the circle, each saying one number. You may count zero to twenty, or decide to “count on” and choose random numbers like 36 to 47. Choose a magic number in the sequence of numbers that will be counted. The person who says that number each time around will go sit in the middle of the circle. Play continues (with the given numbers or a new set you choose) until only one student is left in the circle. 

*Have students count by tens to one hundred. Each student says one number. The student who says “one hundred” goes to the middle of the circle.

Giant Number Line

Attach a piece of tape to the floor in a prominent place in your classroom. Let children walk on it forwards, backwards, hop, etc. After playing with the line, ask them to sit on the floor. Explain that you’re going to turn it into a number line as you demonstrate writing numbers (0-10) on the tape.
*Ask one child at a time to walk on the number line as they say each number.
*Call out different numbers and ask random students to stand on those numbers. What is one more? What is one less?
*Give students dot cards (0-10) and ask them to match their card with the number on the line.

*Make a number line for each child from a sentence strip. Let them decorate a jumbo craft stick and then use it to count on the number line.
*Make a number line on the sidewalk with chalk and use for similar activities.

Friday, October 21, 2016


I need to give a little love to math today!
Here are some counting ideas that are full of “active learning.”
Note!  For younger children you would just count from 1-10 using the activities. 

Count higher for kindergarten children as they progress through the year. 
Adapt the ideas to skip counting for older students

Karate Chop Count
Feet out, knees bent, karate chop with your right hand and then your left as you count by ones. 

     *Do leg curls and chops as you count by 5’s to 100 

     *Kick front and back as you count by 10’s to 200. 

     *Wax on, wax off as you count by 100’s to 1000. 

Pump Up to 100
Pretend to hold weights as you count. 

1-20 - bicep curls (Elbows in, pretend to hold weights in fists with palms up as you bring forearms up and down.) 

21-40 - for overhead press (Fists face forwards as you start at your shoulders and push the weights overhead.) 

41-60 – side raises (Elbows at 90% angles as you raise them out to the side.) 61-80 – upright rows (Fists together close to the body and raise elbows out and up until fists are at your heart.) 

81-100 – frontal raises - (Fists together and arms stiff as you raise them in front of your body to eye level.) 

Whew! (Wipe brow!!!)

Jump Rope Counting
Children pretend to hold an imaginary jump rope and jump as they count to 100.

Dance and Count 

Choose a different dance move for each ten as you count. 

1-10 – Disco (Index finger up and down across body.) 

11-20 – Hitchhike (Thumb out across body.) 

21-30 – Swim (Make swimming motions.) 

31-40 – Bollywood (One hand up in circular motion and one down.) 

41-50 – Pony (Step from side to side.) 

51-60 – Twist (Twist at waist.) 

61-70 – Salsa (One arm bent up and other hand on elbow.) 

71-80 – Monster (Arms out in front of you.) 

81-90 – Bird (Flap your arms like a bird.) 

91-100 – Do your own thing!

Patty Cake Count 
Children face their partner and patty cake as they county by ones, fives, tens, and so forth.

Shoelace Counting
Write numerals 1-20 on a cotton shoelace with a fabric marker. Slide a bead on the shoelace and move it up and down as you count. 
*What’s one more than___? Two less than___?
Hint! This would be a good project for a parent volunteer.

Math Line Up
Write numbers one to twenty (or as many as students in your class) on 3X5" cards. Shuffle the cards and hand one to each student. Have students line up in numerical order at the door. They put their cards in a basket by the door when they line up so the cards are ready to use next time.
As the year progresses write higher numbers on the cards.

Silly Voice Counting
Have children count using different voices. For example: robot, opera, pirate, monster, teacher, cowboy, monkey, surprised, worried, silly, excited, happy, sad, mad, confused, whisper, sleepy, and scared.
*Add holiday or seasonal voices like a scarecrow (reads words in a scary voice), ghost (students say “boo” after each word), witch (read with a cackle while stirring a pot), Rudolph (students flash their hands like blinking lights as they read the word), Frosty (students shiver as they read the words) or Santa (students must say the words three times in a “ho,ho,ho” style), or the Easter bunny (students hop after saying each word).

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Take advantage of those extra minutes you have before lunch, while waiting to for an activity, or at the end of the day with one of these brain breaks. They are the perfect solution for when your students look bored or restless during the day.

Hint! Before doing these activities ask children to show you their “body space” by extending their arms slightly and twisting around. Remind them to stay in their body space as you do these activities.

Shake It Up
Hold up your right hand and shake five times as you count.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold up your left hand and shake five times as you count.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold up your right foot and shake five times as you count.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold up your left foot and shake five times as you count.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Count to four with each arm and leg…then three…two…one.
End by saying, “Oh yeah!” as you extend your arms and make the letter “Y.”

Adaptations: If children are wound-up do this with a whisper voice.

*Count to five in different languages.

*Do the vowel shake down where you say, “A, E, I, O, U,” and the “E, I, O, U,” and then “I, O, U,” and so forth.

Balancing Brains
Have children stand. How long can they balance on their right foot? How long can they balance on their left foot?
Can they balance on their toes?
Can they balance on their right foot and extend their left leg in the air?
Can they balance on their left foot and extend their right leg in the air.
Can they balance on one foot with their eyes closed?

Jumping Brains
Ask children to stand and challenge them to jump in their space as long as they can. When they get tired they can sit back in their seats.

Here’s a video where you can jump with Dr. Jean.

Brains Go Marching
Children can get an amazing amount of exercise simply by standing and marching in place. March with Dr. Jean on this video:

Push the Wall
While children are waiting in the hall have them put their hands up against the wall and push it as hard as they can. Ask them to do push ups against the wall?

Babble Break

How about a three-minute "babble break" where children can talk to their friends? You could give them a topic to discuss that relates to a unit of study, let them tell jokes, or just chit chat.

Hungry for a few transition cookies?


If they taste good you can order more!

Here’s a link for a free webinar I’ll be doing on brain breaks this afternoon:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


You can give standards a brain break with these smart cookies. Purposeful practice for automaticity (repetition) is a key to skill mastery, so these playful exercises will have children practicing skills as they move and have fun.
Children stand and put their hands in the air as they say a letter. They put their hands on their shoulders and make the letter sound. As they touch their toes they say a word that starts with that sound.
     A (Hands up in the air and say “A.”)
     /a/ (Hands on shoulders and make the short /a/ sound.)
     ____ (Say a word that starts with “A” as you touch your toes.)

Adaptations: Say words that are nouns, verbs, or other parts of speech as you touch your toes.
*Children can “Phonercise” with Dr. Jean on this video:

Macarena Count to 100
Directions: Children stand and do the “Macarena” as they count.
1 (Right arm out palm down.)
2 (Left arm out palm down.)
3 (Right palm up.)
4 (Left palm up.)
5 (Right hand on left shoulder.)
6 (Left hand on right shoulder.)
7 (Right hand behind head.)
8 (Left hand behind head.)
9 (Right hand on left hip.)
10 (Left hand on right hip.)
(Clap two times.)
That is one ten. (Hold up one finger.)

*Skip count using the Macarena. Counting by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, etc. will help children with multiplication.

*Do the “Macarena” with Dr. Jean on this video:

Sports Spell
Have children stand and pretend to dribble a basketball. Spell out words as you dribble, and then shoot the ball in the hoop as you say the word. For example:
T (bounce), H (bounce), E (bounce) ~ “the” (throw the ball in the hoop)

Adaptations: Take a batter’s position. Pretend to take a swing as you say the letters; then hit a home run as you say the word. For example:
R (swing), E (swing), A (swing), D (swing) ~ “read” (swing around)

*Let children suggest other sports where they could practice spelling words. For example, swimming, soccer, tennis, fishing…it’s endless!

Top to Bottom Math Facts
Children stand and put their hands in the air as the teacher says a number. When they touch their heads the teacher says “plus” or “minus.” As they touch their waist the teacher says a second number. When the touch their knees everyone says “equals.” And when they touch their toes they say the answer to the math fact.

Adaptations: Tell number stories where children touch and tell the answer.
*Let children take turns calling out math facts.

How about some sample smart cookies?