Monday, July 28, 2014


It’s often been said that, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” That is particularly true with children and their parents! Here are some great ideas to help your children get to know you and for you to get to know their families.

Make a brochure about yourself, your school, and fun activities you have planned for the year and mail it to the children before school begins (or just give it to them the first day). To make a brochure, fold a sheet of paper into thirds. On the front section write “Welcome to your name’s Classroom!” On the left section place a picture of yourself and write some personal information about your family, pets, experience, etc. On the inside write “We’ll have a great year together…learning to read, experimenting in science, learning math, working on the computer, cooking, taking field trips, singing, etc. 
Paper Doll Teacher

Here’s something fun to make for your door to welcome the students. Lay on a large sheet of butcher paper and ask a friend to trace around your body. (You’ve probably done this to your children before.) Color yourself and cut yourself out. (Go ahead and take off a few inches if you want to!) Tape this on the door, and then make the following labels and attach them to the different body parts. “A head full of great ideas,” “A mouth to sing you songs and read you stories,” “Arms for hugging,” “Hands to help your learn new things,” “Pockets to hold surprises,” “Play shoes for outdoor fun,” and “A heart full of love for you!” 

Who Is My Teacher?
Make a book about yourself to read to the children the first day of school. Include a photograph of yourself as a child, family photos, pictures of pets, favorite foods, hobbies, why you enjoy teaching, etc. Let one child take the book home each evening to share with their families. (What a simple way to build a partnership with your parents!)

Hint! You might even ask each parent to make a similar book about his child to place in your classroom library.

Special Memories
You know all of those love letters and pictures children draw for you each year? Why not use a three-ring notebook to save them so children will realize they are special to you? Keep the notebook in your classroom library so the children can revisit it all year long. 


Sunday, July 27, 2014


This book is perfect for helping children recognize their names and create friendships. You will need a photograph of each child, construction paper, book rings, and markers. Glue each child’s photo on a page. Write “Hello, (child’s name).” at the top of the page. Punch holes in the pages and put them together with book rings. (If you bind the book on the bottom it will be easy to turn the pages as you hold it in your lap.)
Use the book in the following ways:
* Circle or Group Time: Start your day by reading the book together and saying hello to each other.
* Questions: Use the book when you want to ask the class questions. Randomly turn to a page and call on that child to answer the question. This will allow “thinking time” and discourage children from shouting out the answer.
* Transitions: Use this book to dismiss children for learning centers, to line up, and other transitions. Flip through the book and hold up different pictures. As the children see their photo, they may be dismissed, line up, and so on.

* Sing and read this book to the tune of “Good Night, Ladies.”
            Hello, (child’s name).
            Hello, (child’s name).
            Hello, (child’s name).
            We're glad you're in our room.

Kiss Your Brain
Make a book with “Kiss your brain, (child's name).”

Who Do You See?
We all know wonderful Bill Martin’s “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” Your children will love saying and “reading” this version with you. Put each child’s photo on a page with this chant at the top:

            (Child’s name), (child’s name), who do you see?
On the bottom of the page write:
            I see (second child’s) name looking at me.
On the last add the teacher’s photo with this rhyme:
            Children, children, who do you see?
            I see (teacher’s name) looking at me.
            (Teacher’s name), (teacher’s name), who do you see?
            I see happy children ready to learn with me!
*Make two copies of this book so one child can take it home each day to share with their families.
*Introduce children to school helpers with a similar book with the principal, secretary, custodian, dietician, PE teacher, music teacher, and other specialists.

That's My Sound

You will need a photograph (or self-portrait) for each child. Glue each child’s photo on a piece of paper. Write the uppercase and lowercase letter that the child’s name begins with on either side of his picture. Glue a copy of the words to the song below to the bottom of the page. Sing and read to the tune of “Where Is Thumbkin?”
*Add a picture of the manual sign for each letter.
Teacher: N is for Natalie.
Children: N is for Natalie.
Teacher: /n/ /n/ /n/
Children: /n/ /n/ /n/
Teacher: Natalie starts with N.
Children: Natalie starts with N.
Teacher: /n/ /n/ /n/
Children: /n/ /n/ /n/
*Start your day by reading and singing the song. Invite the children to name other words that begin with the same sound.

Class Yellow Pages
Tear off the front and back of your “Yellow Pages” to use for the outside of this book. Make inside pages for the book that say, “We are good readers.” “We can help you with the computer.” “We can tie shoes.” “We are good spellers.” “We like to draw.” “We are mathematicians.” “We like to clean.” (Include pages that represent the different multiple intelligences, as well as common tasks in the classroom.) Encourage children to sign up on the pages where they can help others. When someone comes to you for help, remind them to look in the “Class Yellow Pages.”
*For younger children, make a class phone book with their photos and phone numbers. (Make up a number if they have an unlisted number.) Place this by a play phone or an old cell phone so they can practice numeral recognition as they call friends.


This is a book that will help children feel comfortable as they learn the daily routine in your classroom. Even if children can’t read the words, the pictures will provide them with clues about what to do. Read the book each morning to prepare children and to capture their interest in activities you have planned. Have children refer to the book to “see what we should do next.” You could also send the book home with one child each evening to share with their families.

First, take pictures of the children engaged in your daily activities and routines. Glue pictures to construction paper and write captions similar to the ones suggested. (Adapt to the age level of your students and your curriculum.) Put the pages together and bind to make a book.
            Welcome to Marshall School
            Put away your backpack and get ready for a great day! 

            We start our day with circle time and a song!
            We talk, do the calendar, and learn together.

            Next, it’s time for language arts.
            We read, write, listen, and learn!

            Time to go outside for P.E.
            We need to exercise our bodies as well as our brains.

            Next comes math! We count, add, subtract, measure,
             graph, and think!

            Time for lunch.
            I’m hungry! How about you?

            Story time is always special.
            Books are friends that we love to visit again and again.

            Then it’s time for learning centers.

            Let’s recall and review our day.
            Don’t forget your backpacks!
            Good-bye, friends!
            See you tomorrow!

*Make individual books with picture clues for children with language difficulties. The photos will help them know what to expect as they become familiar school routines.

*Put photos of different activities on large index cards. Attach a piece of magnetic tape on both sides. As you review your schedule each morning you can insert specials and adapt to changes. Turn the cards over as you complete each activity so children will understand the progression of the day.

The Name of My School
Do you get tired of children saying, “Teacher, teacher!” the first few days of school. This song will enable them to learn the name of their teacher, school, principal, as well as their community, city, state, and country.
Take photographs of yourself, the principal, the school, your community, and so forth. Glue pictures to construction paper and write a verse similar to those below on each page. Sing the words to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”
The name of my school is (school’s name),
school’s name), (school’s name).
The name of my school is (school’s name).
That’s the name of my school.
The name of my teacher is (teacher’s name), (teacher’s name),
(teacher’s name)…

The name of my principal is…
The name of my librarian is…
The name of my P.E. teacher is…
Hint! Make a similar book for social studies concepts.
                        The name of my city is...
                        The name of my state is...
                        The name of my country is...
                        The name of my continent is...
                        The name of my planet is...
Hint! You could also include the name of your mayor, governor, President, etc.

Friday, July 25, 2014


I’m glad the webinar is over!!! I was really stressed because it was my first one. I stayed awake all last night thinking about how I could have done it better. (See, I’m just like you!) This was what my desk looked like – cheat sheets and all! 

If you missed the live presentation here’s a link so you can watch it:

One of the big things I forgot to do was thank Vanessa Levin ( She’s my techie mentor and she held my hand through the whole process. THANK YOU, VANESSA!!!

I also want to thank Stephen Fite for hosting the webinar and Frog Street Press for sponsoring the event and making it FREE!

I get by with a little help from my friends, so I thank all of you who sent me positive thoughts yesterday! I once heard, “If you have a candle, then pass it on and all the world will shine brightly.” Over my 45 years as an educator teachers have shared with me, and I’m just trying to pass on the ideas to make your job more fun and put a smile on children’s faces.


Letter Necklace
First, make a letter necklace for each child. Cut out 3” circles from poster board, write the first letter of each child’s name on one circle, punch a hole in it, and thread it on a piece of 24” string to make a necklace for each child. Choose one child each day for the routine below:
1. Place the necklace in your lap and do a little “drum roll” by tapping your hands on your knees.
2. Give clues about the child’s name as you write the letters on the board. For example, “The mystery name today has four letters. This friend loves horses and is a good artist. This friend has brown hair and brown eyes. Who can it be?”
3. Present the child with their letter necklace as you sing this song to the Cookie Monster song “C Is for Cookie.”

     M is for Marcus,
     That’s good enough for me.
     M is for Marcus,
     That’s good enough for me.
     M is for Marcus,
     That’s good enough for me.
     Oh, Marcus, Marcus, Marcus starts with M.
4. Encourage children to name other words that start with /m/.
*Let children decorate their own letter necklaces with stickers, fake jewels, and glitter pens.

Giant Letters
Write the first letter in the child’s name on a large piece of poster board and cut it out. Place it at the art center with collage materials. Invite the children to help decorate the letter during the day. Display these letters on a special wall in your classroom.
*You could also send the cutout letter home with the child with instructions for parents to help him make a collage on it with pictures, photos, environmental print, and so on.

Sign Language
Teach children the manual sign for the first letter in their name. Dismiss children to line up by making the sign for their name.

Name Puzzle
Write each child’s name on a 10” sentence strip. Cut between the letters in the name and put them in an envelope. Write the child’s name on the front of the envelope. The children empty the envelope and put the letters together like a puzzle to spell the name.

Unifix Cubes
Place dot stickers on Unifix cubes. Write the first letter in each child’s name on one color and the remaining letters on another color as shown. Store these in a pencil box. Children can take the letters apart and then put them back together to spell their friends’ names.
Flap Book
Turn a brown paper lunch bag horizontally. Fold over the end as shown. Open the flap and print the child’s name so that only the first letter will show when you fold over the flap. Glue the child’s picture under the flap.
Sneak a Peek
Cut off the left edge of an envelope. Write one child’s name on a 12” sentence strip and glue his picture on the right end as shown in the illustration. Place the sentence strips inside the envelope. Children pull out one letter at a time as they predict whose name it will be.
Rub Overs
Write children’s names with school glue. Dry. Children place a piece of paper on top of the name and rub with the side of a crayon.
Push Pin
Write children’s names on sentence strips. Children place a sheet of construction paper on top of a carpet square or mouse pad. Next, place their name on top and punch around the letters with a jumbo push pin. When they hold the construction paper up to the light they will see their name.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I'm soooo excited!  This afternoon is my back to school webinar!  It's my first one and I'm a little nervous...well a LOT nervous!  Here's the link so you can join me and send me happy thoughts:
How about some activities to play with names as you nurture phonological awareness.

Willabee Wallabee

Here’s a good chant for rhyming. Substitute the first sound in each child’s name with a /w/.
Willabee wallabee Wohn.
An elephant sat on John.
Willabee wallabee Wue.
An elephant sat on Sue.

Bappy Birthday Bo Bou 
You can also substitute the first sound in each child’s name in the traditional birthday song. It’s silly, but they love it! Nick’s name would be:
Nappy nirthday no nou.
Nappy nirthday no nou.
Nappy nirthday near Nick.
Nappy nirthday no nou.

Alliterate the first sound in each child’s name as you say it in the Batman chant.
/m/ /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/  Max!
/h/ /h/ /h/ /h/ /h/ /h/ /h/ /h/ Heather!
*Cut a bat shape out of the front of a file folder. Insert paper and write each child’s name so it appears inside the bat. Hold up children’s names as you say the chant.


Invite the children to clap, snap, wiggle their hips, or make other motions for the syllables in their names.
*Use the children’s first and last name to make this more challenging.

Clap a Name
Cut out small hands from construction paper.  Glue them under children's pictures to indicate how many syllables in their names.  Make a book with their pictures and clap your hands!

Rhyme Game
Have the children think of words that rhyme with their classmates names. (They don’t have to be “real” words, as long as they rhyme.)
Example: Sophia, Bophia, Lophia
Sam, Bam, Ram, Lam

Sounds Like…
This is similar to the rhyming game except children think of words that begin like their friends’ names.

*Sing children's names in the "Alphardy Song" to practice alliteration.
     W for Will /w/ /w/ /w/
     B for Bella /b/ /b/ /b/ /b/ /b/ /b/
     H for Henry /h/ /h/ /h/
     C for Carolos /c/ /c/ /c/

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Children LOVE pictures of themselves, don’t they? If you’ll take photos of children and make multiple copies you’ll be able to use them for dozens of games, books, and art projects throughout the school year.

Cut out 3” squares from cardstock. Glue two photos of each child to the squares. Children can use these for a matching activity. They can also place photo cards face down on the floor and try to match pairs by turning over two cards at a time.

*Write the child’s name on one square and glue their photo to the other square for more a more challenging game.

Have children sort photo cards by beginning sounds, number of syllables, alphabetical order, etc.

Puppet People
Attach photos to straws or craft sticks and use for working out problems or making up original stories. 

TP People
Glue full body photos to TP rolls and use in the block center or with a puppet theater.

Tape children's pictures to unit blocks and use for building, graphing. and other activities.
Flannel Friends
Attach a small piece of Velcro to the back of each photo and use with a flannel board.
*Be sure to include pictures of the teacher, principal, and school helpers.

Clothespin Kids
Glue children’s faces to spring clothespins and store in a cookie tin. Use for songs, asking questions, transitions, etc.

Art Projects
Let children cut out their faces and use them for various art projects. For example, they could draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up around their face, draw themselves as their favorite storybook character, make a collage with their friends’ pictures, and so on.
Class Stationery
Use children’s photos to make stationery. Use the stationery to send notes home to parents or for the writing center.

Business Cards
Use your computer to help children design personal business cards. Include the child’s name, school, teacher’s name, and a graphic of their choice. Print on cardstock, cut apart, and have children distribute them to family members, neighbors, and friends. How cool is that!!!