Friday, June 24, 2016


I think I can share a few more ideas with you today!

The Little Engine That Could… (Jackie Daniel)
At the beginning of the year read the story of “The Little Engine That Could.” Talk about things that we can do like the engine. Repeat, “I think I can, I think I can…” Learn the sight word “can” and have students set goals that they want to accomplish. For example, “I can write my name. I can write my numbers.” Each student comes up with a goal and draws a picture of it. The students dictate their sentences and make a class book of “I Can.” In January, have children look at their goals from the beginning of the school year. If they accomplished that goal they make a new one. If they did not accomplish it then talk about the progress they made. Make a new book of goals in January. At the end of the year check the book again and make goals for first grade.
3 Goals (Melissa Lane)
Each parent creates 3 goals for their child at the beginning of the school year. The parents write them down and tell the teacher how they will help their child reach their goals. Review the goals at the mid-year conference and end-of-year conference. This lets the teacher know what is important to the parents and transfers some of the ownership for reaching the goals to the parent.

Guess Who? (Pam Ledwell)
Make a book for your class called “Guess Who?” Take a photo of the back of each child and place it on one page and write “Guess who?” Take a photo of the front of the child and place it on the next page. Write “It’s child’s name.

Itsy Bitsy Spider
(Sharon Howard)
After singing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” let children change what kind of spider it is. It could be happy, mad, mean, angry, silly, pretty princess, etc. Then children decide how that spider would go up the waterspout.

THE (Kathleen Adair)
(Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread)
You can say the.
You can say the.
But you always spell it
T – H – E.

Bread and Butter (Sharon Howard)
When you walk down the hall and go around a post or pole say this chant to the tune of “Frere Jacques”:
Bread and butter
Bread and butter
Toast and jam
Toast and jam
Peanut butter jelly
Peanut butter jelly
Cheese and ham
Cheese and ham

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Look at these pictures my friend Jane Bond sent from her school in Rwanda.

The children were learning letters and we divided into two teams-the teachers vs. children. Each team had to guess what letter the other team was forming with their bodies. They were howling with laughter over the guessing.

What's Up Cup?

You'll need small cups and a little toy for this game.  (You can vary the toy for seasons or units of study.)  Write skills you want to reinforce (letters, words, numbers, etc.) on the cups.  Children close their eyes as you hide the toy under one of the cups.  They open their eyes and take turns saying information on the cups and then looking under for the toy.  If they find the toy then then get to hide it the next round.

Color Game (Maureen Goonan)
You will need a box of 8 crayons for this game. Spread the crayons on the floor (or use a document camera). Review the colors and then have the children close their eyes as you take one away. Can they tell what color is missing?
*Add more colors to challenge children.

Ice Cream Surprise Game
(Bobbie Blevins)
Use ice cream cone cut outs (available at the Dollar Tree) for this activity. Write “Who?” “What?” “Where?” “When?” “Why?” on the back of the cones. Hold these up in a fan shape so children can pick one and tell that part of the story. You can also write “verb,” “noun,” “adjective” on the ice cream cones. Children pick a page in the book and identify that part of speech in a sentence.

Scooby-Doo Game (Mary Marsionis)
On index cards write letters, shapes, word wall words, etc. Put Scooby-Doo stickers on some of the cards. Students pick a card and say the letter, word, etc. If a student gets Scoopy-Doo everyone says, “Rut row!” At the end roll a die and the kids with that many cards are “winners!”
Mrs. Buck Says (Donna Marie Buck)
Play the game of “Simon Says” using the teacher’s name. During the game there is no talking. If you don’t follow directions or if you make a sound you are out. If you are out of the game and make noise you won’t get to play the next game either.

What’s Up Your Sleeve?
(Brenda Olivares)
Cut the sleeve off an old shirt. Stuff name cards up the sleeve and pull out one letter at a time as children predict what the name is. You can also pull sight words out of the sleeve.

Paper Plate Name Game
(Hillary Warren)
Put each child’s name on a paper plate. Sing, “If your name is on the plate pick it up. If your name is on the plate, pick it up. If your name is on the plate, then you’re doing really great. If your name is on the plate, pick it up.” Put down one plate at a time. At the end when you pick up the plates you can ask each child to spell their name, say their birthday, tell you their address, or whatever you’re working on.

*You could use the same paper plates when playing this game!

Who Let the Letter Out? (Whitney Rhyne)
Have the class squat down as you begin they song. They get to “pop up” when the letter that their name begins with comes up in the song. This is great for beginning sounds and teaches the kids what letters their friends’ names begin with.

Pass the Stomp (Sarah Poole)
Six or more children join hands in a ring. Child one lifts right leg and neighbor on their left lifts her left leg at the same time, stomping together. Continue passing the stomp around the circle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


I bet you can find a tip tor two you can keep up your sleeve when school starts.

Circle Time Song (Christine Bailey, Willard South El.)
Sing this song to the tune of “My Darlin’ Clementine” to help kids form a circle and get seated quietly.
Make a circle, make a circle,
Make a circle big and round.
Make a circle, make a circle,
Set your bottom on the ground!

Roll Call (Renee Nicolo)
When you call the roll teach children to answer in different languages. 

For example:  “Buenas dias.” “Guten morgen.” “Bonjour.” “Gua-cha.”  

Put Your Finger on a Wall (Sharon Howard)
(Tune: “If You’re Happy”)
Use this idea to keep students in line going down the hall.
Put your finger on a wall, on a wall.
Put your finger on a wall, on a wall.
You’re (number) feet tall
You’re big not small.
Put your finger on a wall, on a wall.

Hallway Chant (Nikkie Grabeel)
I had a little wiggle
Deep down inside of me.
I tried to make it stop
But it wouldn’t let me be.
So I pulled that wiggle out
And threw it like a ball
And now (teacher’s name) knows
I am ready for the hall!
*A secret student is picked from craft sticks and the line leader and caboose watch the secret student in the hall. If that student is well behaved the class gets a tally mark. If the 

tally marks beat the teacher on Friday the class earns extra center time.

Magic Door (Lisa Haines & Julie Wilson)
Once you go through the magic door (Point finger framing a door.)
You go like this (Shhh!)
Because we can’t talk anymore.
Zip it. (Zip lips.)
Lock it. (Pretend to lock lips.)
Put it in your pocket. (Put imaginary key in your pocket while wiggling hips.)

Buddy Time (Robin Davis)
Put matching pompoms in a can and let each child draw a pompom. They match pompoms to find their buddy.     

Vacuum Cleaners (Whitney Rhyne)
If you have a mess of paper on the floor allow the children to become vacuum cleaners. They crawl or slide around on the floor making noises and p
icking up the trash. They will love it!

Friendship Tools (Liz Watras)
Use sign language ( to teach children these words:
When they have a problem they can use the tools and signs to work through the conflict.

Waiting Crown (Nicole Edwards)
When working one-on-one or testing, wear a toy crown as a visual to show others in the 

class that they have to wait and can’t interrupt.

Top Priority
When introducing something important to your class put a sign on the door that says “Top Priority.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Yes, it really is Yoga Day.  I bet you didn’t know that my husband and I do yoga every evening. Stop by about 6:30 and you can do a Rodney Yee video with us and then you can put your legs up in the air and do yin yoga. We don’t chant, but for us it’s just a great way to stretch and calm down at the end of the day.

There is a wide range of yoga, as well as a range of health benefits for adults and children. Yoga can have physical and mental benefits that might actually help your students learn better. Several teachers have told me how my “Morning Stretch” really helps their students focus and get ready to start each day.

Yoga Letters
There are several videos where yoga poses are related to the alphabet, and you can actually download this poster free.

Linda Smith shared this idea for Monument Yoga:
Washington Monument – Feet together and arms up and with pointed fingers.
Statue of Liberty – One arm up holding the torch and the other arm holding a book with feet apart.
Honest Abe – Sitting position with arms out as if on a chair.
Mount Rushmore – Legs apart with chin under fist and switch sides.
The Arch – Arms in an arc twice overhead.
Liberty Bell – Arms down swinging side to side as you say, “Bong, bong, bong, crack!”

And, wouldn’t your students love doing this Superhero Yoga that Charley Schillinger does with her students?
Superman – Do a plank.
Wonder Woman – Sit in an invisible chair.
Spiderman – Feet together and squat.
Batman – Arms out and one leg up.

Captain America -  Squat with legs apart and stretch arms over head and behind as if extending a shield.
Flash Lunges - One foot in front and lean forward and touch the floor.
Black Widow - Take turns stretching out your arms.
Iron Man Pose - Stand straight and look up towards the sky.

Here's here blog so you can learn more about it:


Active Learning  - Wouldn't it be interesting to let your students create their own yoga poses for vocabulary, science themes, etc.

As long as you learn new things and try new things in your classroom you won’t be bored and your students won’t either. Maybe yoga might add a little magic to your new school year.

Monday, June 20, 2016


I’m sharing more good news and good ideas with you today!

Sharing Good News (Jessica Williams)
Write children’s names on craft sticks and place in a jar that says “Good News.” The teacher starts every morning by sharing her own “good news.” The children clap or cheer for her. Next, she pulls a stick and the class sings, "Tell me something good!" That child shares their good news and then the class does a cheer. The teacher pulls the second stick and they sing, "Tell me something good" and then cheer. Do three children each day and then put those who have had a turn in an envelope and start all over again when everyone has had a turn.
Whisper and Release Questioning Strategy (Mary Claire Porter)
When the teacher asks a question have the children blow their answer into their closed fist. When the teacher says, “What is it?” they “release” their answer by opening their hand and saying the answer out loud.

Fishbowl Families (Robin Singleton)
Write word families on fishbowls (an, op, ill, etc.). Write words using the different rimes on fish shapes. Children pick a fish out of the pond and put it on the correct bowl.
*Adapt for color words (word on fishbowl and fish of different colors), number words (number on bowl and dots on fish), or letters (letter on fish bowl and pictures of objects that start with that sound on fish).

Name Bingo
Play BINGO using children’s names and googly eyes. Write children’s names on sentence strips and give them googly eyes. “I spy the letter R. “ If children have an “R” in their name they cover it up with a googly eye.

Category Game
The children repeat after the teacher:
“Pink is a color.” (Children repeat.)
“Purple is a color.” (Children repeat.)
“A square is a color.” (Children yell NO!)
Adapt for shapes, objects in a house, rhyming words, numbers, and other categories.

“Important Box” (Melissa Arceneaux)
Instead of tattling to the teacher, children write out their complaints on paper and put them in the box. They must start with a capital letter and use good spacing and punctuation or the teacher won’t read their tattles at the end of the day.

Eating the Alphabet (Yolanda Coppedge)
You will need upper and lowercase magnetic letters, a bowl, spoon, and alphabet cards. Each child uses the spoon to scoop out a letter. They have to name the letter, make the sound, and say something that starts with the sound before matching it to the alphabet card.
ABC Tune (Marina Attix)
Did you know that you could sing the ABC’s to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It’s great because L M N O P don’t end up sounding like “a lemon and a pea.”

Class Pictionary
Each day choose a different letter of the alphabet and write it on a large sheet of paper. Let the children cut out objects or draw pictures of things that start with that sound. Be sure and label their pictures. After introducing all 26 letters, put the pages together to make a BIG BOOK PICTIONARY for your classroom. Don’t forget to add a page for illustrators and the publisher (school, city, and state). You could also let the children dedicate the book and make a page that says “The End.”

Silly Band Writing

This is the coolest idea with silly bands. Explain that when you go for a ride in the car you have to wear your seat belt. When you write you have to put a seat belt on your pencil. Put a silly band on your wrist, hold your pencil, and then loop the silly band around the pencil. It will stabilize the pencil and make it easier for the children to write.
*A teacher also suggested holding the lid of the marker in your hand when you draw to get the correct grip.

Who Stole the Sound? (Candice Hall)
Adapt “Who Stole the Cookie?” to letters. Write letters on cookie shapes and place them in a bag. Pass the bag around and as children pull out a letter say:
Who stole the letter sound from the cookie jar?
Child’s name stole the letter sound from the cookie jar!
Who me?
Yes, you!
Couldn’t be.
Then who?

Birthday Do Dah (Mary Lehman
(Tune: “Camptown Racers”)
Our friend name is age years old
Do dah, do dah. (Wave scarf up and down on “do dah.”)
Our friend name is age years old
Oh, do dah day.
Let’s all shout “hooray!”
It’s a special day.
Our friend name is age years old
Oh, do dah day.
*Take scarves, streamers, or just wave your hand as you “do dah” the person’s age.

Tattle Stopper (Linda Rossiter)
Pick up some old tax forms at the library. When children start to tattle hand them a form and tell them to fill it out and then bring it back to you.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


I wish my father were alive so I could tell him Happy Father's Day. I wish I could tell him that I love him. I wish I could thank him for all of the little and big things he did for me.  

My father loved to work in the yard. I can still see him in his 80’s playing in the dirt. His hands were crippled with arthritis and I said, “Don’t your hands hurt?” His reply was, “I don’t think about them and then they don’t hurt.” That’s the kind of man he was.

Education was more important to my father than making money. I think one of his proudest days was when I earned my Ph.D. (And I used the word EARNED because it wasn’t easy to have a full time job and two children and go to grad school. I can empathize with many of you.)

Every time I cooked for my father it was the BEST food he ever tasted. Every present I gave him was what he had always wanted. Every sunrise was the most beautiful…every song was the prettiest…every experience was joyful…every day he was grateful.

My father taught me that it’s a wonderful world and we have to work hard to make it a better place. Do a little more than what is expected of you. Go out of your way to be kind and make someone else happy.

I remember complaining about one of my first jobs and my father said, “Get over it. There is no such thing as a perfect job. You just need to do the best you can and work hard.”

My dad was “liberated” before it became politically correct. He was friends with rich and poor, people of all ethnic backgrounds, and he thought my sister and I could be a doctor or lawyer or anything we wanted to be. He thought if you worked hard nothing was impossible.

My father was not perfect, but that’s the great thing about “selective nostalgia.” Always try to remember the good things and not the negative.

                          My dad walking me down the aisle at my wedding. 

If your father is still living, never miss the opportunity to tell him that you love him! Never miss the opportunity to show him that you love him!

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Let’s see what jewels I’ve found for you today!

Punctuation Detectives (Michelle Landers)
Encourage children to edit their work by “punctuation detectives” with highlight markers.
Period – circle red – red means STOP reading.
Comma – circle green – green means take a breath and keep on reading.
Exclamation point – circle orange – orange means be excited!!!
Question mark – circle purple – purple means be curious.
Capital letters – underline blue – blue means the letter is a capital because it’s the beginning of a sentence or has an important name.
Dolch words – yellow – highlight yellow because it is a popcorn word. Yeah! You know this word already!

Spotlight on Reading (Vickie Spencer)
Use this idea to line up and learn. Turn the lights off and then pass a flashlight to one child. That child shines the flashlight on a word and reads it. She then passes the flashlight to another friend. Children continue reading a word and passing the flashlight to a friend until all have read a word and lined up.

Line Up Poem (Shannon Walden)
Hip and lip,
Standing tall.
Now we’re ready
For the hall!

Talking Strips (Brandi Housewright)
For classroom talkers, cut small strips of paper and put them inside an envelope labeled “Talking Strips.” When children feel the urge to talk out loud they can write a sentence or draw a picture of what they want to share. You can share these together at the end of the day.

Foam Hands (Cheri Rummens)
Cut hands out of foam and write “left” and “right” on them before taping them above the calendar and flag. Remind the children to look and see which hand they should place on their heart before they do the pledge.
Give Me a Toe
Instead of having children give you a high five, ask them to “give me a toe” as you touch feet.

Class Facebook (Laura Caudle)
Take the children’s pictures the first day of school and make an alphabet facebook. Run off a copy for each child. Use it throughout the year to sing ABC’s, learn alphabetical order, read each other’s names, etc.


Attention Grabber (Vanessa Prasnicki)
Teacher sings to the tune of “Old MacDonald”:
(Teacher’s name) had a class.
Kids respond: “A – E – I – O – U”

Buggy (Denise Harford)
Write letters of the alphabet on popsicle sticks. On some of the sticks have a picture of a bug. Children pull a stick out of a bag and tell the name and make the sound. When they pull out a picture of a bug they stand up and go “buggy” until you swat (clap hands) the bug down.

Hugs and Bubbles (Jo Ann Hittle)
Before going in the hall remind children to give themselves a hug (cross arms over body) and put bubbles (puff out cheeks) in their mouths.

The Word on the Bus (Laura Gerlach)
Draw the outline of a bus and place flashcards on the bus as you sing:
The word on the bus is can, can, can. Can, can, can. Can, can can.
The word on the bus is can, can, can.
That’s the word on the bus.
Tisket A Tasket Letters (Pam Uecker)
I can make a letter.
I can make a letter.
I use my arms (or hands),
I use my legs,
And I can make a letter.
(Call out a letter for the children to make with their bodies. You could use these for sign language or other signs from your phonics program.)

Picture Walk (Melissa Roel)
Invite your students to take a “picture walk” through a new book. Ignore the words and have them focus on the pictures as you ask qu;;≥7estions:
“What’s happening?”
“Who is that?”
“Where are they?”
“What do you think this story is about?”
*You can use this for vocabulary development, prediction, and other pre-reading skills.

Let’s Look Important! (Diane Ringer)
Use this idea instead of criss cross applesauce.
Would you like to know how to look important? Put your right hand over your heart like this. (Demonstrate)
Put your left hand across your chest and fold your arms like this. (Demonstrate)
Lift up your chin and smile importantly.
Now look at all my important people!

Song Requests (Heather Cline)
Make a box for song requests. Children write their favorite song on a sheet of paper and put it in the box. Pull requests each morning and sing.

End of Day Chant (Linda Wood)
Sit in a circle criss cross applesauce and start the chant with this rhythm:
Slap knees two times
Clap two times
Snap two times
Clap two times
“Linda, Linda, what do you say?
What did you like at school today?”
The child has to tell what they liked best that day. It’s a good way to remember what they learned as you reinforce oral language.