Friday, February 24, 2017



I always had a rug in my classroom and it created an intimate feeling when we sat in a circle. I didn’t like assigning seats with messy tape because I wanted the children to sit by different friends. However, there were often two mischief makers that needed to be separated. Sitter spots was an easy “trick” to disperse students and manipulate where they sat.

Cut 7” or 8” circles out of fun foam or felt. Write children’s names on these or let them decorate with permanent markers. Before a story or other activity arrange the spots to create a positive group. Children find their spot and take a seat.

*Let children take turns arranging the spots.

Note! It’s interesting that they now sell these, but I had this idea in a book I wrote over 25 years ago. 

We didn't do too much sitting when I sang at Stiles Point this week. Talk about a 
great school and great teachers!!!! It's like being a grandmother teacher because 
go in and sing and get them all wound up and then I say, "Good-bye!"

Thursday, February 23, 2017


You're going to think I'm "losing it" and I'm ready for the loony bin!  Three days of activities with envelopes and now I'm talking about dog biscuits!  Well, I'm not making this up, but this really is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day.  I don’t have a pup anymore, but I bought a box of dog biscuits to celebrate the day. (I gave the treats to my neighbor’s dog.)

Make a “Woof! Woof” game. Cut out dog bones and write sight words, math facts, letters, etc. on them. On a few write “Woof! Woof!” Pass the box around and let each child pull out a bone and identify the information. If they select “Woof! Woof!” they have to get down on the floor on all fours and bark like a dog. (They love it!)

Use the dog biscuits for math activities. Add, subtract, make sets, sort… This dog dish with two sections is perfect for tens and ones.

Make a book about pets. Cut the front and back off the box and cut paper the size of the box. Give each child a sheet of paper so they can draw a picture of their pet and write or dictate a sentence about it. (If they don’t have a pet they can draw a picture of a pet they would like to have.) Put their pictures between the covers of the box, hole punch, and you’re ready to read. 
P.S. I watched the Westminster Dog Show last week and I want a dog sooo bad. My husband says I have to quit traveling before I can have a dog, so I’ll just have to wait a few more years because I am NOT ready to retire. However, I’ve picked out some names for my imaginary dog: Jingles, Buttons, or Twinkie. I’m fascinated by the names people give their dogs like “Heredog” (Here-dog!) and Boozer (St. Bernard). What’s your dog’s name?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Now, if you read my blog and you don't do something with an envelope this week you should be ashamed of yourself!  (Just kidding!)  

Here's the video I did yesterday on Facebook if you want to see these activities demonstrated:

This is great for a quick review. Have children write “yes” on one side with a green crayon and “no” on the other side with a red crayon. When you’ve got a few extra minutes have the class use these to answer simple questions. You can quickly gaze around the room and see who has the correct answer.
Question – Statement
Put a period on one side and a question mark on the other side. Children hold up the period if the teacher makes a statement. The question mark is held up for a question.
Fact – Opinion
Write “fact” on one side and “opinion” on the other side. As the teacher says facts and opinions, the children respond by holding up their envelope.

Write riddles or questions on the front of envelopes. Put the answers on index cards and insert in the envelopes. Hole punch and bind several to make a book.
*At the beginning of the school year have children write descriptions about themselves on the outside of the envelope and then put their photo inside.
Pull and Read
Cut the left end off the envelope. Write children’s names on 9 ½” sentence strips. Glue their picture on the right side. Pull out one letter at a time for children to predict whose name it could be.
*Write sight words, vocabulary words, or sentences for children to pull and read.
*Write math equations with the answer at the end.

Word Puzzles
Write words (or children’s names) on the front of an envelope. Write the same word on a sentence strip and cut between the letters to make a puzzle. Place the letters in the envelope for the children to put together.

Skill Cards
Cut envelopes in half. Cut a ½ slit down each side and fold the top section down as shown. Use these to store flash cards of skills children need to work on such as letters, numbers, sight words, math facts, and so forth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017



Write the uppercase letter on one side and the lowercase letter on the other side.
Sing the “Hokey Pokey” with the letter puppet.
     You put your (letter) in,
     You take your (letter) out,
     You put your (letter) in
     And you shake it all about.
     You make the (letter sound)
     And then you put it down.
Listen Up
Children listen as you say words. If the word starts with that sound they hold their puppet up. If it doesn’t start with that sound they keep their puppet down.

Glue shapes to envelopes and pass out to students. Children listen and then respond as you sing this song to the tune of “If You’re Happy.”
     If you have a circle stand up.
     If you have a square stand up.
     If you have a rectangle stand up.
     If you have a triangle stand up.
*Adapt for other shapes, as well as three-dimensional shapes.

*Use shapes to reinforce positional words. Can you put your shape ON your head? Can you put your shape BEHIND you? Can you put your shape UNDER your chin?

I Have - Who Has Numbers?
Seal envelopes, cut them in half, and then write numbers on the envelopes. (You will need one for each child in your class). Pass out envelopes and have the child with 1 say: I have 1. Who has 2?
The child with 2 says: I have 2. Who has 3? And so forth.
*Count backwards: I have 20. Who has 19?
*You can also play this game with alphabet letters.
High Five Words
Write sight words on envelopes. Children walk around the room giving a high five and reading each other’s words.

Missing Fingers
Hide several fingers in the envelope. Can the children tell how many you have in the envelope? How did you know that?

Monday, February 20, 2017


If you’ve ever been to my workshops you’ve seen how I take something simple like an envelope and turn it into a learning tool. If you’re running out of ideas this time of year, then I’ve got some new activities for you. Of course, they are simple, inexpensive, open-ended, and hands-on. I’ll go LIVE AT FIVE tomorrow night (Tuesday) to demonstrate them.

The world keeps changing, but children are the same. They loved puppets over 40 years ago when I started teaching and they still enjoy putting their hand in a puppet and making it come alive. To make an envelope puppet seal the envelope and cut in half as shown. Give children markers, crayons, and other art media and set their creative juices flowing!

Retell a Story

Let children make a puppet of their favorite character from a book and use it to retell the story.
Nursery Rhyme
Make a character from a nursery rhyme and use it to say the rhyme. Encourage children to take the puppet home and say the rhyme to their parents.

Make puppets with different expressions (happy, sad, angry, scared, surprised, and so forth). Let children use the puppets to describe when they feel that way.

People Puppets
Have children glue photos of famous historical figures or heroes. Encourage them to use the puppet to talk about why they admire that person.
Animal Puppets
Let children make puppets about animals you are studying about in science. Use puppets to describe animal characteristics.

Trim off a corner from an envelope. Let children decorate it with their initials or a smiley.
*Use the bookmark to show the “top” of the page.
*Mark a favorite page they’d like to read to classmates “top” of the page
*Mark the solution or other key element in a story with the bookmark.
*Write a vocabulary word on the bookmark and place it at the top of the page when they find that word in the book.

Cut a 1 1/2” strip from the envelope and use it like a bracelet.
*Write letters, words, numbers, and other skills on the bracelet.

*Make a holiday or seasonal bracelet.
*Collect stickers on the bracelet.
*Get friends’ autographs on the bracelet.
*Send reminder notes home to parents on the bracelet.
*Use at the beginning of the school year to help children remember lunchroom numbers or bus numbers.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


Here are two simple little ideas to start each day on a positive note. The first one came from a teacher in Ohio years ago. He said that he adapted this concept from a football coach.

Morning Mantra
     Teacher: What is my job today?
     Children: Your job is to teach us and to love us.
     Teacher: What is your job today?
     Children: Our job is to learn and to love each other.
During the day if children are behaving inappropriately you can remind them gently by saying, "What is your job today? Are you doing your job?"

This other idea came from my exercise teacher who says this to her two girls each morning. You will remember it from the movie THE HELP. Write these statements on a chart and read over together at morning meeting.

     I am smart. (Point to brain.)
     I am kind. (Hand on heart.)
     I am important. (Hug self.)


Lucky me to be honored at James B. Edwards Elementary Leadership Day last Friday!  The CD (Child Development in SC aka pre-K) decorated their doors with my songs and sang their little hearts out on stage.  My heart was so happy!!!  


Saturday, February 18, 2017


Subitizing is the ability to recognize numbers without counting. Dot cards can contribute to children’s understanding of number concepts, counting, composing and decomposing numbers, and a variety of standards. Take a look at all the ways you can use dot cards in your classroom.

Hint! Start with dot patterns up to 6 and then extend it to 10 when they are ready.
*Make sure to download dot cards on card stock or heavy paper.
One to One
Children match up pompoms, beans, erasers, pebbles, and other small objects with dots on cards.

Dot Flash
The teacher quickly holds up a dot card and then places it face down. The children hold up that number of fingers on their chest. Ask, “How did you know it was that number?”

Clip It
Children use the appropriate number of paper clips or clothespins to attach to the dot cards.

Copy Cat
The teacher holds up a dot card. The children try to reproduce the pattern with their own counters.

Sort dot cards by amount.
Sort odd and even cards.

Line Up
Students line up the dot cards in numerical order from largest to smallest or smallest to largest.

Match dot cards with dots on dice.
Match dot cards with ten frames with the same amount.
Make puzzle games where children match dots with numerals or words.

Partner Count
Cards are placed face down on the table. One card is turned over and the first child to say the number gets to keep the card. The partner must count the dots to verify it’s correct.
*To make the game more challenging, ask them to say one more than the quantity of dots, one less, two more, etc.


Run off two sets of dot cards. Place them face down on the floor. One child at a time turns over two cards. If the cards match they make keep them and take another turn. If the cards don’t match, they are turned back over and the next child takes a turn.

Top It
You will need several sets of dot cards for this game. Shuffle the cards and lay them face down in a pile. One child at a time chooses a card. The child with the largest number of dots wins both cards. If they turn over the same amount they continue to draw cards until one player has a higher number.

It Adds Up
Two children have a set of cards and face each other. They each turn over a card and add up the amount. The first child to correctly say the answer gets to keep the cards.
*Tally to keep score.

Paper Plates
How about making some dot plates?