Sunday, November 23, 2014


Here are a few easy ideas to engage children in book making and writing their opinion.

Paper Plate Book
Give each child 2 paper plates. Use the plates as a pattern to cut circular pages for the book. Children can draw, write, or cut out pictures of things they are thankful for on the blank paper. Insert their pages between the paper plates, punch a hole at the top, and use a ribbon or a piece of a pipe cleaner to bind the book. Encourage children to decorate the front plate with a title and their name.
Napkin Book
Purchase seasonal napkins at a dollar store. Cut blank paper the size of the napkin and insert inside. Staple at the top and the children will be ready to write or draw in their book.

Fork or Spoon Book
Place two sheets of paper on top of a sheet of construction paper and fold in half. Staple 2" down from the top and the bottom near the fold. Insert a rubber band in one hole and loop a plastic fork or spoon through the loop. Take the other end of the rubber band and insert it through the other hole and insert the end of the utensil. Children can use this as a journal over their Thanksgiving vacation.

Family Celebrations
Holidays are a good time to talk about diversity. Not all families celebrate Thanksgiving, but most families do celebrate something. Ask children to bring in photos of celebrations they have in their home. Put their pictures together to make a class book.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Here I am in my sixties and I still have to look at my rings to know my left from my right!   jokingly blame it on my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Myers because she’d say, “Show me your right hand” and it would look like my left hand. The truth is that we need to remember to reverse movements when we model for children. If we say show me your right hand, we actually have to hold up our left hand. When we demonstrate how to make the numeral 3 in the air, we must do it backwards. Confusing, I know, but with a little practice you’ll be a pro. Another tip is to focus on the right hand. Then what is leftover is always their “left.”

Sticker - Put a sticker on each child’s right hand and then play “Simon Says” or the “Hokey Pokey.”
Lotion - Rub lotion or scented lip balm on each child’s right hand.

Bracelet – Let children make bracelets out of pipe cleaners and wear them on their right hand. Throughout the day call attention to their right hand…right ear…right leg…right foot, etc.

Flag – Trace around your right hand on construction paper and cut it out. Place it near the flag so children can visually match up their right hand and then place it over their hearts.

Poem - Hold up your hands and stick out thumbs and index fingers as you say:
         Which is my left? Which is my right?
         Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
         But when I stick my thumbs out straight,
         My left will make an “L.”
Song - Teach children this song to the tune of “Up on the Housetop.”
         Here is my right hand way up high. (Hold up right hand.)
         Here is my left hand touch the sky. (Hold up left.)
         Right and left and roll out of sight. (Roll hands around.)
         Now I know my left and right. (Hold up left and then right.)

Friday, November 21, 2014


Those of you who have attended my workshops might have heard me say, “We’d go to jail now for things we used to do in the classroom.” I don’t mean that literally because we never did anything mean to children, but many of the restrictions were just not an issue in the “old days.” We could take our class out for recess (Yep! Run around and play time.) whenever we wanted and we had a lot more flexibility and creativity in terms of the curriculum.

The “Friday Fairy” used to come to my room every week and nobody complained. The children LOVED the Friday Fairy because she left a little penny candy in their desk while they were at lunch. (I invited a 5th or 6th grade student to sneak in my room and distribute the goodies while we were out of the room.)

See what I mean? You’d probably get in a lot of trouble for doing that now. However, there are other things you can do to make Friday a special day. And, after the children have worked hard all week it’s nice to end on a happy note. Here are some other ideas for Fabulous Friday:

Recess – Now, wouldn’t that be fun? 30 minutes of unstructured play outside. (One teacher said she did this and her kids asked her, “What should I do?” Sad!)

Dancing with the Stars – Play music and let the children dance.

Take off your shoes – I know this sounds stupid, but my kids thought this was the great fun.

Kinder CafĂ© – Invite a different parent each week to come in and cook.

Do Your Own Thing – Children get to read, draw, talk…

My friend Gina from Michigan shared this idea:

We have "mystery reader" on Friday. Parents sign up using a google.doc so the kids do not have any idea who is coming in. We wait very quietly with the lights out and when the door is open someone is very surprised. The parents can bring a "souvenir" to help the child retell the story at home but this is not expected. The kids absolutely LOVE this!

Barbara ( had some other suggestions to make Friday special:
Tiptoe tag time
Paper airplane time
Funny Face time
Drum line using pencils
Quiet art time
Extra library - kids LOVE this!
Work with play-doh
Wiki Sticks time
Nature Center time
Make a puppet
American Idol Sing-along time
Musical chairs

Come on!  Let's make every day Friday!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Will you be going over the river and through the woods in a sleigh, plane, or train next week?

Over the River  (Traditional Tune – Happy Everything CD)

Over the river and through the woods 
(Pretend to hold reins of a sleigh as you bounce up and down.)
To grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way 
(Put hands behind back and nod like a horse.)
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river and through the woods, 
(Pretend to drive sleigh.)
Oh, how the wind does blow. 
(Wrap arms around self and shiver.)
It stings your toes and bites your nose 
(Touch nose and point to toes.)
As over the ground we go.

Through the country and cities far 
(Pretend to drive a car.)
In sun or wind or rain.
We might go by train 
(Pull down on train whistle.)
We might take a plane. 
(Fly hand like a plane in the air.)
Or maybe a bus or car. 
(Hold out right hand, then left.)
Through low valleys and mountains high 
(Look down low and then up.)
Now, grandmother’s house I spy. 
(Hand over eyes.)
Hurrah, for the fun! 
(One fist in the air.)
Is the turkey done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie! 
(Cheer with other fist.)


Use a Venn diagram to compare what it would be like to visit grandmother a long time ago and how we visit now. How are things the same?


Make a graph of how they will travel to their Thanksgiving dinner. Car? Plane? Train? Bus? Boat? Stay at home!


Have children interview their parents to see what Thanksgiving was like when they were a child.

Family Celebrations 

Holidays are a good time to talk about diversity. Not all families celebrate Thanksgiving, but most families do celebrate something. Ask children to bring in photos or celebrations they have in their home. Put their pictures together to make a class book.

The Olden Days

Next week might be a good time to bring in a rotary phone, typewriter, camera, and record player and talk about how we used these in the "olden days."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I was cleaning out my “teacher stuff” and I came across a bag with a bunch of pointers. I’m sure you’ve seen many of these, but I think you’ll “spy” at least one new one. 

Why use pointers?

Children love anything novel and different. They can use these pointers to track from left to right, identify key details in a picture, point out letters or words in print, highlight capitalization and punctuation, touch shapes…I think you get the “point”!

Magic wand – dip the end of a chopstick in glue and roll in glitter
Finger nail – glue a fake fingernail to a craft stick
I Spy – glue a googly eye to a craft stick
Jewel – glue a fake jewel to a craft stick
Witches’ finger – great fun

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This will build on some of the creative strategies for reading that I shared yesterday. You can also use these different styles for counting, going over word wall words, and reviewing other information.

Write “Voice Box” on a small box or gift bag. Write the different styles on index cards and place them in the box. Let several children choose cards and then use that “voice” to repeat information.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Creating synapses in the brain is like making pathways in the woods. The more you walk over the same path through the woods, the clearer it will become. Similarly, it’s important to repeat information to make pathways in the brain so that children will remember. These are some strategies that will keep children engaged as you repeat poems, chants, and other choral reading activities.

Three Bears

Read papa bear style (with a deep voice), mama bear style (with a prissy voice), and baby bear style (with a wee voice).