Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I just have to write this!
Wonder why I like children better than most adults? It’s because they look at the world through rose-colored glasses. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Last week it poured and rained and poured and rained some more in Charleston. There was no way they could do the Easter egg hunt outside, so they moved it inside. The little kids were in one room and the big kids were in another room. There were wall-to-wall eggs all over the floor and the kids had a BALL! They didn’t have to “hunt” – K.J. called it a “walk” because they just walked and picked up eggs. Every child got a basketful of eggs and they were happy. Nobody cried. Nobody got hurt. They were just as happy inside as outside – probably because of the candy. It’s interesting that several of my adult friends (grandparents) are still whining about the egg hunt. What??? The kids didn’t know any difference and they all had a great time. Grown-ups have such high expectations and want “events” to be perfect. Children are happy with plain vanilla, and you and I are lucky to be part of their rose-colored world! 

My fitness teacher said that Easter egg hunts are proof that children can find something that's lost if they really want to!

Here's a "happy appy" for sign language.  I love sign language because it’s so multi-sensory and engaging.  I found several free sign language apps, but I went ahead and bought this one for $2.99, and it’s worth eve
ry penny! There’s a video dictionary with literally thousands of words. There are different categories for the alphabet, fingerspelling, numbers, etc. The reason I like the videos is that there’s a button for “replay” as well as “slow.” You can see the sign for the word as well as the fingerspelling of the word. This would be very useful for: 
         *introducing word wall words
         *spelling words

For children who are struggling, sign language can provide another pathway to the brain. For children who need a challenge, this is a whole new opportunity for them.

I think some of you have already bought my new app called “Read a Book.” Dan Sheffield at Help Me 2 Learn and I are anxious to hear your feedback. And, we'd also like to hear what your children think!  (Personally, for $.99 I think it’s a bargain.  Both of my grandchildren LOVE it!)  You can use the link below or search “dr jean” in the app store. (You’ll find me between the “Bon Appetit Diet” and “Dental Navigator.”) Work is underway for another app called “This Is How You Learn to Read.” Who would have thought ten years ago that the world could be held in the palm of your hand! I’m an old dog that keeps learning new tricks! 

iPad version is:

iPhone version:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Last week I showed you how to make book treasure boxes. This is my favorite blank book that children can make and “save” in their boxes. You could probably do this book instead of a worksheet from now until the end of the year. 

Directions: Fold two sheets of paper in half. Make tears (or snips) about a thumbnail apart down the fold. Bend one tab forward, then the next backward, and so on to bind the pages together.

Use for: retelling a story/story elements 

letter book/vowel book
number book/shape book
"The Book”/ “A Book”
coordinate with a unit or theme
environmental print/cut out words they can read
word families, opposites
write the room writing original stories, journals
chit chat books (teacher and child write back & forth)
note taking
vocabulary/spelling words
  Monday – write a word on each page
  Tuesday – write the definition
  Wednesday – illustrate or cut out a picture
  Thursday – write a sentence 

 Hint! Fold paper lengthwise to make a tall book.
 Cut paper in half to make a little book.
 Use a colored sheet of paper on the outside and a white sheet inside. 


Monday, April 21, 2014


You might need these finger plays this week after all the chocolate bunnies consumed over the weekend! Both of these end with a silent version which really helps children focus and calm down.

Wiggle Them 

Wiggle them, wiggle them, wiggle them so. (Wiggle fingers.)
Wiggle them high. (Wiggle above your head.)
Wiggle them low. (Wiggle down low.)
Wiggle to the left. (Wiggle to your left.)
Wiggle to the right. (Wiggle to your right.)
Wiggle them, wiggle them, out of sight. (Put your hands behind your back.)

Snap them… (Snap fingers.)
Open and shut them… (Open and shut hands.)
Shake them… (Shake hands.)
Wave them… (Wave hands.)

*Lower your voice as you do the last verse and put your hands behind your back.
*Let children think of other movements they can do with their hands.

The Finger Band
The finger band is     (Start with your hands behind your back
Coming to town,       and wiggle them as you slowly bring
Coming to town,       them in front.)
Coming to town.
The finger band is
Coming to town 

So early in the morning.                       
This is the way (Pretend to play drums.)
They play their drums…
This is the way
They twirl their hats… (Twirl hands around your head.)
This is the way (Pretend to play a horn.)
They play their horns…

(Let children suggest other instruments and motions.)

The finger band         (Slowly wiggle fingers behind you
Is going away,             as you lower your voice to a whisper.)
Going away,
Going away.
The finger band
Is going away
So early in the morning.

Friday, April 18, 2014


I'm recycling this blog from last year - and here are some ways you can recycle all of those plastic eggs next week!

Write an upper case letter on one half with a permanent marker and the lower case letter on the other half.

Write onsets (consonants or blends) on one half and rimes (word endings) on the other half. Children twist around and read words. You could also ask children to write the words.

Practice making and reading two letter words by writing a letter on each half.
Write numerals or number words on the eggs. Children fill with the appropriate amount of beans or pennies.

Make compound words with eggs.
Let children draw pictures of all the animals that come from eggs.
Write a poem about spring on a small sheet of paper. Fold it up and put it in the egg.

Practice addition and subtraction with eggs.
Write words on the eggs. Write the same word on a 1 ½” x 3” sheet of paper and cut between the letters to make a puzzle. Place puzzle pieces in the egg. Children shake and then open and put the pieces together to make the word.

Hint! I have tried both Sharpies and permanent markers and they rub off. I would suggest just putting clear tape on top of the marker.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


This idea was introduced to me many years ago by a teacher who realized that reading is more than decoding words. She wanted her children to fall in LOVE with reading and writing, and her book treasure boxes were the trick to do that!

Why? Books are like treasures you want to open again and again. Some children don’t have books at home, so these treasure boxes can be a meaningful way to encourage summer reading. 

What? shoe boxes or cereal boxes, gold spray paint, fake jewels, glitter, and art scraps, blank books, reproducible books

How? Ask the children to bring in shoeboxes (or cereal boxes) from home. After the teacher spray paints these gold, the children can decorate them like treasure boxes. The children can store the reproducible books they read at school in their treasure boxes. The children can also save the books they write at school in their treasure boxes.

Hint! If you teach in areas where parents are very involved, making these book treasure boxes would be a great family project for children to do at home. 

                                                                   (I’m actually giving this box to Kalina for her birthday.) 

Holly was recently asked to do a segment for Voice of America on making books with children. Take a look and you’ll see K.J.’s third grade classroom as well as Holly making books at home. (Yes, Kalina’s hair is a mess, but Holly didn’t want a melt down right before they filmed! Some of you can identify with the delimma!)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


We didn't have many books in our home when I was a little girl, but we did have this copy of A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES.  "The Swing" was always my favorite because I loved to swing and the rhythm of the poem made me feel like I was actually swinging.
Poems provide a wonderful opportunity for children to close their eyes and use their imaginations.  Children don't visualize much any more because they are always sitting in front of a screen.  
The Swing
By Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

I memorized "The Duel" when I was in 3rd grade and I loved to recite it to relatives or anyone who would listen to me.  (You'd probably get in trouble now because "The Duel" is so violent!  LOL)  Brain researchers claim that memorizing poetry is actually good for short term memory.  There you go!

The Duel 

by Eugene Field
The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I was n't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate—
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

*Wouldn't it be delightful to let children illustrate this poem?