Sunday, September 24, 2017


I'm getting on my soap box today.  It breaks my heart to hear stories from teachers about how frustrated they are.  I thought I might help you by giving administrators a little advice.  What do you think about my list?  Would you like to add something to it?  How can we "hold hands" and make your job more enjoyable and satisfying?
O.K. I admit that I’ve never been an administrator. I know that the expectations of the job are beyond what any person is capable of doing. However, I’ve been at this rodeo a long time and administrators and educational decision makers need to realize that there is a CRISIS now! Teachers are the heart and soul of our schools and they are stressed, burned out, frustrated, and depressed. In other words, TEACHERS ARE GETTING BEAT UP! Beat up with paperwork, assessments, evaluations, criticism, and lack of support.

It makes me sad as I travel across the country and listen to classroom teachers. Teaching used to be a lot more fun. We got our class list, shut our door, and did our best to help our children learn. I enjoyed going to work and one of my major goals was to have happy students who loved coming to school. If teachers aren’t happy, how are children going to be happy. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what life is all about?

Based on teachers’ comments, here are some suggestions I’d like to offer administrators and educational decision makers.

Ten things administrators need to know!

1. Let your teachers TEACH. Give them autonomy to do their jobs and TRUST them to do what’s best for their students.

2. If you’ve never taught the grade level, you should NOT make skill lists or set expectations.

3. Support your teachers. Be careful not to let a single parent’s request sway what’s best for their child and the other children in the classroom.

4. Believe in the WHOLE child. A test score is a number. “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” And, sometimes, you can’t see that wonderful little person because of “data.”

5. The word “rigor” is not appropriate when talking about instruction for young children. The world keeps changing, but children are still children. They don’t all grow up in the same way at the same time, and they should not be expected to accomplish skills according to some master plan.

6. Please don’t give teachers any more paperwork. Assessment and reports are driving instruction and consuming their day.

7. Teaching is a video not a snap shot. Is it fair to walk in a classroom, observe for 10 minutes, and then make negative comments to the teacher? Compliment teachers for what they are doing well. Give positive suggestions instead of critical remarks.

8. Be a real person and a good model for your teachers. Visit each classroom and do something FUN by reading a book, teaching a song, telling a joke, or doing a magic trick.

9. Don’t take away their JOY! If the children are engaged and enjoying an activity, do you have to ruin it by requiring “observable evidence”? Let it be! It’s O.K. to read a book without dissecting it with questions about the author’s purpose. It’s O.K. to take a walk outside to enjoy the peace and beauty of nature. It’s fine to sing a song or use a brain break to make children smile.

10. Remember that for some of your students “school” is as good as it’s going to get for them. You never know what’s going on at home, and school should be a wonderful world where they feel accepted, successful, and excited about learning.



Saturday, September 23, 2017


I was thrilled with the book my friends shared with me in Bowling Green last week. If you’ve never read THE DOT by Peter Reynolds you can find out more about it by visiting

I think we’ve all had experiences similar to Vashti where we think, “I can’t draw.” “I can’t sing.” “I can’t dance.” “I can’t do statistics.” “I’ll never be able to cook.” Etcetera, etcetera. The book is a beautiful lesson for children about just getting started and TRYING!

THE DOT also reminded me of some simple art activities we can do with our students.  These activities are open-ended and can be used with any age or integrated with a unit of study.

Sticky Dot
Materials: sticky dots, paper, crayons or markers
Directions: Give each child a sheet of paper and a sticky dot. Ask them to place the dot anywhere they’d like on the paper. Next, challenge them to create something out of the dot.

Dot to Dot
Materials: 2 dice, paper, crayons
Directions: Children roll the dice and add up the dots. They take a black crayon and make that number of dots randomly on a sheet of paper. Can they connect the dots and create something out of it?

*Have children make dots and then exchange papers with a friend.

Negative Space
Materials: paper, scissors, markers or crayons
Directions: Cut a hole out of the middle of each sheet of paper. Ask children to look at the hole and then create an object out of it.
*Extend the activity by having children write about their pictures.

Wiggles and Squiggles
Materials: crayons, paper
Directions: Have the children close their eyes and make a design on their paper with a black crayon. When they open their eyes, have them turn their paper all around and try to create something out of their design.

*Have children exchange papers of wiggles and squiggles with a friend.

Friday, September 22, 2017


My friend Pat Gusoff sent this idea that she did last week. Talk about WIN/WIN!! Children learned math, developed small motor skills, had fun, and helped others!
I purchased about 40+ pairs of children's socks - Batman, Spider-Man, Paw Patrol, hearts, unicorns, pink, purple, striped, polka dotted, etc. for my class to sort and match. I put the socks in two bowls that I named "Sock Soup." What a great way to reinforce the number 2 and pairs! We did all sorts of matching activities and the children had to use their fine motor skills to clip their pairs with clothespins. After 3 days of fun (including a sock hunt in the hall with a clothesline to hang up the pairs) we went to our Temple office and delivered our socks to the large pile of other donations for the hurricane victims - our mitzvah of the month!  (Temple Trager ECEC in Louisville, KY) 
I'm only sharing this with you as an idea of what small hands and big hearts can accomplish!

Thanks for being there so I can share with someone who continues to care!

And thanks to all of you for visiting my blog so we can keep sharing as we pass on the torch to other teachers!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Someone recently asked if anyone had a book about a hurricane. I wasn’t familiar with a book about a hurricane, but I decided to adapt my “Rainhat Story” to make a positive twist on a frightening experience for children. Hope you’ll enjoy sharing it with your class.

Here’s a link to the original “Rainhat Story” so you can learn how to tell it. It’s one your children will want to hear over and over again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Hooray!  Hooray!
It's Facebook Wednesday.
See you at Five this afternoon!

Which One Doesn't Belong?
Say a series of words that begin with the same sound. Say one word that does not begin like the others. Children listen and identify the word that does not belong. 
 For example: sun, sand, top, see (top); boy, house, big, ball (house)

Bappy Birthday
Sing the birthday song by inserting the first sound in the child’s name for each word. For example, Beth’s birthday song would be:
          Bappy birthday bo bou…

*You can also insert the sound that the child’s name begins with in “Tooty Ta” and “Batman.”

Hint! If their first name begins with a vowel, use the first sound of their last name or middle name.

Hand Phone
Have children cup one hand around their ear and the other hand in front of their mouth. The teacher says a series of words that begin with the same sound as the children repeat.

Marvelous Monday
Think of adjectives for the days of the week and months of the year. 
For example: Thrilling Thursday or Marvelous May.

Sing “Pepperoni Pizza”, “Bubble Gum”, and other songs where alliteration is emphasized.
          Pepperoni Pizza
          I like to eat, eat, eat,
          Pepperoni pizza.
          I like to eat, eat, eat,
          Pepperoni pizza.
          Bi bike bo beat, beat, beat
          Bepperoni bizza...
          Mi mike mo meat, meat, meat
          Mepperoni mizza…
          Li like lo leat, leat, leat,
          Lepperoni lizza…
          Ri rike ro reat, reat, reat,
          Repperoni rizza...
          Zi zike zo zeat, zeat, zeat,
          Zepperoni zizza...
          Yi yike yo yeat, yeat, yeat,
          Yepperoni yizza...

*Use this song for other consonants and vowels.

          I put a penny in the gum slot.
          I watched the gum roll down.
          I get the gum and you get the wrapper,
          Cause I put the penny in the gum slot.

Sing substituting the initial consonant sound of each word with “B,” “N,” “P,” “G,” “L,” and “F.”
Activities: Cut out paper gumball machines and write different letters from the song on 
them. Substitute other consonants, blends, and diagraphs in this song.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


You'll find reading skills today,
but PLAY ideas on Wednesday.
I'll see you then on Facebook LIVE
Don't be late - see you at FIVE!
Move It! 
Clap, hop, walk, or nod the syllables in children’s names and classroom objects. Disco, hula, swim, or march to syllables in rhymes and songs.

Hickety Pickety
Slowly clap hands to the beat as you say the chant below.
          Hickety, pickety bumblebee
          Who can say their name for me? Child’s name.
          Clap it. (Clap out syllables as you say the name.)
          Snap it. (Snap syllables in name.)
          Whisper it. (Whisper name.)
          No sound. (Lip sinc name.)


Have children beat out syllables with instruments. You could also use cardboard rollers, straws, pencils, etc. like drum sticks to tap out rhythms and syllables.

Syllable Show 
Slowly say a word. Children hold up the number of syllables they hear on their fingers.
*You could also let them show the number of syllables by placing the appropriate number of poker chips or popsicle sticks on their desk.

Mouth It

Have children gently place their palm under their chin and ask them repeat to words. Surprise! The mouth opens on each syllable (all syllables have vowels and the mouth opens).

Sound Sack
Take a small sack and fill it with common objects or small toys. Engage children’s attention with this song to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.”
What’s in the sound sack, who can tell?
Maybe it’s a book or maybe it’s a shell?
What’s in the sound sack, who can say?
Blend the sounds, you’ll know right away!
Choose an object and stretch out the sounds. When children can blend the sounds and say the word, remove it from the sack and place it on the floor. Before putting each item back in the bag, segment the sounds again.
*Start with compound words. When children are successful with that, use objects with two syllables. Finally, children will be able to blend individual phonemes.

Finger Tap 
Bend in your fingers and extend your thumb. Going from the left tap a finger for each sound with your thumb.
For example: /j/ /e/ /t/. Run your thumb over your fingers as you blend the sounds and say the word.

*You can do a similar activity by extending your left arm in front of you. Make the first sound as you touch your shoulder, the second sound as you touch the elbow, and the third sound as you touch the hand. Then quickly sweep the right hand down your left arm as you blend the sounds and say the word.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize sounds in oral language (rhyme, alliteration, syllables, etc.). Children must first hear the sounds before they can relate them to letters (phonics). Let's start today with rhyming. Learning to rhyme doesn't happen it one takes a lot of oral language (nursery rhymes, finger plays), songs, books, and games to help children develop this skill.

Rhyme Detectives

Tell the children that they will get to be detectives andlisten for words that rhyme. You say a word, and they put their pinkies up if they hear a word that rhymes with it. Pinkies down if it doesn’t rhyme.
For example: Cat - hat (pinkies up), run - dog (pinkies down).
Handy Rhymes 
Have children extend their arms as they say pairs of words that rhyme. For example: sun (extend right hand) - fun (extend left hand). As they progress, the teacher says a word as children extend their right hand.

Rhyming Song 
Do this activity to the tune of “Skip to My Lou.”
          Cat (hold out right hand)
          Hat (hold out left hand)
          Those words rhyme.
          Cat (hold out right hand)
          Hat (hold out left hand)
          Those words rhyme.
          Cat (hold out right hand)
          Hat (hold out left hand)
          Those words rhyme.
          They all end with “at.” (Roll hands around as you say this.)

Rhyme Puzzles 
Cut paper plates in half using puzzle designs similar to those shown. Glue pictures that rhyme on each half. Mix up the pieces. Children say the words and match up the plates that rhyme. The game is self-checking because the pieces will fit if they match the correct pictures. 
*You can also use season shapes to make a rhyming game.
Rhyme Ball
You will need a ball, beanbag, or other object to toss for this game. Children sit or stand in a circle. The teacher says a word and then tosses the ball to a child. As the child catches the ball, she must say a word that rhymes.

Riddle Rhyme Game 
Let children make up their own rhymes in this game. First, they choose an object in the room. Next, they say a word that it rhymes, along with another clue. For example: “This rhymes with hair and it is something you sit on.” “This rhymes with look and it is something you read.”

Rhyme Bag
Give each child a lunch bag and for homework ask them to bring two objects that rhyme.  As they take turns sharing their items encourage classmates to think of other words that rhyme with their objects.

Join me for Facebook Live
This Wednesday at Five.
I've got fall ideas galore
and maybe even a little more!!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Hope you can join me this Wednesday, 9/20,
for Facebook Live at Five!  It's going to be a fall festival of ideas!

In some areas of the country the county fair or state fair are an exciting event that comes once a year. However, your students will get a kick out of singing this song all year long. It's a great brain break - if you don't believe me just see how challenging it is for you to do it!!!
Granny at the Fair (Echo chant - children repeat each line.)
My granny went
To the county fair.
And she bought
A rocking chair. (Begin rocking back and forth.)
And she rocked, and she rocked, and she rocked, and she rocked.

And she bought a fan there... (Begin fanning yourself with right hand.)

And she bought some scissors there…(Cut with left hand.)

And she bought some gum… (Begin chewing.)

And she blew a bubble there…

And she blew, and she blew, and she blew, and POP! (Extend hands by mouth.)

Here's my new video on youtube:

Saturday, September 16, 2017


"Collect Rocks Day" is September 16th, but rocks are everywhere every day. Rocks can be a perfect spark for scientific investigations if you add a little STEAM. When you collect rocks or look at rocks, explain that scientists who study rocks are called geologists. Remind the children that they can be geologists, too!
Take a nature walk and invite each child to pick up ONE rock. You might need to limit the size to a rock that will fit in their hand. Take the rocks to the classroom and ask the children to observe their rock for one minute without talking. Go around the room and ask each child to make one statement about their rock. Encourage them to use descriptive words.

*Ask older children to write descriptions about their rocks.

*Place the rocks in a basket. Gently shake the rocks and then pass the basket around the class to see if each child can find his rock.

*Let the children sort the rocks. What was their sorting rule? Can they sort them another way?

*Check out a book on rocks from the library. Place it in the science center along with a magnifying glass. Ask the children to do research and identify the different rocks they collected. (Remind the children to return the rocks to nature after they have finished investigating them.)

*Are rocks older than you or younger than you?

*Make a list of all the things that rocks are used for. 

*Have children make a design and build something with rocks.

*Let children paint rocks or use other art media to make paperweights.

*Place rocks in the math center for children to explore with the balance scale.

*For homework, ask families to take a walk and look for different kinds of rocks in their neighborhood.

*Encourage children to start their own rock collection with this idea. Cut an egg crate in half. Attach a pipe cleaner handle and use it to collect little rocks and pebbles.

Friday, September 15, 2017


September 15th is “Make a Hat Day,” but kids love to make hats and wear hats any day of the year. Here are some ways that you can tie in hats with themes or skills you are working on.

Sentence Strip Hat 
Materials: sentence strips or heavy paper cut in 2 ½” x 24”, markers, crayons, stickers 
Directions: Let children decorate the sentence strip and then fit to their head and staple or tape in place. 

Children can write letters, numerals, or vocabulary words on the headband. Sure beats doing a worksheet and accomplishes the same thing! 
Children can add ears or other details to create an animal from a story. Let them wear their hats to retell the story.  

*Wouldn’t this be more fun than a written book report?

How about an “all about me” headband? 

Children can make an autograph hat with friends’ names. 

If you cut a zigzag line on one side every child can be king or queen for the day! 
Hint! Two brad fasteners and a rubber band will make the hat easier to adjust to the head, but it’s a lot more trouble. 

                                  HATS OFF TO YOU TODAY!

Thursday, September 14, 2017


The idea of manipulating letters and sounds to make words is a key to beginning reading.

Name Puzzles

Write children’s names on a sentence strip. Cut between the letters. Place the puzzle pieces in an envelope. Write each child’s name and glue their photo to the front of the envelope. Children can practice putting the puzzles together and reading friends’ names.
*Make name puzzles with Unifx cubes.
Cut Up Sentences
Write a simple sentence on a sentence strip. (For example, “We like to read books.”) Place the sentence in a pocket chart and invite the children to read it with you as you move your finger from left to right under the words. Say, “I’m going to cut this sentence up,” as you cut between the words. Place the letters in a paper bag and pretend to shake them up. Let children come up and select a word and place it in the pocket chart. Guide them as they unscramble the words and make the sentence. Call their attention to the capital letter “W.” There’s always a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence. Point out the period and remark, “You’ll always find a period or punctuation at the end of a sentence.”
*Let each child complete the sentence “I like _____.” Have them cut between their words and place them in a bag. Can they put their own sentence back together?

Happy Birthday 
Whenever a child has a birthday, you’ll be able to celebrate and learn at the same time with this idea. Write each line of “Happy Birthday” on a sentence strip. Cut between the words. Arrange each line on a pocket chart. The birthday child gets to scramble the words and then friends sing along the silly lyrics. Arrange the words in the correct order and sing again.
Glue the figure of a “spaceman” to a jumbo craft stick. (I found my little guy at google images.) Use spaceman to find spaces on classroom print. Sing the Batman tune as you go, “Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da Spaceman!” Encourage children to use spaceman when writing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Here are some tricks and tips for helping children learn basic concepts about print.

Magic Fingers 

Have children hold up their pointer and explain that it is their “magic finger” to help them read. Put a little spritz (magic lotion) on their finger. Use the finger to touch the front of the book and the back of the book. Touch the top of the page and the bottom of the page. Sweep your magic finger under each line from left to right.

When You Read You Start at the Top
Children can sing this song to the tune of “London Bridge” as they practice the movements:
          When you read you start at the top,
          Start at the top,
          Start at the top.
          When you read you start at the top
          And go to the bottom of the page.
          When you read go left to right,
          Left to right,
          Left to right.
          When you read go left to right
          And then go to the next line.

Yummy Pointers
Give children Bugles to put on their fingers to practice following a line of print. They can eat them when they are finished.
*Pretzel sticks also make edible pointers.

Envelope Bookmark 
Cut a diagonal corner off an envelope. (One envelope will make 4 of these.) Let children decorate these with markers. Practice reading books and putting the bookmark on the upper corner to “save your place.”
Simon Says
Each child will need a book to play this variation of “Simon Says.”
          Simon Says show me the front of the book.
          Simon Says show me the back of your book.
          Simon Says show me the first page in your book.
          Simon Says show me the last page in your book…

Talking Stories 
Give each child a sheet of paper. (Younger children will need large sheets.) Demonstrate how to draw a green line down the left side. “Green means GO! We’ll always start there.” Demonstrate how to draw a red line down the right side. “Red means STOP! We’ll always stop when we get to that line.” Explain that they can use their crayons to tell a story. “First, let’s walk to the zoo. Put your crayon on the green line at the top of your page. ‘Walk’ it across your paper. When you get to the red line stop. Go back to the green line. There are some ducks swimming. Make your crayon ‘swim’ across the page.” Continue telling the story below as children make the symbols. When you are finished, challenge the children to retell/read the story by looking at the symbols.

          A Walk in the Zoo
          Let’s walk to the zoo.
          See the ducks swim.
          The monkeys are swinging in circles.
          The snakes are wiggling.
          The kangaroos are hopping.
          The elephants are stomping down.
          The seals are splashing.
          The lion roars.
          Oh, it’s late!
          We better run home!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Here are some meaningful ways to encourage children to read throughout the day.

Morning Message

Write a message to the children about special activities each morning before they arrive at school.
Hint! Children will get a kick out of this message if it is written by a class mascot (aka stuffed animal or puppet).

          Good morning, friends!
          Today is Tuesday, September 12.
          It’s going to be a terrific day!
          We have P.E. with Ms. Coleman
          and it’s Joshua’s birthday.
          I’m so glad you’re here.
                   Love, Ted E. Bear
Choral Reading – Children read together.
Shadow Reading – Teacher reads a line and then students repeat.
Take a Turn - Divide children into groups and each section reads a different line. (For example, let boys and girls alternate reading lines.)

Read with me IF you…like chocolate ice cream
like broccoli          have a dog
can ride a bike      are wearing red

Mirror Mini Message 
Write a short message each day on a classroom mirror with a dry erase marker. It might be a “teaser” to interest children in a book you are going to read, it might praise a child for a special accomplishment, or it might be a reminder to whisper in the hall. 

Pocket Chart 
Use a pocket chart to list songs, nursery rhymes, or cheers children select each day.

Poems and Songs
Write words to poems, songs, and finger plays on posters and follow along as you sing and chant.

Big Books
Rereads of big books will develop children’s confidence and interest in reading.

Voice Box
Make copies of fluency cards (free on and place them in a small box. Let children choose a card and then reread books or poems using that “voice.”

Monday, September 11, 2017


Of course, I have a song to help children identify the author and illustrator of a book.

Hi Ho Libario (Tune:  “The Farmer in the Dell”)
The author writes the book.
The author writes the book.
Hi ho librario
The author writes the book.

The illustrator draws the pictures…

The publisher makes the book…

The parts of a book...
Hi ho librario, we know the parts of a book.

Class Books 
Make class books and include a page for the children to sign their names as authors, illustrators, or authors and illustrators. Include a copyright date and the school as the publisher. Don’t forget a title page and “The End.” You might also want to add a page for “comments” and let children take the book home to share with their families. You could even add a dedication or an ISBN number!

Blank Books 
When children make individual books encourage them to include the author, illustrator, date, publisher, etc.

Author/Illustrator Party 
Invite children to write and illustrate original stories. You could integrate computer skills and editing in the process. Plan a party where each child can share her book and read a page to the audience. You could invite families or another class to your party. Let children make invitations, plan refreshments, etc.

Author Study 
Keep a basket in your classroom library for a variety of books by a specific author. Compare the different books that she writes. How are they alike? How are they different? Do an internet search to find out more about children’s favorite authors.

Skype an Author 
Go to or to discover how to connect with an author.