Friday, March 24, 2017


This is a meaningful way to encourage children to observe nature. It’s also a powerful way for them to make print connections and write descriptive sentences.


cardboard paper towel rolls, string, hole punch, wide packaging tape, markers, crayons


1. Cut the cardboard rollers into 4” sections and tape together to make binoculars.  Punch a hole in each side and tie on a piece of string that can easily go over children's heads.
2. Let the children decorate their binoculars with markers.
3. Go on a nature walk and encourage children to observe through their binoculars. What do you see when you look up? What do you see when you look down? 
4. When you return to the classroom give each child a sheet of paper with two large circles. Ask them to draw their favorite thing they saw through their binoculars in the circles.
Older children can write descriptive sentences about what they saw.  
Younger children can dictate this sentence:
     (Child’s name) saw (what they saw).
Encourage each child to read over the sentence with you as you point to the words.
6. Make a cover for the book that says “Look! Look!”
Add a page that says “Authors and Illustrators” where children sign their names. Put their pictures together, bind, and you’ll have a wonderful class book that all your students will want to read.

*Let one child take the book home each evening to share with their families.

Hint! Use binoculars to focus on themes you are studying in science. This time of year they could look for signs of spring. When you are studying birds they could try and identify different birds.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


I’m packing for my trip to Kentucky where I’ll be presenting “Full STEAM Ahead in Early Childhood” this weekend. Since you can’t come to the workshop, I’ll share a few ideas that might add a little STE(A)M to your classroom.

Engineering is the design process used to solve problems and build things. Children are natural engineers as they play with blocks and Legos, create things in art, or build a fort outside with their friends. Here are a few other activities that will give your little “engineers” a job.

Engineer Planning Book

Write “Engineer Planning Book” on the cover of the notebook. Explain that engineers draw a plan and then try to build their design. Place the book in the block center along with a pencil and encourage children to draw their idea and then try to build it.
Cups and Plates
Little guys to big kids will be challenged to build structures with simple materials like plates and cups.
Lunch Bag City
Buildings and houses from lunch bags are fun to construct and use to create a community, reproduce a scene from a book, or design a city of the future. Take 2 lunch bags and open them up. Fill one with crushed newspaper. Insert the second bag on top and then decorate with markers, construction paper scraps, etc.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017


If you haven't downloaded this free packet on "Bugs and Insects" that Carolyn Kisloski and I created you are missing a good thing.

You'll find QR Codes of some of my favorite books about bugs and insects.
You'll also find writing prompts.
How about some math games?

There's even a free song download of my "Insect" song. 
INSECT’S BODY (Tune: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”)
Head (point to head)
Thorax (point to chest)
Abdomen – abdomen! (point to stomach)
Head, thorax, abdomen – abdomen!
And eyes (point to eyes)
And mouth (point to mouth)
And antennae, two (stick 2 fingers up)
Six legs (wiggle 3 fingers on each hand)
And there’s an insect for you!
(Leave off a verse each time and hum.)

Let children make insects from play dough, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, and other art media.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Here's a link to my Facebook Live video I did last night if you missed it:
Plastic eggs are inexpensive, easy to find, and can be "playful and challenging."  Sure, you can hide them or put candy in them, but you can also use them for centers and learning activities in your classroom.

Reading Games

Write an upper case letter on one half with a permanent marker and the lower case letter on the other half.
Give children small pictures of objects to put into appropriate eggs.

Put antonyms on eggs for children to match.
Write synonyms on eggs.

Reinforce compound words with eggs.

*Ask older children to write the synonyms, antonyms, and compounds after matching them.

Write two letter words on eggs. Children make words and then read them. Can they use the word in a sentence?
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.
Make puzzles of sight words and put them in the eggs. Children put the letters together, read the word, and then write the word.

Make puzzles of simple sentences and challenge children to put the words together and read the sentence.
Put random letters in the egg and ask children to see how many words they can make and write from the letters.

Write a poem about spring on a small sheet of paper. Fold it up and put it in the egg.

Write numerals or number words on the eggs. Children fill with the appropriate amount of beans or paper clips.
Children match up dots or number words with numerals.

Place a certain number of small objects in the eggs (2-10). Children dump out the objects and then write all the combinations they can make.

Give children a variety of objects. Ask them to predict if each object will fit in an egg or if is too big. Sort the objects after testing if they will fit.
Use the eggs for addition and subtraction problems.

Reinforce place value by writing numerals 1-9 on the eggs. Children put the eggs together and then say the numeral.
Let children draw pictures of all the animals that come from eggs.

Place objects in the eggs, such as popcorn kernels, cotton balls, bells, etc. Children shake the eggs and predict what is inside.
*Make two eggs with like objects for children to match the sounds.

Musical Instrument
Put dried beans in the eggs and tape to a plastic spoon to make maracas.
Spoon Relay
Give children a large spoon and an egg. Can they get their egg from one point to another without dropping it?

Yummy Snack
Put small crackers, raisins, cereal, grapes, or other healthy snacks in the eggs.
Sand and Water
Place eggs in a water table or sand box for pouring and measuring.

Monday, March 20, 2017


I can't wait to show you all these bird projects tonight on FACEBOOK LIVE AT FIVE!

Two Little Bluebirds
Two little bluebirds sitting on a hill. (Stick up both thumbs.) 
One named Jack (Wiggle right thumb.)
And one named Jill. (Wiggle left thumb.)
Fly away Jack. (Put right thumb behind back.)
Fly away Jill (Put left thumb behind back.)
Come back Jack. (Bring back right thumb.)
Come back Jill. (Bring back left thumb.)

Opposite variations:
One named Happy and one named Sad… (Say happy and then sad.)
One named Loud and one named Soft… (Say loud and then soft.)
One named Fast and one named Slow… (Move one fast and one slow.)
Continue letting children think of names and motions for the birds.

Paper Plate Birds and Nests 
Let children make birds or nests out of paper plates similar to the ones in the picture.

              What’s in the Egg? 
First, brainstorm all the different animals that come out of an egg. Now, you’re ready to make a flip book called “What’s in the Egg?” Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise, then fourths and eighths. Open and cut the crease to the middle fold. Fold in half to make 4 little flaps. Children draw eggs on the front of each flap. Open the flaps and challenge children to draw 4 different things that might come from an egg. When they hold this book up to the light, they will see their little critters inside the egg.


Baby Bird Story

It was spring time and mother and father bird decided to build a nest. Who can tell me some of the things they might have used to make their nest?
(Fold the paper in half and cut accordingly.)

Mother bird sat on the nest and laid a beautiful egg.  (Open the nest to reveal the egg shape.)
Now, mother bird could not leave the egg. She had to sit on it and keep it warm and safe. Even when it rained and the wind blew hard, mother bird had to sit there and protect her egg. Fortunately, two little bugs who lived in the tree made friends with mother bird and kept her company. This is one little bug. His name was _____. (Use a child’s name in the class.)
(Draw a little dot for the bug.)
This is the other little bug. Her name was _____, (Use another child’s name in the class.)
(Draw another little dot on the opposite side.)

One day as mother bird was sitting on the egg, she heard a little cracking sound. She looked down and saw a little crack in her egg.  (Cut a little slit on the fold slanted toward the eyes.)

Then she heard a great big cracking sound.  
(Cut around the eye and slit as shown stopping before you get to the end of the egg.)
And guess what mother bird saw coming out of the big crack in her egg? She saw her baby bird!  (Open the egg and bend up the beak as shown.)

How To
As a writing activity ask children to write "how to build a nest."

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Join me tomorrow night for LIVE AT FIVE ON FACEBOOK and I'll sing this silly song for you about birdies.  I've also got some great crafts, finger plays, stories, and "spring" things.

Birdies (Happy Everything CD)
Way up in the sky (Put hands in arm pits and flap arms
The big birdies fly. like a bird.)
Way down in the nest (Make a nest by cupping hands.)
The little birds rest.
With a wing on the left, (Wiggle left arm like a wing.)
And a wing on the right, (Wiggle right arm like a wing.)
The little birds sleep (Put head down on palms as if sleeping.)
All through the night.
SHHHHHH! (Put finger over lips.)
Then up comes the sun. (Put arms over your head.)
The dew falls away. (Bring down palms.)
Good morning! Good morning! (Put open palms around your head.)
The little birds say.

Sing and Act 
Let children dramatize this song. Choose one child to be the mother or father bird. Let the other children be the baby birds.

Lunch Sack Nest 
Open a paper lunch sack and roll out and down until you reach the bottom and it looks like a nest. Children can roll play dough eggs for the nest, or they can make a paper bird for the nest or a little bird from two tissues.  (I'll demonstrate this on Monday.)

*Make the shape of a tree on a bulletin board. Staple the nests in the tree and then let children make birds out of construction paper to go in the nests.

*Staple on a pipe cleaner handle and you've got a little Easter basket.

You can get more "Birds" with this download that Carolyn Kisloski and I created.  It includes the song "Birdies," activities, lesson plans, writing prompts, crafts, and fun!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


I hear spring calling, don’t you? Come out and play! Come out and learn! March 20th is the “official” first day of spring, so let’s get started! I'll be demonstrating these activities on LIVE AT FIVE this Monday.

Make a bingo card with signs of spring and objects that children can find on your playground. Children can walk around the playground and and color in the objects as they find them. Children could do this activity individually or with a partner.
*Here's a SPRING-O card I made for you. I'm not the best artist so you'll need to go over the words and the pictures with your students.

Scavenger Hunt
Here’s a spring hunt for older students. Divide them into groups of 4 and give each group a clipboard with the items below. Have them record their answers. When you return to the classroom groups can share their results and compare answers.

     Spring Scavenger Hunt 

     Can you find a sign of spring? 

     Can you find something older than you? 

     Can you find something younger than you? 

     Can you find something rough? 

     Can you find something that feels soft? 

     Can you find something living? 

     Can you find something dead? 

     Can you find something smaller than your fingernail? 

     Can you find something bigger than you? 

     Can you find something green? 

     Can you find something yellow? 

     Can you find something that smells good? 

     Can you find some trash? Pick it up and throw it away! 


Long and Short
Give children a piece of string or yarn.  Challenge them to walk around the playground and find objects that are "longer" than their string and "shorter" than their string.
Spring Crown

Give child a sentence strip and invite them to draw signs of spring.  Let them collect small objects they find on the ground, such as leaves and flowers, and glue them to the crown.  Adjust to crowns to the children's heads and staple.
Spring Acrostic

After a spring walk, have children write the word spring vertically down the left side of their paper. Can they write a word (or sentence) for each letter that is a sign or symbol of spring? 

Hint! With younger children do this as an interactive writing activity.

Spring Poem
Have children fill in the words to create their own poem or a book.
     Spring looks like____.
     Spring smells like ____.
     Spring sounds like ____.
     Spring feels like ____.
     Spring tastes like ____.
     I like spring!

Brainstorm spring vocabulary words and then encourage children to make a web using words or drawings.
Spring Words

How many words can they write from the letters in “spring”?

Popcorn Tree
(Tune: “Turkey in the Straw”)
I looked out my window (Hand over eyes.)
And what did I see?
Popcorn popping on my cherry tree. (Hands on hips.)
What a surprise spring left for me.
Popcorn popping in my cherry tree.
Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. (Wiggle hips to the beat.)
Pop! Pop! (Jump up twice.)

Sing faster…faster…super fast!

Trace around the child’s hand and arm on a sheet of paper to resemble a tree trunk. Color or paint the tree. Glue popcorn or cotton balls on the branches to look like blossoms.
Hint! If you shake popcorn in a sack with a little dry red tempera it will look like pink blossoms.

Friday, March 17, 2017


There are some children who just can’t keep their fingers still. You try finger plays, cheers, and all the tricks you can, but those fingers just keep on moving. Here are a few ideas that might be an outlet for those frisky fingers.

Brain Toys (pre-K and K)
Fill a shoebox or basket with stress balls, sponge balls, knotted socks, etc. Suggest children get a “brain toy” when they can’t keep their hands to themselves.

Fiddle Stick (primary grades)
Wrap a 20” piece of string around a jumbo craft sticks. Children keep these in their desk and get them out when their hands need to fiddle.

Fidget Cube
At my workshop in Atlanta a teacher showed me a new gadget that might be the miracle you are looking for. The fidget cube is a toy with different things that move, such as a toggle switch, clicking button, gears, etc. Apparently, they are helpful for adults and children with ADHD. I found several online and they vary in price from $1.00 on up.


Thursday, March 16, 2017


I don't have a pot of gold for you, but here’s a little leprechaun’s magic wand to make tomorrow. Take a square sheet of paper and color on all four sides as shown. Turn over and start at one corner and roll up tightly. Tape the end. Taaa daaa! 


*Students can use the wand to read the room. One student points to a word (letter, color, shape) while a friend reads.

*Students can track print in big books and on charts with the wand.

*You can do invisible writing in the air with the wand.

*Use the wand as a springboard for stories about what they would do if they were a leprechaun with a magic wand.

*When you want the class to be quiet wave the wand in a circle and say, “Abracadabra.” Tell the children that when they feel the magic they will be quiet and listen to you.  If a child isn't listening wave the wand over their head and say, "Here's a little more magic for you!"