Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Some children need more “thinking time” than others. When students blurt out the answer, it deprives some students of that time. These strategies will also develop self-regulation and encourage your students to think of divergent answers.

Whisper and Release
Have children hold up their hand and whisper their answer in their fist. When most children have responded say, "1, 2, 3, release!" Children open their fist and whisper their answer.

Thumbs Up Thinking
Explain that you are going to ask a question. If they know the answer they can put their thumb up next to their chest.


*If they know more than one answer, they can put up a finger for each additional thing they know.

Pop Up Q & A
To review information, divide children into partners. Ask the question or give a math problem. Students discuss the answer with their partner and then stoop to the ground. When all the groups are squatting down, the teacher says, “One, two, three!” Children pop up and say the answer. If they arrived at different answers, let the class evaluate the correct response.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Have you ever heard the saying:  "Work smarter, not harder."  That's what I like so much about the brain research.  There are some very simple strategies that you can easily integrate into your day that can improve learning in powerful ways.  

According to brain research children need to recall information throughout the day. (Think of it as that extra pat on the back or a second helping of dessert.)  Here are a few tips for having children recall information after you’ve read a story, taught a lesson, or at the end of the day.

Thumbs Up Thinking – If you’ve learned something new you can stick up your thumb. If you’ve learned more than one new thing you can stick up a finger for each additional thing.

Right Now! Right Now! - Stop at random times in the day and shout, “Right now, right now, right now, right now! Who can raise their hand and tell me something they know right now that they didn’t know when they came in the classroom this morning?”

Partner Share – Have children turn to a friend and share something new they learned.

Toss and Tell – Take a bean bag or wadded up paper ball. Ask a review question and then toss the ball to a student. The student answers the question or says something they learned and then tosses the ball back to you. Continue as time permits.


Draw – Let children make “thinking pads” by cutting scrap paper into fourths. Staple about 10 sheets together. Use thinking pads to have children illustrate what they’ve learned after a lesson or after reading a book.

Visualize – Have children close their eyes and reflect on what they did well and what they learned.

Microphone – Pass around a play microphone or telephone for children to state what they’ve learned.
*Let children pretend they are a news reporter and state facts about the day.

Catch a Star
Ask children to think of something new they learned or something they did that made them feel proud. Tell them to reach up and grab a star and then put it in their hearts.

Close Your Eyes and Smile
Have children close their eyes. If they can see something new they learned they can open their eyes and smile at you.

Fist List
Children make a fist and then hold up a finger for each new thing they learned that day. 


Kiss Your Brain – Write “Kiss Your Brain!” on a poster and tape it to your door. Before children leave for the day they must say something they learned and then kiss their brains.

Chant – Start a beat for this chant by slapping thighs and clapping hands. Go around the room as you say the chant and children respond:
     Hey, Hey, what do you say?  
     What did you learn in school today?

So, what do you RECALL from reading my blog today? Can you use one of these ideas in your classroom this year?

Monday, February 19, 2018



Here's another short video I made with a silly song that the kids adore. I'll also attach the directions for the story because I bet your children will want to hear it again and again.

Way up in the sky
The big birdies fly.
Way down in the nest
The little birds rest.
With a wing on the left,
And a wing on the right.
The little birds sleep
All through the night.


Then up comes the sun,
The dew falls away.
Good morning! Good morning!
The little birds say.


Here's the link for the story.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Nothing motivates me like a compliment! Someone said her students enjoyed the videos that I made "just for kids," and so I have a new one for you. "Alligator" is an engaging chant where children echo the words. I also tell my "Alphagator" story on this video.

Here are the words, as well as the pattern for the story.

Alligator. (Extend arms and open and close like a mouth.)
Can be your friend, can be your friend,
Can be your friend, too! (Point finger.)

The alligator is my friend, (Point to self.)
And he can be your friend, too. (Point to a friend.)
If only you could understand, (Hold up palms.)
Don’t wear him as a show! (Chorus)

The alligator is my friend. (Point to self.)
He likes to dance and flirt. (Shuffle feet and fluff hair.)
If only you could understand, (Hold up palms.)
Don’t wear him as a skirt. (Chorus)

The alligator is my friend. (Point to self.)
He likes to sing and dance. (Snap fingers and dance.)
If only you could understand, (Hold palms up.)
Don’t wear him as your pants. (Chorus) (Point to pants or legs.)

Directions: Use the link to download the alligator pattern. Cut it out of the front of a file folder. Insert 10 sheets of green paper and print the underlined letters in his stomach so they are displayed as the Alphagator eats them. Glue a copy of the story to the back of the file folder so you can read it as you remove one sheet at a time.

I love letters! How many of you boys and girls love letters? When you learn letters and their sounds you can put them together and make words, and then you can read! Well, once there was an Alphagator and he absolutely adored the letters of the alphabet! He’d eat letters and dream sweet dreams all night long.

On Monday he ate the letters A B C D E F,
But the pointy part of the “A” kept poking his tummy,
And he couldn’t sleep a wink all night long.

On Tuesday he ate the letters G H I J K,
But “H” and “I” made a word and said over and over, “Hi! Hi! Hi!”
And he couldn’t sleep a wink all night long.

On Wednesday he ate the letters L M N O P,
But “O” kept rolling back and forth in his tummy,
And he couldn’t sleep a wink all night long.

On Thursday he ate the letters Q R S T U V,
But “S” kept playing snake in his tummy and going, “Ssssssss!”
And he couldn’t sleep a wink all night long.

On Friday he ate the letters W X Y Z.
Then he closed his eyes and dreamed sweet “Zzzzzzz’s” all night long.
See you later Alphagator!

Saturday, February 17, 2018


February 17th is officially Random Acts of Kindness Day, but these activities are perfect any day!  You'll definitely want to check out this website: 

What does "random acts of kindness" mean? Brainstorm examples and then challenge each of your students to do at least 3 acts of kindness today. 

Write "The Kindness Club" on the board or a poster and have students write the names of classmates who do something kind for them.

Give each child 3 "kindness tickets" to distribute to friends who do something nice for them.

Make bracelets from pipe cleaners. When they do a good deed they can get a bead and add it to their bracelet.

Make a "Kindness Book" where students can record something positive a classmate has done for them.


Friday, February 16, 2018


Piggyback tunes have been used forever because once the melodies are in the brain you can easily change the words. I read a book called MOZART FOR THE BRAIN several years ago and it pointed out that children can only focus on one thing at a time. It’s difficult to learn words and melodies at the same time, but if the tune is in the brain it is much easier to learn the lyrics.

Everybody knows “BINGO” so here are a few new learning opportunities for this familiar tune.

Zip Code
There is a zip code where we live and we know our zip code.
3 - 2 – 1 – 5 - 5
3 - 2 – 1 – 5 - 5
3 - 2 – 1 – 5 – 5
Now we know our zip code.

There are some letters you should know and they are the vowels.
A – E – I – O – U
A – E – I – O - U
A – E – I – O - U
And now you know the vowels.
There are five senses that we use to help us learn each day.
See (Point to eyes.)
Hear (Point to ears.)
Smell (Point to nose.)
Taste (Point to mouth.)
Touch (Hold up hands.)
See, hear, smell, taste, touch,
See, hear, smell, taste, touch,
We use them every day.

Word Families
There is a word family you should know and ILL is it’s name-o.
They end in ILL you know.
Number Bonds
There are some facts that you should know and they all equal seven.
2 + 5
3 + 4
6 + 1
7 + 0

Now it’s time to say good-bye
And end our school day.
We learned a lot today.
We worked hard and we played.
We were kind in many ways.
So long, friends, for today.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


When I visited Mitchell School last week I was impressed with the “little artistic touches” I saw there. These are such simple ideas, but they add a special feeling to the learning environment.

How about addition facts on the stairs? The science vocabulary leads to the upper grades. Letters, numbers, shapes and so many skills could “step up” learning.


What a clever idea to use a real picture frame to display children’s artwork!


And you know how much kids love to look at themselves in a mirror. You could put a full-length mirror in each hall with a positive word or character trait.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Happy Valentine's Day! What a perfect way to start your morning today and every day! Write this "mantra" on a poster. The teacher reads the questions and the children respond in unison.

Morning Mantra

Teacher says: Boys and girls, what is my job today?

Children respond: Your job is to teach us and to love us.

Teacher says: Boys and girls, what is your job today?

Children respond: Our job is to learn and to love each other.


During the day if a child is behaving inappropriately stand near them and ask, “Are you doing your job? Show me the right thing to do.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


My grandson K.J. helped me write this song about buddies several years ago. I think it gives children some good strategies for dealing with bullies, and there are some extension activities that will reinforce standards.

Be a Buddy, NOT a Bully!
(Tune: “Harrigan”)
Give me a B – B.
Give me a U – U…D…D…Y…
What’s it spell? BUDDY!
I’m going to be a buddy.
I will never be a bully.
I’ll say NO to bullies!
That is what I’ll be.
I’ll be kind and help my friends.
I’ll protect them and defend.
A buddy, that’s ME!

What should you do if someone bullies you?
Ignore them or walk away.

What if they still bully you?
Tell them to STOP!

If they still bully you?
Get a friend to help you.

And if they still bully you?
Then tell an adult.

I’m going to be a buddy.
I will never be a bully.
I’ll say NO to bullies!
That is what I’ll be.
I’ll be kind and help my friends.
I’ll protect them and defend.
A buddy, that’s ME!

*Make a class book of the song by running off the lyrics as shown. Have the children close their eyes as you sing and get a picture in their brain. Let them choose which sentence they’d like to illustrate, and then put them together to make a book.

*Role play the steps in the song. Let children take turns being “bullies” and “buddies” and acting out what they should do.

*Make a book called “A Buddy Is…” where each child contributes a drawing of how they can be a buddy.

*Run off “Buddy Coupons” for children to distribute to friends who are kind to them. You could also have a “Buddy Board” where children write the names of buddies.

*Draw a T-chart on the board and let children suggest characteristics of buddies and bullies.

Monday, February 12, 2018


Several weeks ago at my seminar in New Orleans a teacher asked for some ideas to help children count the "teens."  I knew I had a song and activity, but I couldn't think of it at the time.  Taa daa!  I found it!

Tens and Ones (Ginger McCormick)

(Cadence – Children repeat each line.)
I don’t know but I’ve been told. (Repeat)
Tens are tall and ones are small.
First you count up all the tens.
Then add the ones to the end.

*Pick students to be tens and stand tall.
Pick students to be ones and sit criss-cross in front of the tens.
Count the tall students by tens.
Count the students sitting on the floor by one.
What’s the number?

Counting is a basic strand across math standards. There’s even research that suggests counting with pre-k children can build math concepts they will use later on in kindergarten and primary grades. To avoid rote counting without meaning, let TOUCH AND COUNT be the mantra you repeat and model over and over. Counting will also have more meaning if you tie it into exercise with one of these ideas.

*Older students can use these movement activities to skip count and learn multiplication facts.

Karate Chop Count
Feet out, knees bent, karate chop with your right hand and then your left as you count by ones.
*Do leg curls and chops as you count by 5’s to 100
*Kick front and back as you count by 10’s to 200.
*Wax on, wax off as you count by 100’s to 1000. 

*You can also karate chop spelling words and word wall words. Chop with right hand as you say a letter and then chop with the left hand as you say a letter. Hands folded together and bow as you say the word.

Shoelace Counting
Write numerals 1-20 on a cotton shoelace with a fabric marker. Slide a bead on the shoelace and move it up and down as you count.
*What’s one more than___? Two less than___?


Pump Up to 100
Pretend to hold weights as you count.
1-20 - bicep curls (Elbows in, pretend to hold weights in fists with palms up as you bring forearms up and down.)
21-40 - for overhead press (Fists face forwards as you start at your shoulders and push the weights overhead.)
41-60 – side raises (Elbows at 90% angles as you raise them out to the side.)
61-80 – upright rows (Fists together close to the body and raise elbows out and up until fists are at your heart.)
81-100 – frontal raises - (Fists together and arms stiff as you raise them in front of your body to eye level.)
Whew! (Wipe brow!!!)

*Let children get an imaginary jump rope and jump as they count to 100.

Dance and Count
Choose a different dance move for each ten as you count.
1-10 – Disco (Index finger up and down across body.)
11-20 – Hitchhike (Thumb out across body.)
21-30 – Swim (Make swimming motions.)
31-40 – Bollywood (One hand up in circular motion and one down.)
41-50 – Pony (Step from side to side.)
51-60 – Twist (Twist at waist.)
61-70 – Salsa (One arm bent up and other hand on elbow.)
71-80 – Monster (Arms out in front of you.)
81-90 – Bird (Flap your arms like a bird.)
91-100 – Do your own thing!

Sunday, February 11, 2018


Here's a simple little classroom management trick that might help you keep your "cool" this week.

When children are wound up, help center them with a smile break. Tell them to look at the clock and smile for 30 seconds. (Use the timer on your phone or have them look at the clock until the big hand is on the 6.)


Mrs. Kisloski's kinderoo cuties.

You can also ask them to hug themselves, sit and freeze, or do other motions for a specified amount of time.

Breath Through Your Nose

I love this idea to help children focus and clam down.  Have them close their lips and breath through their noses. (Works like a charm because they can’t talk!)

Babble Break
A brain break that students will love is a “talking break.” Set a timer for one minute or whatever and tell students they can talk with a friend until the timer goes off.  Once the time goes off there's no more talking!

Hint! You can focus the talking break by having children discuss a story you’ve read or talk about a topic you are studying.

Saturday, February 10, 2018


Every day use a class puppet to introduce a vocabulary word that will be the password for the day. Use this chant to introduce the password:
     Mr. Bear, Mr. Bear, (or whatever your puppet is),
     Oh, what do you say?
     What is the password for today?

*For attendance, the children say the password instead of “here.”

*Cut out a giant hand and write the word on the hand. Tape it to the door and every time the children enter or leave the classroom they “high five” the hand and say the word.

*Make tally marks on the board for every time a student uses the word during the day.

*Decorate a name badge with fake jewels.  Put a new "sparkle word" in the badge each day. Focus children’s attention by singing this song to the tune of “If You’re Happy.”

     If you can read this word shout it out. (Children shout word.)
     If you can read this word whisper it out. (Children whisper word.)
     If you can read this word spell it out. (Children spell word.)
     If you can read this word act it out. (Children dramatize the word.)


*Go to and click on the dictionary to learn how to sign the password.

Friday, February 9, 2018


If you can DO it, then it's a verb!

Verbs, Verbs, Action Words (Kiss Your Brain CD)
Verbs, verbs, action words
Things that you can do.
I’ll say a word, and if it’s a verb,
Show what you can do.
Run (Children run in place.)
Fly (Children pretend to fly.)
Dog (Children shout, “That’s not a verb.”)

Continue calling out verbs for the children to pantomime.

Let children take turns acting out verbs as their classmates try and guess what they are doing.

Pass the Story
Write verbs on index cards and place them in a sack. Have the class sit in a circle and begin passing the bag around. The first child chooses a word and begins the story by using that verb. The second child chooses a word and adds to the story with their word. Continue passing the bag as children add to the story using a verb from the bag.

Catch and TellHave children think of an action word in their head. The teacher throws a ball or beanbag to a child. That child states the verb they are thinking of and then passes the ball to another friend. Children continue passing the ball and saying verbs.

Say What? 
Write simple verbs on the board. Invite children to come up and add different endings for their friends to read and then use the word in a sentence.
*Cover the end of a fly swatter with white paper. Write different endings on the paper (ing, ed, s). Children place the ending by verbs and read the new word.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Purposeful practice for automaticity (aka repetition) is essential to skill mastery. The problem is when you drill children they get bored and don’t pay attention. Here are some chants and movement strategies to practice sight words, spelling words, and vocabulary words.
Don't forget that these ideas can be adapted for kindergarten through elementary grades!

Clap and Snap – As you spell out words clap on the consonants and snap on the vowels.

Jumping Jacks – Do jumping jacks for each letter in a word.

Palm Pilot – Hold up one palm and trace the letters in a word with the index finger of the opposite hand. After making the letters say the word and “take it to the brain” by pretending to run your fingers up your arm to your brain.
Back Writing – Stand in a circle and spell out words on your neighbor’s back. Erase before writing a new word.

Cheer Words – Step back and forth as you clap and spell out words.
Give me an “E.”
I’ve got an “E” you’ve got an “E.”
Give me ….
What’s it spell? (Shout out word.)
Disco – Finger up in the air and move it across your body as you say different letters in a word. Hands on hips as you say the word.
Patty Cake – Children face a partner. They say the word as they clap. They cross and tap partner’s hands on each letter. Then high five and say the word in the air.

Air Writing – Children use their finger, foot, knee, tongue, elbow and other body parts to spell out words in the air.

March – Children march and swing arms on each letter. They salute and say the word at the end.

Body Writing
Tall letters (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) - touch your head
Tummy letters (a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, z) – touch your tummy
Toe letters (g, j, p, q, y) – touch your feet
For example:
H – touch head
O – touch tummy
P – touch feet
Clap as you say the word “hop.”

OLYMPIC EVENTS!  Think of some movements to tie in spelling with skiing, skating, hockey, etc.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Did you know that 3 words make up 10% of what we read? (I, and, the)
Did you know that 13 words make up 25% of what we read?
Did you know that 100 words make up 50% of what we read?

Here are some center ideas to help children master sight words.  Studies suggest that it takes the average child 25-36 exposures/experiences with a word before it is saved in their brains, so they'll be on their way with these activities.

*Note!  You might use some of these strategies already, but I hope you find at least one new idea.

In the News
Give children a section of the newspaper and highlighters. How many letters can they find that they can read? Ask them to write the words on a sheet of paper.
*Children can also identify words with glass pebbles.

Roll and Write
Make a graph with six sections going across and down. Number the sections in the top row 1-6 and then write a high frequency word in each section. Children roll a die. They find that number at the top of their frame and then write that word under it. They continue rolling the die and writing words as long as time permits.

Four Square Writing
Show children how to fold a sheet of paper into fourths. Have them trace over the creased lines to make four squares. Number the sections “1,” “2,” “3,” “4.” Ask children to write one letter words in the section numbered “l.” Write 2 letter words in the second section, 3 letter words in the third section, and 4 letter words in the fourth section.    

Make a bookmark from a 2” x 8 ½” piece of construction paper. Give children old newspapers and magazines and ask them to out words they can read and glue them to the bookmark.
Word Necklace
Cut a sheet of paper in half. Fold into eighths and cut on the creased lines. Staple to make a small book. Hole punch in the corner and tie on a piece of string. Children walk around the classroom and write words they can read.
*Use this necklace book for color words, shapes, adjectives, etc.

Rainbow Writing 
Make “rainbow words” by tracing around each word with different colors of crayons.

Word Search
Prepare a list of words found in the classroom and run off. Children walk around the room searching for the words on the list. They can cross through the words as they find them.

Partner Read the Room 
One child is the “student” and wears an empty pair of glasses. The other child is the “teacher” and holds a pointer. As they walk around the room the teacher points to words and the student reads them. After ten words they switch places.
Note! Whisper voices only for this activity!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Children can practice "building" words with some of these simple materials. These activities can also be adapted for sight words, vocabulary words, or spelling words.

Alphabet Soup
Place magnetic letters in a bowl. Give children a large soup spoon to
scoop out some letters. Can they make a word with the letters? Have
them write the words that they make.

Letter Tin
Place magnetic letters inside a cookie tin. On the inside cover make three lines with a permanent marker. Have the children take out the letters and place them around the lid. Give children a list of CVC words to make and read.

Unifix Cubes 
Place dot stickers on unifix cubes. Write letters on the dots. Children can use these for constructing words.
*Let children play this game with a friend. One child builds a word and the other friend must then read it.
Play Dough Phonics
Let children use play dough to make objects that begin with different letter sounds.
*Use play dough to make two words that rhyme.

Duplo Letters and Words
Here is a photo a teacher sent demonstrating how she integrates blocks with phonics and sight words. She said she asked the parents to donate the Duplo blocks and the children thought they were "playing" instead of "learning."