Thursday, April 19, 2018


April 19th is National High Five Day, but you can start any day with a high five and a smile! Wouldn't your kids be surprised if you drew a smile on your hand like this one?


High Five Cheer

Teach children how to give themselves a “high five” for a job well done. Hold up both palms facing each other in front of your chest. Pretend to wave with one hand as you hold up five fingers on the other hand. “Hi 5!” Get it?

Pat on the Back
Trace around each child’s hand on construction paper and let them cut it out. Write a positive comment about each child on the hand and tape it to their back at the end of the day. Parents will be proud when they see their child’s “pat on the back.”


Pickle Tickle Partner Game

Up high. (Give a high five up in the air.)
Down low. (High five down by knees.)
Cut the pickle. (One child touches fingertips horizontally as the other child pretends to slice in between.)
Give a tickle. (Gently tickle each other.)

High Five
Write sight words on hands and tape to your classroom door. Students must "high five" a hand and read a word before exiting the classroom.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I have so much fun going through ideas teachers have shared with me at my workshops. See if you can make a “fist list” of three new things you’d like to try this week.

Rainbow Clap(Kammi O'Hara) 

Start on one side of your body and clap in an arch over to the other side.

Spiderman(Jessica Schmidt)

To focus children’s attention in the hall say, “Spiderman.” When the children hear that they need to "glue" themselves against the wall.

Silence (Karen Reindl) 

Tell the kids you're going to play "silence." 
"Let's shake it out!" 
Stand tall and still and hold up one hand. Slowly put up one finger at a time. However, if they make noise before that stop until they are silent again. When you get to 5 or 10 everyone can clap.

Self-Regulation(Sarah Mumaw-Flury) 

To discourage children from shouting out the answer, have them whisper their answer to the question in their hand and then hold it up. When the teacher says, “Release!” they open their hand and say/whisper the answer. 

First Thing on Your Paper(Christine Williamson) 

The first thing I do is always the same. 

Pick up a pencil and write my name!

Word of the Day(Mairin Born)

Put a sight word each week (or day) in a clear nametag pocket. All week the kids must name the word or turn it into a sentence as a "ticket" to talk to the teacher.
Hint! Use shapes or letters for younger students.

Class Names(Tune: "Ten Little Indians") 

Aiden, Grayson, Hugh, Jack 
Jacob, Jayden, Mac, Maddie 
Nicholas, Oliver, Samuel Willa 
These are the kids in our class. 

*Sing this song all year to learn each other's names, alphabetical order, etc. With different class sizes, just adjust the names to fit by either singing quickly in a row or drawing out one name a little longer. 

Stress Button(Christine Burchfield)
Put a piece of Velcro on a poker chip for children to keep in their pocket. They can rub the Velcro on the chip to calm down.
*Place Velcro strips on the side of their desk to rub and relax. (Pam Armon)

N.A.P.(Joy & Dawn)

Teach children to say “N.A.P.” when they make a mistake or bad things happen.
N – not
A – a
P – problem

Useful Signs(Miranda)

Teach children signs for white and chocolate milk, as well as specials like art, music, PE, etc.

Daily Song List
Make a song list for each day of the week with a different good morning song, calendar song, phonics song, movement song, and good-bye song.

15 Minutes of Walking/Exercising
Whether or not you have a Fitbit, try building 15 minutes of walking each day as you count, sing letter songs, say days of the week, months, spell words, and review other information.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Engagement is a term that is appearing frequently in educational discussions because so many teachers seem to be struggling with getting children to focus and pay attention. Children are increasingly disengaging from the real world because they are living in a passive state on the screen.

First thing to do is TURN EVERYTHING OFF! If there is a screen on the children will look at it and not at you.
Here are some other tips to engage your students.

1. Look children in their eyes and smile. I don’t care where I go when I sing “I like you there’s no doubt about it” I have the children in the palm of my hand.

     I Like You(Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread”)
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it. (Point to self and then a friend.)
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it.
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it.
     You are my good friend. (Point to friend and then self.)

2. Give your students 100% of your attention. Be in the moment!!! Send the message that YOU are the most important thing in the world right now. I’m giving you my best and I need to you to do the same.

4. Be enthusiastic! Teachers can add the magic to anything with their facial expression, voice, and body language.

5. Be dramatic and break into a song or do something silly. The brain loves novelty!

6. Physical proximity! Get close to your students. Create an intimate space by having the children sit on the floor in a circle. A gentle touch can send a positive message to the brain.

7. Use their name frequently. You might have a child day dreaming and simply saying their name will bring them back to reality.

8. Do a movement activity to focus those busy hands. Lead children in a cheer or a clapping pattern. Use call backs and attention grabbers.

     Tootsie Roll
     Tootsie roll, (Roll hands around each other.)
     Lollipop. (Pretend to lick a lollipop.)
     We’ve been talking, (Open and shut fingers.)
     Now let’s stop! (Make sign language sign for “stop.”)
     Call Backs
     Teacher says: Hands on top (Place hands on head.)
     Children respond: Everybody stop (Children freeze.)
     Teacher says: Macaroni and cheese.
     Children respond: Freeze please (Children freeze.)

9. Use positive redirection to get them to do what you want them to do. Instead of saying, “Sit down and be quiet,” trying singing this tune as you model the motions:

     Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Lap (Tune: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes")
     Head, shoulders, knees, and lap, (Point to appropriate body part.)
     Knees and lap.
     Head, shoulders, knees, and lap, (Point to appropriate body part.)
     Knees and lap.
     Legs are criss-cross applesauce (Cross legs and fold hands.)
     And our hands are in our lap, lap, lap.

10. Lower your voice and pretend to be calm as you cross your hands and smile.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Years ago on our kindergarten assessment we had a section with personal skills, such as “Knows full name, knows address, knows phone number, knows birthday, etc.” It might not be part of your assessment these days, but it is important for children to memorize this information.

Driver's License
Having children make a driver's license might just be the perfect incentive to encourage them to learn their full name, birthday, and address. Use a small photo of each child and attach it to card stock with information similar to the one pictured. Older children can write in the information and younger children can dictate it to an adult.
Hint! It might be helpful to have a hand mirror so children can identify their eye color.

Full Name
Help children learn their full name “The Wheels on the Bus."

My full name is (first) (middle) (last),
____, ____, ____,
____, ____, ____,
My full name is (first) (middle) (last),
That’s my full name.

Birthdays can be sung to “Happy Birthday to You.”
September 24th,
September 24th,
My special birthday
Is September 24th.

Phone Number
Phone numbers can be learned by singing them to “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.”

Addresses can be sung to “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”
874 Pine Oak Circle,
874 Pine Oak Circle,
874 Pine Oak Circle,
Cincinnati, Ohio

Zip Code
Learn zip codes by singing them to the tune of “BINGO.”

There is a zip code where I live
And I will sing it to you.
Now I know my zip code.

These are good rhymes to transition children, as well as to reinforce birthdays, phone numbers, and addresses.

Apples, pears, peaches, plums,
Tell me when your birthday comes.

Candy, candy, ice cream cone.
Tell me the number of your telephone.

Rabbit, dog, cat, mouse,
Tell me the number on your house.

Hint! Have a “cheat sheet” with the information so you can prompt the children that don’t know.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


I have so much fun looking at old blogs and finding ideas that I'd forgotten about. Take a look and maybe you'll find something new this week as I journey down Memory Lane.

Push, Pull, Click, Click (Susan Shomo)
Use this chant to focus children’s attention before identifying flash cards:
Push. (Push hands in the air.)
Pull. (Make a pulling motion)
Click, click. (Snap fingers.)
Say this sound/letter/word/shape
Really quick!

Friendship Lotion (Jennifer Smith)
Write “friendship lotion” on a bottle of lotion or disinfectant. (You could also use an empty bottle.) Children take turns passing it around as they put some in their hands. When everybody has some rub your hands together as you say…”It smells like friendship.”
*This is perfect for the beginning of the school year or whenever you have issues with being kind to friends.

Home/School Connection (M. Seay)
Make a visual conversation starter by writing “Today at school I…” For a closing activity students circle or color what they did so parents can talk to them about it when they get

Crocodile Circle Time Fun (Dona Worley)
You can make a game using a Cascade dishwasher soap box. See for details. Children draw letters or words out of the crocodile.
*Make a hippo game out of a container with a purple top.

Letter Bottle
Fill a plastic bottle half full with sand or salt. Add letter beads and shake. Give children an answer sheet with the alphabet letters from A to Z. As they turn the bottle they can mark off the letters that they find.
*You can do the same thing with little objects.        
Erasers (Megan Blevins)
Use socks as erasers for dry erase boards. You can also glue pompoms to the lid of dry erase markers and use to erase.
Hint! I used E6000 glue! Love the stuff!

Sticker Writing
Let the children pick three stickers to help prompt them to write. After writing they can add a background and details.

Sensory Play (Kristy Vicars)
Place shredded paper in the sand/water table. Hide small objects like rubber animals, beads, magnetic letters, etc. in the paper. Children use tweezers or plastic spoons to remove and identify the objects.

Field Trip Book (Laura Buell)
Take pictures on field trips. Print the pictures, put them in sleeve protectors, and put them in a report folder. Children dictate or write about the pictures on sentence strips. Slide the sentence strips in the sheet protectors and the children will “love” to read about their trip.

Movement Patterns (Amy Grubb)
For transitions or to regain focus do a pattern for students to repeat. Examples:
Snap, snap, clap.
Hop, spin, stomp.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


A Louisiana teacher shared this sweet story about what happened when she let her class "adopt" a special tree on the playground. They named their tree Maggie and hugged her, drew pictures of her in different seasons, read stories and sang songs under her, wrote get the idea. One day as a group of children were playing, one child snapped a branch off another tree. A little boy started to cry because he said, "You're hurting Maggie's friend." I'm not sure "adopting a tree" was in their state standards, but it's a beautiful story about instilling a love of nature in children. And, it's so easy just to take a moment every now and then to focus on trees and all the living things this time of year.                                    

National Arbor Day is April, 27, so you'll want to be sure and check out this website and plan some special activities for your class.

Plant a Tree
Contact your local cooperative extension service, Forestry Services, or National Arbor Day Foundation for free seedlings. Discuss what your tree will need to thrive. Prepare the soil, water your tree, and record its growth.
Divide children into small groups and let them brainstorm all the products we get from trees.
*THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein is a wonderful book to share, but my little kids always wanted to know, "Why did he have to get old?" (I wonder the same thing sometimes!!!)

TREEmendous Writing
Let children look out the window or sit under a tree and write descriptions. Think about the colors in the tree. Are there animals in the tree? What are the parts of a tree?
*For creative writing, ask children to complete this sentence: If I were a tree I would...

Tree Identification
Get a book on trees from your school library. Take a nature walk and challenge the children to identify the trees on the school grounds. How does the bark on trees vary? Do all trees have blossoms in the spring? How are the leaves different?
*Hint! Give children a clipboard and let them draw their favorite tree.
*Let them do rubbings of leaves from different trees and compare.

What's a deciduous tree?  What's an evergreen tree?
Sing this song to the tune of "London Bridge" to help your students learn how about deciduous and evergreen trees.
     If your leaves fall to the ground,
     to the ground,
     to the ground.
     If your leaves fall to the ground
     You're deciduous.
     If your leaves stay green all year,
     green all year,
     green all year.
     If your leaves stay green all year,
     You're an evergreen.

Friday, April 13, 2018


Your students are going to be so proud of this “Earth Book” when they take it home to share with their families.   

Materials: 8” squares of the following colors:
2 orange, 1 green, 1 blue, 1 yellow, 1 brown, 1 purple

To construct the book place down the orange square for the back of the book. Place the “purple sky” on top of this, then the “brown mountains,” “yellow sun,” “blue water,” “green tree,” and finally the front cover with the circle cut out. Staple on the left side. Younger children can read this as a wordless book. Older children can write descriptive sentences on each page. 
Hint! Your students will be overwhelmed to do this all in one day, so stretch this project out by asking them to just do 2 or 3 pages a day.

Here's a pdf with the patterns.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Children love to make hats, necklaces, and things they can wear. These crafty ideas can be used to celebrate nature every day of the year.

Materials: sentence strips, green and blue polymer clay, nail, pony beads, string or yarn

Nature Crowns
1. Take children on a walk and invite them to pick up small, light objects from the ground. (Remind them to never pull leaves or flowers off plants.)
2. Give them sentence strips, crayons, markers, and glue. Let them decorate their sentence strips with things that they love in nature. Glue the items they collected to the sentence strips and then adjust to their heads and staple to make crowns.


Earth Day Necklace
1. Give children a small ball of blue polymer clay.
2. Give them a small piece of green clay and tell them to break it into 4 or 5 little pieces.
3. Attach the green pieces to the blue ball and roll in your hands.
4. Make a hole in the center with the nail.
5. Bake in a 275 oven for 12-15 minutes.
6. String the earth ball on yarn or string to make a necklace.

Nature’s Colors
1. Give children assorted pony beads and a piece of string or yarn 20-24” long.
2. Explain that they can select a bead to represent the different things in nature that they appreciate. For example, a blue bead might remind them of the ocean, or a red bead might remind them of a cardinal. (Hint! Limit one bead per color. To make it easier to string wrap a small piece of tape around the end of the yarn.)
3. Tie the ends of the string together to make a necklace.
*Older students could write sentences about each color.
4. Ask children to describe their necklaces and explain what each color represents.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


You know all those cardboard food boxes you throw away? Well, here's a great opportunity to give them a second life, teach your children to recycle, and make some cool materials for your classroom. Send a note asking families to save their cardboard food boxes for a week and then let the fun begin!

Cardboard Castle – Let children use masking tape to create a castle or other play sculpture.

What's for Breakfast? Book - Each child chooses the front of their favorite cereal box. They can write original sentences or fill in the blank "(Child's name) likes (cereal)."

Puzzles – Cut box fronts into puzzle shapes. Store in zip bags. For younger children use two like boxes. Cut one up and let them place the pieces on the second box.

Fronts and Backs – Cut front and back panels off of boxes. Mix them up and then ask the children to match up the ones that go together.

*Play a memory game where you place the fronts and backs face down on the floor. Children try to match up pairs.

Stencils and Templates – Cut geometric shapes out of box fronts. Children can trace these with colored pencils, crayons, or markers.
*Cut seasonal shapes or objects that relate to a unit of study for the children to trace.
Sewing Cards – Punch holes around the sides of boxes. Children can sew these with yarn, string, or old shoelaces.
Weaving – Cut notches around the sides of boxes and let children weave through these with yarn.

Fractions – Give each child the front panel off a box. Can you cut it in half? Fourths? Eights?
Math – Have children sort the boxes by product, size, etc. Graph favorite cereals, cookies, crackers, etc.

How about a free song download and flip book about recycling?


Tuesday, April 10, 2018


One of the best ways to be on the "green team" is to keep the earth beautiful by picking up trash. There's nothing more frustrating to me than to see trash along the road, but maybe we can improve things in the future by getting our students to join the LITTER PATROL!

Litter Patrol

Well, here we go, (Clap and snap fingers to the beat.)
We’re on the litter patrol.
We’re going to work all day
To put the trash away.
The planet earth, you see
Is our habitat.
We’re going to clean it up,
Well, how about that!

Litter Bags
Ask your students to bring in an empty cereal box or cardboard food box.
1. Cut the tops off the boxes.
2. Punch a hole in each short side.
3. Tie on a piece of string. Use these to collect trash or have the children place these in their cars.

Trash Snack
How about a “trash snack”? You will need ice cream cones, Gold Fish crackers, Cheerios, pretzel sticks, and peanuts. Take 4 lunch sacks and put a different item in each sack. Write “old tires” on the sack with Cheerios, write "dead fish" on the sack with the crackers, “sticks” on the sack with pretzel sticks, and “stones” on the sack with peanuts. Take a large bowl and make up a story about collecting trash. As you name the different items, invite different children to dump the contents in the bowl. Stir with a large spoon and then serve the “trash” in trashcans (ice cream cones). The cool thing about this snack is that there is NO trash when the children have finished eating!
Hint! Substitute raisins for peanuts if you have students with food allergies. You can also use sunflower seeds or other snack foods.

Monday, April 9, 2018


Who wouldn't want to be a super hero on the green team? How about some membership cards?


The Green Team (Tune: “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”)
We are on the Green Team. (March in place as you swing your arms.)
Hoorah! Hoorah! (Fist in air as if cheering.)
We can recycle every day. (March in place as you roll your arms around.)
Hoorah! Hoorah! (Fist in air as if cheering.)
Aluminum, glass, tin, (March in place.)
Put paper and cans in recycle bins. (March in place.)
Join the Green Team, (March in place.)
Defend the earth and keep it clean. (Put both fists in the air like a hero.)

We are on the Green Team. Hoorah! Hoorah!
We can reduce what we use. Hoorah! Hoorah!
Turn off water and the lights.
Walk, take a bus, or ride your bike.
Join the Green Team.
Defend the earth and keep it clean.

We are on the Green Team. Hoorah! Hoorah!
We can reuse many things. Hoorah! Hoorah!
Share old toys and old clothes, too.
Give away what you don't use.
Join the Green Team,
Defend the earth and keep it clean.

We are on the Green Team. Hoorah! Hoorah!
We can keep our planet clean. Hoorah! Hoorah!
Pick up all the trash you see.
Protect wildlife and plant new trees.
Join the Green Team.
Defend the earth and keep it clean.

*Make a language experience chart of children’s suggestions for what it means to be on the “Green Team.” Have children dip their thumb in green paint and “sign” it on the list to signify that they are going to join the “Green Team.”

*Walk around the school and encourage the children to draw pictures or write suggestions for conserving energy and making the learning environment “green.” Compile results and ask the principal to visit your class and discuss improvements that can be made.

*Make a naturalist kit by recycling a detergent box or similar container with a handle. Make binoculars by cutting a cardboard paper towel roll in half. Tape the halves together and hole punch at the top. Tie on a piece of string so children can easily take the binoculars on and off their heads. Add a magnifying glass, field guide, tweezers, film canister (for collecting specimens), paper, pencil, etc. Talk about what naturalists do. Can you be a naturalist? Divide children up into groups of two and let them take turns playing “naturalist” on the playground.

*Put out scrap materials in the art center and encourage children to make “Green Team” badges. You can also let them decorate sheets of newspaper and staple them around their necks to make “Super Green Hero” capes. Let children dramatize what they would do if they were a “Super Green Hero.”

Here's a packet Carolyn Kisloski and I created with songs, writing prompts, QR codes, and activities to help your class GO GREEN!