Saturday, August 17, 2019


Exercise those bodies and those brains with these counting games.

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.

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.

Silly Voice Counting
Have children count using different voices. For example: robot, opera, pirate, monster, teacher, cowboy, monkey, surprised, worried, silly, excited, happy, sad, mad, confused, whisper, sleepy, and scared.
*Add holiday or seasonal voices like a scarecrow (reads words in a scary voice), ghost (students say “boo” after each word), witch (read with a cackle while stirring a pot), Rudolph (students flash their hands like blinking lights as they read the word), Frosty (students shiver as they read the words) or Santa (students must say the words three times in a “ho,ho,ho” style), or the Easter bunny (students hop after saying each word).

*Count each "ten" with a different voice.

Draw the face of a worm (Numbo) on a circle or paper plate. Cut 10-15 circles out of construction paper and number 1-10 or 1-25.  Pass the circles out to the children.  Place Numbo’s head on the floor and ask the children to help him grow.  The child with “1” puts her circle down, followed by “2,” “3,” etc.  Ask questions, such as:  “What number comes between 7 and 9?  What comes before 13?  What is 2 more than 4?

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.

Counting by Two’s (Melanie Hope)
Have students identify body parts what come in sets of two. Stand and county by 2’s as you touch the following body parts:
2 – hands on eyes
4 – hands on ears 
6 – hands on elbows
8 – knees
10 – feet
12 – eyes
14 – ears….
You’ll be able to count to 100 by 2’s before you know it!

Whisper Skip Count
One (Touch head as you whisper “one.”)
Two (Touch shoulders and say “two.”)
Three (Touch head and whisper.)
Four (Touch shoulders and say “four.”)
Five (Touch head and whisper.)
Six (Touch shoulders and say “six.”)
Seven (Touch head and whisper.)
Eight (Touch shoulders and say, “eight.”)
Nine (Touch head and whisper.)
Ten (Touch shoulders as you say “ten.”)

*To count by 3’s, touch shoulders and whisper “one,” touch shoulders and whisper “two,” touch waist and say “three.”
*To count by 4’s, whisper on 1-3 and touch knees as you say “four.”
*To count by 5’s, whisper on 1-4 and touch toes as you say “five.”

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___?


Friday, August 16, 2019


Good listeners are ACTIVE listeners.  These are some simple strategies that can engage your students as they listen to instructions, books, or videos.

Teach sign language for "connection" (thumbs make circles with index fingers and join like a chain). Discuss that when they connect what is in the book with what is in their brain they make a "schema." If they've made a "schema" they can show you with their hands. Call on random students to explain how they connected personally with the book.


Me Too! 

Teach children sign language for “me too!” (Extend thumb and pinky finger and place the middle three fingers on your palm as you point your thumb toward your chest.) Tell children when you are reading a book they can use the sign to let you know they’ve had a similar experience.

Don’t Understand 
Children can use this sign when something is not clear to them. Put your index finger next to your brain and wiggle it like you are turning on a light as you shake your head “no.”
Pretend to scratch your brain.

Big Ears
Download a picture of a big ear and glue it to a craft stick.  Remind the children when you hold up the ear, they need to use their "big ears" to listen.

Listening Chant (Tune: “If You’re Happy and You Know it”)
If you’re listening to me do like this- (make a face for children to imitate).
If you’re listening to me do like this-(make another silly motion for children to copy).
If you’re listening to me then be quiet as can be.
If you’re listening to me ____(line up, get ready for a story, get out your books, or whatever you want them to do).

Thursday, August 15, 2019


Don’t you just love tools that you can use in lots of different ways? It’s like my kitchen scissors. I couldn’t live without them to open packages, snip herbs, trim meat, cut veggies, etc. Just like tools in your kitchen, I have some handy math tools that you will be able to use in creating multi-sensory experiences in a variety of ways with a variety of skill levels.
Brain Beads
Brain beads are a simple tool that can be used to reinforce counting in a concrete way. You will need pipe cleaners and pony beads.  Knot one end of the pipe cleaner. String on 10 beads. Knot the other end.



Slide the beads to the left and then move them over one at a time to the right as you count.

*Flip the pipe cleaner over so the beads are on the left again and count from 11-20. Continue flipping the pipe cleaner and counting higher.

*Slide all the beads at once and count “ten.” Flip it over and slide all the beads as you say “twenty.” Continue counting by ten’s by sliding all ten beads at one time.

Friends of Ten
How many ways can you make ten?

Number Stories

Slide beads to demonstrate number stories.

Words– Slowly say a short sentence.  Have children follow you as you model moving a bead to the right for each word.  
Hint!  Always demonstrate and model before asking children to do these activities independently.

Syllables– Move beads for syllables you hear in words.

Phonemes– Say words slowly stretching out the sounds. Slide a bead for each phoneme. Say the word and slide the beads together to the left.

Talking Beads- You can also use the beads to guide sharing time.  Children can slide a bead over for every word that describes their object.  Then they can slide a bead for where they got it.  Finally, they can slide a bead as they say what it is.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


All you need is some good music and a little enthusiasm and your students will master those sight words, math facts, and skills as they move and have fun.  Model these movements and then invite the children to join you.
Note! Children can do these standing up or sitting in their chairs.

Disco Dance – Put right index finger in the air and point to the left. Bring right index finger down by your side. Spell words or count as you move.

Swim - Pretend to swim by stroking arms as you count by ones, fives, etc. Can you backstroke? Sidestroke?

*Swim as you say letters and hold your nose and wiggle down as you say the word.

Funky Monkey - Fists out in front and move them up and down as you read sight words or count.

Hitchhike - Right thumb up and move across your body and then left thumb and move across the body as you count, read words, etc.

Chicken - Hands in armpits and flap like wings as you count or spell words.

Pony – Pretend to hold reins as you rock back and forth and say letters in a word. Lasso (arm in the air) as you say the word.

Batman – Make “v” with index and middle fingers and swoop them across your eyes as you count or read words.

Salsa - Left arm bent with index finger up in the air as you say an addend. Right arm bent with finger in air as you say another addend. Hands on hips and wiggle as you say the sum.
*Adapt for subtraction or other math facts.

Bollywood – Right palm up in the air like you’re screwing in a light bulb and then left palm down like you’re turning on a water spicket. Children can read sight words or repeat other information as they make the moves.


September 21, 2019
Early Childhood Conference
Virginia Beach, VA

September 28, 2019
Fargo, ND
2019 Early Childhood Conference:  Unstoppable Superheroes

October 4, 2019
Columbia, SC
South Carolina AEYC Conference

January 6, 2020
Fort Worth, TX
The Learning Center of North Texas 

January 28, 2020
Jacksonville, FL
Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

February 28 & 29, 2020
Pasadena, CA
Southern California Conference for Pre-K, TK, Kindergarten, and First

March 6, 2020
Atlanta, GA
Georgia Preschool Association

April 4, 2020
Vicksburg, MS
Early Educators Conference

April 18,2020
Mt. Vernon, IL

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


These movements will make learning about punctuation more fun!
Capital letters are at the beginning of a sentence. They tell you to “GO.” Have children stand every time you come to a capital letter.  

Periods tell you when to stop. Sit down when you come to a period.

Sit like cowboys and cowgirls by straddling chairs. When you come to a period, children pretend to pull back on the reins as they say, “Whoa!”

Question Mark
When you come to a question mark, put your index finger on your head and shrug your shoulders.

Exclamation Point
Put your fist in the air for an exclamation mark.

Hop for a comma.

Two fingers in the air and wiggle.

*Let children come up with their own movements for punctuation.

Say the abc’s according to the punctuation marks.
A B C? 
D E F G.
H I J! K L M N.
O P Q? 
R S T!
U V W. 
X Y Z!

*Write nursery rhymes and other familiar poems with unusual punctuation.

Punctuation Detectives

Use glass pebbles to highlight  punctuation.

Twist the end of a pipe cleaner and use to find punctuation marks.


Monday, August 12, 2019


This is a “quickie” activity that you can use when you’ve got five minutes before lunch or at the end of the day. It works with a large group or small group to reinforce skills.

Show Me Math
Make a set of “show me” cards for each child by writing the numerals 0-10 on 3” squares of heavy cardstock. Have children store these cards in a zip bag in their desk. When you have a few extra minutes, ask the children to get their cards and arrange them on the floor or table in numerical order from 0-10. Use the cards for some of the games below.
*Adapt the number of cards to the ability of your students.

How Many?
The teacher claps, snaps, or stomps a set. Children listen and then hold up the correct number.

*Show me how many toes you have? How many thumbs at your table? Show me how many days in the week?

*Make a set with felt pieces on the flannel board. Show me how many.

Mystery Number
I’m thinking of a number between 4 and 6. Show me. I’m thinking of a number two more than seven. Show me.

Math Facts
4 plus 2. Show me.
9 minus 3. Show me.

Number Stories
I had four pennies. I found three more. Show me how many I have in all.
*Let children make up math stories for their friends.

Fact Families
Call out numbers in a fact family. Can children write the equations in that fact family?

Number Bonds
How many ways can you make seven?

Base Ten
Put 3 in the tens spot and two in the ones spot. What’s the number?

Odd and Even
Sort the odd and even numbers.

Slap Happy Math
Children get a partner and place one set of show me cards on the floor between them. The teacher calls out different math problems. The first child to slap the correct numeral gets a point.

Hint! Put a line on the bottom of each card to help the children identify the direction they should go.

Here's where you can download number cards.

Show Me Reading

Make cards for letters and sounds you want to reinforce. 

CVC Words
Call out individual sounds for children to select. Blend to say the word.

Onset and Rime
Make a rime and then add different “onsets” to put in front of the rime to make words.

Singular and Plural
Children make nouns with letters and then add “s.”

Note!  You can make a frame to stand your letters up in similar to the one in Scrabble games. Fold a

Sunday, August 11, 2019


If you've been to my workshops you've heard me say, "If I could have two things in my classroom I'd take books and blocks."  Blocks are great for creative play and STEM, but they can also be used for other skills.

Note! For some of these activities you will want to tape the paper to the blocks or use sticky notes. For other games that will be used in multiple ways (such as letters and numerals), you could write on the blocks with a permanent marker.

Sequence– Tape illustrations (from a workbook or worksheet) of different parts of a story. Children can sequence the pictures and retell the story using the blocks.

Rhymes– Tape pictures of objects that rhyme to blocks and have children match them up.


CVC Words– On 2 ½” squares write consonants with a blue marker and write vowels with a red marker. Tape to blocks. Let children build CVC words using the blocks.


Prefixes and Suffixes– Use a black marker to write root words on 2 ½” x 5” pieces of paper and tape to blocks of the same size. Write prefixes with a green marker and suffixes with a red marker on 2 ½”” squares and tape to square blocks. Children place the prefixes in front of the root words and read. Place the suffixes on the end of the blocks and read.

Onsets and Rimes– Write rimes (vowel and letters following) on 2 ½” x 5” pieces of paper and tape to blocks. Write onsets (consonants and blends) on 2 ½” squares and tape to blocks. Children put onsets on rimes and read the words.

Singular and Plural – Write nouns on 2 ½” x 5” pieces of paper. Tape to blocks. Write “s” on a 2 ½” square and tape to a block. Challenge children to read singular words and then make them mean “more than one.”

Inflicted Endings– Write verbs on 2 ½’” x 5” pieces of paper. Write “s,” “ing,” and “ed” on 2 ½” squares and tape to blocks. Can children make words and then use them in sentences?

Letter Blocks– Write uppercase letters on 26 blocks and lowercase letters on other blocks. Can children match upper and lowercase letters?

Alphabetical Order– Ask children to put the blocks in alphabetical order.

Sight Words and Spelling Words– Invite children to reproduce their names, high frequency words, spelling words, or vocabulary words with the letter blocks.

Beginning Sounds– Using old workbooks, cut out pictures and tape them to blocks. Ask children to match up letters with pictures that begin with the same sound. (You could do this for final sounds or vowels.)

Building Sentences– Challenge children to construct sentences using the high frequency words.
I like…
We can…
I see…

Environmental Print – Ask children to bring in labels from food products or items around the house. Tape to blocks. Can they build towers and read the words?


Sorting – Can they sort like blocks together? Can they regroup the blocks by another attribute?

Numerical Order – Write numerals 0-10 on 2 ½” x 5” pieces of paper and attach to blocks. Can they put the blocks in order?

Sets and Numerals – Write numerals, number words, and sets on blocks for children to match. 

Roll and Stack – Children take one or two dice and roll. They select that number of blocks and stack them as tall as they can.                                            

Counting – How many blocks can you stack?

Math Signs – Write inequality signs, =, +, and – on pieces of paper and attach to blocks. Children can build equations and practice addition and subtraction with the numeral blocks and signs.

Liquid Measurement – Write “cup” on two square blocks. Write “pint” on a rectangular block. How many cups in a pint?  

Fractions – What would happen if you cut the square block in half? What would happen if you cut the rectangular block in half? How many ways can you make the square block? Rectangular block?

Measure Up – Children lay on the floor as friends take unit blocks and measure how many blocks long they are. Use different size blocks and compare.

Graphing – Have children draw their faces on 2 ½”” squares. Tape to blocks. Use for comparing and graphing.
For example: You could have a picture of a bus, feet, and a car. Children place their block under the way they travel to school. Which one is more? Less? How can we tell for sure?

Saturday, August 10, 2019


Today you'll find some "active" ways for your students to review and recall information.

Catch and Tell
You will need a small ball or to play this game. The teacher says a letter and then tosses the ball to a child. That child must name something that begins with that sound before tossing the ball back to the teacher. 

*This game can be adapted for rhyming words, colors, math, social studies, and other skills. It’s perfect for waiting in the hall or during transitions.

Touch Something
The teacher says a letter (word, color, shape, object) and the children have to walk around the room and touch something that matches the word.


Hot Potato
You can pretend a beanbag or small stuffed animal is the "hot potato" when you play this traditional game.  You'll also need flashcards for skills you are working on. Children stand or sit in a circle. The potato (or other object) is passed around the circle until the music stops or the teacher blows a whistle. The child caught holding the potato has to identify a shape, letter, or other information on a flash card.
*Pass the potato and each child says a number as they receive the potato. Every time you get to a multiple of ten, that child is out.

*After you’ve read an informative book ask the child holding the potato to tell you one new thing they learned.

Whisper and Release
When you ask a question have the students hold up their palm and “whisper” the answer in it before closing their fingers and making a fist. When the teacher says, “Release!” students open their palm and say the answer.


Friday, August 9, 2019


Children can learn how to edit their work with this “handy” idea.

(Make a fist with your right hand to begin.)

     1. If you started your sentence with a capital letter you can stick up your thumb.

     2. If you read the sentence and it makes sense you can stick up your index finger.

     3. If you remembered to put punctuation at the end you can stick up your pinky finger.

     4. Then you can say, “I love my sentence.” (Turn your fist over and you will be making sign language for “love.”)

The Writing Process
Motivate children to write by having them stand and echo this chant.  Spread your arms wide as you clap and step from side to side to the beat.


Who knows the writing process?
     Who knows the writing process?
I know the writing process.
I know the writing process.

First step. (Hold up one finger.)
     First step.
Brainstorm. (Hands on the side of your head and shake down.)


Second step.  (Hold up 2 fingers.)
     Second step.
Write it down.  (Pretend to write with index finger on palm.)
     Write it down.


Third step.  (Hold up 3 fingers.)
     Third step.
Edit your work.  (Shake finger.)
     Edit your work.


Fourth step.  (Hold up 4 fingers.)
     Fourth step.
Publish your work.  (Brush hands together.)
     Publish your work.

Oh, yeah! (Hands on hips with an attitude.)

Thursday, August 8, 2019


Vocabulary words will "stick" in children's brains with these strategies. They're also good for learning a second language.

When introducing new words invite children to dramatize what the words mean. They can dramatize with their faces, hands, or whole bodies.



Children pantomime vocabulary words as classmates try and guess their word.

Sign Language
Learn how to sign vocabulary words by looking at videos online.

Tri-fold a sheet of paper to make a brochure. Children write the word on the top section, the definition in the middle, and illustrate it or write a sentence in the bottom section.


Antonym Actions
Let children act out words that are opposite what the teacher says. For example:
     Teacher says “hot.”
     Children respond by shivering.
     Teacher says “loud.”
     Children respond by being quiet.

Call out synonyms for the students to interpret. For example:

     Happy – delighted – joyful - gay - pleased

     Angry – mad – furious
     Sleepy – tired – fatigued