Thursday, October 18, 2018


Let's have some learning fun with seasonal words.  You can use these for October, autumn, Halloween, or any season or holiday throughout the year.

Mixed Up Words
Take vocabulary words, Halloween words, or spelling words and mix up the letters. Challenge children to figure out the words and then try to write them correctly on their paper.
Hint! Colored pencils or smelly markers make this so much more fun.

Word Makers 
Give children a seasonal word or vocabulary word. How many other words can they make using the letters in that word? (This might be a good activity for children to do with a partner or in a small group.)

Pumpkin Head 
This game is similar to “Wheel of Fortune.” The teacher thinks of a word and makes blanks on the board for the number of letters. As children call out 
letters, the teacher writes them on the appropriate blanks. If a child calls out a letter 
that is not in the word the teacher draws a pumpkin on the board. For each letter 
that is not in the word the teacher adds features (stem, eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) to the 
pumpkin. The children try to identify the word before the pumpkin head is completed. 

*Keep a “bone pile” in the corner where you write letters that are not in the word. 


Picture Words
Challenge children to write words in a way that reflects their meaning. For example, write “spooky” in shaky letters, “fall” in letters that go down, “colorful” with many colors, “candy” decorated with sprinkles, etc.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018



Here are some multi-sensory ways to put vocabulary, sight words, and spelling words in the brain.  Purposeful practice for automaticity (aka repetition) is essential to skill mastery, and these chants and dances will be more fun than drill and kill.  They're also the perfect brain break where children can learn as they move.

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.”

Your Turn – Let children come up with their own creative ways to practice spelling words.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


October 16th is Dictionary Day because it's Noah Webster's birthday.  However, any day would be a great day to let your kids make their own "personal dictionaries."  OWNING their own dictionary would be a meaningful way to reinforce vocabulary, sight words, and spelling words.

Materials: pocket folder, prepared pages with alphabet letters, markers

*Here’s a link where you can download the pages with letters:

Directions: Ask students to tell you what they know about dictionaries. Brainstorm the many uses of dictionaries. Model looking up words and reading definitions. Explain that each of them will get to create their own dictionary that they can use to help them the rest of the school year. First, let the children decorate the outside of their pocket folder. Insert the alphabet pages. As you add new words to the word wall or have new spelling words, ask the children to write them in their dictionary. Encourage students to use their dictionaries when they write independently.

Hint! You might want to go ahead and type your core sight words on the pages before running them off.

Here are some other activities you can play with their dictionaries. 

*Play “mystery word” where you give clues about words. 
 Can you find a word that starts with /m/ and ends with /d/? 
 Can you find a word that is the opposite of “fast”? 

*Play the “rhyme” game. 
 Can you find a word that rhymes with “bike”? 
 Can you find a word that rhymes with “log” and is a pet? 

*How many one letter words can you find? How many two letter words? Three letter words? 

*Ask children to clap out the syllables in words. 

*Can they match up words in their dictionaries with words in the classroom? 

*Sort words that refer to people, things we do, describing words, etc. 

*Have children find a word that starts with each letter in their name. 

*Have children make up sentences (oral or written) with the words. 

*Ask children to illustrate words or find magazine pictures that match the words.

*Demonstrate how to use the dictionary on the internet.  How is it like their dictionary?  How is it different?

Add a separate page each month with seasonal and holiday words children might want to use in their stories and journals.

Monday, October 15, 2018


Research highlights the relationship between vocabulary and comprehension as children progress in school. Research also suggests that systematic and direct instruction can increase children’s vocabulary.  Let's see how we can PUT THOSE WORDS IN THE BRAIN!

Have a class puppet that gives a password every day. For attendance, the children say the password instead of “here.” Use this chant to introduce the password:

     Liberty, Liberty (or whatever your puppet is named),
     Oh, what do you say?
     What is the password for today?

Say, Spell, Sign
Look at the dictionary on to learn how to sign vocabulary words.

     1. Children say the password.
     2. Children fingerspell the password.

     3. Children sign the password. 

Write the vocabulary word on an index card and tape it to a visor. One child is selected to be the “supervisor” of the day and wear the visor. The “supervisor” stands at the door every time you leave and classmates must say the word before they can exit.

Name Badge
Put the word in a name badge and wear it (or let a student wear it) all day.
When the teacher says:
     “Right now! Right now! Right now! Right now!
     Whisper the password out right now.”

Children say the word.
Children then find a partner and use the word in a sentence.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


Sometimes I think we put the cart before the horse.  What am I talking about?  Well, we start letter writing before children even know what "curve," "line," " horizontal," or "vertical" mean.  Here are some basic terms children need to be familiar with.

What’s a line? What’s a curve? 
Start by finding out what children know about lines and curves. Let them take turns drawing lines and curves on the board. Can they walk around the room and touch a line? Can they touch a curve? As you walk down the hall have them silently point to lines and curves. Can they find lines and curves in nature on the playground?

Play Dough
Draw lines and curves with a permanent marker on placemats or plastic plates. Let children roll the dough and place it on top of the lines and curves.


Letter Sort 
What letters are made from lines? Curves? Lines and curves? Let children sort magnetic letters on the board or for a center activity.


I love this song that two teachers taught me several years ago.

Horizontal, Vertical (Carrie O’Bara and Terri Miller)
(Tune: “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
Horizontal, horizontal,
(Forearms held up horizontally in front of chest.)
Vertical, vertical.
(Forearms bent at elbows to form right angles.)
Horizontal, horizontal,
Vertical, vertical.

Then diagonal, then diagonal.
(Right arm slants in front and then left.)
Add a curve. Add a curve.
(Make a “c” with right hand and then left.)
Then diagonal, then diagonal.
Add a curve. Add a curve.

Harry Horizontal and Venny Vertical
Children will never forget horizontal and vertical with these friends!


Practice Books 
This is a super idea to help children learn to track from left to right and practice pre-writing strokes. Lay 4 sheets of paper on top of each other and staple four times along the left side. Cut horizontal lines to make four skinny books. Children practice drawing horizontal lines, vertical lines, curves, and diagonal lines on each page.

Prepare sheets of paper ahead of time with random curves and lines made with a black marker. Children choose a sheet of paper and try and create a design or object from the lines and curves on their page. *Encourage them to fill in the whole page.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


O.K.  So you've got enough ideas for Halloween!  Just let me tell you some jokes, riddles, and knock-knocks today and I'll move on.  

Jokes and riddles are a delightful way to develop children’s sense of humor as well as language standards (Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases…).  You might want to choose one joke each day and write it on the board.  Invite the children to read it with you.  Ask children who "get it" to “think out loud” and explain their interpretation to classmates. This will enable children who “don’t get it” to scaffold to a higher level.

P.S.  I just love these jokes because they are so CLEAN!

What kind of bats fly around the school at night?

What do ghosts put on their cereal in the morning?
“Boo” berries and “boo”nanas.

What do you get when you take the inside out of a hotdog?
A “hollow” weenie.

What are the birds giving out for Halloween this year?

Why was the baby ghost sad?
He wanted his “mummy.”
What did the boy ghost say to the girl ghost?
You sure are “boo” tiful!

How do you make a witch itch?
You take away the W.

What pants do ghosts wear?
BOO jeans.

What do ghosts serve for dessert?
I scream!

What did one jack-o-lantern say to the other jack-o-lantern
on their way to the party?
Let’s get “glowing”!

Why do witches fly around on broomsticks?
Because their vacuum cleaners are too heavy.

What did the little ghost say to his mom?
“I’ve got a boo boo!”

How do you make a skeleton laugh?
Tickle it’s funny bone.
Why did the vampires cancel their baseball game?
Because they couldn’t find their bats.

Where do baby ghosts go during the day?
DaySCARE centers.

Who did Frankenstein take to the party?
His ghoul friend.
How do you mend a broken jack-o-lantern?
With a pumpkin patch.

What’s a ghost’s favorite party game?
Hide and go shriek!
What do baby ghosts wear on their feet?


Knock knock! 

Who's there?
Orange who?

Orange you glad it's Halloween?

Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Olive who?
Olive Halloween!

Knock knock!
Who's there?


Boo who? 

I didn’t mean to make you cry.
Knock knock! 

Who's there?

Frank who?

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Wanda who?
Wanda go for a ride on my broomstick?
Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Phillip who?
Phillip my bag with candy.

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Ben who?
Ben waiting for Halloween all year.

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Who who?
Are you an owl?

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Lettuce who?
Lettuce have some candy, please.
Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Justin who?
Just in time for Halloween!

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad you visited my blog today?

Friday, October 12, 2018


Here's my new video called "Cooking Up Some Witches' Stew."  
It will be such fun with your class, personal children, or any goblins you might know!

My students loved to say this rhyme and giggle when the witch tore her britches! (I don't know why that was so silly to them, but it was.)

3 Little Witches
(Tune: “Ten Little Indians”)
One little, two little, three little witches. (Hold up 3 fingers.)
Flying over haystacks, flying over ditches. (Fly fingers in the air.)
Slid down the moon and tore their britches! (Touch pants and then cover eyes.)
Hi, ho, Halloween’s here! (Clap hands.)

Choose three children to be witches and act out the song. Make brooms by rolling up several sheets of newspaper. Tape. Cut down 8” from one end and fluff.

Stirring Our Brew
Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew… (Pretend to stir.)
Wooooooo! Woooooo! (Cup hands by mouth.)
Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew… (Stir.)
Wooooooo! Wooooo! (Cup hands by mouth.)
Tip-toe. Tip-toe. BOO! (Pretend to tip-toe.)

Witch’s Stew 
How about a little witch’s stew for snack. You will need 5 lunch sacks, 1 large bowl, Cheerios, pretzel sticks, fish crackers, raisins, M & M’s, ice cream cones. Write “frog eyes” on one sack and fill with Cheerios. Write “salted bones” on the second sack and fill with pretzel sticks. Write “dead fish” on the third sack and fill with fish crackers. Write “toad eyes” on the fourth sack and fill with raisins. Write “lizard gizzards” on the fifth sack and fill with M&M’s. Place the large bowl on the floor and make up a story about collecting all the items for your witch’s stew. One at a time let children come up and dump the contents in the bowl. Stir with a spoon as you sing the above song. Serve in ice cream cones. (Hint! You can substitute peanuts, miniature marshmallows, or other snack foods for any of the ingredients.)

Handprint Art 
Trace around children’s hands and feet on white paper. Glue to black construction paper and let children add details.

Ghost Busters
Cut ghost shapes out of white paper. Write letters, numerals, words, or whatever skill you want to reinforce on the ghosts. Staple ghosts to a bulletin board and let the children identify the information as they swat the ghosts with a fly swatter.
*You can make a similar game from a file folder. Glue a hand to a craft stick and use to swat the ghosts.

Scary Things
Halloween is a good time to talk about things that are real and things that are pretend. It’s also helpful to talk about things that scare us. I always talk about things that scare me, and that usually encourages the children to open up and talk about things that scare them. Everybody’s afraid of something, and that’s O.K. Make a class book called “Scary Things” where each child draws their fears and dictates or writes a story about them.