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Tuesday, May 24, 2022


What better place to do REAL writing about REAL experiences than out on the playground!

Cut 5" off the top of lunch bags. Give children scrap paper and markers to decorate like a camera. (Oops! Some of them might not know about cameras any more so you might need to explain that to them!!) Punch holes and tie on string so the camera can be worn around the neck. Cut 4 1/2" squares and place inside the camera. Take children on an nature walk and invite them to take "photos" of things they see. When you return to the classroom ask them to draw their favorite thing on the paper in their camera. Next, ask them to write or dictate a sentence about their "photo."

*Note! Tie this into science themes by having them take "photos" of signs of summer, animal homes, living objects, and so forth.


Opinion - What I Like to Do Outside

Make blank books by folding two sheets of paper in half and stapling the side. Give children the books, something to write on, and inspire them by sitting under a tree on the playground. 

Descriptive – My Senses
Prepare a worksheet with the following:

I see _______. 
I hear _______. 
I smell _______. 
I touch ______. 

Give children a clipboard and encourage them to explore the playground as they fill in the blanks (write or draw pictures). Let children share their findings with classmates and then put their pages together to make a class book.

Narrative - Cartoon

Prepare cartoon frames for children with 3 or 4 sections. Have them use the cartoon frames to illustrate something they have done outside. Demonstrate how to add dialogue bubbles so the characters can talk.

I Wonder Research

Make “thinking pads” for children by cutting paper into fourths and stapling several sheets together. Explain that you will take a “wonder walk” on the school grounds. If they see something they’d like to know more about, they can draw a picture or write it on their thinking pads. Let children share what they recorded when you return to the classroom. Brainstorm how they can find out more about their topic. 
*Let them do “research” with their parents for homework.

Monday, May 23, 2022


The sun is shining so let’s take state standards out on the playground for some counting and cardinality.

Number Hunt

Take lunch sacks and write different numerals on them. Give each child a bag and ask them to make that set and put it in the bag. Let children share what they have found with their friends. Have children return the objects to where they found them.

*This can also be done with a partner or in small groups.

Hint! Whenever collecting things outside remind the children to only pick up items off the ground. You never want to pull leaves or flowers off plants because it might hurt them. 

Children can count trees, fence posts, balls, bushes, and many other items on the playground.
*Have children estimate how many and then verify their guess by counting. 

Exercise and Count
Have children count how many times they can jump rope. How many jumping jacks can they do? How many times can they bounce and catch a ball without dropping it?

Dot to Dot
Take chalk and write numerals 0-20 randomly on a hard play surface. Children start with zero and run, hop, march, or skip to each numeral in order. 

*Adapt the amount to the ability of your students. 

Fill a basket with rocks, pinecones, leaves, or other natural objects. Ask the children to estimate how many there are. Count the objects. Who guessed more? Who guessed less? Who was closest?

Collect 5 or 6 leaves, rocks, sticks or other natural objects. Place a leaf, then a rock, a leaf, then a rock. “What will come next?” Let children make up their own patterns with objects in nature.

Addition & Subtraction
Work out addition and subtraction problems with sticks, leaves, and other natural objects.

Draw basic geometric shapes (square, triangle, rectangle, oval, rhombus, circle) on 6” cardboard squares. Pass out the shapes and challenge the children can find something on the playground with a similar shape.

*Divide children into small groups and let them make shapes with their bodies on the grass.

Give children rulers to measure objects on the playground. “Can you find something 2” long? Can you find something smaller than an inch? What’s longer than 5”? How can you measure the slide?”

*Give children a popsicle stick or piece of string and ask them to find something longer, shorter, the same size, etc.

Position I Spy!
Children use positional words to play “I Spy” on the playground. For example: I spy something beside the slide. I spy something behind the tree. I spy something above the sidewalk. I spy something between the big tree and the fence…

Ask children to collect different items on the playground. (This will vary with the season and your habitat.) Put their objects together in a big pile. Ask the children to sort the objects. What was their sorting rule?

Collect sticks of different lengths and have the children put them in order from smallest to largest.
*They could also seriate leaves, rocks, etc.


Ask each child to find a leaf on the playground. Make a graph and have the children lay their leaf in the appropriate space. Compare quantities.

Sunday, May 22, 2022


Sometimes you just have to think outside the box to make standards more fun!

Reading Tree
Choose a poetry book, storybook, and non-fiction book to read outside under a shady tree. Can the children identify the books?

Reading Buddies
Divide children into pairs and let them each choose a favorite book. Go out on the playground, find a shady spot, and enjoy sharing their books with each other.
*Encourage them to ask each other questions about the books they read.

Alphabet Walk
Write letters on a paved surface with chalk. Challenge the children to step on the letters as they name them. Can they think of something that starts with each sound.

Word Hopscotch
Draw a hopscotch grid on a paved surface. Write high frequency words in each section. Children hop on the spaces as they read the words.

Talking Stick
Choose a stick on the playground and then have the children sit in a circle under a tree. Explain that you will start a story. As you pass the stick around, the child holding the stick can add to the story. Only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk. You might want to start a story about the day a space ship landed on the playground or the day animals started to talk.

Prepositions on the Move
Using playground equipment, call out various prepositions, such as on, off, over, under, by, between, to, from for the children to demonstrate.

We Can Do Opposites

Gather children around playground equipment and tell them you will call out a word. Can they demonstrate the opposite? For example, if the teacher said down, the children would climb up. If the teacher said front, the children would move to the back. Other words could be over, behind, inside, and so forth.

Verb Relays
Divide children into relay teams. The teacher names a verb and the children act out the meaning until everyone on their team has completed the movement. For example, you could have them walk, march, strut, prance, and so forth.
*It's a good way to integrate synonyms!

Saturday, May 21, 2022


Some of you have one or two more days of school, and some of you have a month to go. What ya' gonna do? Party every day!!!!

Sports Day – Enjoy the warm weather with a “Sports Day.” Children can wear t-shirts and hats from their favorite teams. Let them bring sports equipment to share with friends on the playground.

Beach Party – Bring beach towels and wear sunglasses, shorts, and bathing suits. Set up sprinklers or other water activities on the playground. Play beach ball games, beach music, and have a “cool” snack like popsicles.

Book Party – Encourage children to dress up like their favorite book character. Play “Guess Who I Am?” or have children describe why they like a particular character. Let them bring favorite reading material (books, magazines) from home and sit or lay wherever they want for independent reading

Talent Show - One of my favorite memories is of a Talent Show we had at the end of the school year. I just invited all the children to think of a “talent” (song, dance, story, gymnastic stunt) they could do. We sat in a circle and they all got up and performed! We clapped and laughed and cheered!

Pajama Party – Have children wear pajamas and bring pillows and stuffed animals to class. Read books, watch a movie, and eat popcorn.

Career Day – Children come dressed for the career they’d like when they grow up. After sharing with friends, have each child draw a picture (or take a photograph) and make a class book.

Luau – Make grass skirts from draw string garbage bags. Cut straws in 1” pieces and alternate stringing with paper flowers on dental floss to create a lei. Hula, surf, and eat pineapple fruit kabobs for snack.

Toy Day – Children bring a favorite toy from home and share with their friends.

Wash Day – Wear old clothes and bring sponges, pails, and squirt bottles. Let children wash tables, desks, toys, etc. (You could tie this in with a water play day.)

Teddy Bear Parade – Children bring in a teddy bear or stuffed animal and parade around the classroom. Have them write stories and draw pictures of what they like to do with their bear. Have a “tea party” with your bears.

Board Game Day – Let children bring board games from home. Set aside the last hour in the day to share games and play with friends.

Take a Vacation (Instead of "Time Out")
Carrie Tibetts shared this brilliant idea. First, children get to choose a "vacation location." This is any special place they like in the classroom. If a child needs a break they can "take a vacation" and go to their quiet spot.

Thursday, May 19, 2022


It made my heart happy to be back volunteering in the schools in Greenville this spring.  

Here is a picture from one school that is worth a thousand words.  (Do you think any parents pay attention to this????)

I'm always looking for new ideas and these are some of my favorite creations!

Parents and children painted sticks and then they arranged them on a canvas. 

The children glued crayons to a canvas and then heated them with a hot hair dryer.

Can't get enough positive words in a school!

What a beautiful way to make names and letters meaningful!

So true!

This was created with plastic water bottles and was hanging in the entrance hall.
I love all my new Greenville teacher friends!!!


Wednesday, May 18, 2022


Several weeks ago when I visited a school in Greenville I saw this garden and it captured my interest. The principal explained that her son had died and the children and staff painted rocks and created this beautiful memory garden for her.

I was so intrigued by the project that I did a little more research and found this fabulous website:

Click here to visit Kids Gardening

Just think how you could adapt this to an end of year project. The children could paint rocks with their names, kind words, a welcome message, etc. You could even make a letter garden where children choose a letter, sight word, or other skill and paint a rock. 

Hint!  Rocks can also be a bridge to talking about diversity.  Go on a rock hunt and let each child find a rock.  Have the children sit in a circle and take turns describing their rocks and passing them around for other to hold.  How their rocks alike? How are they different?  How are people alike?  How are they different?  Wouldn't it be a boring world if all the rocks and people looked exactly the same?

Here's some background information from

The American Journal of Public Health published a literature review on The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health examining the health benefits of visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing. The Children and Nature Network’s Research Library is full of studies looking at the social and emotional benefits of spending time in nature. What if you combine the two by engaging in creative activities that encourage self-expression in a natural setting?

In an ideal youth garden setting, kids would have the opportunity to help design the garden and select the plants and special features included. However, when there are a large number of kids utilizing a garden (such as at a school or public space), this level of involvement can be challenging due to cost and available space. Educators can turn to simpler crafts using inexpensive or repurposed materials as an alternative for allowing students to help decorate the garden space and make it their own. This lesson lays out ideas for using painted rocks in your garden to allow young gardeners to express themselves, to communicate with each other, and to contribute to the garden in a personal way.

Note!  They stressed the importance of working together to create guidelines so it's a positive experience for everyone.  

*Acrylic paints/pens and sealant were recommended.

Branching Out
Use KidsGardening’s Growing Poems lesson to encourage more ways of using the garden as inspiration for self-expression.

Check out the Kindness in the Garden lesson for more ideas for incorporating kind acts in garden spaces. Additional ideas can be found through the Compassion Flower Project developed in partnership with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022


The best things in life are free -

like these stories, books, and language activities.

Here's a link to download all of the the activity cards for May 13 through May 17:

Use these prompts to encourage talking, reading, and writing with your child.

Lunch Sack Book

Baggie Book

Gift Bag Book

Box Top Book

Letters of Love

Good Book

I Can Read!

Writer’s Briefcase

Story Tapes

Bedtime Ritual