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Thursday, August 11, 2022


Morning meeting (aka circle time) is a special time to celebrate little milestones in children's lives like losing a tooth or getting a new pair of shoes. Here are some songs that we always used to celebrate these events.

Happy Haircut (Tune: "Happy Birthday to You")
Only sing this song if the children like their haircut. We've all had haircuts where we wanted to hide in a sack!

Happy haircut to you.
Happy haircut to you.
You're sure lookin' good!
Happy haircut to you.

New Shoes (Tune: "This Old Man")
When children wear a new pair of shoes to school, let them stand in front
of the room and dance as you sing this song to them. 

Here’s one foot. (Child sticks out one foot.)
Here are two. (Child sticks out other foot.)
Each is wearing a brand, new shoe,
So stand up, turn around, dance around the floor. (Child dances in a circle.)
That’s what these two feet are for. (Point to feet.)

Welcome Back (Tune: "The Bear Went over the Mountain")
If a child has been absent, insert their name in this song when they return to school
to let them know you missed them.

Welcome back child’s name.
Welcome back child’s name.
Welcome back child’s name.
We’re glad you’re here today.

Loose Tooth (Tune: "Turkey in the Straw")
Celebrate when a child loses a tooth by using their name I this tune.

Oh, look in child’s name mouth
And what do you see?
A great, big hole where a tooth used to be.
Well, they wiggled it and jiggled it until it wiggled free.
Now, there’s a window when they smile at me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022


Want to create a classroom community and nurture social emotional skills? Well, I've got a solution that's as old as the hills, but I guarantee you that it's just what is needed in our early childhood classrooms today. Call it circle time, morning meeting, or anything you want, but there's nothing like starting the day sitting on the floor in a circle.

What if someone says that circle time is a waste of time?

How would you respond? Do you really think it’s a waste of time? Most of us who have actually sat in a circle with our children to start the day realize it is MAGIC! It is the way to connect with your children, nurture your classroom family, develop social /emotional skills, and set the stage for the day. Since standards and skills are driving education, take a look at these skills that can be nurtured in a natural way at circle time.

Oral language– Children learn to feel comfortable talking in a group and expressing their thoughts and opinions. They also learn to listen to their classmates and respect their ideas.

Literacy skills– Alphabet songs, phonological awareness activities, choral reading, nursery rhymes, finger plays, daily message, and classroom print can be highlighted at circle time.

Math concepts– Talking about the calendar, counting the friends present, comparing sizes, or discussing shapes can be a meaningful part of circle time.

Executive function– As children learn to sit quietly and participate in a group they are developing self-regulation. There is also a beginning and an end to the routine.

Classroom management– This is a time when the teacher can reinforce simple skills, explain classroom activities, review the daily schedule, and model expectations.

Social skills– Learning to take turns and listen to classmates is expected in circle time. As children sing songs together or say rhymes or finger plays they can have fun with their friends. At this group time you can brainstorm classroom problems – tattling, hurting someone’s feelings, pushing in line, etc.

Emotional skills– In circle time all children can be accepted and valued for their individuality. Feelings that we are all different, but that’s O.K., are of primary focus.

Physical skills– Dances and movement songs release wiggles and oxygenate the brain. Cross-lateral activities activate the brain and get it ready to learn.

Science Social Studies– Talking about the weather, the leaves changing colors, the different ways families celebrate, classroom pets, and real events in the children’s world are meaningful topics at circle time. Specific themes and units of study can also be integrated into this large group time.

Fall in Love with Books
- Circle time can be used for book walks, talks, themes, and bibliotherapy.


Balance – Integrate activities where children sit and then let them stand and wiggle. Sometimes they need to be quiet and listen, and sometimes they can be encouraged to talk.

Hands-on– Try to provide multi-sensory experiences to activate different pathways to the brain. Finger plays, movement songs, handshakes, and real objects will engage children more than watching a video.

Vary the stimulus– Yes, you want to have a basic routine to give children security and help them feel comfortable, but you need a little spark each day to keep them focused and curious.

Model, Model, Model! Children learn more from your actions than your words. Model sitting quietly, listening attentively when a child is talking, being enthusiastic with your facial expressions, and making the motions for the songs and finger plays.

Quit while you are ahead! Don’t make circle time too long! Start with 10-15 minutes and then extend it as the year goes along. They will let you know by their body language when they’ve had enough!

Follow a basic routine.

Good Morning Song
Morning Message/Review Schedule
Calendar and Weather
Pledge, Rules & Mantra
Active - Skill Songs
Concept Lesson – Theme

You might also want to highlight a different area of the curriculum each day of the week.

Marvelous Monday– Teach a new nursery rhyme or finger play. Practice it each day at circle time.

Terrific Tuesday– What’s in the news? Introduce social studies concepts of interest to the children. Discuss friendship and showing kindness. Brainstorm what to do about classroom behavior issues.

Wonderful Wednesday– Focus on oral language with show and tell, echo chants, and phonological awareness games.

Thrilling Thursday– There’s always something interesting outside your classroom door that your children will be interested in. Each season brings new experiences and objects to observe.

Fabulous Friday– Just for fun! Play a silly game, have a dress up day (silly socks, shirt of favorite sports team, etc.), be DJ and play favorite songs, etc.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022


Is, “Shhhhhh!” not working? Well, here are a few tricks for you to try!

Hocus Pocus 
Teacher says:  
“Hocus Pocus!” (Stick out index finger and circle around like a magic wand.) 
Children respond:  
“Everybody focus!” (Children make circles with fingers and thumbs and place 
around eyes like spectacles.) 

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.”) 

Student Heroes
5-4-3-2-1-zero (Hold up hand and put down one finger at a time.)
I’m looking for my (Make circles with index fingers and thumbs and
student heroes. place around eyes like glasses.)
*Call the names of children who are sitting quietly.

Special Signals
Blow bubbles. Challenge children to look at you and be quiet before all the bubbles pop.

Open a music box. When children hear the music they should freeze.

Blink the lights, play a xylophone, or make some other unique noise or motion.

Magic Clap
Explain to the children that you have a magic signal that only your class will know about. Every time you clap your hands, you want them to repeat the clap and look at you. Practice clapping various patterns until all the children have joined in..

If You Can Hear My Voice
In a normal voice say:
If you can hear my voice, clap your hands one time.
In a softer voice say:
If you can hear my voice, clap your hands two times.
In a whisper voice say:
If you can hear my voice, please look at me.
Continue lowering your voice until children are focused on you.

Criss Cross
Criss cross, (Sit on floor and cross legs.)
Be your own boss. (Fold your arms and nod head.)

Give Me a Clap
(Tune: “Addams Family”)
Give me a clap. (Clap twice.) Give me a clap. (Clap twice.)
Give me a clap, give me a clap,
Give me a clap. (Clap twice.)
Give me a snap. (Snap twice.) Give me a snap. (Snap twice.)
Now fold your hands and put them down
Into your lap. (Model putting your hands in your lap.)

Thumbs Up
Thumbs up, across the chest.
Pat on the back because you’re the best!

How Does My Teacher Feel About Me?
Teacher says: “How does my teacher feel about me?”
Children respond: “I’m as special as special can be because my teacher believes in me!” 

Simon Says
Begin a game of Simon Says:
Simon says clap three times.
Simon says put your hands in the air.
Simon says touch your ears.
Simon says blink your eyes, etc.
As children join in the game lower your voice as you say:
Simon says put your hands in your lap and
listen to me…line up at the door…get out your
math books, etc.

Hands on Top
Teacher says: Hands on top. (Place hands on head.)

Students respond: Everybody stop. (Place hands on head and freeze.)  

Monday, August 8, 2022



What? jumbo craft sticks, two copies of visuals, glue, cup

How? To make the pops double-sided, print two copies of each visual and attach them to craft sticks.

Hint! Add a check mark to the backside so you can reveal it to the students when each task is completed.

When? Each day choose the pops you'll be using and place them in an organized pile. Go through the file and explain the day's schedule and expectations. When starting a new activity, hold up the schedule pop to the screen to visually represent a transition to the next activity.

*Hold up sticks during your teaching to cue students to attend to what you are doing.

Here's your free download:

The Texas Autism Circuit ( has created FREE tools and techniques for students on the autism spectrum, but I guarantee you that these would be useful in any classroom. They explain how and when to use the tools and give you printable templates and resources.

*Behavior cue cards to reinforce verbal directions or quietly redirect a student. Wouldn't these work online or in person?

First/then cards to use as a visual support for transitions.

Take a break card for when students might need a break or if they seem frustrated.

But wait, there’s more!!!

You’ll find ideas for collecting data,


helping children with time management,


and other social skills!


Sunday, August 7, 2022


I don't have a toolbox that will fix all your problems this school year, but I do have a few tools and tips that might help.

Flashlight Spotlight
Take a flashlight and shine it on a child who is modeling the behavior you are looking for. “Spotlight on (child’s name). He’s got his math book and he’s ready to learn.”

Happy Chappy
You will need some lip balm with a fragrance. Gently rub children’s right hand with a “happy chappy” when they are following directions.

You Knock My Socks Off!
You will need an old pair of socks, a stick, and a piece of string 18” long for this project. Tie a sock to each end of the string. Tie the middle of the string to the stick. When children do something outstanding, take the stick and wave it in the air as you say, “You knock my socks off!”

Mr. Good for You!
A cloth glove, markers, fiberfill, and pipe cleaner are all you need to make a “good for you hand.” First, draw a happy face on one side of the glove with the markers. Fill the glove tightly with fiberfill or another stuffing. Gather the bottom of the glove and secure with a pipe cleaner. Children get “Mr. Good for You” and pat themselves on the back when they accomplish a new task.

Magic Lotion
Take an empty pump dispenser of hand lotion and remove the label. Make a new label for the lotion that says, “Mr./Mrs. (your name)’s Magic Lotion” and tape it to the bottle. When children are upset, frustrated, get a boo boo, or have hurt feelings, give them a “squirt” of magic lotion.

Brain Toys
Fill a shoebox or basket with knotted socks or stress balls. Suggest children get a brain toy when they can’t keep their hands to themselves.

Peace Flower
When two children have a disagreement let them hold the flower with both hands as they look at each other. When they have resolved their conflict they can hug and to back and play.

Awesome Sauce(Marilyn Borden)
Get a pump dispenser of lotion and make a new label that says “Awesome Sauce.” When kids do something great give them a squirt!

I’m Done Jar (Deb Rocco)
Put pictures of activities that children can do if they finish their work (puzzle, etch-a-sketch, easel) on sticks. Place these in a jar that says “I’m Done.” When children finish their work they can choose a stick and do that activity.

Saturday, August 6, 2022


As I was going through some old files I came across a handout titled “Top Ten Secrets of Classroom Management.” Although it was written years ago, I believe the points are as timely as ever. It was a reminder once again that GOOD TEACHING IS GOOD TEACHING! I hope you’ll find at least one or two tips that will ring clear for you this new school year.

1. Be firm, fair, and consistent. (I actually learned this in my first education class. It’s one of those things that sounds simple, but it’s not always easy.)

*Keep cool, calm, and use a quiet voice. (As you lower your voice and breath slowly you will “pull” them in.)

2. Follow a daily schedule.

*Start each day in a happy way. (Of course, a Dr. Jean silly song always works.)


*Use routines and rituals. (My handshakes, attention grabbers, and cheers are what I’m talking about.)

3. Communicate clearly and concisely. (Say what you mean and mean what you say.)

*Use your body language, facial expression, and tone of voice. (Develop your own “look” that means “get it together now!”)

*Use sign language.

4. Have classroom rules that are few, simple, and affirmative. (Let’s hear it for the “Rules Rap.”)


*Be specific about what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. (You may do this, but you may not do that!)

5. Use positive guidance techniques.

*Redirect. (Give them something positive to do to replace the negative behavior.)

*Natural consequences. (You hurt Juan’s feelings. How can you make him feel better?)

*Discipline in private. (I found it worked best to pull a child quietly aside, hold their hands, look in their eyes, and talk to them about what they needed to do.)

6. Prevent problems whenever possible.

*Divide and conquer. (Separate those trouble makers!)

*Problem solve with the children. (Talk to them when there is a classroom issue. Get their input into how to improve the situation.)

*Observe and document. (Children tell us things by their behavior. Do they argue over a classroom object? Are they fidgety before math? How can you manipulate the environment and schedule to alleviate the issue?)

7. Use a variety of teaching strategies and grouping techniques. (Another timeless tip I learned my first year in college was to vary the instructional strategies. You can’t do the same thing over and over.)

*Large group.
*Small group.

8. Provide children with opportunities to vent energy.

*Brain breaks. (This is nothing new. Children have always needed to wiggle. And teachers need to wiggle, too!)

*Sing and dance. (I’ve got lots of free videos to help you.)


*Talking recess. (Let them have a babble break and just walk around the room and chit-chat with their friends for a few minutes.)

9. Only do what only you can do!
(Don’t wear yourself out doing menial tasks.)

*Encourage children to accept responsibility.

*Be a model for them. (They won’t know how to wash the tables or put away materials if you don’t demonstrate first.)

*Set high expectations. (It’s amazing what little children can do if you expect it.)

10.Keep a bag of tricks up your sleeve….and that’s what I’ll share with you today! Come back tomorrow for some of those tricks!

Friday, August 5, 2022


These are some simple books that you can make to create interest in reading and nurture your classroom community.

I Like to Come to School
(Tune: "The Farmer in the Dell")
I like to come to school.
I like to come to school.
I like to learn and play each day
I like to come to school.

I like to make new friends…
I like to read and write…
I like to do math…
I like to sing and draw…/

*Ask children other things they like about school and insert their suggestions in the song.
*Write children’s suggestions on sentence strips and use in a pocket chart.

*Make a class book where each child draws a picture about wh
at they like best at school. They can dictate or write a sentence to go with their drawings. Read the book several times to the class and then allow children to “check it out” and take it home.

Glue each child's photo on a sheet of paper and write “Hello, (child’s name).” at the top. Punch holes in the pages and put them together with book rings. (If you bind the book on the bottom it will be easy to turn the pages as you hold it in your lap.)

Use the book in the following ways:

* Circle or Group Time: Start your day by reading the book together and saying hello to each other.

* Questions: Use the book when you want to ask the class questions. Randomly turn to a page and call on that child to answer the question. This will allow “thinking time” and discourage children from shouting out the answer.

* Transitions: Use this book to dismiss children for learning centers, to line up, and other transitions. Flip through the book and hold up different pictures. As the children see their photo, they may be dismissed, line up, and so on.

* Sing and read this book to the tune of “Good Night, Ladies.”
Hello, (child’s name).
Hello, (child’s name).
Hello, (child’s name).
We're glad you're in our room.

Who Do You See?
We all know wonderful Bill Martin’s “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” Your children will love saying and “reading” this version with you. Put each child’s photo on a page with this chant at the top:

(Child’s name), (child’s name), who do you see?
On the bottom of the page write:
I see (second child’s) name looking at me.
On the last add the teacher’s photo with this rhyme:
Children, children, who do you see?
I see (teacher’s name) looking at me.
(Teacher’s name), (teacher’s name), who do you see?
I see happy children ready to learn with me!

*Make two copies of this book so one child can take it home each day to share with their families.

*Introduce children to school helpers with a similar book with the principal, secretary, custodian, nurse, PE teacher, music teacher, and other specialists.

*Carolyn Kisloski takes a picture of the children's shoes to make this book..."Whose shoes do you see?"

The Name of My School

Do you get tired of children saying, “Teacher, teacher!” the first few days of school. This song will enable them to learn the name of their teacher, school, principal, as well as their community, city, state, and country. Take photographs of yourself, the principal, the school, your community, and so forth. Glue pictures to construction paper and write a verse similar to those below on each page. Sing the words to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”


The name of my school is (school’s name),
school’s name), (school’s name).
The name of my school is (school’s name).
That’s the name of my school.
The name of my teacher is (teacher’s name), (teacher’s name),
(teacher’s name)…

The name of my principal is…
The name of my librarian is…
The name of my P.E. teacher is…

Hint! Make a similar book for social studies concepts.
The name of my city is...
The name of my state is...
The name of my country is...
The name of my continent is...
The name of my planet is...
Hint! You could also include the name of your mayor, governor, President, etc.

Need a smile for the first week of school?  Check out this video that my webmaster Alex May created.

How do bees get to school?
By school buzz.

How do fish get to school?
By octobus.

What do gorillas learn in school?
Their Ape, B, Cs. 

What does a snake study in school?
Hisss - tory

Why did the music teacher need a ladder?
To reach the high notes.

What kind of school do you go to if you’re a surfer?
A boarding school.