Friday, December 14, 2018


It’s getting close to winter break! I wonder if the children know that you are even more excited than they are! Here are some math activities to keep them engaged over the next few days.

Magic Number 
Children stand in a circle and begin counting off. When you get to 25 (Christmas Day) that child must sit down. Continue counting until one child is left.

Mingle Jingle
Children tiptoe quietly around the room as they whisper, "Jingle, jingle." When the teacher calls out a number, they must form groups with that amount. Those students who are leftover can do a jumping jack or other silly movement. Continue having the children mingle and jingle and form different sets.


Materials: advertisements from toy stores, grocery stores, or discount stores, paper, pencils, scissors, glue

Write questions similar to those below on a chart. Children fold a sheet of paper into fourths and then write a number in each section. Then they look through the advertisements and cut out an object that answers each question.
1. What costs less than $10.00?
2. What costs more than $100.00?

3. If you had $20 what would you buy for your family?

4. What would you like to buy for yourself? How much does it cost?

5. Draw a T-chart on the back.  On one side write "wants" and on the other side write "needs." Children cut out pictures (or write words) for things they actually need and things they'd like to have.

Seasonal Shapes
Take a walk around the school and look for different shapes in seasonal objects. Can they find a circle? Triangle? Rectangle? Square? Cube? Cone? Sphere?
*Let them make a shape collage by cutting objects out of advertisements and catalogs.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


All I want for Christmas is for parents to give their children board games!   I wonder if parents realize all the benefits of playing games WITH their children.  

Hint!  Put this information in a newsletter, blog, tweet, etc.

The most important reason to play games with children is because it’s enjoyable and fun for everyone in the family. Research studies also suggest that when children play games they develop academic as well as social and emotional skills, such as:

*number concepts, counting, shapes
*colors, letters, words
*eye-hand coordination and small motor skills
*visual memory
*following rules
*taking turns
*self-regulation - controlling impulses
*improved attention span
*planning ahead and problem solving
*persistence – never give up

Winners and Losers
One additional reason I like games is because it teaches the children how to lose gracefully. Yes, learning to lose is something all children need to learn how to do. Model appropriate behavior and how to lose. Demonstrate how to open your palms and say, “Oh, well!” when something doesn’t go your way.

Helpful Hints!
Follow the child’s lead. Never force children to complete a game or play a game. Remember, it’s suppose to be FUN! It’s perfectly fine to adapt games and rules for younger children to keep their interest. As they get older they will be ready to “play fair” and follow the rules.

Choosing Games
How do you choose games just right for a child's age and stage? Games that are too difficult will frustrate children, and games that are too easy will lose their interest. Most games have a suggested age range on the box. The internet is full of suggestions, but talking to other parents with children your child's age might be the best resource.

Game Day Is Coming
January and February can always be challenging times for teachers. Why not plan a “game day” every Friday afternoon? Invite children to bring games from home. Divide children into groups of 4 and rotate them through 10-15 minutes of each game. Have parent volunteers or upper grade students help monitor the games.

It’s only a game, but it’s a WIN-WIN at home or at school!  

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Several weeks ago I suggested using a handshake to say good-bye to your students at the end of the day. Elizabeth Hofmaster shared this sweet song that she sings to her children as they leave. It reminds me that for some child this might be the "sweetest" thing they hear all day!

If You Know Your Teacher Loves You (Tune: "If You're Happy and You Know It")
If you know your teacher loves you blow her a kiss.
If you know your teacher loves you blow her a kiss.
If you know your teacher loves you and she really likes to hug you...
If you know your teacher loves you blow her a kiss.

Punctuation Detectives (Michelle Landers, Nixa MO)
When children work on their little take home reading books they have to be “punctuation detectives” and highlight punctuation marks.
Period – circle red – red means STOP reading.
Comma – circle green – green means take a breath and keep on reading.
Exclamation point – circle orange – orange means be excited!!!
Question mark – circle purple – purple means be curious.
Capital letters – underline blue – blue means the letter is a capital because it’s the beginning of a sentence or has an important name.

Spotlight on Reading(Vickie Spencer, Butler Elementary)
Use this idea to line up and learn. Turn the lights off and then pass a flashlight to one child. That child shines the flashlight on a word and reads it. She then passes the flashlight to another friend. Children continue reading a word and passing the flashlight to a friend until all have read a word and lined up.

Rhyming Chant (Tina Ponzi)
(Slap knees and clap hands to get the rhythm.)
When I say bat, you say cat.
Bat – cat
Bat – cat

*You can also use this chant for opposites.
When I say hot, you say cold.
Hot – cold
Hot – cold

Hundreds Club (Bobbi Cure)
When a child counts to 100 they get their name under “Count to 100 by 1’s.”
When a child counts to 100 by 10’s they get their name under “Count to 100 by 10’s.”
When they count to 100 by 5’s they get their name under “Count to 100 by 5’s.”
When they can write to 100 by 1’s they get their name under “Write to 100 by 1’s.”
When all four are accomplished, they get a crown that says “100’s Club."


Tuesday, December 11, 2018


U S A (Starlett Phillingane - Tune: “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)
Our country is the U – S – A,
U – S – A, U – S – A.
Our country is the U – S – A
United States of America!

State Song (Jodie Slusher -Tune: “Farmer in the Dell”)
Virginia is our state.
Virginia is our state.
Richmond is our capitol.
Virginia is our state.

*Insert your state and capitol.

Foam Hands(Cheri Rummens, Mansfield Preschool)
Cut hands out of foam and write “left” and “right” on them before taping them above the calendar and flag. Remind the children to look and see which hand they should place on their heart before they do the pledge. 

The Word on the Bus (Laura Gerlach)
Draw the outline of a bus and place flashcards on the bus as you sing:
The word on the bus is was, was, was.
The word on the bus is was.
That’s the word on the bus.

Hugs and Bubbles (Jo Ann Hittle)
Before going in the hall remind children to give themselves a hug (cross arms over body) and put bubbles (puff out cheeks) in their mouths.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Make a "schema" and put these ideas in your head.

Schema (Anne Evans)
Show students the symbol for join/connect in sign language. (Hook two index fingers together.)
Students put one hand on their head for what’s in their head.
They hold out the other hand for what’s in the book.
Join the fingers together to connect what’s in their head and what’s in the book to make a schema.

Let’s Look Important! (Diane Ringer)
Use this idea instead of criss cross applesauce.
Would you like to know how to look important? Put your right hand over your heart like this. (Demonstrate)
Put your left hand across your chest and fold your arms like this. (Demonstrate)
Lift up your chin and smile importantly. Now look at all my important people!

Song Requests (Heather Cline)
Make a box for song requests. Children write their favorite song on a sheet of paper and put it in the box. Pull requests each morning and sing.

End of Day Chant (Linda Wood)
Sit in a circle criss cross applesauce and start the chant with this rhythm:
Slap knees two times
Clap two times
Snap two times
Clap two times
     “Linda, Linda, what do you say?
     What did you like at school today?”
The child has to tell what they liked best that day. It’s a good way to remember what they learned as you reinforce oral language.

Diagraphs (Heidi Brunner)
Teach children these gestures to help them remember the sounds of “th”, “sh,” and “ch.”
“TH” – Stick your tongue out. “SH” – Hold your finger next to your lips like you are going to tell someone to be quiet. “CH” – Put one hand down flat and use the other hand to pretend to chop something.

*Sing the blends to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”
The T and H say /th/ /th/ /th/…all the time.

Sunday, December 9, 2018


Have you ever heard one of your students say, "I don't want to do this?"  I love what Barbara Brown (a fabulous kindergarten teacher in Orlando) told me. She said when her students say, “I don’t want to do this!” she responds, “I don’t want to do it either, so let’s just get it done and then we can do something fun.”

There’s an important life lesson here. We all have to do things we don’t want to do. The best thing is just to do it and then you can focus on the things you want to do!  (Get those assessments and reports DONE and then shut your door and sing and dance!)

Happie Sticks
Happie sticks can be a motivation for your students when they finish their work early.  Write special activities on craft sticks and store them in a cup or can on your desk.  Children get to choose one activity at a time, complete it, and then they can choose another stick.  Here are some examples:

     make a book
     play a computer game
     do a job for your teacher
     play a board game
     make something in the art center
     draw on the board
     read a book
     help a friend
     make something with play dough

You Get What You Get
Here is a song to sing when children complain about not getting the item that they want. It goes to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”

     You get what you get.
     You get what you get.
     Just like in the gum machine,
     You get what you get.

Saturday, December 8, 2018


I've got a great gift idea that you can give your students this year. Best of all, it's FREE!!

Look at the list below and choose five or ten that you think your students would enjoy. Run them off and make a "2019 Gift Card Book." Pass them out the last day before vacation and you'll have children smiling and "planning and plotting" how they are going to use their gift cards when they return to school in 2019. 

*Adapt these to the age and interest of your students.  A four year old might be thrilled to choose the book for story time, but a first grader might prefer being excused from a written assignment.

Chew sugar free gum.

Use the teacher’s stamps, pens, or markers.

15 minutes of free time.

Help the teacher do a special job.

Decorate the bulletin board or door.

Sit at the teacher’s desk.

Take off your shoes.

Listen to an IPod or headset while you work.

Take a class game or book home for the night.

Choose a song and lead the class.

Eat lunch with your teacher or a special friend.

Be excused from a homework assignment.

Choose an indoor game to play.

Select the book for story time.

Sit by a favorite person all day.

Choose a board game and play it with a friend.

Hand out supplies.

Be leader of a class game.

Be excused from a written assignment.

Play games on the computer for 10 minutes.

Visit another class in the school.

Work with a friend.

Be first in line for lunch

Be a helper in the office, lunchroom, or in another classroom.

Read a story to the principal or another class.

Have the teacher call your parents to tell them what a great kid you are!

Take a note to the principal about what a great kid you are.

Make something at the art center.

Have your work displayed in the hall or on the classroom door.

One special wish!