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Saturday, December 31, 2011


Thinking about that ham you’re going to cook for New Year’s Day?  I thought this story might be appropriate as you think about 2012.

Once there was a newly married couple.  The bride decided to cook her husband a ham.  She cut off the front of the ham and the back of the ham.  Then she put the ham in the pan and put it in the oven.  Her new husband asked, “Why did you cut off the front of the ham and the back of the ham before you put it in the pan?”  She replied, “Well, my mother always did it that way.”

The husband went to his mother-in-law and asked, “Why do you always cut off the front of the ham and the back of the ham before you put it in the pan?”  She replied, “Well, my mother always did it that way.”

The husband went to the grandmother and asked, “Why do you always cut off the front of the ham and the back of the ham before you put it in the pan?”  She replied with a smile, “My pan was always too small.”

A similar practice often underlies what we do as educators.  We don’t know why we do things –we just do them because we’ve always done them that way.  Thinking about WHY you do certain things each day and HOW you might improve instructional techniques is a challenge that makes our job more exciting.
Remember!  If you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got!

Friday, December 30, 2011


For those of you who haven’t been to my July, 2012, website yet to find out what the PARENT POWER PAK is all about, this is a perfect time to take a peek.  Research continues to reinforce the importance of involving families in their child’s education.  So I’ve got an activity calendar and reading calendar you can download each month to share with your families.  It’s FREE, simple, and can provide a meaningful way to engage parents with their children.  Talk about a super resolution for 2012!

I’ve also rewritten the introductory letter to parents:

Dear Families,

I’m excited about starting the New Year, and I’ve got some great ideas to make this the best year ever for my children and their families!  You’ve heard it before, and I’ll say it again. YOU are your child’s first and most important teacher! Children today need the same things they have always needed. They need caring adults to talk to them, sing to them, read to them, play with them, and LOVE them. And the good news is that the best things to do with children are FREE!

Each month your child will bring home a “family fun calendar” with suggestions for activities you can do at home. You will also receive a reading calendar each month to record the special times you read together.

I want to do all I can to fill 2012 wonderful memories for you and your child!


Thursday, December 29, 2011


I empathize with stressed teachers all over the country.  You have your curriculum goals and standards on one hand and those shiny little faces who just aren’t ready on the other.  Skills are being pushed down at every grade level.  For bright children, this isn't a problem.  However, for many children school is becoming a frustrating experience.  There needs to be a continuum of learning, rather than expectations for ALL students to master ALL skills in a particular year.

I always come back to the question of, "What's the point?"  In the long run of the end of the day...does it really matter if they learn something when they are five or when they are seven?  It seems to me the most successful people in life have a good attitude, can adapt to change, know how to get along with others, can deal with failure and start again, are creative...the very things we used to stress in kindergarten and early childhood! 

The good news is that I see the pendulum starting to swing back a little, and some of the momentum is coming from parents.  Parents have political clout and can bear pressure on decision makers.  The more parents know, the more they will appreciate play, hands-on learning, and the importance of a happy, well-adjusted, balanced child.

Have you heard about the Early Learning Challenge Awards?
The focus is on PLAY!  Yeah! 

"You gotta dance with the one that brung you" and you "gotta dance with the one that fund you."  Shut your door and sing a song, play a game, and keep a little sunshine in your room.

Wish I were in charge of the world!  Wish I could do more to help you than put a few fun ideas on my website and blog.  Try to remember that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine/skills go down!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Beat post holiday blues with one of these suggestions!

Hot Chocolate Friday
I LOVE this idea!  Ask each parent to send in a box of instant hot chocolate and an old coffee mug.  End your week by letting each child stir up some hot chocolate.  Read poems, say rhymes, and fall in love with language as you sip your hot chocolate together!

Game Day
This was on a blog several weeks ago.  Let children bring in games from home on Friday and play with their friends the last 30 minutes on Friday.

Dress Up
We always looked forward to dress up days.  Pajama parties, beach day (Yes, in January!), what I want to be when I grow up, my favorite book character, hat day, and silly sock day are just a few ideas.

Crystal Ware of Atlanta explained that their whole grade level gets together for 30 minutes of LIFT every Friday.  LIFT stands for “Learning Is Fun Time” and I think it’s a wonderful idea for 2012.  It’d work well to put one class in charge each week and to relate songs, rhymes, stories, and games to standards and themes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


How about some games for those rainy ~ snowy January days up ahead?

Four Corners
This was always THE favorite game in my classroom.
Number each of the corners in the room ~ 1, 2, 3, 4.  Choose one person to be “it.”  “It” hides their eyes and slowly counts from one to ten as the rest of the class tiptoes to a corner in the room.  When “it” says “freeze,” everyone must be in a corner.  “It” then calls out a number (1, 2, 3, or 4) and the children in that corner are out of the game.  They sit down in the “stew pot” in the middle of the room.  (And vegetables can’t talk so they have to be quiet in the stew pot!)  “It” counts to ten again as everyone moves to a new corner.  The game continues until there is one person left.  That person becomes the new “it.”
Hint!  As the game continues there will be fewer players and there might not be anyone in a corner called. 

Hint!  Shorten the game by having “it” call out two corners at a time.
If there is no one in the corner, ask “it” to call out another number.

Someone at the Kindergarten Conference in Atlanta taught us this game that is similar to Hot Potato. 
The class forms a circle.  The teacher points to one who says, “One.”  The next child to their right says, “Two.”  Continue around the circle with each child saying the next number.  When you get to “ten,” that child has to sit down.  Continue counting around the circle and having the child who says “ten” sit down.  The last child standing gets to choose who will start the next round.
Hint!  Count by tens and whoever says “100” has to sit down.
Practice counting by ordinals, “First, second, third…”  The child who says “tenth” must sit down.

Quiet Touch
This is a great game to quiet children and build memory skills.  The first child gets up and touches an object and then sits down.  The second child gets up, touches the first object, then touches an additional object.  The third child touches the first object, second object, and adds a third object.  The game continues as classmates touch what the previous children have touched in sequential order and then add a new item.  When a child forgets, simply begin the game all over again.

Silent Ball
You will need a small, soft ball for this game.  Explain that the object of the game is to see how many times you can toss the ball without talking.  Look at the person you are throwing the ball to so they will be ready.  Silently count how many times we can throw the ball without talking or dropping it.  If someone talks or drops the ball, then the game begins all over again.


Each child takes a sheet of paper and writes a word wall word, spelling word, math fact, etc. on it.  Children wad up their sheet of paper to make it a “snowball.”  Divide the class into  two teams and have them stand about 20 feet from each other.  When the teacher says, “Let it snow!” children begin throwing their snowballs at the opposite side.  Children pick up a snowball and identify the information on it before throwing it back at the other side.  The game continues until the teacher says, “Freeze!”  Count the number of snowballs on each side.  Who has more?  Who has less?  In this game, the team with the smaller amount is actually the winner!  Everyone gets another snowball and the game continues.

*As a study review, have children write questions on the snowballs.  When children
open them they must answer the question before throwing it again.

*A teacher in OK shared a variation of this game that she plays.  Write letters, words, numerals, etc. on paper to make your snowballs.  Write corresponding letters, words, numerals, etc. on index cards and put them in a sack.  The teacher chooses an index card and the child holding that snowball has to sit down.

Hint!  Tell the children that if they don’t know the answer, it’s O.K. to ask a
friend for help.

Monday, December 26, 2011


It’s the day after Christmas and time for leftovers and cleaning.  I hope you all have a special memory to treasure in your heart.  It’s sad to put away the lights and the “merry” until next year, so here are a few (inexpensive) ideas to make yourself feel better today!
  1. Go for a walk or get some exercise.
  2. Call someone (yes, on the phone) you haven’t talked to in a long time.
  3. Read a book.
  4. Go to a movie.
  5. Make some hot chocolate or have a cup of tea.
  6. Take a bubble bath.
  7. Put on some favorite music and dance by yourself.
  8. Look at photos or videos of Christmas.
  9. Take an imaginary vacation on the internet.
  10.  Make a list of all the things you have to be happy about.

Say, these are some pretty good ideas if I say so myself.  I might try a few before I get busy on the exciting ideas I’ve got coming up for you in the next few days. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Hi blog buddies!

I am so excited to be finished with the January Monthly Activity that I just had to tell someone!!!  I have been working weeks and weeks on "Vocabulary Vitamins" and it's finally finished.  Whew!  Well, I never really am satisfied with things, but it needs to go to my webmaster today, so I must stop.  Anyway, here's the preface, but you'll have to check out my website on January lst to get your "Vocabulary Vitamins" for the New Year.

Vocabulary is like everything else we do in early childhood.  It’s not a one shot deal, but a myriad of experiences that create each child’s language tapestry.  And they are all as bright and beautiful and colorful as the individual children that you teach!  I hope you will find some vitamins this month to spark word ownership in the coming year!

My cup overflows with happiness, and I send a little to all of you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

One more thing...

I was going to take a vacation this week, but someone sent me this and it will put a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your hearts!  Aren't we lucky we get to work with children every day?


Saturday, December 17, 2011


Dear Friends,

I’m going to sing, play, and be happy to be alive, so my blog is going to take a vacation for a week.  I’ll be back with lots of fantastic ideas you can use to start the New Year on December 26. 

My daughter, Holly, sent this email several weeks ago, and I thought it might be a meaningful reminder to all of us this holiday season.  My wish for each of you is that every day for a few moments you can forget about the gifts, bills, cooking, and shopping and find time to sing, play, and be happy to be alive!

Wishing love, joy, peace, and hope to all of you!  Dr. Jean

Tonight KJ and I did his last week's homework together. He had to read a story and answer some questions about it, trying to get to the theme or main idea, which I'm totally in favor of since my college students struggle with this skill. However, the story was the old fable about the grasshopper and the ant, retold. On the back, the worksheet tells parents that the theme of the story is "Be sure to work hard and save up for bad times." Okay. No problem. But in the story the ant works all summer: "She did not have time to sing and play." And what about the grasshopper? "He was happy to be alive and spent every day doing all of the things he wanted to do... He sang his grasshopper songs and played in the summer rain..." What a beautiful thing! Shouldn't we all try to be a bit happier to be alive? Shouldn't we sing and play more often? We work way too hard in this country, mostly to buy more stuff that we don't need anyway. As KJ and I were reading this story together, it struck me that our country is way too much like the ant--the ant on overdrive! We've worked and accumulated so much stuff that we don't have any time to play. And the poor grasshopper--the ant doesn't even share any of her food with him! How mean! Is that the kind of message I want to give KJ, that he shouldn't bother to help people who need help? That it's probably their fault anyway? So after he told me the "theme"--which he could do without blinking--we talked about how sad the story made me because I really like the grasshopper and I think we should all be happy to be alive, and I think we should help people when they need it. He said, "Yea--if the ant went to Disney World she probably wouldn't even go on any rides. She'd just be running around trying to find seeds and stuff and she'd get stepped on because there are way too many people at Disney World." And I thought that was pretty funny!  So here's to being a little bit more like grasshoppers (especially in elementary school)!

Friday, December 16, 2011


For many of you, tomorrow is your holiday party and then the good times begin.  For others, you still have a few more days next week.  Valium might be nice for you today (just kidding!), but here are some beautiful thoughts instead.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.  Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas, children, is not a date.  It is a state of mind.  Mary Ellen Chase

What is Christmas?  It is a tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.  It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may end in peace.  Agnes M. Pharo

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.  Harlan Miller

The only blind person at Christmastime is he who has not Christmas in his heart.  Helen Keller

Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.  Charles Schulz

God bless us, every one!  Tiny Tim

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Finally!  The pendulum has swung about as far as it can in terms of pushing academics and I see a movement back to the basics of childhood.  You’ve got to read this article in the NY Times.
Imagine parents with all the money in the world taking a class to learn how to play with blocks with their children!  (Gee, I could set up a model kindergarten class for those parents and call it a childhood spa where they could pay $1000 to come and play!  Sounds like good therapy to me.)

I don’t know who came up with the idea to remove blocks from kindergarten, but they should be ashamed of themselves!  Froebel would roll over in his grave.  The more high tech and plastic our world becomes, the more children need natural elements like wooden blocks.  When children play with blocks they develop motor skills, spatial awareness, math concepts, problem solving, language, social skills, creativity, and so much more.

Oh, the joy of finding wooden blocks under the tree this year!  Blocks don’t need batteries, won’t break, and can grow with the child.  Last year after the gifts were unwrapped, K.J. went back to play with his old friends -the blocks!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Today is like going to the refrigerator and using up all your leftovers because I’m going to share a few “leftover” ideas.

Fund Raiser
The school where a friend’s daughter goes in Charleston did this fund raiser last Saturday.  For $10, parents could drop their kids off at the school for six hours of babysitting.  They served the kids pizza, had a movie, had games, played outside, etc.  Talk about a win/win!!  The kids had a BLAST being with their friends and PLAYING and the parents had time to do their shopping and errands.

Game Day
Margaret Carabba and Alison Power from New Jersey have GAME DAY every Friday afternoon.  They set up stations with different games and then rotate the children through centers every 15 minutes.  They invite parents to come help play the games, which is a great idea for the parents and the teachers.  (Or if you didn’t have parents that could help you might get a few 5th or 6th graders to come to your classroom.)  Alison and Margaret relate games to standards.  Just think of all the math skills, oral language, social skills, etc. children can develop with games.
*With cold and gloomy January and February coming up, I think this would be a super way to end each week.

Upside Down Drawing
Lesley Falgiano of Vernon, NJ, shared this creative idea.  Tape a piece of paper under each child’s chair.  The children lay on their backs under the chair and color a picture.  Lesley said the children will be exhausted by the time they are finished and they will have used lots of different muscles in their bodies.

Push the Wall
To build upper body strength while the children are waiting in line for lunch, PE, or whatever, have them put their hands on the wall and try to push it away.  It's almost as good as doing push ups!

Flashlight Tracking
Turn off the lights and let children use a flashlight to track print.  For example, they could point to the letters of the alphabet as they sing or they could read word wall words or a chart.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Go Dawgs! 
Cindy Conley of Harris Elementary in Duluth, GA, shared this idea when I was at the GA Kindergarten Conference a few weeks ago.  She adapted a favorite cheer of the GA Bulldogs to reinforce letters and sounds.
Goooo dawgs!  (Circle fist in the air.)
Woof!  Woof!  Woof!  Woof!  (Shake fist.)
Go A!  (Circle fist in the air.)
Apple  /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ (Shake fist.)
Go B!  Bounce /b/ /b/ /b/ /b/
Go C….

Ribbon Ruler  Gina Skinner, Gwinnett County, GA
Ribbon with dots, frogs, or other objects.  Glue the ribbon to paint sticks or large craft sticks and use like a ruler to measure.

Paper Plate Names  (Jennifer ?)
Write children’s names on paper plates and then scatter them around the room on the floor.  Sing this song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
         If your name is on a plate, pick it up.
         If your name is on a plate, pick it up.
         If your name is on a plate, pick it up and give a smile.
         If your name is on a plate, pick it up.
*This would be great the beginning of the school year for name recognition.
You could also adapt this by writing letters, words, numerals, etc. on the plates.  “If you can read a word, pick it up….if you know a letter pick it up…”

Class Pictionary
Each day choose a different letter of the alphabet and write it on a large sheet of paper.  Let the children cut out objects or draw pictures of things that start with that sound.  Be sure and label their pictures.   After introducing all 26 letters, put the pages together to make a BIG BOOK PICTIONARY for your classroom.  Don’t forget to add a page for illustrators and the publisher (school, city, and state).  You could also let the children dedicate the book and make a page that says “The End.”

Monday, December 12, 2011


Hand Hug
Here’s a new handshake that Christy Wheeler from Norman, OK, taught me last week when I was in Oklahoma City.  You put right palms together with your partner and then wrap your thumbs around the side of your partner’s hand as you say, “Ahhhh!” 

O U Did a Good Job!
This is a new cheer that you can do in any state. 
Oh  - Circle hands above head to make the letter O.
You – Put hands in air to make the letter U.
Did a good job! – Clap your hands on each word.
Oh – Circle hands above your head.
S – Turn sideways and curve one arm and one leg to make the letter S.
You – Put hands in the air to make the letter U.
Did – Fists in the air as if cheering.

Todally Awesome Cheer
Squat down like a frog and say, “Todally.”
Jump up with arms in the air and say, “Awesome!”

Golf Tee Writing
This is a great idea someone shared to develop small muscles and writing skills.  Children spread play dough to make a pancake and then write on it with a golf tee.

Once Upon a Time
Here’s a cool T-shirt idea for your school from Rori Hodges at Bridge Creek Elementary.

Websites has some fantastic alphabet videos - and it's FREE!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Yes, I know today is Sunday, but I wanted to put this little bee in your head for this week.  Is the noise level escalating in your classroom as you near the holidays?  Try “Whisper Wednesday” and it will be like a day at the spa.  (Well, not exactly, but it will surprise you how soothing it can be.)

Before the children leave Tuesday explain that tomorrow will be “Whisper Wednesday” and that you will only use whisper voices in your classroom all day.  (I might make up a little story about an elf telling me to do that because he has such big ears and loud noises really bother him!)  Make a sign for your door that says “Welcome to Whisper Wednesday.  Please put on your whisper voice before entering today!”  Greet the children at the door by whispering, “Good morning!  I’m so glad you’re here today!”  Sing, talk, read, and whisper through the day. 

You might enjoy Whisper Wednesday so much you will want to continue doing it every Wednesday in the New Year. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I try to be professional on my blog, but every once in a while I’ve just got to speak my mind.  I am tired of people picking on Santa.  I LOVE Santa and I BELIEVE!  He represents love and hope and dreams and goodness.  Santa doesn’t say bad words or do drugs or hurt anyone.  He spreads happiness to children everywhere and wants to put a smile on their faces.  (Kind of like a lot of teachers I know!)
Call me Pollyanna, but I love the man!  Have you seen the Best Buy commercial where the lady makes Santa look bad and says.  “Game on, Santa!”  That’s not nice of her at all!

If you have ever bought a lottery ticket or put a quarter in a slot machine or looked for a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks…it’s the same as believing in Santa.  It’s all about wishful thinking.  It’s a dream and a hope for something better.  The anticipation of what will be under the tree or in your stocking is usually better than reality.  

As teachers, we are the dream makers and believers!  We give children dreams and believe in the power of making the world a better place one child at a time.

Langston Hughes was a lot like Santa when he wrote:
         Hold onto dreams,
         For if dreams die
         Life is like a broken-winged bird
         That cannot fly.

I was leaving the fitness center yesterday and I commented to the gentleman at the desk, “What a beautiful Christmas tree!”  He said, “It’s NOT a Christmas tree.  It’s a holiday tree.”  Well, it’s a CHRISTmas tree to me and I believe in Santa Claus, too! 

Friday, December 9, 2011


Manners go a long way in this world, but unfortunately many children don’t have parents who teach them this at home.  Super Teacher to the rescue!  This is a perfect time of year to talk about thanking others and what it means to be polite.  Here’s a simple song to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell” that will encourage children to use “magic words.”
         There are two magic words
         That will open doors with ease.
         One word is, “Thanks!”
         And the other word is, “Please!”

*Role play when to say, “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “excuse me.”

*Use puppets to demonstrate what children should say when they receive a gift.

*Teach children these signs and use them as prompts:
         Please               palm open on chest and circle around
         Thank you         fingers on chin and then down to palm
*Sing and sign this song to the tune of “Happy Birthday” to thank school helpers and volunteers.  It would be perfect for thanking parents at your school party next week.
         We   (Make “w” and circle around.)
         Say (Index fingers by lips and move out.)
         Thank you  (Fingertips on chin and extend out.)
         To.  (Touch index fingertips.)
         You.    (Point.)
         (Repeat twice)
         We say thank you 
         For helping  (Open left palm and place right fist
         on it and bring up.)
         We say thank you to you!

Hint!  If you go to and click on dictionary you can see the signs

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This is a nostalgic time of year when we remember special vignettes from our childhoods.  My grandson loves to hear stories about when we were little, and when I visit schools the children all “listen up” when I share stories of my past. 

A great homework activity might be to have the children “interview” their parents and grandparents about their Christmas/Hanukkah memories.  What was their favorite toy?  Do they remember any songs they sang?  What was their favorite treat to eat?  Wouldn’t it be fun to get their parents to draw pictures and write stories that you could turn into a class book?

When I was little I was allowed to ask for ONE thing for Christmas.  And I only got ONE thing.  And I was happy!  We would tack one of my dad’s socks near the door and in the morning it would hold an orange, some nuts, and a candy cane.  It makes me a little sad when I think about how we overwhelm children with “stuff.”

What do you remember?  Share a little of your past with your class today.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Here are a few more gifts that children can make. 

Paper Beads
These paper beads would be great to put in a center to keep kids busy.  They could make the beads for a week and then string them for someone special.
You will need:  wrapping paper, comics from the newspaper, glue, pencil, string

Directions: Cut the paper into ¾” x 7” triangles.  Starting at the wide end, roll around a pencil.  Glue the end and slip off.  When dry, you can string the beads on yarn, ribbon, or fancy cord.

Picture Frame
A picture is a gift that won’t end up in the trash.  Children could draw themselves or you could take a photo of the child. 
Hint!  One teacher brought in dress-up clothes for the children to pose in and then printed the picture in sepia.
You will need:  cardboard, puzzle pieces, glue, photograph

Directions:  Cut cardboard into 4” x 8” picture frames.  Let children glue puzzle pieces around the edges.  Tape a photo to the back.

Decorate with buttons and say “Cute as a button!”

Popsicle Stick Frame
You will need:  craft sticks, craft glue, photograph, cardboard (cereal box)

Directions:  Lay two sticks together horizontally.  Place two sticks together vertically on top and glue in place.  Cut a photograph to fit in the frame.  Glue a piece of cardboard to the back.

Golden Shoe
This project takes a little work, but it will be an heirloom for sure!

You will need:  old shoes, gallon of school glue, old paint brush, gold spray paint

Directions:  Ask each child to bring in one old shoe.  (Tennis shoes, party shoes, ballet slippers – they all work.)   Pour the school glue in a disposable container, and then let them paint the glue all over their shoe.  (Inside, outside, all over!)  Dry for several days on wax paper.  Have children paint glue all over their shoe a second time.  Dry.  Spray paint gold or silver.

Adaptations:  Stick a sprig of holly in the shoe or add this poem: 
Here is my little shoe. 
I made it just for you. 
When I’m grown and tall,
                             you can remember me small

Monday, December 5, 2011


Short on money for gifts?  Check out my December website for lots of projects your students can make for their parents.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Luggage Tag
Here’s a practical, simple, and easy gift even the youngest students can make.
You will need:  pipe cleaners, alphabet beads, decorative beads

Directions:  Let children select alphabet beads for the name they wish to put on the luggage tag.  String alphabet beads along with decorative beads.  Twist the ends to make a circle that can be attached to a luggage handle.

Paper Bookmark
Anybody would be thrilled to get a handmade bookmark.
You will need:  wrapping paper scraps, construction paper, scissors, glue, self laminating sheets, yarn, beads

Directions:  Make bookmarks by cutting the construction paper into 2” x 8” rectangles.  Let children decorate with wrapping paper scraps and personal drawings or a photo of themselves.  Cut self-laminating sheets into 2” x 8” rectangles and seal to the bookmarks.  Punch a hole and attach a piece of yarn decorated with beads.

Personalized Note Cards
Parents or relatives will be thrilled with these note cards.
You will need:  card stock, children’s drawings, black crayon or marker, ribbon or yarn

Directions:  Give children a 5 ½” x 4 ¼” piece of paper and ask them to draw a picture of themselves or their family.  Make two copies of their design and glue to the bottom of another sheet of paper as shown.  Run off 5 copies on cardstock.  Cut down the middle and fold in half to make note cards.  Tie together with ribbon or yarn.

Adaptations:  Add envelopes to go with the cards.

Hint!  Do a class design and give sets of cards to school helpers and volunteers.

I GOT IT!  I caught a little Christmas spirit!  We heard the Charleston Gospel Chorus sing last night and it was AMAZING!  I think we become so immune to the sounds of the season because they are piped in every place you go.  A live performance stirs the heart and rekindles the magic of the season.  Shut your door and SING LOUD!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Sock Snowman
Here is an adorable idea you can make with your class or with your own children.  This would be also be a great gift idea for grandparents.
You will need:  white tube socks, fiber fill, rubber bands, markers, felt scraps, wiggly eyes, and other craft accessories

Have children fill the bottom of the sock with 3 large fists of fiberfill.  Put a rubber band around this section.  Put two fists full of fiberfill in and then put a rubber band around the middle section.  Put one fist full of fiberfill in to make the head and put a rubber band.  Pull the top cuff of the sock over the head to look like a hat.  Decorate with wiggly eyes, felt scarf, yarn hair, etc.  Draw on a mouth and buttons with markers.

These won’t really crack, but they are lots of fun to make or give to friends.  They can also add a special touch to a special holiday table.
You will need:  cardboard rollers, wrapping paper, candy, small toys, curling ribbon

Directions:           Cut the cardboard rollers into 5” sections.  Fill with candy and little toys.  Roll in wrapping paper, twist the ends, and tie with curling ribbon.

Holiday Napkin Rings
Your children can help you spruce up your holiday table with these napkin rings. 

You will need:  paper towel rolls, stickers, yarn, lace, fabric, buttons

Cut the cardboard roll into 1 ½” sections.  Cut the wrapping paper into 2 ½” x 6” rectangles.  Spread glue on the back side of the wrapping paper and then wrap it around the cardboard roll.  Tuck in the top and bottom to make your napkin ring.

*You can also use stickers, yarn, fabric, or lace to decorate your napkin rings.  Insert a holiday napkin for a special touch. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011


My Dreidel

I have a little dreidel,                  (Pretend to hold out palm with a dreidel.)
I made it out of clay;
And when it’s dry and ready,
Then dreidel I shall play.
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,         (Clap as you dance in a circle like a top.)
I made it out of clay.
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
Now dreidel we shall play.

My dreidel is so playful,                (Pretend to hold dreidel in palm)
It loves to dance and spin;
A happy game of dreidel,
Come play, now let’s begin.
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,         (Clap and twirl around.)
Come play now, let’s begin!
And when it gets all tired
It drops and then I win.               (Fall gently to the floor.)

Dreidel Snack – You will need large marshmallows, pretzel sticks, and chocolate icing to make an edible dreidel.  Insert the toothpick in the marshmallow.  Dip one end in icing.  Twirl it in your mouth.

Kwanzaa – December 26-January 1
(Tune:  "Go Tell It On the Mountain")

Kwanzaa is coming                                    (Clap hands.)
We’ll celebrate with gifts and lights.
Kwanzaa is coming
For seven days and nights.

We’ll unite and come together                  (Hold hands as a class.)
With people everywhere.
We’ll work and help each other
To show how much we care.

We’ll celebrate the harvest                      (Pretend to pick fruit and
And all the earth’s first fruits.                  put it in a basket.)
Black, red, and green
Are colors that we’ll choose.

Kwanzaa Friendship Salad – Ask each family to send it a fruit.  Let the children prepare the fruits in bite size pieces.  Put all the fruit in a large bowl and stir to mix.  Serve each child a portion in a cup.  What would happen if we had just eaten the fruit that we brought?  Would it be as good?  How is our classroom like that fruit salad?

Friendship Chain – Give each child a strip of construction paper 9” x 2”.  Have them write their name on their strip and decorate with designs.  Ask children to sit in a circle with a strip.  One at a time staple their strips together to make a chain.  What happens when one strip of paper breaks?  (Gently pull the staple on one to demonstrate this.)  What will happen if one person in our room does not cooperate and be a part of our team?

Cymbals  - Give each child 2 paper plates to decorate with markers or crayons.  Encourage them to use the Kwanzaa colors.  Let the children keep the beat of the music with these as you sing the song.