photo 3am_dj_home_zps919fb85e.png photo 3am_dj_about_zps7cce4c75.png photo 3am_dj_website_zps73051235.png photo 3am_dj_ss_zps6759ec2a.png photo 3am_dj_bs_zps43e27832.png

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gummy Bears

Someone wanted more information about “The Gummy Bears.”  First, cut 5 bears out of construction paper (red, orange, green, yellow, and purple).  Cut five pennies out of orange construction paper or fun foam.  Choose five children to come to the front of the room and hold the bears.  Pass out pennies to five other children.  Invite the rest of the class to hold up five fingers as you sing this song to the tune of “Five Little Ducks.”  (It’s on my CD IS EVERYBODY HAPPY?)

Down at the candy shop what did I see?
Five little gummy bears smiling at me.
Along came (child’s name) with a penny one day.
He/she bought the green one and took it away.

Down at the candy shop what did I see?
Four little gummy bears smiling at me.
Along came (child's name) with a penny one day.
He/she bought the purple one and took it away.

Continue singing as children buy the other colors.

Adaptations:  Change the number of bears in the song.
Use nickels, dimes, or quarters.
Pumpkins, valentines, and other seasonal items can be used in place of the bears.

Desktop Writing

Desktop Writing

Here’s an idea to save for when you’re setting up your classroom.  Did you know you could write directly on the surface of desks and tables with a Sharpie marker.  It can be erased with a Mr. Clean eraser.  Think of all the possibilities for this!  Names, alphabet letters, number lines, sight words, notes of encouragement….!

You can also write on a mirror with a dry erase marker.  Put reminders, such as “Remember to wash your hands!”  Congratulate a child on a special accomplishment.  Write a daily riddle or brain teaser.

Tater Tot Cheer

When I was at the ETSU Conference this week Seglinda taught me the Tater Tot cheer.
For a good job give a tater tot.  (Make a fist and stick out the knuckle of your index finger and tap with your partner.)
For a better job give a tater.  (Make fists and touch all knuckles.)
For a super job give some fries.  (Extend fingers and wiggle as you touch.)

Grandma's Finger Play
(Rita Quarles shared this finger play that she learned from her grandmother when she was little.  Just an example of how all those rhymes and songs stay in our brains forever!)
Two little hands soft and bright.  (Hold up hands.)
This is my left.  (Extend left.)
This is my right.  (Extend right.)
Ten little fingers standing on each.  (Wiggle fingers.)
So that I may hold a plum or peach.  (Open palms up.)
When I get as big as you,
Lots of things these hands will do!  (Clap hands.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Discovery Bags

What do you do with all those bags you get at conferences?  Here are some 
"discovery bags" you can create to use in your classroom this year.  

Why?             writing; science concepts; math; vocabulary; motivation

What?            computer bag, old briefcase, backpack, etc.

How?             Fill a computer bag with some of the materials below.

Concept Bag –Put objects that are the same color, shape, beginning
sound, etc. in the bag

Theme Bags – Collect books about a particular theme.  Add pencils, paper, crayons, and ask children, “What can you find out?”

Tell Me More – Put an object in the bag and give the children clues.  When they guess what it is, take it out of the bag and encourage the children to describe the object.  Keep saying, “Tell me more!” as they use more adjectives to describe the item.

Writing Portfolio – Put paper, envelopes, sticky notes, pencils, pens, colored pencils, stickers, scissors, glue, and other writing paraphernalia in the bag.

Math Kit – Add a calculator, ruler, minute timer, counters, toy money, tablet, pencil, calendar, and other math related objects to the bag.

Science Kit – You will need an old white dress shirt (short sleeve) and safety goggles to make a science kit.  Write “scientist of the week” on the pocket.  Add paper, pencils, a magnet, magnifying glass, and book of science experiments to the kit.  One child each week gets to be “scientist of the week” and take home the bag on Monday.  They choose a science experiment and practice it at home with their parents.  On Thursday, they return the kit and present the experiment to their classmates.

Happy Bag – Fill the bag with a special book, puppet, game, flashlight, and other small toys.  Use for emergencies to make children happy.

Art Portfolio – Place construction paper, markers, crayons, glue, scissors, play dough, and other art media in a bag for individual creative activities.

Take Home Activities – Send home games, books, puzzles, and other activities children can work on at home with their parents.
WOW!  Take a look at what Jennifer at "kinderpond" has to share!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I was cleaning off my desk this morning and found a name badge from a conference I recently attended.  You’ve probably got one yourself in a drawer.  You can also purchase these at an office supply store.  Here are some interesting ways to recycle those old name badges in your classroom this year!

Skills - Choose skills you are working on (letters, words, numerals, colors, shapes, etc.) and wear them in the name badge. Sing this song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know it:”
                                    If you can read this word, letter, shout it out. 
                                    If you can read this ______, whisper it out.
                                    If you can read this ______, spell it out.
                                    If you can read this ______, shout it out.

                        Here’s another chant to reinforce skills:
                                    I know color, numeral.  Yes, I do.
                                    I know _____.  How about you?
                                    Children repeat:
                                    We know ______.  Yes, we do.
                                    We know ______.  Just like you!

Special Event -  When a child has a special event in their life, make a badge for them to wear.  For example:  “I’m a new big brother.”   “I scored a goal at my soccer name.”  
Hint!  Encourage faculty members to recognize these badges.

Ask Me About - To celebrate a skill (writing their name, recognizing all the letters, reading sight words) a child has achieved, write “Ask me about skill” on the badge.  For example:  “Ask me about counting to l00.”  “Ask me about writing my name."

When children show proficiency in addition, make a badge that says, “Name has earned a B.A. (Best in Addition).” For subtraction write, “Name has earned an M.S. (Master in Subtraction.)"

If you are doing a unit of study, individualize instruction by allowing children to choose a topic they are interested in.  After doing “research,” they write their area of "expertise" and wear it in their name badge.  Children walk around the room and ask each other questions.
*Use this idea for book reports.  
*At the beginning of the school year, make “expert” name badges so children can get to know each other.

Here is a comment from Ms. Jessi:
Perfect ideas! I've used them on field trips by putting my business card in it. :)

I LOVE these ideas - I use them a "Center Captain" badges too. My captain of the day (for each group) get's to wear this badge and boy do they feel special! 

Monday, July 25, 2011


Katalina Goes Back to School

Oh, my goodness!  August is almost here and many of you are getting ready to go back to school.  Katalina Matalina would like to go with you this year!

Katalina and I go back a long time to when I was a girl scout in the 1950’s.  I loved her then and children still love her today!  She has several cousins, like Hagalena Magalena, but the message is the same. 

Skills:  phonological awareness, invented spelling, diversity, comprehension

Directions:  Children will love singing this song to the tune of “Shortnin’ Bread.”  Then you can use Katalina as a catalyst for reinforcing other skills. 
*The song is on my “Silly Songs” CD if you want to get it on my website

Chorus:            Katalina Matalina Upsadina Walkadina Hoca Poca Loca was her name.

                        Her head was shaped like a baseball bat.   (Point to head.)
                        And right on top was a funny, old hat.  (Chorus)
                        She had two hairs in her head.  (Point to hair.)
                        One was alive and the other was dead.  (Chorus)
                        She had two eyes in her head.  (Point to eyes.)
                        One was purple and the other was red.  (Chorus)
                        She had two teeth in her mouth.  (Point to mouth.  Point up and down.)
                        One pointed north and the other pointed south.  (Chorus)
                        Her neck was as long as a ten foot pole.  (Point to neck.)
                        And right in the middle was a big, black bow.  (Chorus)
                        Her hips were like two ships in port.  (Wiggle hips.)
                        One headed south and the other headed north.  (Chorus)
                        Her feet were as flat as a bathroom mat.  (Point to feet.)
                        How did they ever get like that?  (Chorus)
                        But she had a heart, so I’m told.  (Put hands over heart.)
                        That was made of purest gold.  (Chorus)

Syllables  - Clap out the syllables in Katalina’s name.  Clap out the syllables in the children’s names in your classroom.  Count how many claps in each person’s name.  Compare and graph.      
Shared Writing  -  As an interactive writing activity slowly say Katalina’s name. Encourage the children to call out letters as you write them on the board.   Make up silly rhymes with children’s names,

Comprehension - Have children close their eyes as you sing the song and create a picture of Katalina in their heads.  Give each child a sheet of paper to draw her interpretation of Katalina.  Display on a bulletin board or make a class book.

Diversity  - Talk about what it means to have a heart of gold.  Cut out 4 hearts and decorate with gold glitter.  Punch holes in the hearts and tie on string to make necklaces.  Each day when you see a child being a kind friend, let them wear Katalaina Matalina's heart of gold.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

ABC - Sing with Me!

ABC Tunes

Did you know that the traditional tune we use to sing the A B C’s is also the tune for “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “Twinkle Little Star”?  Here are several other tunes that you can use to sing the ABC’s.  Give it a try!

“Amazing Grace”
“Braham’s Lullabye”
Theme from Gilligan’s Island
“100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”
“Mary Had a Little Lamb”

Clap on the consonants and hop on the vowels as you sing.  You can also march, tiptoe, disco (finger up in the air and then cross the midline and point down), patty with a friend or do other movements.

Give children a copy of the alphabet and have them point to the letters as you sing.  You can use a pretzel stick, Bugle, or craft stick with a wiggly eye as a pointer.  But, my favorite pointer is a fake fingernail glued to a craft stick.  "Keep your finger on the letter!"

Debbie sent a link for some song posters she made to go with a few tunes I posted lately.  They're really cute!  Thanks for sharing, Debbie!

After a whirlwind trip to Houston, Mobile, and Dallas this week:
I'm home again, home again, jiggity jog!  
Now I'll get busy and do some more blogs!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nature Center

Nature Deficit Disorder

Several years ago I read a fantastic book called LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS.  It reminded me that children need to be connected to nature, and in our technical, fast paced society they are just not getting to spend enough time outdoors.
We all need balance in our lives or things get out of whack.  It’s especially critical when children are young and their brains are developing to make sure they have plenty of sensory stimulation, time to be creative, time to use their imaginations, and time to experience all seasons of nature. 

Last week when I attended a conference in El Paso I happened to walk by the Lakeshore exhibit.  Now, I’ve seen enough plastic toys in my time that I usually walk on by.  But Todd Hays (Lakeshore’s sales rep) had created the most engaging scenario. On logs made from real trees he had placed some little plastic animals.  I wanted to stop and play!  I usually don’t push commercial products, but this was something unique, different, and refreshing.  
You can buy the kit, or perhaps it will inspire you to collect natural objects and create a nature center of your own.  Surely, there’s a parent in your classroom who would saw some limbs off a tree and cut them into sections for the block center.  A little bag of forest animals and you're in business! 

Materials:  basket of leaves, rocks, shells, pine cones, sticks, nuts, or other natural items (rotate for different seasons)
magnifying glass
clipboard, pencils, paper
field guide book (leaves, rocks, shells, etc.)

*free exploration
*seriating by size
*observing with a magnifying glass
*sketching with a clip board
*identifying with a field guide book
*non-fiction writing

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On the Road Again....

Hi there!   After an exciting week in Las Vegas, El Paso, and Austin I'm home!!!  The planes, cabs, and trains were no fun, but all the wonderful teachers filled my heart!!!

One of my favorite activities at the beginning of the school year is to hold each child on your lap as you sing this song to the tune of "Lassie and Laddie":

(Child's name) is important, important, important.
(Child's name) is important to you and to me.
At work and at play, she does her best each day.
(Child's name) is important to you and to me.

Here's a picture of me demonstrating the activity with a teacher in El Paso:

Carmelita Ramirez of Sweetwater, TX, taught us this song to the tune of "This Old Man."

I have two hands,
the left and right.
Hold them up high
so clean and bright.
Clap them softly, 1, 2, 3.
Clean little hands are good to see.

Yadira I. Chavez translated the butterfly song.  (Sorry if I don't do the punctuation correctly.)

La Mariposa
(Tune:  "Up on the Housetop")

Primero viene la mariposa y pone un huevo.
Una oruga sale Ya
Veraz a la oruga
girar y girar
en un capullo se dormira.

Oh, oh, oh!  Mira y ve.
Oh, oh, oh!  Mira y ve.

Y del capullo que saldra?
Una mariposa volara.

The Butterfly

First comes the butterfly who lays an egg.
Out comes a caterpillar
with may legs.
Oh, see the caterpillar spin and spin.
A little chrysalis to sleep in.

Oh, oh, oh!  Look and see.
Oh, oh, oh!  Look and see.

Out of the chrysalis, my oh, my.
Out comes a beautiful butterfly.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Banana Cheer

Hola from El Paso Texas!  El Paso is one of the nicest, friendliest places in the world!

Here's a cheer a Aurora Domingues taught me yesterday:

Make a banana.  (Put your fingertips together.)
Kiss the banana.  (Kiss fingertips.)
Peel the banana.  (Slowly pull down one finger at a time as if peeling a banana.)
Share the love.  (Open your palm and pretend to blow a kiss.)

CHECK IT OUT! CHEER  (Teresa Nicks)

Use this cheer when a child answers a question correctly:
"Check it out!  Check it out!
Child's name knows what he's (she's) talking about!?"
Pretend to touch index finger to tongue and then hold up as you say,
"Psssss!"  (Like it's really hot!)


A teacher who taught at a Christian school said this is how she ends her day:

Teacher:  May the Lord watch between me and thee.
Children:  While we are absent one from another.

Although most of you teach in public schools where you can't use this idea, it was so sweet I wanted to pass it along.

Wishing you a wonderful day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ready to Read

Richer than I
you will never be,
for I had a parent
who read to me!

Many teachers have asked me to do a video where I could explain to parents how children learn to read.  It's now up on my list of videos on my website ( so you can take a look and see if it's something that you might want to share with your parents this coming school year.  It's rather simplistic, but the message is to them, read to them, sing to them, play with them!

The National I Teach K Conference in Las Vegas was amazing!  It was reaffirming and inspiring to see so many teachers from all over the world who still believe in early childhood and love children!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Viva Las Vegas!

Here I am in Las Vegas at the National I Teach K Conference. WOW! This is some city! I can't wait to sing and dance with kindergarten teachers from all over the USA! Rock and roll! Here's an echo chant I'll be doing tomorrow. It is a take off on my "Alligator" song. It could easily be adapted for any grade level or school. Chorus: Kindergarten. (Children repeat each line.) Kindergarten. Kindergarten. Is the best. Is the best. Is the best class. Boys and girls come to school. They learn to read and write. Making books and writing words. They really are so bright! Chorus Boys and girls learn to count. They also know their shapes. They learn to add and subtract. Their teachers think they're great! Chorus Boys and girls make new friends. They learn to follow rules. They laugh and cheer and sing a lot. It's cool to be in school! Chorus Trashcan Tips Jena Snowden emailed that she named her trashcan "Miss TRASHLEY.". She asks the children to bring in "clean trash" during the week. On Friday they practice reading the logos. What a meaningful way to make print connections through environmental print! Tessa (spotlight on kindergarten) adapts her trashcan for different themes. During their zoo unit it becomes Leo the Lion Letter muncher and eats letters. It's cool to be in school!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Trash Can

I'm home from SPLASH (Super Conference in San Antonio) and I'm on my way to Las Vegas for the National I Teach K Conference.  I'm sorry I've neglected you for a few days, but I'm going to gather lots of great ideas and make it up to you!

Mr. and Mrs. Trash Can

Here’s an idea for something you can make today and then use all school year.  Dollar Tree sells small trash cans with a swing top.  You can decorate one side to look like an old man and the other side to look like an old lady.  Children can feed them magnetic letters, word cards, etc.  They are perfect for “The Old Lady Who Swallowed Numbers” or “The Old Man Who Swallowed Letters.”  (See for lyrics.)  Children could also find the letters in their names, spell high frequency words, or make the letter sounds as they insert them in the can.

Mr. Munch

Here’s another idea for the swinging trash can from Gaye Lynn Sarff.
Sing this song to the tune of “Tiny Tim” as you pretend to feed Mr. Munch magnetic letters:

I have a hungry friend.
His name is Mr. Munch
And what he likes to do all day is gobble up his lunch.
He likes the letter ___  (for example H)
And things that start with ___(make /h/ sound)
And he is very happy when he goes munch, munch, munch, crunch.

Encourage children to call out words that begin with that sound for Mr. Munch to crunch.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Yippee to yi yo! Here I am in San Antonio at the Frog Street conference. This is the first time I've done a blog from my phone. Give me a cowboy cheer! (Put your finger in the air and twirl it around as you say, "Yee haw!") This will be short because Y big old fingers don't do well on the lithe keyboard. SUB CD - One day when you have an extra hour create a CD that a substitute teacher can use when you are absent. You'll need a good morning song, calendar song, alphabet song, several movement songs and a good bye song. The sub can sing her way through the day!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Handy" Fly Swatter

“Handy” Fly Swatter

You can buy a fancy fly swatter or just get an inexpensive one and cut it to look like a hand.

Adapt it to different skills by sealing an envelope and cutting it in half.  Slip the open end onto the fly swatter.  Write a letter or word on the paper and then challenge a child to find the same letter or word in the classroom.  You could also use it for matching colors and shapes.

Write sentences on the board and leave off the punctuation at the end.  Take 3 envelope halves and draw a large period, question mark, and exclamation point on them.  Let children practice reading sentences as you use the fly swatter to put different punctuation marks at the end.

Write “s,” “ed,” “ing” and other inflicted endings on envelopes.  Write root words on the board and then change the endings with the fly swatter.

 Here’s a comment Tessa (Spotlight on Kindergarten) sent yesterday:  “Love the fly swatter ideas! I cut hole in the small ones (I'm sure I found them in a dollar spot somewhere) and we swat sight words in our literacy stations or use the hole to frame sight words in our guided reading books.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

 Fly Swatters

The flies are buzzing this time of year, so here are some fun things to do with fly swatters.

Write letters, words, numerals, etc. on the chalkboard or on the sidewalk.  Give a child a fly swatter and say this rhyme:
Turn around and swat a fly.
Tell me the (letter, word, number, etc.) that you spy.
The child closes her eyes, turns around, and swats the board.  She identifies the letter that the fly swatter is on.  If she doesn’t know it, she can “ask the audience” to help her.

Play a similar game with two fly swatters.  Divide the class into two teams.  One child from each team comes to the board.  The teacher calls out a letter.  The first child to swat the letter wins a point for her team.  The game continues as different children from each team come forward.

*If you write numerals on the board you can call out a math fact.  The first person to swat the correct answer wins a point for her team.

Give children a large sheet of paper.  Let them draw insects on the paper with crayons or markers.  Place a little paint in a pie pan.  Children dip the fly swatter in the paint and hit the paper. 
*You can also do this as a group project and use bulletin board paper.  Attach to a fence on the playground with clothespins and swat away!

On a more personal note, we had a wonderful thing happen yesterday.  My husband's niece from CA was visiting with her two children aged 6 and 8.   Our grandson is in Bulgaria for the summer and he'd never met these second cousins.  We were able to Skype yesterday and it was incredible!!!  We're thousands of miles apart and the kids were telling jokes and laughing.  Now, K.J. can't wait to meet them in person.

One teacher said that when a child moved they tried to Skype to ease the sense of loss. Isn't that a great idea to tuck in your pocket for this coming school year?

Another great thing happened yesterday.  One of my neighbors has a granddaughter who teaches pre-K in Oklahoma City.  Kristin came over and it was so much fun to meet a kindred spirit!

Monday, July 4, 2011

I Love a Parade!

I Love a Parade!

Every year our community has a 4th of July parade.  No, you won’t find fancy floats or movie stars, but what you will find are people who love their country!  There will be a fire truck leading the parade, along with bicycle riders, homemade costumes, dogs, grandparents, babies, golf carts, bubbles, loud music…and there will be goose bumps on my arms!  Once a year it’s nice to stop and think about where we live, what others have sacrificed for us to have our freedom, and celebrate our “oneness” instead of our differences.

This is a day for homemade ice cream, barbeques, watermelon, fireworks, bands, and FUN! 


Sunday, July 3, 2011


Parent Power Pak

Have you visited my July, 2011, website to check out the PARENT POWER PAK?  I worked very hard on those activities for months, so I hope you’ll find all the resources and ideas useful.  Research continually reflects the importance of involving families in their children's education.  And, the earlier we engage families, the more likely they will stay active.

I’m especially proud of the downloads because that’s something I would have loved as a teacher.  There are reading calendars, activity/homework calendars, and “recipes for fun” for each month.  My daughter (Dr. Holly) helped me make some videos demonstrating the monthly activities for parents so you can look forward to seeing those in September.  They are a little hokey and homemade, but if one parent does something with their child after watching them, then that’s what it’s all about!

One of my favorite ideas is called the BROWN BAG SPECIAL.  This is a terrific idea for parents who work.  At the beginning of the school year ask for parent volunteers to help you make games, copy materials from the internet, collect supplies, etc.  Next, get a large paper grocery sack and write “Brown Bag Special” on it.  The child will feel so proud when she gets to take it home and the parent will feel a sense of involvement. 

 *When you need a game made place the materials for making the game along with the directions in the bag.  Choose a child to take it home to their parents.   
*Instead of using your printer and paper to download games and books from the internet, send home a note in the "Brown Bag Special" and a parent can do it for you.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Firecracker Sandwich

This is a great idea for lunch or a snack.  It can be adapted in so many ways to meet your child’s dietary needs and tastes.  When cooking with children, the more that THEY can do, the better it will taste to them! 

You will need:
flat bread, pita bread, tortilla, or a slice of bread
* If using bread remove the crust and roll flat with a rolling pin.
peanut butter and jelly, cheese, sliced meat, roasted veggies – whatever!
plastic wrap and ribbon (red, white, and blue if you have it)

Wash your hands!
Spread the filling on the bread.
Roll up the bread nice and tight.
Place the rolled sandwich on a piece of plastic wrap and roll. 
Twist the ends and tie on the ribbon.

Give yourself a firecracker cheer.  Place palms together at your waist and move up above your head in a snake like motion as you make a hissing sound like a firecracker shooting in the air, “Ssssss.”  Clap your hands together over your head to represent a firecracker going off.  Wiggle your fingers around and down like sparkles as you say, “Ahhhh!”

Go to my website (, click on “videos” and scroll down until you get to “cheers.”  You’ll be able to see me demonstrate the firecracker and lots of other fun celebrations.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue

All right, party people!  It’s almost America’s birthday! 

Tell your children that in America we never say, “I can’t.”  We always say, “I CAN” because we are AmeriCANS!

As Americans we try to help each other.  I just heard about a fantastic opportunity to help some of the teachers in Joplin, MO, who lost everything in the recent tornado.  Visit to see how you can help.

Here’s a song to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”  The teacher who shared this said she used it to prompt her children before they said the Pledge of Allegiance.

We love our flag.
We love our flag.
We love America
And we love our flag.

Red, white and blue.
Red, white, and blue.
The colors of our country
Are red, white, and blue.

A simple way to decorate for the 4th of July is to give children red, white, and blue chalk and let them decorate the sidewalk or driveway.

I’m on my way to the grocery store to get Rice Crispies (red, white, and blue special holiday box) to make treats for my nieces two children who will be visiting.  (The kids are a great excuse to make these because they taste just as yummy when you’re grown!)

Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you how to make a fire cracker sandwich!