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Tuesday, February 28, 2012


My March activities will be like sending little fingers to the gym.  From lotty dotty to weaving, tongs, sewing, stringing, cutting, tearing, molding, tummy writing, and letter limericks - you’ll have to check it out tomorrow.

Here are some happy hands at a concert I did recently in Richmond, KY.  Oh, what cuties!

Lion or Lamb?
Tomorrow is the first day of March. so write "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb" on the board.  What does that mean?   What kind of weather would be like a lion?  What kind of weather would be like a lamb?  Each day in March let the children decide if it is a "lion" or "lamb" day and color it on the calendar.  

Monday, February 27, 2012


Here is an idea to make a flannel board that is easy cheesy lemon squeezy.  Staple the sides of a file folder and then glue a piece of felt to the front.  You can glue the words to finger plays, stories, or songs to the back of the file folder and store the pieces inside.
*Cut out photos of the children in your class and attach a small piece of Velcro to the back of each picture.  Make sure and do one of the teacher and principal.  Children will have a ball making up stories with their friends. 
*Cut geometric shapes out of felt and let the children use them to create objects.

*Cut out seasonal objects from felt and use for making sets and other math activities.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Take the coupons from the Sunday paper to school tomorrow morning.
1st -  Let the children cut out the coupons.
2nd – Can they sort the coupons?
3rd – Can they sort them another way?
4th – Can they match up coupons by amount?
5th – Can they make a list of their five favorite coupons?
5th – How much money could they save if they used the coupons?
6th – How much could they save on double coupon day?
7th - Use the coupons to make a file folder game.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


It’s no secret that my brain was wired up before computers were a household word.  I know a lot of finger plays and songs, but I’m a dinosaur when it comes to technology.  But I TRY!

It’s boggling and overwhelming to keep up on the latest gadgets and games available for the classroom.  I visited  and I was impressed with the free resources. was another great site for newbies to the app world like me. 

If any of you have a free app you’d like to share, please email me and I’ll post it on my site.  (FREE is the operational word here!)

The thing that impresses me most is that technology enables educators to “prescribe” activities to specific skills for specific students.  Instead of just throwing general information out there (like giving an aspirin to everyone), teachers have the ability to match instruction to individual needs.

REMEMBER!  Balance is a key to life and education.  The more time children spend in front of a computer, the more they NEED to sing, play outside, talk, and have concrete experiences.  Dinosaurs and techies can play in the sandbox together!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Stick Pick  (Michelle Vinsanau, New Orleans)
Michelle demonstrated this fantastic app for your Ipad or Iphone.  It costs $3, but when you see all the learning possibilities it’s certainly worth what you pay for it.  Anyway, you write your students names on “sticks” and then when you tap the app it chooses a child’s name.  The really cool thing about the app is that it suggests different levels of questions from Bloom’s taxonomy.  Questions can be adapted to the ability of the children and can be integrated with classroom skills and content.

Note!  If you don’t have an Ipad you can write students names on jumbo craft sticks and keep them in a can.  Color one end of the stick green and one end red.  After they have had a turn put the green end down and the red end up.  When all the sticks are red on top you can flip them over and start again.

Math Bracelet
String 10 beads on a pipe cleaner and twist the ends to make a bracelet.  Children can use the beads like an abacus for doing simple addition and subtraction problems.

Doughnut Shop Song (Jeanette Landry – Napoleonville, LA)
(Tune:  “Turkey in the Straw”)
Well, I walked around the corner and I walked around the block,
And I walked right in to a bakery shop.
I plucked two doughnuts right out of the grease
And I handed the lady a five cent piece.
She looked at the nickel and she looked at me.
She said, “Young man, you’re fooling me.
There’s a hole in this nickel and it goes right through.”
Said I, “There’s a hole in the doughnut, too!
Thanks for the doughnut – so long!”

Musical Chairs (Holly Vaughan)
Reinforce skills as you play musical chairs by placing letters (numbers, words, etc.) on chairs.  Children have to identify the information before sitting down.

Letter Twister (Hollly Vaughan)
Write letters (numbers, words, etc.) on paper and place them on the floor.  Call out different letters for children to touch with their hands or feet.  For example, “Put your hand on the ‘A.’  Put your foot on the ‘X.’

Four Corners (Holly Vaughan)
Put a picture (snake, bee, bear, cat, etc.) in each corner of the room.  Count to ten while children choose a corner.  Say a word like “hat.”  If the picture in their corner rhymes with the word then they act like that animal.  So children would meow like a cat.

Tattle Box or “Important Box”  (Melissa Arceneaux)
Instead of tattling to the teacher, children write out their complaints on paper and put them in the box.  They must start with a capital letter and use good spacing and punctuation or the teacher won’t read their tattles at the end of the day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


When I was a cheerleader in high school they called me the “mouth of the south.”  As I was working on my blog it dawned on me that 45 years later I’m still the “mouth of the south” for teachers.  You share wonderful ideas with me and then it’s my privilege to pass them on. 

Thank you, Louisiana teachers, for these great ideas!

High Five Hands
Each week cut two hands out of construction paper and tape them to the classroom door.  Write upper and lowercase letters, words, numerals and number words, shapes, etc. on the hands.  Each time the children enter the classroom they “high five” the hands and identify the information.

Quiz Quiz Trade – Pass out flashcards (letters, shapes, words, etc.) to the students.  They walk around and find a partner.  Each child identifies the information on their partner’s card and then they trade and find a new partner. 
Hint!  Encourage students to give hints to help their partner identify the information.

Magic Finger (Suzanne Newton, Baton Rouge)
Have children hold up their index finger and tell them it’s their “magic finger.”  Tell them to close their eyes and then spritz their finger with water.  They can use their “magic finger” to track print and point.

Cheer Book (Norma)
Norma makes a book for each child in her room to help them learn letters and to learn their name.  For each letter in the child’s name there is a page that says, “Give me a letter.”   The last page says, “What’s that spell?  Child’s name!”  You could let children illustrate the last page with their picture or use a photograph.

Friendship Game  (Allison Andrews, Shreveport LA)
This is a great activity to use at the beginning of the school year, to start your day, or when children are having difficulty getting along.
Skills:          oral language, social development, self esteem
Materials:    large bucket with lid (Decorate it with pictures of the children.)     popsicle sticks or cards with each child’s name    (Make sure to put the teacher’s name in as well!)
Instructions:  Sit in a “Friendship Circle.”  Each child draws a    name and says something special to make his/her    friend smile.

Dial a Word  (Sheila Howze, Livingston, LA)
Here is a great game to recycle an old cell phone.  Children take CVC words and find the numbers they represent on the phone.  They can then “call” the word and talk to it. 
D O G – 3, 6, 4
R A T – 7, 2, 8

Want a free concert?  If anyone in Springfield, MO, reads this I will be flying into Springfield Monday and I'll have time to sing at a school that afternoon.  Give me a call 404-386-9057 if you're interested.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Bean Counter
Lay a 14” piece of packaging tape on the table sticky side up.  Place ten lima beans end to end in the middle of the tape as shown.  Fold the top of the tape down, the bottom up, and seal.  Trim off the ends.  Children take the bean counter and place it on the end of the object to be measured.  How many beans long is the object?

*Have children record their measurements.
*How many beans long is the classroom?
*Ask children to find something in the room that is 2 beans long.  Can they find something 5 beans?  10 beans?  etc.
*Make similar rulers with toothpicks, paper clips, and other flat objects.

Circular Counter
Make a straw ruler to measure circular objects.  Cut  plastic straws into 1” segments.  Tie a knot in one end of a shoelace and string on 12 straws.  Tie off the other end of the shoelace.  Good for non-standard measurement.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I’m so excited because I’ve got a few new cheers for you today!

I’m So Excited!

When children learn something new or do exceptional work start singing, “I’m so excited.  And I just can’t hide it.  You know, you know, you know, you know, you know skill children have accomplished.

Camera Cheer
Tell your students that they are “front page news” and pretend to take their picture for the newspaper.  Make a clicking noise for the flash as you do this.

Eye Hug 
Smile, close your eyes, and shrug your shoulders.

Love It Cheer
Make a heart with your hands (index fingers touching at the top and thumbs at the bottom) and extend from your heart.

Rock Star Cheer
Put hands down like a rapper and say, “Rock star!”

Smile Cheer
Cock your head to the side, place your palms under your chin, and give a big smile.

Fire Cracker Explosions
Place palms together and make a hissing noise as you move them up in the air.  Clap hands, and then wiggle fingers out and down as you say, “Ahhhhhh!”
Do a baby fire cracker with small movements and a soft voice.
Do a giant fire cracker with exaggerated movements and a loud voice.
Do a slow fire cracker.
How about a happy fire cracker?
How many other variations can the children come up with?

Monday, February 20, 2012


I think most of you know that I have these cheer cards you can download free from my website.  I also have a YouTube video where I demonstrate the cheers. 

*Use a Cheerios box or a Cheer detergent box to store the cheers. 

*Choose one child each day to be the “cheerleader.”  That child gets to put their five favorite cheer cards in a pocket chart and lead the class in cheers.

*Greta Delparte from Bismarck, ND, cut a pocket off an old pair of jeans to store her cheers in.  When it’s time to do a cheer she asks a child to draw a cheer from the “cheer pocket.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Last week when I was in Florida a teacher requested that I tell the story of “The Crooked Mouth Family.”  I had not told that story in so long I had forgotten all about it.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it, so I wanted to share it with you.  It’s best if you light a real candle to tell the story, but in the classroom I would just pretend my index finger was the candle.  You’ll need to practice this story several times in front of a mirror before attempting it in front of a group.

This is a story about a silly family called the Crooked Mouths.
         Father Crooked Mouth could only talk out of the left side of his mouth like this.  (Say this out of the left corner of your mouth.  Every time father talks in the story say it from the left side of your mouth.)
         Mother Crooked Mouth could only talk out of the right side of her mouth like this.  (When mother speaks say it from the right side of your mouth.)
         Brother Crooked Mouth could only talk out of the bottom of his mouth like this.  (Stick out chin and bottom teeth to talk like brother.)
         And Sister Crooked Mouth could only talk out of the top of her mouth like this.  (Stick out top teeth and talk for sister.)
         One night when the Crooked Mouths had gone to bed they heard a strange noise downstairs.
         “Oh, dear,” said mother.  “What could that be?”
         “Well, I better go see,” said father.  So he lit a candle and walked downstairs.  (Take a candle and light it or hold up your index finger and pretend it is a candle.)
         He looked all around, but he didn’t see a thing.  Father decided to go back upstairs and go to bed.  He tried to blow out the candle.  “Whh!  Whh!”  (Blow from the left side of mouth.)  But he couldn’t blow it out.
         “Oh, dear,” said mother.  “Let me try.  Whh!  Whh!”  (Blow from right side of mouth.)  But she couldn’t blow it out either.
         “Oh, dear,” said father.
         “Oh, dear,” said mother.  “What shall we do?”
         “Let’s go wake up brother,” said father.  So father and mother went to brother’s room.
         “Wake up, brother,” said mother.  “Father lit a candle and we can’t blow it out.”
         So brother took the candle and he tried to blow it out.  “Whh!  Whh!”  (Blow from bottom of mouth.)  But he couldn’t blow it out either.
         “Oh, dear,” said father.
         “Oh, dear,” said mother.  “What shall we do?”
         “Let’s go wake up sister,” said brother.  So mother and father and brother went to sister’s room.
         “Wake up, sister,” said brother.  “Father lit a candle and we can’t blow it out.”
         So sister took the candle and she tried to blow it out.  “Whh!  Whh!”  (Blow from the top of mouth.)  But she couldn’t blow it out either.
         “Oh, dear,” said father.
         “Oh, dear,” said mother.
         “Oh, dear,” said brother.
         “Oh, dear,” said sister.  “What shall we do?”
         Just then they heard someone knock on the front door.  (Knock!  Knock!)  They went downstairs and it was Officer O’Brien.
         “What’s going on?” he asked.  “You’ve awakened the whole neighborhood with all your commotion.”
         “Well, I lit a candle and I can’t blow it out,” said father.
         “I can’t blow it out either,” said mother.
         “I can’t blow it out either,” said brother.
         “Boo hoo hoo,” cried sister.
         Officer O’Brien laughed, took the candle, and blew it out.  Then he told the Crooked Mouths good night and left.
         Mother, father, brother, and sister started back upstairs to get in bed.
         “Oh, dear,” said mother.  “I can’t see a thing.”
         “Neither can I,” said sister.
         “Well, I better light a candle,” said father.  (Pretend to light the candle again.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Here are some tunes and tips for clean up time.

Tidy Up  (“Jingle Bells”)

Tidy up, tidy up, put your things away.
Tidy up, tidy up, we’re finished for today.
Oh, tidy up, tidy up, put your things away.
For we’ll get them out again another school day.

We’ve had lots of fun as we’ve worked and played.
Now it’s time to all join in and play the clean up game.

I See Someone Cleaning Up!  (“London Bridge”)

I see child’s name cleaning up,
Cleaning up, cleaning up.
I see child’s name cleaning up,
Just like second child’s name.

Continue singing the name of children who are helpers.
*Get a flashlight and shine it on the child as you sing their name.

Magic Trash

Select one random piece of trash to be the “magic trash.”  Have children
pick up the room.  As they dump the paper and scraps in the trashcan,
inspect what they have in their hands.  The one to find the “magic trash”
gets a sticker.


To help prepare children for clean up time set a timer for three minutes.  Explain, “You have three more minutes.  When the timer goes off we will have a whisper clean up.”

Who You Gonna Call?

Send a letter home asking if anyone has an old dust buster to donate to your classroom.  Choose one person each day to be the “dust buster.”  When there’s a mess shout, “Who you gonna call?”  Children respond, “Dust buster!”  The designated “dust buster” of the day GETS to clean up the mess.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Yeah!  Another cheap, simple prop that can be used in a variety of ways.
(Actually, someone came up to me after a workshop one day and said, “Dr. Jean, you get a simple idea and milk it for all its worth!”  That’s what all good teachers do!)

All you’ll need are cheap, white paper plates.  Put two plates together and staple about ¾ of the way around.  Leave an opening large enough so you can stick your hand in and use like a puppet.  Write letters, numerals, shapes, math signs, etc. on the plates and use to really involve your students.

*Write the letters “B-I-N-G-O” on the front of the plates as shown.  Cut out hands and write numerals on the back.  Choose five children to wear the letters as you sing “Bingo.”  Explain that “Bingo” is a word that has five letters.  After each verse you will turn over one letter and they should clap instead of saying the letter.  Children will learn to go from left to right;  they’ll learn that letters make words;  they’ll learn number concepts.

*Give each child a letter to wear.  Have them come to the front of the room as you call out their sound.  Put the letters together to make words.  This can reinforce CVC words, word families, silent “e,” etc.

*Give children letters to hold up as you sing alphabet songs like “Happy Birthday Letters” or “Who Let the Letters Out?”

*Write numerals on plates and use for ordinals, number sentences, “Ten in the Bed,” and other numeral songs and finger plays.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I told this story last week when I was in Flint and several teachers asked me to share it on my blog.

Make a picnic book by telling this story:

Let’s go on a picnic.  First we need a picnic basket.
(Fold the paper in half.)
Next, we need hotdogs.
(Fold the paper in fourths.)
We also need hamburgers.
(Fold the paper into eighths.)

We’ll need a picnic bench to sit at.
(Open so it’s folded in half.  Bring
one bottom flap to the fold.  Turn
over and bring the other bottom flap
to the fold.)
A picnic is more fun if we share it
with a friend.  (Tear down middle crease
until you reach the fold.)
Now all we need is a book to write a
story about our adventures on our picnic.
(Hands on top of bench, bend down, and
fold around to make a book.)

Use for:     letter books, word families
                  reading the room, writing the room
                  fact families
                  shape or color books
                  unit or theme
                  spelling words (picture/sentence)
                  autograph book
                  opposites, story elements
                  original stories
Hint!  Let children decorate an individual cereal box to store their picnic books.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


President's Day is just around the corner on February 20.

Presidents’ Day – 3rd Monday in February
(Tune:  "Hail to the Chief!")
On Presidents’ Day we remember all the leaders         (Children stand and
In our nation’s history.                                             march as you sing.)
Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Lincoln—               
We stand and salute our Commanders-in-Chief!         (Salute.)
In the great White House
In Washington, D.C.,
They have worked to keep our nation strong.
From seventeen eighty nine till today,
We celebrate all our Commanders-in-Chief!, 2007, Monthly Activities

Letters – Have children write letters to the President.  Don’t be surprised when you get an answer! – This is a great website to learn more about past Presidents, take a tour of the White House, find games, etc.

If I Were the President I Would… Let each child write a story or draw a picture about what she would do if she were President.  Put them together to make a class book.

The Presidents 

(Tune:  “Ten Little Indians”)

History’s full of people and times.
We can learn them with this rhyme.
President’s of the USA
Have made our country great today.

Washington  Adams         Jefferson    Madison
Monroe        Adams       Jackson       Van Buren
Harrison      Tyler         Polk           Taylor
Fillmore       Pierce        and            Buchanan

Lincoln         Johnson      Grant        Hayes
Garfield       Arthur       Cleveland     Harrison
Cleveland     McKinley      Roosevelt     Taft
Wilson         Harding      and           Coolidge

Hoover        Roosevelt    Truman        Eisenhower
Kennedy       Johnson       Nixon          Ford
Carter         Regan         Bush           Clinton
Bush           and            Obama

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


“You’re amazing…just the way you are!”  I love that song.  It should be our theme song in the classroom.  Mr. Rogers (LOVED the man!) was so powerful and positive by reminding every child every day how unique and special they were! 

In our consumer, “My dog’s better than your dog,” “I have the most toys,” “I got the highest test score,” “I scored the most points” world, sometimes we need to take a deep breath and relax.  We are who we are and that’s good enough!  

Your students are amazing…just the way they are!  And YOU are an amazing teacher…just the way you are!  You don’t need to have the most attractive bulletin board, the best website, or the highest reading level.  You are amazing and what you do every day to make a child’s life better is a talent and a gift!

So on this Valentine’s Day I send you love and hope all the love you share every day circles around and comes back to you!

Never forget that Dr. Jean said you were amazing…just the way you are!  And don’t forget to tell your children that I said they were lucky to be in your room.  And they are amazing, too!

P. S. I was loading up my car after doing a workshop in Florida on Saturday and a teacher called out, "Dr. Jean, I'm so glad that God made you!"  That was one of the most beautiful things anyone had ever said to me!  I'm going to tell everyone in my family today that I'm so glad God made them!  And I'm glad He made each of you as well!

Monday, February 13, 2012


Children will have an easier time remembering the short vowel sounds with this song.

The Vowel Family
(Tune:  “BINGO”)

Aunt Aggie had an allergy
and she would always sneeze-o  (Pretend to sneeze.)
/a/a/a/a/a/  /a/a/a/a/a/  /a/a/a/a/a/  
And she would always sneeze-o.

Grandpa Eddie stayed in shape
and he would exercise-o         (Pretend to lift weights.)
/e/e/e/e/e/  /e/e/e/e/e/   /e/e/e/e/e/
He liked to exercise-o.

Baby Izzi had chicken pox
and she would always itch-o.         (Scratch body.)
/i/i/i/i/i/  /i/i/i/i/i/  /i/i/i/i/i/
And she would always itch-o.

Cousin Otto’s throat was sore
And this is what he’d say-o.         (Put hand on throat.)
/o/o/o/o/o/  /o/o/o/o/o/  /o/o/o/o/o/
And this is what he’d say-o.

Uncle Unk wore underwear
and it did stink-o.         (Hold nose.)
/u/u/u/u/u/  /u/u/u/u/u/   /u/u/u/u/u/
And it did stink-o.
Some cute teachers from Cook Elementary in Grand Blanc, Michigan, dressed up like the Vowel Family for Halloween.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Here is a story that a kindergarten teacher from NJ sent me.  I love it because it reflects her sensitivity to a scared little boy and shows how love and patience really can change the world…one child at a time!

Wanted to share a sweet story with you that happened thanks to your letter vests!

A little boy who lived in a refugee camp from Darfur joined my classroom two weeks ago. Not a word of English - clearly terrified and has never seen anything like what we have in our classroom (or city, or country!). It must look and sound like another planet! Very long story short, I have been allowing him lots of freedom to explore our room. My students have been amazing, as only 5-6 year olds can be! Since crying silently by the door all of day 1, he has made a little bit of progress every day. Sat for snack day 3. Finally went to the cafeteria for lunch (instead of with me) day 6. etc.

Yesterday, day 9, we were doing a lesson with our brand-new, hot off the presses letter vests. The way the kids would get their letter was to pull from a giant "mystery grab bag" (laundry bag) of objects, one for each letter, such as a stuffed elephant, little bottle of milk, penguin, umbrella, quarter, etc. After telling us the name of the object, letter it begins with and sound, the students would go to my aide and get their letter.
Well, don't ya know, our new friend, was watching from afar. Before you know it, he had quietly made his way over to the carpet and sat down to wait his turn. He had never joined us for a group lesson on the carpet. The boy next to him exclaimed excitedly, “Look who’s on the carpet!" We all clapped and cheered!

Thank you, Dr. Jean, for engaging, fun ways to learn - even for a nervous little guy who has no idea what we are saying!

Phyllis Doerr
K Teacher

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Sharing Good News
This is such an incredible idea from Jessica Williams that I’d sure “borrow” it if I were still in the classroom!  Jessica decorates a “Good News” jar that holds popsicle sticks with every child's name.  She starts every morning by sharing her own “good news.”  The children clap or cheer for her.  Next, she pulls a stick and the class sings, "Tell me something good!"  That child shares their good news and then the class does a cheer.  The teacher pulls the second stick and they sing, "Tell me something good" and then cheer.  She does three children each day.  She puts those who have had a turn in an envelope and then they start all over again when everyone has had a turn.

Jessica says this gives the children a chance to know each other, practice speaking skills, and it helps her be aware of important things in their lives
(new shoes, baby born, etc.).

Shopping Game
Carol Kellher places a box of small items in her lap.  She writes a three letter word about one of the objects and the children have to blend the sounds and say the word.  The teacher then responds,  "Yes, you bought a HAT" as she pulls the item from the box.  She also lets the children use the shopping box to play with each other at choice time.

A Ram Sam Sam Song
Rhondi Kreger adapts this traditional song for children’s names. 
A ram sam sam
A ram sam sam
Goolie goolie goolie goolie goolie
Ram sam sam 
A raffi, a raffi,
Goolie goolie goolie goolie goolie
Ram sam sam
Use children's names:
John John John
John John John
Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa
John John John
Fiona Fiona
Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa
John John John…