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Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Reading through the notes teachers share at my workshops is like finding a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks!  Look through this list and I guarantee you’ll find something to add a sparkle to your day!

Funtime Center  (Michele Montgomery)
Ask parents to send in cereal boxes.  Cut off the back and laminate.  Place in a reading bin with dry erase markers and allow students to work the puzzles if they finish their work early.
*You can also collect kids’ menus from restaurants and laminate.

Pick Up Sticks Sight Words  (Lesley Whitman)
Write sight words on popsicle sticks.  The children use wooden skewers to try and pick up sticks without moving any of the other sticks.  Encourage them to read the word on the stick.
*You could make a similar game with letters, math facts, etc.

Magazine Pictures  (Lesley Whitman)
Cut out odd magazine pictures and glue them on cardstock and laminate.  For the pre-k children pass out a pictures and let each child talk about their picture.  It’s a great way for making inferences and encouraging complete sentences.
*In kindergarten put several pictures in a basket and let children draw a picture and then write about it.

Baby Fish Fingers (Deborah Morales)
Tell the children that their thumb and index finger are their baby fish.  When they need to open anything they should use their baby fish.  (Works like a charm for ketchup packets.)
At circle time tell them to put their baby fish in their fish bowl (hole created by sitting cross legged).

Cutting Shoebox  (Chris Lance)
To encourage children to practice cutting at home ask parents to fill a shoebox with junk mail and safety scissors.  Keep the box on top of the refrigerator and bring it down when parents are busy cooking dinner.

Bankrupt (Katie Kaylor)
Glue plastic coins to the end of craft sticks.  Write “bankrupt” on one stick.  Place the sticks in a can with “Bank” or “ATM” written on it.  Children sit in a circle and take turns passing the can and drawing sticks.  Each time a student draws a stick they must name the coin and tell how much it’s worth or it goes back in the can.  The game ends when someone draws the “bankrupt” stick and they have to give all their money back to the bank.  Children add up the amounts on their sticks and compare who is the richest, poorest, etc.

Stretching Sounds (Maria Bristal)
Buy little plastic slinkies at the dollar store and let the children use these to stretch out words.

Write Your Name on Your Paper  (Christy Jones)
Sing this song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
Write your name on your paper,
Write your name.
Write your name on your paper,
Write your name.
If you don’t write your name,
Then they all look the same.
Write your name on your paper,
Write your name.

You can also sing:
If your eyes are on me clap your hands.
If your eyes are on me clap your hands.
If your eyes are on me then it’s me that you see.
If your eyes are on me clap your hands.

Greetings  (Jennifer M. Britt)
Greetings are so important and many people use an apron with different types of greetings for kids to choose.  An adaptation to this would be to make a wheel (like Wheel of Fortune) and use picture symbols to represent the different handshakes (biker, fisherman, butterfly, thumb kiss, Spiderman, hand hug, farmer, etc.) so children could spin the wheel.  If you used Velcro you could change the greetings throughout the year.
*You could also use a wheel and spinner for cheers, songs, etc.

Bike Safety (Jennifer Britt)
Make a poster of what the children need before they ride their bike.  For example:
  1. Driver’s license
  2. Helmet
  3. When backing up watch for friends
  4. Etc.
Children could make a license with their picture, date of birth, address, eye color, hair, address, etc.

Snowman Counting  (Debbie Stowe)
You will need cups, cotton balls, and tweezers for this activity.  Draw snowmen on cups and write the numerals 1-10 on their tummies.  Children use tweezers to pick up snowballs (cotton balls) because they are too cold.  Can they place the correct number of snowballs in each cup?
*You can also use the snowmen to sequence numerals, seriate by size, etc.
*Make a similar “Pot of Gold” game with salsa black bowls and gold coins.

Apples up on Top Book (Debbie Stowe)
Place a picture of the child’s head on the bottom of the last page.  Cut 10 pages and staple on top of the child’s head.  Children draw apples to illustrate “One apple up on top” on the first page.  “Two apples up on top” on the second page…
Children can draw red, green, or yellow apples and can make different patterns with the apples.

Where Is Pumpkin?  (Debbie Stowe)
You can use a pumpkin, snowball, shamrock, or any seasonal shape to help children learn positional words. 
Attach a foam circle pumpkin with yarn to the front of a book and store in a pocket.  On different pages have a seasonal picture and write “under the haystack,” “beside the moon,” “between the trees,” “above the fence,” “on the house,” “behind the cat,” etc.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  (Jessica Summer)
After reading HAVE YOU FILLED A BUCKET TODAY several times brainstorm ways to “fill buckets.”  Purchase mini Chinese food boxes at a dollar store.  Print each child’s name under a bucket that you’ve stapled to a bulletin board.   Each time the teacher or a classmate catches a student being a “bucket filler” they get a pompom added to their bucket.  This encourages positive behavior in everyone.

Paint Paddles and Clothespins (Mary Jane Long)
Write numerals vertically down a paint paddle.  When the teacher says, “Show me 4,” the children attach the clothespin to the numeral and hold up their answer.  You can use paddles for addition, subtraction, and other math skills.
*Make paddles with letters, shapes, etc.

Rotten Apple  (Mary Jane Long)
Use die cut apples for this game.  On the apples write letters, numbers, words, or whatever skill you are working on.  On a few apples write “rotten apple.”  Children take turns choosing apples and identifying the information.  They must put all their apples back if they pick the “rotten apple.”
*Adapt throughout the year with a broken heart in February, cracked egg in April, melting snowman in January, etc.

Buddy Sticks for Differentiated Instruction (Cindy Boyer)
Put like stickers on the bottom of jumbo craft sticks.  You will need as many sticks as there are students in your classroom.  Take two cans and separate the sticks into the cans.  Have higher level students (or English speakers) pull from one can and lower level students pull from the other can.  Children will be randomly matched, but also in pairs where they can help each other.

Environmental Print ABC Book (Ruth Ann Tensi)
Over Christmas or spring break ask students to make an ABC book with advertisements, napkins, photos of products, restaurant logos, etc.  Can they find something for each letter?

Hey There Neighbor!  (Ruth Ann Tensi)
Hey, there, neighbor!           (shake hands)
What do you say?            (switch hands)
It’s going to be a great day.  (reach up diagonally)
Greet your friends.           (high 10’s)
And boogie on down.         (shake bottom while bending knees)
Give ‘em a bump           (bump hips gently)
And turn around.                 (turn around in place)
*Count to ten while they find a new partner.

Hang Those Letters Down  (Kate Barnes)
Boys and girls, some letters stand tall.             (arms up)
Some sit on the wall                               (arms straight out)
And some fall.
I’ll show you what to do with those letters in a minute.
Let’s go through the alphabet.
a, b, c, d, e, f
Hang those bottoms down down           (Sing to the tune of “100 Bottles
Hang those bottoms down.           of Pop on the Wall” as you
Some letters stand tall,                      boogie down.)
Some sit on the wall,
Some hang those bottoms down.
h, i,
j?!                                                   (Repeat above chant.)

Pencil Grip (Ann Blackard)
Break crayons in half and children will use three fingers.  Golf pencils also encourage children to use three fingers.

Author/Illustrator Party (Denise Catoe)
At the end of the year have an author and illustrator party using children’s individual books they’ve made in the classroom.  It’s a way to celebrate writing throughout the year.  Parents are invited to attend and cookies and drinks are served.