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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Teachers are so generous to share ideas with me at my seminars.  However, translating their notes isn’t always that easy as you can tell from the photo. 
These ideas are almost like seeds that you can take and grow into your own activities.  As a teacher once remarked, “Teachers don’t steal ideas.  They harvest ideas!”  Help yourself to this garden of ideas!

Hidden Words – (Melanie Goodwin)
Place sight words inside Easter eggs and hide.  Children have to write a sentence with the words they find in the eggs.

National Geographic Kids Website (Melanie Goodwin)
This site has amazing text, pictures, and videos and is great for teaching science and informational text.  Use it as a springboard for writing.

Pizza Hut – Book It!  (Melanie Goodwin)
You can sign up and get a booklet of free coupons for a personal pan pizza.  No purchase required.  Great for a monthly reading reward!

Super Visors (Melanie Goodwin)
Two children are selected to be “advisors” for the day.  During guided reading/workstations students ask a partner or one of the “advisors” before sitting in the “waiting chair” to ask the teacher.  “Ask three, then me!”  They have to wait until the teacher can get to them and often leave because they figure it out while waiting.  This really helps eliminate disruptions during guided reading!

Mr. Tuttles (Karen Campbell)
Take a mirror and put a hat/head on top and add arms and legs to create “Mr. Tuttles.”  Children tell Mr. Tuttles their tattles!

Altoid Boxes (Joan Watts)
Fill Altoid boxes with plastic letters and use for small group work.  Have children pour out their letters and then spell “rat” in the box.  Tell them to close the lid so their neighbor can’t see.  Share when everyone is done.

Hallway Chant (Nikkie Grabeel)
I had a little wiggle
Deep down inside of me.
I tried to make it stop
But it wouldn’t let me be.
So I pulled that wiggle out
And threw it like a ball
And now (teacher’s name) knows
I am ready for the hall!
*A secret student is picked from craft sticks and the line leader and caboose watch the secret student in the hall.  If that student is well behaved the class gets a tally mark.  If the tally marks beat the teacher on Friday the class earns extra center time.
This is a fun website and it’s free!  Lots of games, cards the kids can make, etc.

Class T-Shirts  (Dandridge Elementary)
This school uses ice cream money to provide a free T-shirt for each child in the school.  Each class has a different color so kids are easy to spot when they wear their shirts on a field trip.  The back of each shirt says, “Be a buddy, not a bully!”

End of Year Gift (Julie Bright)
Ask each child to bring in a pillowcase.   Use a T-shirt transfer to put this saying on the pillowcases:
         Now I lay me down to sleep.
         I’ll count hands instead of sheep.
         Of all the friends I made
         In (teacher’s name) first grade.
The students use fabric paint to put their handprint and write their name on all their friends’ pillowcases.

Collaborate and Listen (Mandy Hitson)
Use this idea from Vanilla Ice to get kids’ attention.
         Teacher says – All right, STOP!
         Children respond – Collaborate and listen!

I Won’t Pick My Nose No More (Dorothy Zentz)
(Tune:  “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”)
I can pick my friends.
I can pick up my toys.
I can pick my coat off the floor.
I can pick up my feet to a marching beat
But I won’t pick my nose no more.
No I won’t.  I say I won’t.
No, I won’t pick my nose no more.
I’ll use a tissue just watch and see
And you’ll be so proud of me!

Scooby-Doo Game (Mary Marsionis)
On index cards write letters, shapes, word wall words, etc.  Put Scooby-Doo stickers on some of the cards.  Students pick a card and say the letter, word, etc.  If a student gets Scoopy-Doo everyone says, “Rut row!”  At the end roll a die and the kids with that many cards are “winners!”

B and D Discrimination  (Mary Marsionis)
Children use left hand to make a “b” and right hand to make a “d.”  Say “big dog” to remember “b” and “d.”

Insects (Katheryn Lambert)
(Tune:  “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”)
Head (point to head)
Thorax (point to chest)
Abdomen, abdomen  (rub torso).
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen.
Two antennae (wiggle index fingers by temples)
And six legs (three fingers extended on each side)
Head, thorax, abdomen!
*Use the concept of two antennae and six legs to discuss symmetry and odd and even numbers.  “We know our insects need six legs.  Should I use one leg on this side and 5 legs on the other?  No!  It would be all lopsided!”

Swat (Whitney Rhyne)
Write letters, words, etc. on chart paper or board.  Have 2 children come up at a time to race and find the letter the teacher calls out.  Each child is given a fly swatter and the first one to “swat” it wins a point for their team.

Who Let the Letter Out?  (Whitney Rhyne)
Have the class squat down as you begin they song.  They get to “pop up” when the letter that their name begins with comes up in the song.  This is great for beginning sounds and teaches the kids what letters their friends’ names begin with.

Vacuum Cleaners  (Whitney Rhyne)
If you have a mess of paper on the floor allow the children to become vacuum cleaners.  They crawl or slide around on the floor making noises and picking up the trash.  They will love it!

Friendship Tools  (Liz Watras)
Use sign language ( to teach children these words:
When they have a problem they can use the tools and signs to work through the conflict.

Story Sticks (Robin Davis)
Use giant paint sticks for retelling stories.  Put Velcro at the end of the sticks and then attach pictures.  These could also be used as song visuals.

Donut Vowels (Robin Davis)
Make donuts out of foam and decorate with markers.  Write letters on each side of the donut.  Next, put a vowel in the middle of a small paper plate.  Children place the donut hole over the vowel and sound out the word.

Buddy Time (Robin Davis)
Put matching pompoms in a can and let each child draw a pompom.  They match pompoms to find their buddy.

Travel Soap Containers (Robin Davis)
Use travel soap containers to store crayons, magnetic letters, sight words, etc.

Word Families (Paulina Newman)
Write endings (rimes) on the board.  The students choose a beginning sound and place it in front of the ending.  If it makes sense, write the word at the top of the board.  If it does not make sense place it in a trash can on the bottom of the board.

Ice Cream Surprise Game  (Bobbie Blevins)
Use ice cream cone cut outs (available at the Dollar Tree) for this activity.  Write “Who?” “What?” “Where?” “When?” “Why?” on the back of the cones.  Hold these up in a fan shape so children can pick one and tell that part of the story.  You can also write “verb,” “noun,” “adjective” on the ice cream cones.  Children pick a page in the book and identify that part of speech in a sentence.

Tablecloths (Angie Barnett)
You can use flannel back tablecloths for everything.  They are sturdy and won’t slip on the carpet.  Just have the kids take off their shoes. 
Keypad – If you draw a keypad children can jump their phone number, cafeteria number, or use for number recognition.
Popcorn Words – Write words or letters on popcorn shapes.  Children jump around identifying letters or words.
Keyboard – Make a keyboard and use for letter recognition or spelling words.
Graph – Draw out a bar graph and use or comparisons.

Hall Chant (Theresa Malone)
My hands are hanging by my side
I’m standing straight and tall.
My eyes are looking straight ahead.
I’m ready for the hall.

Days of the Week (Renee Nicolo)
Hang the days of the week on a clothesline.  Put two clothespins on the current day.  You can also use the clothesline for letters, numbers, etc.

Roll Call (Renee Nicolo)
Call the roll in different languages.  “Buenas dias.”  “Guten morgen.”  “Bonjour.”  “Gua-cha.”

Put Your Finger on a Wall  (Sharon Howard)
(Tune:  “If You’re Happy”)
Use this idea to keep students in line going down the hall.
Put your finger on a wall, on a wall.
Put your finger on a wall, on a wall.
You’re (number) feet tall
You’re big or small.
Put your finger on a wall, on a wall.

Itsy Bitsy Spider (Sharon Howard)
After singing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” let children change what kind of spider it is.  It could be happy, mad, mean, angry, silly, pretty princess, etc.  Then children decide how that spider would go up the waterspout.

Bread and Butter (Sharon Howard)
When you walk down the hall and go around a post or pole say this chant to the tune of “Frere Jacques”:
Bread and butter
Bread and butter
Toast and jam
Toast and jam
Peanut butter jelly
Peanut butter jelly
Cheese and ham
Cheese and ham