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Friday, August 31, 2012


My grandson K.J. helped me write this song about buddies for my new CD.  Although the CD won’t be ready until January, this is a great song to encourage your students to start the year being kind to each other.   Here's a link to a video we made:
Be a Buddy, NOT a Bully! 
(Tune:  “Harrigan”)
Give me a B – B.
Give me a U – U…D…D…Y…
What’s it spell?  BUDDY!
I’m going to be a buddy.
I will never be a bully.
I’ll say NO to bullies!
That is what I’ll be.
I’ll be kind and help my friends.
I’ll protect them and defend.
A buddy, that’s ME!
What should you do if someone bullies you?
         Ignore them or walk away.
What if they still bully you?
         Tell them to STOP!
If they still bully you?
         Get a friend to help you.
And if they still bully you?
         Then tell an adult.
I’m going to be a buddy.
I will never be a bully.
I’ll say NO to bullies!
That is what I’ll be.
I’ll be kind and help my friends.
I’ll protect them and defend.
A buddy, that’s ME!

*Draw a T-chart on the board and let children suggest characteristics of buddies and bullies.
*Give a "Buddy of the Day" award to one special child each day.
*Make a class book called "How to Be a Buddy."  Each child illustrates and dictates or completes this sentence "A buddy_________."

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Super Star Chant
(Insert the name of your school in this cadence.  Children repeat each line.)

(School), (School) is the best!     (Slap thighs or clap hands to the beat.)
(School)  is better than all the rest!
We can read and we can write
And our letters are out of sight.
We can count and we can add
And that makes our teacher glad!
We make new friends and follow rules.
Getting along is really cool.
We can learn and we can play
And we prove it everyday!
(School), (School) is the best!
(School)  is better than all the rest!
We are super, yes we are.
Look out world, here comes a star.

*Let children make up their own verses about their grade level.  For example, “First grade, first grade is so neat.  We all have the learning beat.”

School Cheer
(This is an adaptation of “Father Abraham.”)

(Name of school) School has many friends.        
There are many friends at (name of school).
I am one of them,              (Point to self.)
And so are you.                  (Point to a friend.)
So let’s all give a cheer.
Right arm.                         (Begin moving right arm up and down.)

Continue adding left arm…right foot…left foot…nod your head.
End by singing, “Turn around and sit down.”

*Both of these songs are on the “Happy Everything” CD.  The books can be downloaded from my August, 2007, website.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it! 

I’ve got a new fall seminar, and I think you’ll like it!

If we want children to ENJOY learning, then we have to provide engaging activities that will capture their interest and challenge them.   In this workshop, you’ll learn how to replace worksheets with games, books, and activities that will meet the needs of a wide range of learners using multiple pathways to the brain.  You will learn:
*practical applications from scientific based research
*creative ways with Common Core State Standards
*how to start and end your day in a positive way
*songs for reading, math, science, and social studies
*blank books to integrate reading and writing across the curriculum
*fun games to reinforce skills
*brain energizers
You’ll learn at least 100 things to do instead of a worksheet.  

10/18/12          No More Worksheets         Austin, TX

10/24/12          No More Worksheets         Camp Hill, PA

10/25/12          No More Worksheets         West Orange, NJ

11/14/12          No More Worksheets         Wichita, KS

11/15/12          No More Worksheets         Oklahoma City, OK

11/27/12          MN PreK-3 Conference       Minneapolis, MN

11/28/12          No More Worksheets         Denver, CO

12/4/12          Iowa Pre K – 3                    Des Moines, IA

12/5/12          No More Worksheets         North Kansas City, MO         

12/12/12          No More Worksheets         Lexington, KY

12/13/12          No More Worksheets         Indianapolis, IN

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


This idea has got to be on your “must do” list for the upcoming school year.  There is absolutely no sugar involved, but it will be a “sweet” memory just the same for your students. First, let the birthday child choose “candles” (friends who stand around them with their arms above their head like a candle flame).  The rest of the class holds hands and stands in a circle around them to represent the “birthday cake.”  Recite the poem below and then sing the traditional birthday song as you walk around the birthday child.  After singing, the birthday child blows out the candles one at a time and the
candles “melt” to the ground.

Today is (child’s name) birthday
Let’s bake him/her a cake!         (Make arms in a circle.)
Stir and mix and mix and stir           (Pretend to mix.)
Then into the oven to bake!         (Throw in oven.)

Here’s our cake so nice and round.  (Arms in a circle.)
Let’s frost it (child’s favorite color) and white.  (Frost.)
We’ll put (age of child) candles on it,  (Hold up fingers.)
To make (child’s name)’s birthday bright!

*Give the birthday child a special wish.  They can choose a song, a book, a game, or they can sit by their best friend all day.

*Make a birthday book.  Each child gets a sheet of white paper and is encouraged to draw a “gift” for their friend.  Meanwhile, the birthday child gets a large sheet of paper to decorate with stickers and markers.  Classmates “present” their pictures to the birthday child.  Staple their pictures in the construction paper to make a book of birthday wishes!

Note!  Here's a YouTube video where I demonstrate this idea.
P.S.  I got the hat at Oriental Trading.

Monday, August 27, 2012


e.  Add or substitute individual sounds in simple, one syllable words to make new words.

Tooty Ta – Substitute the initial consonant sound in the “Tooty Ta” song below:
            Tooty ta, tooty ta, tooty ta ta.   (Children repeat.)
            Tooty ta, tooty ta, tooty ta ta.
            Thumbs up.
            Tooty ta….
            Thumbs up…Elbows back.
            Tooty ta…
            Thumbs up…Elbows back…feet apart.
            Song continues as you add knees together, eyes shut, tongue out, turn             around.
If you substituted /b/ for /t/ it would be “Booty ba, booty ba, booty ba ba…”

Letter Vests – Pass out letter vests for children to wear.  Call out three sounds, such as /c/ /a/ /n/.  Children with those sounds come to the front of the room and make the word “can.”  Tell /c/ to go away.  What does it say now?  “an”  Tell /t/ to come to the front of the room and stand in front of “an.”  What does it say now?  Continue replacing letters and blending sounds to read new words.

Phonics Fingers - You will need 3 pairs of white cloth garden gloves for this
project.  Cut the fingers off the gloves.  Write a letter on each finger with
markers.  (Write consonants in blue and vowels in red.)  Children insert glove
fingers on their own fingers to make CVC words.  Have them substitute
letters to make new words.
Donut Words – Cut donut shapes out of construction paper.  Write consonants
on either side of the donut as shown.  Write vowels on small circles.  Children
place the donut “holes” between the consonants and blend the sounds.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


d.  Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (CVC) words.

Body Touch - Blend words touching parts of the body.  Touch the head as you say the beginning sound in the word.  Touch the stomach as you say the middle sound.  Touch the feet as you say the final sound.  Quickly move from head to feet and blend the sounds.  Next, challenge children to isolate where they hear the sound.
For example:  Where do you hear the /p/ in cap?  (Children touch toes.)

Letter Tin - Place magnetic letters inside a cookie tin.  On the inside cover make three lines with a permanent marker.  Have the children take out the letters and place them around the lid.  Call out a sound and have the children select that letter and place it on the first line in the lid.  Call out a second sound.  Call out a third sound.  Blend the sounds and read the word.
Hint!  Adapt the number of letters to the ability of the students.
*Store small magnetic letters in a breath mint tin.
*Let children use magnetic letters on a cookie sheet.
Unifix Cubes - Place dot stickers on unifix cubes.  Write letters on the dots.
Children can use these for constructing words.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


c.  Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words.

“Onset” refers to the initial letter or blend.  “Rime” is the vowel and letters following it.

Word Family Song - Sing this song to the tune of “BINGO.” 
            There is word family you should know
            And at is it’s name-o.
            M-a-t, mat
            H-a-t, hat
            C-a-t, cat
            They end in at you know.
*Write the words on a chart and point to them as you sing.
Addams Family  - Sing word families to the tune from “The Addams Family.”
            There’s cat and there’s hat. 
            There’s mat and there’s rat.
            There’s fat and there’s bat. 
            The ‘at’ family!”

Block Rimes - Cut paper the size of square and rectangular unit blocks.
Write onsets on the squares and rimes on the rectangles.  Children put blocks together and read words.
Rime Eggs -   Using plastic eggs, write onsets with a permanent marker on one half of the egg.  Write a rime on the other.  Children twist the egg and read the words.  
Rime Books – Make popsicle stick books by folding two sheets of paper into fourths.  Punch two holes on the folded side and insert a rubber band.  Loop ends of the rubber band around a popsicle stick as shown.  Cut half way through.  Write onsets on the left and rimes on the right.           
*You can also make a rime book with a spiral index card notebook.
Note!  It’s important to do real words as well as nonsense words. 
Flower Rimes - Cut 4” circles out of construction paper.  Cut paper petals similar to the ones shown.  Children write the “rime” on the circle and then write words on the petals.

Friday, August 24, 2012


RF.K.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).

a.  Recognize and produce rhyming words.

Rhyme Detectives - Tell the children that they will get to be detectives and
listen for words that rhyme.  You say a word, and they put their pinkies up if they hear a word that rhymes with it.   Pinkies down if it doesn’t rhyme. 
For example:  Cat - hat (pinkies up), run - dog (pinkies down).            

Handy Rhymes - Have children extend their arms as they say pairs of words
that rhyme.  For example:  sun (extend right hand) - fun (extend left hand).  As
they progress, the teacher says a word as children extend their right hand. 
Children say their own rhyming word as they extend their left hand.

Rhyme Ball - You will need a ball, beanbag, or other object to toss for
this game.  Children sit or stand in a circle.  The teacher             says a word and then tosses the ball to a child.  As the child catches the ball, she must say a word that rhymes.

Riddle Rhyme Game - Let children make up their own rhymes in this game.  First,
they choose an object in the room.  Next, they say a word that it rhymes, along with another clue.  For example:  “This rhymes with hair and it is something you sit on.”  “This rhymes with look and it is something you read.”

Nursery Rhymes - Sing traditional nursery rhymes to tunes such as “100 Bottles
Pop on the Wall,” “Yankee Doodle,” “Sweet Betsy from Pike,”             and ”Gilligan’s Island.”

Nursery Rhyme Websites – Visit these websites for other great activities with
nursery rhymes:
   (Take home books.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012


After a fantastic trip, I am home for a few days.  We didn’t have television, wifi, or phone service in Yellowstone and the Tetons, but what we did have was glorious and wonderful nature!  We live in the most incredible country!!!  Here are pictures of “Cowgirl Kalina” and “Camper K.J.”


b.  Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words.

Move It! Clap, hop, walk, or nod the syllables in children’s names and classroom objects.  Disco, hula, swim, or march to syllables in rhymes and songs.

Hickety Pickety – Slowly clap hands to the beat as you say the chant below.
            Hickety, pickety bumblebee
            Who can say their name for me?  Child’s name.
            Clap it.  (Clap out syllables as you say the name.)
            Snap it.  (Snap syllables in name.)
            Whisper it.  (Whisper name.)
            No sound.  (Lip sinc name.)

Instruments - Have children beat out syllables with instruments.  You could also use cardboard rollers, straws, pencils, etc. like drum sticks to tap out rhythms and syllables.

Syllable Show - Slowly say a word.  Children hold up the number of syllables
they hear on their fingers.
*You could also let them show the number of syllables by placing the appropriate number of poker chips on their desk.
Mouth It - Have children gently place their palm under their chin and ask them repeat to words.  Surprise!  The mouth opens on each syllable (all syllables have vowels and the mouth opens).

Sound Sack –  Take a small sack and fill it with common objects or small toys.  Engage children’s attention with this song to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.”
            What’s in the sound sack, who can tell?
            Maybe it’s a book or maybe it’s a shell?
            What’s in the sound sack, who can say?
            Blend the sounds, you’ll know right away!
Choose an object and stretch out the sounds.  When children can blend the sounds and say the word, remove it from the sack and place it on the floor.  Before putting each item back in the bag, segment the sounds again.            
*Start with compound words.  When children are successful with that, use objects with two syllables.  Finally, children will be able to blend individual phonemes.

Finger Tap -  Bend in your fingers and extend your thumb.  Going from the left
tap a finger for each sound with your thumb. 
For example:  /j/ /e/ /t/.  Run your thumb over your fingers as you blend the sounds and say the word.
*You can do a similar activity by extending your left arm in front of you.  Make the first sound as you touch your shoulder, the second sound as you touch the elbow, and the third sound as you touch the hand.  Then quickly sweep the
right hand down your left arm as you blend the sounds and say the word.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


RF.K.3.  Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding.

a.  Demonstrate basic knowledge of letter-sound correspondence by producing the primary or most frequent sounds for each consonant.

Letter Pops – Here’s a great tool for making letter-sound connections.  Purchase a set of magnetic letters and glue them to jumbo craft sticks.  (E6000 glue is my favorite!)  Pass out the letters and children can hold them up at the appropriate time in the songs below. 
*They can also match letter pops up to classroom print and use them to make CVC words.
Singing and Moving Letters – Here are some songs where children can sing and learn.

            What’s This Letter?
            (Tune:  “Bingo”)
            Oh, what’s this letter, do you know?
            What letter can this be – o
            /a/ /a/ /a/  It’s an A (shout)
            /a/ /a/ /a/   it’s an A!
            /a/ /a/ /a/   It’s an A!
            That is it’s name-o.

            The Letters on the Bus
            (Tune:  “The Wheels on the Bus”)
            The letters on the bus all make their sounds,
            Make their sounds,
            Make their sounds.
            The letters on the bus all make their sounds
            All around the town.
            The B on the bus goes /b/ /b/ /b/, /b/ /b/ /b, /b/ /b/ /b/,
            The B on the bus goes /b/ /b/ /b/ all around the town.

            Who Let the Letters Out?
            (“Who Let the Dogs Out?”)
            Who let the A out?           
            /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
            Who let the B out?  etc.

            Seven Little Letters
            (“Five Little Ducks”)
            (Choose 7 children to wear letter vests.)
            Seven little letters went out one day,            (Children hold hands            
            Over the hill and far away.                         in a circle.)
            When the teacher called /f/f/f/f/                       
            Only the letter f came back.                                   
            (Child wearing “f” skips to the teacher.)

            The Alphabet in My Mouth
            (“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”)
            I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth.
            I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth.
            I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth,
            And I can read.
            I’ve got A - /a/ /a/ - in my mouth.           
            I’ve got B - /b/ /b/ - in my mouth.        
            I’ve got C - /c/ /c/ - in my mouth,
            And I can read.
*Take a photo of each child in the classroom with their mouth wide open.  Enlarge.  Glue a letter in the middle of each child’s mouth.  Put the pictures together to make class book.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


d.  Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

Highway Letters and Vests – These are a MUST in any classroom.  Go to to download the highway letters.  Insert them in clear sheet protectors.  Children can drive cars over these, trace the letters with a dry erase marker, place Wiki Stix on top, etc.  Punch holes at the top and tie on string so children can wear these as you sing songs.  Children stand up when the letter that they are wearing is sung in the song.
Letter Man – Letter Man also wants to help children learn letters.  He’s made from a small swing trash can available at the Dollar Tree.  Decorate with googly eyes, pompoms and felt scraps.  Children can feed Letter Man letters that they know, letters in their name, make words and feed him, letters in alphabetical order, and so forth.
Letter Looker – Loop around a pipe cleaner to make a “letter looker.”  Children can identify letters in the classroom and in books with their lookers.
Sock It to Me – Cut socks out of construction paper.  Write uppercase letters on half the socks and lowercase letters on the other half.  Children match upper and lowercase letters and use a clothespin to put them together.
Pictures, Letters, Words – Make a brochure from a sheet of paper.  (This is easy if you roll the paper into a burrito and smash it.)  Children cut out pictures from the newspaper or magazines and glue them in the first section.  They cut out letters and glue them in the middle section.  Words are cut out and glued in the third section.
Class Alphabet Books – Write different letters of the alphabet in the middle of a sheet of paper.  Each child selects a letter and creates an object, animal, or design out of the letter.  Can they turn the letter into something that starts with that sound?  Put their pictures together to make a class alphabet book.
*Hint!  You can make alphabet books to go with almost any theme, such as “Foods We Eat,” “Animals,” “Toys,” etc.

Alpha-Body Book – Divide children into groups of 4.  Challenge them to lay on the floor and make letters of the alphabet with their bodies.  Take photos and put them together to make a class alphabet book.           
Singing Sound – Music is the most convenient way to learn anything!  Here are a few songs to familiar tunes that children will enjoy singing.

            (Tune:  “Jeopardy”)
            A for apple a-a-a.  (Pretend to eat an apple.)
            B for bounce B-B-B.  (Bounce a ball.)
            C for cut c-c-c.  (Open and close index and middle fingers.)
            D for dig d-d-d.  (Pretend to dig.)
            E – elbow  (Point to elbow.)
            F – fan  (Fan self with hand.)
            G – gallop  (Gallop in place.)
            H – hop  (Hop on one foot.)
            I – itch  (Scratch self.)
            J – jump  (Jump up and down.)
            K – kick  (Little kicks with foot.)
            L – love  (Hug self.)
            M – munch  (Move mouth as if eating.)
            N – nod  (Nod head.)
            O – opera  (Extend arms and sing dramatically.)
            Q – quiet  (Index finger on lips.)
            R  – run  (Run in place.)
            S – sew  (Pretend to hold a needle and sew.)
            T – talk  (Open and close fingers like a mouth.)
            U – upside  (Lean over.)
            V – volley  (Hands in air and pretend to volley a ball.)
            W – wiggle   (Wiggle all over.)
            X – x-ray   (Make “x” with arms.)
            Y – yawn  (Extend arms and pretend to yawn.)
            Z – zigzag  (Make an imaginary “z” in the air.)
            Letter sounds are all you need.
            Put them together and you can read! 
            (Hold palms together and open like a book.)
            *Download this book as well as the ABC chart at
            This Is a Tale
            (“Gilligan’s Island”)
            This is a tale about the letter A.           
            It makes a special sound.
            /a/ /a/ /a / /a/ A!
            Let’s learn another sound….
            *You can download the book for this song at

            Happy Birthday Letters
            Yo, A,, it’s your birthday.
            Let’s all read
            Like your birthday.
            /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
            /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/

Sign Language – Sign language is multi-sensory and a perfect vehicle for learning letters and sounds.  Go to to learn the manual signs for letters.                    (Tune:  “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
            Children repeat each line.
            Where is A?  (Hands behind back.)
            Here I am.            (Make sign for “a.”)
            What do you say, A?
            /a/, /a/, /a/.
            Continue using other letters and making the manual signs.