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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


HAPPY NEEWOLLAH!  (That’s Halloween spelled backwards!)  And if you don’t celebrate Halloween, then I wish you a happy October 31st!

I’m not very good at telling jokes, but here are two of my favorites:

What do you get when you take the inside out of a hotdog?
A “hollow” weenie!

What are the birds giving out for Halloween?

Here’s my Kalina Ballerina and K.J. the Grim Reaper.  Holly's students at Marymount had a Halloweenfest for homeless children and the faculty's children.  One of the crafts was the spider hat.  Pretty cute, huh?

P. S.  Ask your children to save their candy wrappers and bring them to school.  I'll give you some learning activities with these tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Do you know the "WH" brothers?  Well, they sure are snoopy!  They are always asking who, what, where, when, and why.  Understanding question words is also part of the Core Standards. 

Question Sticks – Write “who, what, where, when, why, how” on giant craft sticks.  Insert in a sock.  Children take turns pulling out a stick and using the word to ask a question.
*Couldn't you tie this in with a special classroom event (aka Halloween)?  Who will you be?  Where will you go?  What are some safety rules?  Why should you say "thank you"?  

Questions and Statements - You will need two lunch sacks and a variety of small
classroom objects for this activity.  Draw a question mark and write “Question” on one bag.  Draw a period and write “Statement” on the other bag.  Fill each bag with several objects.  Children take turns drawing an item from the bag.  If they chose the question bag, they must make up a question about the item.  If they choose the statement bag, then they make up a statement about their item.
* Relate items in the bag to a unit or theme.  I'm thinking pumpkins, spiders, bats, etc.

Let's take another standard (Use the most frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off, for, of, by, with) and relate it to the season.

Where’s Boo? – This can be played with a napkin ghost, pumpkin, or any small toy.  The teacher places the object on, over, under, beside, behind, etc. a box.  Children have to make a sentence describing where the object is located.
For example:  “Boo is under the box.  The pumpkin is beside the box.”
I made BOO by wrapping a napkin around a round lollipop. 

Pantomime Pick – Write prepositions on index cards.  Read over the words as children define or dramatize what the words mean.  Place these in a bag.  Children take turns selecting a card and then dramatizing it as classmates try and identify the word. 

Teacher Says – Children sit in a chair to play this game similar to “Simon Says.”
The teacher calls out various prepositions and the children act them out accordingly.  For example:  “Teacher says get behind your chair.  Teacher says stand in front of your chair.  Get under your chair.  Oops!  Teacher didn’t say!”

Monday, October 29, 2012


Last week when I was in Pennsylvania and New Jersey I met some BOOOTIFUL teachers who gave me these tricks and treats to share.  Sandy is visiting many of you today, so I hope and pray you are all safe!

Karate Write the Room  (Nicole Sherman)
Instead of having the children write the room, let them do karate letters as they read words around the room.  What are karate letters?  You punch up above your head for letters that start at the top dotted line.  You punch out in front of you for letters that start at the middle dotted line.  You give a little kick for letters with a tail.

Zip Lines (Suzanne Boylan)
Get a 20" zipper and number from the bottom to the top 0-20.  Children can zip up numbers or zip down numbers to practice addition and subtraction.
*Suzanne said she asked each child to bring in a 20" zipper and they used them throughout the year.

Science Names (Suzanne Kaplan)
Alliterate each child's name with a science term.  For example, Michelle Molecule, Cathy Cosmic, Grady Gravity, etc.  During science period call them by their science name.

Envelope Game (March Schneider)
Seal an envelope and then cut it in half.  Write numerals 1-20 (or however many students you have) on the envelopes.  Mix up the envelopes and then pass them out to the students.  The students put them on their hand like a puppet.  #1 says, "Here is 1.  Where is 2?"  #2 holds up their envelope and says, "Here is 2.  Where is 3?"
*You could also write letters on the envelopes and do the letters in alphabetical order.
All About You  (Connie Richwine)
After completing an "All About Me" cycle, do "All About You."  Invite parents to come in and talk about their occupation.  Encourage them to bring in material from their company, a uniform, tools they use, vehicle (such as a police car), etc.

Gingerbread Man Career Visits (Michele Brymesser)
Here's another clever idea to encourage parents to visit and share their careers.  The gingerbread man runs away to the parent's place of employment.  The students wonder where the gingerbread man has gone, and they are surprised with a visit from their parents.

Show and Tell Challenge (Maribel Mohr)
Use gift bags and staple a note with a challenge, such as a letter, three dimensional shape, numeral, etc. Pass out the bags to the students at the beginning of the day.  At the end of the day they can share what they've found.
*You could also send these bags home for the children to do with their parents.

Chef Hat Book (Susan Leonard)
Here is an idea for Mother's Day.  Use a wooden spoon as a binder to make the popsicle stick book.  The child tells the teacher their favorite thing their mom makes.  The teacher types the directions as the child dictates.  Make copies of all students' recipes to make a class book.

Book Box (Kelly McLaughlin)
Children decorate a box at home with their parents.   Encourage the children to "present" their boxes at school and describe how they decorated them.  When they make books at school, they can save them in their special box.

Math Pizza Box
Open a pizza box and use colorful tape to make a line between the lid and the bottom of the box.  Also make a line with tape vertically to divide the lid into two sections.  Children use math counters to make sets in the top and then join them together in the bottom.

Portfolio Boxes (Angela)
Ask a local pizza shop to donate pizza boxes.   Send these home with the children to decorate with their families.  Keep examples of their work throughout the year in the boxes.  Send them home at the end of the year as a special momento of their school year.

Ping Pong Pitch (Shaina Soderstrom)
Get pink ping pong balls and write a digit from 0-9 on each ball.  (You could also draw a shape, write a letter, write a word, etc.)  Put the balls in a make-up bag with a zipper.  Unzip the bag a little and shake it.  When the balls fly out the students catch them and identify the information.
*Purchase drink stirrers at a dollar store and sue them for reading pointers.

October Math Counters
Spread dry lima beans on a sheet of newspaper.  Paint one side orange with spray paint.  Dry.  Draw a jack-o-lantern face on the orange side and a ghost face on the white side.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I was originally writing this blog for November 1st.  However, I thought it might be more helpful for you to have these suggestions a few days ahead!

My thoughts are with you today!  November 1st should be a holiday because after all the trickin' and treatin' and sugar, it's a challenging day!  My advice is don't make yourself crazy trying to do too much today.  Shut your door, play outside, review skills, play games, sing songs, make a book, and take a deep breath!

Here’s an “Emergency Kit” for today (or any day when things get crazy)!

Whisper Day – Make a “whisper only” sign for your door.  Explain that you will only use a whisper voice all day long.  Talk, read, sing, and do all activities with a soft voice.
Turn off the Lights – Something as simple as turning off the lights can reduce stress and energy.  You could also play some quiet music as children enter the classroom.

Quiet Game – One child is selected to be “it.”  “It” stands in front of the room and says, “Mousie, mousie, how quiet can you be?  When I clap my hands 1, 2, 3 (slowly clap 3 times), we shall see!”  “It” chooses the classmate who is being the quietest and then that child comes to the front of the room and is the new “it.”  (My class LOVED this game.  It was a great way to develop self-regulation and calm them down.)

Give Your Mouth a Vacation – Challenge children to “give their mouths a vacation” and practice breathing through their noses.  Demonstrate how to slowly breath in on a count of 8 and then breath out on a count of 8.  Remind them  breathing slowly in and out can help them if they are angry.

Shake Down – Children stand and shake their right hand 5 times as they count.  Then shake the left hand 5 times.  Shake the right foot 5 times.  Shake the left foot 5 times.  Next, shake body parts 4 times, then 3 times, then 2 times, then 1 time.  Oh, yeah! 
*Do this several times using a softer voice each time until you are doing the silent version.

Use Your Imagination – Ask the children to close their eyes as you read a story.  Challenge them to make “pictures in their brains.”  Give them a sheet of paper to illustrate the story.

Scribble Designs – Have children take a black crayon, close their eyes, and scribble on a sheet of paper.  Open their eyes.  Can they fill in the whole page with different colors and designs in each space?
Buddy Poem – Divide students into groups of two.  Demonstrate how to write the word “November” down the side of a sheet of paper.  Together they write an acrostic poem by coming up with a word for each letter.
Silent Show and Tell – Have children close their eyes as friends take turns talking about what happened on Halloween night.  (If you don’t do holidays, then friends can take turns telling jokes or riddles.)

Make Rain
Hold up your palm as you say, “Let’s make rain.  Do what I do.”
Tap pointer finger on palm for several seconds.
Tap pointer finger and middle finger.
Tap pointer, middle, and ring finger.
Tap pointer, middle, ring, and pinky on palm.
Clap hands together loudly.
Clap hands and stomp feet and then reverse the movements.
Clap hands.
Tap pointer, middle, ring, and pinky on palm.
Tap pointer, middle, and ring finger.
Tap pointer and middle finger.
Tap pointer finger on palm.
Slowly bring palms together and put in your lap.
*This will really sound like a rainstorm is coming and going.  Children will want to do it again and again.  Woe be unto the child who does not cooperate with the group!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

SL.K.4.  Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.

Tell Me More – Place several interesting objects in a gift bag.  One at a time, pull an object out and sing to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”
Do you know what this is, what this is, what this is?
Do you know what this is?  Please tell me more!
Encourage the children to identify the item and tell you as many descriptive words as they can about it.

Conversation Starters – Run off conversation starters similar to the ones below and place them in a paper sack.  Children choose one before they go home at the end of the day and use it to tell their parents about their day.
Ask me about our story.
Ask me what song we sang.
Ask me who I played with.
Ask me what I learned.
Ask me what we had to eat.
Brain Tickets – Purchase raffle tickets at a dollar store or office supply store.  Before children leave each day they have to tell you something they learned to earn a brain ticket.  Encourage parents to ask their children what they did to earn their brain ticket each day.
Story Bits – Select small objects that relate to a story or unit of study.  For example, you could use a button for Corduroy, a fake jewel for Fancy Nancy, a shell for an ocean unit, etc.  Children take home the object and explain how the item relates to the book they heard or what they learned at school.

SL.K.5.  Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

Singing Readers – Each week introduce a poem or song to your class.  Give children a copy of the lyrics to illustrate.  Hole punch and save in a pocket folder or 3 ring notebook.   Use for choral reading, independent reading, or buddy reading.

Colorful Tip – Challenge children to use as many colors as they are in age in their illustrations.  For example, a six year old should have six colors in her picture and a seven year old should use seven different colors.

Pictures in Your Head – As you sing familiar songs ask children to close their eyes and create a picture in their brains.  Have them open their eyes and use markers, crayons, paint, or other media to illustrate what the song means to them.  Cut apart the lyrics and glue them to the children’s drawings to make a class book.

Picture Talks -  Ask children to cut out interesting pictures from magazines.  Encourage them to dictate or write a story to go with the picture. 
*They could also label details in the photographs.

Recipes – Classroom cooking experiences provide an excellent opportunity to read, follow directions, and illustrate ingredients and steps.

SL.K.6.  Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

American Idol – Let children take turns playing “American Idol” as they lead classmates in familiar songs.

Role Play – Have children act out life situations.  For example, what would you do if someone bullied you?  What would you do if a stranger tried to get you to ride in their car?  What would you do if you saw a fire?  What would you do if you found $20 on the bus?

Puppets – Provide children with puppets and stuffed animals to act out stories and problems.

Expression Puppets – Cut 3” circles out of paper and draw a happy face, sad face, angry face, sleepy face, scared face, and surprised face on them.  Attach to craft sticks.  Introduce the faces one at a time.  How does this puppet feel?  Why do you think the puppet feels that way?  What should you do when you feel like that?
Sing the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” inserting the different emotions as you hold up the puppets.
Manners, Please – Teach children how to answer a phone call using a play phone or old cell phone. 
*Model how to shake hands and state your name when meeting someone new.
*Prompt children to say, “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me” with sign language cues.

Audio Recordings – Children can practice reading simple books, saying rhymes, or singing songs with audio devices.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Getting children to THINK and answer QUESTIONS is a key to instruction.  You can integrate these strategies throughout your day every day!

SL.K.2.  Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.

Me Too!  Teach children sign language for “me too!”  (Extend thumb and pinky finger and place the middle three fingers on your palm as you point your thumb toward your chest.)  Tell children when you are reading a book they can use the sign to let you know they’ve had a similar experience.

Don’t Understand – Children can use this sign when something is not clear to them.  Put your index finger next to your brain and wiggle it like you are turning on a light as you shake your head “no.”

Walk About – Select key points from a text.  Tell the children if they agree to go to one side of the room.  If they don’t agree they should walk to the other side of the room.  Discuss the answer with their group and choose a spokes person to report on their consensus. 

Survey Says – Use a group summary to answer questions by having children raise their hands or stand up.

Fingers Up – Children use their fingers to indicate answers to questions with one being the least and five being the most.  For example:   “Show me on your fingers how you liked this story.”

Stump the Teacher – Let children ask the teacher questions.  Can they stump the teacher?

SL.K.3.  Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.

Pick Me Sticks – Write children’s names in the middle of jumbo craft sticks.  Color one end of the stick green and the opposite end red.  Place the sticks in a cup with the green end up.  When you ask a question, pull a stick and that child gets to answer.  Turn their stick so the red end is up when you put it back in the can.  When all the sticks have been called, turn them over and start again.
*There's also a cool app called Stick Pick that enables you to randomly call on students and offers questions relating to Bloom's taxonomy.

Question of the Day – Write a question on the board each day.  Start with simple “yes” or “no” questions where children write their name.  Add more choices as the year continues.
Hint!  Write children’s names on index cards and attach a strip of magnetic tape to the back so they can place it by their response to the question.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I guess it comes as no surprise to most of you that I love holidays.  I can’t help it!  Some of my happiest memories as a child and as a teacher are centered around holidays.  Holidays give us something to look forward to and are an excuse to put a little fun in our lives.  I’m really not a bad person because I like to celebrate.

On the other hand, there is a growing movement toward eliminating all holidays from schools.  I certainly understand why and I respect that decision.  Those people are no more party poopers than I am a pagan. 

But you creative teachers have found a wonderful way to celebrate and have fun while avoiding the traditional trappings!  For example, one teacher told me that they do a “friendship celebration” instead of Valentine’s Day.  Each child brings a fruit and they make a fruit salad they can enjoy together.

Last week in Texas several teachers shared these ideas:

Nursery Rhyme Parade  (Carly Kettler, Erika Ahumada, & Jennifer Ruiz)
To culminate a nursery rhyme unit, the children dress up like nursery rhyme characters on Halloween and parade throughout the school in their costumes.  Afterwards they have nursery rhyme themed stations with hands-on activities.
“Spider Cookie” – Children create spiders from Oreo cookies with licorice legs and red hots for eyes.
“Humpty Dumpty” – Children balance plastic eggs on spoons and walk.
“Baa Baa Black Sheep” – Children do finger painting.

Cowboys and Cowgirls (Anne Alff)
After studying about Texas in October, the children dress up like cowboys and cowgirls.  They have a rodeo, chili, queso and chips, etc.

P.S.  I can’t help it, but I’ve got one more Halloween idea!   Let children squirt glue on a sheet of wax paper.  Add some wiggly eyes.  Dry overnight.  Punch a hole, insert string, and you’ve got a necklace.  These don’t have to be ghosts, you know.  They could be monsters or aliens or anything else you would like them to be.  So if you ever see a holiday activity on my site, you just go ahead and borrow it, adapt it, or steal it and make it work for you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The “Eyes of Texas” were smiling on me last week in Austin and in Houston at the Montessori Conference.  Every time I meet a teacher I feel like I have a new BFF!  Meet Claudia Walker and Emily Jensen!

And I always am motivated by new ideas teachers share!

The Shoe Sheriff  (Karen Hansen & Karen Aikin)
When a child can tie shoes, she gets to wear a badge and is the “shoe sheriff” for the day.  The teacher no longer has to tie shoes because the other children know they have to get help from the “shoe sheriff.”
Word Tracker (Cindy Simmons)
Let children wrap sparkly pipe cleaners around their finger.  What is left over is the tracker.

Write My Name (Cherie Weiss)
The first thing I do
Is always the same.
I pick up my pencil
And I write my name.

N – A – M – E
That’s where your name is suppose to be!

Water Fountain Drinks (Tracsena Grant)
When students are drinking at the water fountain too long the student behind chants:
One, two, buckle my shoe.
Three, four, drink no more!

Story Telling Sticks   (Jennifer Ruiz)
Buy wooden character pieces (usually $1 or less at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s) and glue them to popsicle sticks.  Group these together by theme and let children use them to tell stories.

Thinking Cap (Claudia Walker)
My hands are in my lap.
My mouth is closed.
My eyes are open.
My ears are listening.
And my thinking cap is on!

Magic “E” Star (Karen Hansen and Karen Aikin)
Glue a yellow star with an “e” on it to a craft stick.  Children add the “e” to the end of CVC words and sound out the new word.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Election Day is just around the corner, and I’ve got some ideas to involve children, yet remain “politically correct.”  A week before the election ask children to tell you what they know about the upcoming election.  (Try to remain as neutral as possible!)  Explain that we are lucky to live in a democracy where every person gets to vote – and every vote matters!  Tell the children they must be 18 to register as a voter, but you are going to have a “mock” (pretend) election in your classroom.

1st – Children must register to vote before the election.  Let them sign their name on a sheet of paper and fill out a voter registration card.
2nd – Let children help you decorate a voting booth and a ballot box.  Remind them about the importance of a “secret ballot” so nobody knows how you voted and nobody can tell you what to do.
*A cardboard box set up on a table with one side cut off makes a perfect voting booth.  A shoebox or cardboard box with a slit cut in the top will do for the ballot box.
3rd – Prepare a ballot with classroom activities children can vote on.  You could have two books, two games, two songs, two art projects, etc.  (Picture clues will help younger children with their selection.)  Demonstrate how to mark their choice with an "X."
4th – On November 6th (or November 5th if your school is closed Election Day) choose three children at a time to “work” the polls.  One child crosses off names on the voter registration sheet.  One child stands at the voting booth and hands out ballots.  A third child presides over the ballot box.  After children have voted, let them make an “I Voted” badge from red, white, and blue paper.
5th – Count the votes and then read the book, sing the song, or play the game that won the most votes.

Frequently throughout the year, let children vote on class activities (where either option is acceptable).  The one with the most votes is the winner.  The majority rules!

Monday, October 22, 2012


Here are some simple, yet meaningful ways to nurture Comprehension and Collaboration.

SL.K.1.  Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about Kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
-Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).

iPhone – Write a capital “I” on an index card and tape it to a cylinder block to make your iPhone.  Pass the prop around as children take turns making up sentences that being with “I…”  Only the person with the iPhone can talk!
*You can use a toy microphone in a similar way.
Podium – Make a podium for your classroom from an old music stand or large cardboard box that the students have decorated.  Discuss proper etiquette when someone is speaking.  What does it mean to be a good listener?  Let children take turns standing behind the podium and reciting rhymes or telling stories.

Thumbs Up Thinking – When you ask a question, tell the children to put their thumb next to their chest if they know the answer.  That will give everyone “thinking time.”
*Tell them to put up additional fingers if they know more answers.

-Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.

Good News – Start each day by going around the classroom and asking each child to say something positive. 
*Start this routine by singing, “Tell me something good…”

Shut Your Eyes Show and Tell – Have children shut their eyes as you do traditional show and tell.  After everyone has had a turn talking, go around the class and encourage everyone to state something new that they learned.
*Relate show and tell to a unit of study, letter, shape, natural object, etc.

Partner Share – Frequently divide children up into pairs so the can recall information, tell what they learned, ask and answer questions, etc.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Research to Build and Present Knowledge

W.K.7.  Participate in shared research and writing projects.

Where in the World?  - Tell students that you have a magic carpet that will take them any place in the world they want to go.  Make a list of their wishes and then visit those locations on the internet.

Note Taking – Stack 4-6 sheets of paper on top of each other.  Staple in all four corners.  Cut down the middle horizontally and vertically to make 4 little notepads that students can use to “take notes” when you read or discuss a new topic.

Book Buddies – Have an older class “adopt” your class.  Once a month get together and read books, write stories, etc.  The older students could make books for the younger students.  Both groups could “practice” reading books and then share them with each other.

What Can You Find Out?  Select a wide range of books on a topic of interest or a theme you are exploring.  Put the books on a table along with paper and pencils.  Challenge the children to look through the books and see what they can find out.  They can draw pictures or write words about what they learn.

Graphic Organizers – Attribute webs, Venn diagrams, tic-tac-toe frames, and other visuals can be used to brainstorm and explore new topics.

W.K.8.  With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Brainstorm – Have children brainstorm what they can do when they want to learn something. 
*Provide children with several different sources on a topic.  Compare and contrast what they learn.

Model – Model how to use a dictionary, thesaurus, etc. 

Where Do You Go When You Need to Know?  Here’s a song you can sing to the tune of “Red River Valley.”
If you need to find out how to spell a word
Here’s what you can do:
You can look it up in a dictionary
And you’ll find its meaning there, too.
If you want to find a brand new word
With the same meaning as the word you have
You can look it up in a thesaurus
A thesaurus lists all the synonyms.
If you need to find out more about a topic
There’s another place you can turn:
You can look it up in an encyclopedia
Where there’re lots of facts for you to learn.
There are other places you can go
When there’s something you don’t know yet.
You can ask a friend or a teacher
Or look it up on the internet.
And soon you’ll know so much – it’s true—
That all your friends will come and ask you!

Clipboard Interviews – Make clipboards from recycled cardboard and butterfly clips.  Let children use clipboards to interview parents, classmates, etc.
*Use clipboards on field trips or when you have guest speakers.
Guest Speakers – Do you have parents, grandparents, or other people in your community who could come talk to your class about their career, travels, hobbies, or life experiences?