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Monday, December 31, 2012


Happy New Year's Eve!  Here are some other creative January ideas for art, cooking, and centers.

Snow Dough – You can use any play dough recipe for snow dough.  Simply omit the food coloring and let the children knead in iridescent glitter to make it sparkle.  (My favorite dough is: 2 cups flour, 2 cup salt, 2 TB. cream of tartar, 2 TB. vegetable oil, and 2 cups water.  Mix ingredients together in a pan until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture forms a ball and sticks to the spoon.  Cool and knead.  Store in airtight containers.)
Note!  Make sure children wash hands before and after playing with dough.

Snow Flakes – Let children fold coffee filters in half, then fourths and eighths.  Cut little “bites” out of the folded edges.  Open.  You can make colorful snowflakes by coloring the coffee filters with water soluble markers before cutting them.
Hint!  Make snowflakes out of newspaper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and other types of recycled paper.

Snow Prints
Let children draw winter scenes on blue construction paper with crayons.  Give them white paint and a sponge or Q-tip to “make it snow.”

Positive and Negative
Fold a sheet of construction paper in half.  Cut three semi-circles similar to the one shown on the fold.  Open.  Explain the positive and negative shapes.  Use the snowman cutouts for some of the games mentioned yesterday.  Tape wax paper to the the back of the negative design as shown.  Let children decorate and the hang on a window.
Ice Skating – Give each child 2 paper plates.  Demonstrate how to place these on the floor and put one foot on each plate.  Slide your feet as if skating.  Put on some waltz music and let the children skate, twist, and turn.  Play “freeze.”  When you stop the music children must “freeze” in their positions.  When the music begins again they may continue to skate.

Snow People – Instead of drawing snow “men,” encourage children to paint or draw snow ladies, snow children, snow pets, and other characters.

Sock Snowman  - You will need a white tube sock and some fiber fill for this project.  Children stuff 3 large handfuls of fiber fill into the toe of the sock to make the snowman’s body.  Tie off with yarn or string.  Stuff 2 large handfuls to make the middle section.  Tie off.  Stuff 1 large handful for the head and tie off at the top.  Invert the top of the sock and pull over the head for a hat.  Children can decorate with markers, felt scraps, etc.  Encourage them to name their snowman and tell a story about what they would do if it were real.
Icebergs  - Fill plastic containers with water.  Add food coloring and freeze.  Place these in your water table and tell the children they are icebergs.  Add walruses, polar bears, and other plastic arctic animals.

Snowman Soup – Fill a plastic zip bag with a package of instant hot chocolate with miniature marshmallows.  Tie on a candy cane with these directions:  “Here’s a little snowman soup – complete with stirring stick.  Add hot water, sip it slow, and it will warm you up real quick!”

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Let’s see how we can tie in these charming snowmen with skills and standards!

I’m a Little Snowman
(Tune:  “I’m a Little Teapot”)
I’m a little snowman                    (Bend knees.)
Short and fat.                            (Extend arms in a circle.)
Here is my broom and                  (Hold out right hand.)
Here is my hat.                           (Touch head with left hand.)
When the sun comes out             (Slowly melt to the ground.)
I’ll melt away.
But I’ll be back another day!

I’m a snow lady,                           (Bend knees.)
White and round.                         (Extend arms in a circle.)
In my hat and apron                     (Touch head and waist.)
I don’t make a sound.                   (Index finger on lips.)
When the sun comes out              (Slowly melt to the ground.)
I’ll melt away.
But I’ll be back another day!
*Download this book at, 2007

How To – Let children discuss how to make a snowman.  Dramatize making a snowman by rolling a big ball, and then a middle size ball, and then a small ball for the head.  Fold two sheets of paper in half and staple.  Have children write a book about how to make a snowman.

Before and After – Have children fold a sheet of paper in half.  Ask them to draw a picture of a snowman before it melts on the left.  Can they draw a picture of the snowman after it melts on the right?  What makes a snowman melt?
*Give children cartoon frames to illustrate a snowman melting.

Snowman Addition – Draw snowmen on poster board similar to the one shown.  Laminate.  Children make sets (or write addends) in the top two balls and then put the sum in the bottom ball.
Snowball Math – Fill a clear jar with snowballs/cotton balls.  Let each child estimate how many snowballs are in the jar and write their name and answer on a sheet of paper.  At the end of the day count the snowballs.  Who guessed more?  Who guessed less? 
*Let the children use the “snowballs” to make sets or to do addition and subtraction problems.

Science Experiment - Give each child a clear cup with an ice cube in it.  Ask them to draw a picture of what it looks like.  Have them predict how many minutes it will take their ice cube to melt.  Encourage them to draw what it looks like after five minute intervals.

Snowball Reading and Math – Give each child a sheet of scrap paper.  Tie this in with skills you want to reinforce by having them write a letter, vocabulary word, math fact, etc. on the paper.  Wad up the paper to make snowballs.  Divide the class into two teams facing each other.  When the teacher says, “Let it snow!” the children start throwing their snowballs at the opposite team.  Before children can throw the snowball back they must open it up and tell a team member the information on the paper.  (It’s O.K. to ask for help.)  After several minutes the teacher says, “Freeze!” and everyone must stop throwing.  Each team gathers up the snowballs on their side and counts the amount.  Who has more?  Who has less?  In this game, the team with the least amount is the winner.
*Keep throwing snowballs as long as the children are interested.

Frosty’s Magic Hat
Make flashcards for letters, numerals, words, math facts, or other skills.  On several cards draw a black hat.  Explain that when Frosty’s magic hat appears the children get to stand up and dance around.  This is an easy game that you can play during transitions if you only have a few minutes.
Snowman’s Mystery Word
Draw a snowman on the board.  Think of a word or phrase and put blanks for each letter.  Children guess letters (similar to Hangman).  The teacher writes the letters on the appropriate spaces.  If a letter that is not in the word/phrase is called out the teacher erases part of the snowman and puts the letter in the “trash pile.”  Can they decode the word before the snowman is erased?

Snowball Seriate
Cut different sizes snowballs (circles) out of cardstock.  Let children seriate them from largest to smallest.

Counting Snowmen
Cut out 10 or 20 snowmen from heavy paper.  Write the numerals 1-10 (or 20) on their bodies.  Mix up the snowmen and then have the children put them in order.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Hey!  I'm up in the air (literally) right now flying to Las Vegas.  If you don't have anything to do here are some books that you can download off my website FREE.  Glue the first page to the front of a pocket folder and insert the other pages in a clear sheet protector.  You can use these for large group, small group, or independent practice at the listening center. 

My Mother is a Baker

Number March

Found a Penny

Chant and Write

May There Always Be Sunshine


Sign Language Mini

Vowel Family

Zero the Hero

Today Is Sunday

Letter Tails

Color Farm

Tooty Ta

Peanut Butter

Rules Rap

Five Little Monkeys


Bear Hunt

Letter Vests

Friday, December 28, 2012


As I was doing research on the 21st Century Skills for my January website I found this interesting site: with websites and skills that offer technical learning adventures for you and your students.   If you’re bored today you will be totally entertained-meserized-engaged with these sites!  (animate reactions to literature and current events) (video streaming) (paperless storage) (e scrapbooking) (creating a podcast) (paperless storage of materials) (create multi-media presentations) (completing an online survey)

Here are some activities (for you and your students) that they recommend to foster 21st Century technical skills:
Sending professional emails
Using the internet for research
Using a Smartboard
Building a wiki
Creating a photostory
Writing a classroom blog
Assessing and evaluating research sources
Interpreting media sources
Incorporating the use of digital technologies in the classroom (PDAs, media players, GPS, computers, SmartPhones, etc.)

Yeah, dinosaur that I am I think I see some New Year’s Goals for me so I can keep up with my grandchildren! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Bored?  Probably not, but if you’d like to put off cleaning the house another day I’ve got a great idea for you!  I have five conferences this summer, and I’d love to spend some time with you.  However, I know that money is a huge issue right now for most school districts.  So, I did a little surfing on the web and I found some sites where you might get some funding.  Somebody’s going to get the money, so it might as well be YOU!

Charleston is the # 1 (yes, number one) tourist city in the world!  It’s my home and I’m excited to be a part of the second Early Childhood Summit at the College of Charleston.  It’s going to be a fusion of techies and dinosaurs (Vanessa Levin of is the techie and you guessed it – I’m the dinosaur.)  We’ve got lots of great speakers and choices for sessions.  Besides, you can take a carriage ride in Charleston, eat shrimp and grits, visit the straw market, and extend your vacation at one of our nearby beaches.
“Laugh, Learn, Teach” (aka Camp Kindergarten) will be sponsored by SDE (Staff Development for Educators) in Oklahoma City, Nashville, Omaha, and Ontario.  I’ll try to “fuse” all the special songs, activities, and games from my 40 years as an educator with Common Core State Standards and 21st Century Skills. 
June 19-20, 2013   Oklahoma City, OK                  
“Laugh, Learn, Teach”  (Formerly Camp Kindergarten)

June 26-27, 2013   Nashville, TN                    
“Laugh, Learn, Teach”  (Formerly Camp Kindergarten)

July 8 & 9, 2013   Charleston, SC                         
“Techies and Dinosaurs” 

Jul7 31-August 1, 2013  Omaha, NE                 
“Laugh, Learn, Teach”  (Formerly Camp Kindergarten)

August 7-8, 2013  Toronto, Ontario                    
“Laugh, Learn, Teach”  (Formerly Camp Kindergarten)

Got money?  Want money?  Here are some sites where you might find grants that will fund your training.  Many districts have grant writers who could also provide you with some funding opportunities.

Here’s a new site I found when I was doing research on 21st Century Skills:  (grants for the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours) (A collection of resources and tips to help preK-12 educators apply for and obtain special grants for a variety of projects. The site offers fundraising ideas, sample proposals, and grant writing tips.) (This site does not offer grants, but has some useful information.)


Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Tis' the day after Christmas and all through your home
There are boxes and trash wherever you roam.
The fridge is full of leftover stuff.
And like it or not consume it you must!
The stockings are empty -
The tree’s needles are falling.
The children are fighting.
Your mother-in-law is calling.
But here is a thought for what you can do.
Just sit down and have a cup or two.
Relax and smile.  Think of a happy time.
You’ve still got a week before the school bell will chime.
This is a day to take a deep breath and calm down.
All the work will wait, so don’t you frown.
Go to a movie or read a book.
How about a long bath?  Don’t clean or cook!
Maybe take a nice long walk
Or call an old friend and have a good talk.
Make a list of your blessings to keep in your heart.
Positive thoughts are the best place to start.
Come back tomorrow and I’ll have new ideas for you.
Those lesson plans will wait for a day or two.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, December 24, 2012


Someone just sent me this link.  What a JOYFUL way to start the day!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I'm going to turn off my computer for the next few days and enjoy my family.  I send you all love, hope, and peace, as well as some of my favorite quotes for the season.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.  Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas, children, is not a date.  It is a state of mind.  Mary Ellen Chase

What is Christmas?  It is a tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.  It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may end in peace.  Agnes M. Pharo

Christmas!  The very word brings joy to our hearts.  No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and the cards to be bought and given – when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.  Joan Winmill Brown

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.  Harlan Miller

The only blind person at Christmastime is he who has not Christmas in his heart.  Helen Keller

Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.  Charles Schulz

God bless us, every one!  Tiny Tim

Friday, December 21, 2012


I was listening to the lyrics of Christmas song on the radio and it squeezed my heart.

“Toyland, Toyland, dear little girl and boy land.  Once you leave Toyland, you can never return again…”

It reminded me of the magic of working with young children.  They are full of hope and dreams and nothing is impossible.  The world is a wonderful place, everyone loves them, and we are all friends.

The song was also a reminder that children only have once to be four, five, or six.  They have a lifetime to sit in front of a computer.  And that’s why we have to sing, dance, play, and do everything we can to keep childhood alive!

Party time!  I know many of you will be having holiday parties today.  For some children, that's as good as it gets.  Smile, enjoy, and fa, la, la, la, la!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Yesterday’s the past.

Tomorrow is the future.
But today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called THE PRESENT!

One of my best presents was getting to sing at some of the schools in Charleston this week.  Isn’t it the sweetest thing in the world to watch their little faces this time of year?  They are so full of hope and happiness!
Frierson Elementary and Angel Oak

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I Love My Flag  (Cindy Tabor)
(Tune:  “Yankee Doodle”)
I love my flag,
My country’s flag,
The red, white and blue.
It has broad stripes
And fifty stars
And stands for freedom, too!

Phonics Books
Use a flip book for diagraphs.
Make a step book with three sheets of paper for a vowel book.
Cooking in the Classroom  (Julie Wilson and Chandra Phillips)
Cook things for each letter of the alphabet.  It’s a great way to teach letters and sounds as well as math measuring skills and cooking safety.

Holiday Brain Breaks  (Sharon Smith)
Melt like a snowman…
Polish your halo like an angel…
Roll like an ornament…
Flicker like a candle…
Prance like a reindeer…etc.
*Adapt for different seasons and themes.

Reindeer Shirt Day 
At the beginning of December ask parents to send in T-shirts.  Make reindeer on the shirts by tracing the child’s footprint with fabric paint for the head and their handprints for antlers.  Add a red pompom nose and googly eyes.  Wear these every Friday in December.  Watch the cartoon version of “The Grinch” and invite a guest speaker (superintendent, principal, Santa) to read the book.  Compare and contrast the book and the movie.  Serve cocoa and cookies.

Letter Cards
Write letters on cards and hole punch on each side.  Use links to hook the letters together to make word wall words.

Punch Cards for Rest Time  (Kelly Lohr)
After children rest quietly, they get a punch on their card.  If they get 10 punches they get a coupon for “Craft Quietly” or whatever they choose. 
Problem of the Day  (Hiba Qasmi)
Each day write a math problem on the board that is a review of the previous chapter.  All the students write their answer on a piece of paper and put it in the “lucky box.”  At the end of the day have a “lucky draw.”  The student whose name you pick gets a prize.

Book Presents (Danielle Underwood)
In December wrap holiday books up like presents.  Randomly choose a name out of a popsicle tin and let that child unwrap the present.  After reading the book, display it for the children to look at during free time.

Craft Stick Spacers (Danielle Underwood)
Use jumbo craft sticks as spacers for those students who struggle with spacing.
*Remind them to use meatball spaces between words and spaghetti spaces between the letters in a word.

Wheel of Fortune 
Tell the students you are going to give them a secret message.  Write the message on the board with blank spaces for the letters.
_   _ _ _ _   _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _.
The children get to fill in the letters until they can read the message.
(I like my little dog.)
The winner gets something from the treasure chest.

Bubble Wrap Words
Create a paper with sight words on it that will match up to bubbles on the wrap.  Lay the wrap on top of the worksheet.  Children get to pop the bubbles as they read the words.

Egg Stories  (Penny Cooper)
Cut up parts of a sentence or a story.  Place the pieces for a story in the same color of eggs.  Children find the eggs and then create a group with the same color.  The group must then assemble their sentence/story and illustrate it.

Class Jobs  (Jenny Drang)
Create class jobs that are REAL jobs.
Post office person helps pass out Friday folders
Meteorologist helps with the calendar
Host/hostess - pass out napkins
Water/waitress – pass out straws
Police officer – keeps the floor clean
Coach – checks lockers
Teacher – helps put stickers on papers

Pencil Grip  (Cheryl Rose)
Put on your seatbelt.  (Put a rubber band on your wrist and wrap it around the end of the pencil.)
Mom and dad ride in the front seat.  (Reminder that pointer and thumb hold the pencil.)
All the kids (remaining 3 fingers) ride in the back seat.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


My, oh, my!  Indiana was popping with great ideas!!!  There were so many that I’ll share some today and some tomorrow.  It’s like Christmas every day when I do a workshop because of all the new gifts/ideas you give me!

Park Your Car  (Gina Courtois)
Make a large parking lot with the numerals 2-12.  Give students two dice and a play car.  Students roll the dice, add the numbers, and park their car on the answer.
Queen of Reading (Christi Frazier)
Purchase a crown (from the good old Dollar Store) and wear it during reading groups as a sign that you are the “Queen of Reading” and they have to wait to talk to you.

Slap-a-Word  (Amy Ritter)
Write sight words on cards and spread them out on the table.  (You could write the words on seasonal shapes like gingerbread men.)  The children put their hands on their heads and when the teacher calls a word the first child to slap the word and read it gets the card.  The student with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner.
*Could be adapted for numbers, letters, vocabulary, math facts, etc.

Pioneering Day  (Naomi Trojan)
Plan a school-wide Pioneering Day so students can learn history and do an activity that relates to that era.  Each grade level does a different activity.

Science Buddies  (Naomi Trojan)
Get an older grade and pair them up with younger students to help with projects.  Both older and younger students get to take home a project.
*How about a “Dig It Day” where students pretend to be archeologists and dig for artifacts?

Stickers (Naomi Trojan)
Give students small stickers when they receive a perfect score on a worksheet.  When they collect 30 stickers they get to cash it in and choose something from the treasure box.

Body Trace  (Katie Wilson)
This is a great way to get the kids thinking, writing, and working together.  At one of the stations have large pieces of butcher paper rolled up with a rubber band.  One child lays on the paper while the other child traces the outline of their body.  They then “fill” the body with words.  After the station time (8-10 minutes) is over they turn it over and reverse rolls.  When they are finished, roll it up, cut it in half, and give each child half to take home.
*Ask children to write adjectives, nouns, sentences, etc. on their body.
Toss Across
Tape a clear sheet over each square on a toss across game.  Slip sight words, numbers, etc. into the squares.  Toss bean bags on the game and read the words that are turned over.

F.R.E.D.  (Betsy G.)
Create a F.R.E.D. (Families Read Every Day) folder that children take home nightly.  Students record the title and their favorite part of the story.  The goal is for all students to read 100 books by the end of the year.  Plan a big celebration for everyone!

Pop the Balloon  (Penny Cooper)
Write antonyms on small pieces of paper and insert them in balloons.  Blow up the balloons and tie.  Children pop the balloons and then try to find their partner with the opposite word.

Smellie Spellies  (Melissia Hole)
Use scented markers to write different word families.  (Use a different scent for each word family.)  After the children read over the words ask they to close their eyes, smell, and identify the word family by smell. 
*Use spelling words for older students.