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Sunday, March 31, 2013


Joy to all of you on this special Sunday.  And, since we have different beliefs, I’m going to pass on a “feel good” story I heard this week about the innate goodness in each one of us.

We had a leak in our shower and had to have it torn out and redone.  Freddie came in a beat up truck, old clothes, and a scraggly beard to do the job.  He was an amazing craftsman and our shower looks like artwork.  Freddie was not only professional, he had a peaceful, lovable spirit about him

I called the tile distributor to tell them how impressed we were.  The manager there went on to tell the story of how Freddie and Buck started the company 20 years ago.  They had been best friends since first grade and made a great team.  Buck got cancer and Freddie continued doing tile on his own.  Several people knew of Buck’s trouble and wanted to start a fund to help him pay bills.  They went to Freddie to explain their plan and with a tear running down his cheek Freddie replied, “Buck don’t need no help.  As long as I work he still gets half of what I make.”

I’m not sure why the story touched my heart, but it’s a reminder of the goodness in people.  It’s a reminder not to judge a book by its cover.  And it’s a reminder to all of us to smile and to try to be a little kinder and gentler today.

Whatever you believe…blessings to you and yours!

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel?  It’s almost the end of the school year and time to start making summer plans.  I’m going to be doing my two day summer camps, and if you’ve never been I hope you’ll be able to spend a few days with me.  Teachers tell me it’s like going to a revival because you’ll remember why you became a teacher – and you’ll get so many ideas you’ll be excited about starting the new school year!
         Oklahoma City, OK          June 19-20
         Nashville, TN                 June 26-27
         Omaha, NE                     July 31-August 1
         Toronto, ON                   August 7-8

Day one will focus on literacy, and you’ll learn how to translate those Common Core State Standards into songs, stories, centers, games, and fun activities for children.  The second day will highlight meaningful math experiences and secrets of classroom management.  Here's the link to get more details:

If you’re looking for something near the beach, then you’ll want to come to Charleston for the “Techies and Dinosaurs” Early Childhood Summit on July 8 & 9.   Vanessa Levin, Sam Williams, and other amazing presenters will be joining me for this two day event.
And where am I going on vacation this summer?  I’m going to “Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee…”  Seriously!  My husband has never been there and it needs to be on everybody’s bucket list.  We’ll eat some barbeque and have a BIG time!

Friday, March 29, 2013


Spring is in the air and the bees are buzzing!  Southern folklore holds that Good Friday is the best day of the year to plant a garden.  Although many of you still have 5 feet of snow on the ground, looking at seed catalogs might be your best bet today!

The Planting Song
(Tune:  “Farmer in the Dell”)
Let’s all plant some seeds,                 (Pretend to dig with a shovel.)
Let’s all plant some seeds.
Hi, ho, it’s spring you know,
Let’s all plant some seeds.

The rain begins to fall…                     (Have fingers fall like rain.)

The sun warms the earth…                (Hands over head in a circle.)

The seeds begin to grow…                  (Make a fist with one hand and bring
                                                      the other hand up through it.)

Seed Hunt - Have children hunt for seeds in their kitchen at home.  Bring these in and plant them in plastic cups.  Be sure to label.  Water and watch.

Seedy Snack - Popcorn, sunflower seeds, pickles, and strawberries!  What do they call have in common?  They could all be part of a seedy snack.  Let the children brainstorm all the things they eat that have seeds.

Planting Jelly Beans - Have children brainstorm other things they would like to plant, such as jelly beans or pennies.  Purchase carrot seeds, radishes, and other seeds that germinate quickly and plant.  Predict what will happen.  Watch and record data.

Newspaper Tree – Open three sheets of newspaper and lay on the floor as shown.  Roll up and tape.  Cut down several strips from the top about 8” long.  Reach into the middle of the roll, grab the center, and slowly pull up.  
                              The children will be amazed as the tree grows!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


You know, no matter how fantastic you are as a teacher, there will always be one parent who is not satisfied with the job you are doing.  And it hurts!  You put your heart and soul into your profession and do the BEST you can every day – and then someone nit picks.   A veteran teacher of 40 years gave me some good advice that I wanted to share with you.  When she has parents attack her she says, “This has nothing to do with me.”  She repeats the mantra in her head as long as the parent complains.  Who knows what family or work issues the parent may be having, and you might just be their scapegoat for their troubles. 

Another good course of action is just to listen, listen, listen.  Bite your tongue and don’t try to defend yourself because when someone is upset they are not always rational.  Let them get it all out and then say, “What would you like me to do about it?” 

Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Think about all the positive things you do for children every day and remember that Dr. Jean loves you and thinks you’re doing a great job!!!  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Student Syllable Sheet (Kristen Bray)
Put a picture of each student on a poster.  Under each photo put four boxes.  Clap out the syllables in their name and color in the applicable number of boxes.

Odd and Even  (Lisa Edwards)
Teach zero to nine using fingers.  Explain that even numbers have partners whereas odd numbers do not.  Hold up two fingers and touch fingers to make a partner for even numbers.  When you hold up three fingers, one won’t have a partner.  That makes it odd.  Children can choose any number and they’ll know that the number in the one’s column will make it odd or even.
*Make an odd man with a funny hat and mismatched clothes.

Partner Up (Jenny, VA Beach)
Collect paint chip color cards from home improvement stores.  Put two of each color in a basket and have the children each pick a card.  Children match colors and that’s their partner.  Use four of each color for small groups. 
*The kids love the Disney paint chips because they look like Mickey Mouse.

Vertical and Horizontal Song  (Amanda O’Brien)
Sing this song to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” as you make the motions:
Vertical goes up and down,         (Bend knees up and down.)
Up and down, up and down.
Vertical goes up and down.
Horizontal goes flat!                  (Spread out arms horizontally.)

Season Song  (Aurora Sta Ana)
Let children describe different aspects of each season and insert it in this song to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Oh, when the sun gets so, so hot.
Oh, when the sun gets so, so hot.
We know that it must be summer.
Oh, when the sun gets so, so hot.
Autumn:  When the leaves fall off the trees…
Winter:  When the snow falls to the ground…
Spring:  When the flowers start to bloom…

Rocket Cheer  (Aurora Sta Ana)
Clap up.  (Clap up.)
Clap down.  (Clap down.)
Clap left.   (Clap to your left.)
Clap right.  (Clap to your right.)
Up.  (Thumb up make a hissing sound.)
Down.  (Thumb down make a hissing sound.)
Left.  (Thumb left make a hissing sound.)
Right.  (Thumb right make a hissing sound.)
BOOM!!!  (Both hands in the air as you shout boom!)

Skip Counting  (Starlett Phillingane)
Have the students stand in a circle and tell them a magic number.  (If you’re counting by 5’s, then choose a multiple of 5.)  Go around the circle having each child skip count.  The student who the magic number lands on sits down.  Continue the game until there is one student left standing.

Step Book (Sebrina Ruth-Cooper)
Make step books when studying Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.  Write facts on each page and then have children illustrate the fact.  On the last page have pictures from google, such as the Washington Monument, quarter, one dollar bill, Mt. Rushmore, etc.

Cheerleader  (Carleigh Kingsbury)
After introducing the cheers, use them to reinforce good workers at reading stations.  Ask a student to compliment a friend for what they did at a station.  For example, “___ helped ____.”  “”____ used a quiet station voice.”  Then the one who compliments gets to choose a cheer for the whole class to give that student.  This reinforces the rules and makes the student feel proud. 
*Let students make up their own creative cheers.

Yes, Class!  (Stephanie Sentelle left this comment post "Shhhh!" post.)
The teacher says "class" and the students respond with "yes."  The trick is that the students have to say "yes" the same way the teacher said "class." Example: Teacher says: "Classity, class, class." Students respond: "Yesity, yes, yes."  This can be done in any pattern, tone, or range.  Great attention grabber that’s short and sweet.
Amy Gibson gave me the idea for the "Pump Up to 100 Song" on my new CD.  
Lucky me to get to autograph the CD for her in Richmond!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Someone recently asked me, “Are you working this week?”  I said, “What I do is never work.  I LOVE what I do!”  It’s so true and the reason I love what I do is because of all the amazing and wonderful and creative teachers I meet!!!  Take a look at these great ideas from Roanoke and Richmond.

Tools for Good Readers Bookmark  (Tracy Samosky)
Make a “tools for good readers” bookmark for the children to keep in their reading books.  This will help the kids (and parents) remember to:
  1. Look at the picture.
  2. Sound out the letters.
  3. Go back and read it again.
  4. Look for a smaller chunk.
State Song  (Jodie Slusher)
Tune:  “Farmer in the Dell”
Virginia is our state.
Virginia is our state.
Richmond is our capitol.
Virginia is our state.
*Insert your state and capitol.

U S A  (Starlett Phillingane)
(Tune:  “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)
Our country is the U – S – A,
U – S – A, U – S – A.
Our country is the U – S – A
United States of America!

Silent Signals  (Skyler Fox)
Make a poster with fingers for the things below.  Children hold up the appropriate finger for what they need.  The teacher can nod “yes” or shake her head “no.”
1 finger – pencil
2 fingers – tissue
3 fingers – bathroom
5 fingers – question (If the children nod they can’t wait and it’s an emergency.)

Missing Beans  (Suann Strickland)
This is a quick game to help children with missing addend.  Count out 8 beans.  Show them three.  Hide the others in your hand.  The missing addend is ____?  How did you get the answer?  Did you add or subtract?

Mrs. Clock (Karen Hunt)
Use this story to help children learn to tell time.
Mrs. Clock had two boys -  Long Boy and Short Boy.  Mrs. Clock bought the boys new bikes.  Wearing a helmet was the number one rule!  A helmet keeps your brain safe.  When riding bikes one hot day, Long Boy took off his helmet.  Long Boy fell off his bike and got a boo boo on his brain.  Now he can only count by fives.  Short Boy tries to help his brother and he always talks first.  So, when reading a clock, Short Boy talks first and says the hour.  Long Boy talks last and tells the minutes.

Sparkle  (Elizabeth Rechenbach and Ashley Hinkle)
Choose a mystery number.  Talley it on the board and then have the students stand in a circle.  One child begins and each student says a number.  When a student says the “mystery” number she must sit down.  The next student starts counting and the game continues.  The last student is the SPARKLE WINNER and they get a pinch of glitter on their head. 
*Adapt for skip counting or spelling sight words.

Fraction Step Book  (A principal showed us this book, but I lost her name!)
Make a step book from two sheets of paper.  Write “1” on the top sheet.  Cut the second sheet in half and write “1/2” on each section.  Cut the next sheet into thirds and write “1/3” on each section.  Cut the bottom sheet in fourths and write “1/4” on each section.
Good Bye  (Elizabeth Roberts)
At the end of the good-bye song say:
         Sleep tight – til the morning light
         And wake up with a smile!
         See you tomorrow!!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Here Is a Bunny
Here is a bunny         (Hold up index and middle fingers.)
With ears so funny.   (Wiggle fingers.)
And here is his
Hole in the ground.     (Make hole with fist of the other hand.)
At the slightest noise he hears,
He pricks up his ears,  (Wiggle fingers.)
Then hops to his
Hole in the ground!      (Pretend to hop bunny ears into the hole.)

Where Is My Bunny?
Where is my bunny?   (Put hands behind your back.)
No one can see.         (Shake head.)
I think that my bunny
Is hiding from me.      (Look over shoulder.)
Here is my bunny.       (Hold up 1 thumb.)
He’s found a friend.    (Hold up other thumb.)
Look at all the others.  (Slowly stick up fingers.)
Now there are ten!      (Wiggle fingers.)

Hand Bunny – Trace around each child’s hand and cut out.  Cut off the middle finger.  Fold down the pinky and thumb.  Glue on a sheet of paper and add a mouth, whiskers, eyes and nose.  
Bunny Ears - Cut ears out of construction paper and glue them to a headband.  You can also trace around children's feet and use them for the ears of the headband.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


It’s Palm Sunday and I hope you have something special planned for today.  If you’re near Charleston I’d like to invite you to the Charleston Gospel Chorus Concert at 5 pm today at the Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun Street.  I promise you it will be amazing, incredible, and inspirational!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Flip, Flop, Hop
(Tune:  “Wheels on the Bus”)
The ears on the bunny go flip, flop, flop        (Hands over head and wiggle.)
Flip, flop, flop,
Flip, flop, flop.
The ears on the bunny go flip, flop, flop,
Flip, flip, flop.

The nose on the bunny goes twitch, twitch, twitch…   (Wiggle nose.)
The eyes on the bunny go blink, blink, blink…            (Blink eyes.)
The tail on the bunny goes wiggle, wobble, wobble… (Wiggle hips.)
The feet on the bunny go hop, hop, hop…                   (Hop up and down.)

Drawing Rabbits - Teach children how to draw a bunny from two circles.  Add detail to the bunny as you sing the song.
Bunny Basket – Fold the sack in half lengthwise as shown.  Draw ears on the sack similar to those shown.  Cut on the lines and then cut off the sides.  Open the sack.  Staple the top points to make ears.  Put a face and cotton tail on your bunny basket.
Milk Jug Bunny – Ask parents to send in clean milk jugs.  Cut the top off as shown.  Add ears and a bunny’s face.  Place a small amount of dirt in the bottom of the milk jug and sprinkle with grass seed.  Water and place in a sunny window.  If you start this project several weeks before your egg hunt, you will have an adorable bunny with green hair!

Friday, March 22, 2013


My good friend Vanessa Levin at has created a “gift of love” for her two rescue dogs who passed away.  It’s a free animal shelter service learning project and mini dramatic play kit.  I love what Vanessa says about the importance of developing altruism and empathy in young children:

Teaching young children to understand the feelings of others and engage in unselfish or altruistic behaviors may seem like an impossible task. However, researchers have found that teachers can create a caring classroom community that fosters the development of empathy and altruism by collectively engaging children in activities that benefit caring for people, the environment, and animals. Not only should we provide opportunities for children to participate in these types of helpful activities but also to recognize their own behaviors as kind and generous. Remember the scene in movie The Help where the main character Aibileen tells Mae Mobley she is kind and she is important? Aibileen was on to something there.

 I also learned something new about service learning:
Service learning is a method of teaching that combines formal instruction with a related service in the community. Service learning integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, encourage lifelong civic engagement, and strengthen communities for the common good.
You can read more about it here:

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Some of you have probably made this nest from a paper bag with me at my workshops.  All you have to do is open the bag and then slowly roll out and down to create the nest.  Recently, a teacher added to that by telling me about the tissue birds she makes with her class.  Wad up one tissue and wrap another tissue around it.  Tie a string to make the head and fluff up the rest to be the body and wings.  (An adult will need to do this part.)  Children can add eyes with a marker and glue on a beak.  The teacher said it’s so cute to see the children put the bird in the nest and carry it gently as if it were real. 
*Good time to introduce vocabulary words like “fragile” and “delicate.” 
*How about informative writing?  How to build a nest. 
*Creative thinking - What would you do if you were a bird?
Two Little Blackbirds
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill.         (Stick up both thumbs.)
One named Jack             (Wiggle right thumb.)
And one named Jill.         (Wiggle left thumb.)
Fly away Jack.                (Put right thumb behind back.)
Fly away Jill                    (Put left thumb behind back.)
Come back Jack.             (Bring back right thumb.)
Come back Jill.                (Bring back left thumb.)

Opposite variations:
One named Happy and one named Sad…  (Say happy and then sad.)
One named Loud and one named Soft…   (Say loud and then soft.)
One named Fast and one named Slow…    (Move one fast and one slow.)
Continue letting children think of names and motions for the birds.
Bird Puppet
One more little bird day project that’s made with felt, glue, and a wiggly eye.
Cut out two bird bodies similar to the one shown.  Cut out the wings on the fold.  Glue around the edges leaving a 2” opening in the bottom where you can insert your finger.  Cut a 2” slot in the top and insert the wings.  Add a beak, eyes, and you’re ready to fly.
*Call it “Word Bird” and let children wear it to read words.
*Use it to track from left to write as you read chorally or count on the calendar.
*Play the “quiet game” with word bird.  One child wears the bird and says:
         Blue bird, blue bird, how quiet can you be?  (Insert whatever color.)
         Fly to a quiet friend, one, two, three.
The child passes the bird to a quiet friend who comes to the front of the room and the game continues.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Did you hear a happy, little chirp when you walked outside this morning?  It's almost springtime and the birds are busy singing and building nests.

(Happy Everything CD)
Way up in the sky                    (Put hands in arm pits and flap arms
The big birdies fly.                           like a bird.)
Way down in the nest               (Make a nest by cupping hands.)
The little birds rest.
With a wing on the left,            (Wiggle left arm like a wing.)
And a wing on the right,            (Wiggle right arm like a wing.)
The little birds sleep               (Put head down on palms as if sleeping.)
All through the night.
SHHHHHH!                             (Put finger over lips.)
Then up comes the sun.            (Put arms over your head.)
The dew falls away.                  (Bring down palms.)
Good morning!  Good morning!     (Put open palms around your head.)
The little birds say.
 *This is the perfect song to demonstrate the exclamation point!

Sing and Act -  Let children dramatize this song.  Choose one child to be the mother or father bird.  Let the other children be the baby birds.

Paper Plate Birds and Nests - Let children make birds or nests out of paper plates similar to the ones in the picture.
Bird Nest Snack - Give each child a Rice Crispie treat to mold into a nest.  Put a few jelly beans in the nest and place a marshmallow “peep” on top.

Flip Book – Make a flip book of “What’s in the Egg?”  Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise, then fourths and eighths.  Open and cut the crease to the middle fold.  Fold in half to make 4 little flaps.  Children draw 4 eggs on the front of each flap.  Open the flaps and challenge children to draw 4 different things that might come from an egg.  When they hold this book up to the light, they will see their little critters inside the egg.
Lunch Sack Nest – Open a paper lunch sack and roll out and down until you reach the bottom and it looks like a nest.  Children can roll play dough eggs for the nest, or they can make a paper bird for the nest.
Don't forget to check in tomorrow because I have a great cut and tell story for springtime!