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Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Tomorrow is the first day of May, so how about a May basket from a lunch bag?
Cut down two sides as show.  Open.  Staple the center strip to make a handle.
*Use the baskets for a popcorn party or for other treats.
*Use the baskets to collect specimens on a nature walk.
*Send home with a letter, shape, numeral, etc. on the side.  Children fill and return the next day.
*Hide magnetic letters or numerals around the room and let the children collect them in their baskets.
*Put flash cards in the baskets and take them home to practice over the summer.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Here are a few more ideas for a class program.

The Very Hungry Class
This is a take off on "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."  Choose a song, finger play, or poem that you’ve used for every month in the school year.  It will bring back fond memories for your students and will be an easy program to put together for the parents.  It might go something like this:

When school started we had a very hungry class eager to learn.
In September we learned our rules -THE RULES RAP.
In October we learned the days of the week – DAYS OF THE WEEK.
November was when we said our letters and sounds – ALPHARDY.
In December we learned the months in the year – MACARENA MONTHS.
January was our Hundreds Day Celebration – ZERO THE HERO STOMP.
In February we learned about money – THE MONEY SONG.
March was time to learn to spell – COLOR FARM.
In April we learned to recycle – REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.
May was a time to study (plants, dinosaurs, caterpillars, or another song that reflects your standards).
Now, before we say good-bye,
We’ll sing our favorite song for you.
Please stand up and join along
And you can learn to “Tooty Ta”, too!  (The audience stands up and does the “Tooty Ta” with you.)

Author's Tea
After writing and editing original stories, invite parents to a party where each child gets to share her book and read a few pages.

We Like to Move It!
Invite parents to wear sports clothes and join in as the children lead different exercises and movement songs.
Hey, we like to move it, too!!!  I had a great time last Saturday at 
the College of Central Florida.  Here's our "attitude" shot!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


This time of year many of you are getting cranked up for and “end of the year” program.  This can be frustrating, or it can be an exciting time for the children to sing and dance.  My advice is “keep it simple.”  The parents will be entertained and love whatever their children do.  Here are a few ideas that might get you going!

Happy Birthday Letters  (Totally Reading CD)
Have children bring in baseball caps and sunglasses.  Make microphones out of toilet paper rolls wrapped with aluminum foil.  Turn the caps backwards as you sing:
Yo A, it’s your birthday.
Let’s all read like your birthday.
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
You B, it’s your birthday…

Who Let the Letters Out?  (Kiss Your Brain CD)
Staple ovals to a strip of paper to make doggie headbands.  Let children decorate large cardboard letters with glitter and bling bling.  Punch a hole in the top and tie on a string to make rapper necklaces.  Make a large doghouse to pin on the stage curtains.  (Square with an arch cut out.  Triangle roof.)  As you sing the song children come out of the doghouse dancing and wearing their letters.
Who let the A out?
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
Who let the B out…

Alphabet Remix  (Move It!  Learn It! CD)
Let children wear glasses, caps, letter necklaces as they do this activity.
Sing the regular ABC song.         (Fold hands and sing sweetly.)
I say, A B C D E F G!  (clap twice)  (Dance from side to side.)
H I J K L M N O P  (clap twice)
Q R S,  (clap)
T U V,   (clap)
W X Y and Z.
Now I know my ABC’s.
Next time, won’t you rap with me?  (Make rapper hands and dance.)
A (blow out of the side of your mouth)
B (blow)  C (blow)….Z
Now I know my ABC’s (blow).
Now you’re ready to read with me!  (blow)

*Alphabet Party – Even if you don’t have to do a program for parents, it might be fun to do these songs for another class.  Or, have an alphabet party just for your class!

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Warning!  I’m preaching today so delete if you don’t want to hear me!

Kalina will be three this week, and Holly took her to the store and let her pick out a baby doll for her birthday.  She’s the proud new mother of Tinza.  (Who knows where she came up with the name?)  She loves her baby and rocks her, sings to her, and reads her stories.  She also takes her for walks in the stroller as she talks on a play cell phone.  (Just like her mom!)

I am struck once again with the thought of how quickly children grow up.  Life is so simple when they are three and are happy with a $15 baby doll.  Before we know it, she’ll be eight like her brother and probably want expensive electronic games or dolls that wear clothes more expensive than mine.

Last year when I was volunteering at a local school I asked a little girl what her doll’s name was.  The doll didn’t have a name!!!  In my day, we HAD to name our babies because you couldn’t take them home “from the hospital” without a name.  The world is moving so fast, but little children still NEED to be little children.  They need time to play and pretend and use their imaginations.  And we NEED to take time to listen to them and encourage them to do simple things like name their babies.

Which brings me to another thought.  Where have all the baby dolls in kindergarten gone?  Seriously!  Ten years ago there was a law (or there should have been a law!) that every kindergarten had a dramatic play center and a block center.  Some of you have fought the battle with administrators and lost because “they can play at home.”  The truth is that children don’t “play” at home.  They watch television or do video games.  If you read the research, over and over again you will see the importance of AUTHENTIC PLAY.  Play that develops oral language, problem solving, self-confidence, social skills, motor skills…the WHOLE child!  Breaks my heart!  Breaks my heart!  How will they ever learn to be good mommies and daddies if they don’t practice on baby dolls?

I don’t know what President Obama is going to include in the new early childhood plan, but I sure hope baby dolls and blocks are a part of it!!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013


Mother's Day isn't until May 12th, but here are a few projects to integrate into your lesson plans the next two weeks.

A Box for Mommy – (Tune: "Polly Wolly Doodle" - HAPPY EVERYTHING CD)
I wish I had a little box                      (Pretend to hold a box in your hands.)
To put my mommy in.                           (Pretend to put something in the box.)
I’d take her out and go                       (Take something out of the box
(kiss, kiss, kiss)                                    and kiss in the air.)
And put her back again.                          

If my mommy were in my box
Were in my box, then she would always know.
School or play, night or day,
How I love her so!                                (Cross arms over chest.)

I made this box for mother’s day,   (Pretend to hold a box.)
It’s full of love for you.
When we’re apart, hold it to your heart,   (Put hands over heart.)
And know I’m thinking of you.
*You can download the book on my May, 2007, website.

Box NecklaceYou can collect small boxes that jewelry come in or use matchboxes for this project.  Spray paint the boxes and then let the children decorate them with stickers, glitter pens, etc.  Glue a small picture of the child inside the box.  Punch a hole and attach a ribbon so it can be worn around the next.  Teach children the song and let them present their necklaces at a Mother’s Day tea, or send the boxes home with the words to the song.

My Mom Can – Let each child make a predictable book about all the things their mom can do.

Hats for Moms – These are adorable hats from paper plates that children can make for their mothers.  Cut the inner section out of the plate.  Decorate the outer rim with markers.  Cut 4” squares out of tissue paper and wad up and glue on the rim to look like flowers.  Punch a hole in each side and tie on a 16” piece of string or ribbon.  Place the hat on your head and tie under the chin.

My webmaster has created a special "package" for Mother's Day with the song and reproducible books.  Here's the link if you're interested:

Thursday, April 25, 2013


There is a story about children that is similar to butterflies.  If you find a chrysalis before it hatches and you gently try to open it, the butterfly will not live and it will never be able to spread its wings and fly.  Children are like that as well.  If we try to push them and force them to do things before they are ready, will they ever be able to reach their full potential and truly fly?

Let’s go to sleep                     (Wiggle fingers.)
The little caterpillars said
As they all curled up              (Cross fingers as if praying.)
In a chrysalis bed.
They will awaken by and by  (Slowly open fingers.)
And each one will be             (Clasp thumbs and wiggle fingers like wings.)
A pretty butterfly!

Butterfly Puppet
This is a project that will take a little effort, but it is something that children will remember forever.  Ask children to bring an old sock from home for this puppet.  First, let them decorate the outside of the sock to look like a caterpillar.  They can use markers, pompoms, etc.  Next, prepare a butterfly using a coffee filter.  Children fold the coffee filter into eighths.  Using an eye drop, have them drop colored water onto the coffee filter.  Open and dry.  Scrunch up in the middle and fasten on a pipe cleaner for the body and antenna.  Turn the sock inside out and pin the butterfly inside.  Children can begin the song about the butterfly by inserting their hand into the sock.  For the “chrysalis,” have them begin turning the sock inside out.  As the butterfly emerges, they stick their hand in the sock to reveal the butterfly.


Butterfly Bites
Children will enjoy assembling and eating this butterfly.  You will need celery cut in 4” pieces, cream cheese, and pretzel twists.   First, spread cream cheese in the hollow part of the celery.  Insert two pretzels on either side for wings.
Hint!  Make a language experience chart with the directions so children can make these at a center.

Smoosh Painting
Cut butterfly shapes out of newsprint.  Fold in half.  Let children drop paint with a spoon or eye dropper on one half.  Fold and rub.  Open to view your butterfly.

Let children act out the life cycle of a butterfly.  First, they lay on the floor in a ball.  Next, they crawl around like caterpillars.  Can they spin around and make a chrysalis?  Finally, they can spread their wings and FLY!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Is there anything more fascinating than the life cycle of the butterfly?  Some of you will read Eric Carle’s book and some of you will actually hatch butterflies in your classroom.  Here are a few activities that will add to children’s natural enthusiasm and curiosity.

Caterpillar Finger Play

A caterpillar crawled                       (Hold up right arm like a tree branch.)

To the top of a tree.                          (Crawl left pointer up right arm.
I think I’ll take a nap said he.          (Wiggle left pointer.)
So under the leaf                              (Pretend to crawl left pointer
He began to creep.                           under right palm.)
He spun a chrysalis                         (Wrap right hand around left pointer.)

                                                            (Pretend to crawl left pointer
He began to creep.                           under right palm.)
He spun a chrysalis                         (Wrap right hand around left pointer.)
And he fell asleep.                           (Hold hands very still.)
For six long months
He slept in that cocoon bed.          (Hold hands very still.)
For six long months
He slept in that cocoon bed.
Til spring came along and said,
Wake up, wake up,
You sleep head.                              (Shake pointer.)
Out of the leaf he did cry,               (Clasp thumbs and open palms.)
Lo, I am a butterfly!                          (Fly hands around like a butterfly.)

Caterpillar Handshake
Extend your right thumb and hook it with your partner’s right thumb.  Stick out your fingers and then flutter them around like a butterfly.

Life Cycle Project
Ask children to bring in a stick from home.  Explain that it should be as long as their foot.  Have them glue a piece of rice on the left end of their stick to represent the caterpillar’s “egg.”  Next, glue on a corkscrew pasta for the “caterpillar.”  Glue a seashell pasta on next for the “chrysalis.”  Finally, glue a bowtie pasta on the red end of the stick for the “butterfly.”  Encourage children to describe the life cycle of the butterfly using their stick.
Hint!  You could also use a bean for the egg, fuzzy yarn for the caterpillar, cotton ball for the chrysalis, and tissue paper for the butterfly.

Baggie Butterfly
You will need a zip sandwich bag, tissue paper, and a pipe cleaner for this project.  Let children tear tissue paper into little pieces and put it in the bag.  Close.  Squeeze the bag in the middle and twist around the pipe cleaner for the body as shown.  Hang from the ceiling or attach a piece of string so children can “fly” it.

What does symmetry mean?  Butterfly wings are a good example of symmetry.  Cut paper into butterfly shapes and challenge children to make them symmetrical.
*Check out some books on butterflies from the library.  Can children decorate their pattern to look like one in the book?

Informative Writing
Let children write factual stories about the life cycle of a butterfly. 
*How about a step book or flip book for this activity?

Hint!  Butterflies hatch from a chrysalis, a life stage made of a hardened protein. A cocoon is spun from silk and surrounds the pupa of many moths.

Oh, my!  I have too many ideas for today.  Come back tomorrow for more!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


How children perceive themselves sets a blueprint for their life.  Early childhood educators have always known that accepting children for who they are and what they are is the first step in creating a positive sense of self.  

*Pass a hand mirror around the classroom and ask each child to say one thing they like about themselves.

*Have a “compliment circle” where children take turns saying something kind to friends.  Friends must respond with, “Thank you!”

*Let children draw pictures to contribute to a class book called “The Best Thing about Me!”

*I CAN DO SOMETHING SPECIAL DAY!  Plan a special day where each child is invited to sing, dance, tell a joke, make something, share a hobby, etc.  Emphasize that there are many ways to be wonderful!!

*Start your day by holding each child on your lap and singing this song to the tune of “Lassie and Laddie.”
                  Child’s name is important, important, important.
                  Child’s name is important to you and to me.
                  At work and at play,
                  He/she does his/her best each day.
                  Child’s name is important to you and to me.

Proud Parent - This book is a fantastic way to make children feel special!  You will need a 3 ring notebook and blank paper for this project. Decorate the cover of the book with the title “The Proud Parent.”  On the first page write these directions:
                  "Today you have an opportunity to add a page
        about your child in our PROUD PARENT BOOK.
        Please put a picture of your child at the top of the page.
        Next, write a short description of your child.  You might
        want to include your child’s physical attributes (hair
        color, eyes, etc.), activities your child enjoys, and things
        that make your child special.
Have children share what their parents have written about them the next day in class. 

My Good Book - Punch holes in 10- 15 sheets of paper and insert them in a clasp folder to make a book for each child.  Let children decorate the front cover with a self-portrait.  Write “My Good Book” on the front and send home a note similar to the one below to parents.
                   Dear Parents,
                  “Catching” your child doing the right thing will help you be
                  the cheerleader that they need.  When your child does something
                  that you want to encourage, take a moment to write it down in
                  their “Good Book.”  Read over the book frequently and discuss
                  their positive qualities.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Tra, la, la, la, la… 
I was looking through my files for an art project and look what I found!! Art is taking a back seat to academics these days, but here are some simple, easy projects with crayons.  Children could do these at a center, as a large group project, or independently if they finish their work early.  No muss and no fuss!

Dancing Crayons
Materials:         crayons, paper, music
Directions:         Hold a crayon in each hand.  Put on some music, and let the crayons “dance” on the paper.
*This would work well at the listening center using a variety of music, such as classical, country, march, lullabye, etc.

Materials:         crayons, rubber bands, paper
Directions:         Wrap a rubber band around 3 or 4 crayons.  Children can hold the “bundle” and draw a design or picture on their paper.
Dot to Dot
Materials:         crayons, paper
Directions:         Make a specified number of dots (six, ten, whatever) on a piece of paper.  Exchange papers with a friend.  Connect the dots.  What does it look like?  Add details to create an object or design.

Wiggles and Squiggles
Materials:         crayons, paper
Directions:         Have the children close their eyes and make a design on their paper with a black crayon.  When they open their eyes, ask them to create something out of their design.
Adaptations:         Have children exchange papers with wiggles and squiggles with a friend.

Folded Designs
Materials:         paper, crayons
Directions:         Have children take a sheet of paper and fold it several times.  Next, open it and trace over the creases on the paper with a black crayon.  Finally, fill in each section with a different color, design, or pattern.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Someone just sent me an email asking for some ideas to help children with self-concept.  Helping children identify feelings and learn to express their emotions in positive ways is a 21st Century Skill and a key to emotional development.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.         (Clap twice.)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.         (Clap twice.)
If you’re happy and you know it,
Then your face will surely show it.                              (Smile.)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.         (Clap twice.)

If you’re sad and you know it cry your eyes…  (Rub eyes.)
If you’re mad and you know it stomp your feet… (Stomp feet.)
If you’re scared and you know it shiver and shake… (Wrap arms and shake.)
If you’re surprised and you know it say, “Oh, my!”… (Open eyes wide.)
*Let children suggest other emotions and movements.

*Brainstorm what causes different emotions and appropriate responses.  What makes you happy?  What can you do when you’re happy?  What makes you stressed?  What can you do when you’re stressed?

*Make class books such as “Things to Be Happy About,” “Things that Bug Us,” or “Scary Things.”

*As you read books to the class, encourage students to describe how characters are feeling.  Have they ever felt like that?

*Let children pantomime different feelings as friends try and guess what they are.

*Puppets can often help children express feelings and work out problems.