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Friday, May 31, 2013


Life is full of surprises, and here’s a story about something that happened to me this week.  I’m now the official Number One Fan of Tarzan #12!

Some of you might know this chant that is on my “Dr. Jean and Friends” CD.  It’s so silly, but the kids love it!

Tarzan  (Echo chant)
Tarzan.                                       (Cup hands around mouth as if calling Tarzan.)
Swimming on a rubber band.  (Swing arms in air.)
Fell into a frying pan.                (Pretend to hold frying pan.)
Now Tarzan has a tan.

Jane                                            (Cup hands around mouth as if calling Jane.)
Flying in an airplane.               (Extend arms as if flying.)
Crashed into a freeway lane.  (Clap hands.)
Now Jane has a pain.              (Bend back and pretend to walk with a cane.)

Cheetah                                    (Cup hands and call Cheetah.)
Rocking to the beat – a.          (Snap fingers.)
Got caught by an amoeba.    (Pretend to catch something.)
Now Cheetah is Velveeta.     (Pretend to spread something on left arm.)

Nancy Miller, a teacher in Las Vegas, emailed that her husband Dennis Miller was Tarzan #12.  He was also the surfer on Gilligan’s Island, the Gorton’s fisherman, and played in countless other TV shows and commercials.  Google him and you’ll find out what an exciting career he has had!

Dennis Miller represents the kind of hero I was fortunate to grow up with.  Strong, honest, caring, and a good model.  I could weep when I think about some of the models our children have on television!  We need more Tarzans!

Anyway, Denny and I have been communicating and he’s committed to fitness and exercise like I am.  One of his books is ME TARZAN…YOU TRAIN!  WITHOUT PAIN!  There are great pictures, illustrations, directions, quotes…and his humor will put a smile on your face!  Some of the exercises are perfect for brain breaks in the classroom. 

His other book DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE WHAT’S HIS NAME? chronicles his life and experiences with fellow actors like Katherine Hepburn, Chuck Connors, Lucille Ball and countless others.  His writing is like a breath of fresh air because he doesn’t say anything unkind about anyone.  What a beautiful soul!  The world is a better place because of people like Tarzan and Dennis Miller!  I can’t wait to meet he and his wife Nancy the next time I’m in Las Vegas!

Here's an interesting story from his book about the elephant in the photograph.  Apparently, African elephants have big ears, but they are difficult to train.  The elephants from India are much easier to train, but they have small ears.  Since Tarzan lived in Africa they strapped fake rubber ears on the elephant he rode!  Even before photo shop they fooled us!

Here’s how you can contact Dennis Miller and get his books:

Thursday, May 30, 2013


My webmaster, Alex May, has been working on this project for months.  Alex has way more patience, persistence, and technical expertise than anyone!  And, I think you’ll be as excited as we are with our new project for TPT.  “Patalina Matalina” is a silly song, but that’s why children love it.  You’ll get the song, PowerPoint, regular size book, small book, patterns, and activities so you can reinforce standards.  But wait!  There’s more!  You’ll also get an eBook. 

Patalina Matalina
(Tune:  “Shortnin’ Bread”)
Chorus:  Um plucka lucka lucka,   (Pretend to strum a guitar
               Um plucka lucka lucka,     as you sing.)
               Um plucka lucka lucka,
               Pluck, pluck, pluck.

Patalina Matalina Upsadina Walkadina
Hoca Poca Loca was his name…
His body looked like a frying pan,
With two little arms and hands…  (Stick out hands.)
His head was shaped like a basketball,  (Make a circle above your head with arms.)
And he had no hair at all…   (Open up palms.)
His ears were big and bright red,  (Point to your ears.)
And they flopped out from his head… 
Is nose was as long as a garden hose,  (Point to your nose.)
And it hung down to his toes…
He had two eyes that were yellow and red,  (Point to your eyes.)
And they poked out from his head…
His feet were as big as sailboats,  (Stick out feet.)
And on the water he could float…
But his heart was so big; he was loved by all.  (Pat chest by heart.)
His looks really didn’t matter at all!  (Shake head “No.”)

*Ask the children if they’ve ever met Patalina’s sister?  Yes, it’s Katalina Matalina and she’s going to have her own set of books soon.

Here's the TPT link:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Here’s a book you can make about your town, state, country, or any place you might visit this summer.  I bought a book with sights around Charleston, but you could use postcards or take your own photos.  This is a good way to integrate social studies, informational text, and a sense of place.  What fun for choral reading or try singing the words to the tune "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Charleston, Charleston,
My Lovely City!
Charleston, Charleston,
What do you see?

There’s a carriage ride.
Come with me.

Charleston, Charleston,
What do you see?

There’s Rainbow Row.
Come with me.

(There are many other verses with
sites around town.)

Charleston, Charleston,
What do you see?

I see the happy children
smiling at me.

Do you like your city,
Do you like what you see?

“YES!” said the children.
“It’s the place for me!

*Several years ago a teacher told me that she made books about all the places she went on vacation.  She happened to teach in a low income school where many of the children never left their neighborhood.  She said she’d overhear them in the classroom library saying, “Let’s got to California today…Let’s go to Disney World…”  Your friends might not be interested in photographs from your travels, but your kids will love them!

I hate to brag, but Charleston really is a lovely city.  If you don’t have summer plans, there’s still time to sign up for the Early Childhood Summit at the College of Charleston July 8 & 9.  You can learn and play at the same time!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Keta Turner from DeWitt Elementary in Arkansas sent this end of the year activity.  What a great idea for recalling the year, and I know it’s something that children would wear and treasure.  (I also spy some standards that relate to recall and speaking!)

"Through the Year" Necklace
Let children string the following beads on a cord as you review the school year.

Yellow bead-August (for the sun-it was summer when we started school)
Brown bead-September (football started!)
Orange bead-October (jack-o-lanterns)
Black bead-November (like the Pilgrim hats we made)
Red bead-December (for Santa's suit)
White bead-January (snow)
Pink bead-February (Valentine's day)
Green bead-March (St. Patrick's day)
Blue bead-April (April showers...)
Purple bead-May (May flowers)
P.S.  We do not go to school in the month of June, but I thought June could be a clear bead: "Clearly" you worked hard this year.

Note!  Some of you might not do holidays, but you could tie this necklace in with seasons (orange for leaves turning colors or pink for the blossoms on the trees) or units of study (red for the field trip to the fire station or green for the seeds we planted).

Monday, May 27, 2013


It’s been a long cold, wet, spring, but now it’s time for fun in the sun!!  Summer might not officially begin for a few weeks, but Memorial Day has always marked the beginning of summer for me.

Some of you can’t wipe the smiles off your faces because school is over and you’ve made it to the finish line.  Whew!  Some of you still have a few more days or even weeks to go and you are wondering if you can make it.  Hang in there!

Whoever you are…wherever you are…take a few minutes today to PLAY!  Do something that makes you happy!  Do something that makes you glad to be alive!   And, please, take a few minutes today to remember all the brave men and women who died serving the United States Military so that we could be free and happy today!!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013


It’s summertime and that means the planes will be full of some happy children, some screaming children, some bored children, and some entertained children!  I’m writing this blog in hopes that teachers can share these ideas with families of children they teach. 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when you travel with children.  And if you’ll read these tips, I bet your fellow passengers will thank you for being on top of the game!  Take advantage of the one-on-one time with your child by giving them 100% of your attention.  After all, isn’t that what children want most from adults?

Planning Ahead
Several days before the trip start talking about your adventure and give details about what is going to happen.  Have children close their eyes as you describe the trip – checking in at the airport -  going through security -  waiting for your flight to be called – getting on the plane and fastening your seatbelt – taking off – looking out the window – landing – how much fun you’ll have on your vacation, etc.  Explain that there are many other people who will be sharing a small space on the plane and that everyone needs to be respectful and use their best manners and quiet voices.  The pilots and flight attendants are there to keep everybody safe, so you will have to listen carefully to them.
Let your child pack a bag full of special objects that they want to carry on the plane.  (You’ll have to give some guidelines for this so they don’t try and bring their entire collection of stuffed animals.)  A few books, a tablet and markers, a card game, a bedtime buddy or blanket, and some healthy snacks should do the trick.  You might also suggest a change of clothes, tissues, and bandaids in case of emergencies.
Note!  I did not suggest a computer or IPad.  Parents, you can pack this in your bag and save it for emergencies.  Too often children play with these while waiting for their flights to take off and then they are bored by the time they get up in the air.
After going through security, walk around and look out the windows at the other planes.  Look at all the passengers and guess where they might be going.  Talk about special things that your child hopes to do on the trip.   If the flight is delayed you can play “I Spy,” “Tic Tac Toe,” “Hangman” or another quiet game.  Oh, and don’t forget a last minute stop in the restroom!
Taking Off
When boarding a plane, you’ll find most pilots enthusiastic about meeting children and letting them take a “peek” inside the cockpit.  Can your child find her own seat?  Once seated, encourage your child to explore her space.  (It’s fine to open and shut the window shade a few times, look in the seat pocket, talk about the airsick bag, etc.)   Playing with the flight attendant call button is NOT ALLOWED!  When the boarding door has closed, then everyone must buckle up! 
Up in the Air
Once you are in the air, it’s time to open the backpack and read some books, play a game, draw some pictures, or eat a snack.  Too often children have gone through their bag of tricks before they get in the air.   If a beverage is served, show your child how to put down their tray and discuss their selection.  Keep on talking and engaging your child.
O.K.  Now, it’s time to get out the iPad or computer and watch a movie.  Wait until the last possible moment to do this.  This is like the 8th inning stretch on the plane.  (I might also recommend a bag of M & M’s – for emergencies only!)  Before you know it you will hear those magic words, “Please fasten your seatbelts.  We will be landing shortly.”  

Remember, YOU are the parent and you are directing this event.  With a happy, positive, attitude you’ll have a great flight and the other passengers will as well!  How many opportunities do you have to give your child 100% of your attention?  That may be the best part of your trip! 
Wishing you happy travels!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Every Memorial Day weekend the Charleston Spoleto Festival begins.  There are plays, concerts, symphonies, and everything you could dream of to celebrate the arts, including special events in the park for children.  Here are a few outdoor art activities you might like to try this summer with your class, if you work at a camp, at Bible School, etc.   

Dirt Painting
Materials:    dirt, water, plastic container, brushes, paper
Directions:   Mix the dirt with water to make a thick liquid.  Paint a picture with brushes or with fingers.
Adaptations:  Look for different types of soil to create different shades of “dirt” paint.
Ice Cube Painting
Materials:   plastic ice cube tray, paint, craft sticks, paper
Directions:  Pour paint in ice cube trays and insert a craft stick in each section.  Freeze.  Pop the “paint cubes” out of the tray and swirl around on the paper.  As the paint melts, it will create a design.
Adaptations:  Make similar ice cubes with water and liquid water color.

Wheel Painting
Materials:   toy cars, trucks, and other vehicles with wheels, paint, newsprint or large sheets of paper, paper plates
Directions:   Put a small amount of paint in the paper plates.  Dip the wheels of the vehicles in the paint, and then “drive” them across the paper.
Adaptations:  Give children rubber fishing worms and dip them in paint.  Wiggle across a sheet of paper to make designs.

Food Color Dip
Materials:  4 small cups, food coloring, paper towels, water
Directions:  Take the cups and put water and a large squirt of food coloring in each cup.  Children take a paper towel and fold it into a small square.  They dip each corner in a different color.  Open and dry.

Fence Painting
Materials:  large sheets of paper, clothespins, paints, paint brushes
Directions:  Attach large sheets of paper to a fence with clothespins.
Children can freely paint on the paper.
Adaptations:  Put paint in pie pans and give children fly swatters to dip in the paint and swat on the paper.

Window Painting
Materials:  shaving cream (non-menthol)
Directions:  Squirt shaving cream on windows and let children fingerpaint.  Clean up is easy with a hose.

Friday, May 24, 2013


I get sick and tired of hearing the negative news about all the things that are wrong with public education in America.  Well, let me tell you what’s right!  Monday I visited Mary Ford Elementary School in Charleston and now I want a job there!!!  The children were precious, but what children aren’t precious to me!  They were well behaved, enthusiastic, cooperative, and excited about learning.  At one time Mary Ford was a “low performing school,” but NOT any more!!! 
Behind every great student is a great teacher.
Behind every great teacher is a great administrator.
Behind every great administrator is a great superintendent.

Dr. Nancy McGinley is the amazing superintendent of Charleston County Schools.  Great things have happened since she came here, but I’ll tell you her secret.  I was told that Dr. McGinley says, “I work for children.”  What she means by that is that politics and school boards and parents are secondary to the needs of children.  If we could all hold hands and truly say, “I work for children,” what unbelievable things we could accomplish!

After singing with the primary grades I visited Ms. Small’s first grade and made a book with them.  Her name might be “Small”, but she’s a GIANT when it comes to teaching and creative ideas!  I walked in the room and was greeted by this message on a table.  She explained that someone was throwing out the table, so she painted the top with chalkboard paint and writes a message on it for the children each day.  
She’s also quite a poet!
A little rhythm and sometimes rhyme.
You better get ready,
It’s poetry time!

Here’s another cool idea from a first grade teacher.  He bought several super hero belts and uses them to reinforce good work in math and reading.  They call them their “champ” belts!  Look at those proud faces!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I try very hard not to be an infomercial on my blog.  There are very few products that I have ever mentioned other than E6000 glue and Crayola Dry Erase crayons.  (Nope!  I don’t work for either company or receive money from them.)
But, here’s something new (new to me anyway) that is a “must have” for any classroom.  My niece gave Kalina and K.J. some markers for windows when they were here for spring break.  I was a little skeptical, but they had so much fun and were so engaged I didn’t worry about the clean up.  Right before they left I gave K.J. a rag and a spray bottle and challenged him to clean the windows.  Waa laa!!  The markers really did wash off!                                            
If you are a parent, or grandparent, or aunt, or uncle, or anyone who might have children visiting this summer, these markers would provide children with hours of open-ended and fun.  I like the "Crystal Effects Window Markers" the best. 

As a teacher, here are some other uses for the markers in your classroom:

Write letters, words, numerals, shapes, or anything you want to reinforce on windows or mirrors.
*Let children wear sunglasses and identify the information with a pointer.

Let children practice writing letters, numerals, spelling words, etc. on classroom windows.
* How about rainbow writing?  Make giant letters, shapes, words, etc. on windows.  Children can take the markers and trace around the figures with different colors.

Use these as a reward or when children finish their work early.
Use the classroom mirror as a message board to write words of encouragement, reminders, or to celebrate accomplishments.

Special Days
Let children decorate classroom windows holidays, seasons, themes, or other special events.

Write a word or theme and invite children to add their own thoughts to the window.

Sign In
Children can write their name or a special message when they come to school each morning.

What an open-ended art center this could be throughout the year!

Note!  You could even have “window washer” as a classroom job.  I found it was best to wipe off the marks with a wet towel before using a window cleaner.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


In keeping with the bug theme, how about some ANTics today!

Insect’s Body
(Tune:  “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”)
Head (Point to head.)
Thorax (Point to chest.)
Abdomen – abdomen! (Point to stomach.)
Head, thorax, abdomen – abdomen!
And eyes (Point to eyes.)
And mouth (Point to mouth.)
And antennae, two (Stick 2 fingers up.)
Six legs (Wiggle 3 fingers on each hand.)
And there’s an insect for you!
(Leave off a verse each time you sing and hum.)

Anatomy of an Ant
Brainstorm how to find out more about ants.  For example, you could look for a book in the library, search the internet, ask a scientist, observe an ant on the playground, etc.
Have children draw an insect and label the body parts.

The Ants Go Marching
(Tune:  “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”)
 The ants go marching one by one,            (Hold up one finger.)
Hurrah!  Hurrah!                                             (Fist in the air.)
The ants go marching one by one,
Hurrah!  Hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one,
The little one stops to suck his thumb,  (Pretend to suck thumb.)
And they all go marching down,                  (Hands go down.)
To the ground,
To get out of the rain
Boom!  Boom!  Boom!                                   (Pat thighs.)

Two by two…tie his shoe                              (Pretend to tie shoes.)
Three by three…climb a tree                        (Climb a tree.)
Four by four…shut the door                          (Shut the door.)
Five by five…boogie jive                               (Dance in place.)
Six by six…pick up sticks                              (Pick up sticks.)
Seven by seven…point to heaven               (Point upwards.)
Eight by eight…learn to skate                       (Pretend to skate.)                                   
Nine by nine…scratch his spine                   (Scratch spine.)
Ten by ten…That’s the end!                          (Snap fingers.)

Let children dramatize this song.  Make headbands or let them wear number vests to indicate different verses in the song.

Ants on a Log
You will need:
Celery cut into 3-4” pieces
Peanut butter  (substitute cream cheese if there are peanut allergies)
Let children spread the peanut butter or cream cheese in the log. 
Place raisins/ants on the log. 
Eat and enjoy!

*You know, I’ve been making this snack for years, but it will be a new treat for many children.  Mmmm!  I just ate the one I made for the picture and it still tastes pretty good after all these years!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I found this echo poem that Holly wrote several year ago.  Read it and “let it be,” or try some of the other “buggy” activities.

The Bug Dance
By Dr. Holly
Bugs, bugs everywhere!
            Bugs, bugs everywhere!
On my shoulders, in my hair!
            On my shoulders, in my hair!
Fat and lean ones, in-between ones
            Fat and lean ones, in-between ones
Orange ones, red ones, pink and green ones!
            Orange ones, red ones, pink and green ones!
Crickets, beetles, ladybugs too—
            Crickets, beetles, ladybugs too—
One just landed on my shoe!
            One just landed on my shoe!
Caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, ants
            Caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, ants
One is crawling up my pants!
            One is crawling up my pants!
I like bugs both big and small.
            I like bugs both big and small.
I like them marching up the wall.
            I like them marching up the wall.
I like them on flowers and in trees,
            I like them on flowers and in trees,
But please, oh please, get them off of me!
            But please, oh please, get them off of me!

Choral Reading – Teacher reads the first line and then children repeat it.
Visual Imagery – Children close their eyes as they repeat the rhyme and “make pictures” in their brain.
Drawings – Have children illustrate the poem.
Bug Books – Check out books from the library and ask children, “What can you find out about bugs?”  Encourage them to take notes and share what they learned.
Thumbprint Bugs – Children make thumbprints on a page and then add details with markers to create bugs.
Bug Paintings – Cut paper to fit in a shoebox or similar box with a lid.  Put plastic bugs in paint and then use a spoon to transfer them to the box.  Put the lid on and shake the box.  The bugs will “paint” a picture for you!
Play Dough – Let children create bugs out of play dough and sections of pipe cleaners.  Encourage them to name their bugs.
Things that Bug Me - Discuss different meanings of the word "bug."  Let children draw pictures of things that "bug" them.