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Sunday, June 30, 2013


More ideas from my friends at the Nashville, Tennessee, summer camp!

Even and Odd (Christa Reynolds)
(Tune:  “Bingo”)
There was a farmer
Who had a cow and
EVEN was his name-o.
2 – 4 – 6 - 8 – 10
2 – 4 – 6 - 8 – 10
2 – 4 – 6 - 8 – 10
and EVEN was his name-o.

There was a farmer
Who had a pig and
ODD was his name-o.
1 – 3 – 5 – 7 – 9
1 – 3 – 5 – 7 - 9
1 – 3 – 5 – 7 - 9
And ODD was his name-o.

Park Your Phoneme  (April Cash)
On black construction paper draw three parking spaces with white chalk or white out.  Say a word (CVC) and ask the child to park the car where they heard the sound. 
For example:  CAT  Where do you hear the /t/?

Alligator Math  (April Cash)
Make an alligator head with the mouth open.  Use a real deck of cards and take out the face cards.  Each child draws a card and then they put the alligator so it’s eating the larger amount.

HOT Grease (Melanie Hatley)
As you say the finger play below rub your palms together.  They will get “hot” and you can talk about friction.
Five little hotdogs frying in the pan.  (Hold up 5 fingers.)
The grease got hot and one went BAM!  (Rub palms together.)
Four little…three…two…one…
No little hotdogs frying in the pan.
The pan got hot and it went BAM!

(Tune:  “Bingo”)
Every vowel has a name
And here is what they say:
A  E  I  O  U
A  E  I  O  U
A  E  I  O  U
And that is what they say.

Every vowel has a name
And here is what they say:
/a/  /e/  /i/  /o/  /u/  (Make short vowel sounds.)
/a/  /e/  /i/  /o/  /u/
/a/  /e/  /i/  /o/  /u/
And that is what they say.

Cut Apart Sentences  (April Cash)
This activity will reinforce sight words, punctuation, name recognition, and many other standards.  Each week choose a sentence that relates to what your are studying.  Choose 1-5 students a day to dictate an end to the sentence.  Write these on a large chart and review each day.  On Friday, cut apart the sentences and then cut between the words to make a puzzle for each child.  They have to glue their sentence back together and then illustrate it.
For example, if you are doing a unit on transportation they might complete a sentence like this:
*The only words that will change are the name of the student and how they end the sentence.

Teddy Bear Travels
If you go to the website for the Society for American Travel Writers ( you will find an adventure for your classroom.  The travel writers will take a teddy bear and write to your class as they travel the globe.

An Apron for the Teacher  (Leigh Ann Towater)
Get an apron with several pockets to help you stay organized all day long.  Put a happy chappy, seasonal stamp, pen and notepad (for quick assessments), smart board pen, ring of flash cards, small clapper (to give yourself a hand) and anything else you will need in the pockets. 

Step Book Assessment (Tiffany Pettigrew)
Make a step book using 5 sheets of paper so you will end up with ten pages.  Each month ask the children to write a sentence and illustrate it.  By the end of the year you will have a visual record of their progress.

*Extend a sentence by adding different parts of speech on each page of the step book.  (Noun, verb, adjectives, prepositions)  Draw pictures to illustrate each sentence.

End of the Day Song  (Barbara E. Hill)
(Tune:  “Did You Ever See a Lassie?”)
We’re so glad you’re in our classroom, our classroom, our classroom.
We’re so glad you’re in our classroom at name of your school.
With Mary, and Susie, and Johnny, and Jim.  (Tap children on the head.)
We’re so glad you’re in our classroom at name of your school.
*Repeat until everyone’s name has been sung.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Look!  Look!  Look!  You’ll find some real goodies I brought you from Victoria, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee.

EYE CAN! For the Common Core  (Leigh Ann Towater)
Cover a Pringle’s can with paper and glue on wiggly eyes.  As you recite focus standards for a lesson hold up the can and say, “I CAN match with one-to-one correspondence.”  After the lesson say, “Roar to the core” and roar like lions.

If You’re Ready to Get Started (Leigh Ann Towater)
(Tune:  “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)
If you’re ready to get started say, I AM!  (Children say, “I am!”)
If you’re ready to get started say, I AM!  (Children say, “I am!”)
If you say that you’re not,
You’re going to miss out on a lot.
If you’re ready to get started say, I AM!  (Children say, “I am!)

Questions and Comments (Krissi Carr)
To avoid getting off track have children make a “C” with their hand and hold it up if they want to make a comment.  They can hold up their pinky finger if they want to ask a question.

Photo Op  (Krissi Carr)
When students are at a center and finish their work, but the teacher can’t get to them, try using a digital camera.  The child writes her name on a strip of paper, puts it under the finished center, and takes a picture.  Have a file on the computer where you can store their individual photos.  If a parent calls and says, “What’s my child doing?” you can email the photos.

Magic Carpet (Mary Cottingham) 
To help prevent interruptions during reading groups or centers have a “magic carpet” (carpet square) where children can stand until the teacher acknowledges them.

Beanie Baby Reading Buddies  (Heather Apple)
You know all those beanie babies you bought thinking they’d make you rich one day?  Well, you might not get rich, but here’s an idea where they will be loved.  Store them in a basket and children can choose one for a reading buddy.

Counting On  (Rachel Carter)
Children sit in a circle and one child at a time adds to the count.  The secret of this version is that you start and stop with a random number.  For example, you could start with 32 and when you get to 52 that person has to sit down.  This is a perfect way to reinforce the math standard “count forward beginning with a number…”

Rainbow Cheer   (Jennifer Cannon)
Draw a rainbow in the air while saying the colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, etc.  End with hands on cheeks and say, “Awww!  How nice!”

Alligator Cheer (Jennifer Cannon)
Chomp with hands like an alligator three times and then rub your tummy and say, “Mmm, mmm, good!”

Who Is Smarter?  (Rhonda Hoper)
Randomly during the day shout, “Right now!  Right now!  Right now!  Who in the room is smarter than you were when you walked in the door this morning?”  Kids will get excited to tell you what they’ve learned.  Let kids take turns shouting out the question.

Tony, Tony!
When you can’t find something in the classroom say, “Tony, Tony look around.  Something’s lost that must be found!”

Cheerleader Cheer  (Beverly Hummel)
Say, “Great!” while you bring your right arm down like you’re holding a pom pom.  Say, “Great!” as you bring your left arm down.  Then say, “Great!” with both arms.

Football Player Cheer (Beverly Hummel)
Make your arms go in like a muscle man as you lean over and say, “Great, great, great!” or one loud “GREAT!”

Look at all the Junior Birdmen in Victoria!

Friday, June 28, 2013


Junior Birdmen - Is Everybody Happy? CD
(Make circles with index fingers and thumbs
and hold around eyes like goggles.)

Up in the air, Junior Birdmen.
Up in the air, upside down.
Up in the air, Junior Birdmen.
Keep your noses off the ground.

And when you hear the grand announcement
That their wings are made of tin.
Then you will know the Junior Birdmen
Have sent their box tops in.

It takes five box tops,
   Four labels,
      Three coupons,
         Two bottle caps,
             And one thin dime.

J – U – N – I – O – R,  B – I – R – D – M – E – N. 
Junior Birdmen!

*Apparently the Junior Birdmen of America was a club started in the 1930's for boys interested in building model airplanes.  We've come a long way, baby!

Button Factory - Is Everybody Happy? CD

Hi!  My name is Joe.

I’ve got a wife and two kids

And I work in a button factory.

One day, my boss came to me and said,

“Joe, are you busy?”  I said, “No.”

“Then work with your right hand.”         (move right hand)

Then work with your left hand…            (add left hand)
Then work with your right foot…            (add right foot)
Then work with your left foot…              (add left foot)
Then work with your head…                  (nod head)
Then work with your tongue…               (wiggle tongue)
I said, “YES!”

“Joe, are you busy?”  I said, “No.”
“Then work with your right hand.”          (move right hand)

Then work with your left hand…            (add left hand)
Then work with your right foot…            (add right foot)
Then work with your left foot…              (add left foot)
Then work with your head…                  (nod head)
Then work with your tongue…               (wiggle tongue)
I said, “YES!”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


The next time someone asks you what you do, just smile and say, "I'm a brain engineer!"  Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?  But you really are a brain engineer because every day you wire up children’s brains and help them learn, think, create, and feel.

We know that children’s brains are twice as active as adult brains, and that’s why teachers have to be so quick on their feet!  The more I study about the brain, the more I realize what teachers have always done naturally (and well) is still the key to stimulating children’s brains.  Here are a few tips for you “engineers”:

1.    The brain likes rich experiences, novelty, and challenges.  When children are interested, then their brains will be more engaged.

2.    Sensory stimulation is important.  The more senses you activate, the more likely the message will get to the brain.
3.  The brain remembers images.  50% to 80% of the brain's natural processing power is devoted to sight.

4.    A safe, secure environment is essential to a healthy brain (and body).  When you follow a daily schedule and routine, children feel confident and can focus on learning.

5.    The only way to the head is through the heart.  Take care of those emotional factors and relationships.

6.    The brain needs good nutrition, water, and plenty of rest.

7.    Brain breaks and neurobic exercises need to be integrated into the day.  Neuroscience suggests that our attention span is 10 minutes and instruction needs to be varied accordingly.

8.  Brain growth time (quiet time for thinking and reflection) is also important for students to process information.

9.    Death is silent and learning is noisy!  Children need to talk and be encouraged to ask questions.

10.    Music and movement are magic!  Children can learn anything with a song and dance.
11. Repetition, repetition, repetition!  However, feedback during practice is important to make sure the correct information is stored in the brain.

Every child is unique and every child’s brain is unique!  But, good “brain engineers” like YOU know when you are making those connections through the children’s twinkling eyes, smiles, and enthusiasm!  Although I know it's frustrating because there is such a dissonance between brain research and classroom practice, the more you know the more power you have to advocate for active learning and a happy, noisy classroom!!!

Here are some of my favorite resources to stimulate your brains this summer:

Hannaford, C.  (2005).  Smart moves:  why learning is not all in your head.
            Salt Lake City, UT:  Great River Books.
Jensen, E.  (2008).  Brain-based learning.  Del Mar, CA:  Turning Point.
Medina, J.  (2010),  Brain rules.  Seattle, WA:  Pear Press.
Ratey, J.  2008).  Spark.  The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain.  New York:  Little Brown and Company.
Schiller, P.  (1999).  Start smart.  Beltsville, MD:  Gryphon House.
Wolfe, P.  (2001).  Brain matters:  translating research into classroom practice.  Alexandria, VA:  ASCD.

*Check out Chris Wiffle's site called for some excellent FREE videos.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


LOVED  the OK teachers last week.  We put our hands together to make a heart!

I’m Thinking of a Letter  (Lauren Griffin)
(Tune:  “My Mother Is a Baker”)
I’m thinking of a letter, a letter, a letter.
I’m thinking of a letter and it sounds like this:  (make letter sound)

*I’m thinking of a word, a word, a word.
I’m thinking of a word and it rhymes with this:  (say a word)

Birthday Crown  (Samantha Spagnola)
To make an inexpensive birthday crown fold a paper plate in half.  Cut along the center crease to the rimmed edge and then cut three additional slits.  Fold back from the center of the plate as shown.

Pencil Grip  (Deborah Bergman)
Lay the pencil on the table with the point towards you.  (That’s your worm.)  Make a beak with your thumb and pointer finger.  (That’s your bird.)
Have the bird pick up the worm with its beak.  (The point of the pencil is towards you.)  Flip the pencil back as the bird pretends to swallow the worm.

Books from the Bag Ladies  ((Ambur Bell and Samantha Spagnola)
Several teachers had attended a workshop put on by the Bag Ladies and they shared the ice cream book and the flip flop book.

Envelope Math
Cut an envelope in half.  Insert several fingers inside and have several fingers outside.  Children have to predict how many fingers are inside.  This would be a great game to play with a friend.

Birthday Bulletin Board  (Amanda Vernon)
Take a picture of all the students who have birthdays in each month.  Have each child hold a white board with the date of their birthday.  (Example:  January 12)  Make a bulletin board with their pictures and birthdays.

Pre-Writing Sign In  (Lora Siever)
Write the first letter in each child’s name across the top of the board.  To sign in children find their letter and draw a line from their letter to the bottom of the board.  (This will develop the concept of top to bottom.)

Divide a piece of butcher paper into fourths and draw pictures of two friends hugging (hug), lips (Hollywood kiss), a hand (high five), and two hands shaking (handshake).  Laminate and tape outside the classroom door.  The teacher stands at the door the first month of school and greets each child according to where they stand on the doormat.

Wait, Please!  (Waynel Mayes)
To help children learn to wait courteously have them place their little hand on you when they need something.  The teacher touches their hand to let them know you’ll answer them as soon as you can.

Germ Juice  (Julie Kewley)
Give children antibacterial lotion when they come in the classroom.  Make a label for the hand sanitizer that says the teacher’s name on one side and “Germ Juice” on the other side.  After hugging their parent at the door or when they come in from outside give them a squirt of the germ juice.
*If they pick their nose remind them to get some germ juice as well!

Cherokee Good Morning Song (Meda Nix - Cherokee Nation Immersion School) 
(Tune:  “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
O si yo                                                Hello
O si yo                                                Hello
To hi tsu ko higa                               How are you today
O si yo                                                Hello
Ni gad a quu                                     All of you
O si yo                                                Hello
O si yo                                                Hello

Going Crazy  (Cherokee Nation Language Immersion School)
Tohigesd(i)   agilulotsv                                    Go slowly    crazy
Nigalisdino                                                        I am going
Sawu tal tso nvg hisg sudal(i)                        1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Ditsadanetli yv n(a)                                          Everybody switch

Nigalisdino tohiges                                          I am going   go slowly
D(i)agilulotsv                                                     crazy
Sudal hisg nvg tso tal sawu                           6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Ditsadanetliyvn(a)                                            Everybody switch

Growing a Sentence  (Julie Fletcher)
Use the step book to encourage children to expand a sentence.

Sticky, Sticky Bubble Gum  (Dena Dassel)
Clap hands together and pretend like gum is sticking to them as you say the chant below:
Sticky, sticky, sticky, sticky bubble gum,
Bubble gum, bubble gum.
Sticky, sticky, sticky, sticky bubble gum
Makes my hands stick to my elbows.
Repeat using other body parts.  End with, “Makes my hands stick to my lap.”

Clipboard Assessment  (Mona Horn)
This is a terrific idea for making anecdotal notes and observations.  Stagger 5”x 8” index cards and tape to a clipboard.  Write each child’s name on the bottom of the card, along with their birthday, hand dominance, etc.  Record “one word” progress, challenges, or “funnies” on the card.
*The teacher who shared this sad that since she teaches two sessions of pre-K she has a clipboard for each session.  She writes a minus in front of a word if kids need more practice (ex:  - cutting) or a plus (+ pencil grip) if the child has mastered a skill.  She also said she keeps a cover sheet on top to protect the privacy of each child.

Monday, June 24, 2013


I was in Broken Arrow as well as Oklahoma City last week and I “harvested” some super ideas for you!

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
This song is from the musical OKLAHOMA!  I told the teachers I’d make up some new words for them.
Oh, what a beautiful morning.
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I’m so glad you’re all here.
We’ll work and learn and play.

We’ll count and add and subtract.
We’ll read books and write, too.
The Common Core State Standards
Will be lots of fun for you!

Oh, what a beautiful morning.                                         
Oh, what a beautiful day.
We’ll discover new things with our friends.
And be kind and helpful today.

Shoelace Math  (Krystal Whitaker)
Write numerals on a shoelace as shown.  Add a bead.  Children can slide the bead to count, add, find a missing number, tell one more, etc.
*You could also write letters on a shoelace.

Clipboard Flip (Krystal Whitaker)
Tape index cards to a clipboard as shown.  Write letters or numerals on the cards.  Students can draw pictures, add stickers, make sets, cut out pictures, write words, make sets, etc.
*You can also use this for assessment.

Mrs. Butterworth  (Jennifer Hatfield)
Use the label off Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup for the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

Bingo Instrumental
On the “Bingo” song instead of clapping each time you leave out a letter, play a different rhythm instrument.  If you don’t have instruments, you can make a different sound or movement for each letter.  (Stomp foot, pat head, snap, etc.)

Key Change  (Karen Williams)
When combining music and movement point out a “key change” each time the music changes an octave.  Key change can be pointed out in numerous other ways while participating in music.  For example, children could march in a different direction with key change.  This tool enhances ear training for learning in areas involving literacy, math, and other aesthetic experiences.
*Much discussion and modeling is required to enhance this understanding.

Buddy Rotation  (Deb Enkers)
You will need lids from juice containers and photos of students for this activity.  Cut out photos to fit in the lids and put magnetic tape behind.  Line the lids up in rows of two.  Remove the first lid and put it on the bottom.  The others move up.  That way everyone will have a partner for activities they can do together.

Seasons Canvas  (Jennifer Cook)
Collect things from “treasures” from nature each season.
Fall:  red, orange, brown leaves, sticks
Winter:  sticks, cotton balls for snow
Spring: leaves, flowers
Summer:  grass, green leaves
Each season glue the leaves to a piece of canvas.  Put the four canvas squares together to make an outdoor collage.

Line Up (Lesa Moore)
Hamburgers, hotdogs,
Move your buns.
Mayonnaise, mustard,

Backpack Reminder  (Lisa Grider)
Write reminders for parents on strips of paper and staple to the handle of the children’s backpacks.

Smartkles and Behavior Beans
Cover a small Pringles can with paper.  Add a spoonful of rice or beans.  Pretend to sprinkle the children’s brains with “smartkles” when learning something new.  Pretend to sprinkle them with “behavior beans” to help them self-regulate.

Call Back Attention Grabber
Teacher says:            What’s gonna work?
Children answer:       Team work
Teacher says:            Marco
Children:                     Polo
Teacher says:            Peanut butter
Children:                    Jelly

Sunday, June 23, 2013


You know, I always thought that Bill Martin wrote this poem, but after searching the internet, I find this beautiful thought belongs to Beatrice Schenk de Regniers.  It’s a reminder of the sweet thoughts that poetry can bring to all of us!

Keep a Poem in Your Pocket
By Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket
And a picture in your head
And you’ll never feel lonely
At night when you’re in bed.

The little poem will sing to you
The little picture will bring to you
A dozen dreams to dance to you
At night when you’re in bed.

So…keep a picture in your pocket
And a poem in your head
And you’ll never feel lonely
At night when you’re in bed.

Last week in Vicksburg, MS, a teacher said she shared her love of poetry with her kindergarteners by having them memorize this and other poems throughout the school year.  She connects poems with phonemic awareness, word wall words, fluency, punctuation, and other skills they are working on.  As her students travel through life they will forget many things, but they will always have a poem in their heads to make them smile and remember kindergarten.  What a gift!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


How about a “fishy” tale today?

You will need a file folder and 2 orange, 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue, and 1 black sheets of construction paper.   Trace a fish shape on one side of the file folder and cut it out.  Color around the fish so it looks like an ocean.  Tape the sides of the folder together.  Cut the construction paper into 7” x 9” rectangles.  Place the construction paper behind the fish cutout in this order:  orange, red, yellow, blue, black, and orange.  Glue the words to the story to the back of the file folder so you can read it as you remove one sheet of paper at a time.  Encourage the children to join in on the chant.

Once there was an orange fish named Mitch who could change his color with the swish of his tail.  All he had to say was: 
            I’m Mitch the fish.
            I swim and I swish.
            And I can change my color
            If I wish.
One day he was swimming around on the ocean floor and he saw a red lobster.  He thought it would be fun to be a bright color like the lobster so he said:
            I’m Mitch the fish.
            I swim and I swish.
            And I can change my color
            If I wish.
Suddenly he turned red.  (Remove the orange sheet of paper to make Mitch red.)  The lobster said, “I’m the only sea creature who can be red.  I’ll snap at you!”  So Mitch decided he didn’t want to be red anymore.  Just then he saw a yellow starfish and he said:
            I’m Mitch the fish.
            I swim and I swish.
            And I can change my color
            If I wish.
And with a swish of his tail Mitch turned yellow.  (Remove the red paper to show the yellow.)  The starfish said, “I’m the only creature who can be yellow.  I’ll prickle you!”  So Mitch decided he didn’t want to be yellow anymore.  Mitch saw a blue whale and decided it would be fun to be blue so he said:
            I’m Mitch the fish.
            I swim and I swish.
            And I can change my color
            If I wish.
The whale said, “I’m the only creature in the sea who can be blue.  I’ll spout water on you!”  Mitch thought it might not be a good idea to be blue, so when he saw a shark he decided to be black and he said:
            I’m Mitch the fish.
            I swim and I swish.
            And I can change my color
            If I wish.
Well, you know the shark didn’t like Mitch being black and he said, “I’m going to get you!”  Finally Mitch said:
            I’m Mitch the fish.
            I swim and I swish.
            And I can change my color
            If I wish.
And he turned back into being an orange fish again.  Because being yourself is the very best thing that you can be!

Flying Fish

You can make a little flying fish from a strip of paper cut 8 ½” x 1 ½”.   Cut slits halfway through near each end as shown.  Hook the tabs together, toss it in the air, and watch your fish fly!