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Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Did you see the new face lift that Michelle (the3amteacher) gave my blog?  It is so child-centered and FUN!  It makes me feel good just to look at it, and I hope it makes you happy as well!!  My friend Vanessa ( suggested Michelle, and I can trust Vanessa when it comes to techie expertise.  Michelle was able to get to the heart (my passion) and art (my experience) to create a design that totally reflects me.  Thank you!  Thank you!  (Now, if she could only give my real face a lift!!)

You've got to check out the teaching resources, technology tips, clip art, and how Michelle 
fuses technology with her creativity at the Michelle is amazing and incredibly talented - and she's soooo NICE!

Okeedookee, I’ve already accomplished one of my goals for the New Year.  If I were in charge of the world, these are ten other resolutions I would make for my classroom in 2014.

  1. Start every day by singing and moving.
  2. Look into each child’s eyes and give them a handshake.
  3. Read a good book every day and let it be.  Don’t dissect the book by asking about the author, problem, or resolution.  Relax, read, and enjoy with your students.
  4. Send a note (or email) to a different parent each day reminding them how great their child is.
  5. Say something nice or do a small favor for a colleague.
  6. Have free time (aka recess) outside every day.
  7. Provide a time or assignment where children can work with a friend.
  8. Learn a poem each week.  Practice reading and saying the poem each day.  (More details about that on January 5th.)
  9. Do something special every Friday afternoon.  Get together with other classes on your grade level and sing and dance.  Have a poetry café where you drink hot chocolate and read and recite poems.  How about game time where children bring board games from home and play?
  10. End each day by singing a song and asking students what they liked best or learned.  Tell them something they can look forward to the next day.

The best things in life are FREE, and everything on my list is free and simple.  What 
goals would you set if you were in charge of the world?

Monday, December 30, 2013


Need something to do today besides clean the house and return gifts you don’t want?  Here are a few free apps you might want to check out.

Sticky Notes – Organize “to do” with colorful notes.

Remind 101- Send messages to parents through email or text.

Flashcards – Make your own flashcards for specific skills.

Fry Words – Great for sight word practice.

Dragon – Oral language and dictation.

Voice Plus – Record and change voices.

You’ll discover some teaching tips for the coming year at these sites:

Still need something to do?  I could watch the videos on the teaching channel all day!


You'll never guess where I'm going today?  Give up?  My husband and I are cashing in my Delta miles and hotel points and we are going to the Rose Bowl!!!  Oh, my!  I am so excited I can't stand it!  I love a parade!  We don't have tickets to the football game yet, but you can wave to us on TV if you watch the parade.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


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!”

Saturday, December 28, 2013


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.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Whether you live in Alaska or Florida, everybody loves snowmen!  Here's a finger play, puppet poem, and story you can make this week and you'll be good to go back to school!

Five Little Snowmen Finger Play
Five little snowmen fat.                           (Hold up five fingers.)
Each wore a different hat.
Along came the sun and melted one.           (Bend down one finger.)
Now, what do you think about that?

Four little snowmen fat…                           (Hold up four fingers.)
Cut snowmen out of felt as shown.  Place a different colored hat on each one.  Remove one snowman as each verse is said. 
*Place the flannel board and snowmen in a center so children can practice saying the rhyme and make sets.
*Make a simple flannel board by gluing a piece of felt to the front of a file folder.  Staple the sides.  Store pieces inside and glue a copy of the poem to the back.

Snowman Puppet
Cut a snowman out of heavy paper and decorate with markers.  Cut a circle for the nose the width of your index finger.  Cut another circle the size of your index finger out of a cup.  Match up holes and tape the snowman in place.  Put your hand in the cup and stick your index finger through the hole as you repeat the rhyme below.
A chubby little snowman
Had a carrot for a nose.
Along came a bunny
And what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny
Looking for some lunch
Ate that little snowman’s nose
Nibble, nibble, crunch!  (Slowly pull your finger back into the cup.)

Snowman’s Story
Once there was a beautiful snowman made of white snow.  Along came a red bird one day and the bird said,
Ha, ha, ha,
He, he, he,
You’re the funniest snowman I ever did see.
The snowman said,
Oh, dear, oh, dear,
Oh, me, oh, me!
Why am I the funniest snowman you ever did see?
Well, said the bird, you should be red like me.  Red is such a bright, happy color.
So that night the snowman got some red dye and turned himself red.

The next day along came a yellow duck.
Ha, ha, ha….(The story continues as the snowman dyes himself yellow.)
The next day along came a green frog…
The next day along came blue bug…

The next day the snowman was feeling rather sad.  Just then along came a little girl.  She said, “Why are you so sad?”  The snowman said, “I’ve dyed myself red and yellow and green and blue and I just don’t feel like myself.”  The little girl said, “You are wonderful just the way you are!  Always be yourself!” 
So the snowman blinked his eyes and he was once again the color of snow.  From then on he was happy just being himself.  And that’s why you always see snowmen with happy smiles on their faces.
*Cut a snowman shape out of the front of a file folder.  Insert white, red, yellow, green, blue, and white paper.  Glue the words to the story on the back.  As you tell the story remove the paper to correspond with the story.
Hint!  I painted snow on the file folder with White Out.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Twas' 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!

1. Go for a walk or get some exercise.
2. Call someone (yes, on the phone) you haven’t talked to in a long time.
3. Read a book.
4. Go to a movie.
5. Make some hot chocolate or have a cup of tea.
6. Take a bubble bath.
7. Put on some favorite music and dance by yourself.
8. Look at old photos.
9. Take an imaginary vacation on the internet.
10. Make a list of all the things you have to be happy about.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


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 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

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

Merrrryyy Christmas from my house to yours!  

Saturday, December 21, 2013


When I was a little girl I got ONE thing for Christmas.  Seriously!  One thing!  And I was happy.  I usually got a baby doll and I named her and I LOVED her.  We put out popcorn and a beer for Santa.  (My dad had a sense of humor and we didn’t know any better.  I was probably in third grade before I realized that Santa liked milk and cookies.)  We would hang up one of my dad’s socks and in the morning we’d find a few nuts, an orange, and a candy cane in it.

Those were the days before television and advertisements.  Our family had one bathroom and one car for six people and somehow it worked.  We never went out to eat because there were no fast food restaurants.  There were no books or cartoons about Santa, so my vision of him was created from my imagination and “The Night before Christmas.” 

Wasn’t I naïve?  I didn’t know I was suppose to get tons of presents and leave out milk instead of beer.  Ignorance really was bliss because I have such sweet memories.  It’s also called selective nostalgia because I only remember the good things.  I try to forget the family feuds and some of my disappointments.  It does no good to recall the negative things.

That might be the secret to true happiness this holiday season.  Forgive and forget the unkind words and hopes unfulfilled.  Focus on the positive and things that you have in your control.  Surround yourself with people you love, and ignore the ones you are not too crazy about.

The family is arriving today, so I’m going to turn off my computer for a few days.  Nick, Holly, Peter, Kalina, KJ, and six (yes - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!) dogs will make the days merry and barky!  

I send you peace, love, joy, and hope!!!

Merry!  Merry!  Happy!  Happy!

Friday, December 20, 2013


Yesterday after singing at a school I received this email.  You never know what is going to happen next!  You can never miss an opportunity to spread a little joy!  You never know the impact of a small act of kindness.  And, the most amazing thing is that love always circles around and comes back to you!  I hope you feel the love this week and always!

Hi, Dr. Jean,

I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming to sing with our four year
olds today! It was truly the highlight of our day!

After you left our school was placed on lockdown due to a shooting in the
area, and as a result our holiday PTO program was canceled.  So thank you for
putting smiles on the faces of these kids who have already seen too much in
their young lives.  Thank you for reminding them it's OK to have fun!

Also, after you left, the teacher who set up the visit had to leave to have
an emergency appendectomy. She is such a sweetheart that she suffered through appendicitis pains rather than miss you perform with our kids!

That is a testament to her dedication...

And a testament to the dedication of each one of you!

Thank you for sharing your life with me!

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Here are some perfect party games for young children that can be adapted for any season or theme.  For example, instead of pinning the nose on Rudolph you could put the carrot nose on the snowman.  Instead of using sweet treats you could give out pencil erasers or tickets.  (Kids love tickets even if they are not good for anything!)  Let's get this party started!

Pass the Parcel
This is actually a game a student from England taught me.  Thus, “parcel” instead of “present.”  My students LOVED this!  Fill a box with sugarless bubblegum, pencils, small toys, or stickers.  There should be enough for everyone in the group.  Next, wrap the present over and over again with wrapping paper, tissue paper, or funny pages from the newspaper.   Children sit in a circle and begin passing the “parcel” around as music is played.  When the music stops that child gets to open one layer on the package.  (If the package lands on someone who has already had a turn they pass it on to the person sitting next to them.)  Continue the game until the gift is reached.  That child then passes out the goodies to the rest of the group.
Hide and Hunt
Children love to hunt for things, so if the weather is nice you can hide jingle bells, snowballs (cotton balls), chocolate gold coins, small toys, etc. on the playground for the children to find. 
*Divide the class in half.  Let one group hide the objects for the others to find and then reverse roles.  

Magic Number
Fill a clear jar or container with candy, cotton balls, or jingle bells.  The person who guesses the closest amount is the winner.
Pin the Nose on Rudolph
Draw a reindeer on a poster or chalk board.  Cut out red circles and have each child write her name on a circle.  Put tape on the back of each circle.  One at a time, blindfold each child and spin them around gently three times.  Face them towards the reindeer and challenge them to put the nose on Rudolph.  Who can get the closest?

Puzzle Pairs
Take old greeting cards and cut them in half like a puzzle.  Give each child one half.  Have them close their eyes while the other half is hidden in the room.  Children tiptoe around the room until they find their matching puzzle piece and sit down.

Pantomime and Name That Tune
Children love to perform, so they always enjoy playing “Guess who I am?” with seasonal objects or toys.  They can also take turns humming seasonal songs for their friends to identify.

Word Games
Write a seasonal word on the board.  How many words can they create using the letters in the seasonal word?
Hint!  Pair children for this activity to enable all children to feel successful.

Holiday Four Corners
You will need four seasonal pictures to tape in each corner of the classroom.  For example, a snowman, bell, candy cane, and candle.  One child is “it.”  “It” hides her eyes and counts to ten as the rest of the class tiptoes to a corner.  “It” then calls out one of the objects.  The students in that corner are out and must sit in the “stew pot” (center of the room).  “It” counts to ten again as the students tiptoe to a new corner.  The game continues until one child is left.  That child becomes the new “it.”