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Friday, January 31, 2014


Will You Be My Valentine?
(Tune: “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”)
Will you be my Valentine, (Point to various friends.)
Valentine, Valentine?
Will you be my Valentine?
I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine! (Point to self and then a friend.)

Some are red, some are blue, (Hold up fingers.)
Some have lace and ribbons, too.
Some are funny, some are not. (Smile and then shake head “no.”)
I like the candy ones a lot.
*Download this book at, 2007.

Chocolate Play Dough – Make play dough using your favorite recipe. Omit the food coloring and let the children knead the dough in cocoa. It will look and smell like chocolate. Purchase a box of valentine candies and remove/eat the candies. Children can roll up the dough and put them in the paper containers.

Valentine Sandwich – You will need a heart shaped cookie cutter, bread, cream cheese, and red food coloring to make this sandwich. Mix the cream cheese with red food coloring until it is pink. Cut a heart out of the bread with the cookie cutter. Spread on the cream cheese.

Love Is… Do a language experience chart where each child completes the sentence, “Love is…” You could also make a class book where each child completes the sentence “Love is…” and draws things that she loves.

Predictable Books – Have children make blank books using one of these titles: Love is… I love… Happiness is… A friend is… My favorite things to love… Things I love from A to Z.

Heart Critters – Give children several choices of hearts in different colors. Children glue them on a sheet of paper and add details with markers to make imaginary critters. Ask them to think of a name for their critter.

King Kong (I almost forgot about my favorite finger play for this time of year!)
         (Say “King Kong” in a loud voice & “teeny tiny monkey” in a squeaky voice.)
         KING KONG (Flex arms.)
         Was just a teeny tiny monkey (Hold up pinky.)
         Compared to my love for you. (Cross arms over chest and then extend.)
         KING KONG (Flex arms.)
         Was just a teeny tiny monkey (Hold up pinky.)
         Compared to my love for you. (Cross arms over chest and then extend.)
         I love you day (Make circle with arms.)
         And night. (Lay head on hands.)
         My love is out of sight. (Hands in air.)
         KING KONG (Flex arms.)
         Was just a teeny
         Tiny monkey (Hold up pinky.)
         Compared to my love for you! (Softly say this line as you point to children.)

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Come to think of it, conversation hearts were the beginning of text talk. According to a little research on the web, “Sweetheart” candies have been around since 1901. In the past decade the sayings have been updated with phrases such as “Fax Me” and “LOL.” Although over 100 years old, it’s good to see these little candies alive and well. Here are some adaptations for using them as a springboard for learning.

Conversation Hearts – Conversation hearts are good to sort, count, read, and eat!

*Estimate how many will be in a bag. Count. Graph the ones that are the same.

Note! Remind children that the hearts you use for games in the classroom are NOT to eat because they will have lots of germs. They will get some special ones they can eat at the Valentine party.

*Make a game by cutting paper hearts out of construction paper. Write like phrases found on candy hearts (such as “Kiss Me, “Cool One,” “WOW!” “Cutie Pie”) on two of the 
hearts. Glue one to a file folder and then have children match and read the ones that go together.
*Glue paper hearts with phrases to 3” squares to make a memory game.

*Give children blank hearts and challenge them to think of their own phrases they would 

put on the candies.
*Let children make their own paper hearts, hole punch them, and then string them to make a necklace. (WOW! Trace, write, hole punch, and string - lots of small motor 

Bringing Home a Valentine
(Tune: “Baby Bumblebee”)
I’m bringing home a valentine for you, (Cup hands and move them to
One that says, “I love you.” the beat in front of your body.)
I’m bringing home a valentine for you
With a great big hug, and a (kiss) (kiss), too! (Hug self and then kiss
              in the air.)
*Download this book to go with the song at, 2007.

Valentine for Parents
- Let each child take off one shoe and trace around her foot on white paper. Cut it out. Give each child 5 small pieces of red tissue paper to wad up and glue at the end of each toe for toenails. Write “I love you from my head down to my toes” on the foot.

Mouse Bookmark – Cut a heart about the size of a child’s hand from red construction paper. Fold in half. Open. Tape a 6” piece of string in the middle. Glue closed. Draw a nose, whiskers, and ears on the heart as shown to make it look like a mouse. Use for a bookmark.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Note: If you are at a school that doesn’t observe holidays, you can easily adapt all of these ideas.

Special Delivery
You will need a large paper grocery sack and envelopes for this game. Cut the top half off the grocery sack and write “Special Delivery” on it. Cut a paper strip 2” by 15” and 
staple it to the bag to make a handle. Write each child’s name on an envelope and place it in the mailbag. One child is “it” and skips around the room as you sing the song below. At the end of the song, “it” reaches in the bag and chooses an envelope. “It” delivers the envelope to that child and they exchange places. The game continues until each child has had a turn and received an envelope. 
A Letter Is on Its Way (Tune: “The Farmer in the Dell”) 

A letter is on its way.                                             
A letter is on its way.
I’ll deliver it to my friend
For Valentine’s Day.

Five Little Cookies
(Hold up 5 fingers to begin.)
Down around the corner at the bakery shop
Five little cookies with sprinkles on top.
Along came child’s name with a penny one day.
He/she bought one cookie and ate it right away!
*Make cookies out of felt or fun foam. Pass out pennies to five children have them exchange their penny for a cookie when their name is called.
(I used puff fabric paint to make my sprinkles.

Sweet Smelling Play Dough
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
1 package unsweetened strawberry Kool-Aid
2 T. vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water
Stir and knead all ingredients well. Store in a zip bag.
*Use other flavors of Kool-Aid to tie in with themes and seasons. For example, lime for St. Patrick’s Day, orange for Halloween, etc.
*Children will also be thrilled with surprise dough balls. Prepare the dough mixture omitting the Kool-Aid. Make small balls from the dough and stick your finger in the middle of each ball to make a hole. Sprinkle the Kool-Aid in the hole and seal. As children squeeze the dough – SURPRISE – a color will appear!

Heart Puzzle
Cut 4" circles out of red paper. Cut 4" squares out of red paper. Give each child a circle and a square. Demonstrate how to fold the circle in half and cut on the crease to make two half circles (aka semi-circles). Can the children make a heart from the two halves and the square? 

Valentine Concentration
Cut 4” squares out of red poster board. You will also need children’s valentines (2 of each) to glue on the squares. Have children place the squares face down on the carpeting. Play a memory game where children turn over two squares at a time and try to match up like valentines. (Valentine stickers can be used to make a similar game on 3” squares.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


After a long day and flight I saw this Big Blue Bear when I got to my hotel in Denver. He made me smile! How whimsical and adorable!! Some talented person with a child-like heart created this to remind all of us that life is big and joyful and full of surprises! 

Newspapers, Magazines, and Junk Mail (Lucy Davis) 
Here's something that is inexpensive and requires little prep time. Newspapers and magazines can be used in multiple ways to expose children to print. 
*Let children use a highlighter to find letters, the letters in their names, sight words, punctuation, and sentences they can read. 
* Cut out words, letters, etc. 
*Use Wikki Sticks in a similar way to find letters, words, and punctuation in "real" books. 

Syllable Puppet (Kristi Lux) 
Tri-fold a piece of paper. (Hotdog) 
Then fold in half. (Hamburger) 
Bring the top flap down to the crease. 
Bring the back flap down to the crease. 
Put thumb in one opening and index and tall fingers in the other opening. 
This makes a puppet kids can open and close to demonstrate syllables in words. 
* Let children decorate with construction paper to make a dragon, monster, etc. 
Fly Swatter Game (Leah Menzies) 
Divide the class into two teams. The first student on each team is given a fly swatter. Place numerous graphics/pictures on the board. The teams line up in front of the board and the teacher calls out a letter. The first student to hit the picture starting with that sound earns a point for their team. 
*Adapt for numbers, math facts, words, etc. 

Snowy Day Scavenger Hunt (Rachel Levine) 
On bad weather days write sight words, letters, vocabulary, etc. on sticky notes and scatter around the school. Go on a "silent" scavenger hunt and find post it notes. 

Egg Letters (Ms. Maxwell) 
Use plastic eggs to make a letter/sound matching game. Tape clip art on one half of the egg and write letters with a Sharpie on the other half. 
*Use the same color for a visual hint. 
LOL - Thought you'd get a kick out of the Duck Dynasty!

Bingo (Nichole Villa) 
This is a great visual for the song "Bingo."' Cut out a large dog bone and write Bingo on it.  Cut out 5 hands and write the numerals 1-5 on them. Put Velcro on the back. Attach the hands to the bone as you sing so the children will know when it's time to clap. 

Count Around 
Children stand in a circle. As they count each child says a number. The child who says the predetermined number must sit down and the counting starts again. The last child standing is the winner. 
*Choose a number between 1 and 20 or the game is too long. 

I am humbled by the wonderful teachers I meet everywhere I go. You inspire me! Thank you!

Monday, January 27, 2014


Good Morning!
It's bright and early and before I head to the airport to fly to Wichita I must apologize for my error yesterday about the Super Bowl.  Duh??  I thought Denver was playing New England.  It's Seattle that Denver will be playing this Sunday.  Same activities...different team!   Shows you how much I know about the NFL!!!  Have a great week!

Several years ago my friend and I were discussing new ideas and I said, “Do you think we’ll ever get tired of this?” Her response was, “If we ever get tired of this, we need to quit.” Well, I’m certainly not ready to quit because I keep getting amazing ideas like these from teachers I meet every week.

Valentine Song
(Tune: "My Darlin' Clementine")
Take some paper,
Take some scissors,
Cut a heart and then design.
Write a message in the middle
Will you be my Valentine? 

Post Office (Oralia Brown) 

Prepare envelopes by drawing sets on one side. Put these in a bag and make a mail carrier hat. Make houses from file folders and write numbers on these. Put the houses on a cupboard or wall around the room. The mail carrier gets to deliver the envelopes to the correct house. 
*Use this same activity for matching math facts, pictures and sounds, etc. 

School Waves (Leslie Porter)
Principal Love-Day at Taylorsville Elementary School has taught students at different grade levels these waves:
Kindergarten - pinky wave
1st Grade - pointer finger wave
2nd Grade - 2 finger wave
3rd Grade - sign for "I love you"

Criss Cross (Margaret Lacy)
Margaret learned this chant from Harry's Kindergarten on YouTube.
Criss cross applesauce
Hands in lap
Gingersnap (snap fingers)
Back straight
Chocolate shake
On you rear
Root beer
Lips zipped
Cool whipped

Highway Letters (Christina Carton) 
Use a green dot to indicate where to start when tracing a letter. Use a checkered flag or red dot to indicate where to stop. Children drive toy cars from the start to stop. 

Start at the Top (Melissa Breta, KS)
(Tune: "If You're Happy")
If you want to write a letter start at the top.
If you want to write a letter start at the top.
If you want to write a letter
Then you better, better, better-
If you want to write a letter start at the top.
Is this the top? (Wave hands back and forth by feet.)
No, it's the bottom!
Is this the top? ( Wave hands by waist.)
No, it's the middle.
Is this the top? (Wave hands by your head.)
Yes, it's the top, top, top!
Remember to start it at the top.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I love taking something old and turning it into something new like these ideas for Super Bowl Learning!

Survey Says
Let children do surveys (classroom, at home, etc.) to find out which team others think will win the Super Bowl. (This won’t be too surprising if you live in Colorado or New England!)

“Offensive,” “Defensive,” “Penalty,” “Referee,” “Substitution,” “Huddle” …How many football terms can you think of that might be meaningful to learn?

Jersey Math
Let children choose their favorite player’s number and write it on a paper jersey. How many facts can they think of that equal that number. 
Starting Line Up
At the beginning of the day let children make two lines facing each other. Introduce one child at a time and let them run through the two lines as their friends give them high five and cheer.

Good Job
At the end of the day make a huddle and say, “Good job, team!”

How many players on each team?  How many players in all?
How long is a football field?
How many points for a touchdown? Field goal? Safety?
How long is a quarter? How long is the entire game?
How many yards in a first down?

Let children estimate what they think the total score will be. After the game determine who guessed more – less - the closest?

Team Colors and Mascots
What are Denver’s team colors? What are New England’s team colors?
Let children draw pictures and write stories about the different mascots.

Put out the scrap box and let children make pennants, hats, pompoms, and other paraphernalia. 

Football Practice Game
Cut footballs out on the fold similar to the one shown.  Write math facts on the front and the answer inside.

*These can be used for phonics, numerical order, question and answers, etc.

Brainstorm what players have to do to get ready for the game. Emphasize the importance of good nutrition, exercise, and studying the playbook. These are all things that are important to good students as well!!!

Circuit Training
Here’s a super way to get some exercise when the weather is bad. Write exercises similar to the ones below on construction paper and tape them around the room. Divide children into groups of 2 or 3 and have them start at a station. Put on some music with a good beat. Time the children for one minute at each station and then say, “Switch!” Groups rotate in a circle around the room until they have completed each station.
*tire run (feet apart and arms out as you run in place)
*throw and catch (pretend to throw overhead and then catch a football)
*scissor jump (jump crossing legs right and then left)
*balance (stand on one leg)
*passing run (run in place as fast as you can)
*jump and catch (jump up in the air as you pretend to catch the ball)
*toe touch (touch toes and then hands in the air)
*squats (arms out front as you bend legs up and down)
*jumping jacks (jump out with arms up and then jump in with arms down)
*jump rope (pretend to jump rope in place)
*silent cheer leaders (jump and cheer without making any noise) 

What does "NFL" stand for?  Download a copy of the team logos (Mr. Google will help you) and make a visual matching game or memory game.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I like open-ended materials and activities where ALL children can be successful. Take a look at some of these ideas with the thought of how you can “bridge” hands-on and developmentally appropriate with Common Core Standards.

Play Dough or Silly Putty – Children can use molding materials to make their favorite character from a story – or an animal from a habitat you are studying – or something that reflects a letter/sound – or a 3 dimensional shape…

Puppets (lunch bags, stick puppets, paper plate puppets) – Use these to make community helpers – characters from books – reflect feelings – illustrate poems, nursery rhymes, or 


Paper Folding – (house books, snip snap books, flip books) You can find lots of these on my blog. After children construct books they can be used to reinforce reading skills (sounds, story sequence, word families, vocabulary) - math skills (sets, shapes, patterns, facts) - writing (informative, narratives, descriptions) – science or social studies themes… 

Junk Box – (paper scraps or recycled materials such as TP rolls, bottle lids, plastic containers) Children can demonstrate what they’ve learned by creating a sculpture, character, 3-D shape, invention.

Blocks and Construction Materials – (wooden blocks, Legos) Reproduce patterns, measure, build scenes from stories, demonstrate math problems, cooperate to make a domino rally…

It’s all about balance! Yes, technology offers many opportunities for individualized instruction and competence, but it needs to be balanced with social interactions and hands-on activities. I’m just saying…. The funny thing is if you read my blog I’m preaching to the choir and you are probably doing all of these things. Never, ever, ever give up!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014


Someone once told me that a good consultant/teacher needed to give you something for your hands, something for your heart, and something for your brain.
Hands – I try to give you lots of hands-on and practical activities you can use daily in your classroom.
Heart – Sometimes I have a little encouragement or inspirational story for your heart.
Brain – And, occasionally, I share a book I’ve read, research, or pertinent information for your brain. Today I have something for you to ponder!

Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development was one that I studied in college (yes, years ago), but it has relevance for teachers today. A principle of Erikson’s theory was the development of personality and ego through social interaction. Erikson believed that at each stage there was an area where the person had to develop a sense of “mastery” or ego strength.

His 4th psychosocial state ranged from age 5-11 and was known as INDUSTRY vs. INFERIORITY. During this period children develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities that will influence the rest of their lives.

Children in early school grades need to be encouraged by their teachers and parents to believe in themselves. They need hands-on tasks that they can accomplish successfully. Why do you think the “Rainbow Loom” has had such surprising success? It’s like Kool-aid for school age children because it’s a challenge, but it also gives them a completed task that they can create. LOOK AT WHAT I MADE! Children tell us things by their behavior, and I think they are saying, “I need more hands-on activities and crafts. I need concrete projects where I have a sense of accomplishment.” (On the flip side, that’s also why children and adults like computer games. They can feel successful and a sense of accomplishment as they progress at their own level.)

Erikson emphasized the importance of social interactions, and what better way to do that than working with a partner or assigning group projects. Do you see the difference between having children play a board game with a small group and playing a solitary computer game? Do you see the value in asking children to construct a book and keep a weather journal? Do you see how engaging creating puppets out of lunch bags and using them to retell stories can be? And that’s why I was so thrilled to learn that the 3rd graders in K.J.’s school are learning to square dance!! Children have a lifetime to be an adult and sit in front of a screen. They only have ONE chance to be four, or five, or seven!

I am committed to children and have a deep respect for “ages and stages.” It’s a missed opportunity if we don’t give children the time, materials, and projects they NEED to develop this “mastery” and pride in their accomplishments.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll share some specifics for your classroom!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Oh, my! I just looked at the calendar and I realized Groundhog Day is just a week away. I better “pause” my brain break blogs and give you some ideas for next week. Although Groundhog Day will actually fall on a Saturday this year, I’m sure you’ll want to incorporate some of these activities in your plans.

Groundhog Day – February 2nd
(Tune: “Say, Say, My Playmate”)
February 2nd, (Hold up 2 fingers.)
Is Groundhog Day.
Gather round his hole (Make circular motion.)
To hear what he’ll say. (Place hand by ear.)
Will spring be early
Or late this year?
Watch and listen
To what you’ll hear.
If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with one hand.)
On a sunny day (Stick the index finger from the other hand
His shadow will frighten him up through the hole and wiggle.)
And he will say,
“I’ll go back in my hole (Tuck finger in your fist.)
And go back to sleep.
You’ll have winter
For six more weeks.”

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with fist and stick up finger.)
On a cloudy day
He’s not frightened
So he will say, (Wiggle finger.)
“I think I’ll stay out
And the weather should clear.
Spring will be here
Early this year.”

*You can download the book at February, 2007.
Cup Puppet – Let children draw a groundhog or download one 

off the internet.   Staple to a straw. Punch a hole in the bottom ≈
of a paper cup and insert the straw in the cup. Raise and lower 
the groundhog as appropriate in the song.

Sidewalk Shadows
– Go outside on a sunny day and have children stand with their backs to the sun. Let them make silly motions and play “Guess what I am?” Give them chalk and let them trace around each other’s shadows.
*Draw shadows at 10, 12, and 2 and compare.
*Play shadow tag where they try to touch each other's shadows.

Where’s the Groundhog? – Cut twenty 4” squares out of heavy paper. Write high frequency words, math facts, letters, etc. on the cards. Make a copy of the attached groundhog. Have the children sit on the floor in a circle. Mix up the cards and place them face up on the floor. Identify the word (etc.) on each card as you place it down on the floor. Tell the children to turn around. Hide the groundhog under one of the squares. Children turn back around and try and guess where the groundhog is hiding. One at a time children call out a word and then “peek” to see if the groundhog is under it. The first child to find the groundhog gets to have a turn hiding it. The game continues as children hide the groundhog and then try to discover his whereabouts.

Dramatize - Invite children to dramatize the groundhog peeping out of his hole. What if it's sunny? What if it's cloudy?

Note! Visit for some great ideas!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


More “souvenirs” from my travels last week! 

Count and Exercise (Amy Lowrance)
When counting to 100, do a different activity/motion for each set of ten.
-touch toes
-bend knees
-jumping jacks

Coloring to Music (Pam Inman)
(Tune: “I Am Slowly Going Crazy”)
Children start by coloring slowly with one color. As the song gets faster they change colors and color faster.
*Use the instrumental version of the song on Better Bodies and Brains.

POP Corn (Katlyn Pella)
Write words, letters, numbers, etc. on die cut popcorn pieces and place in a plastic popcorn container. Children take turns pulling out popcorn. If they know it they keep it - if not they put it back in the container.
*Write “POP” on some pieces. If a child picks “POP” they have to put all their pieces back.

Jenga Game (Katlyn Pella)
Write letters, words, numbers, etc. on Jenga pieces. Children take turns pulling a block. If the child knows the information they may put it on their own tower. If the child doesn’t know, then it goes back in the bucket.
*They can play with a partner or small group.

Vowel Brain Break
This is a take off on the “Shake Down” activity. In the original version children shake their right hand five times as they count from 1-5. Then shake the left hand as you count from 1-5. Then the right foot and left foot. Next, shake every body part four times, then three, two, one…end by putting your arms in the air as you say, “Oh, yeah!”
To do the “Vowel Brain Break” by saying “a, e, i, o, u” as you shake each body part. Each time leave off a vowel so the last time you will say, “u, u, u, u.”

CD Organization (Anne Seraphine)
Make a poster and glue on large envelopes cut in half. (The envelopes need to be large enough to hold a CD. Cut them so the CD is sticking out.) Put a list of the songs on the outside of each pocket and highlight the songs you use the most.
*Great for subs because you can say “pocket 9, song #4).

Letter Bears (Nikki Mason)
Cut bears out of construction paper. Write letters on the bears and use for letter recognition or as a transition activity to line children up.

Flashlight Pen (Mabry Williamson)
Use a flashlight pen or laser to point/shine on words as you read them.
*Use googlie eye rings, mini wands (Michael’s) or fake fingers with nails to point to words.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Last week when I presented in Atlanta I had nostalgic thoughts as I visited the city where I lived for 50 years. I remember the sign on Peachtree Street that posted Atlanta’s population. How thrilled we were in 1958 when it reached one million!! Atlanta now has over SIX million! That’s what I call growth! The amazing thing is that whether you live in a city with millions or a small town of 100, teachers everywhere are they same. They want their children to feel loved and they want to make learning FUN! 

My Heart
Amy H. wrote me the sweetest note and handed it to me at the end of the day:
         If you ever miss being in the classroom or singing with the kids,
         just know that you’re singing with me everyday!

Bubble Bath Birthday Celebration (Angela Ochsenkrecht)
Children sit in a special chair when it’s their birthday. The teacher blows bubbles around them as the rest of the class sings “Happy Birthday…”

Carpet Square Flannel Boards (Kelcey Schmidt)
Did you know that you could purchase carpet squares from the dollar store and use like a flannel board?

Stars and Flashlights (Kelcey Schmidt)
Tape construction paper stars under the table. Turn the lights off and let the children light stars and read the words.

2 by 4 Cheer
Hold out one palm and with the other hand like a fist tap the palm as you say, “Bam, bam, bam.” Point fingers as you say, “You nailed it!”

Good Job
After children do a partner activity, encourage them to shake hands and tell each other, “Good job!”

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue (Fran Sandon)
I’ve ordered this book by Julia Cook and I can’t wait to read it because it teaches children when it is appropriate to tell the teacher and what happens when you cry wolf. I’m going to do a blog about the book and tattling as soon as it comes in the mail.
Rachel was a young girl who was killed in the Columbine shooting. Her family has created a powerful program in her memory based on Rachel’s philosophy:
         I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show
         compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will
         never know how far a little kindness can go.

Coin Value Song (Paris Garrett)
(Tune: “Who Let the Dogs Out?”)
Who let the penny out?
1, 1, 1, 1 (Hold up one finger.)
Who let the nickel out?
5, 5, 5, 5 (Hold up five fingers.)
Who let the dime out?
10, 10, 10, 10 (Both hands up.)
Who let the quarter out?
25, 25, 25, 25 (Two fingers on one hand and five fingers on the other.)

Playlist Spin (Julie Defusco)
Link your iTunes with activities on the smart board with this tip. Number the tunes and then let children use a spinner to click on the song that matches their spin.
*Let children roll dice to choose a song.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Sometimes children get a little over zealous if you are playing team games where you keep points. Here’s a tip to eliminate some of that competitiveness. Take a deli lid and trace around it twice on paper and cut out. Write “high” on one circle and “low” on the other circle and tape to opposite sides of the lid.  (I had to trim the circles a little to get them to fit on the lid.)  After playing the game, toss the lid. If it lands on “high” the team with the highest score wins. If it lands on “low” the team with the lowest score wins.

Note! Do you see how easy it is to adapt these games for whatever age or skill you are working with? Pre-k teachers could use shapes and letters, while second grade teachers could use vocabulary words, math facts, or science questions.

                           TIC TAC TOE - THIS IS WHAT I KNOW
Skills: review questions, math facts, words, etc.
Materials: questions, flashcards

Directions: Divide the class into two teams. One team is “X” and one team is “O.” One child at a time from each team comes forward. The teacher asks players to answer a question, identify a word, etc. The first player to get the correct answer gets to make an “X” or an “O” on the board for their team. The first team to get three in a row wins.

Skills: math facts, words, names, review questions, etc.
Materials: scrap paper, crayons

Directions: Give each child a scrap sheet of paper and invite them to write their name, a letter, word, numeral, question, math fact, etc. on the paper. Divide the class into two teams and have them stand on opposite sides of the room. Children wad up their papers to make snowballs. When the teacher says, “Let it snow!” the children begin throwing their snowballs at the opposing team. Children must open a snowball and identify the information on it before throwing it back at the other side. After several minutes the teacher says, “Freeze.” Children gather up the snowballs, count, and compare. In this game, the least amount is the winner. Continue playing and tallying scores.

*A variation of this would be for the teacher to make the snowballs ahead of time by writing words, math facts, etc. on scrap paper. The children wad them up and then begin throwing. There are no teams, but the children just pick up snowballs, open them, identify the information, and then wad it up and throw it again.

                                               SWAT IT
Skills: numerals, letters, words, etc.
Materials: marker, two fly swatters

Directions: Write numerals (letters, words, etc.) on the board. Divide the class into two teams. One child from each team comes forward and is given a fly swatter. The teacher calls out a math fact. The first student to “swat” or hit the numeral that is the answer gets a point for their team. The game continues as children from each team come forward to “swat” the answer.

* STOMP is a similar game played with flashcards. Divide the class into two teams facing each other. Place the flashcards on the floor in between the two teams. Choose one child from each team to play. Call out a math problem. The first child to stomp on the answer wins a point for their team.

                                      AROUND THE WORLD
Skills: spelling words, math facts, high frequency words, etc.
Materials: flashcards

Directions: Children sit in a circle. One child (it) stands behind the first child in the circle. The teacher holds up a flashcard. If the child standing identifies the information first, he can move “around the world” and stand behind the second person in the circle. If the child sitting says it first, then they switch places with “it” and stand behind the second child. The game continues as the teacher holds up flashcards. The object is to see who can go all “around the world” or the circle.

Skills: nursery rhymes, book titles, science categories, etc.
Materials: none

Directions: Children will have fun “performing” and “stumping” their classmates with this game. One child at a time gets up in front of the room. The child acts out a nursery rhyme as their friends try and guess which one it might be. The first child to guess correctly gets to act out the next rhyme. (You might need to suggest rhymes to younger children.)

Hint! Children could also act out books, songs, feelings, animals, or other categories. You can let children make sounds or simply “pantomime.”

Saturday, January 18, 2014


BRRRR! Old Man Winter has been causing trouble all over the country. The kids are restless and you can’t go outside, so here are some great indoor games. And, I’ve incorporated skills and standards to add a little “rigor”! (Smile and wink!) 

It’s important to remember that it takes several times before children “get” how to play a game. Introduce the game, play a few rounds, and then try it again the 

following day. Never drag out a game, but “quit while you are ahead” so they will want to play it again. In addition to reinforcing skills, these games will also develop the executive function (self-regulation) and 21st Century Skills (cooperation, collaboration, critical thinking). 

FYI – When making flashcards, teachers generally use rectangles or squares. The corners on these shapes tend to pull the eyes to the edges. If you make flashcards on circles, then the eyes focus to the figure in the middle.

Hint! Paper plates are cheap, durable, and perfect for flashcards.

                                            FOUR CORNERS
Skills: shapes, letters, sight words, numerals, vocabulary, etc.
Materials: 4 sheets of paper, markers, tape

Directions: Draw a shape, word, letter, (whatever) on the paper and tape each to a corner in the room. Choose one person to be “it.” “It” hides her eyes and slowly counts from one to ten as the rest of the class tiptoes to a corner in the room. When “it” says “freeze,” everyone must be in a corner. “It” then calls out a shape (triangle, rectangle, hexagon, square) and the children in that corner are out of the game. They sit down in the “stew pot” in the middle of the room. “It” counts to ten again as everyone moves to a new corner. The game continues until there is one person left. That person becomes the new “it.”

Hint! Shorten the game by having “it” call out two shapes at a time.
If there is no one in the corner, ask “it” to call out another shape.

                                           MUSICAL PLATES 
Skills: words, letters, math facts, colors, shapes, etc.
Materials: paper plate flashcards with information you want to practice

Directions: Do you remember the old game where you placed chairs in a circle and walked around until the music stopped? If you didn’t find a chair you were OUT! This is a similar game that can reinforce letters, words, colors, math facts, etc. Scatter the paper plates on the floor. Play some catchy music for the children to dance to. When the music stops each child finds a paper plate and picks it up. The teacher randomly points to various children to identify the information on their plates. Have the children place the plates back on the floor and continue dancing.
*If the child is unsure about what is on their plate invite them to “ask the audience.”

                                      HEADS UP - SEVEN UP
Skills: words, letters, numerals, shapes, etc.
Materials: flashcards

Directions: Seven children come to the front of the room and are given a flashcard. The rest of the class places their heads down. The seven tiptoe around and place a flashcard by a friend before returning to the front of the room. The seven join in and say, “Heads up! Seven up!” Children who received a flashcard stand up and identify the information on their card. They then get three guesses to determine who gave them the card. If they guess correctly they get to switch places that person.

                                    RED ROVER, RED ROVER
Skills: words, letters, shapes, colors, etc.
Materials: flashcards

Directions: Divide the class into two teams and have them stand on opposite sides of the room facing each other. Give each player a flashcard to hold in front of them. The teacher goes to one team and asks, “Who do you want to call over?” The children select someone from the opposite side and say, “Red rover, red rover, send word right over.” The child holding that word walks, hops, tiptoes, or jumps to the opposite side. The game continues as sides take turns calling words over.

Come back tomorrow and we'll “play it again!”