photo 3am_dj_home_zps919fb85e.png photo 3am_dj_about_zps7cce4c75.png photo 3am_dj_website_zps73051235.png photo 3am_dj_ss_zps6759ec2a.png photo 3am_dj_bs_zps43e27832.png

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Last week my neighbor’s six-year-old granddaughter complained about not feeling well and said she didn’t want to go to school. (That was a red flag because she loves kindergarten.) Her symptoms escalated until she was hospitalized with paralysis and had difficulty breathing. The medical team was perplexed until someone noticed a tick on her scalp. It was like a miracle because after removing the tick she rapidly improved and within 24 hours was a normal, happy little girl again.

This is what the New England Journal of Medicine reports about this syndrome:
“Tick paralysis is a neurological syndrome that is frequently confused with other acute disorders. In this syndrome, ascending paralysis is caused by a potent neurotoxin produced by an attached engorged tick. Removal of the tick leads to prompt recovery…detection is possible with nothing more than a fine-toothed comb…intervention with the use of another common item – tweezers – resulted in rapid recovery.”

Have you ever heard of such a thing? I certainly hadn’t, but if you are reading this, you just might save a child’s life this summer.

How could anything this tiny cause so much trouble?

Friday, May 30, 2014


Turn off that big screen and turn on outdoor games!

Build the Castle
Materials: long jump rope
Choose two people to hold the rope. The other players form a straight line and take turns jumping over the rope. The rope begins on the ground, but after everyone has had a turn, it is raised a few inches. If a child’s foot touches the rope, he or she is out of the game. Continue raising the rope until there is just one child left who can jump the height.
*A similar game called “school” can be played. When the rope is on the ground it is called “kindergarten.” Each time the rope is raised, it is called “first grade,” “second grade,” and so on.

Jump the Creek
Materials: 2 jump ropes
Place the two ropes on the ground a few inches apart to make a “creek.”
Have the children line up single file and try to jump over the creek one at a time without stepping on a rope. After every child has jumped, move the ropes a little farther apart to make the creek wider. Continue moving the ropes farther apart and letting the children jump over them. When a player can no longer jump over the rope, they must stand to the side of the game and be cheerleaders. The object of the game is to see how far the children can jump.
*You can play a similar game by drawing lines in the sand or dirt.

Call Ball
Materials: playground ball
Divide the class into two teams and have them form two lines about 30 feet apart. Give each child a number by having them count off. (Two players on opposing teams will have the same number.) The teacher/adult stands between the two teams, calls out a number, and throws the ball in the air. The first child with that number to catch the ball wins a point for their team.

Sneaky Snake
Materials: none
Have the children hold hands and stand in a long line. Hold the child’s hand at the front of the line and move them in zigzags, spirals, and all around as the others follow behind.
*See if the “head” of the snake can catch the “tail.”

Wolf and Chickens
Materials: none
Two lines are draw approximately 40 feet apart. The children are the “chickens” and line up behind one of the lines. One child is the wolf and stands between the two lines. The wolf pretends to be a chicken and says, “Cluck, cluck” and flaps his or her arms. But when the wolf shouts, “Wolf,” all the chickens must run to the other line. If the wolf tags them, they must become wolves, too, and help the wolf catch the other chickens. The game continues until all the chickens are caught. The last one caught becomes the wolf for the next game.
*A similar game called “sharks and minnows” can be played. Have the minnows get behind a line as the shark tries to catch them when “shark” is called.

Materials: broomstick or similar long stick
Select two children to hold the broomstick at chest level. The rest of the children form a single line and take turns wiggling under the broomstick. If they touch it, they are out of the game. The game continues as the broomstick is lowered each time. When only one child is left, begin the game again.

Ask children to interview their parents to find out what games they played in school.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Good readers are active readers and they are always looking for information. Prompt children to recall details by singing this song before you read a book.

I’ve Got the Whole Story in My Hands
(Tune: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”)
         I’ve got the whole story in my hand, (Hold up your hand.)
         I’ve got the whole story in my hand,
         I’ve got the whole story in my hand,
         And I can read.
         I’ve got the who, what, when, where, why…
         And I can read! (Hold up 1 finger at a time.)

Who? What? Where? When? Why?
(Tune: “Ten Little Indians”)
         Who? What? Where? When? Why?
         Who? What? Where? When? Why?
         Who? What? Where? When? Why?
         Ask questions when you read. 

Story Sticks 
You will need large craft sticks and a sock for this project. Write a different story element (characters, setting, problem, resolution, etc.) on each stick with a marker. Place the sticks in the sock and throw the sock over your shoulder before you begin to read. It will be a reminder to your class to focus on those things. After reading the story, let different students choose a stick and tell that part of the story.
*Write story elements on index cards and put them in a sack.
*Vary the sticks by adding author, illustrator, title, beginning, middle, end, etc. or who, what, where, when, why.

Story Map 
Graphic organizers give children a “picture” for their minds.
Go to for ideas about story maps.


These are some games my kids enjoyed. What kind of games do your students like to play?

What’s That Jive?

(Similar to Red Rover)
Materials: none
Divide the children into two teams and have them stand in a line facing each other 30 to 40 feet apart. One team calls for a player from the other team with this chant:
(Child’s name), (child’s name)
What’s that jive?
Come on over
And give me five.

The team calling the chant holds their hands out in front of them with their palms up. The child called proceeds down their line giving each player “five” by slapping their palms. If the child who is “it” slaps the palms and then slaps under their palms, that child chases “it” back to his or her original team. If “it” is caught, he or she must return to the opposing team, but if not, the chaser must joint “it’s” team. The game continues with teams taking turns calling players from the opposite side.

Circle Soccer

Materials: playground ball
Stand in a circle and hold hands. Place the ball inside the circle. Children try to kick the ball and keep it inside the circle. If the ball goes out of the circle between two people, then both people are out of the game. If a player kicks the ball too high and it goes over someone’s head, then the player who kicked the ball is out of the game. The game continues until there are just one or two players left.

Cat and Mouse This game is old as the hills, but my kids loved it!
Materials: none
The children form a circle and hold hands. One child stands in the center and is the “mouse.” Another child stands outside the circle and is the “cat.”
On a given signal, the “cat” must chase the “mouse.” They can enter or leave the circle only if the other players hold up their hands and form an arch. When the “cat” catches the “mouse,” let them choose classmates to take their places.
*Change the characters for different seasons. You could have the farmer chase the turkey, the witch chase the bat, etc.

Follow the Leader
Materials: none
One person is chosen to be the leader. The rest of the class marches behind the leader and does just what the leader does. The leader can walk, hop, run, skip, wave their arms, go under something, slide down the slide, and so forth. After several minutes another child is chosen to be the leader.

Letter Hop Scotch
Draw a hopscotch design with chalk on a paved surface. Write letters in each section for the children to identify as they hop and play.
*You could also write numerals or words on the hopscotch.

Board Games
Ask children to bring board games from home and then play them outside under a shady tree.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Relays are a super way to develop cooperation, self-regulation, physical skills, and teamwork.
Running Relays
Materials: none
Divide the children into teams with five or six players on each. Have the players line up single file behind a line and run one at a time to a designated point and back. The first player tags the second player, who then runs the distance. The first team to have all players run is the winner.

Ball Relays– Have the children pass a ball over their heads and under their legs. The last person runs to the front of the line and continues passing over and under. When the first person is in his or her original position, their team wins the game. Relays where children must dribble a ball, kick a ball, or throw a ball into a target can also be played.

Animal Relays – Let the children walk like crabs (on backs with hands and feet), bears (on all fours), birds (flapping arms), monkeys (scratching sides), or elephants (swinging arms like a trunk.)

Quick Change – Prepare bags with a shirt, pants, and hat for each team. The first player puts the clothes on, runs to a designated point, takes the clothes off, then runs and gives the clothes to the second person.

Pig Relays - Move the ball with your nose.

Movements- Have children hop, jump, skip, gallop, walk backwards, or do other movements.

Toesie Relay – Have the children take their shoes off, pick up a peanut with their toes, carry it to a basket, and drop it in.

Potato Relay – Ask the children to carry a potato in a large spoon without dropping it.

Balloon Relay- Have children run with a balloon to a chair, then sit on the balloon and pop it.

Indoor Review Relays – Children can answer math questions, write words on the board, or perform other academic skills.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I think I’m feeling “end of year” fever just like you and your students. They’ve worked hard all year, so let’s just PLAY! Every once in a while you need to stop and remember that you might have played tag or relays when you were a child, but have the children in your classroom ever played those games?

Hint! I remember when I introduced a new game to my students it usually wasn’t very successful the first time. Don’t give up because children need to play games several times before they “get it.”

Hug Tag
Materials: none
Designate a playing area. One child is “it.” “It” chases other children who must “freeze” when they are tagged. Players hug those who are “frozen” to “unfreeze” them

*Stoop Tag – Children stoop down on the ground when they are tagged.

*Cartoon Tag – Children must name a cartoon show when they are tagged.

*Shadow Tag – children must freeze when “it” steps on their shadow.

*Sticky Tag – Children must hold the part of their body that is tagged.

Monday, May 26, 2014


For most of you Memorial Day means that summer is here and it’s time to get out those white shoes, the sprinkler, and the grill. To tell you the truth, I really didn’t know much about Memorial Day until I did a little research on the internet. I was particularly touched by this poem I found.  Here’s the first verse and the last verse. 

The Bivouac of the Dead

By Theodore O’Hara (1820-1867)

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
The brave and daring few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead…

Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless songs shall tell,
When many a vanished age hath flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, or winter's blight
Not Time's remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of holy light
That gilds your glorious tomb. 

I hope this day is a happy one for you and that you’ll take just a moment to remember those who have enabled us to be happy and safe today and every day!  I'm going to call my 94 year old friend who served in WWII and tell him I appreciate him.

Check out this website to learn more about Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Happy, happy Memorial Day weekend! Remember last January when you thought you'd never been warm again? Time to pack a picnic and enjoy the sunshine!
Going On a Picnic
(Children repeat each line - similar to going on a bear hunt.)
We’re going on a picnic. (Slap hands on thighs to the beat.)
We’re going to pack a big one. (Arms out wide.)
With sandwiches, cookies, and lemonade, too. (Pretend to pack in your basket.)
Look over there. (Hand over eyes.)
It’s some tall grass.
Can’t go over it. (Hands up in the air.)
Can’t go under it. (Hands down low.)
Can’t go around it. (Circle hands around in front of body.)
I guess we’ll go through it. (Shrug shoulders.)
Swish, swish, swish, swish! (Brush palms against each other.)

Look over there. (Hands over eyes.)
It’s a lake…
I guess we’ll row across it.
Row, row, row your boat. (Pretend to row a boat.)

Look over there. (Hands over eyes.)
It’s a swamp…
Ooeey, gooey, ooey, gooey. (Pretend to tiptoe through mud.)

Look over there. (Hands over eyes.)
It’s a park. (Pretend to point at different things.)
It’s nice and shady.
It’s got a picnic bench.
We’re all so hungry
Let’s go eat! (Pretend to eat.)
Mmmmmmmm! (Pat tummy.)

*Let children make a map showing the different places they passed on the way to the picnic.

*Talk about healthy foods. Give children a lunch bag, grocery flyer, glue and scissors. Have them cut out foods and pack a healthy lunch.

*What kind of foods are good to take on a picnic? Why? What would happen if you took spaghetti or ice cream?

*Prepare a dramatic play kit for a picnic with a tablecloth (or towel), cups, plates, napkins, and plastic cutlery.

*Brainstorm all the fun things you can do on a picnic.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


You can even recycle newspapers and catalogs to create math activities!

Numbers (K.CC.1)
Can you find the numbers 1-10, cut them out, and them glue them in order?

Sets (K.CC.4)
Write numerals 1-5 and cut out sets for each one. 

Scoreboard (K.CC.6)
Cut out scores from the sports page. Can you tell which is more and which is less?

Addition (K.OA.3)
Cut out two pictures. Make up a number story based on objects in each picture.

Shapes (K.G.2)
Can you find a picture of a square, triangle, or circle? Can you find pictures of solid (3-dimensional) shapes?

Sorts (K.MD.3)
Fold a sheet of paper in half. Cut out objects that are alike and glue them on the same side. Can you give your sorting rule?

Have I got your creative juices going?  What else can you add to this list?

Friday, May 23, 2014


Use these ideas now or "recycle" them next year in learning centers!

Bookmark (RF.K.3c)
Make a bookmark from a 2” x 8 ½” piece of construction paper. Cut out words you can read and glue them to the bookmark.

Verb Collage (L.K.5a)
Cut out verbs and make a collage.
*You could also make a collage of adjectives, adverbs, high frequency words, and so forth. 

Fact and Opinion
Cut out a picture. Can you tell two facts about the picture? Can you give an opinion about the picture? 

ABC Order (RF.K.1d)
Can you find a word or picture for each letter of the alphabet? (This takes a LONG time and could be something children work on for a week.)

What Will Happen Next? (W.K.3)
Cut out a picture and write a story about what you think will happen next.

Fiction – Nonfiction (RL.K.5)
Cut out a picture of something that is pretend/fiction. Cut out a picture of something that is real/nonfiction. Can you explain the difference?

Sequencing (SL.K.4)
Cut out comic strips and cut them apart. Can you put them back together and retell the story?
*Can your friend put them back together in correct order?

Picture Talk (W.K.2) 
Find a picture and write something about it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


As a follow-up to the rain hat story on Tuesday, I've come up with learning activities you can do with old newspapers, magazines, and catalogs. Perfect to keep those kiddles busy the last few days of school! 

But, also tuck these ideas away for next year when you need a center idea that relates to standards!
*Make the activities more difficult by having children label pictures and write sentences. Younger children could just cut out pictures.
*Many of these projects would also be good for two children to do together. Make sure they both sign their names on the paper when they turn it in.

Nouns (L.K.5a)
Fold a sheet of paper into fourths. Cut out two pictures of people, two pictures of animals, two pictures of places, and two pictures of things. Can you label your pictures?

Word Web (L.K.5c)
Cut out an interesting picture. Write words that describe the picture. 

I Like… (W.K.1) 
Cut out a picture of something you like and write about it.

Name Acrostic (RF.K.3a)
Write the letters in your name down the left side of a sheet of paper. Cut out words or pictures that begin with each letter and glue them next to the letter.

Wants/Needs (L.K.5a)
Make a T-Chart. Cut out pictures of things you want and glue them on one side. Cut out pictures of things you need and glue them on the other side.

Complete the Picture (SL.K.5)
Find an interesting picture and cut it out. Fold it in half and then cut on the creased line. Glue one half of the picture to a sheet of paper. (Give the other half to a friend.) Can you draw the missing half of the picture with markers and crayons? Can you think of a title for your picture?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. 
Sometimes in education we perseverate and focus on skills so much that we lose sight of the whole picture and the whole child. 
This issue started two weeks ago when I was in Indiana and several teachers came up to me at lunchtime. They shared that in their centers/stations they had to post the standard the children were working on, and, if asked, the child was expected to respond what they were doing in the center. It’s amazing to me how different districts are interpreting and implementing the CCSS…and it’s also very frustrating!! Rarely does learning take place in isolation. There are a myriad of cognitive, physical, and social/emotional factors involved in any learning experience.

For example, let’s just take a look at some nursery rhyme puppets that I might place in a center. Couldn’t all of these standards apply?

RL.K.2 I can retell stories. (Children could choose a stick and tell what happened to the character.)

RL.K.3 I can identify characters in a story. (Children could name the characters in the different rhymes.)

RL.K.5. I can identify nursery rhymes. (Can you name other nursery rhymes?)

RL.K.9 I can match the illustration with the story. (Let children match puppets up with those in a nursery rhyme book.)

RF.K.2a I can tell words that rhyme. (Have children identify, write, or draw pictures of the words that rhyme.)

W.K.3 I can write about a series of events. (Children choose a puppet and then use a cartoon frame to illustrate what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the rhyme.)

SL.K.1 I can talk and listen in small groups. (Children work with a partner and take turns choosing a stick and saying that rhyme.)

These same teachers told me that the child had to produce “evidence of learning at each center.” WOW! We’re going to kill a lot of trees with all that paper and pencil work. Is it really necessary to document every little thing? Is that going to improve learning in the long run?

However, my role is not to question why or criticize. My role is to help you and that is what I intend to do! I’ve already started working on specific center activities that you will be able to use next school year. The crazy thing is that we are all obsessing about Common Core State Standards…while many states are rethinking and questioning these. I tell teachers it’s like we are trying to build the plane as we are flying it. WE DON’T KNOW!!! We don’t really know if these standards are going to improve education in America and make children more successful in the future.

Although I will do my best to help you implement the standards, I want you to realize that I am totally committed to BEST PRACTICES. Good teaching is good teaching, and the activities, strategies, and ideas I share with you will still be meaningful 20 years from now when I’m in the nursing home! We will never, ever, ever give up! We will hold hands and stick together! We will shut our doors and continue to sing, dance, and make learning FUN! Can you say, “AMEN!”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I adapted this “Rain Hat Story” for teachers. Hope you’ll enjoy it! 

Once there was a very creative and resourceful teacher.
There was a huge thunderstorm one night and when she got to school the next morning the whole classroom was flooded. The only thing left were newspapers on the top shelf. So, the teacher gave each child a newspaper and they looked for words they could read and talked about the pictures. After a while she realized the children needed some exercise, so they turned the newspapers into rain hats so they could go outside.
(Fold the paper in half. Open. Fold one top corner to the middle crease. Fold the other top corner to the middle crease. Fold up the top bottom edge. Turn over and fold up the other bottom edge.)

The children had fun wearing their rain hats, but then they heard a “RRRRRR” sound coming down the road. It was a fire truck, and the teacher showed the children how to turn their rain hats into fire helmets.
(Put your thumbs in the corner of the hat and bring them together. Flatten. Fold up one bottom point.) 

The children even used their fire helmets like scoops to help put out the fire. 

All the water reminded the teacher of boats and pirates, so they turned their fire helmets into pirate hats.
(Bring the other bottom point up to the top.)

Now, all pirates need boats, so they turned their pirate hats into boats.
(Grab the top two points and gently pull out to make your boat.)

They went floating down the stream and ran into a rock and the front of their boat came off.
(Tear a little off the front of the boat.)

They went floating down the stream and they ran into a tree and the back of their boat came off.
(Tear off a little from the back of the boat.)

They went floating down the stream and they went under a bridge and the top of their boat came off.
(Tear a little off the top.)

Anybody else would have been a nervous wreck, but that teacher knew the children all had life preservers, so they put them on and swam safely back to school. 
(Open and hold up as shown.)

And when they got back to school they drew pictures and wrote stories about all of their adventures!

Monday, May 19, 2014


One of the favorite jobs in my kindergarten was “attendance.” One child each day got to call roll and mark their friends as “present” with a check or “absent” with a zero. I would often encourage the child taking attendance to say, “Good morning (child’s name)” and to have the child respond, “Good morning (child’s name).” 

I was looking through some old notes on creative thinking and I remembered I used some of these other techniques to call roll. For example, I might ask, “What color best describes you?” and the children could answer the color as I called their names. (It’s amazing how some of their answers matched their personalities.) Questions like these encourage all children to “think outside the box” because there are no right or wrong answers. Here are a few starters:
         If you were an animal, what would you be?
         If you found a genie in a bottle, what would you wish for?
         If you were a candy bar, what would you be?
         What is the theme song for your life?
         What book character would you like to change places with?
         If you found $100, what would you buy?
         If you could go on a magic carpet ride, where would you go?
         Happiness is…
         If I were the teacher I would… 

*You could also use the above statements to make a language experience chart or as writing prompts.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


This is a "rerun" of a blog I did last May, but some of you may not have seen it or may not remember it.  You know how kids LOVE to make necklaces and things they can wear, so this is a perfect way to recall the year and give them something to treasure.  Thanks to Keta Turner from DeWitt Elementary in Arkansas for sharing this idea.

"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-lantens)
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).

School Is Over  (Tune:  "Where Is Thumbkin?")
School is over.   (Children echo each line.)
School is over.
Time to go.
Time to go.
We had lots of fun.
Thank you everyone.
Love you so.  (Cross arms over chest.)
Love you so.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Brad McKinney (Kindergarten Teacher at Severn Elementary) emailed this idea to me. I LOVE it!!! What a perfect way to end the school year! 

Parents and Guardians,
Believe it or not, the school year is quickly coming to an end. During the last 26 days of school, our class will be participating in an ABC Countdown. Each school day will have a different activity related to the letter for that day. Your child may need to wear or bring something special on some days – those days are underlined. This sheet will help you and your child remember what day of the countdown we are on.

Monday, May 19
Animal Day
Bring your favorite stuffed animal to school
Tuesday, May 20
Bubble Day
We will be making and blowing bubbles
Wednesday, May 21
Card Game Day
Bring your favorite card game to play at school
DThursday, May 22
Dinosaur Day
We will be dinosaur detectives with Mr. D
Friday, May 23
Everybody dress like Mr. McKinney and celebrate his birthday!!!
Wednesday, May 28
Fruit Day
Bring your favorite fruit for snack today
Thursday, May 29
Going to Tanglewood and Harris Hill
Bring a packed lunch!
Friday, May 30
Hat Day
Wear your favorite hat to school
Monday, June 2
I’m going to the library and on an ABC Hunt
Meet your family member at Centennial Park at 11:15 for ABC Hunt on Market St.
Tuesday, June 3
Joke Day
Write down your favorite joke to share with class
Wednesday, June 4
Kick Off Your Shoes Day
You will be able to take your shoes off in class all day
Thursday, June 5
Leisure Day
We will relax outside with a book (weather permitting)
Friday, June 6
Memory Day
We will be writing about our favorite memories from kindergarten this year
Monday, June 9
Nature Day at the Binghamton Zoo – PAPR Trip
Bring packed lunch
Tuesday, June 10
Orange Day
Wear the color orange and bring an orange for snack
Wednesday, June 11
Pinkalicious Day
Wear as much pink as you can and participate in activities based on the book Pinkalicious!
Thursday, June 12
Quiz Your Teacher Day
Bring your hardest question for Mr. McKinney to answer. See if you can stump him
Friday, June 13
Roadrunner Field Day
Field day games and activities outside with entire grade level
Monday, June 16
Sidewalk Art Day
We will be decorating a section of the sidewalk
Tuesday, June 17
Talent Show Day
Share your talent with the class
Wednesday, June 18
Used Book Day
Bring a used book you would like to donate to the class or library
Thursday, June 19
Veggie Day
Bring your favorite vegetable to share with class

Friday, June 20
Wishy Washy Day
Be prepared to get wet!
Monday, June 23
X-change Autographs Day
Make an autograph book and collect as many autographs as you can
Tuesday, June 24
Year End Clearance
Bring a bag to gather all your items from the year
Wednesday, June 25
Zoom Out of School Day
Last day of kindergarten

Friday, May 16, 2014


Everybody wants to be appreciated! Here are some clever ideas for awards you can give volunteers or school helpers at the end of the year. (Do a search of “candy bar awards” and you’ll be amazed!) Here are a few examples:

Kudos Bar – “Kudos to you!”
Snickers – “Nuts about you!”
100 Grand – “A million thanks for all you did!”
M & M’s – “You’re marvelous and magnificent.”
Mint – “You ‘mint’ the world to us.”
Hershey’s Kisses – and Hugs, too!
Lifesavers – “You were a lifesaver this year!”
If you’re not into sweets, here are some other ideas:
Pen or Pencil – You were the “write” stuff for us this year!
Apple – You’re the “apple” of our eyes.
Banana – We are “bananas” for you. Thanks a bunch for all you did!
Play Watch – Thanks for giving us such a good time!
Lotion – Thanks for your “gentle” helping hand this year.
Pack of Flower Seeds – Thanks for helping us grow!
Extra Gum – You always went that extra mile. Thanks!
Box of Crayons – Color your summer happy!
Pack of Nuts – The children are nuts about you! Thank you!
Roll of Tape – Thanks for always sticking in there with us!
Ice Cream Cone Coupon – You’re the best scoop! Thanks!
Gold Fish - We "O'fishally" thank you!

*Hint! Add children’s drawings to all of the above!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Keeping children focused and on task this time of year can be a challenge. Here are a few tricks that might help. 

If You’re Ready… (Tune: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)
If you’re ready to get started say, “I am.”
If you’re ready to get started say, “I am.”
If you’re not you’re going to miss a lot,
So let’s get started right now.

Ready Chant
Teacher says: Is everybody ready?
Children respond: Yes mam or no mam – or yes sir or no sir
(If children respond "no," then keep saying, “Is everybody ready?” until everyone responds "yes.")
End by spelling: R – E – A – D – Y – Ready! (Thumbs up in the air.)

Are You Ready? (Tune: “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
Are you ready?
Are you ready?
Yes, I am.     (Children respond.)
Yes, I am.
Ready for (reading, math, PE or whatever).
Ready for (reading, math, PE or whatever).
Yes, I am.     (Children respond.)
Yes, I am.

Smart Signals
Explain that your class will have some “smart signals” that no one else knows. When you say “one”, they should sit quietly.
When you say “two,” they need to put their hands in their lap.
On “three,” they look at the teacher and show they are ready to learn.
*Everybody wants to be smart!!! 

And, I’m sure you’re ready for the end of the school year. Make a paper chain with the number of days left. Every day remove a link as you sing:
(number) days left of school this year.
(number) days left of school.
We’ll take one down
And then count down.
(number) days left of school this year.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Book - Write riddles or questions on the front of envelopes. Put the answers on index cards and insert in the envelopes. Hole punch and bind several to make a book.

Question – Statement - Put a period on one side and a question mark on the other side. Children hold up the period if the teacher makes a statement. The question mark is held up for a question.

Fact – Opinion - Write “fact” on one side and “opinion” on the other side. As the teacher says facts and opinions, the children respond by holding up their envelope.

Pull and Read - Cut the left end off the envelope. Write children’s names on 9 ½” sentence strips. Glue their picture on the right side. Pull out one letter at a time for children to predict whose name it could be.
*Write sight words, vocabulary words, or sentences for children to pull and read.
*Write math equations with the answer at the end.

Word Puzzles - Write words (or children’s names) on the front of an envelope. Write the same word on a sentence strip and cut between the letters to make a puzzle. Place the letters in the envelope for the children to put together.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I Have – Who Has? - Write letters of the alphabet on envelope puppets and pass them out to the class. The child who has “A” stands and says, “I have A. Who has B?” The child with the “B” stands as says, “I have B. Who has C? and so forth.
*Write numerals on envelopes and play a similar game for counting. You can start with “1” or a random number.

Yes – No - Write “yes” on one side of the envelope and “no” on the other side. Ask simple review questions and the children hold up “yes” or “no” to answer.
*Let the children ask the questions for their classmates to respond.

Book Mark - Cut a corner off the envelope and use it as a bookmark.
*Children can mark their favorite page that they’d like to read to the class.
*Mark a page with a selected vocabulary word.
*Mark the solution in the story or another part.

Bracelet - Cut a strip off the envelope to make a cuff bracelet.
*Write bus numbers or lunchroom numbers at the beginning of the year.
*Write the school name and phone number for field trips.
*Send a “remember” note to parents.
*Write vocabulary words or high frequency words.
*Make seasonal or holiday bracelets.
*Let children save stickers on their bracelets.
*Use for letters, numerals, shapes, patterns, etc.

Monday, May 12, 2014


There’s more to an envelope than just a place to put a letter! 

Puppet - Cut the envelope in half and insert your hand.
*Let children make a puppet of their favorite character and use it to retell the story.
*Let children make puppets of nursery rhyme characters and use them to say rhymes.
*Let children make animals for science themes.
*Make puppets with different facial expressions and use to talk about feelings. 

Phonics - Write letters on envelopes. Say a variety of words. Children hold up their letter if the word starts with that sound.
Sing this song to the tune of “Hokey Pokey”:
         You put your (letter) in,
         You take your (letter out.
         You put your letter in
         And you shake it all about.
         You make the (letter sound) /_/ /_ / /_/
         And then you put it down.

Shapes - Have children draw shapes on envelopes and then match them up with shapes in the classroom.
Play “Simon Says” with the shapes.
         Simon says put the circle over your head.
         Simon says put the square between your knees.

High Five Words - Write high frequency words on the envelopes. Children walk around the room reading words as they give a “high five” to their friends.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


I must admit, I really didn’t “get” the Little Prince until I was an adult. These quotes touched my heart, as I hope they will speak to you today. It's interesting that Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote this book 1n the 1940's, but the message rings clear in 2014!

“All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”
We early childhood educators remember, and we fight the battle to preserve childhood every day!

“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”
We’ve all known a few creepy caterpillars who have turned into beautiful butterflies in our classrooms - and flown away!

Grown-ups love figures... When you tell them you've made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? " Instead they demand "How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? " Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”
Education decision makers certainly like figures, don’t they? They forget to find out if the children know how to get along with others. Do they like school? What’s their favorite song? What games do they like to play?

“All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems... But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them... In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me... You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure... It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh”
And as children grow and move on in school, I hope they will remember us as the stars. And when they think of us, they will hear a song and laugh!

My mother's birthday is this week, and I still hear her song, and remember, and smile!


Saturday, May 10, 2014


Here are a few new ideas for you from Detroit and Indianapolis. 

Smart Dot (Gina Quinlan)
Get flavored chap stick from the Dollar Store. When the children answer questions correctly, the teacher gives them a “smart dot” on their hand. It smells yummy and the kids love it.

Keyboard Center (Gina Quinlan)
Color code the keyboard (blue for consonants and yellow for vowels) and laminate. Use laminated sheets of word wall words with boxes next to each word. The kids “type” out words and then check it off once they spell it. 

Left and Right (Britt)
Teach left and right by having the kids “swim” a chant:
“Left, right.” (Swimming motion.)
“Left, right.”
Scuba (Scuba motion.)
Whooo! (Jump up and clap.)
*Instead of just waiting in line, play-follow-the leader. But everyone must stay in the line to know what to do.
Check out the storybots videos – one for each letter of the alphabet.
*Check out have fun teaching videos on YouTube. What do the letters say? (Take off on “What Does the Fox Say?”)

Giant Die (Janette Monroe)
You will need a large square box. Tape a sheet protector on all six sides. Insert letters, shapes, or whatever content you’re learning in the sheet protectors. Students roll the die and identify the information on the top before they go to choice time/interest areas.

High Frequency Word Game
Buy 2 colored dry erase giant Styrofoam dice at the Dollar Tree. Cover the dots on each side with high frequency words. Children play with a partner taking turns rolling the die and writing and reading the word in the appropriate square. The first person to reach the top for one word wins.
I don't know if you've been to this website, but they have some fantastic FREE materials including these "Roll and Color" sheets.  Hey, why make it when you can download it??