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Monday, June 30, 2014


I know you think I’ve been slacking with my blog lately, but wait until you check out the SURPRISE that Carolyn Kisloski and I have been working on! Many districts now require teachers to display focus goals at centers, so we have translated the standards into “child friendly” language with these “I Can Center Cards.”

Run the center cards off (2 per page) on card stock and cut them in half.
Hole punch at the top and use book rings for each strand. Flip through the book to display focus goals at learning centers.
Note! Feel free to adapt these for your students, grade level, curriculum, and district’s expectations.

I feel so blessed to have met Carolyn Kisloski who is a kindergarten teacher in New York with a passion for sharing with other teachers. Her blog is Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together ( Carolyn has already started using the cards in her classroom.

So, now that I’ve got your attention, would you like to know how you can get your FREE download of the “I Can” cards? (Click on "Christmas in July" and then click "I Can"Center Cards)
You can also go to Carolyn's blog or her TPT store:  

Sunday, June 29, 2014


WOW! Was I impressed with Tampa, Florida! Summer Camp was downtown at the Sheraton River Walk and it was fantastic! (I’m still a kid when it comes to little things like their bridges being lit up at night and changing colors. So cool!) The great thing about spending two days together at Summer Camp is that we all feel like friends at the end of the day. 

Whale Talk (Katherine Brunson)
When teaching phonics show the clip from “Finding Nemo” where Dorie is speaking “whale.” Then let the kids stretch out sounds in words by speaking “whale.”

Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal
(Maqua O’Shea)
(Tune: “Ten Little Indians”)
Horizontal (Make horizontal stroke in air.)
Vertical (Make vertical stroke in air.)
Diagonal (Make diagonal line.)
And zig zag. (Make a zig zag line.)
Horizontal (Make horizontal stroke in air.)
Vertical (Make vertical stroke in air.)
Diagonal (Make diagonal line.)
And zig zag. (Make a zig zag line.)
Horizontal (Make horizontal stroke in air.)
Vertical (Make vertical stroke in air.)
Diagonal (Make diagonal line.)
And zig zag. (Make a zig zag line.)
Lines are all around us!
*Make a book of lines on the playground and in the classroom. 

*Give children long books to practice making lines.

Are You a Tattle Tale or a Danger Ranger? (Rita Harris)
Encourage children to take care of classmates instead of tattling on them.
*If they start their statement with someone’s name a tattle will usually follow!

Respect (Rita Harris)
When a child starts to interrupt ask if the are “bleeding or on fire?” If it’s neither one then they should be respectful and wait their turn.

Number Stories (Rita Harris)
“5” is a little old man. Draw his neck, belly, and then put a hat on him.
“7” left to right and down from heaven.
“8” make the letter “s” and continue to skate back up like a race track.

Peace Rug (Adele Moye – from Cindy Middendorf)
Make a peace sign on a mat. When two children have a dispute ask them to sit on the “peace rug.” They sit knee to knee and talk to each other looking eye to eye. When the dispute is “solved” both come and show the teacher a great big smile!

Name Album (Melissa Kittrell)
After reading CHRYSANTHEMUM by Kevin Henkes send home a sheet asking the child’s full name. Ask the meaning, why the parent chose it, and where they were when they chose their child’s name. Make an album and let one child take it home each evening.

Money in Your Fingers (Adele Moye)
Wiggle your fingers – that’s ten pennies.
Show me 5 pennies (make a fist).
That’s a nickel. How much is it worth? (open hand -5 cents!)
Hold up 2 nickels (fists).
Put them together. (touch fists and connect fingers)
Now you have a dime!
How much is it worth? (wiggle fingers – 10 pennies!)
Or, (knock fists together 2 nickels)
Or, (one fist and 5 fingers – one nickel and 5 pennies!)

Virtual Babysitter (Michelle Fultz)
“Having Dr. Jean’s DVDs is like having a virtual babysitter in your classroom.” That’s one of the nicest things anybody ever said about me!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


See why I love my job! Take a look at all these terrific ideas teachers shared at the Early Childhood Summit at the College of Charleston last week. 

Ah Ha Moment! (Michelle Smith, Sandy Springs, OK)
Challenge parents to log the amount of time their child spends in front of a screen for a week. The next week challenge parents to spend the equal amount of time their child spent with technology reading, playing games, making things, etc.
*Let children “earn” technology time by reading, playing outside, etc.

Ah Ha Moment for Teachers!
How much time do you think students should spend every day in front of a screen??? Record screen time (Smart Board, computer, etc.) for a week. Look at the screen time that brain research experts and pediatricians recommend for children. How much time do you think they spend in front of a screen when they get home? Is there a balance between hands-on, interactive, multi-sensory learning with screen time in their lives?
*This would be a great research project for anybody in grad school.

Picture Blocks (Maryann Kozoil)
Glue children's photos to wooden blocks to encourage social skills and language in the 

block center . 

Letter Hunt ( Elizabeth Petrocelli andKim del Bosque)
Fill a box with shredded paper. Put letters, numbers, words, etc. in the box. Children pull out one at a time and then write it on a clipboard.
*You could also use Styrofoam packing or another material.
For younger children hide little toys and objects.

Lips and Hips (Jen Guidry)
(Tune: "The Wheels on the Bus")
I want to see your lips and hips,
Lips and hips, lips and hips.
I want to see your lips and hips
Before we go outside.
*Tell children the finger on their lips is to remind them to be quiet.
The hand on their hips is to remind them to keep their hands to themselves.

Friendship Song
Have children stand in a circle and use one child's name at a time as you sing:
Nick, Nick, Nick is in the middle.
Let me see you jump.
Let me see you wiggle.
Turn around.
Please sit down.
*If children don't warn to participate, respect that and let them just sit down.

Cast of Characters

Give each family a cut out of a person. (You can do this at open house or mail these before school starts.) Parents help their child decorate the cutout with some of their favorite things. These can be images cut out of magazines or drawings. The children can share these during circle time and then they can be displayed in the classroom.

Sensory Tray (Brenda Roughton)
Put colored sand in a pencil box. Children can use it to trace letters, numerals, shapes, words, etc.
*You could also put rice or another sensory material in a pencil box.

Vowel Circus
(Jodi McMaster)
Jodi McMaster has created a book to help beginning readers understand which sound each vowel makes within a word. Her strategy has been successful for thousands of children and she wants to share it with you. You can see videos at

Friday, June 27, 2014


Welcome to my guest blogger Kathleen Wright!  She's my friend who says we have to stick together and be super heroes to fight the negativity in education.  I think she's on the right track with this linky!

When I first started my Kidpeople Classroom blog, I did it for all the reasons most teachers do– I love teaching, I love to share ideas, I want to connect with people. But I also did it because in these times of insane educational policies teachers need encouragement. We need to remember to focus on the good stuff while telling the world what the good stuff is. But how to do that? I had no idea until my storyteller muse whispered in my ear, "Psst, what about funny kid stories?"

Hearing the things our kiddos come out with is a joyful perk of our job. So often when I share with adults the things I hear in the classroom, the response I get is, "You've got to write that down!" I know the same thing happens to most teachers. So I created Funny Kid Friday, a new linky party that I'm hosting on my blog to give teachers a place to share their funny kid stories. Of course, the stories we hear are not only funny. Kids always speak from the heart, and for the observant teacher there is sometimes a lot to be learned about children, our teaching, and the world, when we reflect on their words.

I'm hoping this linky will provide a way to share our stories and hear stories from others. Kids have as much commentary on life as we do, and we all benefit by hearing it. Real world stories often emphasize how kids think, and how our role as teachers is important. Let's keep ourselves, our policy makers, and everyone else focused on the kids– kids whose stories can be alarming, compelling, innocent, amazing, and yes... funny, too.

And if you're not a blogger or a teacher, and you want to do more than just read the anecdotes, not to worry. Go to the Funny Kid Friday post every Friday and share in the comment section. Or go to my facebook page and see Funny Kid Friday right up at the top. Let your inner storyteller take it away! I look forward to reading your tales!

Find Funny Kid Friday here

And on Facebook here

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Someone’s in the kitchen monkeying around with me! I love to cook – and I love to eat! Here are recipes for some of my favorite summer foods.

1 ½ lbs ground beef
1 small onion chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can lima beans, drained
1 can pork and beans
½ cup catsup
¼ cup brown sugar
1 TB. vinegar

Cook beef and onion and salt. Drain. Combine rest of ingredients and stir. Place in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.

4 celery stalks
1 small green or red bell pepper
4 green onions
2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley
1/3 cup Italian dressing
2 TB. Dijon mustard

Chop first 3 ingredients. Combine chopped vegetables, peas, and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.

(Holly worked at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge one summer when she was in college. This was a favorite dessert she learned to make. It’s great because you get two pies – one for you and one to share!)
2 deep dish pie crusts
¾ cup butter
¾ cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
4 eggs
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (optional) chopped

Melt margarine and butter, then cool to room temperature. Beat eggs until frothy. Mix sugars, flour, eggs, then add margarine. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into pie shells.
Bake at 325 – 350 for 45-minutes to an hour or until lightly brown.
*Serve with ice cream if desired.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Sometimes it’s the little things that can be a useful tool in your classroom. Look around!  What do you see that’s inexpensive and plentiful? Here are some ideas for those little glass pebbles they use in flower arrangements. Talk about simple, inexpensive, and adaptable!

1.  Let children find letters they recognize. Can they write them?

2.  Find numbers. Can they find all the numbers between 1 and 10 and write them?

3.  How many words can they find that they can read? Have them make a list.

4.  Can they find nouns and verbs?  Make a T-chart.

5.  Find punctuation…see how much fun this can be! 

Old newspapers, catalogs, magazines, and glass pebbles can become an engaging center for pre-k through primary grades. This would also be a good activity for study buddies. Children could take turns finding information for their friend to identify.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


A few weeks ago I was in Fort Worth doing training for the Learning Institute of North Texas. They hosted the workshop at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Well, you know how teachers are always on the look out for free things – and one teacher found these cool “nature scopes” that children could use to explore the garden. On one side was a map and on the other side were pictures of items in the garden that children could see, hear, smell, and touch. Although you might not live in Fort Worth, wouldn’t this be a great idea to adapt for your school playground?

1st – Take a walk and let children categorize things they can see, hear, smell, and touch.

2nd – Make a scavenger hunt with those items. Children could draw pictures, use labels, and so forth.

3rd – Have children do descriptive writing by completing these sentences:
                        I can see____.
                        I can hear____.
                        I can smell____.
                        I can touch ____.

4th – Let children create “nature scopes” from items in a scrap box.

5th – Ask children to draw a map of your school playground.

Whether you do a “stay”cation or visit some place exciting this summer, always be on the lookout for freebies that you can adapt for your classroom. Something as simple as maps and brochures from different visitor centers can open the door to new learning opportunities.

Monday, June 23, 2014


It's actually early in the morning on June 18.  No, it's not time travel, I'm just going to be busy this week at the College of Charleston Summit, Summer Camp in Tampa, and the Best Practices Conference in New Orleans.  It's difficult to blog on the road, so I always try to work ahead.  Here's a follow up on yesterday's post.  I'd sure love to hear from you if you try this little ritual in your classroom this year.  Come back tomorrow to see all the new things I learned from teachers this past week!

YOU are kind!
YOU are smart!
YOU are important!
And YOU can plant good seeds in children every day!
Classroom Management 

Instead of reprimanding children for inappropriate behavior ask, “What are you? Show me.” Or say, “You know what to do.” Instead of focusing on negative behavior, “rise above it” by planting GOOD seeds!

21st Century Skills 

“I am kind. I am smart. I am important.” These statements can also nurture cooperation and collaboration and create a caring classroom “family.”

Executive Function 
The statement reminds children that THEY are responsible for their behavior. “Internal locus of control” was something I learned about 40 years ago. It’s basically the same as what we call “self-regulation” today. We are all responsible for our behavior. It’s not our mother or the weather or the dog. I AM RESPONSIBLE!

Sunday, June 22, 2014


My exercise instructor is amazing, and she has two young daughters that she often mentions. A little ritual she uses every day is to ask her daughters, “What are you?” They repeat, “I am kind. I am smart. I am important.” What a positive reaffirmation! I asked her if she thought of that, and she said, “No, I borrowed it from THE HELP.” (I saw that movie years ago, so I recalled the scene…google it if you’ve never watched the movie. It will touch your heart and give you goose bumps!) 
I think teachers should “borrow” this idea and use it each morning to start their day. 

Group Reading
Write it on a poster, and have the children read over it with you. This will help them make print connections, learn to track from left to write, etc.

After several weeks, you could encourage children to suggest a different synonym for “important” each day. For example: “I am special.” “I am awesome.” “I am incredible.” Refer to children frequently during the day using the adjective. Keep a list of these “Wonderful Words” for children to use in their own writing.
*After exploring synonyms for “important,” do the same for “kind” and “smart.”

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Children love anything having to do with monkeys.  Here are some things that will capture their curiosity just like George!

Compare and Contrast
Get several copies of Curious George books. Compare and contrast George’s adventures. How are they alike? How are they different? Could those adventures really happen?

*I've told you this idea before, but get a traditional Curious George book and then download the electronic version on your device.  Read both to your class and then let them vote on which one they liked best.  Why?

Caps for Sale
This was always one of my favorite books to read to my class. It was such fun to let the children be the monkeys and act out the tale. We did this in the classroom as well as outside on the playground equipment.

Five Little Monkeys
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed. (Hold up five fingers.)
One fell off and bumped her head. (Touch your head.)
Momma called the doctor and the doctor said, (Pretend to hold a phone.)
“That’s what you get for jumping on the bed!” (Point finger.)
No little monkeys jumping on the bed.
They are sick with broken heads!

*Change the number of monkeys in the song. Children will also get a kick out of saying, "Five little mommies jumping on the bed..."

Monkeys and Alligator
(Dr. Jean & Friends CD)
Five little monkeys swinging from a tree, (Hold up five fingers.)
Teasing Mr. Alligator, “Can’t catch me.”
Along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be,
And snatched a monkey right out of that tree!
Four little monkeys… (Hold up appropriate number of
Three…two…one… fingers on hand.)
“Missed me, missed me. (Stick thumbs in ears and tease.)
Now you gotta kiss me!”
*Choose five children to be monkeys and one child to be the alligator to act out this song.
Monkey on a SwingCut a sheet of paper as shown. Roll down the top section and staple to make the monkey’s head. Decorate with markers or crayons. Glue on a tail. Staple the monkey’s hands to a straw and watch him swing.

Monkey Tail Sandwich
You will need:
Hot dog buns
Peanut butter (or substitute)
Wash your hands.
Spread peanut butter in the bun.
Peel the banana and insert it in the bun.
Yum! Yum!

Friday, June 20, 2014


What a Nose!
(Tune: "I'm a Little Teapot" - Dr. Jean & Friends CD)
Elephants walk like this and that. (Stick out one arm like a trunk 

and stomp from side to side.)
They’re terribly big and terribly fat. (Arms out wide.)
They have no hands. (Hold up hands and shake head no.)
They have no toes. (Point to feet and shake head no.)
But, goodness, gracious, what a nose! (Stick out arm like a trunk.)

One Elephant Went out to Play
One elephant went out to play - (Hold up one finger.)
Out on a spider's web one day. (Roll hands around.)
She had such enormous fun. (Stick arms out wide.)
She called for another elephant to come. (Cup arms by mouth.)
Two elephants went out to play.... (Hold up two fingers.)

*Let children act out this rhyme. The first child chooses the second child. The second child chooses the third child, etc.
*What does "enormous" mean? What are other things that are enormous?
*Could an elephant really play on a spider's web? Why not?

Paper Plate Puppet
If you’ve got a field trip to the zoo or if you read HORTON HEARS A WHO,
your students will enjoy making this elephant puppet. You will need a white paper plate, a sock, crayons, 2 brad fasteners, and 2 gray sheets of construction paper for each child.

Cut 2 ears out of the gray construction paper. Cut a circle large enough for the child’s hand out of the middle of the paper plate. (Color the plate gray if you desire.) Draw a face on the plate as shown. Attach the 2 ears to the sides of the plate with brad fasteners. Insert the hand in the sock and then stick the sock through the back of the plate to create the elephant’s nose.

CD Puppet
You can also make an elephant puppet from an old CD. Draw a face on the CD with permanent markers. Tape on construction paper ears and let the children insert their index finger in the hole to make a trunk. (Grown up fingers are too large for the hole!)

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Animal Crackers 
By Dr. Holly
Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh, my!
In my box that’s what I spy.
Take them out.
Should I run?
No, I’ll eat them!
Yum! Yum! Yum!

Pass out an animal cracker to each child. Encourage them to write descriptive sentences about their cracker. I see… I smell… I feel… I hear… I taste!
Tag Along Book
Cut the front and back off a box of animal crackers. (Be sure and leave the string attached.) Cut paper the size of the box. Give each child a sheet and ask them to draw a zoo animal or write a description of a zoo animal. Put their pictures between the front and back of the box and staple to make a book.
Hint! This is called a tag along book because they can hold it and it will tag along with them!

Use zoo animal plates for simple addition. Children make sets in each ear and then join them together and count the sum. You can use math counters, buttons, popcorn, or cereal.

What does it mean to be a carnivore? Herbivore? Omnivore? What are you? Do some research to find out eating habits of different zoo animals.

Use animal crackers, toy animals, or pictures to sort zoo animals. Ask children what sorting rule they used. Can they think of another way to sort the animals?

Put Me in the Zoo
Do a language experience chart where children fill in the sentence:
If I were in the zoo I would be…
Let them draw pictures of which animal they would like to be. Why did they choose that animal?

Zoo Treats
You will need graham crackers, animal crackers, and peanut butter to make this snack. Children put a small amount of peanut butter on the graham cracker and stand animal cookies up on it.
*You can using icing or honey for children with peanut allergies.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014



I hope I never lose the thrill of seeing the animals and watching what they will do to entertain the people. I can't wait to go to the National Zoo when we visit DC in August. Whether you take a real trip to the zoo or an imaginary trip on the internet, over the next three days you’ll find some activities that children will enjoy. These ideas could also be related to literature, such as making the elephant puppet when you read HORTON HEARS A WHO. Other ideas could be adapted to literature standards (poems or riddles about zoo animals) or informative writing (habitats, body covering, babies, food).

We’re Going to the Zoo
(Tune: “The Bear Went over the Mountain”)
We’re going to the zoo.
We’re going to the zoo.
We’re going to the zoo.
Won’t you come, too?

The elephants swing their trunks. (Stick out one arm like a trunk
The elephants swing their trunks. and stomp from side to side.)
The elephants swing their trunks.
And we can do it, too.

*Insert other animal names and these motions:
Kangaroos jump around… (Bend elbows like paws and jump.)
Bears put all fours on the ground…(Put hands and feet on ground and walk.)
Giraffes walk on tippy toes…(Stretch neck and walk on toes.)
Zebras gallop to and fro…(Gallop in place.)
Snakes slither and wiggle…(Wiggle as you go up and down.)
Penguins wobble with a jiggle…(Palms out by sides and wobble.)
Hint! Let children suggest other animals and their motions.

Zoo Animal Puppets
Let children create their favorite zoo animal from a lunch bag, paper plate, craft stick, or envelope.

Animal Cheers
Seal of Approval – Extend arms in front of you and cross them over each other. Clap as you make a barking noise.
Elephant Cheer - Stick one arm out straight from under your chin. Put top lips over bottom lip as you blow and make a trumpeting sound.
Snake Cheer – Palms folded together next to your chest. Keeping them together wiggle them out as you make a “Ssssss” sound. Stick your tongue quickly in and out of your mouth.
Tiger Cheer – You’re GGGRRREEEAAATTT! (Stick fist in the air.)

Guess Who?
Let children take turns pantomiming different zoo animals as their friends try and guess who they are.

Imagination Bag
Give each child an empty lunch bag. Demonstrate how to open the bag and ask them to do the same. Explain that you are going to take an imaginary trip to the zoo. Ask them to look in their bags to see what they can find. Encourage children to name the animals in their bag as they create an imaginary zoo on the floor in front of them.

Matching Game
Make a matching game where children match up mother zoo animals and their babies. Can they tell you the names for the different animal babies?
*You could also play a memory game with these cards.

Hint! I found my pictures at google images.
This is one of my favorite websites for children. After the gates of the zoo open you can click on a letter. You'll hear the animal sound, see the word, and then then letters will turn into the different animals. Great for print connections.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Here are a few more dough recipes that will add a little magic to a summer day.

1 package Kool-Aid
1 TB. oil
½ cup salt
2 cups boiling water
2-3 cups flour
Mix the first four ingredients together. Slowly stir in the flour until a smooth consistency. Store in a zip bag.

3 cups flour
1 cup salt
¼ cup Joy dish detergent
1 ¼ cup water (approximately)
food coloring
Mix all ingredients together. Store in a zip bag or covered container.

2 cups white glue
1 ½ cups water
food coloring
2 level tsp. Borax soap
1 cup hot water
Combine the glue, 1 ½ cups water, and food coloring. Set aside. In another large bowl, dissolve the Borax in the cup of hot water. Slowly stir the glue mixture into the Borax. It will coagulate and be difficult to mix. Pour off the excess water, then let it sit for several minutes. Drain off the remaining water. Store flubber covered in the refrigerator when it is not being used.
Note! Borax is toxic and should not be used with younger children.

1 cup cornstarch
½ - ¾ cup water
Place 1 cup cornstarch in a bowl. Slowly stir in enough water (½ cup to ¾ cup) to make a thick liquid. Hold the goop in your hand, then turn your hand over and let it run back into the bowl. How is it like a liquid? How is it like a solid?

white glue
liquid starch
Use two parts glue to one part liquid starch. Pour starch into the glue a little at a time. Mix well. Add more starch if needed so mixture is not sticky. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
* Add food coloring if you desire.

Monday, June 16, 2014


You can purchase play dough at a dollar store, buy it on sale after Halloween or Easter, or make your own. Ask parents who work and can’t come to your classroom to volunteer to do this for you at home. A new, fresh color each month would add interest. 

Play Dough
1 cup salt
2 cups water
2 cups flour
2 Tb. cream of tartar (sold in the spice section of your grocery store)
2 Tb. vegetable oil
food coloring 

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Cook over medium heat stirring
constantly until a ball forms and sticks to the spoon. Cool, knead, and store in a zip bag.
Hint! Substitute massage oil for vegetable oil to make “aroma therapy” dough.
Use unsweetened Kool-aid for color and fragrance.
Omit food coloring and knead dough in cocoa to make “chocolate dough.”

*I made this in my classroom in an electric skillet. I'd let the kids dump in the ingredients and then I let them have a turn stirring before I turned on the heat.

Note! Have children wash their hands before and after working with play dough to decrease spreading germs. You can also have individual containers or bags for children to use for these projects.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Counting & Cardinality

Make sets. Make eggs for a nest, pumpkins in the patch, peas in the pod…you get the idea.

Match one to one. (If you don’t have time to laminate, just put them in clear sheet protectors.

Make sets to demonstrate addition and subtraction. 

Decompose with play dough sets. 

Make something from play dough and then describe its weight and height. Can you make it longer? Shorter?

Write “more,” “less,” “equal” on three index cards. Children roll a die and then choose a card and make a set that is more, less, or equal to the amount on the die.  

Use play dough to make balls that are small, medium and large. What else can they make in three sizes?

Create flat (2-d) and solid (3-d) shapes. 

Give children toothpicks and play dough. What flat and solid shapes can they create?

Science and Social Studies
Reinforce information in a creative hands-on way with play dough. Children could make animals from a habitat, parts of a flower, tools of community helpers, healthy foods…endless possibilities!

You have now earned your B.A. (Borrow and Adapt) degree in playdoughology!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Make something you like (or don’t like) and write about it. 
Make something from a book you have read and write about it.

Take a small piece of red play dough and blue play dough and squeeze them together. What happens? Write about it.

Make something and then tell/write 3 things about it.

Make letter plates by writing letters with a permanent marker on plastic plates. Children roll play dough and make the letters on top.  Can they make something that starts with that sound?

Make letters (or words) using a bubble font. Children roll dough and fill in.

Make something that is a noun. How can you make it plural?

Make punctuation marks out of play dough. Add to a sentence for a friend to read.

Friday, June 13, 2014


After thinking about Kalina’s play dough octopus, I thought it might be interesting to explore different ways you could use play dough in centers to reinforce skills. Multi-sensory, engaging, creative, open-ended…here we go! 

Reading Literature
Let children make their favorite character and use it to retell a story.

Draw a scene from a story and add details with play dough.

Reading for Information
Make something that you learned from the book.

Reading Foundations
Rhymes – Make two objects that rhyme. 

Sounds – Make objects that start with a consonant, blend, or diagraph you are working on.
Vowels- Make an object for a long vowel sound and short vowel sound.

Silly Putty
Here’s another idea a second grade teacher shared for keeping those fingers busy! She asks each parent to provide a container of silly putty that the children keep in their pencil box. If they finish their work early, they use the silly putty to create something that relates to a reading skill, math concept, science unit, etc.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Enough with all the whining and complaining! This will definitely put a smile on your face today!  (I usually try not to waste your time with this stuff, but you'll be glad you checked this one out!)

Isn’t it reassuring that our country is not the only one with education woes? The Australians remind us that we can’t lose our sense of humor!

Thanks for laughing with me, my friend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Look what that sweet Mary Amoson (sharingkindergarten) has created for you this summer - NEW CHEER CARDS! They certainly needed a face lift and you're going to love the new graphics.  Plus, we've got tons of new cheers like "sparkles and a rainbow" and "hug your brain."
Run the cards off on cardstock, laminate, and put them in a Cheerios box (individual size) or Cheer detergent box (you can get little ones at a laundry mat). You'll be all set to celebrate the new school year.

Here's a link to where they can be downloaded on TPT. Oh, and did I forget to mention that they are FREE!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Cheri Winton Gaetz has been a long time friend and advocate for children. Last week she sent this link that certainly speaks for all of us and should be read by all of us!

In “The Case for the New Kindergarten: Challenging and Playful” by Daphna Bassok, Amy Claessens, and Mimi Engel they report that they are “troubled by the decline we have documented in the amount of time kindergartners spend on physical education, art, music, science, and social studies. We think these trends suggest that young children are being shortchanged with regard to what most of us believe are key aspects of learning.” They also echo the frustration that many early educators have because of the academic push and time spent on assessment.

Although they document the importance of “new and challenging academic content” in kindergarten, they emphasis the importance of balance…“let's focus on how to teach it in a way that is tailored to young learners. Let's focus on creating engaging, fun, developmentally appropriate learning experiences for all kindergartners, acknowledging the importance of embedding enriching language and numeracy experiences within those environments. It will certainly require effort, support, and flexibility, but it is an attainable goal with the potential for a powerful payoff.”

I wanted to cry and then shout, “THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO DO!” Every day in every way! And that’s what everyone who reads my blog is TRYING to do! It’s not either – or, but both – and!

Both Academic and Play with Play Dough
Sometimes we miss the value of ordinary things that are right under our noses!  I was talking to my granddaughter about what she did at school last week.  She said, "I made an octopus out of clay."  When I asked how many legs it had she responded, "Eight."  It reminded me that play dough can be used for any unit or theme from dinosaurs to shapes to sounds to...and think about the fine motor, math, and creativity nurtured with play dough.  And, best of all, it's like play for children instead of work.  There you go!

Monday, June 9, 2014


Sink and Float 
You’ll need a file folder, tub of water, and a collection of small objects (pencil, crayon, paper clip, ball, block, pebble, leaf, etc.) On one side of the file folder write “float” and on the other side write “sink.” Children place the items according to whether they think they will float or sink. They can then test each object by putting it in the water and readjusting where it should go.

Beach Bottle 
Put ½ cup sand in a bottle. Add some shells and fill half way with water. Add a drop of blue food coloring. Make a small fish from Styrofoam or a water balloon.

Wave Bottle
Fill 2/3 full with water. Add a drop of food coloring. Fill to the top with vegetable oil or Baby oil. Slowly rotate the bottle on its side to make waves.
*Add glitter if you like.

Sand Collections 
Collect sand from various beaches in jars or bottles and label. Children can use a magnifying glass to observe the contents. How are they alike? How are they different?  

*They could do descriptive writing about what they see in the bottle.
*A good way to get sand samples is to have children write friends and relatives who live near a lake or ocean and ask them to sand a small bag of sand to their class. (Be aware that there are some restrictions as to sending natural objects into the continental 48 states.)

Purchase a bag of shells from a dollar store and put it out with a book about seashells. Children can look through the book and identify the shells.