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Sunday, November 30, 2014


Holiday Activities
It's always exciting when you go in the store and hear those first Christmas songs of the season. (Although you might be a little tired of them by the end of the month!) Here are some new ideas for some old songs - and some old songs with new ideas.

Jingle Bells

Jingle bells, jingle bells, (Pretend to hold bells and shake.)
Jingle all the way.
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh. Hey! (Fist in the air.)
Jingle bells, jingle bells, (Pretend to jingle bells.)
Jingle all the way.
What fun it is to ride and sing
In a one horse open sleigh.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


After all those finger stories yesterday, here are some holiday projects with those little hands. They can be used for classroom decorations, cards, or wrapping paper. You can trace around children's hands and cut them out, or let children dip their hands in paint and print. You could also use fabric paint and make holiday shirts with their handprints.

Friday, November 28, 2014


If you're not out getting all those bargains today you can check out this article that Jana Byrd sent me.  It’s a MUST READ for any pre-k or kindergarten teacher because it’s a clear reminder of the importance of hands-on experiences for developing number sense.

The author, Janice Novakowski, is a teacher in British Columbia and you’ll appreciate her down to earth and practical ideas using popsicle sticks, cubes, stories, and finger plays. It was interesting that she would ask her students to “read” and share their combinations. “Talking out loud” and “thinking out loud” are critical to children’s understanding. It reminded me that DEATH IS SILENT AND LEARNING IS NOISY! Our little guys NEED to talk!

Here are some finger plays that can build number sense while you focus children’s attention. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I invited an old friend to visit and she wrote, "It makes my heart happy just thinking about it." For some reason, the idea of a "happy heart" really touched my heart. 

I wish you have a happy heart today!

Say the blessing and pass the dressing!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Some of you will be cooking today. Some of you will be traveling today. And some of you will be shopping around BLOG CITY. I bet you’ll be able to “harvest” an activity for your classroom from these ideas teachers shared in Alabama and Oklahoma last week. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

OH, MI, OH, MI! (Oh, my! Oh, my!)

How about these great ideas from teachers in Columbus, Toledo, and Grand Rapids?

Thankful Song (Kathleen Lambrix) 

(Tune: “Are You Sleeping?”)
I am thankful.
I am thankful.
For so much.
For so much.
For the world that I see.
For my friends and family,
I say thanks!
I say Thanks!

Monday, November 24, 2014


Look what I thought of in the middle of the night!!! We are having ten for Thanksgiving dinner and I only have 8 napkin rings. Taa daa! I cut pipe cleaners in half and I’m going to let K.J. and Kalina make napkin rings with beads similar to the Thanksgiving bracelet. So now you know what to do with all those leftover beads.


Don’t you love it when you find something “old” and it’s “new” again to you? This is a cool nursery rhyme book that you can read and sing with your class whenever you have a few minutes during the day.

Materials: file folder, 2 book rings, glue, alphabet letters, nursery rhyme posters (I downloaded the nursery rhyme posters from “rhyme a week” at


Directions: Glue the alphabet to the right side of the file folder. Place the rhymes on the left side of the folder, punch two holes, and attach with book rings as shown. Sing the rhymes to the tune of “100 Bottles of Pop on the Wall” and then sing the ABC’s between each verse.
Have children stand and clap as you sing the rhyme, then have them tap left hand to right knee and right knee to left hand as you sing the alphabet.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Here are a few easy ideas to engage children in book making and writing their opinion.

Paper Plate Book
Give each child 2 paper plates. Use the plates as a pattern to cut circular pages for the book. Children can draw, write, or cut out pictures of things they are thankful for on the blank paper. Insert their pages between the paper plates, punch a hole at the top, and use a ribbon or a piece of a pipe cleaner to bind the book. Encourage children to decorate the front plate with a title and their name.


Saturday, November 22, 2014


Here I am in my sixties and I still have to look at my rings to know my left from my right!   jokingly blame it on my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Myers because she’d say, “Show me your right hand” and it would look like my left hand. The truth is that we need to remember to reverse movements when we model for children. If we say show me your right hand, we actually have to hold up our left hand. When we demonstrate how to make the numeral 3 in the air, we must do it backwards. Confusing, I know, but with a little practice you’ll be a pro. Another tip is to focus on the right hand. Then what is leftover is always their “left.”

Friday, November 21, 2014


Those of you who have attended my workshops might have heard me say, “We’d go to jail now for things we used to do in the classroom.” I don’t mean that literally because we never did anything mean to children, but many of the restrictions were just not an issue in the “old days.” We could take our class out for recess (Yep! Run around and play time.) whenever we wanted and we had a lot more flexibility and creativity in terms of the curriculum.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Will you be going over the river and through the woods in a sleigh, plane, or train next week?

Over the River  (Traditional Tune – Happy Everything CD)

Over the river and through the woods 
(Pretend to hold reins of a sleigh as you bounce up and down.)
To grandmother’s house we go.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I was cleaning out my “teacher stuff” and I came across a bag with a bunch of pointers. I’m sure you’ve seen many of these, but I think you’ll “spy” at least one new one. 

Why use pointers?

Children love anything novel and different. They can use these pointers to track from left to right, identify key details in a picture, point out letters or words in print, highlight capitalization and punctuation, touch shapes…I think you get the “point”!

Magic wand – dip the end of a chopstick in glue and roll in glitter
Finger nail – glue a fake fingernail to a craft stick
I Spy – glue a googly eye to a craft stick
Jewel – glue a fake jewel to a craft stick
Witches’ finger – great fun

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This will build on some of the creative strategies for reading that I shared yesterday. You can also use these different styles for counting, going over word wall words, and reviewing other information.

Write “Voice Box” on a small box or gift bag. Write the different styles on index cards and place them in the box. Let several children choose cards and then use that “voice” to repeat information.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Creating synapses in the brain is like making pathways in the woods. The more you walk over the same path through the woods, the clearer it will become. Similarly, it’s important to repeat information to make pathways in the brain so that children will remember. These are some strategies that will keep children engaged as you repeat poems, chants, and other choral reading activities.

Three Bears

Read papa bear style (with a deep voice), mama bear style (with a prissy voice), and baby bear style (with a wee voice).

Sunday, November 16, 2014


November 16 is Button Day…for real! Here are some thoughts on how to integrate buttons into your lesson plans any day. 
Hint! I bought my bag of buttons at Walmart, but you could ask parents to send in extra buttons they don’t want for a learning activity. (That might be a good homework assignment.) 


*Have children count the number of buttons they have on. Who has the most? Who has zero? Tally how many in the entire class.
*Have children form groups with friends who have the same number of buttons.
*Use the buttons children bring in for math activities. Let them sort the buttons. What was their sorting rule? Can they sort them another way?

Saturday, November 15, 2014


It breaks my heart when teachers say, "They took my blocks away!” Blocks are a natural element and in this world of plastic and manufactured goods, it feels good to just hold a block.  Blocks can be used to help children develop concepts of numbers, size, shape, and weight.  They also encourage imagination, language, social skills, self-confidence, and motor skills.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I love what I do, but you know that because I tell you all the time!  I get so excited when a teacher writes and tells me how she "harvests" one of my ideas and makes it even better.  Here's an email from Dawn Scroggins and a "stinky" idea for you to use this week for any skill you want to reinforce.  Just take a look at the picture to see how much her kids enjoy this game!

I was blessed to attend a Dr. Jean event, at which she shared the game “Stinky Cheese.” I returned to my kindergarten classroom and immediately set about creating the game for my children, making one for shapes and one for letters. They loved it! How much fun to hear children calling out “stinky cheese” while learning/reviewing. I began to create more versions of the same game, and thought….boring! I went on to make “Stinky Socks” and “Stinky Feet” for sight word learning/review. They were definitely a hit! Today, as I was trying to come up with a way to practice numeral recognition and counting, I was again hit with a brain

Thursday, November 13, 2014


The or thee? That is the question. But it doesn’t really matter if you spell it 
“t – h – e.”

“The” Book

Fold two sheets of paper in half and staple. Children write the word “The” at the top of each page and then draw a picture. What a simple way for beginning readers to feel successful.
*Advanced children could write a sentence using the word “the.”
You could also make an “a” book. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I didn’t find the Emerald City or the Wizard of Oz when I visited NW Kansas this week, but I did find teachers with big hearts and great brains that shared these ideas with me! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


A few things are timeless, such as this story. It might take you 15 minutes to make, but you can tell it over and over again this year...and next year...and the next year!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Here’s a simple cooking activity you can do with your students. Today I’m calling it “turkey food”, but I’ve also called it “reindeer oats,” “stir friend O’s,” and other things that fit with the season or a unit of study. It’s simple to prepare, inexpensive, healthy, and something the children will enjoy.

You will need:

Small cups

Large spoon
Electric skillet (Note! I kept this in my classroom and used it to make everything from play dough to bananas foster.)

Sunday, November 9, 2014


What to do with all of those leftover pumpkins? You won’t believe how easy, delicious, and fun to serve this recipe is. Watch the smiles as you pull the pumpkin out of the oven, take off the lid, and dish up some fantastic stew just right for a cool autumn day! I’m busy packing for my workshops this week, but here is a one pot/pumpkin dish I can prepare ahead of time. My husband only cooks eggs and popcorn, so he’ll have some good leftovers to eat while I’m gone.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!

He is big and fat and he (Spread arms wide.)
Gobble, gobble, gobbles. (Wiggle from side to side with hands on hips.)
He spreads his tail and he (Fan arms behind you.)
Gobble, gobble, gobbles. (Wiggle from side to side with hands on hips.)
But when Thanksgiving Day is here, (Point finger.)
Then it’s our turn to
GOBBLE! GOBBLE! GOBBLE! (Pretend to spoon food in your mouth!)

Friday, November 7, 2014


Albuquerque Turkey

(Tune: “My Darlin’ Clementine” – HAPPY EVERYTHING CD)
Albuquerque is a turkey (Put hands on hips like wings.) 
And he’s feathered and he’s fine.
And he wobbles and he gobbles (Strut and wiggle.)
And he’s absolutely mine.

He’s the best pet you can get, (Pretend to stroke a turkey’s head.)
Better than a dog or cat.
He’s my Albuquerque turkey,
And I’m awfully proud of that.

Albuquerque is a turkey,
And he’s happy in his bed. (Lay hands on palms as you smile.)
Cause for our Thanksgiving dinner,
We’ll have pizza pie instead! (Palm up in the air like a pizza.) 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Every year I receive requests for the “Thanksgiving Story Bracelet.” You will need to purchase the beads and pipe cleaners and demonstrate how to make the bracelet before asking the children to do it. Practice reading the poem several times as children touch each color. Encourage the children to tell the story of the first Thanksgiving independently using the beads as a clue. Send home a copy of the poem so the children can share it with their families.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Did you vote yesterday? Here's a super simple idea that you can use throughout the year to help children understand the democratic process and that "the majority rules."  First, each child will need to decorate a jumbo craft stick with their name. Second, you will need two cups or cans to hold the sticks when the children vote. Write options on index cards and tape them to the cups. (For example, if they were voting on a book you could write the names of the books and tape them on the cups. If they were voting on a game they'd like to play you could write the names of the games on the cards.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Veteran’s Day is next week, but we should thank our veterans every day!  One teacher told me that she taught her children how to recognize veterans by their hat or clothing.  Whenever they see a veteran they go up, shake their hand, and say, "Thank you!"  You can't teach your students anything more important than that!!!

Veteran’s Day 

(Tune: “Danny Boy” - HAPPY EVERYTHING CD)
Today’s the day we celebrate our veterans,
The men and women who fought for our great land.
We’ll raise our flags and hold a moment of silence
And we will carry poppies in our hands.
Because we want to thank you for your service;
You traveled far to keep us safe at home.
You fought with pride and honor for our country.
Our veterans, oh how we love you so.

Monday, November 3, 2014


John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, was a heavy gambler. In 1762 he created the sandwich by putting meat between two pieces of bread so he could stay at the gambling table longer.

Here’s a unique sandwich book you can make today or save for another time. It’s a little “rabbit trap” to engage your students in writing their opinion or a description of their favorite sandwich. You could also use it as a “how to” make a sandwich.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Election Day is Tuesday, so here are some ideas to introduce children to a privilege that we have in our country. Explain that we are lucky to live in a democracy where every person gets to vote – and every vote matters! Tell the children they must be 18 to register as a voter, but you are going to have a “mock” (pretend) election in your classroom.

1st – Children must register to vote before the election. Let them sign their name on a sheet of paper and fill out a voter registration card. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Oh, my goodness! Can you believe it’s already November??? Is the school year flying by or is it just me?

If you go to my website today you can download my song "We Give Thanks" for free.

We Give Thanks

(Tune: “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore”)
We give thanks for food we eat…
We give thanks for families…
We give thanks for friends so dear…
We give thanks for all the earth…