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Wednesday, December 31, 2014


A favorite book that I read several years ago was called THE MIRACLES OF SANTA FICO. It was the story of a beloved priest in a small village in Italy. His dying wish was to witness a miracle, and so all the villagers faked a miracle by gluing leaves to a withered fig tree. Of course, the priest wasn’t fooled, but his parting words were profound to me…
         His life stretched out before him and for the first time he
         realized that it had all been a miracle –everything—
         every day—every accident—every coincidence—every
         disappointment—every joy—all of it…It was all a miracle.

As teachers and parents we witness miracles every day. Children are born knowing nothing, and yet they miraculously learn to speak, walk, laugh, and sing. They come to school knowing very little, and they learn to read, share, write, cooperate, play games, and love learning.

As we say good-bye to 2014, think about all the miracles you'll see in 2015 as you polish your little stars.

The Star Polisher
(Source unknown)
I have a great job in the universe of occupations.

What do I do? I’m a “star polisher.”
It’s a very important job. If you want to know how important, just go out at night and look at the stars twinkling and sparkling. You see, I’m a teacher, an educator, a mentor. The stars are the children in my class. My job is to take them – in whatever shape they come – and shine and buff them and then send them out to take their places as bright twinkling beacons in the sky. They come into my room in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re bent, tarnished, dirty, crinkly or broken. Some stars are cuddly and soft. Some are prickly and thorny. As I buff and polish, I train and teach my little stars. I tell them that the world cannot do without them. I tell them they can be the brightest, shiniest stars in the sky and the world will be a better place because of them. Each night as I look at the sky, I’m reminded of my very important job and awesome responsibility. Then I get my soft buffing cloth and my bottle of polish in preparation for tomorrow…for my class of little stars.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Pick a Pic
Put children’s photos on clothespins and store these in a cookie tin. Use the clothespins in name songs, games, to ask questions, and so forth. 

Monday, December 29, 2014


How about some easy tips for positive behavior in 2015?

I found this idea that Brenda Lee Hernandez shared. Her statements are based on her school’s six pillars, but your students could think of 5 or 6 original statements. Write them on a language experience chart and then begin the day by sticking up your thumbs and repeating them.
         I am respectful.
         I am trustworthy.
         I am responsible.
         I am fair.
         I am caring.
         I use good manners.
         I use kind words.
         I can do it.
*Role-play these positive behaviors.
*Let students make books called “Thumbs Up for 2015.”


Sunday, December 28, 2014


Each week give children a poem to put in a sheet protector. On Monday they can use erasable markers to highlight words that rhyme. Tuesday they can use a different colored marker and highlight word wall words. Wednesday they can highlight punctuation. Thursday circle nouns, and so forth.
*Wouldn’t this be a great idea for a literacy center? 

Let the children make birthday crowns by writing letters on strips of paper.  They can wear these as you sing “Happy Birthday Letters.”

Saturday, December 27, 2014


I’m trying to start the year with a clean desk/computer, and you’ll love these ideas I found when I went through some old files. The funny thing is that nobody had ever heard of Common Core at that time, but you’ll be surprised how these activities fit right in with your standards today. Math today…literacy tomorrow! 

Write the numerals 1-100 on 2” foam squares and place them in a lunch sack. Each day choose 2 squares and count forwards from one number to the next. Next, count backwards. Which is greater? Less? Which has 3 tens? Can you show it with money? Which is odd? Even?
Hint! Adapt the numbers in the bag to the age and level of your students.

Here’s a way to help children “see” math and integrate writing.  Fold a sheet of paper into fourths and do the following in each section.
         Make: 4
         Draw: O O O O
         Tell: I have 4 cookies.
         Do: 2 + 2 = 4   1 + 3 = 4 (Children use manipulatives to create different ways to make a number and then write the equation.) 


Friday, December 26, 2014


It’s the day after Christmas and time for leftovers and cleaning. I hope you all have a special memory to treasure in your heart. It’s sad to put away the lights and the “merry” until next year, so here are a few (inexpensive) ideas to make yourself feel better today!
1. Go for a walk or get some exercise.
2. Call someone (yes, on the phone) you haven’t talked to in a long time.
3. Read a book.
4. Go to a movie.
5. Make some hot chocolate or have a cup of tea.
6. Take a bubble bath.
7. Put on some favorite music and dance by yourself.
8. Look at photos or videos of Christmas.
9. Take an imaginary vacation on the internet.
10. Make a list of all the things you have to be happy about.

 P.S. I took K.J. and Kalina to see "ANNIE" and it was absolutely delightful! You'll leave with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in 
jars and open a jar of it every month. Harlan Miller

Isn't that a beautiful thought? You don't need any activities or songs from me this week, but you might need someone to remind you to take a deep breath, focus on the good things in your life, and keep a sweet thought in your head!

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I try to be professional on my blog, but every once in a while I’ve just got to speak my mind. I am tired of people picking on Santa. I LOVE Santa and I BELIEVE! He represents love and hope and dreams and goodness. Santa doesn’t say bad words or do drugs or hurt anyone. He spreads happiness to children everywhere and wants to put a smile on their faces. (Kind of like a lot of teachers I know!)

K.J., Santa, Kalina, Madeleine (grandniece)

Friday, December 19, 2014


Here's a little magic idea in case you need it today!

Use your finger like a magic wand as you wave it and say, "Abracadabra!." Explain that when you say a word, they must become the word. When you say, "Freeze!" they need to stand still until you wave your wand and say another word. For example, "Abracadabra! You're reindeer!"
*You can use candles, snowmen, bells, candy canes, and other seasonal words.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Yes, Virginia, this is actually Bake Cookies Day. Here’s what says:

'Ya gotta just love Bake Cookies Day.........
..... Christmas is for Christians
..... Hanukkah is just for Jews
..... Ramadan is for those of Islamic descent
..... Kwanzaa is for those of African origin
..... Native American Day is for American Indians
But, Bake Cookies Day is for EVERYONE!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I feel like I've been neglecting math lately, so here are some simple math games to play today.

Mingle Jingle
Children tiptoe quietly around the room as they whisper, "Jingle, jingle."  When the teacher calls out a number, they must form groups with that amount.  Those students who are leftover can do a jumping jack or other silly movement.  Continue having the children mingle and jingle and form different sets.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I'm trying to remember the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) principle this week because I know you are overwhelmed with parties and programs and trimmings and trappings. This activity might actually help with behavior as you build vocabulary.


Monday, December 15, 2014


Welcome my guest blogger Bonnie Compton from  Here's a conversation we had that about the present of PRESENCE!  It might be something you'll want to share with the parents of your students.



Here's a hint for your parents if they ask your advice on what to get their child for Christmas this year.  Instead of buying expensive video games, suggest your parents give their children good old-fashioned board games like Go Fish, Old Maid, or Candy Land.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Here’s an “Emergency Kit” for this week (or any day when things get crazy)!
Calm Down Lotion - You know that drawer full of body lotion you've received as gifts. Take the label off one and print a new one that says "Calm Down Lotion." Give each child a little squirt to rub on their hands and arms to help them relax.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Yesterday’s the past.
Tomorrow is the future.
But today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called THE PRESENT!

One of my best presents was getting to sing at some of the schools in Charleston this week.  (Mary Ford Elementary, Chicora, Belle Hall, and Owens Christian Academy)  There isn't anything sweeter than watching their little faces light up!  (As one teacher reminded me when I told her how precious her students were:  "Dr. Jean, you were here 40 minutes.  Stay six hours and see how you feel!")

Friday, December 12, 2014


I won’t grow up! I won’t grow up!!! I’m the only old lady at our fitness with bells on her shoes this month. When I hear those bells it reminds me of all the precious moments I had teaching children. I miss the children – especially this time of year. (By the way, sooner or later you will all develop “selective nostalgia.” That means you only remember the good times and forget the noise – the pushing and shoving – the pouting - the complaining parents!) 

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Here are some ideas for your holiday party or any other celebration. They are easy to adapt for any event. For example, instead of playing pin the red nose on Rudolph you could play pin the carrot on Frosty's nose. Rather than using sweet treats you could use pencils, stickers, or another prize.

Pass the Parcel

This is actually a game a student from England taught me. Thus, “parcel” instead of “present.” My students LOVED this! Fill a box with sugarless bubblegum, pencils, small toys, or stickers. There should be enough for everyone in the group. Next, wrap the present over and over again with wrapping paper, tissue paper, or funny pages from the newspaper. Children sit in a circle and begin passing the “parcel” around as music is played. When the music stops that child gets to open one layer on the package. (If the package lands on someone who has already had a turn they pass it on to the person sitting next to them.) Continue the game until the gift is reached. That child then passes out the goodies to the rest of the group.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


No, there's nothing wrong with your computer!  That's "Tooty Ta" in French and you have to read about what Coco Banks is doing to entice her students to learn French through music.

Imagine teaching a foreign language to 3 and 4 year olds and keeping them convinced that this is worth their time and attention on a daily basis. Needless to say, a little creativity is needed. Songs are definitely a favorite tool and we have days when all we do is sing (or so it seems). Walking into class, we have a song for that. Sitting on the carpet, we have a song for that. Keeping quiet, we have a song for that. Saying “Bon app├ętit” at snack time, we have a song for that, too. And all these songs are made up. Sometimes on the spot. We all do it, singing to the tune of “B-I-N-G-O,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” or “Are you sleeping?” But some of these do get a little stale and even young children get sick of recycling tunes over and over. So I started translating Dr. Jean’s songs for my students and these remain all time favorites.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


I had my final workshops for 2014 last week in Springfield, MA, Albany, NY, and Binghamton, NY. It might have been cold outside, but the teachers warmed up the room with their energy and enthusiasm. I bet you’ll all find at least one super idea just right for your class from the activities they shared! 

Monday, December 8, 2014


Your kids are going to love this “Santa Hunt” that Sara Lensing adapted from “The Cool Bear Hunt.”  It would be great to have the children draw a story map after you've done this several times.

Santa Hunt  

Get out your backpacks.
Open ‘em up.
Let’s put in some cookies for Santa and his reindeer.
And, let’s put in a thermos of milk in case he gets thirsty.
Oh. and don’t forget your Christmas lights in case it gets dark.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Mercy me!  What to do with all those advertisements and catalogs!  Here’s an idea you will love!  And, it might encourage children to think about others rather than themselves.

Encourage your students discuss why they like to give gifts to others.  How does it make them feel when they do something special for someone they love?  Explain that they will each get to make a book of things they would like to GIVE to others.  You can use construction paper or cut wrapping paper into 8 ½” x 11” pieces.  Lay two sheets of white paper on top of a piece of wrapping paper.  Fold in half and staple.  Provide children with catalogs and store advertisements.  Let them cut out objects they would like to give others and glue them in their “Giving Books.”  Encourage them to label the presents with the recipient’s name.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Wrapping Paper

With tissue paper, paper plates, paint, and cookie cutters you’ll be all set to create your own wrapping paper.  First, fold a paper towel and place it on a paper plate.  Pour paint on the paper towel.  Let children dip the cookie cutters in the paint and print on the tissue paper.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Didn’t see anything you liked yesterday?  Well, here are a few more gifts to choose from.


Materials:  cardboard, puzzle pieces, glue, photograph
Directions:  Cut cardboard into 4” x 8” picture frames.  Let children glue puzzle pieces around the edges.  Tape a photo to the back.
Adaptations:  Add a magnetic strip to the back so it can be hung on the refrigerator.
Decorate with buttons for mom and say “Cute as a button!”
Decorate with golf tees for dad.
Stack colored craft sticks to make a frame.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


It’s important to be sensitive to different beliefs children may have this time of year.  Gifts don’t have to be for Christmas or Hanukkah ~ you can give someone a gift anytime just because you care about them! 

Hint!  Make sure that children DO these projects themselves!  They need to reflect the children’s individuality and efforts. 


Materials: juice or vegetable can, glue, pasta, spray paint
Directions: Remove the label from the can.  Let children glue pasta (bow ties, spirals, macaroni, etc.) around the can.  Spray paint gold or silver.
Adaptation:  Children can also cover a can with construction paper.  Next, let them create a collage on the can with pictures and words cut from magazines.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Snowman Soup 

You’ll need instant hot chocolate with miniature marshmallows, zip sandwich bags, wrapped candy canes, and red ribbon to make this treat.  Put the package of the instant hot chocolate in the zip bag.  Tie on a candy cane with these directions:
Here’s a little snowman soup – Complete with stirring stick. Add hot water, sip it slow. It’ll warm you up real quick!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


It's 24 days until Christmas, but you only have 11 days left to sign up to win special prizes from ESGI! To register for the contest, be sure to sign up for the ESGI newsletter in the Rafflecopter entry block below.


Holiday Alphabet

(Tune: “Deck the Halls”)
Deck the room with letters and sounds,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la. (Arms out like an opera singer.)
Read and use them all year round,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la. (Arms out.)

Monday, December 1, 2014


NEUROBICS is a term for exercises for the brain. Kids are full of wiggles this time of year, so I’ve got some videos, songs, and activities on my website that will activate children’s brains and release all that energy. You can watch me on the video or use the arrangement with your students. You’ll also find the instrumental version so you can change the words or translate to another language. Happy singing and moving!!