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Saturday, February 28, 2015


Last Monday we danced, skated, played, and exercised our brains with paper plates. I’m not one to waste anything, so here are a few more ideas that teachers could do with their plates when they got home. Paper plates can be used for letters, numerals, shapes, words, math facts, or any skill that needs practice. 
Hint! Draw a star at the top on the back of the plates. Tell children to put the star next to their chin and the letters will be in the right position.

Musical Plates
– Place the plates on the floor and play some dance music. Children dance around, but when the music stops they have to find a plate and pick it up. After they’ve identified the information they place it on the floor and the dance music begins again.

Word Worm – Decorate a plate to look like a worm or caterpillar. Pass out words (or letters or numerals) to the class. First child places her word next to the worm’s head and reads it. Second child places her word next and reads both words. The third child reads all three words. The game continues as the worm grows.
Hint! Allow children to ask the audience if they don’t know a word.

I Have – Who has? Write numbers (1-25) or letters on plates. The child with number one stands and says, “I have one, who has two?” The child with two stands and says, “I have two, who has three?” The game continues as children count in order.
*A similar game can be played with letters in alphabetical order.

Push, Pull, Click, Click – Susan Shomo shared this chant that's perfect for the plates.
Push (Push in the air.)
Pull (Pretend to pull.)
Click, click (Snap fingers.)
Read this (word, letter, numeral, etc.)
Really quick. (Show plate to children.)

And, now for some NEW ideas from New Jersey!

Name Change (Cathy Richards)
Children choose a letter from a bag or use the letter of the week. Change the child's name to that sound to sing good-bye to the tune of "Good Night, Ladies.)
For example: "T"
Good-bye Tonathan. (Jonathan)
Good-bye Tophia. (Sophia)
Good-bye Tyan. (Ryan)
Good-bye Tilly. (Lilly)

My Messy House (Lorraine Clark)
Cut shirts, pants, socks, and other clothing out of construction paper and write sight words on them. Put them in the middle of the floor in a pile and explain that mom's so busy she needs their help to clean up. One at a time children pick a word/piece of clothing and read it.
*You can even let them hang the clothes on a clothes line with clothespins.

Ivory Soap Experiment (MaryAnn Kressling)
Put a bar (unwrapped) of Ivory soap in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Observe. It will transform into a cloud.
*Great for writing or drawing observations.

Friday, February 27, 2015


There aren't too many songs for St. Patrick's Day, but my daughter Holly wrote this one several years ago. (You can download the book on my website.)
St Patrick’s Day!
(Tune: “Sweet Molly Malone”- Happy Everything CD)
On the 17th of March (Point heels on opposite feet as if doing a jig.)
About when spring starts
The lassies and leprechauns
Come out to play.
We’ll find four-leafed clovers (Hold up 4 fingers.)
And wear green all over, (Move hands over clothing.)
And that’s how we’ll celebrate (Put hand in the air as if cheering.)
St. Patrick’s Day!

The legends of old
Say there’re pots of gold (Extend arms in a circle.)
A’ sparkling and shining (Open and close fingers to make sparkles.)
At each rainbow’s end.
The leprechauns know (Point to brain.)
Right where to go,
So if you see a leprechaun (Hand over eyes as if searching.)
Make him your friend!

On the 17th of March
About when spring starts
The lassies and leprechauns
Come out to play.
We’ll find four-leafed clovers
And wear green all over,
And that’s how we’ll celebrate
St. Patrick’s Day!

*Cut the rim off a paper plate and cut in half as shown. Let children color it like a rainbow and then attach tissue paper streamers. They can use their rainbows as they dance and sing.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


I played this game as a kindergartener and I always played it with my students this time of year.  It's an "oldie but goodie."

Did You Ever See a Lassie?
(Traditional Tune)

Children form a circle as you explain that a "lassie" is a girl and a "laddie" is a boy.  A girl is chosen to be the "lassie."  She gets in the middle of the circle and makes a funny motion that the others must mimic as you sing.  The girl then chooses a "laddie" to stand in the middle and make a motion.  The game continues as girls and boys take turns leading in the game.
Did you ever see a lassie, a lassie, a lassie?
Did you ever see a lassie go this way and that?
Go this way and that way,
Go this way and that way.
Did you ever see a lassie go this way and that? 
Did you ever see a laddie...

One of K.J.'s favorite memories from preK was St. Patrick's Day.  They got to take off their shoes at nap time and put them in the hall.  When they woke up the leprechaun had left them a Rice Crispie Treat in their shoe.  It's those little things that make memories for our "little things."  Here are a few other "little things" you might want to include in your lesson plans next month.

Hunting for Gold - Spray paint pebbles or rocks gold. (Spread out on newspaper. Spray with gold paint. Dry. Shake. Spray the other side with gold paint. Dry. Shake. Spray a third time.) Hide the pebbles on the playground before children arrive at school. Tell the children a leprechaun hid some gold for them. What fun they will have hunting for the gold nuggets!
Hint! Need a little bucket for collecting that gold? Hole punch opposite sides of a plastic cup. Insert a pipe cleaner handle and you’ve got a perfect “pot of gold.”
What If? Have children write stories (or draw pictures and dictate) what they would do if they found a pot of gold.

Leprechaun Mischief – While the children are at lunch or on the playground, turn over a few chairs, put books on the floor, and mess up the classroom. Sprinkle a little green glitter around. Have the children write stories about what they think happened.

Catch a Leprechaun - Challenge children to design “traps” to catch a leprechaun in the block center. Give children an empty sack out on the playground and see who can catch a leprechaun.

Green Snack – Eat foods that are green like celery, broccoli, lime gelatin, snap peas, edamame, etc. You could also use green food coloring to dye cream cheese, milk, yogurt or other snacks.

Leprechaun Lunch – Purchase miniature peanut butter crackers (Ritz), cookies (Chips Ahoy), and other mini-foods. Serve these on dessert plates with napkins cut in fourths. Milk or juice in medicine cups makes this a perfect snack for “wee folks.”

Field Trip - Take a field trip (on the internet) to Ireland. Find Ireland on the globe. How could you get there? Could you go in a car? Why or why not?

Math Manipulatives – Spread out dry lima beans on a newspaper. Spray paint one side gold. Dry. Flip over and spray paint the other side gold. These golden nuggets are perfect for making sets, adding, and subtracting.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Have your kiddles got the sneezes?  Here are a few ideas to remind children to cover their noses!

Put some baby powder in your hand and then pretend to sneeze on it. As the powder flies around make the connection to what happens when they don’t cover their sneezes.

The Sneeze Song
(Tune: “Pop Goes the Weasel”)
When I have to cough or sneeze
This is what I do. (Point finger.)
I hold my elbow to my mouth (Hold up elbow in front of face.)
And into it kerchoo! (Pretend to sneeze in elbow.)
KKEERRCCHHOO! (Say this line as you dramatically pretend
                               to sneeze in your elbow.)

Tissue Rhyme
When I have to go kerchoo,
Do you know what I always do? (Point finger.)
My tissue covers my mouth and nose (Open palms like a tissue.)
Then into my tissue my kerchoo goes.
KKEERRCCHHOO! (Pretend to sneeze in tissue.)

Give children a paper plate and ask them to make it look like their face. Remind them to look in a mirror to check out their eye color. When they’ve finished let them glue a tissue to their nose. Then they can trace around their hand and cut it out to glue on top.
Hint! This makes a cute bulletin board.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Aren’t words “yummy”? They make sentences and stories so much more delicious. Invite each child to think of a “yummy” word that they love. It can be a food, color, sport, activity. Write each child’s name on a sentence strip. Write their “yummy” word on the reverse. Encourage students to think of sentences using their “yummy” word.

Yummy Transitions
When it’s time to dismiss children, hold up the “yummy” words. If they recognize their word they can get in line.

*Place yummy words in the writing center.

*Make a word wall with the children’s names. Add yummy words as they request under their name.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Yeah, it’s just another manic Monday…I wish it were Sunday…’cause that’s my fun day…

I’m going to be presenting at the NJ Kindergarten and Pre-K Conference in Atlantic City today, but I wanted to add a little fun to your manic Monday. Bet you didn’t know that it’s International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, did you? I don’t have a pup anymore, but I bought a box of dog biscuits to celebrate the day. (I gave the treats to my neighbor’s dog.)

Make a “Woof! Woof” game. Cut out dog bones and write sight words, math facts, letters, etc. on them. On a few write “Woof! Woof!” Pass the box around and let each child pull out a bone and identify the information. If they select “Woof! Woof!” they have to get down on the floor on all fours and bark like a dog. (They love it!)

Use the dog biscuits for math activities. Add, subtract, make sets, sort… This dog dish with two sections is perfect for tens and ones.

Make a book about pets. Cut the front and back off the box and cut paper the size of the box. Give each child a sheet of paper so they can draw a picture of their pet and write or dictate a sentence about it. (If they don’t have a pet they can draw a picture of a pet they would like to have.) Put their pictures between the covers of the box, hole punch, and you’re ready to read. 

P.S. I watched the Westminster Dog Show last weekend and I want a dog sooo bad. My husband says I have to quit traveling before I can have a dog, so I’ll just have to wait another year or so. However, I’ve picked out some names for my imaginary dog: Jingles, Buttons, or Twinkie. I’m fascinated by the names people give their dogs like “Heredog” (Here-dog!) and Boozer (St. Bernard). What’s your dog’s name?

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Tell a Fairy Tale Day is this Thursday. What a perfect opportunity to help children “recognize different types of texts” and be entertained! 

Some people think fairy tales are too violent for young children. And I would agree that some of them are a little twisted and dark. However, most of them aren’t any more violent than Saturday morning cartoons. The bottom line is children have enjoyed these stories for hundreds of years. Proof that a good story is a good story! There is usually a protagonist (good character) that struggles with an evil character. The best part of fairy tales is that they always end happily and good prevails. Many psychologists support fairy tales because they believe children will face “dragons” throughout their lives, and fairy tales give them hope, determination, and strength to defeat their problems.

Let’s see how we can use “Tell a Fairy Tale Day” as a springboard for teaching this week.

What is a fairy tale? 

What do children know about fairy tales?
Are they fiction or non-fiction? Why?

How many fairy tales can they name?
Make a list on the board as they call them out.
Go to the library and search for fairy tale books.


Get a storybook (without pictures) and have the children close their eyes as you read to them. Challenge them to make pictures in their brain.
*Stop before the end of the book and ask them to draw pictures of what they think will happen. Compare their predictions with what actually happened by reading the end of the book.

Read several different versions of the same fairy tale and compare and contrast.

Compare different illustrations of the same fairy tale.

Creative Activities
Let children dress up like their favorite character from a fairy tale. Encourage them to retell the story and explain why they chose that character.

Have children make puppets of favorite fairy tale characters from lunch bags, paper plates, or sticks.

Divide children into small groups and let them act out their favorite scene from a fairy tale.

I was a lucky little girl because I grew up before videos and iPads. I do remember my mother reading to us from this storybook every night. Look at the forward I found when I opened the book! 


This book is my house.
The door is open and I shall enter.
I shall be happy here because my house has so many windows and
my companions are men and women who love me.
Here I will find laughter, love, romance, beauty, and happiness.

If you are reading my blog today I know you are the type of teacher that instills the “love and happiness” from books. Thank you for keeping the joy alive!

Saturday, February 21, 2015


It’s the middle of February, but the end of the school year will be here before you know it. Some of you are already worried about that “end of year program” for parents, so here’s are some ideas that I’ve gathered over the years.

Who Let the Letters Out? (Kiss Your Brain CD)
Who let the A out? /a/a/a/a/a/
Who let the B out? /b/b/b/b/b/
Who let the C out? /c/c/c/c/c/…Z

*Ask the kids to bring old white t-shirts from home. Paint black spots on the shirts and then make headbands with dog ears. You can even their noses black or tape on black circles. Pin a different letter to each child. Make something that looks like a doghouse to put on the stage with an arch cut out so children can walk through it. As their letter is sung in the song the children come out of the doghouse.

Happy Birthday Letters  (Totally Reading CD)
Yo, A, it’s your birthday.
Let’s all read like your birthday.
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
Yo, B…Z

*Have children bring old baseball caps and sunglasses from home. Children turn the caps backwards and pretend to be rappers. Make rapper necklaces by decorating cardboard letters. You can even make microphones by covering paper towel rolls with aluminum foil.

The Very Eager Kindergartener/Preschooler, etc.
You can adapt "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to the "Very Eager Kindergartener/Preschooler/etc." Think about a song you have taught your class each month and write it on a poster. Continue adding one new song each month and you’ll be all set to “perform” at the end of the year.

When school started some very eager (kindergarten) children wiggled in the classroom. Each month was exciting as they learned new things…
In September they learned colors..."The Color Farm."
In October they learned their ABC's..."Alphardy"
In November they learned the days of the week..."Days of the Week"
In December they sang a holiday song..."Jingle Bells"
In January they learned the months in the new year..."Macarena Months"
In February they celebrated 100 Days..."Zero the Hero"
In March they went on a bear hunt..."The Cool Bear Hunt"
In April they learned to pick up trash..."The Litter Patrol"
In May they voted to teach YOU how to do the "Tooty Ta." (Ask the audience to stand and join you.)
In June it was time to say good-bye and fly off to first grade..."May There Always Be Sunshine."

Friday, February 20, 2015


Push, pull, click, click - here are ideas that are easy and quick!

Push, Pull, Click, Click (Susan Shomo)
Use this chant to focus children’s attention before identifying flash cards:
Push. (Push hands in the air.)
Pull. (Make a pulling motion)
Click, click. (Snap fingers.)
Say this sound/letter/word/shape
This quick! 

Story Land (Beth P.)
Go to story land before you read aloud a storybook. Pretend to get on a jet or a magic carpet (depending on the weather). Act out flying and landing to get the kids read to listen. (Watch out for the birds, go through the clouds, etc.)

Friendship Lotion (Jennifer Smith)
Write “friendship lotion” on a bottle of lotion or disinfectant. (You could also use an empty bottle.) Children take turns passing it around as they put some in their hands. When everybody has some rub your hands together as you say…”It smells like friendship.”
*This is perfect for the beginning of the school year or whenever you have issues with being kind to friends. 

Human Sorting (Alyssa Putnam)
Place sorting labels on either side of the room. Give each child a picture (trade while the music plays). When the music stops the children look for their picture and sort to either side.
*You can also play the game with four sorting labels.

Four Corners (Jewell Frogel)
During gym play four corners with letters in the corners. Ask the kids to hop to letter A. Walk backwards to letter B. Walk forwards to letter C. Gallop to D.

Home/School Connection
(M. Seay)
Make a visual conversation starter by writing “Today at school I…” For a closing activity students circle or color what they did so parents can talk to them about it when they get home.

Musical Adaptations from Tina Cox
(a music teacher)
Put pictures of animals in a zip it bag and use for listening with St. Saens’ Carnival of Animals. Move the slide to the picture of the animal that matches the song.
*Use for instrument recognition while listening.
*Adapt “Johnny Jump Up” for instrument recognition. Use composers’ pictures instead of Johnny. 

Crocodile Circle Time Fun (Dona Worley)
You can make a game using a Cascade dishwasher soap box. See for details. Children draw letters or words out of the crocodile.
*Make a hippo game out of a container with a purple top. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Smiley Face Game (Mary Johnston) 
Make seasonal shapes with letters on them. Put smiley faces on a few of them. Place these face down on a table or on the floor. One child at a time chooses a shape. If there is a letter they give a word that starts with that sound. If there is a smiley face the music comes on and everybody dances. 

Shower Boards (Donna Martin)
Have shower board cut into individual dry erase boards.

Comp Book (Elizabeth Cannady)
Have composition books cut in half at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Use these for journals or other writing activities.
*”Drawing lessons” (step by step) can be found on YouTube. This is great for following directions and fine motor skills. Children “realize” they can draw and are encouraged to write about their drawings.

Table Shapes (Michelle McCall)
Use contact paper or dry erase paper cut into shapes. Apply to tables for small groups. Students can write on them with dry erase markers and wipe off.
*At my tables I don’t use chairs. I made small chairs with milk crates. I had boards cut to fit them and covered them with foam and cloth.

Nursery Rhyme Picture Cards (Missy Agee)
Make key word/picture cards for various rhymes. When students are familiar with the rhymes pass them out. When reciting the rhyme the student holds up the key word or picture when they hear it said. This keeps them engaged.

Weather Song (Katelyn Volta)
During calendar one child goes to the window as we sing this song to “Shortnin’ Bread.”
What’s the weather,
What’s the weather,
What’s the weather like outside?
Can you tell me,
Can you tell me,
Can you tell me
What’s the weather outside?

Oscar the Grouch (Cindy Timpani and Laura Jones)
Use an Oscar the Grouch puppet and let Oscar eat items that begin with the letter of the week. Oscar will spit out anything that does not begin with that sound. You can also use Oscar for rhyming words.

Alien Cheer (Cindy Timpani and Laura Jones)
Put your spaceship (finger) in the air.
(Move your spaceship in a circle as you say)
Woooo, wooo, woooo – out of this world!

Triangle Appreciation Notes (Vivian Jones-Schmidt)
Divide the class into groups of 4 or 5 so every day you can focus on a particular group of students. Find something about each child in the group to appreciate and write a note to the parents on a triangular sheet of paper.
*You really only have to do this periodically through the year, but parents and children love them! 

Sample Laminate Counter Chips (Wanda Constable)
Ask for samples of laminate counter chips. These have holes so you can put them on a chain. Write letters or words on these with a permanent marker.
*Ask builders for tongue and groove floor scraps. Cut the “tongue” off so that the board stands up. Children can stand up the laminate letters in the groove to make words. (These will last forever.)

Money Song (Sharon Moreland)
Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread”
Money, money, money
To buy things at the store.
Money, money, money
I always want more.
A penny is worth one cent.
A nickel is worth five.
A dime is worth ten cents.
A quarter is twenty-five.

Counting Cowgirl Kate (Cindy and Laura)
Cowgirl Kate puppet leads the number of the day and goes home with a different child each night. She takes counting games that they can play together.

Brown Bear (Susan Walton)
Use the Brown Bear chant with each child’s picture to make a book.
Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?
I see (child’s name) looking at me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I've been busy typing up and making samples of all the great ideas teachers shared last week. What's your favorite one?

Letter Bottle
Fill a plastic bottle half full with sand or salt. Add letter beads and shake. Give children an answer sheet with the alphabet letters from A to Z. As they turn the bottle they can mark off the letters that they find.
*You can do the same thing with little objects. 

Erasers (Megan Blevins)
Use socks as erasers for dry erase boards. You can also glue pompoms to the lid of dry erase markers and use to erase.
Hint!  I used E6000 glue!  Love the stuff!

Sticker Writing
Let the children pick three stickers to help prompt them to write. After writing they can add a background and details.
Hint! Did you know that if you accidentally use a Sharpie marker you can rub it away with a dry erase marker?

Clean Up (Claire Spence kindergarten teacher – shared by Jaime)
Have cleaning supplies (sweeper, dust pan, broom, etc.) at children’s eye level. At clean up time tell the children to find four problems and fix them. Children will accept the responsibility and clean up on their own.

Sensory Play (Kristy Vicars)
Place shredded paper in the sand/water table. Hide small objects like rubber animals, beads, magnetic letters, etc. in the paper. Children use tweezers or plastic spoons to remove and identify the objects.

Field Trip Book (Laura Buell)
Take pictures on field trips. Print the pictures, put them in sleeve protectors, and put them in a report folder. Children dictate or write about the pictures on sentence strips. Slide the sentence strips in the sheet protectors and the children will “love” to read about their trip.

Group Management (Peg Caines)
I have four tables of five kids each. I put a letter sticker at the same place at each table with the letters A B C D E. Call the “A group,” “B team,” “C buddies,” “D club,” etc to make groups of four.

Movement Patterns (Amy Grubb)
For transitions or to regain focus do a pattern for students to repeat. Examples:
Snap, snap, clap.
Hop, spin, stomp.

Sock It to Me (Vicki Brashears)
Buy pairs of seasonal socks on sale and hide them around the classroom. Everyone finds a sock and brings it back to the group. Take turns using descriptive words to describe your sock until the person with the matching sock recognizes it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


What a great day to celebrate RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS DAY! (February 17th is officially Random Acts of Kindness Day, but these activities are perfect any day!)  

What does "random acts of kindness" mean? Brainstorm examples and then challenge each of your students to do at least 3 acts of kindness today. 

Write "The Kindness Club" on the board or a poster and have students write the names of classmates who do something kind for them.

Give each child 3 "kindness tickets" to distribute to friends who do something nice for them.

Make bracelets from pipe cleaners. When they do a good deed they can get a bead and add it to their bracelet.

Make a "Kindness Book" where students can record something positive a classmate has done for them.

Here are some other suggestions from
1.  Smile at one extra person.
2.  Each lunch (or play) with someone new.
3.  Make sure to say "I love you" or give someone special a hug.
4.  Send a positive message or help someone.
5.  Download the Kindr free app and brighten someone's day.

Monday, February 16, 2015


I'm telling you, YOU keep me going! I'm so excited to share the new ideas from teachers last week in VA, NC, and MN.

Build a Snowman (Peg Caines, Greensboro, NC)
This is the cutest thing ever!!! And what a perfect way to encourage children to cooperate, collaborate, and problem solve! Peg said she gave each group a snowman kit with a construction paper hat, nose, buttons, and mittens. There was also a crepe paper scarf, a roll of masking tape, and a roll of toilet paper. (It took them awhile to figure out what to do with the toilet paper.)
*I think this would be fun for adults to do!

Turtle Time (Sarah Stanko, Shakopee, MN)
When the kids are being crazy say “turtle time.” The kids drop down on the floor and pretend they are turtles in their shells. Since turtles can’t talk, it’s a great way to get the kids to listen.

Wait Time (Lee Aldridge)
Paint table tops with chalk paint and place chalk at each table so the children can write or draw as they wait.

Letter Bus (Caroline Turner)
Use a toy bus with a letter on it and let the children pass it around as you sing this song to “The Wheels on the Bus.”
The (letter) on the bus goes (make sound)
The (letter) on the bus goes (make sound)
All around the room.

Seed Book (Gisela Tetterton)
Use an empty seed packet to make a little book. Children can write what the seeds need to grow in their book. 
Hallway Hug (Jessica Quisenberry) 
When you are in the hall or if a teacher comes in the room (music, gym, etc.) have the children give that person a finger hug. Cross their index finger and middle finger like they are hugging and hold it up to that person. 
Help with Answers (Lori Ryan)
If a child doesn’t know the answer to a question they may say “echo” and ask a friend. Then they “echo” the answer. (If they don’t know say, “Pretend you do.”)

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Mike Matheny is the St. Louis Cardinals Manager and when I read this article I wanted to stand up and cheer…or, as jlo would say…I got goosies! As a teacher and advocate for children, I kept making connections to the classroom. He’s got more COMMON SENSE than many of the Ph.D.s I know!

Here are some of my favorite clips:

“I always said that the only team that I would coach would be a team of orphans…” (I had to laugh because I often say that I’d love to go back to the classroom if I could find an orphanage!)

“I believe that the biggest role of the parent is to be a silent source of encouragement….” (Children also need parents to be their constant support in learning.)

“The thing that these boys need to hear is that you enjoyed watching them and you hope that they had fun.” (Shouldn’t everything in childhood be like this? Children want to hear that you enjoy being their teacher and watching them learn.)

“Let the record stand right now that we will not have good umpiring. This is a fact, the sooner we all understand that, the better off we will be.” (In other words, life isn’t always fair. Get over it. You won’t always be at the front of the line or get an A.)

“A large part of how your child improves is your responsibility. The difference for kids at this level is the amount of repetition that they get.” (I think we call this purposeful practice for automaticity in the classroom. Parents need be partners in the learning journey by encouraging reading at home.)

“I would like these boys to be responsible for….” (It’s not the parents’ job to remember homework, lunch, jackets, etc.)

“I know that times have changed, but one of the greatest lessons that my father taught me was that my coach was always right…even when he was wrong…Our culture has lost this respect for authority mostly because the kids hear the parents constantly complaining about the teachers and coaches of the child.” (Try not to overreact and be too critical of teachers and coaches. No matter where you go or what you do you will always have a “boss” that you need to respect.)

At the end of the day, Mike Matheny’s mantra is SPORTS CAN BE JOYFUL FOR KIDS.


P.S. If anybody knows Coach Matheny please tell him that I’m his biggest fan and I can’t wait to order his new book. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015


No time for art? The trick is to figure out how to tie art in with your standards. In fact, writing standards commonly include “writing, drawing, and dictating.” Kids love to make and create things, so take advantage of that by extending skills with art. Art is active, open-ended, and encourages children to think creatively and use their imagination. 
Most of the time when we ask children to draw something they pick up a crayon and get going. Here are some tips that might help them plan their illustrations before they begin.

1st Explain that they should think about what they want to draw and plan how they are going to do it. Suggest they close their eyes and get a picture in their brain.

2nd Remind them to add details. Just like we add words to sentences to make them more meaningful, the more details you add to your drawings the more interesting they will be.

3rd An easy rule for children to follow is to ask them to use as many colors as they are in age. If you are five, you should use at least five colors in your picture. If you are six use at least six colors, and so forth. And, of course, “fill in the page” is always a challenge.
Hint! One teacher said she discovered that when she gave her students colored paper they were more likely to fill in the page. (Give it a try and let me know what you think.)

4th Compare and contrast illustrations. Show children several books with different illustrations. What media did the different illustrators use to make their pictures? Which illustrations do they like best? Why?
Remind your students that they are illustrators, too!

5th Aesthetic appreciation is probably not one of your standards, but I enjoyed introducing famous artists to my students. And the parents always got a kick out of their children talking about Picasso or Van Gogh.

So, a funny thing happened because I was going to end this blog with an idea about Michelangelo. I was going to suggest you tell the children how he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on his back. Wouldn’t it be fun to tape paper under the table and let the children draw like Michelangelo? Well, guess what? That’s a myth. He actually stood up as he painted. You learn something new every day, don’t you? 

I still think it would be fun to tape paper to the bottom of a table and draw!

Wishing you a LOVEly Day!

Friday, February 13, 2015


It’s party day for most of you, so I will just send you happy wishes for a special day! For some of your little guys, opening those penny Valentines will be as good as it gets. Take a deep breath, sing, dance, laugh, play, and have FUN today! 

I love you! I really do because if you read my blog then I know you are all about children!!! It’s not about the “stuff” – it’s about the interactions you create with your students. Administrators may think that education is only a test score and a number, but we know better. We know education is a journey and we need to treasure every step along the way. Learning is a process, not a product! 

Thanks for believing in childhood and for giving children those special memories!

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Hey, did you think I’d forget about magnetic numbers and shapes? Never!!! 

In addition to sorting, hiding, touching, and other activities suggested for 
magnetic letters, here are some unique things to do with magnetic numbers 
and shapes. 

Numerical Order 
Put numbers in order 0, 1, 2, 3… 

Tens and Ones 
How many tens? How many ones? 
Can you make 63? 
Fact Families 
Give children two addends and the sum and have them make and write the 
                                 More? Less? Equal? 
Place numbers in a bag. Children pull out two numbers. Which is more? 
Which is less? Or, are they equal? 

Pick a Number 
Children choose a number from a bag and then make a set to equal that 
*Let children choose a number and then lead the class in doing that number of jumping jacks, toe touches, or other exercises.

What’s the Answer? 
Write addition and subtraction facts on a file folder. Children answer with a 
magnetic number. 
Daily Number 
Put magnetic numbers in a bag. Each day select two from the bag and put 
them together on the board. What’s the number? Count forwards. Count 
backwards. How many tens? How many ones? 

Magnetic Shapes 
Sort, compare, put together to make new shapes, make patterns, create 
designs and so forth. 
Shape and Numeral Sticks Glue shapes and numerals to jumbo craft sticks. Children can match these up to shapes and numerals in the classroom. They can also use these as you count, tell number stories, or sing songs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Enhance alphabet knowledge by connecting magnetic letters with the words
in these songs.

The Letters on the Bus
Draw the shape of a bus on a magnetic board. Place letters in the bus as you sing this song to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”
         The A on the bus goes 

         /a/ /a/ /a/
         /a/ /a/ /a/ 

         /a/ /a/ /a/
         The A on the bus goes 

         /a/ /a/ /a/ 
         On the way to school.

Happy Birthday Letters
Draw a birthday cake on a magnetic board and sing to the letters as you
place them on the cake:
         Yo, M, it’s your birthday.
         Let’s all sing like your birthday
         /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/
         /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/ /m/ m/

Who Let the Letters Out?
Place letters in a dog dish or empty box of dog biscuits. Children reach in
and pull out one letter at a time as you chant:
         Who let the D out?
         /d/ /d/ /d/ /d/ /d/

Letters You Should Know
Hide a letter behind your back and then sing this song the tune of “BINGO.”
         There is a letter you should know,
         What can the letter be – o?
          /h/ /h/ (Make the sound of the letter.)
          It’s an H. (Children shout out the letter name.)
          /h/ /h/ (Make the sound of the letter.)
          It’s an H. (Children shout out the letter name.)
           /h/ /h/ (Make the sound of the letter.)
          It’s an H. (Children shout out the letter name.)
          The letter H you know. (Place the magnetic letter on the board.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Did you think that yesterday was all? Here are some more ideas and games with magnetic letters. 

What’s My Letter – Have children cup their hands and then distribute a letter to each. Children give clues to help their friends identify their letter.
For example: My letter is made with two straight lines. You hear it at the beginning of turtle and at the end of bat. What’s my letter?

Touch and Tell - Place a magnetic letter in a sock. Can children reach in the
sock and identify the letter by feeling it?
*Number socks for older students and let them record their answers.

Word Families – Put letters that children can use to make a word family in a cookie tin. Ask them to make all the words they can, or give them a list of words to make from the letters.
*Have them write the words.

Fistful – Put magnetic letters in a lunch bag. Ask children to reach their hand in the bag and pull out a fistful of letters. How many words can they make with those letters? Ask them to write the words.

Letter Sticks - Glue magnetic letters to jumbo craft sticks. Children can
use these to match letters on classroom print.
*Find objects in the room beginning with that sound.
*Hold up letter sticks as you sing alphabet songs.

ABC Books and Letters
Let children match up magnetic letters with letters in alphabet books.

Monday, February 9, 2015


I’m on my way to Roanoke, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Minneapolis this week, but like you plan for a substitute teacher, I plan blogs for you while I’m gone. And, I promise I’ll have lots of fantastic new ideas for you when I get home next week. 

This week I’m going to explore Marvelous Magnetic Letters! Why? They are inexpensive, multi-functional, multi-sensory, and you probably already have them in your classroom! You can adapt these ideas for many standards and for different age levels. They are perfect for independent, small groups, or centers. 

Sorting Ask children to sort the letters by color. 
Can they sort the letters that are made with lines? Curves? Lines and curves?

Letter Play - Let children just “play” with the letters on a cookie sheet, stove top burner, or file cabinet. Can children find anything else in the classroom that letters will stick to? 

Words - Write words or children’s names on sentence strips. Children match up letters to spell the words. 

Sand Box TreasureHide magnetic letters in your sand table. Children can take a magnet and try to identify letters they “attract.” 

Letter Password Place several letters you are working on around a metal door frame. As children leave the room, ask them to touch a particular letter. (You could also ask them to touch the letter they hear at the beginning of a word you say.) 

Letter Hunt - Hide letters in the classroom (like Easter eggs). Children will 
love to go on a “letter hunt.”
  • Can they identify the letters they find?
  • Can they make a word with the letters they find? 
Alphabetical Order - Ask children to put the letters in ABC order.

I Spy!  I just thought of a new game while I was looking through the letters to make pictures. Dump all the letters on the floor and have a small group of children sit around the letters. Call out a letter and see who can find it first. Or, call out a word and see who can find the letter at the beginning middle or end of the word.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Didn’t you LOVE that blog yesterday by Carolyn Kisloski? She is so talented and she’s also generous. How do I follow something like that? I give up, so I’ll just tell you about Umbrella Day. 
Did you know that February 10th is Umbrella Day? Who thinks of those things? Here’s a simple idea that might entice some of your students to read Tuesday or on another rainy day. Place a large golf umbrella in a corner of the classroom. Put some popular books under the umbrella and explain that two children at a time can get under the umbrella and read together.

Other names for umbrellas include parasol and brolly (British).

What are some different types of umbrellas? (paper cocktail umbrellas, patio umbrellas)
What are some different uses for umbrellas? (shade on a sunny day, cane, carry things, protection)

Write 4 facts about umbrellas.
Write how you would feel if you were an umbrella.

Let children use the scrap box to design their own umbrellas.

Don’t Cry over Spilled Milk Day
Wednesday is Don’t Cry over Spilled Milk Day. Discuss what that statement means. Can they give examples?

*Read IT LOOKED LIKE SPILT MILK by Charles Shaw. 

*Fold blue construction paper in half. Have children put a spoonful of white paint in the middle, fold, and then rub. Open. Dry.
What does their spilt milk look like? Have them write a story about it.

I think my picture looks like two angels dancing...or maybe cherubs kissing!