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Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Summer Camp in Indy was the BEST!!!! We all left with peace in our fingers and love in our hearts! If you’ve never watched this video of Susan Salidor’s song it will put a smile on your face! It should be the theme song for your class this coming school year.

I'll be doing Summer Camps in Detroit in July and Austin in August,.  (Go to to get details.)  It's just like real camp with songs, crafts, games, and new friends.  There won't be any bugs, but we'll learn how to turn standards and rigor into fun and games!!!

No matter how they try to overwhelm us with academics and assessments, we will never let them take away our JOY! Look at these fantastic celebrations the teachers did to end the year on a happy note. 

Camp Kindergarten (Michelle Page)
Last two weeks of school -
*We meet at the flagpole for camp songs, the pledge, etc. (“Baby Shark,” “The Ants Go Marching,” “Banana Dance,” “Chicka Boom,” and “Calamine Lotion” are a few songs we sing.)
*Parents write letters for “mail call” and the children write back.
*Look at our camp t-shirts with the kids’ names on the back. 


*Take an ABC nature walk.
*Make s’mores and trail mix.
*Bring blankets, towels, sleeping bags – take off shoes to read, do work, listen to a story.
*Go fishing for words (plastic pool and words with magnets).
*Go on a bear hunt.
*So a bug/insect/worm study.

Frozen Day (Natalle Oxley)
Watch the movie.
Dress up as Elsa, Anna, Olaf…
Eat “frozen” Chex mix (vanilla).
Make a snowstorm in a bottle (small water bottle with glitter).
Do Epsom salt snow painting and snowflake snow paint.
Eat blue hard candy.
Do a sight word snowball fight.
Find “S” balls and write the word.

Kindergarten Graduation Block Party (Kelisha Chandler & Traci Johnson)
*Block off the end of the hallway area with table clothes, banners, and balloons.
*Set up stations like a carnival. (Parent volunteers work each station.)
*Students rotate freely through the stations.
*Stations include:
            face painting
            popcorn stand
            cookie decorating
            jewelry bracelet making
            3-4 arts & crafts stations
            button making
            sun visor hat making

Daddy/Daughter Dance (Heather McKinney)
We charge $5 admission per couple and do the dance from 6-7 pm on Friday. (We use the money to pay for an end of the year ice cream party.)  Everyone dresses in their Sunday best and the gym is decorated like a party. (There’s a background wall for pictures.) Cake, punch, and cookies are set up at tables around the dance floor. The DJ runs through a play list with songs like “Casper Slide,” “Cha Cha Slide” and other “clean” songs. End with John Legend’s “Give Me All of You.”

Kindergarten Prom (Brenda Fella, Annette Kimball, Ashley Cramer, Myra Stumler, Michelle Miller, and Hannah Flamion)
We decided to plan a day of fun for our students at William Tell Elementary in Tell City, IN. We all dressed up, decorated the hallway, and danced to music on the playground. We learned about manners and tied other standards in as well.

Fairy Tale/Nursery Rhyme Festival (Stacey Kaiser, Tiffany Youngbloogd, Regina Padgett, and Heather Baden)
(This could be done instead of a Halloween celebration or at the end of the school year.)
Children and teachers dress up like their favorite nursery rhyme or fairy tale character. They have to bring the book or a paper with the nursery rhyme on it. Each of the four kindergarten rooms has an activity to go along with the theme.
*”Itsy Bitsy Spider” – pipe cleaner with a spider ring taped to the rhyme – Oreo cookie and string Twizzler to make a spider
*”Mary Had Little Lamb” – sheep craft with cotton balls – hang them up and then they have to find their sheep
*“Three Little Pigs” – make pig masks for retelling the story
*”Three Bears” – character puppets – taste porridge (instant oatmeal) 
After the students have visited the different classrooms and finished the activities we have a parade down the hallway for other grade levels.

Here are a few more ideas from Indy Summer Camp.

Peace Corner  (Jillian Teder)
Set up a "peace corner" in your classroom where children can go to self-regulate and regain self control before returning to the group when they are overwhelmed or frustrated.

Thank You Song (Heather McKinney)
Two little words I'm learning today.
Two little words so easy to say.
To show my gratitude I've found a way..
I can say, "Thank you!  Thank you!"

Good-Bye Song (Heather McKinney)
Good-bye, good-bye, we worked hard today.
We'll see you tomorrow, tomorrow is ______.
(Or, we won't see you tomorrow because tomorrow is Saturday.)

Time for Story (Heather McKinney)
Tune:  "My Darlin' Clementine"
Time for story, time for story 
time for story come right here.
Quiet hands are in your lap.
Time to look and time to hear.

Whack a Word Game (Megan Schultz)
Materials:  fly swatter, Velcro, flashcards
Directions:  Attach Velcro to the fly swatter and to the back of the cards.  Place the cards face down on the floor.  Kids "whack" the cards with the fly swatter and then identify the information.
*Use it for categories (farm animals, things we eat, etc.), beginning sounds, rhyming, sight words, letters, etc.  It can be used in a small group, whole group, or independently.  
*We also have boards that they can stick them on after they swat them.


It was HOT outside in Orlando, but look at all my COOL new friends!

Monday, June 29, 2015


It's time to give math some "love."  Write numerals on plastic cups and ask children to put them in order.  
Hint!  If you use bathroom cups you can store them in a Pringle's can.
*Use cups for place value - one color for hundreds, one for tens, and another for ones.

*Write fact families on cups for children to rearrange.  Can they write the different equations? 
*Have children sort the cups by odd and even numbers.

Build a Pyramid
Write math problems on the tops of the cups.  Write the answer on a sticky dot and put it inside the cup.  Children can self-check and then use the cups to build a pyramid.

Secret Pennies 
Place a certain number of pennies on the table in front of a cup. Explain that you will hide some pennies under the cup. Have children close their eyes as you hide a few pennies under the cup. Can they guess how many are under the cup?
*This would be a fun game for children to play with a partner.

Matching Games
Trace around the bottom of cups on a file folder. (Bathroom cups work best for this game.) Write numerals on the circles or letters on the circles. Challenge children to match cups and circles as fast as they can. Mix the cups up and then see if they can stack them in order. 

ODD/EVEN Number Cheer (Brenda Fella)
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
They are odd all the time.
0, 2, 4, 6, 8
They are even -keep it straight!
*Explain to look at the last digit and then recall the poem!

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Phonics Fingers
 Why? making words, CVC words, two letter words

What? 3 pairs of white garden gloves, permanent marker

How? Cut the fingers off the gloves. Write a letter on each finger with markers. (Write
consonants in blue and vowels in red.) Children insert glove fingers on their own fingers to make CVC words.

More! Give children a list of two letter words to make and read.

Let children make word families with letter fingers.

Play Dough Phonics
Why? letter recognition, phonics

What? plastic plates, permanent marker, play dough
How? Write a letter on each plate. (You can do uppercase, lowercase, or both.) Children take the play dough, roll it, and place it on top of the letter. Can they make an object that begins with that sound?

Friday, June 26, 2015


Letter Cups

Why? letter recognition, making words, alphabetical order

What? plastic cups, permanent markers or letter stickers

How? Write letters on the cups. Children can use these to make sight words, match upper and lowercase letters, make CVC words, etc.

More!  Ask children to stack the cups in alphabetical order.

Write words on cups and use for making and reading simple sentences.

Letter Links

Why?  making words, word families, singular an plural, affixes

What?  unifix cubes, dot stickers, Sharpie

How?  Place dot stickers on the cubes and write letters on them.  Children can use the cubes to make sight words, word families, singular and plural, etc.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Right now I'm tiptoeing through the tulips in Amsterdam. My husband and I are meeting Holly and her family there. (They have been at the University of Adelaide for several months.) The windmills will come in second to seeing Kalina and K.J. We can't wait to take the pancake boat trip where you cruise around the harbor and can eat as many pancakes as you want. We're also going to Brussels and top on the list are the chocolate museum and comic book museum. We've got our priorities straight!!!

I've got blogs ready to post while I'm gone, but I'll share some photos when we get home.  Wishing you happy summer days!

Why?    cvc words, word families, sight words

What?   cookie tin, magnetic letters

How?    Place a set of magnetic letters inside the cookie tin. On the inside cover make three lines with a permanent marker. Have the children take out the letters and place them around the lid in alphabetical order. Call out a sound and have the children select that letter and place it on the first line in the lid. Call out a second sound. Call out a third sound. Blend the sounds and read the word.

More!   Use for other phonics lessons. “What other words can you make by changing the first sound?” “Can you make a word by changing the end sound?”

Use letter tins for spelling words and other word games.

Letter tins are useful for partner activities or small group instruction.

Store small magnetic letters in a breath mint tin.

Use magnetic letters on a cookie sheet to make words.

Hide magnetic letters in a sandbox and let children hunt for them with a magnet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Why? letter recognition, making words, print connections, phonics

What? jumbo craft sticks, magnetic letters, E6000 glue (or similar craft glue)

How? Glue the magnetic letters to the jumbo craft sticks. Children can use these to match letters on classroom print. They can also find objects in the room beginning with that sound.

More!  Let children hold up letter pops as you sing alphabet songs.

Children can get together with friends and make words with their letter pops.

Play “Letter Pokey” which is similar to the “Hokey Pokey.”

Make a set of uppercase letters and lowercase letters for the children to match.

Place letter pops in a can in your classroom library. Children choose a letter and then try to find it in the book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Why?   letter recognition, sight words, writing letters

What?  small swinging trashcan, felt scraps, googly eyes, pom poms, craft glue (E6000 works great), magnetic letters

How?  Decorate the trashcan to look like a man similar to the photo. Place magnetic letters out on the table. If children can identify a letter and make its sound then they can “feed” it (put it inside) Letter Man.

More?  Place the letters inside Letter Man. Children can take turns pulling out a letter, making the sound, and saying a word that starts with that sound.

Ask children to feed Letter Man all the vowels…all the letters that are blue…the letters in alphabetical order…and so forth.

Have children spell sight words and then feed them to Letter Man.

Have children draw a letter out of Letter Man and write it.

Have children select a handful of letters and then try to make a word with them.

Sing this song to the tune of “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” as you put letters in the trashcan.
         I know an old man who swallowed a (name letter).
         What would he say if he swallowed a (name letter).
         (sound), (sound), (sound) – (name letter).

Monday, June 22, 2015


Over the next few days I'm going to share some materials you might want to make this summer for your classroom. And, yes, they are cheap, easy, and multi-functional. Most of these can be used with pre-k through primary grades. They could be used in a center, with a small group, or with a partner. For more of a challenge, have children write the words after they have made them.

Why?   sounding out words, spelling simple words, making CVC words, sight words

What?  spring clothespins, jumbo craft sticks, markers, index cards, pictures of CVC words

How?   Write letters of the alphabet on the clothespins. Glue pictures of simple words on the index cards. Children choose a card and then sound out the letters and clip them to the index card to make the word.
Hint! Write the words on the back of the index cards so children can self-correct.

More?  Write sight words on the craft sticks. Children clip the clothespin to the stick to make the word. Can they write the word?

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Lindsey Gates (K Teacher, Crittenden - Mt. Zion Elementary) told me about her reading calendar last year. I thought it was a BRILLIANT way to organize skills and reinforce standards each day. Lindsey claims the results in her classroom have been amazing! I’ve mentioned her idea in recent workshops and everybody has been eager to hear more about it. This is what Lindsey wrote last year. (If you need a project this summer, this might be the perfect challenge to work on.) 
Here is a picture of my reading calendar. Since I started this part way through the school year it will look a little different to start the year and transition as the students learn new skills and as the teacher realizes what skills the kiddos most need to work on. I have set aside about 20-30 minutes for this every morning, but it doesn't always take us that long.

1- Beginning sounds
I show 4 pictures with 2 of the 4 starting with the same sound. On the first day we identify the sound at the beginning and decide which 2 start the same. On the second day we come up with other words that begin the same. On the third and fourth days the kiddos come up with words that begin like the other two pictures. On the fifth day I give them a word and they have to decide which picture it sounds like at the beginning.

2- Ending sounds 
I have a list of five pictures and the beginning and middle sounds written next to them. Each day we do one picture. We decide what sound we hear at the end by catching it and then coming up with a few words that end like that as well.

3- Word families
I give the class the word family and they come up with some. If they have trouble I will give them options between a few words to decide which one belongs.

4- Phoneme substitution
I give them a starting word and they help me spell it. I pick a sound to change and they tell me the new word. This is basically a word ladder without the ladder.

5- Onset and rimes 
I give them an onset and a rime and have them tell me my word. Then we take away the onset and they tell me what is left and then we do the same thing with the rime and then we put it all together again.

6- Syllables 
Kiddos put their hand under their chin and count the number of times their chin hits their hand to count the syllables. We sort the pictures by the number of syllables they have.

7- Medial vowel sound 
We sort the pictures by their medial vowel sound. I use baggies so that the kiddos can still see the pictures if they need help.

8- High frequency words/ sight words 
I have all 100 of our sight words in the blue container and we go through about 10 or 15 everyday.

9- Fix-a-sentence 
I write a sentence incorrectly and the students have to tell me how to fix it. I start with a lower case letter, leave out spaces, spell things incorrectly, use the wrong form of the word and leave off end punctuation.

10- Nursery rhymes 
We start off with them repeating it after me, we pat out the rhythm, make up motions and by the end of the week they have it memorized and can act it out on their own. (We sometimes do a finger play with this too!)

11- Rhyming
I show them 6 pictures and they help me organize them into rhyming sets. During the week we come up with other words that could also go in each group and I give them words to decide if they belong or don't belong.

*I found all of the pictures online using Bing or Google. Everything can be done without pictures, but so many of my kids are visual learners and seeing the pictures helps them focus on the sound and not trying to remember what word I said.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


I think many of you know that I live in Charleston, South Carolina, and I thank you for your prayers. We are hurt, sad, outraged, shocked...and we are all grieving. My husband and I have worshipped at the AME church where the tragedy occurred and it is a church of LOVE.

I have no words - only tears. I am so proud of the way our city has come together to hold hands and try to get through this. I am reminded of my song called "The African Village Song." It's a song about good times (when the sun comes down) and difficult times (when the rain comes down). But the rain and the sun make the flowers bloom. The flowers are all our children. And the children are why we keep going, and why we hold hands, and why we know that love will sustain us and bring us peace. From my heart, I thank you for the prayers for our city.

The African Village Song
When the rain comes down, (Wiggle fingers down.)
Comes down on everyone. (Open arms.)
When the rain comes down,
Comes down on everyone.
Rich or poor, great or small, (Pretend to throw money away and the pull elbow.)
It really doesn’t matter at all. (Rub fingertips back and forth.
When the rain comes down on everyone.

Then the sun comes down…(Make arms in a circle.)

Then the flowers bloom… (Bring one hand up through the other like a flower growing.)

This is the Ravenel bridge where Charlestonians will come together tomorrow night at dusk to hold hands.  I'll be in Indianapolis for my Summer Camp, but I'll still be holding hands.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Use appropriate tools strategically is a practice recommended by the NCTM. Math experts emphasize the importance of focusing on signs because mistakes are often made when children do not look at the signs. Remind children that you always have to look at the traffic light when you drive so you’ll know when to stop and when to go. In math, you always need to look at the signs before you begin so you’ll know what to do. 

Math Signs (Tune: “The Farmer in the Dell”)
Math is fun to do.
Math is fun to do.
Always look at the signs
So you’ll know what to do.

Plus means add.
How many in all?
Put them altogether.
Plus means add.

Minus means subtract.
Take some away.
How many are left?
Minus means subtract.

Math is fun to do.
Math is fun to do
Always look at the signs
They’ll give you a clue.

Make signs for your classroom with key words similar to the one shown.

Math Toolkit - Fold a sheet of paper into fourths. Open and fold in half. Cut on the crease half way. Write “+” on one side and “-“ on the other side. Write key words that remind children to add under the “+.” (add, plus, put together, makes, in all, sum, etc.) Write key words for subtraction under the “-.” (minus, subtract, take away, less than, fewer, difference, left). For the equal sign write equals, is, are, the same as, etc.
Body Math
I have one more awesome idea for active learning for math. Children put their hands in the air and say a number. Touch their heads and say “plus” or “minus.” Touch their waist and say a second number. Touch knees and say “equals.” Touch feet and say the answer.
     Three (hands in the air)
     Plus (hands on head) 

     Four (hands on waist)
     Equals (touch knees) 
     Seven (touch toes)

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Here is a fantastic game you can make this summer and use throughout the school year. Write the categories below on index cards. Punch a hole in the cards and attach to a book ring. If you’ve got a few minutes before lunch or while you’re waiting during other transitions you can flip through the category cards and see how many words children can “pop out.” 

*Whisper - Let the whole class participate by whispering as many words as they can.

*Toss and Tell – Throw a beanbag around the group and each child must add a word to the category as they catch the beanbag.

*Brainstorm - Write words on the board as the students call them out.

*Think Time - Give older children 2 or 3 minutes to write all the words they can think of. You could also divide students into partners or small groups to do this.

            shapes                              cars
            something in the yard        animals
            fruit or vegetable              movie stars
            something in the kitchen   body parts
            river, lake, or ocean         towns or cities
            country or state                machines
            type of transportation       foods
            something you wear          actions
            something in the zoo         plants
            toys                                  books
            songs                                nouns
            famous person                   verbs
            something in the school     games
            TV shows                          feelings
            colors                               occupations
            restaurants or stores          adjectives
            sports teams                     candy
            cartoons                           things that fly

Hint! Adapt the categories to the specific age, skills, and interests of your students.

Alphabet Categories
To make this variation of categories you will need 2 sheets of poster board of different colors. Cut the poster board into 4” squares. (You will need 23 squares of each color.) On one color print alphabet letters. (Print “u & v” on the same card and “x, y, z” on another card.) On the other color print one of the above categories.

Shuffle up each set of cards. Draw a card from the “letter pile” and a card from the “category pile.” Encourage the children to make the sound of the letter. Can they think of a word in the category that begins with that sound?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

RAN and RAS???

I love it when I can connect something “old” with something “new.” And I really get excited when I can share something with you that might have been a little neglected in your language arts curriculum. I know you have been to numerous workshops on phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, writing, etcetera. However, when I mention RAN in workshops I usually get a perplexed look. I’ve been doing some research, and I think there may be more to RAN and RAS than we thought. And, I think I have some ideas for how you can easily integrate it into your day. (I know, you can’t do ONE more thing, but just read on….) 

Actually, as you read over this you will realize you naturally do these things daily. When you read the morning message, big books, or leveled readers you are doing RAN. When you count on the calendar, read the world wall, play charades, or categories, you are improving RAN. RAN and RAS can be integrated into large group, small group, or partner activities.

According to research by the National Early Literacy Panel, RAN and RAS are two variables that correlate with later literacy.

Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN) is the ability to rapidly name a sequence of random objects, letters, shapes, numerals, or words.

Rapid Automatic Switching (RAS) - Letters, colors, and shapes are located in different areas of the brain, so when you switch from colors or shapes to letters and back again it’s referred to as RAS.

RAN and RAS are especially predictive of reading and writing fluency. However, doing these activities with young children can be meaningful because they connect the visual with the verbal and require children to focus and pay attention.

This link will give you more information and some sample activities.
Note! I think you could easily do these activities on a flannel board or with a pocket chart.

This link will give you further insight on other simple activities you can do during transition times. How many cars can you name? How many words can you think of that rhyme with “bed”? Word retrieval and rapid automatic naming can also be improved with high interest games such as charades, password, Pictionary, etc.

I hope you learned something new and interesting today. I did!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


I yam what I yam! All my life I’ve taught through songs, movement, games, hands-on activities, and play. Boys and girls, we need to all get on the ACTIVE LEARNING bandwagon while it is HOT! I’ve been working on my new seminar called “Dr. Jean’s Active Learning Adventure: Let’s make it purposeful, planful, and playful.” I came across this idea that I used in my classroom and it’s perfect for helping parents, administrators, and visitors understand the value of active learning. All of my centers had signs that described what children were learning as they played. Below you’ll find some of the captions that I used. I thought it might be something you’d like to create this summer for setting up your classroom.

Dramatic Play – It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing social skills, emotional skills, independence, oral language, my imagination, responsibility, and the executive function. I may use these skills as a mother, father, safety officer, or politician one day.

Blocks - It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing motor skills, math concepts (number, size, shape, space), oral language, social skills. eye-hand coordination, self control, and my imagination. I may be a builder or architect when I’m grown.

Art – It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing my creativity, small motor skills, problem solving, sharing, cooperation, independence and responsibility. I may use these skills as an artist, illustrator, or designer one day.

Math - It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing oral language, social skills, small motor skills, concepts about quantity, shape, size, pattern, and an interest in math. I may use these tools as a computer programmer, accountant, or mathematician in the future.

Library - It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing alphabet knowledge, oral language, print knowledge, listening skills, eye-hand coordination, concepts about the world, and the desire to read. Maybe I’ll be a publisher, author, or librarian when I grow up.

Science - It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing a curiosity about the world, sensory skills, problem solving, language skills, and experience with the scientific process (observing, predicting, experimenting, recording, reporting). If I’m a doctor, lab technician, pharmacist, or landscaper I will utilize these skills.

Small Motor - It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing small muscles, eye-hand coordination, attention span, social skills, and concepts about size, shape, color pattern. I might use these skills as a chef or dentist one day.

Language – It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing oral language, alphabet knowledge, print connections, phonological awareness, visual skills, book knowledge, phonics, motivation to read. No matter what I become when I grow it, it will be important to know how to read.

Writing - It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing eye-hand coordination, small motor skills, alphabet knowledge, self confidence, vocabulary, and an interest in print. I might use these skills one day as a journalist, administrative assistant, or poet.

Embrace the curiosity, enthusiasm, energy, and JOY of young children and let it be the momentum and springboard for developing skills and meeting standards! Play can be just as “rigorous” as a worksheet. 

                          LET’S MAKE IT PLAYFUL AND CHALLENGING! 
Hint! You could also make a book with the descriptions and photos of your students working in the centers. Let one child take the book home each evening to share with their families.


Monday, June 15, 2015


I received several emails yesterday about my post "How Do Children Learn?" It makes my heart happy when I know there are so many teachers who believe like I do. But it's not about us - it's about the children. We are on the front line with them every day and we know what works and how they learn best. 

And, yes, this goes for ALL children, not just kindergarteners. In many of my blogs I use the term "kindergarten" as a generic word for young learners, whether they are four, five, six, or seven...or eight or ten. Children are children!

My friend Drew Giles made this poster to go with "How Do Children Learn?" What would I do without all my friends who are so much more technically advanced than I am!!! But, I do know lots of finger plays and songs!!! (Smile!!!) Thanks, Drew!!!


Sunday, June 14, 2015


Children learn through play.
     That’s why we offer learning centers. 
Children learn by doing. 
     That’s why we sing and move.
Children learn through their senses.
     That’s why we provide multi-sensory activities.
Children learn through language.
     That’s why they need to talk.
Children learn on their own level.
     That’s why we create open-ended activities.
Children learn through encouragement.
     That’s why we cheer and celebrate with them.
Children learn through imitation.
     That’s why we model what we want them to do.
Children learn through repetition.
     That’s why we have games they’ll want to play again and again.
Children learn by experimenting.
     That’s why it’s O.K. to make mistakes.
Children learn by interacting with their friends.
     That’s why we encourage partner and small group activities.
Children learn in a safe, nurturing environment.
     That’s why we strive to create a happy classroom community.
Children learn through wholeness.
     Heart~mind~body are dynamically interrelated in that wonderful child! Every experience in the classroom is connected in the brain to construct knowledge.  There's not a song that you sing or a game that you play or a book that you read or an art project that you do that isn't important.  It doesn't have to be "rigor" for children to learn!!!

If you haven't read this article in the New York Times about bringing "play" back to kindergarten you'll certainly want to read it today.


Good news! I think the pendulum is finally starting to swing! You've got to read this article from the New York Times about the value of PLAY in kindergarten.

Somebody in Anne Arundel County, MD, has the heart of the child in mind. Truly, children can learn through purposeful play. Yes, we can integrate academic skills with games, songs, art, and FUN!!!  That's what I've been talking about for years!!!

I was at two great school districts (Lewisville and Palmer ISD) this week in Texas who "get it"! Teachers can have fun learning through play as well!!

There was a statue of Elvis in the lobby of the theater where we had the workshop.
A teacher said, "Let's get a picture of the 'queen' and king."

We were doing some patty cake activities where we say rhymes, letters and sounds, spell words, skip count, etc. and I rattled off all the skills children can develop through something fun like patty cake.  (I actually have a YouTube video where you can watch me do these things.)  Here are just a few reasons to patty cake:

Patty cake is a great brain break when children are restless.
When you patty cake you cross the midline which activates both sides of the brain.
It's good for eye-hand coordination.
It's TPR - Total Physical Response - motor skills and oral language.
Patty cake encourages self-regulation and the executive function.
It nurtures 21st century skills - cooperation, collaboration, and communication.
You've got purposeful practice for automaticity (aka repetition) because children will want to do it over and over.
How about INTENTIONAL TEACHING?  Choose words or skills you are working on and integrate them into this movement game.
It's free, simple, environmentally friendly, sugar-free...
Talk about ACTIVE learning!

Makes me want to find someone to patty cake with!  Say, say, my playmate, come out and play with me....

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Here's a picnic book you can make as you tell the story below:

Let’s go on a picnic. First we need a picnic basket.
(Fold the paper in half.)

Next, we need hotdogs.
(Fold the paper in fourths.)

We also need hamburgers.
(Fold the paper into eighths.)
We’ll need a picnic bench to sit at.
(Open so it’s folded in half. Bring
one bottom flap to the fold. Turn
over and bring the other bottom flap
to the fold.)

A picnic is more fun if we share it
with a friend. (Tear down middle crease
until you reach the fold.)

Now all we need is a book to write a
story about our adventures on our picnic.
(Hands on top of bench, bend down, and
fold around to make a book.)

Use for:      letter books, word families
                  reading the room, writing the room
                  fact families
                  shape or color books
                  unit or theme
                  spelling words (picture/sentence)
                  friends’ names and phone numbers
                  opposites, story elements
                  original stories

Hint! Let children decorate an individual cereal box to store their picnic books.

Friday, June 12, 2015


Who can resist going on a picnic this time of year?

Going On a Picnic
(Children repeat each line.)
We’re going on a picnic. (Slap hands on thighs to the beat.)
We’re going to pack a big one. (Arms out wide.)
With sandwiches, cookies, and lemonade, too. (Pretend to pack in your basket.)
Look over there. (Hand over eyes.)
It’s some tall grass.
Can’t go over it. (Hands up in the air.)
Can’t go under it. (Hands down low.)
Can’t go around it. (Circle hands around in front of body.)
I guess we’ll go through it. (Shrug shoulders.)
Swish, swish, swish, swish! (Brush palms against each other.)

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

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

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

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

Picnic Book
Fold a sheet of construction paper in half. Punch two holes by the top fold and insert a pipe cleaner to make a handle. Children can write stories about going on a picnic inside or they can draw foods they’d like to take on a picnic.

Dramatic Play
Prepare a dramatic play kit for a picnic with a tablecloth (or towel), cups, plates, napkins, and plastic cutlery.
*Brainstorm all the fun things you can do on a picnic.

Animal Picnic
What kinds of food would animals take on a picnic? Write their suggestions on the board. Let children circle the foods that they eat as well. Plan an animal picnic with carrots, celery, apples, nuts, berries, etc. for snack.