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Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Once I Had a Pumpkin
(Tune: “Lassie and Laddie”)
Oh, once I had a pumpkin, a pumpkin, a pumpkin. 
         (Hands over head like a pumpkin.)
Oh, once I had a pumpkin with no face at all.
With no eyes and no nose and no mouth and no teeth.
         (Point to facial features.)
Oh, once I had a pumpkin with no face at all.
So I made a jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern.
         (Draw a jack-o-lantern in the air.)
So I made a jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern.
With big eyes and a big nose and big mouth and big teeth.
         (Draw facial features in the air.)
So I made a jack-o-lantern with a big funny face.

*Draw a jack-o-lantern on the board as you sing the song.

Pumpkin Paint – Mix equal parts of flour and salt. Stir in orange tempera paint. (Obviously, if it’s powdered, you will need to add some water, too.) Add a spoonful of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to the paint and stir. Children can paint a pumpkin, pumpkin pie, or whatever they want. Their painting will be textured and smell good, too!
Pumpkin Seeds – Before carving your pumpkin, have the children estimate how many seeds they think it will contain and write down their estimations. Have the children separate the seeds and count them. Who guessed more? Who guessed less? Who guessed the closest amount? Cook some of the seeds by rinsing them and frying them in a little butter and salt. Save some of the seeds to plant in the spring.

Paper Plate Pumpkins – Make pumpkins out of paper plates. Choose five children to hold the pumpkins as you say the rhyme. You could also cut pumpkins out of felt and use on a flannel board.
Pumpkin Play Dough – Make homemade play dough and add red and yellow food coloring to make it orange. Let the children knead in pumpkin pie spices. They’ll have fun making pumpkins, pies, and other characters. 
Hint!  Add pumpkin pie spice to make aroma play dough. 
Math Games - Make games where children seriate pumpkins from large to small or put pumpkins in numerical order.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Yesterday was about spiders, "bat" today you'll find more ideas of things to do with a bag of plastic bat rings.  You can...sort them, count them, make a pattern, and "play" with math standards.
Bats in a Cave
Make a cave from a disposable bowl by turning it upside down and cutting an arch as shown. Display a certain number of bats. Put some in the cave and ask children, "How many do you see? How many do you think are in the cave?"

I Spy Bottle!
Several years ago we were eating in a Mexican restaurant in October and there were little Halloween toys in the spice bottles. It was interesting to watch adults, children, and families at every table trying to identify the objects. I guarantee this bottle will capture your students' interest!

You will need a clear plastic bottle or jar, salt or sand, and small seasonal toys.  Fill the container 2/3 full with salt or sand. Insert the toys and then screw on the top.  Shake.
*How many objects can the children find?
*Pass around the bottle and let each child make a complete sentence starting with "I spy a..."
*Have each child repeat what the previous child says and then add something they see. 
First child: I spy a spider.
Second child: I spy a spider and a bat.
Third child: I spy a spider and a bat and a cat.
*Ask younger children to draw what they see in the bottle.
*Have older students make a list of everything they find in the bottle.
*Can they write a story using the objects in the bottle?
*Use the bottle to reward children who are working quietly or children who are resting quietly.

Make bottles for different skills or themes. You might fill a bottle with geometric shapes, magnetic letters, different colors of crayons, sight words written on cardboard, etc.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Spiders are a good substitute for scary things this time of year. These plastic rings are cheap, plentiful, and perfect for hands-on activities.

Ask children to sort the rings. What was their sorting rule?

Put different amounts of spider rings in bags or cups. Number the cups. Children count and then record their answers.

Draw spider webs and label with numerals or number words. Children make appropriate sets. 

Addition and Subtraction
Children can work out math problems with the spider rings.

Fill a plastic jar with spider rings. Children estimate how many and then write it on a sheet of paper with their name. At the end of the day count the spiders. Who guessed more? Less? Who was closest?

Give each child a spider ring. Can you put it above your head? Can you put it beside you? Can you put it between your knees? Etc.

Children can use spider rings to sing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Sing “The BIG FAT Spider” with a loud voice. Sing the “Teensy Weensy Spider” with a high, squeaky voice.

Nursery Rhyme
Let one child be little Miss Muffet. Tie a string to a spider ring and let another child dangle it as you say the rhyme.

Cut notches in a paper plate. Children can weave yarn through the notches and then tie a ring to the end of the yarn.
Children can dip spiders in paint and then use them like paint brushes.

Can children continue a pattern with the spiders? Can they create an AB, or ABB pattern?
Children draw a spider web on a paper plate. They can write a story about a spider on the back of the plate.

What’s the difference between a spider and an insect? How many legs does a spider have? How many legs on 2 spiders? 3 spiders?

Sticky Drippy Spiders 
Your students will also be delighted with this bottle. Pour about 1 cup of clear corn syrup in a plastic bottle. (The amount you need will depend on the size of the bottle. I really like to use larger round containers, but this was the only one I had on hand.) Add a few drops of red and yellow food coloring and swirl around to make orange. Add a few plastic spiders and watch them do their thing. (I used spider rings and cut the ring part off. I also put in a few bats.)
Spider Puppet
You will need paper plates, construction paper, an old sock, markers, and a stapler to make this project. Decorate two plates to look like a spider’s body. Cut eight 8” x 1 12” strips for the spider’s legs. Glue 4 legs on either side of the body. Staple the plates together around the sides where the legs are glued. Draw a face on the sock and then stick it through the center of the plates.

Spider Soup
This was one of my favorite Halloween activities! Get a large industrial size can of chicken noodle soup. Remove the wrapper and cover with construction paper. Write “spider soup” on the label. Take two packages of ramen noodles and crush. Put in a paper lunch sack and write “spider webs” on the front of the sack. Explain to the children that you’ll be having spider soup for snack. Show them the can and just LISTEN to their comments. Open the can and put it in a crock pot. (Someone will be sure to comment that they see spider legs and meat!) Show them the sack and explain that you will end crunchy spider webs to make it better. Dump those in and slowly cook until it is warm. Serve in paper cups.
Spider Applause
Bend down thumbs and touch four fingertips from each hand. Tap gently! That’s the spider applause you get for using these ideas!

Sunday, September 27, 2015


My students loved to say this rhyme and giggle when the witch tore her britches! (I don't why that was so silly to them, but it was.)

3 Little Witches
(Tune: “Ten Little Indians”)
One little, two little, three little witches. (Hold up 3 fingers.)
Flying over haystacks, flying over ditches. (Fly fingers in the air.)
Slid down the moon and tore their britches! (Touch pants and then cover eyes.)
Hi, ho, Halloween’s here! (Clap hands.)

Choose three children to be witches and act out the song. Make brooms by rolling up several sheets of newspaper. Tape. Cut down 8” from one end and fluff.
Stirring Our BrewStirring and stirring and stirring our brew… (Pretend to stir.)
Wooooooo! Woooooo! (Cup hands by mouth.)
Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew… (Stir.)
Wooooooo! Wooooo! (Cup hands by mouth.)
Tip-toe. Tip-toe. BOO! (Pretend to tip-toe.)

Witch’s Stew 
How about a little witch’s stew for snack. You will need 5 lunch sacks, 1 large bowl, Cheerios, pretzel sticks, fish crackers, raisins, M & M’s, ice cream cones. Write “frog eyes” on one sack and fill with Cheerios. Write “salted bones” on the second sack and fill with pretzel sticks. Write “dead fish” on the third sack and fill with fish crackers. Write “toad eyes” on the fourth sack and fill with raisins. Write “lizard gizzards” on the fifth sack and fill with M&M’s. Place the large bowl on the floor and make up a story about collecting all the items for your witch’s stew. One at a time let children come up and dump the contents in the bowl. Stir with a spoon as you sing the above song. Serve in ice cream cones. (Hint! You can substitute peanuts, miniature marshmallows, or other snack foods for any of the ingredients.)
Handprint Art 
Trace around children’s hands and feet on white paper. Glue to black construction paper and let children add details.
Ghost Busters
Cut ghost shapes out of white paper. Write letters, numerals, words, or whatever skill you want to reinforce on the ghosts. Staple ghosts to a bulletin board and let the children identify the information as they swat the ghosts with a fly swatter.
*You can make a similar game from a file folder. Glue a hand to a craft stick and use to swat the ghosts.

Scary Things
Halloween is a good time to talk about things that are real and things that are pretend. It’s also helpful to talk about things that scare us. I always talk about things that scare me, and that usually encourages the children to open up and talk about things that scare them. Everybody’s afraid of something, and that’s O.K. Make a class book called “Scary Things” where each child draws their fears and dictates or writes a story about them.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


It’s Johnny Appleseed’s birthday today, but you can use this finger play and story any day. Johnny (John Chapman) is remembered for planting apple trees throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He was well known and liked for his kindness and generosity, so say “cheers” to him today by eating an apple. 

You can also give him a “cheer” with this finger play.

Apple Tree (You can say it or sing it to the tune of “This Old Man.”)
Way up high in the tree, (Point up.)
One red apple smiled down at me. (Hold up 1 finger and then smile.)
I shook that tree as hard as I could. (Pretend to shake a tree.)
Down came an apple, (Bring down one hand.)
Mmm! Mmm! Good! (Pat tummy.)

Adapt the number of apples, or use other fruits:
Two yellow pears… (Hold up 2 fingers.)
Three purple plums… (Hold up 3 fingers.)
4 orange peaches… (Hold up 4 fingers.)
5 green limes… (Hold up 5 fingers.)

Make a flannel board from a file folder to use as a follow up for this rhyme.

And, here’s a story that I bet Johnny would have loved.

The Star
Materials: shopping bag or grocery sack
      Apple (red delicious works best), knife

Directions: Put the apple and knife in the bag and have it on your lap as you begin to tell the story below. Insert children’s names in your classroom to capture their interest.

One day first child’s name went to visit grandmother. Grandmother said, “How would you like to go on a secret mission?” “Oh, I’d love that,” replied first child. So grandmother said, “I want you to find a little red house with no doors and no windows. There should be a chimney on top and a star in the middle.”
First child was so excited as he set off on his mission. As first child was thinking about what it could be, he ran into second child. “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows. There should be a chimney on top and a star in the middle.” Second child said, “I’ve never heard of anything like that, but would you like me to help you?” “Sure,” replied first child and off they went.

They walked on a little further until they saw third child. “Have you seen a little red house with no doors and no windows? There’s a chimney on top and a star in the middle.” “Gosh. I don’t know what that could be, but would you like me to help you?” replied third child. So off they went on their mission.

The story continues as more children join in the search.

Finally, the children had about given up when they ran into grandpa. He was on his way home from the store with something he had bought. “Grandpa,” the children said. “Grandma sent us on a mission. She told us to find a little red house with no doors and no windows. There’s a chimney on top and a star in the middle. What could it be?”

Grandpa laughed, “Well, I have the answer to your riddle right here in my sack.” And he pulled out an apple. (Pull the apple from your sack.) The children said, “How does that solve our riddle?” Grandpa said, “This apple is like a little red house. See, it’s round and the stem is like a chimney.” “But where’s the star?” wondered the children. Grandpa took a knife and sliced the apple in half. (Take the knife and slice the apple in half diagonally.) “And here’s the star!” The children were amazed to see that sure enough, there was a star in the middle.

Grandpa said, “You know people are like this star. We’re different sizes, colors, and shapes on the outside. But if you look inside, you’ll find a special star inside each person you meet!”


I must have told this story thousands of times over the past 40 years. The wonderful thing is that it's "old" to me, but most of the teachers and children have never heard it before. You'll need to practice a few times before doing it for your class, but I guarantee you'll hear, "Do it again! Do it again!"

Pumpkin House Cut and Tell Story
Materials: orange paper, scissors
Directions: Place the orange paper and scissors in your lap. As you tell the story cut out the different parts with the scissors. At end of the story, the children will be delighted with the pumpkin house!
Hint! You can also tear out the paper with your fingers.

Once there was a little old lady who lived in a funny orange house near name of your school. Her house was shaped like half a circle with the chimney at the bottom.

This little lady had a cat named child’s name in your room. This cat had a long, curved tail, so the old lady had a special door cut just for the cat’s tail.

The little lady always wore a pointed hat. She had a special door built for herself, too, so her hat would not fall off every time she went in and out the door.

The little lady had two pet birds. Their names were child’sname and child’s name. She had a window cut just for them so they could fly in and out and in and out.

It was getting close to Halloween, so all the children inteacher’s name classroom went to her house and knocked on her door. The little lady came to the door and said, “Close your eyes.” SURPRISE! It’s a jack-o-lantern!
Here's a link so you can download the directions.

And here's the video where you can watch me do yesterday's finger plays and tell the story.

Pumpkin Man Tell and Draw Story
Materials: large sheet of paper, marker 

Directions: Explain that you will need everyone to help you tell this story. Demonstrate the movements below. When you say the words in the story, then the children should make the motions.

“Knock” – pretend to knock on a door

“Rock” – move body back and forth

“Spin” – twirl hands around each other

“Come In” – make motion with hand

Draw the body parts on the paper as you come to them in the story.

Once there was a little old lady who would just sit all day and rock and spin and wait for somebody to come in.
 One day as she sat there rocking and spinning she heard a knock at the door. 

“Come in,” she called. In came two big, black boots. (Draw boots on the board.) “I can’t talk to you big, black boots,” said the little old lady. So she just sat there and she'd rock and spin until she heard a knock at the door. 

“Come in,” she called. And in came two bony legs. (Draw two skinny legs coming out of the boots.) “I can’t talk to two bony legs,” said the little old lady.
 So she just sat there and rock and spin until she heard a knock at the door.

“Come in,” she called. And in came a funny body. (Draw a pear shaped body on top of the legs.) “I can’t talk to a funny body,” said the little old lady.
 So she just sat there and rock and spin until she heard a knock at the door. 

“Come in,” she called. And in came two wiggly arms. (Draw wiggly arms coming off the body.) “I can’t talk to wiggly arms,” said the little old lady.
 So she just sat there and rock and spin until she heard a knock at the door. 

“Come in,” she called. And in came two big hands. (Draw hands at the end of the arms.) “I can’t talk to two big hands,” said the little old lady.
 So she just sat there and rock and spin until she heard a knock at the door. 

“Come in,” she called. And in came a big pumpkin head. (Draw a pumpkin head on the figure.) “Well, I can talk to a pumpkin man,” said the little old lady. And she did! 

Adaptations: End by singing “Do You Know the Pumpkin Man?” to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”

Friday, September 25, 2015


Spiders and pumpkins and black cats - oh, my! Halloween is more than a month away, but over the next few days I'll share some "treats" with you that I've gathered over the years. Many of these rhymes and projects are like "lost atifacts" so I hope you'll keep them alive!
This is one of my all time favorite finger plays and it never goes out of style!
Jack O’ Happy
This is Jack O’ Happy. (Hands circle head and smile.)
This is Jack O’ Sad. (Hands circle head and frown.)
This is Jack O’ Spooky. (Open mouth and eyes wide.)
And this is Jack O’ Mad. (Make a mean face.)
This is Jack in pieces small. (Hold up palms.)
But in a pie he’s best of all. (Circle arms in front as if holding a pie.)

You can download a book for the children to read and color. Or, better yet, download the version with just the words so the children can make their own illustrations.

Five Little Pumpkins
(Tune: “Five Little Ducks” – Happy Everything CD)
Five little pumpkins sitting on the gate. (Hold up 5 fingers.)
The first one said, “Oh, my it’s getting late.” (Hold up thumb.)
The second one said, “There are witches in the air.” (Hold up index finger.)
The third one said, “But I don’t care.” (Hold up middle finger.)
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.” (Hold up ring finger.)
The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun.” (Hold up pinky.)
Ooooo! Went the wind, and out went the light. (Blow through hands, then clap.)
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight! (Roll hands behind back.)
*My students love to hold paper pumpkins and act out this rhyme. 

*It's also easy to make a flannel board activity for children to use as they say the rhyme.

Here's a youtube video my daughter did several years ago where you can see me demonstrate the finger plays. Tomorrow I'll have more details about the stories on the video.

P.S. Sandy Davis Pride added this comment to the post "THE VOWEL FAMILY":
I do vowel cheers with my first graders:
I say a, you say (short a sound);a-a, a-a, (hands to ear, like can't hear)
I say e, you say (short e sound): e-e, e-e, (hand like you're afraid of a mouse)

I - We hold our nose for the short sound.
O - Arms in a high circle.
U - We make our arms make a u with our waist.

I have also stepped outside the room and come in as Miss Vowel--think Viola Swamp. The kids love it!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


The long vowel sounds are fairly easy for children to remember because "they just say their name." Here's a song that will help put those short vowel sounds in the brain. Of course, the letter U will be their favorite! 

Note! I'll sing a sample verse, but when I make movies that are too long blogger doesn't like it!

The Vowel Family (Tune: "BINGO" - Just for Fun CD)
Aunt Aggie had an allergy
and she would always sneeze-o (Pretend to sneeze.)
/a/a/a/a/a/ /a/a/a/a/a/ /a/a/a/a/a/
And she would always sneeze-o.

Grandpa Eddie stayed in shape
and he would exercise-o (Pretend to lift weights.)
/e/e/e/e/e/ /e/e/e/e/e/ /e/e/e/e/e/
He liked to exercise-o.

Baby Izzi had chicken pox
and she would always itch-o. (Scratch body.)
/i/i/i/i/i/ /i/i/i/i/i/ /i/i/i/i/i/
And she would always itch-o.

Cousin Otto’s throat was sore
And this is what he’d say-o. (Put hand on throat.)
/o/o/o/o/o/ /o/o/o/o/o/ /o/o/o/o/o/
And this is what he’d say-o.

Uncle Unk wore underwear
and it did stink-o. (Hold nose.)
/u/u/u/u/u/ /u/u/u/u/u/ /u/u/u/u/u/
And it did stink-o.

Hint! When sounding out words, make the motions for the above vowels to prompt the children.

Glue magnetic letters to craft sticks and hold up as you sing the song.

Let the children use the attached sheet to make vowel puppets. Tape the letters to craft sticks or glue to an envelope that's been cut in half.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015


This is absolutely crazy!!!  I'm getting phone calls from high school students all over the United States saying, "Dr. Jean, I love your banana dance.  It makes me so happy!"  One boy even wanted to know when I was going to be on "tour" in California!  Seriously!  I'm a dinosaur when it comes to social networking, but there are two ways of looking at this.  

#1 - They are making fun of an old lady singing a silly song.

#2 - They want an excuse to sing and dance and be happy little kids again.  

I'm going to assume it's #2, and I love them for that!  

Someone asked me again yesterday, "When are you going to retire?"  My response was, "I hope  never.  I'm still having fun!  How many people my age get to sing and dance with five year olds?"

Monday I did two free concerts at schools in Charleston and those little children filled my heart with JOY!  How blessed am I to still be able to make a child smile?  There was a little boy who was deaf and his teacher came up before the concert and wanted me to know about his special needs.  I tried doing a little sign language with him (which is as pitiful as my Spanish), but the teacher said that no one had ever taught him sign language until he started school.  Well, would you believe that by the time I ended with "The Banana Dance" he was totally engaged and doing the movements.  The teacher said he had never responded like that before.  That's why I do what I do!!!!
So, NO!  I'm not retiring because someone still needs to remind the world that children need a childhood.  They need to sing and dance and laugh and play - or when they are high school students they are going to need to take a remedial course on "The Banana Dance."


Did you know that you could get a free download of this song on my website this month? Better hurry before it’s too late! In my class we would line up our chairs like the seats on a bus and sing the song. The kids also liked to make up additional verses like, “The baby on the bus goes waa waa waa!” or the teacher on the bus goes, “Sh! Sh! Sh!”

The Wheels on the Bus
The wheels on the bus (Move hands in circular motion.)
Go round and round,
Round and round, round and round.
The wheels on the bus
Go round and round,
All around the town.

Wipers – swish, swish, swish… (Palms up and move back and forth.)
Horn – beep, beep, beep… (Pretend to beep horn.)
Lights – blink, blink, blink… (Open and close fists.)
Doors – open and shut… (Palms together, then spread apart.)
Driver on the bus…”Move on back”… (Stick up thumb.)
Children on the bus – bounce up and down…(Bounce up and down.)

The Letter Bus
The letters on the bus all make their sounds,
Make their sounds, make their sounds.
The letters on the bus all make their sounds
All around the town.
The A on the bus goes /a/ /a/ /a/
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
The A on the bus goes /a/ /a/ /a/
All around the town.
*Continue singing different letters and making their sounds.

If you have a toy bus, write the letter on an index card and tape it to the bus as you sing.  

You could also download this pattern to use with magnetic letters.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I’m so excited that my webmaster has put up a new video called “Goooo Letters!” This can be a good brain break when your class gets the wiggles, and you’ll be reinforcing standards at the same time.

You can pretend to play the drums or twirl your hands and fist bump the letters and sounds. Or, better yet, challenge your students to learn sign language with me. Stand up and here we go!!!

     Drums…. (Pretend to play the drums.)
     Goooo A! /a/ /a/ /a/ (Roll arms and right fist in air as you make the sound.)
     Goooo B! /b/ /b/ /b/ (Roll arms and left fist in the air with sound.)
     Goooo C! ….Z
     Yeah letters!!!!

Monday, September 21, 2015


Scarecrows and squirrels go together like peanut butter and jelly.  And, they are a good seasonal character to focus on if your school does not celebrate holidays.
Class Scarecrow – Some old clothes, newspaper, and paper grocery sack will work just fine for a classroom scarecrow. Stuff newspaper in the sack and gather the bottom with a rubber band to make a head. Add a face. Let the children wad up newspaper and stuff the clothes. Sit it up in a chair and prop up the head with a dowel rod. Have the children bring in gloves, a hat, boots, etc. from home to complete the scarecrow. Write stories about the scarecrow. What would you do if you were a scarecrow?

Scarecrow Picture Talk- Download a picture of a scarecrow from the internet. Discuss what a scarecrow does. How many details can children notice about the scarecrow? Draw lines to label their descriptions.

Scarecrow Collage – Give children fabric scraps, construction paper, straw, etc. and invite them to create a scarecrow. What is their scarecrow’s name?

If I Were a Scarecrow... Make a language experience chart where children complete the sentence.  Older children could write creative stories about what they would do if they were a scarecrow.

You can say this chant or sing it to the tune of “Skip to My Lou.”
Children stand up and stretch out their arms like a scarecrow.
They repeat each line as they make the appropriate movements.

Can you turn around? I can turn around.
Can you touch the ground? I can touch the ground.
Can you wiggle your nose?
Can you touch your toes?
Can you wave up high?
Can you let your arms fly?
Can you give a clap?
Can you give a snap?
Can you jump, jump, jump?
Can you thump, thump, thump?
Can you wiggle your knees?
Can you sit down, please? Yes, yes, indeed! (Children sit down.)

Gray Squirrel
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, (Hold hands close to chest like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Wrinkle up your little nose, (Wrinkle nose.)
Hide a nut between your toes. (Pretend to hold a nut in your paws.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, (Hold hands close to chest like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Climb up in the tallest tree. (Arms climb up above head.)
Let your tail blow in the breeze. (Wiggle bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, (Hold hands close like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail. (Wiggle your bottom.)
If you’ll be a friend of mine, (Point to self and then a friend.)
I will be a friend of yours.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.

Note! Visit  and you can download this song and book free.

Gray Squirrel – Have children draw the body of a squirrel on a gray sheet of paper and cut out it out. Staple the squirrel to a straw to make a puppet. Staple a piece of felt or fake fur to the squirrel for a bushy tail.

*Trace around children's feet and attach with a brad to make a squirrel.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Once there were two twins that were completely opposite. One twin was a total pessimist and whined and cried all day. The other twin was optimistic and laughed and smiled all day. The parents were concerned about their extremes and went to a psychologist. The psychologist said, “Don’t worry. I know just how to cure them.”

So, the psychologist filled one room with toys and video games and candy. In the other room he asked a local farmer to unload a truck full of manure. He put the pessimistic twin in the room with the toys and the optimistic twin in the room with the manure.

The parents and psychologist waited anxiously for an hour to see what would happen. When they opened the room with the toys the pessimistic twin was sitting in the middle of the room crying. They asked, “Why aren’t you playing with the toys?” He said, “I was afraid I would break something and I thought if I ate some candy I would get sick.”

When they opened the room with the manure the optimistic twin was singing and digging through the mess and laughing. They asked, “Why are you so happy?” He responded, “Well, with all this XXXX, there must be a pony here some place!”

Tomorrow is World Gratitude Day, and I thought this was the perfect story to share with you. With all the paperwork, and assessments, and standards, and expectations in your job, there’s GOT TO BE A PONY SOME PLACE!!! It’s not easy, but look for the joy every day, and give children a little joy every day. Having YOU for a teacher might be the best thing that happens to some child!

I’m grateful for YOU!

P.S.  My Friend Jane Bond who runs the Amahoro School in Rawanda sent these photos of her children doing "Dinosaur Boogie."  This is my pony!

Saturday, September 19, 2015


It’s another big football Saturday and you’ll never guess where I am! Give up? 
I’m in South Bend, Indiana, to watch the Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame football game. My husband is a crazy Yellow Jacket fan and going to a Notre Dame game has always been on his bucket list. Now, we’ll be able to check that one off! 
I’m not sure I’ll take these pompoms to the game today, but your students are bound to enjoy making…and I’ll even give you a few ideas for tying them into standards.

Materials: lunch bags (2 for each child), scissors, markers, tape

Directions: Draw lines 1” apart halfway down from the top of the bag to the bottom flap as shown. Have the children use scissors to cut down on these strips. Turn the flap over and then roll it up tightly to make a handle. Secure the handle with tape. (For a good small motor activity let the children wrap rubber bands around the handle.) Wrinkle and fluff up the strips to make pompoms.

Note! Let children color their bags favorite team colors before cutting them.

*Use the pompoms to clap out syllables.

*Have children repeat a pattern with pompoms. (clap, shake, clap, shake…)

*Play “Simon Says” to demonstrate positional words. For example: Simon Says put the pompoms behind you. Simon says put the pompoms on your shoulders. Simon says put the pompoms under your chin…

*Use the pompoms to spell words. Clap up high for letters that start at the top dotted line. Clap in the middle for letters that start at the middle dotted line. Clap down low for letters with a tail.

*Do addition and subtraction facts with pompoms. Shake left hand and say a number. Shake right hand and say a number. Put hands in the air and shake as you say the answer.

*Play “Follow the Leader” as one child leads and the others must follow the movements.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Leaf Hunt - Give each child a lunch sack and let them collect 2 or 3 leaves from the ground. Bring these back in the classroom and sort by shape, color, etc. You could also graph the leaves by shape. (Whenever you collect items outside emphasize the importance of taking things from the ground. Return the objects to where you found them after exploring with them in the classroom.)

Research – Check out a leaf identification book from the library. Can children match up their leaves with those in the book to identify which tree they came from.

Leaf Rubbings - Lay a sheet of paper on top of a leaf. Remove the paper from an old crayon and rub the side over the leaf to make a print.Hint! Use rubber cement to glue the leaf to the table. It will be easier for the children to make a rubbing, and you can just rub off the rubber cement after the activity.

Leaf Book - Let each child find a "favorite" leaf. To preserve, place the leaf in a sheet of newspaper and put a book on top overnight. Place the leaf in a zip baggie. Encourage children to dictate or write a sentence about their leaf. 

*Put several baggies together to make a book.
I Wonder Why? - Brainstorm why leaves turn colors and fall off trees in the fall. Have children go home and do a little research with their parents and report results in class the following day.

Deciduous Trees (Sandra Kelley)
Tune: "Do Your Ears Hang Low?"
Do your leaves fall down?
Do they tumble to the ground?
Do you lose your leaves in the fall?
Then you are deciduous that we know
because in the fall your leaves all go!

*What's the difference between deciduous trees and evergreen trees? Take a nature walk and ask children to identify both types of trees.

Alphabet Hot Potato
Margaret from sent this clever variation of the traditional game:

One more for you Alphabet Hot Potato - each time they hold the ball say 1-3 letters of the alphabet. The child chooses. Who ever had the ball when you get to the letter Z has to get up and ZOOM (run) around the circle. So child #1 says A,B,C and passes the ball - child #2 says D,E and passes the ball - child #3 says F,G,H and so on until you get to Z. Just remember no one can say more than three letters while they hold the ball.
Hint!  You could also do this with counting.  Every time you get to a multiple of five or ten that child has to sit down.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Here's a simple craft activity that you can tie into science (seasons), reading (letters and word families), and writing.  It's good for small motor skills as well as cutting.

Directions:  Tear or cut 3 or 4 strips half way down from the top of the bag as shown.  (You might want to draw these lines for younger children.)  Open the bag and twist in the middle to make a tree. 

Seasonal Trees
*Tear red, yellow, and orange scrap paper and glue them on the strips to make an autumn tree.
*Pink and white tissue paper can be waded up to make blossoms on a spring tree.
*What fruits and nuts grow on trees? Let children make their favorite fruit tree.

Letter Tree
*Write letters (or use letter stickers) to make a "chicka chicka boom boom boom" tree.
*Make a word family tree by writing all the words they can make from a specific rime.

Family Tree
*Let children make a family tree by writing names of family members on their tree.

Spooky Old Tree
Twist the strips of paper as shown to make a spooky tree.  Let children cut bats, cats, and other spooky things to go on their tree.
*Use these trees to prompt descriptive writing or poems.

Note!  If you're entertaining this fall here's a centerpiece will get rave reviews.  All you need is a large paper grocery sack.  Wad and crush the sack until it is soft and pliable.  Next, make a large tree using the same process you did for the lunch bag.  Use silk leaves, small pumpkins, and other seasonal objects to decorate your tree.  Taaa daaa!!