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Monday, October 31, 2016


I see the moon
And the moon sees me...

It might be Halloween, but you won't see any witches flying across the moon tonight because it's a new moon. Your children might be over the moon today, though!!!
From the time children are toddlers, most of them are fascinated with the moon. The moon is FREE and it belongs to EVERYONE! Wouldn’t it be interesting to have children look at the moon every night for a month with their parents and draw a picture of what the moon looks like? What a meaningful way for families to do a little science together.

Facts for kids about the moon:
     The moon goes around the earth.
     The moon has no light, but it reflects the sun’s light.
     The light of sun on the moon creates the different phases of the moon. 

     That’s why it looks different to us throughout the month.
     It’s called a new moon when you can’t see it.
     When the moon gets a little larger at night it’s called waxing.
     A full moon is when it looks like a circle.
     As the moon gets smaller it’s called waning.
     The moon is always up in the sky, but during the day when the sun is bright you can’t see it.

Here’s a neat website where you can get a calendar of the moon’s phases:
*Let one child pretend to be the earth and stand in the middle of the room. Let another child pretend to be the moon and circle the earth.

*What other things can you see in the sky? Take children outside and let them draw pictures of the things they see.

*Is there really a man in the moon? The moon has craters that make it look like a face.
Give children uncolored play dough and let them make a moon/pancake. Have them make craters in their moon with a pencil eraser or the end of a marker.
Here’s a book from Scholastic with the phases of the moon:

Don’t forget to read two of my favorite books GOOD NIGHT, MOON, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOON.


Sunday, October 30, 2016


As much as children look forward to October 31st, teachers get the heebie jeebies just thinking about it! If I were in charge of the world I would cancel school Monday and Tuesday this week. The children are going to be wound thinking about Monday night and then Tuesday they will be full of sugar. My advice is don't make yourself crazy trying to do too much the next few days. Shut your door, play outside, review skills, play games, sing songs, make a book, and take a deep breath!

Here’s an “Emergency Kit” for this week (or any day when things get crazy)!  

Calm Down Lotion - You know that drawer full of body lotion you've received as gifts. Take the label off one and print a new one that says "Calm Down Lotion." Give each child a little squirt to rub on their hands and arms to help them relax.

Tony Chestnut – Have children sing "Tony Chestnut" (one of my free youTube videos). As you sing each verse lower your voice until you are whispering.

*Sing other songs using a whisper voice. You'll be amazed at how it calms down the class.

Turn off the Lights – Something as simple as turning off the lights can reduce stress and energy. You could also play some quiet music as children enter the classroom.

Take a Deep Breath - Have children pretend to breath in hot chocolate as you slowly count to 8. Blow out the birthday candles as you slowly count to 8. Continue counting slowly as children breath in and out.

The Quiet Game – One child is selected to be “it.” “It” stands in front of the room and says, “Mousie, mousie, how quiet can you be? When I clap my hands 1, 2, 3 (slowly clap 3 times), we shall see!” “It” chooses the classmate who is being the quietest and then that child comes to the front of the room and is the new “it.” (My class LOVED this game. It was a great way to develop self-regulation and calm them down.)
Give Your Mouth a Vacation – Challenge children to “give their mouths a vacation” and practice breathing through their noses.

Use Your Imagination – Ask the children to close their eyes as you read a story. Challenge them to make “pictures in their brains.” Give them a sheet of paper to illustrate the story.

Enjoy the day with them! They have one chance in a lifetime to be a child and many, many years to be a grown-up!

Saturday, October 29, 2016



For homework on Monday ask your students to save all their candy wrappers and bring them to school on Friday. Here are some learning activities that will taste “yummy” to your class!

Counting - Count the wrappers. Tally how many in the whole class.

Sets - Make sets with the wrappers.
Sorting - Sort the wrappers. What’s the sorting rule? Can they regroup them?

Graphing - Use the wrappers to graph their favorite candy bar.

Nutrition - Look at the food value on each wrapper. How many calories? How much sugar? Rank the candies by calories.

Vocabulary - Find descriptive words on the wrappers. Make a list of the words and use them in sentences.

Writing - Fold 2 sheets of paper in half and staple to make a book. Children write “I like…” at the top of each page and glue a candy wrapper underneath. This is a book every child in your room can read! Older children could write descriptive sentences about each candy.
Alphabet Letters - Use the wrappers to make a class book called “The Sweet ABC’s.” Write alphabet letters on 26 sheets of paper. Children glue their wrappers to the appropriate letter. Bind pages together to make a book.
Hint! If you don’t have a wrapper for each letter, let children suggest “sweet” words for the page.

Money - Glue candy wrappers to a file folder. Write a coin value by each wrapper. Children count out the appropriate amount and place it on the wrapper.

Hint! For young children, price the candies from 1 cent to 10 cents and give them pennies. Make the amounts higher for older students.

Art - Let children use wrappers to make a collage.

Finally, take advantage of this “teachable moment” by discussing why sugar is not good for their bodies. What happens if you eat too much sugar? Make a list of healthy snacks that would be better food choices.

BOO PUPPET!  I think everybody in the world must know how to make these, but just in case there's one person out there I need to keep this idea alive.  All you need are white napkins, lollipops (such as Dum Dums or Tootsie Roll Pops), ribbon, and a marker.  Open the napkin and place the lollipop in the center.  Gather up the napkin and tie with a piece of ribbon as shown to make the head.  Decorate the face with a marker.

Friday, October 28, 2016


A math specialist one told me how important it was to have the children look at the signs when they are doing math. Most children know how to work the problems, but they often forget to look at the sign first. Here’s a little rap to make it more fun.
Stop, look, and think,
Before you add or subtract.
Pay attention to the signs
When you do your math!

Plus sign, plus sign,
What do you say?
Put them together.
Join sets, I say!

Minus sign, minus sign,
What do you say?
Subtract a set.
Take it away!

Equal sign, equal sign,
What is your game?
The amount on either side
Is always the same.

Look at the signs before you begin,
And your answer will always win!

Hint! Here is a tool that can help children solve word problems. Fold a sheet of paper into fourths. Open and fold in half. Cut half way up one creased line as shown. Make a “+” on the right and a “-“ on the left. Lift flaps and write key words for adding and subtracting. For example:

Addition: plus, in all, altogether, how many, sum
Subtraction: less, minus, left, take away, fewer, difference

Money Musical Chairs
Place chairs in a circle and put a coin on each chair. Play some music for the children to march around. When the music stops they have to identify the coin by where they are standing.

*Make the game more difficult by putting several coins for the children to count.

Skip Counting
Skip counting is one of those "prior learning" activities that we can do with young children.  When they get older and have to learn multiplication facts it will be a "song."

Sing and skip count by 2’s to “Twinkle Little Star.”
Practice counting by 3’s to “Are You Sleeping?”
4’s “Row Your Boat”
5’s “The Bear Went over the Mountain”
6’s “London Bridge”
7’s “Ten Little Indians”
8’s “This Old Man”

Hi Ho Adding We’ll Go  
(Tune: “The Farmer in the Dell”)
1 plus 1 equals 2 (Hold up fingers as you sing.)
1 plus 1 equals 2
Hi, ho, adding we’ll go. (Roll hands around.)
1 plus 1 equals 2

*Continue singing with other math facts.

Doubles Don’t Give Me Trouble (Sarah Jackson)
(Tune: “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”)
1 + 1= 2, 2 + 2 = 4, 3 + 3 = 6, 4 + 4 = 8, 5 + 5 = 10, 6 + 6 = 12
Now I know my doubles,
They don’t give me any trouble!
7 + 7 =14, 8 + 8 = 16, 9 + 9 = 18, 10 + 10 = 20, 11 + 11 = 22, 12 + 12 = 24

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Looking at ideas from ten years ago is like going trick or treating and getting candy for me. These are old ideas, but they are still “sweet” as candy!

Time Out Words
Make a chart with “Time Out Words.” Those are words that don’t obey rules like “are, the, one, etc.”

*I've also heard these referred to as "Outlaw Words" because they don't obey the laws.
Sound Match
Write every letter on two index cards. You will need to use as many cards as there are children in your class. For example, if you have 24 students use 24 of the cards or the letters A – L. Pass a letter to each child, but tell them not to let anyone see their letter. Children walk around the room making their sound until they find someone making the same sound. They stoop down and think of a word that starts with that sound. When all students are stopping the teacher yells, “Pop Up ABCs” and the children stand up. Continue playing the game with different letters.

*Make a similar game for younger children with pictures of farm animals. They walk around making their animal’s sound until they find their partner.

The Feeling Poem
What a great way to nurture vocabulary!
Line one: Name an emotion
Line two: “Smells like. . .”
Line three: “Tastes like. . .”
Line four: “Sounds like. . .”
Line five: “Feels like. . . .”
Line six: “Feels like. . .”
Line seven: “Feels like. . .”

Skip or Duet Reading
Take turns reading every other word.

*You can do this as a large group activity or children can do this with a partner.
No Nuts for Me!
(Cadence - Children repeat each line.)
No, no, no, no nuts for me
Because I have allergies.
Peanuts, pecans, walnuts, too.
No almonds, pistachios, or cashews.
No sharing snacks or lunch with me.
I’m what you call peanut-free.
Labels, labels, always read.
No, no, no, no nuts I need.

Drawing a Person
Many children have difficulty drawing a person, so this is a technique that might help.  It's also an interesting way to focus on positional words.  First, fold a piece of paper into thirds as shown. Open. Prompt children with these directions:

1. What's at the top of you? Your head! Make the head in this top section.

2. What's in the middle of you? Your body! Make a body in the middle section.

3. What comes off your body? Your legs! Make your legs in the bottom section.

4. What's at the end of your legs...

5. What comes off the sides of your body...

6. What's at the end of your arms...

7. What helps you see...(Some children may need to look in the mirror to see what color their eyes are.)

Talk...hear...smell...continue calling out details for the children to add.
Note! One time I had a little girl who liked to draw naked people. I didn't make a big deal, but I said, "You know, everyone has to wear clothes to school." That's all it took!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


On the road again...I just can't wait to get on the road again...
I got the suitcase out today and I'm ready to pack for my fall tour. (Well, that's kind of stretching it to call my seminars a "tour," but you know what I mean.) I'm ready to sing and dance and share some great ideas in these locations. Go to for details.

Minneapolis, MN,  November 1, 2016

(Who wouldn't want to come to a workshop the day after Halloween????)

Louisville, KY,  November 15, 2016

Pittsburgh, PA,  November 30, 2016

Fort Worth, TX,  December 6, 2016

Houston, TX,  December 7, 2016

P.S.  Bring your camera and we'll take some "usies."

Sub CD
And, here's an idea for the next time you go to a conference or have a substitute teacher.  Burn a special CD with a good morning song, math songs, phonics songs, and lots of movement songs and your class can sing and dance through the day.  (You can also give the sub a list of my videos.)
Another teacher said she kept a sheriff's badge with a folder for the substitute teacher.  One child was chosen (alphabetical list) to be the "sheriff for the day" and "keep law and order."  What she meant by that was when there was a question and everyone in the classroom had a different answer, the sheriff decided what to do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


I thought of a few more activities with magnetic letters.  All kids love birthday parties, so why not celebrate the letters’ birthdays!

Happy Birthday Letters (Totally Reading CD)
Yo, A, (Hands like a rapper and dance to the beat.)
It’s your birthday.
Let’s all read
Like your birthday.
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ (Circle hands around as you make the sound.)
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
Yo, B…etc.

*Have children stand in a circle. When the letter that their name starts with comes up in the song they get in the middle of the circle and break dance.

*Make sign language letters as you sing.
*Cut out this birthday cake and add magnetic tape to the back. Place on a magnetic board and spread magnetic letters around the cake. Children take turns choosing a letter, putting it in the cake, and leading their friends in the song.

Who Let the Letters Out?
Put magnetic letters in a dog dish.  Pull one letter out at a time and use it in this chant?
Who let the A out?
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
Who let the B out?
/b/ /b/ /b/ /b/....

Monday, October 24, 2016


I’ll be demonstrating these activities when I go LIVE AT FIVE ON FACEBOOK this afternoon. Magnetic letters are kind of like comfort food in early childhood. They have been around forever and they can be used in a multitude of ways from preschool to primary grades. They are inexpensive, plentiful, and they are REAL – as opposed to the screen.

Letter Monster – Make a letter monster out of a milk or orange juice jug. Cut an opening in the side of the jug and then make a monster face similar to the one shown with felt and art scraps.
     *Feed the monster all the letters you know.
     *Feed the monster the letters in your name.
     *Feed letter monster all the red letters. Can you name them?
     *Feed the monster the letters of your favorite color.

     *Choose a letter.  Can you write it?  Can you draw a picture that starts with that sound?
     *Grab a handful of letters.  How many words can you make?
     *Make sight words with the letters and feed them to the monster.
Can You Find Bottle? Fill a large plastic bottle with salt or sand. Insert magnetic letters and shake. Children shake the bottle and try to identify letters.
*Give them a grid with the alphabet letters. They can color in the letters as they find them in the bottle.
Letter Pops - Glue magnetic letters to 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.

*Can they find some friends and make a word with their letters?
*Have children hold up letters as you sing alphabet songs.
Hint!  E6000 is the BEST glue for these projects.  You can find it at any of the big box stores.  Make sure you use it at home because it is toxic and should not be around children.
Play Dough – Put magnetic letters in a center with play dough. Children can make “pancakes” and then press the letters on them.

*Make sight words and press them in the play dough.
Sand Box Treasure - Hide magnetic letters in your sand table. Children can take a magnet and try to identify letters they “attract.”
*Can they make the sound? Can they think of a word that starts with that sound? Can they write a word that starts with that sound?

Letter Password - Place several letters you are working on around your 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 particular word.)

Letter Match Up - Create a class alphabet book by having children draw pictures for each letter. Children find magnetic letters and match them up in the alphabet book.

Shadow Letters - Place letters on a copy machine.  Have children match up real letters with their shadows.

etter Hunt- Hide letters in the classroom. 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?

Touch and Tell - Place a magnetic letter in a sock. Can children reach in the sock and identify the letter by feeling it?

Building Words - Demonstrate how to build words with magnetic letters using a document camera.

Alphabet Soup - Place magnetic letters in a mixing bowl.  Children take a big spoon and scoop out some letters.  How many words can they make with their letters?  Ask the children to write the words they can make.
Letter Tin – Place magnetic letters inside a cookie tin. Make three lines with a permanent marker on the inside of the lid. As you call out sounds children place the letters on the lines to make CVC words.

Hint! Place in a center for children to make and write word families.
Letter Play - Let children play with magnetic letters on a cookie sheet or file cabinet.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


A long, long time ago I used to self-publish a little book called MAGICAL MUSIC. I forgot all about a pattern I had in that book for a “Letter Baby” until someone tweeted her kids singing the song with their visuals. Maybe some of your children will enjoy it as well.
(Tune: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”)
I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth,
I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth.
I’ve got the whole alphabet in my mouth
and I can read!
I’ve got A - /a/ /a/ in my mouth
I’ve got B - /b/ /b/ in my mouth
I’ve got C - /c/ /c/ in my mouth…Z
And I can read!
I’ve got all the sounds in my mouth,
And I’m ready to read!
*Children spin the wheel around to display the letters as they sing the song.

Here’s another visual to help children focus on letters and sounds.
Color and cut out the bus using the pattern. Add magnetic tape to the back and place it on a magnetic board. Put magnetic letters in the window as you sing the song. 

The Letters on the Bus  (Tune: “The Wheels on the 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 B on the bus goes /b/ /b/ /b/, /b/ /b/ /b, /b/ /b/ /b/,
The B on the bus goes /b/ /b/ /b/ all around the town.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


You can count on me to give you a few more interesting ways to develop math standards today.

Counting by Two’s (Melanie Hope)
Have students identify body parts that come in sets of two. Stand and count by two’s as you touch the following body parts:
     2 – hands on eyes
     4 – hands on ears
     6 – hands on elbows
     8 – knees
     10 – feet
     12 – eyes
     14 – ears….
You’ll be able to count to 100 by 2’s before you know it!

High Five Book

Trace around each child’s hands on a 6” square and let them decorate it with markers or crayons. Make a cover that says “High Five Book.” Tape the pages together to make an accordion book. Number the pages 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. Read over the book counting by 5’s to 100.

*Make a “Piggie Book” by tracing around children’s feet. Number the pages 10, 20, 30, etc. and practice counting by ten’s with this book.

Whisper Skip Count
One (Touch head as you whisper “one.”)
Two (Touch shoulders and say “two.”)
Three (Touch head and whisper.)
Four (Touch shoulders and say “four.”)
Five (Touch head and whisper.)
Six (Touch shoulders and say “six.”)
Seven (Touch head and whisper.)
Eight (Touch shoulders and say, “eight.”)
Nine (Touch head and whisper.)
Ten (Touch shoulders as you say “ten.”)

*To count by 3’s, touch shoulders and whisper “one,” touch shoulders and whisper “two,” touch waist and say “three.”
*To count by 4’s, whisper on 1-3 and touch knees as you say “four.”
*To count by 5’s, whisper on 1-4 and touch toes as you say “five.”

Odd and Even  (Tune: “Old MacDonald”)
There was a teacher who had some numbers
And ODD was their name-o.
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
And ODD was their name-o.

There was a teacher who had some numbers
And EVEN was their name-o.
0, 2, 4, 6, 8…

Circle Count
Students sit or stand in a big circle. Explain that the group will be counting around the circle, each saying one number. You may count zero to twenty, or decide to “count on” and choose random numbers like 36 to 47. Choose a magic number in the sequence of numbers that will be counted. The person who says that number each time around will go sit in the middle of the circle. Play continues (with the given numbers or a new set you choose) until only one student is left in the circle. 

*Have students count by tens to one hundred. Each student says one number. The student who says “one hundred” goes to the middle of the circle.

Giant Number Line

Attach a piece of tape to the floor in a prominent place in your classroom. Let children walk on it forwards, backwards, hop, etc. After playing with the line, ask them to sit on the floor. Explain that you’re going to turn it into a number line as you demonstrate writing numbers (0-10) on the tape.
*Ask one child at a time to walk on the number line as they say each number.
*Call out different numbers and ask random students to stand on those numbers. What is one more? What is one less?
*Give students dot cards (0-10) and ask them to match their card with the number on the line.

*Make a number line for each child from a sentence strip. Let them decorate a jumbo craft stick and then use it to count on the number line.
*Make a number line on the sidewalk with chalk and use for similar activities.

Friday, October 21, 2016


I need to give a little love to math today!
Here are some counting ideas that are full of “active learning.”
Note!  For younger children you would just count from 1-10 using the activities. 

Count higher for kindergarten children as they progress through the year. 
Adapt the ideas to skip counting for older students

Karate Chop Count
Feet out, knees bent, karate chop with your right hand and then your left as you count by ones. 

     *Do leg curls and chops as you count by 5’s to 100 

     *Kick front and back as you count by 10’s to 200. 

     *Wax on, wax off as you count by 100’s to 1000. 

Pump Up to 100
Pretend to hold weights as you count. 

1-20 - bicep curls (Elbows in, pretend to hold weights in fists with palms up as you bring forearms up and down.) 

21-40 - for overhead press (Fists face forwards as you start at your shoulders and push the weights overhead.) 

41-60 – side raises (Elbows at 90% angles as you raise them out to the side.) 61-80 – upright rows (Fists together close to the body and raise elbows out and up until fists are at your heart.) 

81-100 – frontal raises - (Fists together and arms stiff as you raise them in front of your body to eye level.) 

Whew! (Wipe brow!!!)

Jump Rope Counting
Children pretend to hold an imaginary jump rope and jump as they count to 100.

Dance and Count 

Choose a different dance move for each ten as you count. 

1-10 – Disco (Index finger up and down across body.) 

11-20 – Hitchhike (Thumb out across body.) 

21-30 – Swim (Make swimming motions.) 

31-40 – Bollywood (One hand up in circular motion and one down.) 

41-50 – Pony (Step from side to side.) 

51-60 – Twist (Twist at waist.) 

61-70 – Salsa (One arm bent up and other hand on elbow.) 

71-80 – Monster (Arms out in front of you.) 

81-90 – Bird (Flap your arms like a bird.) 

91-100 – Do your own thing!

Patty Cake Count 
Children face their partner and patty cake as they county by ones, fives, tens, and so forth.

Shoelace Counting
Write numerals 1-20 on a cotton shoelace with a fabric marker. Slide a bead on the shoelace and move it up and down as you count. 
*What’s one more than___? Two less than___?
Hint! This would be a good project for a parent volunteer.

Math Line Up
Write numbers one to twenty (or as many as students in your class) on 3X5" cards. Shuffle the cards and hand one to each student. Have students line up in numerical order at the door. They put their cards in a basket by the door when they line up so the cards are ready to use next time.
As the year progresses write higher numbers on the cards.

Silly Voice Counting
Have children count using different voices. For example: robot, opera, pirate, monster, teacher, cowboy, monkey, surprised, worried, silly, excited, happy, sad, mad, confused, whisper, sleepy, and scared.
*Add holiday or seasonal voices like a scarecrow (reads words in a scary voice), ghost (students say “boo” after each word), witch (read with a cackle while stirring a pot), Rudolph (students flash their hands like blinking lights as they read the word), Frosty (students shiver as they read the words) or Santa (students must say the words three times in a “ho,ho,ho” style), or the Easter bunny (students hop after saying each word).

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Take advantage of those extra minutes you have before lunch, while waiting to for an activity, or at the end of the day with one of these brain breaks. They are the perfect solution for when your students look bored or restless during the day.

Hint! Before doing these activities ask children to show you their “body space” by extending their arms slightly and twisting around. Remind them to stay in their body space as you do these activities.

Shake It Up
Hold up your right hand and shake five times as you count.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold up your left hand and shake five times as you count.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold up your right foot and shake five times as you count.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Hold up your left foot and shake five times as you count.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Count to four with each arm and leg…then three…two…one.
End by saying, “Oh yeah!” as you extend your arms and make the letter “Y.”

Adaptations: If children are wound-up do this with a whisper voice.

*Count to five in different languages.

*Do the vowel shake down where you say, “A, E, I, O, U,” and the “E, I, O, U,” and then “I, O, U,” and so forth.

Balancing Brains
Have children stand. How long can they balance on their right foot? How long can they balance on their left foot?
Can they balance on their toes?
Can they balance on their right foot and extend their left leg in the air?
Can they balance on their left foot and extend their right leg in the air.
Can they balance on one foot with their eyes closed?

Jumping Brains
Ask children to stand and challenge them to jump in their space as long as they can. When they get tired they can sit back in their seats.

Here’s a video where you can jump with Dr. Jean.

Brains Go Marching
Children can get an amazing amount of exercise simply by standing and marching in place. March with Dr. Jean on this video:

Push the Wall
While children are waiting in the hall have them put their hands up against the wall and push it as hard as they can. Ask them to do push ups against the wall?

Babble Break

How about a three-minute "babble break" where children can talk to their friends? You could give them a topic to discuss that relates to a unit of study, let them tell jokes, or just chit chat.

Hungry for a few transition cookies?

If they taste good you can order more!

Here’s a link for a free webinar I’ll be doing on brain breaks this afternoon:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


You can give standards a brain break with these smart cookies. Purposeful practice for automaticity (repetition) is a key to skill mastery, so these playful exercises will have children practicing skills as they move and have fun.
Children stand and put their hands in the air as they say a letter. They put their hands on their shoulders and make the letter sound. As they touch their toes they say a word that starts with that sound.
     A (Hands up in the air and say “A.”)
     /a/ (Hands on shoulders and make the short /a/ sound.)
     ____ (Say a word that starts with “A” as you touch your toes.)

Adaptations: Say words that are nouns, verbs, or other parts of speech as you touch your toes.
*Children can “Phonercise” with Dr. Jean on this video:

Macarena Count to 100
Directions: Children stand and do the “Macarena” as they count.
1 (Right arm out palm down.)
2 (Left arm out palm down.)
3 (Right palm up.)
4 (Left palm up.)
5 (Right hand on left shoulder.)
6 (Left hand on right shoulder.)
7 (Right hand behind head.)
8 (Left hand behind head.)
9 (Right hand on left hip.)
10 (Left hand on right hip.)
(Clap two times.)
That is one ten. (Hold up one finger.)

*Skip count using the Macarena. Counting by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, etc. will help children with multiplication.

*Do the “Macarena” with Dr. Jean on this video:

Sports Spell
Have children stand and pretend to dribble a basketball. Spell out words as you dribble, and then shoot the ball in the hoop as you say the word. For example:
T (bounce), H (bounce), E (bounce) ~ “the” (throw the ball in the hoop)

Adaptations: Take a batter’s position. Pretend to take a swing as you say the letters; then hit a home run as you say the word. For example:
R (swing), E (swing), A (swing), D (swing) ~ “read” (swing around)

*Let children suggest other sports where they could practice spelling words. For example, swimming, soccer, tennis, fishing…it’s endless!

Top to Bottom Math Facts
Children stand and put their hands in the air as the teacher says a number. When they touch their heads the teacher says “plus” or “minus.” As they touch their waist the teacher says a second number. When the touch their knees everyone says “equals.” And when they touch their toes they say the answer to the math fact.

Adaptations: Tell number stories where children touch and tell the answer.
*Let children take turns calling out math facts.

How about some sample smart cookies?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Draw a line vertically down the middle of your body. That’s called the midline. Every time you cross over that line, you are activating both sides of the brain and building bridges between the hemispheres in the brain.

Hint! Let children put a piece of painter’s tape on their midline to increase their awareness when you do these activities.
Cross and Tap
Touch right hand to left knee and then touch left hand to right knee. Continue touching opposite hands to knees.
Adaptations: Lift left knee and touch with right elbow. Lift right knee and touch with left elbow.
*Count, say the ABC’s, repeat nursery rhymes, and so forth as you cross and tap.

Toe Writing
Cross right leg over left knee and write the letters of the alphabet with the toes on your right foot. Then cross your left foot over your right knee and write the alphabet letters backwards with your left toes.
*Practice sight words or spelling words with toe writing.

I Am Slowly Going Crazy
Here’s a silly video that will reduce stress and have everyone laughing!

Finger Fitness
Finger exercises are a great way to focus children’s attention and develop hand strength.
1. Demonstrate how to fold your hands and twiddle (rotate thumbs around each other) your thumbs.
2. Unfold your hands and put the opposite thumb on top and twiddle.
3. Wiggle one finger at a time starting with your thumbs, index fingers, middle finger, ring, and pinky fingers.
4. Put palms together and tap one finger at a time starting with thumbs.

Cut surveying tape or ribbon in 3’ sections. Pass these out to students and have them follow along as you cross the midline and make different motions to the music.
*Make lazy eights in front of you with the tape.
*Use streamers for “invisible writing” as you practice making shapes,
*Play follow the leader as different students make motions for friends to follow along.

Here are some sample cookies for you today:

And here’s how to order more!

Monday, October 17, 2016


You learn on your feet, not on your seat! When children move, dance, and wiggle, more senses are activated and the message is more likely to get to the brain. Music and movement also emit endorphins which make you happy. I’ve got breakfast cookies to start your day, smart cookies to reinforce skills, and transition cookies for all those “in between” times. I’ll be ALIVE AT FIVE today so you can watch me demonstrate some of the movements.
Note! Feel free to “harvest” these ideas to work for your class and the age level of your students.

Have your students start each day with about 10 minutes of singing, dancing, and handshakes.

Time to Get Up
Wake up with Dr. Jean as you do this video:

Morning Stretch
This is the perfect activity if children are wound up when they arrive at school:

Feeling Fine
Yes, you and your students will feel fine and smile with this video:

Class Rock
Activating the extremities (hands and feet) sends blood to the brain and wakes up the body.  Stand in a circle and begin doing this beat as you stomp your foot two times and then clap two times.  
Insert each child’s name in the chant as you go around the circle.
     (stomp, stomp, clap - stomp, stomp, clap)     
     We think first child’s name is super. Super!
     We think second child’s name is super. Super!
     We think….
Adaptations: Insert other positive adjectives, such as "awesome," "incredible," "talented," "kind," "polite," etc.

Turn on Your Brain
Help children focus and get ready to learn by turning on their brains each morning:
     Turn on the right side of your brain. (Pretend to turn on right side.)
     Turn on the left side. (Pretend to turn on left side.)
     Turn on your right eye. (Pretend to turn on right eye.)
     Turn on your left eye. (Pretend to turn on left eye.)
     Turn on your right ear. (Pretend to turn on right ear.)
     Turn on your left ear. (Pretend to turn on left ear.)
     You don’t need to turn on your mouth because it’s always “on.”
     Now you’re ready to learn!

Nothing can replace the sense of touch with a handshake, eye contact, and a smile for each student every morning.