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Saturday, December 31, 2016


Haim G. Ginott was a teacher, child psychologist, and psychotherapist.  Although written in the 70’s, his book BETWEEN PARENT AND CHILD has relevance today. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized. 

If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.

And you’re going to LOVE this one…

Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. 

The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task.

As you begin 2017, reflect on what an enormous ability you have to do GOOD every day.  Yes, the expectations are often impossible, but it's not about a test score or data.  It's about those little person who spends most of her waking hours with you.  You can give them a little joy - you can show them this is a good world - you can give them HOPE!  

"Raheem's Gift" was written by one of my student teachers in her journal over fifteen years ago. It was an inspiration to me then, and I hope it will remind you of what a difference you can make in just one child’s life in 2017.

Last night I painted a box for a gift for Raheem. Raheem was the only kid in kindergarten who did not have a backpack. I wanted to give him one without creating any animosity from his guardian. I didn’t want them to feel like it was charity so I gave it to him as a reward for perfect behavior. I painted a peaceful scene on the box; big happy sun, apple trees, mountains, lake, and sky. I glued cotton on the lake for a duck and in the sky for clouds.

Raheem is the little boy who never smiles but he always listens. At circle time I announced to the class that I was giving a gift to the one person who never got their name on the board, never had to be reminded to finish their work, and always followed directions. Most of them automatically pointed to Raheem. They already knew who the person was. He came and got his gift and started for the closet. He proudly hung his backpack up with the others and started for his seat. He put the box under his chair and came back to the circle.

After a while I caught Raheem staring at me. He had a look of total disbelieve. I could almost hear his inner voice saying. “I can’t believe she noticed me.”

Every day I’ve been in this class I’ve noticed Raheem. He is so silent and reserved. He very rarely speaks, but when he does it’s in such a little mouse whisper that you have to literally put your ear to his mouth to hear him. At first I could not imagine what he must have been through in his short life to be so incredibly sad. Now I understand.

Raheem’s mother is addicted to crack. He stays with an aunt. I know he can’t possibly understand why she’s not here for him. My heart bleeds for him. I can’t even imagine having such a horrible fate.

Now I’m left wondering how I could possibly make this little boy understand that the reason his mother abandoned him has nothing to do with him. The reason she is incapable of giving him the love every child deserves from their mother is an illness - a drug addiction. I wonder if any length of time could ever heal his little broken heart. I doubt it. I’m sure he will always have emotional hang-us and scars. I can only hope he will recognize the reason and deal with his emotions constructively.

Teaching is a very empowering experience. At school I make a difference in children’s lives. Hopefully, one great enough to carry out of school and spread around a bit.

Raheem was unusually perky today.

Friday, December 30, 2016


It’s hard to pump yourself up to go back to school after the holidays - and it’s difficult for children as well. Here are some little “happies” that might give you and your children something to look forward to in 2017!

Hot Chocolate Friday
I LOVE this idea! Ask each parent to send in a box of instant hot chocolate and an old coffee mug. End your week by letting each child stir up some hot chocolate. Read poems, say rhymes, read books, and fall in love with language as you sip your hot chocolate together!
Dress Up
We always looked forward to dress up days. Pajama parties, beach day (Yes, in January!), what I want to be when I grow up, my favorite book character, hat day, and silly sock day are just a few ideas. You can easily tie these in with units of study or literature. (Goodness, don’t forget about “instructional time”!)

Game Day
This was on a blog several weeks ago. Let children bring in games from home on Friday and play with their friends the last 30 minutes.

A teacher in Atlanta explained that their whole grade level gets together for 30 minutes of LIFT every Friday. LIFT stands for “Learning Is Fun Time” and I think it’s a wonderful idea for 2017. It’d work well to put one class in charge each week and to relate songs, rhymes, stories, and games to standards and themes.

Tell your children that they can EARN “fun” time on Friday. First, discuss what “fun” time might mean to them. Basically, it’s a time when they get to do whatever they want. When you catch the class on good behavior during the week they can earn a letter in the words “FANTASTIC FUN FRIDAY.” Write the letters as they earn them on the board. If they earn all the letters by Friday then their reward is to have fun the last 30 minutes. (You’ll be surprised that some of your students won’t know what to do at first. They’ll just walk around and walk around. Funny! Sooner or later they will figure it out!)

How about you?
Have you got any tips for energizing yourself and your students when you go back to school? Please email them to me ( and I’ll share them on my blog. Thanks! I love to learn new things!

I was looking through some old blogs and I saw this idea from KIRPC Head Start in Indiana. The teacher said she bought sheets, tied the ends with ribbons, and then hung them on hooks around the smart board. Wouldn’t this be a nice touch to your classroom in January!


Thursday, December 29, 2016


Funky Feet in 2017
Step into the new year with this idea.  All you'll need is some funky duct tape.  Each day write some information you want to reinforce on a sheet of heavy paper and tape it to the floor with the funky tape by the classroom door.  Children repeat the information each time as they go in and out the door.  For example:
Letters - children say the letter and something that starts with the sound
Math facts - children say the answer
Sight words - children read the word
*Hint!  You could also make letters, numbers, or shapes on the floor with the duct tape.
                                          Ring in the New Year
(Tune:  “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”)
Let’s all do a little ringing,  (Shake hands as if ringing bells.)
Let’s all do a little ringing,
Let’s all do a little ringing
It’s a Happy New Year!

Let’s all do a little clapping…  (Clap hands.)
Let’s all do a little dancing…   (Dance around.)
Let’s all do a little smiling…    (Smile.)

When is your birthday?
When is your birthday?
When is your birthday?
Stand up and cheer.

(Say months of the year.)
January, February, March…(Children stand up on their birthday month.)

Let’s all be a little kinder…  (Pat friends on the back.)
For a Happy New Year!

*Download this book at

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow - Make a brochure by folding a piece of paper into thirds.   Label the sections “Yesterday”…”Today…”Tomorrow…”  Children draw what they were like when they were little (babies or toddlers), what they look like now, and what they will be like when they are grown-up.
*You could also let children make a time line of their lives.  (Writing Standard W.3)

New Year's Resolutions Flip Book
What is a New Year's resolution?  Why do people make resolutions?  
Make a flip book by folding a sheet of paper in half lengthwise.  Fold in half.  Fold in half again.  Open.  Cut halfway to the center fold as shown.  Write the numerals "2014" on the flips.  Children open each one and write (or draw) a goal for the New Year. 

Soaring in 2017 - Let children draw (or write) goals for the New Year on a blank sheet of paper.  Fold the paper into an airplane.  Children state their goal and then fly their plane across the room (or outside).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Here are some other creative January ideas for art, cooking, and centers.

Snow Dough – You can use any play dough recipe for snow dough.  Simply omit the food coloring and let the children knead in iridescent glitter to make it sparkle.  (My favorite dough is: 2 cups flour, 2 cup salt, 2 TB. cream of tartar, 2 TB. vegetable oil, and 2 cups water.  Mix ingredients together in a pan until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture forms a ball and sticks to the spoon.  Cool and knead.  Store in airtight containers.)
Note!  Make sure children wash hands before and after playing with dough.

Snow Flakes – Let children fold coffee filters in half, then fourths and eighths.  Cut little “bites” out of the folded edges.  Open.  You can make colorful snowflakes by coloring the coffee filters with water soluble markers before cutting them.
Hint!  Make snowflakes out of newspaper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and other types of recycled paper.

Snow Prints
Let children draw winter scenes on blue construction paper with crayons.  Give them white paint and a sponge or Q-tip to “make it snow.”

Positive and Negative
Fold a sheet of construction paper in half.  Cut three semi-circles similar to the one shown on the fold.  Open.  Explain the positive and negative shapes.  Use the snowman cutouts for some of the games mentioned yesterday.  Tape wax paper to the the back of the negative design as shown.  Let children decorate and the hang on a window.
Ice Skating – Give each child 2 paper plates.  Demonstrate how to place these on the floor and put one foot on each plate.  Slide your feet as if skating.  Put on some waltz music and let the children skate, twist, and turn.  Play “freeze.”  When you stop the music children must “freeze” in their positions.  When the music begins again they may continue to skate.

Snow People – Instead of drawing snow “men,” encourage children to paint or draw snow ladies, snow children, snow pets, and other characters.

Sock Snowman  - You will need a white tube sock and some fiber fill for this project.  Children stuff 3 large handfuls of fiber fill into the toe of the sock to make the snowman’s body.  Tie off with yarn or string.  Stuff 2 large handfuls to make the middle section.  Tie off.  Stuff 1 large handful for the head and tie off at the top.  Invert the top of the sock and pull over the head for a hat.  Children can decorate with markers, felt scraps, etc.  Encourage them to name their snowman and tell a story about what they would do if it were real.
Icebergs  - Fill plastic containers with water.  Add food coloring and freeze.  Place these in your water table and tell the children they are icebergs.  Add walruses, polar bears, and other plastic arctic animals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Let’s see how we can tie in these charming snowmen with skills and standards!

I’m a Little Snowman
(Tune:  “I’m a Little Teapot”)
I’m a little snowman                    (Bend knees.)
Short and fat.                            (Extend arms in a circle.)
Here is my broom and                  (Hold out right hand.)
Here is my hat.                           (Touch head with left hand.)
When the sun comes out             (Slowly melt to the ground.)
I’ll melt away.
But I’ll be back another day!

I’m a snow lady,                           (Bend knees.)
White and round.                         (Extend arms in a circle.)
In my hat and apron                     (Touch head and waist.)
I don’t make a sound.                   (Index finger on lips.)
When the sun comes out              (Slowly melt to the ground.)
I’ll melt away.
But I’ll be back another day!
*Download this book at

How To – Let children discuss how to make a snowman.  Dramatize making a snowman by rolling a big ball, and then a middle size ball, and then a small ball for the head.  Fold two sheets of paper in half and staple.  Have children write a book about how to make a snowman.

Before and After – Have children fold a sheet of paper in half.  Ask them to draw a picture of a snowman before it melts on the left.  Can they draw a picture of the snowman after it melts on the right?  What makes a snowman melt?
*Give children cartoon frames to illustrate a snowman melting.

Snowman Addition – Draw snowmen on poster board similar to the one shown.  Laminate.  Children make sets (or write addends) in the top two balls and then put the sum in the bottom ball.
Snowball Math – Fill a clear jar with snowballs/cotton balls.  Let each child estimate how many snowballs are in the jar and write their name and answer on a sheet of paper.  At the end of the day count the snowballs.  Who guessed more?  Who guessed less? 
*Let the children use the “snowballs” to make sets or to do addition and subtraction problems.

Science Experiment - Give each child a clear cup with an ice cube in it.  Ask them to draw a picture of what it looks like.  Have them predict how many minutes it will take their ice cube to melt.  Encourage them to draw what it looks like after five minute intervals.

Snowball Reading and Math – Give each child a sheet of scrap paper.  Tie this in with skills you want to reinforce by having them write a letter, vocabulary word, math fact, etc. on the paper.  Wad up the paper to make snowballs.  Divide the class into two teams facing each other.  When the teacher says, “Let it snow!” the children start throwing their snowballs at the opposite team.  Before children can throw the snowball back they must open it up and tell a team member the information on the paper.  (It’s O.K. to ask for help.)  After several minutes the teacher says, “Freeze!” and everyone must stop throwing.  Each team gathers up the snowballs on their side and counts the amount.  Who has more?  Who has less?  In this game, the team with the least amount is the winner.
*Keep throwing snowballs as long as the children are interested.

Frosty’s Magic Hat
Make flashcards for letters, numerals, words, math facts, or other skills.  On several cards draw a black hat.  Explain that when Frosty’s magic hat appears the children get to stand up and dance around.  This is an easy game that you can play during transitions if you only have a few minutes.
Snowman’s Mystery Word
Draw a snowman on the board.  Think of a word or phrase and put blanks for each letter.  Children guess letters (similar to Hangman).  The teacher writes the letters on the appropriate spaces.  If a letter that is not in the word/phrase is called out the teacher erases part of the snowman and puts the letter in the “trash pile.”  Can they decode the word before the snowman is erased?

Snowball Seriate
Cut different sizes snowballs (circles) out of cardstock.  Let children seriate them from largest to smallest.

Counting Snowmen
Cut out 10 or 20 snowmen from heavy paper.  Write the numerals 1-10 (or 20) on their bodies.  Mix up the snowmen and then have the children put them in order.

Monday, December 26, 2016


Whether you live in Alaska or Florida, everybody loves snowmen!  Here's a finger play, puppet poem, and story you can make this week and you'll be good to go back to school!

Five Little Snowmen Finger Play
Five little snowmen fat.                           (Hold up five fingers.)
Each wore a different hat.
Along came the sun and melted one.           (Bend down one finger.)
Now, what do you think about that?

Four little snowmen fat…                           (Hold up four fingers.)
Cut snowmen out of felt as shown.  Place a different colored hat on each one.  Remove one snowman as each verse is said. 
*Place the flannel board and snowmen in a center so children can practice saying the rhyme and make sets.
*Make a simple flannel board by gluing a piece of felt to the front of a file folder.  Staple the sides.  Store pieces inside and glue a copy of the poem to the back.

Snowman Puppet
Cut a snowman out of heavy paper and decorate with markers.  Cut a circle for the nose the width of your index finger.  Cut another circle the size of your index finger out of a cup.  Match up holes and tape the snowman in place.  Put your hand in the cup and stick your index finger through the hole as you repeat the rhyme below.
A chubby little snowman
Had a carrot for a nose.
Along came a bunny
And what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny
Looking for some lunch
Ate that little snowman’s nose
Nibble, nibble, crunch!  (Slowly pull your finger back into the cup.)
Snowman’s Story
Once there was a beautiful snowman made of white snow.  Along came a red bird one day and the bird said,
Ha, ha, ha,
He, he, he,
You’re the funniest snowman I ever did see.
The snowman said,
Oh, dear, oh, dear,
Oh, me, oh, me!
Why am I the funniest snowman you ever did see?
Well, said the bird, you should be red like me.  Red is such a bright, happy color.
So that night the snowman got some red dye and turned himself red.

The next day along came a yellow duck.
Ha, ha, ha….(The story continues as the snowman dyes himself yellow.)
The next day along came a green frog…
The next day along came blue bug…

The next day the snowman was feeling rather sad.  Just then along came a little girl.  She said, “Why are you so sad?”  The snowman said, “I’ve dyed myself red and yellow and green and blue and I just don’t feel like myself.”  The little girl said, “You are wonderful just the way you are!  Always be yourself!” 
So the snowman blinked his eyes and he was once again the color of snow.  From then on he was happy just being himself.  And that’s why you always see snowmen with happy smiles on their faces.

*Cut a snowman shape out of the front of a file folder.  Insert white, red, yellow, green, blue, and white paper.  Glue the words to the story on the back.  As you tell the story remove the paper to correspond with the story.
Hint!  I painted snow on the file folder with White Out.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


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

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.
Eric Sevareid

"Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.” “Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”
The Grinch

My wish for you is that this day is full of wonderful blessings!  I hope all the love you give to  your students every day comes back to you and fills you with joy! 

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Monday, December 19, 2016


When I was a little girl I got ONE thing for Christmas. Seriously! One thing! And I was happy. I usually got a baby doll and I named her and I LOVED her. We put out popcorn and a beer for Santa. (My dad had a sense of humor and we didn’t know any better. I was probably in third grade before I realized that Santa liked milk and cookies.) We would hang up one of my dad’s socks and in the morning we’d find a few nuts, an orange, and a candy cane in it.
Those were the days before television and advertisements. Our family had one bathroom and one car for six people and somehow it worked. We never went out to eat because there were no fast food restaurants. There were no books or cartoons about Santa, so my vision of him was created from my imagination and “The Night before Christmas.”

Was I na├»ve? I didn’t know I was suppose to get tons of presents and leave out milk instead of beer. Ignorance really was bliss because I have such sweet memories. It’s also called selective nostalgia because I only remember the good things. I try to forget the family feuds and some of my disappointments. It does no good to recall the negative things.

That might be the secret to true happiness this holiday season. Forgive and forget the unkind words and hopes unfulfilled. Focus on the positive and things that you have in your control. Surround yourself with people you love, and ignore the ones you are not too crazy about.

I send you peace, love, joy, and hope!!!

Merry! Merry! Happy! Happy!

Now, I'm going to turn off my computer and make some holly jollies.  I'll be back December 26th.  Ho!  Ho!  Ho!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Yes, it really is Bake Cookies Day, but its fun to bake cookies any day of the year. Here’s what says about today:

'Ya gotta just love Bake Cookies Day......... 

..... Christmas is for Christians 

..... Hanukkah is just for Jews 
.... Ramadan is for those of Islamic descent 

..... Kwanzaa is for those of African origin 

..... Native American Day is for American Indians

But, Bake Cookies Day is for EVERYONE! 

Play Dough 

Put cookie cutters and play dough on a cookie sheet. Add a rolling pin (cylinder block), scissors, and plastic utensils.

Paper Ornaments 
Put some cookie cutters, scissors, glue, and the scrap box out on a table. Let children trace around the cookie cutters, cut out their paper cookies, and then decorate with stickers or glitter pens. Punch a hole, tie on a string, and decorate the tree. 

What’s your favorite kind of cookie? Do a bar graph and tally the results. 

Let children write their own “how to make cookies” recipes. 

Give each child a cookie and ask them to draw what it looks like. Next, ask them to write 2-5 sentences describing their cookie. Finally, they get to eat the cookie! 

What else? Read books or sing songs about cookies…or, just wait until a boring January day to do these things!! 

Saturday, December 17, 2016


December 21st is known as the winter solstice or the first day of winter. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Although your students will probably have sugar plums dancing in their heads this week, you might want to add a touch of science to your lesson plans with these ideas.
Science – Ask your students what causes winter. (Accept their answers without judging.) Have one child pretend to be the sun and stand in the middle of the circle. Use a globe to demonstrate how the earth rotates around the sun. It takes 365 days or one year for the earth to go all around the sun. Demonstrate how the earth tilts on its axis away from the sun to cause winter. Why? What happens when the earth tilts toward the sun?
Signs of Winter – Brainstorm signs of winter. What happens to the temperature in winter? What happens to the plants? What happens to animals?

Vocabulary – Make an attribute web of winter words. Include winter clothing, sports, holidays, etc.

Animals Adapt – How do animals adapt in the winter? What animals hibernate?
What animals migrate?
Habitats – Some habitats are very cold in the winter with ice and snow. Other habitats are warmer in the winter. Use a map of the United States and have children identify their state. Do they have ice and snow in the winter? Can they find a state where it’s warm and sunny in the winter? What do they think causes the difference?

Internet Search – Visit a weather site, such as, to compare regional weather.

Nature Walk – Go on a nature walk and look for signs of winter. Let each child take a digital photograph of a sign of winter. Put these together to make a class collage.
Trees – Explain that evergreen trees stay green all winter. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter. Can they find evergreen and deciduous trees on the playground? Can they find them in their yard at home?

Make a Book – Staple two sheets of paper and let children use descriptive writing to make a book called “Winter Is…”

Creative Writing – Invite children to write a story about “Old Man Winter.” I found this great writing paper free at

Read a Book – What’s your favorite winter book to read to your class?
                       Wishing you happy winter days!!!