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Friday, March 31, 2017


I was cleaning out some files from years ago and I found this idea for making a card ring of CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITIES. (Believe it or not, this handout goes back to the 90’s. Good teaching is good teaching!
Research suggests most of the questions teachers ask are facts or yes/no. I know many of you have been “marked down” for not asking higher order questions, so this might give you a concrete way to improve.

Get a set of index cards and write an open-ended statement or question on each one. Punch holes and put them on a book ring. It will be easy to use after you’ve read a book or if you have a few extra minutes during the day.
     Would you rather…
     How is it like…
     What would they say?
     The answer is… The question is...
     Reflecting…”How come?”
     What would you do if?
     What’s the difference?
     Ask me a question.
     Is it possible?
     Why do you suppose that…
     Problem solving
     Do you believe…
     Ask me a question.

Here's a download to get you started:
Have you got any ideas for other cards you could add?

It’s also interesting to ask children creative questions, such as:
     If you were an animal, what would you be?
     If you were a candy bar, what would you be?
     What color describes you?
     If you found a genie with a magic lamp what would you wish for?
     What super hero would you like to be and why?

*There’s so much in children, and when we ask the right questions so much comes out!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017


A teacher in New York shared this idea with me years ago. It’s going to take a little work, but it will be something children will treasure the rest of their lives! You will need to assemble photographs of the children, as well as pictures you’ve taken throughout the school year. Take 26 sheets of paper and write a letter on each page. Glue pictures of the children on the page their name begins with. Next, sort through the pictures and glue them on appropriate pages. (I’ve give you some suggestions for each letter below.) Label the pictures and run off a copy for each child. Use card stock for the front and back cover and bind.
HINT!  This would be a great project for a parent volunteer.  (Some of you are thinking - I wish!)

A- apple tasting, art, alphabet, “Alligator”
B- “Bear Hunt,” blocks, birthdays, books, bus
C- computers, caterpillars, counting, cooking, CLIFFORD
D- dinosaurs, dancing, drawing, “Days of the Week”
E- easel, exercise, eating, exploring
F- friends, fall, first day of school, “Five Little Monkeys”
G- GINGERBREAD MAN, games, graphs, gym
H- Hundred Day, Halloween, holidays, handprint
I- ice and snow, insects, “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “I can___”
J- jack o’ lanterns, journals, jump rope
K- KISSING HAND, kites, kindness, “Katalina”
L- letters, library, “Lettercise,” lunch, LEO
M-“Macarena Months,” music, math, magnets
N- nests, nursery rhymes, names, numbers
O- oceans, outside, “Over in the Meadow”
P- pizza parlor, P.E., puzzles, painting, “Peanut Butter”
Q- quiet time, quilts
R- reading, rainy days, running, rabbits, “Rime Time”
S- singing, spring, shapes, senses, science
T- “Tooty Ta,” turkeys, teeth, tests, TACKY THE PENGUIN
U- upside down, under, umbrellas (April showers)
V- Valentine’s Day, VERY BUSY SPIDER
W- word wall, writing, winter, “Wally Acha,” weather
X- “X” marks the spot (treasure hunt), X with body
Z- zoo field trip, zigzag art, “Z” end of the year
Here’s a poem for the cover:
We’ve learned and played in many ways,
But now the year must end.
Here’s a book to remember special days,
And all your kindergarten (first grade) friends!

Hint! If you don’t have photographs, let your children draw pictures for their books.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


It’s the end of March and it's time to get busy on that program for parents the end of the year. Here are a few ideas that might make it a bit less painful for you and a lot more fun for your children.

Who Let the Letters Out? (Kiss Your Brain CD)
Who let the A out? /a/a/a/a/a/
Who let the B out? /b/b/b/b/b/
Who let the C out? /c/c/c/c/c/…Z
*Ask the kids to bring old white t-shirts from home. Paint black spots on the shirts and then make headbands with dog ears. You can even their noses black or tape on black circles. Pin a different letter to each child. Make something that looks like a doghouse to put on the stage with an arch cut out so children can walk through it. As their letter is sung in the song the children come out of the doghouse.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


It's spring and that means I need to share a few butterfly things!

Butterfly Handshake 
Extend your right thumb and hook it with your partner’s right thumb. Stick out your fingers and then flutter them around like a butterfly.

Caterpillar Finger Play

A caterpillar crawled to the top of a tree. (Hold up right arm and wiggle left index finger up like a caterpillar.)
I think I’ll take a nap said he. (Wiggle left index finger.)
Under a leaf he began to creep, (Wiggle left index finger under right palm.)
He spun a chrysalis and went to sleep. (Make fist with right hand around left index finger.)
Spring came along, shook him and said,
"Wake up, wake up, you sleepy head.” (Shake right fist.)
Out of the leaf he spread his wings to fly, (Hook right and left thumbs together. Spread out fingers like wings.)
“Look at me! Look at me! I’m a butterfly!” (Fly fingers around.)

Hint! Butterflies hatch from a chrysalis, a life stage made of a hardened protein. A cocoon is spun from silk and surrounds the pupa of many moths.

Baggie Butterfly 

Make a butterfly by tearing up little pieces of colored tissue paper and putting them in a zip lunch bag. Gather up in the middle and twist on a pipe cleaner to make the body and antennae. Attach a string for flying.
Smoosh Painting 
Cut butterfly shapes out of newsprint. Fold in half. Children drop paint with a spoon or eye dropper on one half. Fold and rub. Open to view a beautiful butterfly.

Life Cycle
Tell the lifecycle of the butterfly with a stick, a bean, and pasta. First, take children on a nature walk and ask them to find a stick that is as long as their arm from their wrist to their elbow. Glue the bean to the left of the stick for the egg. Next comes a spiral pasta for the caterpillar. Then a shell pasta for the chrysalis. Finally, a bow shaped pasta for the butterfly. 

Informative Writing
Let children write factual stories about the life cycle of a butterfly.
*How about a step book or flip book for this activity?

What does symmetry mean? Butterfly wings are a good example of symmetry. Cut paper into butterfly shapes and challenge children to make them symmetrical.
*Check out some books on butterflies from the library. Can children decorate their pattern to look like one in the book?

Here's a video my webmaster created to go with my song "The Butterfly"

Monday, March 27, 2017


Sometimes I wonder if I write these blogs for teachers and children or for myself! Just kidding! It’s fun to look for jokes every month and share them with you. I hope you’ll find one or two here today to make you smile! 
Hint! Some of your children will “get” these and some of your children will just fake laugh. This is a good opportunity to have children “think out loud” and explain the jokes to their friends.

Why did the egg go to school?
To get "Egg-u-cated".

What kind of jokes do eggs tell?
Egg yolks!

What did the mommy egg say to the baby egg?
You're "Egg-stra special".

How do eggs stay healthy?
They "Egg-cercize".

What happened to the egg when he was tickled too much?
He cracked up.

What kind of plants do eggs keep?

What flowers grow on faces?
Tulips (Two-lips)! 

What is a bunny's motto?
Don't be mad, be hoppy!

How do you catch a unique rabbit?
Unique up on it.

How do you catch a tame rabbit?

The tame way.  Unique up on it.

What is a rabbit's favorite dance style?

Why are rabbits so lucky?
They have four rabbit's feet?

Some “bunny’s” got some knock knock jokes for you!

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Ether who?
Ether bunny.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Justin who?
Justin other Ether Bunny.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Notta who?
Notta nother Ether Bunnies.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Stella who?
Stella nother Ether bunny.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Juan who?
Juan more Ether bunny.

Knock, knock
Who's there?
Chuck who?
Chuck-olate bunny!

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Dewey who?
Dewey have to listen to any more Ether bunny jokes?

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Some bunny.
Some bunny who?
Some bunny is eating all my Easter eggs! 

Knock, knock!

Who's there?


Noah who?

Noah body . . . April Fool's!

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Whether you celebrate Easter or not, 
You've all got to love bunnies a lot!
Here are some rhymes and crafts, too.
I've even got a rabbit story for you!

Flip, Flop, Hop
(Tune: “Wheels on the Bus”)
The ears on the bunny go flip, flop, flop (Hands over head and wiggle.)
Flip, flop, flop,
Flip, flop, flop.
The ears on the bunny go flip, flop, flop,
Flip, flip, flop.

The nose on the bunny goes twitch, twitch, twitch… (Wiggle nose.)

The eyes on the bunny go blink, blink, blink… (Blink eyes.)

The tail on the bunny goes wiggle, wobble, wobble… (Wiggle hips.)

The feet on the bunny go hop, hop, hop… (Hop up and down.)

Drawing Rabbits - Teach children how to draw a bunny from two circles. Add details to the bunny as you sing the song.
*You can also make bunnies out of play dough.

Here Is a Bunny
Here is a bunny (Hold up index and middle fingers.)
With ears so funny. (Wiggle fingers.)
And here is his
Hole in the ground. (Make hole with fist of the other hand.)
At the slightest noise he hears,
He pricks up his ears, (Wiggle fingers.)
Then hops to his
Hole in the ground! (Pretend to hop bunny ears into the hole.)

Handprint Bunny

Trace around children's hands and cut them out.  Cut off the middle finger and bring the pinky finger and thumb finger down to make arms as shown.  Decorate and there's your bunny!

Bunny Basket – Fold the sack in half lengthwise as shown. Draw ears on the sack similar to those shown. Cut on the lines and then cut off the sides. Open the sack. Staple the top points to make ears. Put a face and cotton tail on your bunny basket.

A Bunny Tale (Tell and Draw Story)
1. One day a man went walking with his arms behind his back.
2. It started to snow.
3. He got a sled so he could play in the snow.
4. But after awhile he got cold and decided to build himself a house with two stories.
5. He put two windows in the top floor and divided them in half.
6. Then he built two chimneys.
7. He threw some sticks on the fire.
8. And soon he was snug as a bunny. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017


These books are a perfect way to integrate literacy in practical ways in learning centers. Children will be engineers and mathematicians as they develop small motor skills and eye-hand coordination.


 file folders, construction paper, markers, glue, book rings

1. Cut small squares and rectangles similar to unit blocks out of construction paper.
2. Arrange on file folders to make structures similar to the ones shown.
3. Punch holes and bind together to make a book.
4. Place in the block center and challenge children to look at the designs and then make them with the blocks.
5. Can they look at the design and then turn it over and make it without looking?

1. Write “Can you make lines?” at the top of one folder.
Make lines similar to the one shown. 

2. Draw curves on another folder and write “Can you make curves?” at the top.
3. Make shapes (square, rectangle, circle, triangle) on another folder and write “Can you make shapes?”
4. Draw simple objects (nest and eggs, hotdogs, bunny, etc.) on the last folder and write “What else can you make?”
5. Punch holes in the folders and attach with book rings.
6. Place the book in a center with play dough and challenge the children to roll the dough and place it on top of the lines and shapes.

Friday, March 24, 2017


This is a meaningful way to encourage children to observe nature. It’s also a powerful way for them to make print connections and write descriptive sentences.


cardboard paper towel rolls, string, hole punch, wide packaging tape, markers, crayons


1. Cut the cardboard rollers into 4” sections and tape together to make binoculars.  Punch a hole in each side and tie on a piece of string that can easily go over children's heads.
2. Let the children decorate their binoculars with markers.
3. Go on a nature walk and encourage children to observe through their binoculars. What do you see when you look up? What do you see when you look down? 
4. When you return to the classroom give each child a sheet of paper with two large circles. Ask them to draw their favorite thing they saw through their binoculars in the circles.
Older children can write descriptive sentences about what they saw.  
Younger children can dictate this sentence:
     (Child’s name) saw (what they saw).
Encourage each child to read over the sentence with you as you point to the words.
6. Make a cover for the book that says “Look! Look!”
Add a page that says “Authors and Illustrators” where children sign their names. Put their pictures together, bind, and you’ll have a wonderful class book that all your students will want to read.

*Let one child take the book home each evening to share with their families.

Hint! Use binoculars to focus on themes you are studying in science. This time of year they could look for signs of spring. When you are studying birds they could try and identify different birds.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


I’m packing for my trip to Kentucky where I’ll be presenting “Full STEAM Ahead in Early Childhood” this weekend. Since you can’t come to the workshop, I’ll share a few ideas that might add a little STE(A)M to your classroom.

Engineering is the design process used to solve problems and build things. Children are natural engineers as they play with blocks and Legos, create things in art, or build a fort outside with their friends. Here are a few other activities that will give your little “engineers” a job.

Engineer Planning Book

Write “Engineer Planning Book” on the cover of the notebook. Explain that engineers draw a plan and then try to build their design. Place the book in the block center along with a pencil and encourage children to draw their idea and then try to build it.
Cups and Plates
Little guys to big kids will be challenged to build structures with simple materials like plates and cups.
Lunch Bag City
Buildings and houses from lunch bags are fun to construct and use to create a community, reproduce a scene from a book, or design a city of the future. Take 2 lunch bags and open them up. Fill one with crushed newspaper. Insert the second bag on top and then decorate with markers, construction paper scraps, etc.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017


If you haven't downloaded this free packet on "Bugs and Insects" that Carolyn Kisloski and I created you are missing a good thing.

You'll find QR Codes of some of my favorite books about bugs and insects.
You'll also find writing prompts.
How about some math games?

There's even a free song download of my "Insect" song. 
INSECT’S BODY (Tune: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”)
Head (point to head)
Thorax (point to chest)
Abdomen – abdomen! (point to stomach)
Head, thorax, abdomen – abdomen!
And eyes (point to eyes)
And mouth (point to mouth)
And antennae, two (stick 2 fingers up)
Six legs (wiggle 3 fingers on each hand)
And there’s an insect for you!
(Leave off a verse each time and hum.)

Let children make insects from play dough, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, and other art media.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Here's a link to my Facebook Live video I did last night if you missed it:
Plastic eggs are inexpensive, easy to find, and can be "playful and challenging."  Sure, you can hide them or put candy in them, but you can also use them for centers and learning activities in your classroom.

Reading Games

Write an upper case letter on one half with a permanent marker and the lower case letter on the other half.
Give children small pictures of objects to put into appropriate eggs.

Put antonyms on eggs for children to match.
Write synonyms on eggs.

Reinforce compound words with eggs.

*Ask older children to write the synonyms, antonyms, and compounds after matching them.

Write two letter words on eggs. Children make words and then read them. Can they use the word in a sentence?
Write onsets (consonants or blends) on one half and rimes (word endings) on the other half. Children twist around and read words. You could also ask children to write the words.
Make puzzles of sight words and put them in the eggs. Children put the letters together, read the word, and then write the word.

Make puzzles of simple sentences and challenge children to put the words together and read the sentence.
Put random letters in the egg and ask children to see how many words they can make and write from the letters.

Write a poem about spring on a small sheet of paper. Fold it up and put it in the egg.

Write numerals or number words on the eggs. Children fill with the appropriate amount of beans or paper clips.
Children match up dots or number words with numerals.

Place a certain number of small objects in the eggs (2-10). Children dump out the objects and then write all the combinations they can make.

Give children a variety of objects. Ask them to predict if each object will fit in an egg or if is too big. Sort the objects after testing if they will fit.
Use the eggs for addition and subtraction problems.

Reinforce place value by writing numerals 1-9 on the eggs. Children put the eggs together and then say the numeral.
Let children draw pictures of all the animals that come from eggs.

Place objects in the eggs, such as popcorn kernels, cotton balls, bells, etc. Children shake the eggs and predict what is inside.
*Make two eggs with like objects for children to match the sounds.

Musical Instrument
Put dried beans in the eggs and tape to a plastic spoon to make maracas.
Spoon Relay
Give children a large spoon and an egg. Can they get their egg from one point to another without dropping it?

Yummy Snack
Put small crackers, raisins, cereal, grapes, or other healthy snacks in the eggs.
Sand and Water
Place eggs in a water table or sand box for pouring and measuring.