photo 3am_dj_home_zps919fb85e.png photo 3am_dj_about_zps7cce4c75.png photo 3am_dj_website_zps73051235.png photo 3am_dj_ss_zps6759ec2a.png photo 3am_dj_bs_zps43e27832.png

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Jennifer Mills has started a new Facebook group that I know many of you will want to contribute to.  If you're like me, I watch the news and think, "I want to go down there and do something!"  Well, here's something we can ALL do!

Friends, I wanted to let you know that I have created another Facebook group that I think will be a possible resource like the Hurricane Harvey Book Club. The group I have created is called Hurricane Harvey Games and Activities Club. Thank you Kathryn Butler Mills for helping inspire this idea, as well as all those out there volunteering to help so many that need it. My biggest goal for this group is to have activities people can do with limited resources and to help them stay positive. Please join the Hurricane Harvey Games and Activities Club and share your personal favorites. Everyone can share in words, with pictures, videos, etc. Please pass on this link so we can all do what teachers do best – HOLD HANDS AND HELP EACH OTHER!

Jennifer Mills
Lee Elementary
Cypress Fairbanks ISD


This was always a good story to share at the beginning of the school year to remind children that we are all different - and we are all special!
Materials: shopping bag, apple (Red Delicious and Gala work best), knife
Directions: Put the apple and knife in the bag and have it in 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!”

Follow up by having apples for snack or doing apple prints.
*Tell this story many times using different children’s names each time you tell it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Here's another finger play where children will develop math concepts, small motor skills, and oral language as you entertain them.  

Five Little Hotdogs

Five little hotdogs frying in the pan. (Hold up five fingers.)
The grease got hot, and one went BAM! (Clap.)
Four little hotdogs… (Four fingers.)
Three… (Three fingers.)
Two… (Two fingers.)
One… (One finger.)
No little hotdogs frying in the pan. (Hold up fist.)
The pan got hot and it went BAM!

Act It Out 
Materials: none
Directions: Choose five children to be hotdogs and stand in front of the room. Number them from left to right and explain that when you point to them in the rhyme they get to shout, “Bam!” and then fall to the ground.
*Let children act out addition problems. “I had 2 hotdogs (2 children stand up). I got 2 more (2 more children stand up). How many in all?” 

Missing Hotdogs 
Materials: red and brown felt, flannel board
Directions: Cut hotdogs out of felt similar to the ones shown. Place five hotdogs on the flannel board and count them with the children. Tell the children to close their eyes while you remove several hotdogs. Have the children open their eyes and identify the number of hotdogs. How many are missing? How did you know that? Continue removing hotdogs with sets of five. 
*Scatter and count the hotdogs. Place them in a row. How many? Place them in a column. How many? Place them upside down. How many? 

Play Dough
Materials: play dough, plastic plates, permanent marker
Directions: Write numerals 1-5 on plastic plates with a permanent marker. Children roll the play dough into hotdogs and place the appropriate amount on each plate.

Clothespin Hotdogs 
Materials: spring clothespins, red paper, tape, file folder
Directions: Cut out hotdogs and tape them to the spring clothespins. Draw a frying pan similar to the one shown on a file folder. Cut a slit through the middle of the pan and insert the clothespin hotdogs.
*Children can make up number stories by adding and removing the hotdogs.
Materials: paper, pencils
Directions: Demonstrate drawing pans (circles) and making hotdogs (vertical lines) to do addition problems.
Make your pan. (Children draw a circle.) 

If I had 2 hotdogs (children draw 2 lines) and you gave me 1 more (children draw another line), how many altogether?
*Children could erase or cross through hotdogs to demonstrate subtraction.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


A song and a "happie" for hurricane Harvey victims!
If your school has been hurt by the hurricane please contact
me so I can send you some free materials.  (
Please pass this message on to anyone you know who needs a song right now.

I used this activity for a math workshop a few weeks ago and many of the teachers wanted the words and pattern.  Children will count, match one-to-one, subtract, learn combinations for five, and learn about money as they sing and have fun.
First, cut 5 bears out of construction paper (red, orange, green, yellow, and purple). Cut five pennies out of orange construction paper or fun foam. Choose five children to come to the front of the room and hold the bears. Pass out pennies to five other children. Invite the rest of the class to hold up five fingers as you sing this song to the tune of “Five Little Ducks.” (It’s on my CD IS EVERYBODY HAPPY?)

     Down at the candy shop what did I see?
     Five little gummy bears smiling at me.
     Along came (child’s name) with a penny one day.
     He/she bought the green one and took it away.

     Down at the candy shop what did I see?
     Four little gummy bears smiling at me.
     Along came (child's name) with a penny one day.
     He/she bought the red one and took it away.

Continue singing as children buy the other colors.


Adaptations: Change the number of bears in the song.
Use nickels, dimes, or quarters.
Pumpkins, valentines, and other seasonal items can be used in place of the bears.

Here's a video K.J. and Kalina made when they visited last week:

Monday, August 28, 2017


A song and a "happie" for hurricane Harvey victims!
If your school has been hurt by the hurricane please contact
me so I can send you some free materials.  (
Please pass this message on to anyone you know who needs a song right now.
How you start the school year will impact your classroom management the rest of the year.  Here are some tips to focus your children's attention before starting an activity.

If You're Ready to Get Started (Tune:  "If You're Happy and You Know It")
If you're ready to get started say, "I am!"
If you're ready to get started say, "I am!"
If you're not you're going to miss a lot.
If you're ready to get started say, "I am!"

Check Mate
Before starting a lesson, post a checklist of what students will need. As you read down the list, students respond, “Check!” if they are all set.

Pencils? – Check!
Paper? – Check!
Crayons? – Check!
Eyes Watching? – Check!
Ears Listening? – Check!
Hands and Feet Quiet? – Check  

Daily Schedule
Post the daily schedule and review each morning and after lunch to help children know what to expect. 

*Draw large T-shirts on poster board. Take photos of students doing daily activities. Write the activity, time, and glue the picture to the T-shirts. Next, hang a clothesline across the top of one of your bulletin boards. Clothespin the T-shirts in order to the line. As you move through the day, turn over each shirt so the students can see their day get shorter and shorter. When you get to the last T-shirt do an “end of the day” dance!!!

Planning Journals
Each student will need a spiral notebook for a planning journal. Give them 5-10 minutes each morning to draw illustrations or write plans for the day.

“To Do” Lists and Contracts
Make daily checklists to help students stay on task. Long assignments can be overwhelming, but completing one step at a time is more manageable.

Ketchup Folder
Have children create a folder for unfinished work that they need to "catch up" on.
Use a timer to encourage students to finish work and “beat” the timer.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


If you are college football fans like we are, this is an exciting time of year. Football gives us a distraction from the world's woes and it gives us something to cheer for and look forward to each weekend. Football can also be a “kick off” for teaching some skills in your classroom.

College Goals
It’s never too early to plant seeds of attending college in your students. Give them a dream and a goal! One school I visited displayed pennants of the schools where the teachers graduated from in the front hall.
*Have the children brainstorm all the colleges and universities in your area. Talk about why it is important to go to college.
*Encourage your students to think about where they would like to go to college. Give them paper shaped like pennants to decorate with their college dream.
Let children do surveys of favorite college teams. 
Graph favorite teams.
Predict who will win the game. Who was right? Who was wrong?
Predict what the score will be. Who was closest?
*Let children choose a favorite player and write their number on a jersey. How many math facts can they think of to equal that number?

Social Studies
Use a map of the United States and locate where games will be played. 

Internet Search
Look up team mascots and colors. Listen to college fight songs. Do exercises to fight songs.

Cut pictures of players out of the newspaper or sports magazines. Challenge children to write creative stories about favorite players. They could also write letters to favorite players.

Guest Readers
Invite a local high school football team and cheerleading squad to visit your school to read books. There’s nothing more motivating to a young child than to see someone in a uniform model how “cool” it is to read!

Team Mascots 
This game can be adapted to any school mascot, action hero, or seasonal character. Since I graduated from the University of Georgia, UGA was my first choice. This is a quick, simple game that can be played with any age level or any skill that needs to be reinforced. It’s the perfect game if you’ve got a few minutes before lunch or a few minutes at the end of the day.
WHY? shapes, colors, letters, words, numerals, math facts, etc. 
WHAT? flash cards, picture of a favorite school mascot
HOW? Have children sit in a circle and encourage them to identify the information on the flash cards as you place them on the floor. Tell the children to turn around and hide their eyes. Take “UGA” and slip it under one of the flash cards. The children turn back around and raise their hand if they think they know where UGA is hiding. One at a time, have children call out a word, letter, shape, etc., and then look under that card. The game continues until a child finds UGA. That child may then be “it” and hide the mascot.

*Use a pocket chart to play this game. Arrange the flash cards in the pocket chart and then hide the mascot under one of the cards as the children hide their eyes.

More? Make a concentration game using various college mascots.
Make a matching game where children match mascots to college names.
What characteristics do you need to dress up and be a school mascot?
Have children write which mascot they would like to be and why.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Here’s a simple idea that will save you time and encourage all those little “authors” and “illustrators” in your classroom. All you need is a file folder to make a display pocket for each child. Cut a 1 ¼” border around the top half of the file folder. Let children decorate it with their name and pictures. Open and laminate. Fold in half and staple to a bulletin board or tape to a wall. Children can display their own work by slipping drawings, stories, etc. in the pocket.
Teach this “Writer’s Chant” to get them started. Children repeat each line to this chant as you open your arms wide and clap while stepping from side to side.

            Who knows the writing process?
            I know the writing process.

            First step. (Hold up one finger.)
            Brainstorm. (Hands on the side of your head and shake down.)
            Second step…(Hold up 2 fingers.)
            Write it down…(Pretend to write with index finger on palm.)
            Third step…(Hold up 3 fingers.)
            Edit your work…(Shake finger.)
            Fourth step…(Hold up 4 fingers.)
            Publish your work…(Brush hands together.)
            Oh, yeah! (Hands on hips with an attitude.)

Friday, August 25, 2017


These mini-offices will help students organize their work space and minimize clutter.  They will also encourage students to stay focused.

Tape two file folders together for each child. Let them decorate the outside with markers, magazine pictures, trading cards, etc. Staple a copy of the word wall to the inside. When children write in their journals or do independent work, they can stand their “offices” up on their desks. Words they frequently spell will be right there for them if needed. 

Hint!  Search “mini office” to download free printables for your grade level. 
*Make a reading office on one side and a math office with a hundreds chart, math mat, shapes, months, etc. on the other side.

*Adapt the offices for the age and skills of your students.  For example, you could make an "alphabet office" for the younger children.

*Use 2 pocket folders to make a mini-office. Children can insert papers they are working on in the left and work they have finished on the right.

*How about this math office with counting beads at the top?

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Yeah, I know that some people think that "show and tell" is a waste of time.  In my opinion it's a great way to develop oral language skills and help children become confident in speaking in front of a group. (Above all, most kids love it!)  Here are some tips that might make show and tell a more meaningful experience in your classroom this year.

Skills and Standards
Focus show and tell on a specific theme you are studying. Have students bring in something of a particular color, letter, shape, science concept (sign of fall), etc.

All, Several, or One? 
Limit sharing time to one day a week, or assign several children to each day. You could also have a special “show and share” bag that goes home with one child each day.

Three Statements
The person sharing can make three statements about what they have brought. The class then gets to ask them three questions about it.
*You could also ask children to come up with three clues about what they have brought from home. (Parents could write these for younger students.) After giving the clues, friends try and guess what it is.

20 Questions
Let the class ask 20 questions about show and tell items. Tally their answers on the board.

Show What You Know 
Try “show what you know” where children can demonstrate what they have learned about a theme. They could do an art project, make up a song, do a skit, make a video, etc.

Listening Share 
Have children close their eyes as friends take turns sharing. Can everyone remember one thing at the end of sharing time?

Provide a child-size podium (old music stand) for children to stand behind when they speak.

Sharing Shelf 
Instead of passing objects around the class, designate a special shelf or table in your classroom where students can place their show and tell objects for friends to look at later in the day.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


This is definitely a difficult blog for me to write because I’m always hesitant to give advice when it comes to behavior issues. You really need to know the age level, classroom situation, and individual child before passing judgement. However, someone recently requested I make a few comments on what to do when children don’t sing, so I’ll do my best. When I do free concerts at schools, 95% of the children are right with. There are a few that look at me like I’m nuts, but I ignore them and by the end of the concert I’ve usually got most of them to smile and sing.
First of all, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I capturing the children’s attention? Am I enthusiastic? Would I want to sing with me if I were a child? Are my songs engaging and FUN?” No matter how entertaining you are, there might be one or two children that don’t participate. My best advice would be to ignore them. I don’t think you should ever force children to sing or make it a power struggle. Focus on the positive with comments like, “The more you sing the happier you will be.” “Singing is good for the brain and will help you learn.” “Music helps us love each other.”

Second, think about why a child might not be singing. 

*If you’ve ever taught a selected mute (child who refuses to speak), you might as well accept their silence because there’s not a thing you can do about it. 

*Perhaps a child feels shy. Give them a little time and they may feel more comfortable and confident in joining group activities.

*Divide and conquer! Sometimes you’ll have two children that will sabotage everything you do when they sit next to each other. Separate them!

*Have a little chat and ask the child why she isn't singing.

*Ask children what their favorite song is and incorporate that into your music program.
*Provide musical instruments or other props that might get children involved. (This could be as simple as paper plates or tissue paper streamers.)

*Offer a wide range of music and movement activities, such as chants, dances, exercises, hand clap games, etc. There’s usually some special song that will capture their interest. (“The Banana Dance,” “Pizza Hut,” or my cheers usually do the trick for me.)

*Discuss the issue with parents. Sometimes the child won’t sing at school, but they sing the songs at home. By providing parents with lyrics to songs they can enjoy the music at home with their child.

*One first grade teacher said she used a behavior system in her classroom where the children moved their clothespin from green, to yellow, to red. The students learned if they were on yellow or red and they participated enthusiastically in music they got to move their clothespin back up to green. She said it worked like a charm for her.

Every class, every child, every situation is unique. Put on a happy face and act like singing is the most fun thing in the world!!! Because it is!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Yellow Pages
Encourage students to help their classmates with your very own YELLOW PAGES.
Tear off the front and back of your “Yellow Pages” to use for the outside of this book. Make inside pages for the book that say, “We are good readers.” “We can help you with the computer.” “We can tie shoes.” “We are good spellers.” “We like to draw.” “We are mathematicians.” “We like to clean.” (Include pages that represent the different academic skills,
 as well as common tasks in the classroom.) Encourage children to sign up on the pages where they can help others. When someone comes to you for help, remind them to look in the “Class Yellow Pages.”

Class Experts
Every student can see themselves as an “expert” with this idea. Make a poster with areas of expertise, such as cutting, writing numerals, writing letters, spelling, tying shoes, etc. Children get to sign their name and put their picture on the poster where they feel they are an expert. Students must consult at least “3 experts” before asking the teacher.

Help Me!

Give students a red and green plastic cup to keep on their desk. The green cup should be on top unless they need help. The red cup will indicate to the teacher to “stop” and help.

Waiting Chair
You know there are always a few students who constantly interrupt you when you are having a guided reading group. Put a chair next to your reading table and write "WAITING CHAIR" on it. Explain that if they have a question when your are at the reading table they should ask 2 friends for help. If they still need you they can sit in the "waiting chair" until you finish your lesson.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Clean up will be much more successful if you choose a song and sing it consistently when you want the children to tidy up.  You really can use any song that you like (country, broadway, college fight song), but use the same song every day and model what you want the children to do.
I used to sing these songs in my classroom and to my own children at home.  (My daughter and son would clean up just to get me to shut up!)

A Helper I Will Be (“The Farmer in the Dell”)
A helper I will be.
A helper I will be.
There’s work to do,
There’s work to do.
A helper I will be.
A picker up I’ll be.
A picker up I’ll be.
It’s time to put our things away,
A picker up I’ll be.

Hint! Change the words to whatever you want the children to do, such as “pick up the trash,” “push in the chairs,” etc.

Tidy Up (“Jingle Bells”)
Tidy up, tidy up, put your things away.
Tidy up, tidy up, we’re finished for today.
Oh, tidy up, tidy up, put your things away.
For we’ll get them out again another school day.

We’ve had lots of fun as we’ve worked and played.
Now it’s time to all join in and play the clean up game.

Can You? (Tune: “Skip to My Lou”)
I can clean quietly, how about you?
I can clean quietly, how about you?
I can clean quietly, how about you?
How about you, my darlin?

*Change the words to “push in my chair,” “pick up trash,” etc.

Magic Trash
Select one random piece of trash to be the “magic trash.” Have children pick up the room. As they dump the paper and scraps in the trash can, inspect what they have in their hands. The one to find the “magic trash” gets a prize or gets to be the line leader.  (Only you and I know there's no special piece of trash!)
To help prepare children to clean-up or move to another activity, set a timer for five minutes. Explain, “You have five more minutes. When the timer goes
off we will have a whisper clean up.”

Who You Gonna Call?
Send a letter home asking if anyone has an old dust buster to donate to your classroom. Choose one person each day to be the “dust buster.” When there’s a mess shout, “Who you gonna call?” Children respond, “Dust buster!” The designated “dust buster” of the day GETS to clean up the mess.
Classroom Jobs 

Assign classroom jobs weekly. Title the jobs by real careers.
Supervisor – Calls the roll.
Maintenance – Picks up the classroom.
Police Officer – Makes sure everyone walks slowly in the hall.
Mail Carrier – Passes out papers.
Librarian – Cleans the classroom library.
Gardener – Waters the plants.
Meteorologist – Gives the morning weather report.
Accountant – Does the lunch count.
UPS – Takes reports to the office.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


Kids and lines don't go together very well, but it's a necessary part of classroom life. Instead of "keep your hands to yourself," try one of these positive approaches.
I’m Ready (Say or sing to the tune from "Gilligan's Island")
I’m looking straight ahead of me.
My arms are at my side.
My feet are quiet as can be,
I’m ready for outside.
Hint! Write the chant on a poster and tape it to the door.

Line Up Song  (Tune: “Hi Ho, Hi Ho”)
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to (lunch, play, home, etc.) we go.
With our heads held high and arms by our sides
And our belly buttons all in a row.

Hips and Lips
Teacher says "Hips" - children put one hand on their hips.
Teacher says "Lips" - children put index finger from the other hand on their lips.

Hallway Trip
“Zip” – pretend to zip your lips.
“Flip” – fold arms across your chest.
“We’re ready for the hallway trip.”

Line Up Call Back
I say “line.”
You say “up.”
Line (teacher)
Up (Children)
I say “sit.”
You say “down.”
Sit (teacher)
Down (Children)
“Happy” – “Monday” etc. 

Let’s Pretend!
Marshmallows - Have the children put “marshmallows” in their mouths (Puff out cheeks.)
and put “marshmallows” on their feet. (Model walking slowly and gently.)
Museum Hands – Children clasp their hands behind their backs.
Butterfly Wings or Angel Wings - Children put their hands behind their backs and stick out their elbows and flap them like wings.
Fix It Up
When students forget school rules and appropriate behavior, simply say:
STOP! (Put your hand in the air.)
BACK IT UP! (Have them return to their seats.)
FIX IT UP! (Choose a child to describe the appropriate behavior.)

Days of the Week
Name your tables, rows, etc. according to the days of the 
week. On Monday, the “Monday table” gets to line up first all day long. For example:
“Monday table, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.” On Tuesday, call the “Tuesday
table” first all day. “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday.” Every group will
have a turn being first as well as last.

Line Up Rhymes
Use these rhymes to dismiss children:
Apples, peaches, pears, plums –
Tell me when your birthday comes.
(Each child tells their birthday.)

Cat, dog, frog mouse –
Tell me the number on your house.
(Children say their street address.)

Ring, ring, anybody home?
What’s the number of your telephone?
(Children state their phone number.)

A E I O You may be dismissed.
(Point to children as you say the vowels. The child who would be “U” may line up.)

Wall Push Ups
While children are waiting and standing in line in the hall encourage them to do push ups against the wall.


Saturday, August 19, 2017


Here are some ideas that may help your students work out their own problems.

Peace Flower
You’ll need a large fake flower to make “peace.” When two children come to you to solve an argument hand them the flower. Explain that they must both hold the flower with two hands and look at each other. When they’ve worked out their problem and have “peace” they can hug and go back and play.

Peace Talks
Here's another “peaceful” way to solve problems using a composition book or spiral notebook. Ask the children who have had a conflict to sit next to each other at a table. Open the notebook and put it between them. Explain that you want to know both of their opinions of what the problem is. Give them pencils and ask them to write and draw their version of what happened in the book. When they have resolved their problem they can bring you the book and go back and play.

Problem Resolution
After students resolve a problem they can follow this routine:
1st - Fist bump
2nd - Hand shake
3rd - High five
4th - Hug
5th - Walk away happy!

Mirror Talk
If children talk ugly to a friend, then tell them to go talk like that in the mirror and see how it feels.

Peace and Quiet
Here's an attention grabber that never fails. Tell children when you make the peace symbol (middle and index finger up in the air) with one hand and put the index finger from your other hand on your lips they should do the same thing. Tadaa! Peace and quiet!!!!

Friday, August 18, 2017


"Positive redirection" is the best solution to many common classroom problems. Today I've got some ideas that might work for children who constantly interrupt during a read aloud or when others are talking. I'd start by having a class discussion about how to be a polite listener. Remind children that it hurts people's feelings when you interrupt when they are talking.

Me, Too!
Sign language for "me too" is a way that children can show they've had a similar experience. Demonstrate how to stick out your thumb and pinky as you bend down your other three fingers. Touch the thumb back and forth to your chest to show "me, too"!
Show students the symbol for join/connect in sign language. (Hook two index fingers together.)  Students put one hand on their head for what’s in their head and then they hold out the other hand for what’s in the book.  Join the fingers together to connect what’s in their head and what’s in the book to make a schema.  Encourage them to show you that they are listening and connecting to the book as you read with this sign.
Paper and Pencil
Explain that if they have something to say during a story they can write it down or draw a picture so you can talk about it when the story is over.

Teacher, Teacher!
Tell children if they want your attention when you are talking to another adult or if you are busy they can hold your hand.  You can let them know that you are aware of them and will help them as soon as you can by placing your other hand on top.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


O.K.  It's important to listen to children, but tattling can be like a fire out of control.  To prevent negativity/aka “the squeaky wheel” from getting too much attention, it’s important to have a discussion with your class at the beginning of the year about what is an emergency. If someone is in danger of getting hurt, then it’s an emergency. (One teacher said she used the “3 B Principle” – bathroom, blood, or barf!!!) There are also several good books out now that help children understand when it is appropriate to tell the teacher and what happens when you cry wolf. (A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Fran Sandon is adorable!)

Check out some of these ideas that teachers have shared with me.  And, never ever forget to have a sense of humor!

Leave a Message
Put an old phone on your desk for children to tell their concerns. Explain that you’ll listen to your messages at the end of the day. You might even want to have a directory.
Press #1 for the teacher.
Press #2 for your parents.
Press #3 for the principal.
Press #4 for the President…etc.

Write It
Get a spiral notebook and write “Things the Teacher Needs to Know” on the cover. When children come to tattle hand them the book and say, “Write it all down and don’t leave out a thing.” If they say, “I can’t write,” respond with, “Well, just draw a picture and don’t leave out a thing!”
Comment Box
Put a box, notepad, and pencil on a shelf. Explain that when they want to complain or make a comment they need to write it on a piece of paper. They must start their sentence with a capital letter and end it with a period if they want the teacher to read it at the end of the day.

Lunch Bag
Open a lunch bag and set it on your desk. When children come up to tattle say, “Go put it in the bag. I’ll listen at the end of the day.” (Yes, trust me! They will go over and talk in the bag.) At the end of the day put the bag next to your ear and pretend to listen for 15-20 seconds. Then wad up the bag and throw it in the trash as you say, “That’s the end of that!”

Tell the Mirror
Place a small mirror on your wall and when the children start to tattle say, "Why don't you go tell that little boy/little girl in the mirror?"

Tattle Time

One of my favorite stories about tattle tales came from a teacher many years ago. When her students tried to tattle she’d smile and say, “I’m sorry. Today’s not tattle tale day. Wait until May 14th and then you can tell me.”

Another teacher said she used the concept of an Oreo cookie for tattle tales. The child reporting had to say one nice thing, then the tale, then another nice thing.

Tattle Toy
Choose a stuffed animal or puppet to listen to children’s complaints and tattles. Be sure and name the character. Explain that when you are busy they can always tell Teddy (or whatever) their problems. He’s always there waiting to be their friend.

*You can also let them tell a plant or other inanimate object.
Here’s another great idea for tattle tales. Put a photograph of the President on your wall and say, “I’m just your teacher. Why don’t you tell the President?” You won’t believe it, but the children will walk over and talk to the picture!

Sometimes a sense of humor is the best solution to a problem. Keep calm and laugh inside!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


You know I LOVE sign language! I’m certainly no expert, but if I can do it, anybody can do it. Let me give you a few reasons why I’m such a believer in the power of SIGN:
It’s quiet.
It’s multi-sensory.
It’s engaging.
It’s good for differentiated instruction and for children who are non-English speakers.
It’s free and it’s simple.

Here are some great signs for classroom management to start your school year. I’d explain to the class that you are going to teach them a new language called “sign language.” It’s a special language for people who can’t hear because you talk with your hands. I’d suggest introducing one new sign each day. Encourage the children to model what you do when you make the sign. In a few weeks, you’ll be amazed at how the volume in your classroom has been turned down.

Pay Attention (Palms pointing towards face and shake back and forth.)

Stand Up (Two fingers standing on palm and then point up.)

Sit Down (Two fingers sitting on 2 fingers of other hand and point down.)

Walk (Walk fingers.)

Line Up (Fingers up with right pinky and left thumb touching.)

Bathroom (Make “t” and wiggle.)

Water (Make “w” with fingers and place near your mouth.)

More (Fingertips touching.)

Wonderful (Palms open facing out and move down and then up.)

I love you! (Fingers up with middle finger and ring finger bent down.)

Look! Listen! Learn (“L” by eyes, ears, and then brain.)

Finished (Brush hands away from chest.)

Help (Make a fist with one hand and place it on the open palm of the other hand. Bring both up in the air at the same time.)

Stop (One palm open. Pretend to chop it with the other palm.)

Wait (Hold hands open and off to the side and wiggle the fingers.)

Yes (Make an “s” with your fist and raise and lower it like your head.)

No (Middle and index finger straight and close toward the thumb.)

Please (One palm open on chest and make a circular motion.)

Thank you (Touch fingertips on chin and extend out.)

Sorry (Make fist and rub on chest in circular motion.)

Excuse me (One palm up and brush fingertips of other hand across.)

Note!  There are several excellent websites where you can view videos of these signs.  (,, and

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I have so much fun learning new ideas from teachers all over the country. I bet you'll find an idea or two just right for your class today.

Dental Health (Stephanie Velasquez)
Glue the cut out of a white tooth on a colored sheet of paper and place in a clear sheet protector. Let the children color the tooth with a dry erase marker to represent the “germs" on the tooth after they eat. Children use a toothbrush to erase the germs.

Old MacDonald (Clarisa Ehrmantraut)
Make a red barn out of paper and staple a zip bag behind it. Use pictures of animals and insert them in the baggie as you sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

Pool Noodle Wiggle Sticks (Alison Zukowski)
Poke holes through a swim noodle (6”-12” long) and thread ribbon through it. Knot the ribbon and use for movement activities.
*Tie ribbons to diving rings and use for movement activities. 

Puppets (Nancy Patrick)
Use puppets to sing the song "I Had a Bird."
Swat Game (Elizabeth Allen)
Write letters, numbers, colors, shapes, words, or whatever skill you want to reinforce on a big piece of paper. Give children small fly swatters and as you call out information they can "swat" it. 

Same Song - New Verse (Megan Munselle)
Here are some new verses for "The Banana Dance."
Build the house, build build the house...Rock the house, rock, rock the house...
Form the Skittles, eat the Skittles, taste the rainbow...
Form the potato, peel the potato, mash potatoes...

Listen and Obey (Stephanie Velasquez) 
If we listen to our teachers (point to ears) 
And do it right away. (point with finger) 
Happy, happy, happy is our day. (point and smile) 
OBEY! (Everyone yells together.) 

Morning Dance (Genevieve Shafer) 
This call and response reminds students to have a positive attitude, it’s O.K. to make mistakes, and they are all special. 
I am ready for school. (wiggle shoulders) 
I will have a good day. (twist) 
I am confident. (stand tall)
I’m not better than you. (lean and point to the side) 
You’re not better than me. (lean and point to the other side) 
We’re all amazing! (spin with arms up) 
If I fall, I get up. (tuck and touch floor and stand up “x” with body) 
I win or I learn. 
Thank you God for making me. (pray hands) 
I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be! (say loud and proud while jumping with arms in the air) 

Classroom Mirror (Andrea Neal) 
Children love using mirrors in the classroom. Cover a mirror and ask students to look under it to see your favorite kid. 
*If a student is upset, sad, or misbehaving then ask them to go find the happy well-behaved student that you know in the mirror. When they see themselves they will smile, and it usually changes their attitude. 

Under (Elma Valdez) 
Tape caution tape across the classroom doorway and have the children crawl “UNDER” the tape for the letter “U.”