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Wednesday, January 31, 2018


What do you call a very small valentine?
A valentiny!

What do you call two birds in love?

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Olive who?
Olive you!

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Atlas who?
Atlas, it's Valentine’s Day!

Well, it’s not quite Valentine’s Day yet, but here are some jokes and riddles just perfect to share with your class next month.  Wouldn't it be fun to put one of these on the board each day and read over it during morning meeting?

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Sherwood who?
Sherwood like to be your Valentine!

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Pooch who?
Pooch your arms around me!

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Emma who?
Emma hoping you have a happy Valentine’s Day!

What did one pickle say to the other?
"You mean a great dill to me."

What did the elephant say to his girlfriend?
"I love you a ton!"

What do farmers give their wives on Valentine's Day?
Hogs and kisses!

What did the pencil say to the paper?
"I dot my i's on you!"

What is a vampire's sweetheart called?
His ghoul-friend.

What did the boy cat say to the girl cat on Valentine's Day?
You're purrr-fect for me!

What did the boy octopus say to the girl octopus?
Can I hold your hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand?

What did the boy owl say to the girl owl on Valentine's Day?
Owl be yours!

What did the girl squirrel say to the boy squirrel on Valentine’s Day?
I’m nuts about you!

What did the drum say to the other drum on Valentine’s Day?
My heart beats for you!

What did the boy bee say to the girl bee on Valentine’s Day?

You are bee-utiful!
What did the whale say to his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day?
Whale you be mine!

What did the boy bear say to the girl bear on Valentine’s Day?
I love you beary much!

What did the rabbit say to his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day?
Somebunny loves you!


P.S.  If anyone accuses you of "joking around" with "instructional time" you can remind them that you are teaching homonyms, double meanings of words, and phonological awareness!!!  

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Who doesn't love Abraham Lincoln?  His birthday is February 12 so here are some ideas to remember this famous man.

Abraham Lincoln
(Tune: “Pop Goes the Weasel”)
Abraham Lincoln, past President, (Point to a picture of Lincoln.)
Loved and honored by many.
To help us remember this famous man,
We put his face on a penny.

Hold a penny in your hand (Hold up a penny.)
And his face you’ll see.
He always tried to tell the truth.
He’s Honest Abe to me.


*Talk about what it means to be honest. Why did they call him Honest Abe?

You can download this book on my website.

Put Your Face on a Penny
Give children a sheet of paper cut in a circle. Draw what you would you look like if your face were on a coin?

Log Cabin Snack
This is an "engineering" activity that's good enough to eat!  Give children pretzel twist sticks and a spoonful of peanut butter or cream cheese. Children try to build a log cabin by stacking the pretzels with the peanut butter.

Penny Inspection
Let children look at pennies with a magnifying glass.

Make rubbings of pennies.

Penny, Penny
Three children leave the classroom. The other children cup their hands as if holding a penny. The teacher hides the penny in one child’s hand. When the three children return to the room, they walk around the room and open their friends’ hands. The first one to find the penny gets to choose 3 new friends to leave the room and she gets to hide the penny.

Time Line
Give children a sentence strip. At the left write the year they were born. Write each additional year up until the present. Children take the time line home and try to find a penny with each year’s date.
Hint! Explain that’s it’s O.K. if they don’t find all of them.

Did you know? If you look closely at pennies minted from 1959 to 2008 you can see Lincoln's statue in the Memorial.
In 2009 they introduced four new designs celebrating the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth year.

Birth in Kentucky Formative Years in Indiana

Professional Life in Illinois Presidency in DC

In 2010 the shield design was coined.

Monday, January 29, 2018



February 7, 2018

Let’s give children a break from “rigor” and “instructional time” and give them the opportunity to do what is becoming a lost art – PLAY!  

In his TEDx lecture, Peter Gray clearly argues the case that today's kids do not grow up playing and this has negatively impacted them in many ways. It's time we return the gift of play to this generation.

February 4, 2015, was the first annual Global School Play Day and it has grown rapidly.  They are hoping to reach 500,000 students this year and you can join in on the fun!  

How do you make this happen? Personally, I would get my families and parent organizations involved. (Administrators might listen to them more than to you or me.)

Here are some other tips I learned from the website:

1. EDUCATE Remind parents and administrators about the benefits of play. (There are some good videos on the GSPD website.)

2. GET SOCIAL Use social media to encourage other schools to get involved. #GSPD2017.

3. CALL FOR TOYS Tell your students they can bring anything they want to school to play with on February 1st. (No electronic devices or toys with batteries!)

Don't organize
Don't tell them how to play
Don't interfere

5. SHARE AND REFLECT Share pictures, ideas, and reflections after the event. Encourage students to talk to their parents about the day and continue to PLAY at home.

Note! Even if your school won't do it for a full day, couldn't they at least let the kids play the last hour of the day?


Come on everybody! Let's all PLAY on February 7th!

Sunday, January 28, 2018


How about a little Super Bowl Learning this week?

Survey Says 
Let children do surveys (classroom, at home, etc.) to find out which team others think will win the Super Bowl. 

“Offensive,” “Defensive,” “Penalty,” “Referee,” “Substitution,” “Huddle” …How many football terms can you think of that might be meaningful to learn?

Jersey Math
Let children choose their favorite player’s number and write it on a paper jersey. How many facts can they think of that equal that number. 


Starting Line Up 
At the beginning of the day let children make two lines facing each other. Introduce one child at a time and let them run through the two lines as their friends give them high five and cheer.

Good Job
At the end of the day make a huddle and say, “Good job, team!”

How many players on each team? How many players in all?
How long is a football field?
How many points for a touchdown? Field goal? Safety?
How long is a quarter? How long is the entire game?
How many yards in a first down?

Let children estimate what they think the total score will be. After the game determine who guessed more – less - the closest?

Put out the scrap box and let children make pennants, hats, pompoms, and other paraphernalia.

Football Practice Game
Cut footballs out on the fold similar to the one shown. Write math facts on the front and the answer inside.
*These can be used for phonics, numerical order, question and answers, etc.

Brainstorm what players have to do to get ready for the game. Emphasize the importance of good nutrition, exercise, and studying the playbook. These are all things that are important to good students as well!!!

Circuit Training 

Here’s a super way to get some exercise when the weather is bad. Write exercises similar to the ones below on construction paper and tape them around the room. Divide children into groups of 2 or 3 and have them start at a station. Put on some music with a good beat. Time the children for one minute at each station and then say, “Switch!” Groups rotate in a circle around the room until they have completed each station.
*tire run (feet apart and arms out as you run in place)
*throw and catch (pretend to throw overhead and then catch a football)
*scissor jump (jump crossing legs right and then left)
*balance (stand on one leg)
*passing run (run in place as fast as you can)
*jump and catch (jump up in the air as you pretend to catch the ball)
*toe touch (touch toes and then hands in the air)
*squats (arms out front as you bend legs up and down)
*jumping jacks (jump out with arms up and then jump in with arms down)
*jump rope (pretend to jump rope in place)
*silent cheer leaders (jump and cheer without making any noise)

What does "NFL" stand for? Download a copy of the team logos (Mr. Google will help you) and make a visual matching game or memory game.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Don’t you just LOVE the Olympics! February 9th will be here soon so let's see how we can be a part of the fun!

Kinder Olympics
We created "Kinder Olympics" in our classroom by setting up different stations where the children could mimic different events.

Figure Skating - Give each child two paper plates and demonstrate how to put them on the floor and slide your feet. Can they skate backwards? Can they balance on one foot?

Ski and Count - Swing your arms from side to side as if skiing while you count by ones, fives, tens, etc.

Snowball Shoot - Write sight words, math facts, sentences, letters, or other skills you want to practice on scrap pieces of paper. Wad them up like snowballs. Children open the snowball, identify the information, and then they get to throw it in a box several feet away.

Speed Skate Spell - Extend arms as you say the letters in a word. Raise arms at the end as if winning as you say the word.

You can probably think of some other great movement ideas where children have fun as they learn.

The highlight of our Kinder Olympics was the medal ceremony. The children got to make their own medals by wrapping aluminum foil around a circle, and we made a torch from a TP roll stuffed with red and yellow tissue paper. We played some patriotic music and passed the torch around. Then we invited each child to stand on a stool and seriously said, "This medal is presented to child's name for participating in the Kinder Olympics."

Note! This is a great time to talk about the characteristics of an Olympic athlete. Encourage the children to discuss what it takes to be an athlete - how they have to train, eat healthy, support their teammates, and have a positive attitude.

How about some pompoms to cheer on the red, white and blue? Draw lines from the top of the lunch sack to the bottom flap about ½” apart. Let children decorate their bags, and then cut down on the lines. Place the flap face down on the table and roll. Wrap a rubber band around the bottom section to make a handle. (You can also use tape to secure the handle.) “Crinkle” the strips and shake like pompoms.


I found some other great ideas for celebrating the Olympics with kids on these websites:


Friday, January 26, 2018


Take a look at all these LOVELY ideas you can integrate in your lesson plans next month.

Chocolate Play Dough (Not edible)
Make play dough using your favorite recipe. Omit the food coloring and let the children knead the dough in cocoa. It will look and smell like chocolate. Purchase a box of valentine candies and remove/eat the candies. Children can roll up the dough and put them in the paper containers.

Valentine Sandwich (Edible)
You will need a heart shaped cookie cutter, bread, cream cheese, and red food coloring to make this sandwich. Mix the cream cheese with red food coloring until it is pink. Cut a heart out of the bread with the cookie cutter. Spread on the cream cheese.

Special Delivery 
This is an activity I did over 40 years ago in my classroom.  I guess that's why we sang "The postman's on his way" instead of the more politically correct "The mail carrier is on her way."  You just go ahead and sing it anyway you like because I bet your kids won't care a bit.  
You will need a gift bag or cloth bag for this game.  Write "Special Delivery" on the bag.  Each child writes his or her name on an envelope and places it in the mailbag. One child is “it” (aka mail carrier) and skips around the room as you sing the song below. At the end of the song, “it” reaches in the bag and chooses an envelope. “It” delivers the envelope to that child and they exchange places. The game continues until each child has had a turn and received an envelope. 

The Mailman's on His Way (Tune: “The Farmer in the Dell”) 
The mailman's on his way.
The mailman's on his way.
He's bringing lots of Valentines,
I hope he comes my way.

*Change to "maillady" and "her way" when a girl has the bag.
*You could use photos and first names for younger children.

Five Little Cookies 
(Hold up 5 fingers to begin.)
Down around the corner at the bakery shop
Five little cookies with sprinkles on top.
Along came (child’s name) with a penny one day.
He/she bought one cookie and ate it right away!

*Make cookies out of felt or fun foam. Pass out pennies to five children have them exchange their penny for a cookie when their name is called.
(I used puff fabric paint to make my sprinkles.)

Heart Puzzle
Cut 4" circles out of red paper. Cut 4" squares out of red paper. Give each child a circle and a square. Demonstrate how to fold the circle in half and cut on the crease to make two half circles (semi-circles). Can the children make a heart from the two halves and the square? 


Valentine Concentration
Cut 4” squares out of red poster board.  Take duplicates of valentine stickers and place them on the squares. Mix up the squares and place them face down on the carpeting. Play a memory game where children turn over two squares at a time and try to match up like stickers.

Love Is… 
Do a language experience chart where each child completes the sentence, “Love is…” You could also make individual books where each child completes the sentence “Love is…” and draws things that she loves.

Children will be thrilled with a little heart pointer.  Let them choose a sticker and attach it to the end of a craft stick.  They can use it to read, identify letters, shapes, and so forth.


Thursday, January 25, 2018


If you missed my FB Live last night you can watch it now

You can also watch a video I did last year with Valentine activities

According to a little research on the web, “Sweetheart” candies have been around since 1901. In the past decade the sayings have been updated with phrases such as “TEXT Me” and “LOL.” Although over 100 years old, it’s good to see these little candies alive and well. Here are some adaptations for using them as a springboard for learning.
Conversation Hearts 
Conversation hearts are good to sort, count, read, pattern, add, subtract, and eat!
*Estimate how many will be in a bag. Count. Graph the ones that are the same.

Matching Game
Make a game by cutting paper hearts out of construction paper. Write like phrases found on candy hearts (such as “Kiss Me, “Cool One,” “WOW!” “Cutie Pie”) on two of the 
hearts. Glue one to a file folder and then have children match and read the ones that go together.

Heart Necklace
Let children make their own paper hearts, hole punch them, and then string them to make a necklace.  Encourage them to think of their own phrases they would put on candies.  (WOW! Trace, write, hole punch, and string - lots of small motor skills!)

Mouse Bookmark

Cut a heart about the size of a child’s hand from red construction paper.  Fold in half. Open. Tape a 6” piece of string in the middle. Glue closed. Draw a nose, whiskers, and ears on the heart as shown to make it look like a mouse. Use for a bookmark.

A Little Gift
This is a simple Valentine gift that parents will treasure. Let children wrap a small box or a piece of Styrofoam with wrapping paper and a ribbon. (It would be extra special if the children designed their own wrapping paper.) Add this note:

Here is a little gift
That you can never see.
The reason it’s so special,
It’s just for you from me.
Whenever you are lonely,
Or even feeling blue,
You only have to hold this box
And know I think of you.
Please never unwrap it,
And leave the ribbon tied.
Just hold the box close to your heart,
It’s filled with love inside.

Valentine for Parents - Let each child take off one shoe and trace around her foot on white paper. Cut it out. Give each child 5 small pieces of red tissue paper to wad up and glue at the end of each toe for toenails. Write “I love you from my head down to my toes” on the foot.
*You can also make thumbprint cards or handprint cards for parents.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018



I know we are hardly halfway through January, but I'm going to be busy the next few weeks and I wanted to give you some "LOVELY" HAPPIE ideas for February.

Will spring be early or late this year?  I guess we'll have to wait until February 2nd to find out!
Groundhog Day – February 2nd 

(Tune: “Say, Say, My Playmate” Happy Everything CD)
February 2nd, (Hold up 2 fingers.)
Is Groundhog Day.
Gather round his hole (Make circular motion.)
To hear what he’ll say. (Place hand by ear.)
Will spring be early
Or late this year?
Watch and listen
To what you’ll hear.

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with one hand.)
On a sunny day (Stick the index finger from the other hand
His shadow will frighten him (up through the hole and wiggle.)
And he will say,
“I’ll go back in my hole (Tuck finger in your fist.)
And go back to sleep.
You’ll have winter
For six more weeks.”

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with fist and stick up finger.)
On a cloudy day
He’s not frightened
So he will say, (Wiggle finger.)
“I think I’ll stay out
And the weather should clear.
Spring will be here
Early this year.”

*You can download the book at

Cup Puppet – Let children draw a groundhog or download one 
off the internet.   Staple to a straw. Punch a hole in the bottom of a paper cup and insert the straw in the cup. Raise and lower the groundhog as appropriate in the song.

Sidewalk Shadows – Go outside on a sunny day and have children stand with their backs to the sun. Let them make silly motions and play “Guess what I am?” Give them chalk and let them trace around each other’s shadows.
*Draw shadows at 10, 12, and 2 and compare.

*Play shadow tag where they try to touch each other's shadows.

Where’s the Groundhog? – Cut twenty 4” squares out of heavy paper. Write high frequency words, math facts, letters, numerals, etc. on the cards.  Glue a picture of a groundhog on a 3" circle.  Have the children sit on the floor in a circle. Mix up the cards and place them face up on the floor. Identify the numeral (etc.) on each card as you place it down on the floor. Tell the children to turn around. Hide the groundhog under one of the squares. Children turn back around and try and guess where the groundhog is hiding. One at a time children call out a number and then “peek” to see if the groundhog is under it. The first child to find the groundhog gets to have a turn hiding it. The game continues as children hide the groundhog and then try to discover his whereabouts.

Dramatize - Invite children to dramatize the groundhog peeping out of his hole. What if it's sunny? What if it's cloudy?

Note! Visit for more great ideas!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Children can only manipulate two "chunks" at a time, so focusing on word families is a powerful strategy for beginning readers.
“Onset” refers to the initial letter or blend. “Rime” is the vowel and letters following it.  

Rime Time  (Tune:  "The Addams Family")
Rime time, (Snap! Snap!)
Rime time, (Snap! Snap!)
Rime time, rime time, rime time. (Snap! Snap!)

There’s can and there’s pan. (Touch hands to alternate knees to the beat.)
There’s fan and there’s ran.
There’s man and there’s tan.
The “an” family.

It would be meaningful to take one word family and sing it every day for a week in this song. If you made a “house” similar to the one shown the children could contribute additional words throughout the week.

Word Family Song 
Here's another song to the tune of “BINGO.”
          There is word family you should know
          And at is it’s name-o.
          M-a-t, mat
          H-a-t, hat
          C-a-t, cat
          They end in at you know.

*Write the words on a chart and point to them as you sing.    
Block Rimes
Cut paper the size of square and rectangular unit blocks.  Write onsets on the squares and rimes on the rectangles. Children put blocks together and read words.
Rime Eggs
Using plastic eggs, write onsets with a permanent marker on one half of the egg. Write a rime on the other. Children twist the egg and read the words.
Flower Rimes
Cut 4” circles out of construction paper. Cut paper petals similar to the ones shown. Children write the “rime” on the circle and then write words on the petals.