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Saturday, March 31, 2018


Shower April with joy and good memories!

We want to “shower” you with a “downpour” of fun ideas in our April Happies. It’s interesting that SEL (Social Emotional Learning) is receiving so much attention now because that’s exactly what Carolyn Kisloski and I have been preaching about and trying to nurture with our HAPPIES each month. Teachers and children need to find the JOY of learning together. Each child needs to feel loved, capable, and accepted.

Plant those SEL seeds this month with our handshakes, cheers, brain breaks, songs, games and creative activities.

Remember that HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS! YOU can add the magic to these activities with your smile, enthusiasm, and energy!

Click here to get your free preview:

Click here to purchase the complete packet with 15 songs and 144 pages of activities:

Friday, March 30, 2018


The world is turning GREEN this time of year.  Here are some ways to celebrate the color with a poem, reading, math, science, and art.

Green  by Dr. Holly
Green grass,
Green trees,
Green pickles,
Green peas.

Green grows
And green makes
Green lizards,
Green snakes.

Green leaves
Pop out in the spring;
Green is such
A lovely thing!

Color Recognition (Visual Skills)
Sing this song to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”
Do you see the color green, the color green, the color green?
Do you see the color green somewhere in the room?
Each child gets up and touches an object that is green. (Adapt the song for other colors, beginning sounds, etc.)
Hint! Cover a cardboard roller from a pants hanger with green paper to make a green pointer!

Remember (Listening Skills and Model Writing)
Read the poem to the children one time. Ask them to recall the different objects in the poem that are green. Write their responses on the board. Read the poem a second time and see how many more objects they can remember. Read over the list together.

If I Were Green (Oral Language)
Have children close their eyes and pretend they are green. What are they? Write this sentence at the top of a sheet of paper and run off a copy for each child. “If I were green I would be ________.” (Younger children can dictate their responses, while older children complete their own sentences.) Put their papers together to make a class book.

“Eye” Can Graph (Math Comparisons)
Pass a small mirror around the classroom. Encourage each child to look at their eyes and describe what color they are. Make a bar graph by cutting out eyes from construction paper. Let each child color in a section by the color of their eyes. What color do the most people have? What color do the least number have? Have children go home and look at their parents’ eyes. Are they the same color as their eyes?

Natural Green (Science Investigation)
Ask the children to think about all of the things in nature that are green. Write their list on the board as they call out objects. “Are all of these the same shade of green?” Take the class on a nature walk and have each child collect one “specimen” that is green. Bring their objects back in the classroom and compare. Are they all the same? Have children describe their differences. Can they sort the objects? Did they collect plants or animals? What animals are green? What time of year do you see the most green?

Green Collage (Creativity)
Provide children with green paint, green crayons, green markers, and green paper. Invite children to create a “green collage” on a piece of cardboard or a paper plate.

Scratch and Sniff Green (Word Recognition)
Give each child a heavy piece of paper. Write the word “green” on their paper with school glue. (An adult will need to do this for younger children.) Let each child take a spoonful of lime jello and sprinkle it over the glue. (Model how to shake it around and then dump off the excess.) After it dries, children can “scratch and sniff” the word green.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


One of the easiest and best ways to engage children is to activate their fingers. Here are some great tips I found in blogs I posted about 4 years ago.

Quiet Man (Candace Reed)
Make "quiet man" with your fingers by sticking up pinky and pointer and touching thumb, ring man, and tall man. When the teacher holds up "quiet man" the children respond by making "quiet man" and focusing on the teacher.

Book Connections
Demonstrate how to touch index fingers to show you’ve made a connection with a book. To keep children engaged as you read, invite them to touch their index fingers whenever they “connect” with the book.
Peace and Love to YOU! 
You can do this for your students and tell them to pass it on.
Peace (Make sign for peace.)
Love (Make sign for love.)
You (Point to someone.)

Magic Triangle (Cathy Crady) 
Teach children how to self-regulate and focus with their magic triangle in their pocket. Place fingertips next to each other to form a triangle. When they need to calm down or if a child is upset have them take out their magic triangle and hold it in front of their mouth. Tell them to take a deep breath in through their nose, and then slowly blow through the triangle.

Thumbs Up Statements (Brenda Lee Hernandez) 

Have students repeat positive comments as they stick up their thumbs.

I am a good Citizen.
I am trustworthy.
I am responsible.
I am fair.
I am caring.
I use good manners.
I use kind words.
I can do it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


I was looking through some old blog posts this weekend and I found some fantastic ideas that are worth repeating! "Cluck, cluck" is definitely something that I would do!

Cluck - Cluck 
When several children come up to you at the same time wanting to ask a question or say something just start clucking like a chicken. The kids will probably look at you like you're going “nuts” and walk away. Then you can deal with them one at a time as you smile inside.

Tag Along BookCut 2 sheets of copy paper and one sheet of construction paper in half. Place the white paper on top of the construction paper and fold in half. Punch 2 holes near the fold and attach a pipe cleaner handle and you’ve got a book that can “tag along” wherever you go!

Habitat Flip Book 
Make a flip book as shown. Draw an egg, tree, cave, or other animal home on the front flip. Open and draw a critter that you would find in that habitat. Hold up to the light to see your little critter in its home.

Park That Comment (Jess Pesola)
This idea will help you with students who have tons of stories or interjections. Create a parking lot from a poster for ideas, questions, and stories. Students write a word or phrase on a post it and put it in the parking lot to remind them. Come back to parking lot comments at the end of the lesson.
Walking Motions (Stacy Hermann)
To make sure kids are quiet while walking in the halls, have all the students make a certain motion. For example, they could tap their shoulders when walking.

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.

Pass the Mike Recall (Marsha Edwards)
At the end of the day sit or stand in a circle. Use a plastic microphone or cylinder block as you chant:
Pass the mike.
Pass the mike.
What do you have to say?
Pass the mike.
Pass the mike.
Tell what you liked (or learned) today.
(Pass the mike to several children and let them tell what they learned or liked.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


This time of year many of you are getting cranked up for and “end of the year” program. This can be frustrating, or it can be an exciting time for the children to sing and dance. My advice is “keep it simple.” The parents will be entertained and love whatever their children do. Here are a few ideas that might get you going!

Happy Birthday Letters (Totally Reading CD)

Have children bring in baseball caps and sunglasses. Make microphones out of toilet paper rolls wrapped with aluminum foil. Turn the caps backwards as you sing:

Yo A, it’s your birthday.
Let’s all read like your birthday.
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
You B, it’s your birthday…

Who Let the Letters Out? (Kiss Your Brain CD)
Staple ovals to a strip of paper to make doggie headbands. Let children decorate large cardboard letters with glitter and bling bling. Punch a hole in the top and tie on a string to make rapper necklaces. Make a large doghouse to pin on the stage curtains. (Square with an arch cut out. Triangle roof.) As you sing the song children come out of the doghouse dancing and wearing their letters.

Who let the A out?
/a/ /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
Who let the B out…

Alphabet Remix (Move It! Learn It! CD)
Let children wear glasses, caps, letter necklaces as they do this activity.  
Sing the regular ABC song. (Fold hands and sing sweetly.)
I say, A B C D E F G! (clap twice) (Dance from side to side.)
H I J K L M N O P (clap twice)
Q R S, (clap)
T U V, (clap)
W X Y and Z.
Now I know my ABC’s.
Next time, won’t you rap with me? (Make rapper hands and dance.)
A (blow out of the side of your mouth)
B (blow) C (blow)….Z
Now I know my ABC’s (blow).
Now you’re ready to read with me! (blow)

*Alphabet Party – Even if you don’t have to do a program for parents, it might be fun to do these songs for another class. Or, have an alphabet party just for your class!

The Very Hungry Class
This is a take off on "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Choose a song, finger play, or poem that you’ve used for every month in the school year. It will bring back fond memories for your students and will be an easy program to put together for the parents. It might go something like this:

When school started we were a very hungry class eager to learn.
In September we learned our rules -THE RULES RAP.
In October we learned the days of the week – DAYS OF THE WEEK.
November was when we said our letters and sounds – ALPHARDY.
In December we learned the months in the year – MACARENA MONTHS.
January was our Hundreds Day Celebration – ZERO THE HERO STOMP.
In February we learned about money – THE MONEY SONG.
March was time to learn to spell – COLOR FARM.
In April we learned to recycle – REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.
May was a time to study (plants, dinosaurs, caterpillars, or another song that reflects your standards).
Now, before we say good-bye,
We’ll sing our favorite song for you.
Please stand up and join along
And you can learn to “Tooty Ta”, too! (The audience stands up and does the “Tooty Ta” with you.)

Author's Tea
After writing and editing original stories, invite parents to a party where each child gets to share her book and read a few pages.

Monday, March 26, 2018


Grrrr! Let's do the dinosaur boogie so the kids can growl, wiggle, and release all that energy.  Jumping up and down is a great way to get oxygen going to the brain and as the children dance they will be developing motor skills and self-regulation.

Dinosaur Boogie
Pterosaurs had wings and could fly. (Stretch out arms.)
He’d swoop in the swamp then up in the sky.
The ancestor of birds they say,
I wish it were here today.
Tyrannosaurus Rex, king of the swamp.
He growl and snarl, and then he’d go chomp. (Clap hands.)
He ate meat, he was a carnivore.
They’d all hide when he would roar.

Do the dinosaur boogie start - bounce around. (Bounce.)
Hands like claws, make a growling sound –Grrr! (Make hands like claws.)
Stomp, stomp, stomp the ground. (Stomp feet.)
Then wiggle and turn around. (Dance and turn around.)
Let’s do the dinosaur boogie…

Brontosaurus was the largest of all. (Point up high.)
He moved slowly so he would not fall.
He ate plants, he was an herbivore. (Pretend to pick a leaf and eat.)
He ate and ate and then ate some more.
Triceratops had three horns on his head. (Put 3 fingers up on head.)
I’d like to see one, but now they’re all dead.
Where, oh, where, did the dinosaurs go? (Hold up palms and shake head.)
I guess we’ll never know!

What does carnivore mean? Herbivore? Are you an omnivore?
Apatosaurus is another name for brontosaurus.

Give children paper, paint, markers, and other art media to create original dinosaurs.

What can you find out about dinosaurs on the internet? What happened to dinosaurs?

Students could do informative writing about dinosaurs or creative writing about what they would do if they were a dinosaur.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Have you got any popcorn trees where you live?

Popcorn Tree
(Tune: “Turkey in the Straw”)
I looked out my window, and what did I see? (Hand over eyes.)
Popcorn popping on my cherry tree. (Hands on hips.)
What a surprise spring left for me—
Popcorn popping on my cherry tree.
Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. Pop! Pop! (Wiggle hips to the beat.)

Faster…super fast

Trace around children’s hand and arm on a sheet of paper. Let them color or paint it. Glue popcorn on the branches to look like blossoms.
Hint! If you shake popcorn in a sack with a little dry tempera it will look like pink blossoms.
Petal Bookmark 
Go outside and collect petals and leaves that have fallen to the ground. (It's very important to remind child to never pull things off plants because it might hurt them!) Lay out a 7" strip of clear packaging tape for each child. They arrange their leaves and petals and then place another piece of tape on top. Seal, trim the ends, and you'll have a spring bookmark.

Tree Identification
Get a book on trees from your school library. Take a nature walk and challenge the children to identify the trees on the school grounds. How does the bark on trees vary? Do all trees have blossoms in the spring? How are the leaves different? 

*Hint! Give children a clipboard and let them draw their favorite tree. Encourage them to write sentences describing their tree.

Saturday, March 24, 2018


Spring brings butterflies, as well as bugs and insects.  You might not be crazy about bugs, but I bet your kids will go "crazy" learning about them in this FREE packet that Carolyn Kisloski and I created for you!


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.

Friday, March 23, 2018


Some things never lose their magic (fortunately) like the life cycle of caterpillars to butterflies!

Let's go to sleep (Wiggle fingers.)
The little caterpillars said.
So they curled up (Cross fingers and
In a chrysalis bed. close hands as if praying.)

They will awaken (Open fingers slowly.)
By and by,
And each one will be (Clasp thumbs and
A lovely butterfly! wiggle fingers like wings.)

Here are two life cycle projects that take a little time and effort, but they are something your students never will forget.

Pasta Butterfly
Materials:  stick, rice, corkscrew pasta, seashell pasta, bowtie pasta, craft glue

Directions:  Look on the playground for sticks or have children bring one from home.  The stick should be as long as their foot.  Have them glue a piece of rice on the left end of their stick to represent the caterpillar's "egg." Next, glue on a corkscrew pasta for the "caterpillar." Glue a seashell pasta on next for the "chrysalis." Finally, glue a bowtie pasta on the red end of the stick for the "butterfly."  (They might want to color the pasta with markers before gluing it in place.)  Encourage children to describe the life cycle of the butterfly using their stick.

Hint! You could also use a bean for the egg, fuzzy yarn for the caterpillar, cotton ball for the chrysalis, and tissue paper for the butterfly.

Butterfly Puppet
Materials:  old sock, markers, coffee filter, food coloring, eye dropper, pipe cleaner, safety pin

Directions:  Several days before doing this activity ask children to bring in an old sock from home. First, let them decorate the outside of the sock to look like a caterpillar. They can use markers, pompoms, etc. 
Next, prepare a butterfly using a coffee filter. Children fold the coffee filter into eighths. Using an eye dropper, have them drop colored water onto the coffee filter. Open and dry. Scrunch up in the middle and fasten on a pipe cleaner for the body and antenna.
Turn the sock inside out and pin the butterfly inside. Children can begin the story about the butterfly by inserting their hand into the sock. For the "chrysalis," have them begin turning the sock inside out. As the butterfly emerges, the children stick their hand in the sock to reveal the butterfly. 

Butterfly Bites
Children will enjoy assembling and eating this butterfly. You will need celery cut in 4" pieces, cream cheese, and pretzel twists. First, spread cream cheese in the hollow part of the celery. Insert two pretzels on either side for wings.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Learning to recognize and label plants, insects, and other objects they study about is a good way to integrate writing and science. With this song learning the parts of a flower will be much easier. Children will also be amazed about the parts of a flower that they eat!

Parts of a Flower  (Tune: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”)
Flower (Hands around face.)
Stem (Point to neck.)
Leaves (Stick out arms.)
And roots (Touch feet.) –
Leaves and roots.
Flower, stem, leaves, and roots –
Leaves and roots.
All it takes is sun (Hands up in circle over head.)
And showers (Wiggle fingers down.)
And a seed (Hold out palm.)
Grows into a flower. (Spread fingers of right hand up through left fist.)

Flip Book
Make a flip book where children can label the parts of a flower. To make a flip book fold a sheet of paper into eighths. Open and fold in half. Cut down the three creased lines to the middle to make flips. Turn vertically as shown. Write “Flower," "Stem," "Leaves," "Roots” on the four sections from the top to the bottom. Open and draw the appropriate part of the plant under each label. Don’t forget to draw the seed!

Eating Plants
Discuss what parts of a plant you eat. What roots do you eat? What leaves? What stems? What flowers? What seeds?
*Divide a sheet of paper into fourths and label, “seeds,” “roots,” “stems,” “flowers.” Have children write or draw different foods they eat from each category.

Dirt Pie
Yeah, I know this isn't very healthy, but I'm sure somebody out there would like to do it at home or summer camp.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Spring is in the air and it's time to do a little planting!
The Planting Song  (Tune: “Farmer in the Dell”)
Let’s all plant some seeds, (Pretend to dig with a shovel.)
Let’s all plant some seeds.
Hi, ho, it’s spring you know,
Let’s all plant some seeds.

The rain begins to fall… (Have fingers fall like rain.)

The sun warms the earth… (Hands over head in a circle.)

The seeds begin to grow… (Make a fist with one hand and bring the other hand up through it.)

Seed Hunt 

Have children hunt for seeds in their kitchen at home. Bring these in and plant them in plastic cups filled with potting soil. Be sure to label. Water and watch.

Seedy Snack 
Popcorn, sunflower seeds, pickles, and strawberries! What do they call have in common? They could all be part of a seedy snack. Let the children brainstorm all the things they eat that have seeds.

Planting Jelly Beans 
Have children brainstorm other things they would like to plant, such as jelly beans or pennies. Plant in plastic cups with the jelly beans and pennies between the cup and the soil so the children can observe what happens.
Purchase carrot seeds, radishes, and other vegetable seeds that germinate quickly and plant.  Water, set in a sunny window, and have the children record the plant growth.  
*Transfer to your school garden or a container garden when the plants are several inches high.

Newspaper Tree
My kids always loved to watch me make this newspaper tree.  Open three sheets of newspaper and lay on the floor as shown. Roll up and tape. Cut down several strips from the top about 8” long. Reach into the middle of the roll, grab the center, and slowly pull up.  Tae daa!


Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Happy first day of spring!!  You can't help but smile and have a spring in your step. And speaking of steps and springs reminds me of how much fun I had jumping rope as a child…and then teaching my students to jump rope. For some of the children it was easy, but other children really had to work at it. Being persistent and not giving up is a good thing to learn. Jumping rope also encourages social skills, motor skills, counting, and oral language. It’s good for the body and the brain!

Here are some chants we used to say, but you can adapt them if you don’t like the words. You could also use these on a rainy day. Just have the children get a pretend jump rope and jump along as you say the rhymes.  What a perfect brain break for kids from pre-k through the primary grades.

*You can jump on two feet or alternate hopping on one foot at a time.

Bubble Gum 
Bubble gum,            
Bubble gum in a dish.
How many pieces
Do you wish?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5…(How high can you count?)

Bathing Beauty
Bathing Beauty
Thinks she’s a cutie
All she wears is bathing suities.
If you jump to 24, you will get an extra turn.
1, 2, 3…24

Cinderella dressed in yella.
Went upstairs to kiss her fella.
Made a mistake and kissed a snake.
How many doctors did it take?
1, 2, 3…8 

Engine No. 9 
Engine, engine number nine
Going down the railroad line.
If the train jumps off the track
You will get your money back.
How much money will you get?
1, 2, 3, …10

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear 
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, read the news.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, tie your shoes.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, go upstairs.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, sit down in your chair!

Blue Bells 
Blue bells, cockle shells, eevie, ivy, over.
I like coffee. I like tea. I like you to jump with me.

Here's my "Jump Rope Rally" video so we can jump together!

Jump Rope Rhyme Book 
It might be fun to give children copies of the rhymes and let them make a book of jump rope rhymes. They could illustrate these and use them for independent reading.

Do you remember any jump rope rhymes from your childhood? I’m sure your students would enjoy learning them.

Monday, March 19, 2018


The sun is shining so let's go outside and learn!

I Want to Go Out and Play Book 
(Writing an opinion)
Give each child a sheet of paper and ask them to draw a picture of why they like to go outside. Ask them to write (or dictate) a sentence about their drawing.  Make a cover that says, “I Want to Go Out and Play.” Put their pages together, hole punch, and insert book rings.

Sit and Write 
(Descriptive writing)
Each child will need paper, a clipboard or cardboard to write on, and a pencil or crayon. Have children spread out in a comfortable area and write stories, poems, or descriptions of what they see.

Alphabet Walk 
Divide children into groups of four and give each group a sheet of paper with the letters of the alphabet. (They will also need a pencil and a clipboard to write on.) Challenge groups to find as many objects as they can for the letters in the alphabet. For example: A-acorn, B-bird, C-cloud, D-dirt, etc.

Shape Hunt 
Cut circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles out of construction paper and put them in a bag. Children choose a shape and then try to match it up with a similar shape on the playground.
*Have children lie on the ground and make shapes with their bodies. Take photos to make a class book.

Bounce and Count 
How many times can they bounce a ball and catch it? How many times can they toss a ball with a friend and not drop it?
*Have each child silently count the steps from the classroom to the playground. Compare their answers.

Worm Measurement 
Cut yarn or string into different sections (3”-12”) and place them in a bag. Explain that you have “worms” in your bag and they will all get to choose one. Have them walk around the playground and find objects that are longer, shorter, or equal to their worm. (Exchange worms after a few minutes.) 


P.S. If it's raining where you are today I've got a new "Just for Kids" video where I sing about Bingo and do a tell and draw story.