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Monday, April 30, 2018


Are things getting a little loud in your classroom?  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!!!!


“Children tell us things by their behavior.” And one thing you might have noticed about your students’ behavior recently is their frustration from testing. Do they seem to be a little “testy” with their classmates? Here are some ideas that may help them work out conflicts.

Friendship Lotion (Jennifer Smith)
Write “friendship lotion” on a bottle of lotion or disinfectant. (You could also use an empty bottle.) Children take turns passing it around as they put some in their hands. When everybody has some rub your hands together as you say…”It smells like friendship.”
*This is a perfect way to remind students to be kind to friends. 


Peace Corner (Jillian Teder)
Set up a "peace corner" in your classroom where children can go to self-regulate and regain self control before returning to the group when they are overwhelmed or frustrated.

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.


Sunday, April 29, 2018


A Mother's Day tea, a song, a handmade gift, or a card will all be appreciated in two weeks on May 13th by someone special in a child's life.

A Box for Mommy (Tune: "Polly Wolly Doodle" - HAPPY EVERYTHING CD)
I wish I had a little box (Pretend to hold a box in your hands.)
To put my mommy in. (Pretend to put something in the box.)
I’d take her out and go (Take something out of the box
(kiss, kiss, kiss) and kiss in the air.)
And put her back again.

If my mommy were in my box
Were in my box, then she would always know.
School or play, night or day,
How I love her so! (Cross arms over chest.) 

I made this box for mother’s day, (Pretend to hold a box.)
It’s full of love for you.
When we’re apart, hold it to your heart, (Put hands over heart.)
And know I’m thinking of you.

Box of Love Necklace
You can collect small boxes that jewelry come in or use matchboxes for this project. Spray paint the boxes and then let the children decorate them with stickers, glitter pens, etc. Glue a small picture of the child inside the box. Punch a hole and attach a ribbon so it can be worn around the neck. Teach children the song and let them present their necklaces at a Mother’s Day tea, or send the boxes home with the words to the song.

My Mom Can
Let each child make a predictable book about all the things their mom can do.

Hats for Moms
These are adorable hats from paper plates that children can make for their mothers. Cut the inner section out of the plate. Decorate the outer rim with markers. Cut 4” squares out of tissue paper and wad up and glue on the rim to look like flowers. Punch a hole in each side and tie on a 16” piece of string or ribbon. Place the hat on your head and tie under the chin.

Trace around children's hands on construction paper and cut out. Glue to a stem and fold down the middle and ring finger to make sign language for "I love you!"

A Gift from the Heart
Make a flip book and write the following on the flips:
Some gifts are round.
Some gifts are tall.
Some gifts are large.
Some gifts are small.


Saturday, April 28, 2018


If I were in charge of the world you wouldn't be allowed to test little children!  Unfortunately, I'm not in charge of the world, and even young children are experiencing "test anxiety" this time of year.  How ridiculous for a four or five year old to be worried about a test!  Bless their hearts...and bless your hearts.

Nevertheless, here are some activities that might help children relax and focus before a test.  They might also be a good break between tests.

Deep Breathing – Inhale slowly as you count to 8. Exhale slowly as you count backwards from 8 to 1. Breath in hot chocolate. Breath out and blow the candles out on a birthday cake.  


Tighten~Relax – Tighten up your body as tight as you can and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. Then relax and let it all go. Repeat several times.
*Starting with the toes, call out one body part at a time for children to squeeze and then relax. For example, toes, feet, knees, legs, hips, back, fingers, arms, shoulders, necks, faces, and then a whole body SQUEEZE!

Rag Dolls and Soldiers – When the teacher calls out “rag dolls” everyone flops over like a rag doll. When the teacher says, “soldiers,” everyone stands up tall and stiff. Continue calling out “rag dolls” and “soldiers” faster and faster.

“Eye” Exercise - Demonstrate how to hold your two index fingers a few inches from your eyes on either side of your head. Look at the right index finger with both eyes and then look at the left index finger.

Balancing Act – Ask children to stand. How long can they balance on their right foot? How long can they balance on their left foot? Can they balance on their right toes? Left toes? Can they balance on their right foot and extend their left leg in the air? Can they balance on one foot with their eyes closed?
Hint! Classical music is lovely for balancing activities.

Vacation – Tell your class to give their mouth and their eyes a “vacation” by closing their eyes and mouths. Next, ask them to practice breathing through their noses. You’ll be amazed at how this brings down their energy level and helps them focus.

Lip Sinc – Make motions as you mouth the words to finger plays and songs. Invite children to join you when they recognize what you are doing.

Silly Dance -  Play some catch music for the children to do the silly dance.  When you stop the music they have to "freeze."  Continue playing and stopping the music as the children dance and freeze.

Hint!  The "finger neurobics" that K.J. demonstrated several years ago would also be an excellent way to calm children.

Friday, April 27, 2018


My webmaster has created three new "patty cake" videos.

Why patty cake?

Patty cake is a great brain break when children are restless.

When you patty cake you cross the midline which activates both sides of the brain.

It's good for eye-hand coordination.

It's TPR - Total Physical Response - motor skills and oral language.

Patty cake encourages self-regulation and the executive function.

It nurtures 21st century skills - cooperation, collaboration, and communication.

You've got purposeful practice for automaticity (aka repetition) because children will want to do it over and over.

How about INTENTIONAL TEACHING? Choose words or skills you are working on and integrate them into this movement game.

It's free, simple, environmentally friendly, sugar-free...

Talk about ACTIVE learning!

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Poems are a perfect partner for creative activities in your classroom.  Take a look...

Illustrations – After listening to a poem, have children close their eyes  and make a picture of it in their heads. Then let them draw that picture on paper with crayons, markers, or colored pencils.
*Let children illustrate poems with water colors, chalk, or other media.

Collage – Let children choose a favorite poem and make a collage with magazine pictures, photographs, natural objects, or art media.

Pennants and Banners– Cut pennant and banner shapes out of construction paper and let children write or illustrate poems on them.  Write poems and turn them into windsocks.

Puzzle Poems– Cut cardboard or tag board into 12” squares. Let children write original poems or copy poems on the cardboard. Then give them makers and crayons to illustrate their poems. Finally, have them cut the square into puzzle shapes. Store in a zip bag. Let children exchange puzzles and put them together and read.

Poetry Quilt - Give each child a square and let them write an original poem or rhyme on the square. Let them decorate a frame around their poem with crayons. Glue the children’s squares to a large sheet of bulletin board paper. Be sure to leave at least an Inch between the squares. Take 12” pieces of yarn and tie them in bows. Glue the bows between the squares so it will look like a quilt. 


Puppets, Sculptures, and Bookmarks – Let children use a “scrap box” or “junk box” to create other “artful” objects for poems.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Today let's see how we can tie in poetry with writing standards.  First, ask the children, “What do poets do?” As they respond comment, “You know, we can do that, too. We can all write poems and be poets!!!” 

Hint!  When writing poems it doesn't matter if children use words that rhyme, nonsense words, or words that don't rhyme.

An acrostic is an easy way to begin writing poetry. Model how to do this on the board by writing a word vertically. Have children to think of a word that begins with each letter. Read over what you have written, and you have a poem.

Name Acrostic – Children think of a word that describes them for each letter in their name.

Holiday or Season- Write the holiday or season and then add an adjective that begins with each letter.

Non-fiction – Write a vocabulary word from a unit or theme and then
challenge children to write a word that begins with each letter. 



Cut out pictures from magazines, calendars, and catalogs.  Let children choose a picture and then write a poem about it.

Write several lines of poetry, leaving blanks at the end of each line. Encourage the children to fill in words that rhyme. Have them help you sound out the words as you write them. For example:
I saw a pig
Who could ______.
I saw a cat
Who could ______.
I saw a sheep
Who could ______.
And I can rhyme
Any time!
*Use similes for blank poems. For example, children could fill in the line to “Hungry as a _____. Quiet as a______. Sleepy as a ______. Mad as a _______. Good as _______. Sweet as ______.” And so on.

Give children predictable sentences similar to the ones below. All children have to do is fill in a missing word, and they’ll have a poem.
Hint! They can use words that rhyme, nonsense words, or words that don’t rhyme.
I like_____.
I like _____
I like _____.
Do you like____?

I can _____.
I can_____.
I can_____.
Can you_____?

*I know….I wish….My mom is…Dogs can….Spring is….Green is…. And so forth!
*Write predictable poems using the five senses. It looks like…It sounds
like…It tastes like… It smells like…It feels like…It’s a ….

Laurel Wreath
Just for fun, let children make laurel wreaths out of paper plates and leaves.  The Greeks awarded these in Olympic events for sports as well as poetic meets.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Since April is National Poetry Month, here are some ways to tie in poetry with standards. Poems really can be like a "breath of fresh air" to blow in JOY and FUN to language arts.

Hint! Cut a pocket off an old pair of pants and staple it to a bulletin board. Store favorite poems in the pocket so the children can read them over and over.


After reading a poem with your students, read it again clapping the number of syllables in each word. You could also snap, stomp, hop or make other movements for the syllables.
Rhyming Words
Following a reading, mention that you heard words that sounded alike at the end. Repeat two of the words that rhyme. Let’s read the poem again and see if you can listen for other words that rhyme. As children find words that rhyme, highlight them on the poem with highlighting markers or tape. Write sets of words that rhyme on the board. Underline the letters that are the same. Have children think of other words that have the same sound at the end. Write the rhyming words on the board as the children call them out.

Read poems that have strong alliteration. Ask children to identify words with the same beginning sound. Highlight the words in the poem or list them on the board. Can children add other words to the list that begin with the same sound?
*Just for fun, choose an initial consonant sound and alliterate each word in a rhyme. For example: Bumpty Bumpty Bat Bon Ba Ball. Bumpty Bumpty bad ba breat ball…

Before reading a poem, encourage the children to look at the title or illustrations and predict what the poem might be about.

High Frequency Words
Highlight word wall words that are in poems. Pass out flash cards with words and challenge children to match them with words in the poem.

Parts of Speech 
Ask children to identify verbs, nouns, and other parts of speech in poetry.
After reading a poem, ask appropriate questions that will develop comprehension skills. Is there a main character? What was the setting? When did the poem take place? What happened at the beginning? Middle? End? Was there a problem or resolution? What will happen next? What was the main idea? 

Genres of Literature 
Help children recognize different types of literature through poetry. Could the poem really happen or is it pretend? Poems and books that are pretend are called “fiction” and those that are real are called “non-fiction.” Is the poem humorous or serious? Does it tell a story (epic) or is it just a rhyme?
Mental Imagery
Being able to visualize what is happening in a story, poem, or text is a strategy for improving comprehension. Have children close their eyes as you read different poems to them. Encourage the children to make a picture in their brains to go along with what they hear. After listening to the poem, encourage the children to discuss the pictures that they made in their heads.

Monday, April 23, 2018


These games can easily be adapted for different languages.  The advantage of a game is that two children can play them together and help each other.  Repetition is also important and these games can be played multiple times or sent home for practice with parents.

Peeking Puppies
Cut puppies out of construction paper using the attached pattern. Write the word in Spanish on the body of the puppy. Fold down the ear and write the word in English under the ear. Children identify the word and then self-check by “peeking” under the ear.        


Sock Match
Cut matching socks out of construction paper. Write a word in English on one sock and the Spanish translation on another sock. Mix the socks up in a bag. Children find the matching socks and clothespin them together.

Cut 4” circles out of poster board or fun foam. Write the word in Spanish on one side and the English translation on the other side. Children will need a pancake turner/spatula to play the game. Spread the circles on the table. Children read the word and translate. Then they flip over the circle to check their response on the back.  

Stretch and Match

You will need heavy cardboard cut in 5” x 8” rectangles. Cut notches in each of the long sides as shown. Write a word in Spanish by each notch on the left side. Write a word in English by each notch on the right side. Children stretch rubber bands between matching words. Draw lines between correct answers on the back so children can self-check.

Poke and Peek
Cut simple shapes out of poster board (cars, animals, plants, etc.) Punch holes around the edge of the shape. Write a word in English by each hole on one side of the shape. On the reverse side write the word in Spanish by the appropriate hole. Children take a straw or pencil and insert it by a word. After translating the word, they flip the shape over and check their response on the back.
Hint! Children could also play this game with a friend.    

I would love to see someone do a study on using sign language as a strategy for learning a second language.  Sign language could provide a physical and multi sensory bridge for making connections between two languages.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Many times at workshops teachers ask, “Do you have any ideas for learning a second language?” It’s funny, but almost every project I demonstrate I’ll say, “You know you could use this by….” Most of my activities are easy to adapt for different age levels and content. I’m no expert, but here are a few tips that might help.

The more senses you activate and the more you engage children physically and mentally, the more likely the message will get to the brain and stay in the brain. Say it, move it, sing it, act it!

You have to hook new learning to something that is already in the brain to make those connections. And, you have to repeat things over and over and over again to make those pathways firm.

Games are a natural way to engage children and provide that purposeful practice for automaticity.

I Spy!
This is an old game, but it could easily be played using words for colors and shapes of a second language.
Example: I spy something rojo!

Touch Something
The teacher says a word (color, shape, object) and the children have to walk around the room and touch something that matches the word.

Simon Says
Change the words of Simon Says to reinforce body parts.
Example: Simons says put your hands on your cabeza.

Musical Words
Write vocabulary words on paper plates and place them on the floor. (You might want to write the word in Spanish in red on one side and the word in English in blue on the opposite side.) Play some catchy music and tell the children to dance around. When the music stops, the children find a plate and pick it up. The children silently read their word and translate it. The teacher randomly points to several children to identify their word and tell what it means. The children then put the plates on the floor and the dancing continues.
Show Me
Each child has a set of vocabulary cards that they place on their desk or on the floor. As the teacher calls out a word, the children find it and hold it up in the air. (You could vary this by calling out the word in English, saying it in Spanish, giving a definition, and so forth.)

Four Square
Fold a sheet of paper into fourths. Open and trace over the creased line. In the upper right corner write the word in English. In the upper left corner write the word in Spanish. In the bottom right corner the children illustrate the word. In the last section they write sentences using the word.

Paper Plate Puzzles

Cut paper plates into thirds. Write a word in English on one third. Write the word in Spanish on another section. Draw a picture clue in the third section. Mix up pieces. Children put the puzzles together and read the words.

*Hint! You could use puzzlers for number words, color words, animals, foods, etc

Saturday, April 21, 2018


April 21st - National Kindergarten Day

At the end of the day, will it really matter if they learned to read when they were five or when they were six?

At the end of the day, will it really matter if they wrote a paragraph when they were in kindergarten or second grade?

At the end of the day, will it really matter what score they got on a standardized test?

At the end of the day, will “rigor” in kindergarten be more important than play?

At the end of the day, it will matter if children feel good about themselves, know how to get along with others, find joy in learning, and have happy memories.

On NATIONAL KINDERGARTEN DAY, I question why we are pushing and rushing and shoving our children. Are the actually going to be smarter, brighter, and better at the end of the day…

They’ve Taken Away Our Song
By Jean Feldman

We used to sing and play outside.
     We’d hold hands and we’d dance.
Now we have to sit still and take tests.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to build with blocks.
     We’d finger paint and do puzzles.
Now we do worksheets.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to dig in the sand,
     Play circle games and play pretend.
Now we sit in front of a big screen.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to cook and go on field trips.
     We had show and tell and rest time.
Now we have to stay on task.
     They’ve taken away our song.

Our teacher used to have time
     To sing us rhymes and tell us stories.
Now our teacher has to collect data.
     They’ve taken away our song.

Give children back their song,
     Laugh, and love, and play,
So when they’re all grown up
     They’ll remember kindergarten in a special way.

As kindergarten teachers, we know that five is a magical time. Children have one chance in a lifetime to be five, and we will continue to hold hands, and sing, and dance, and tell stories, and do finger plays, and play pretend, and give children happy memories because we still believe in “kinder garden”-– we are KINDERGARTEN TEACHERS!

Sweet memories of my kindergarten.  One of the best years of my life.
I've forgotten many years in school, but I'll never forget kindergarten.
Maybe that's why I became a kindergarten teacher so I could pass on
the joy and give other children happy memories.  Do you feel the same way?

Friday, April 20, 2018


Someone at a recent workshop asked if I had any “tricks” for helping children discriminate b and d. Most experts suggest that it is developmental and you shouldn’t be too concerned before the age of 7. However, I looked through my files and here are some tips.

B and D (Mary Ann Rosier)
Make a fist with each hand and put up the thumbs with fists facing each other. “B” comes first in the alphabet so the stick is first. “D” comes after “B” so the stick is on the right.
Using a copy of the alphabet underline “b c d.” Explain that “b” /c sees/ “d.”
B and D Discrimination (Mary Marsionis)
Children use left hand to make a sign language “b” and right hand to make a “d.” Say “big dog” to remember “b” and “d.”

B vs. D (Mary Myers)
Here’s another idea for helping children distinguish these letters. “B” has the bat (stick) and then the ball (circle). “D” has the doorknob (circle) and then the door (stick).
Draw a bed. Use a lowercase “b” for the headboard and a “d” for the foot of the bed. 

Write "b" on 10 index cards and "d" on 10 index cards.  Shuffle the cards and then ask the children to sort them.
Sensory Activities
Practice writing “b” and “d” in the air as you say:
Make a line and then a circle for “b.” Make the circle and then the line for “d.”

Have children roll play dough and place it on top of the letters.

Trace over letters in a sand tray.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


April 19th is National High Five Day, but you can start any day with a high five and a smile! Wouldn't your kids be surprised if you drew a smile on your hand like this one?


High Five Cheer

Teach children how to give themselves a “high five” for a job well done. Hold up both palms facing each other in front of your chest. Pretend to wave with one hand as you hold up five fingers on the other hand. “Hi 5!” Get it?

Pat on the Back
Trace around each child’s hand on construction paper and let them cut it out. Write a positive comment about each child on the hand and tape it to their back at the end of the day. Parents will be proud when they see their child’s “pat on the back.”


Pickle Tickle Partner Game

Up high. (Give a high five up in the air.)
Down low. (High five down by knees.)
Cut the pickle. (One child touches fingertips horizontally as the other child pretends to slice in between.)
Give a tickle. (Gently tickle each other.)

High Five
Write sight words on hands and tape to your classroom door. Students must "high five" a hand and read a word before exiting the classroom.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I have so much fun going through ideas teachers have shared with me at my workshops. See if you can make a “fist list” of three new things you’d like to try this week.

Rainbow Clap(Kammi O'Hara) 

Start on one side of your body and clap in an arch over to the other side.

Spiderman(Jessica Schmidt)

To focus children’s attention in the hall say, “Spiderman.” When the children hear that they need to "glue" themselves against the wall.

Silence (Karen Reindl) 

Tell the kids you're going to play "silence." 
"Let's shake it out!" 
Stand tall and still and hold up one hand. Slowly put up one finger at a time. However, if they make noise before that stop until they are silent again. When you get to 5 or 10 everyone can clap.

Self-Regulation(Sarah Mumaw-Flury) 

To discourage children from shouting out the answer, have them whisper their answer to the question in their hand and then hold it up. When the teacher says, “Release!” they open their hand and say/whisper the answer. 

First Thing on Your Paper(Christine Williamson) 

The first thing I do is always the same. 

Pick up a pencil and write my name!

Word of the Day(Mairin Born)

Put a sight word each week (or day) in a clear nametag pocket. All week the kids must name the word or turn it into a sentence as a "ticket" to talk to the teacher.
Hint! Use shapes or letters for younger students.

Class Names(Tune: "Ten Little Indians") 

Aiden, Grayson, Hugh, Jack 
Jacob, Jayden, Mac, Maddie 
Nicholas, Oliver, Samuel Willa 
These are the kids in our class. 

*Sing this song all year to learn each other's names, alphabetical order, etc. With different class sizes, just adjust the names to fit by either singing quickly in a row or drawing out one name a little longer. 

Stress Button(Christine Burchfield)
Put a piece of Velcro on a poker chip for children to keep in their pocket. They can rub the Velcro on the chip to calm down.
*Place Velcro strips on the side of their desk to rub and relax. (Pam Armon)

N.A.P.(Joy & Dawn)

Teach children to say “N.A.P.” when they make a mistake or bad things happen.
N – not
A – a
P – problem

Useful Signs(Miranda)

Teach children signs for white and chocolate milk, as well as specials like art, music, PE, etc.

Daily Song List
Make a song list for each day of the week with a different good morning song, calendar song, phonics song, movement song, and good-bye song.

15 Minutes of Walking/Exercising
Whether or not you have a Fitbit, try building 15 minutes of walking each day as you count, sing letter songs, say days of the week, months, spell words, and review other information.