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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A A A - Awesome Albertville Alabama!

If you are ever in Northeast Alabama you need to make a stop at Big Spring Lake Kindergarten Center. It made my heart sing to know that there are still schools that believe that children come first! Their motto working, playing, learning…together is evident from the custodian’s closet to the halls and the library.


Tracy Penney is the principal and when I said, “Your school looks like Disney Land,” she replied, “That’s just what we want it to look like. We want a happy place where children can come and learn.” Boyd English, the Superintendent of Albertville City Schools, welcomed everyone by saying, “I want you to be happy this year. I want you to have FUN teaching.” How many of you have heard your administrators say that recently? There might be 28 kindergarten teachers, but they are a FAMILY and they work together to create a Wonderland for their kindergarteners. Can I get a job there????

I just couldn’t take it all in! One of my favorite ideas was “Dance Party Friday.” Every class has a disco light that they put out in the hall Friday morning to start the day. They all go out in the hall, dance, and give a “shout out” to students who had a special accomplishment that week.

If there were an HGTV show for beautiful schools they would be featured. Each room was a treat and showcased the teachers’ individuality and creativity.

One boy’s bathroom had a super hero theme with a spider web. The girls’ bathrooms were decorated with a princess theme, barn theme, and underwater theme.

I know for those little five year olds in Albertville, AL, it will be THE BEST DAY EVER when school begins!

P.S. Quinton Williams, Pastor of Lifepoint Church in Albertville, shared some powerful teaching tools that touched my heart and I think they will touch your heart as well!

Q’s Top Ten Tools for Teaching

1. Your Smile. It may be the only one a child sees. And your smile has the ability to set the tone for the whole day.

2. A Quiet Down Control Mechanism. You need one. Finger over your mouth. Lights flickering. Or as my teacher once did a certain song played on your piano. A quiet switch is not built in on the kids.

3. A Signature Dance. Mine is the sprinkler. My daughters love it. Find yours and use it often.

4. Laughter. It may be something your students don’t hear often, but they’ll never get enough of it.

5. Clear Expectations. Raise the bar don’t lower it. Your kids will surprise you. They may just rise to the occasion.

6. Love. Even when it’s hard. Students will assess their value on the amount of love they receive. They may not find value anywhere else like they can in your classroom.

7. Running Late Hairstyle. You will need it. It’s going to happen.

8. Dreams. Dreams have to be nourished and fed. If not they die. Carry your dreams in the classroom and let them become contagious.

9. Pee Pee Dance Knowledge. If you don’t know what this dance looks like, youtube it. It could save you some significant clean up time.

10. Grace. Kids will mess up. Show grace. You will mess up. Show yourself grace. Take a nice bath, read a good book, or if you’re like my wife watch Grey’s Anatomy and breathe. We all mess up. But the winners are just the losers who fell down and got back up.


Sending your child to school for the first time or tenth time can be a stressful thing for parents.  Here are some ideas to let families know that you are going to treasure their child and give them a happy, successful year.

Welcome Kit
Add the following items to a zip bag along with the letter:
cotton ball, Hershey’s kiss, sticker, rubber band, penny, tissue, gold star, band aid, Life Saver, 
gold thread eraser  (You can adapt these items any way you'd like.)

   Welcome to your new classroom. Each item in this bag
    has a special meaning for you!”
*The cotton ball is to remind you that this room is full of kind words and warm feelings.
*The chocolate kiss is to remind you that I care about you.
*The sticker is to remind you that we will all need to stick together and
help each other.
*The rubber band is to remind you to hug someone.
*The penny is to remind you that you are valuable and special.
*The tissue is to remind you to help dry someone’s tears.
*The star is to remind you to shine and always try your best.
*The bandage is to remind you to heal hurt feelings in your friends and yourself.
*The gold thread is to remind you that friendship ties our hearts together.
*The eraser is to remind you that everyone makes mistakes, and that is okay.
*The Life Saver is to remind you that you can always come to me if you need someone to help you.
     With love, (Teacher’s Signature)


TLC for Parents
Put the note below in an envelope with a cotton ball and tea bag and send it home to the parents the first day of school.

Dear Parents,
Thank you for entrusting your child to me. I promise to do my best every day to be your
child’s companion in learning.  Sit down, relax, and have a cup of tea. Hold the cotton ball in your hand to remind you of the gentle spirit of your child. I know we will have a wonderful year as we learn and grow together!
                                               Sincerely, (Teacher’s Name)

Tear Tea
Sometimes it’s as difficult for the parents to say good-bye as it is for the children.  Planning a tea for parents in the library after they drop their children off will ease the separation.  It would also be a great time to recruit volunteers for the school!
Hint!  Give a pack of tissues as a party favor!

The first of the school year is the optimal time to "invite" parents to volunteer.
Brown Bag Special
This is perfect for the working parent. Put materials for making games, art projects, etc. in a brown grocery sack. Children get to deliver the “brown bag special” to their parents to complete at home. They will be so proud to return the bag knowing that their parent is involved in their classroom!
Hint! For parents with computer access and financial resources, ask them to download books and free materials from the internet. For other parents, you could put in paper and a pattern for them to cut out for a class game. Everybody can do something and everybody needs to feel appreciated for their efforts!
Helping Hands
Cut out paper hands and write different items you would like for your classroom, such as paper lunch bags, tissues, plastic bags, etc. (You know all those things you have to buy with your own money! Materials could range from something inexpensive to a Dust Buster or old rocking chair.) Tape these to your door and “invite” parents who would like to 
help to choose a hand and purchase those items. 

Monday, July 30, 2018


If you haven't registered for the SOAR TO SUCCESS online conference it's not too late! It will be "live" July 30- August 3 and it's FREE!


It’s often been said that, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” That is particularly true with children and their parents! Here are some great ideas to help your children and their families get to know you.

Make a brochure about yourself, your school, and fun activities you have planned for the year and mail it to the children before school begins (or just give it to them the first day). To make a brochure, fold a sheet of paper into thirds. On the front section write “Welcome to your name’s Classroom!” On the left section place a picture of yourself and write some personal information about your family, pets, experience, etc. On the inside write “We’ll have a great year together…learning to read, experimenting in science, learning math, cooking, taking field trips, singing, etc. 

Paper Doll Teacher
Here’s something fun to make for your door to welcome the students. Lay on a large sheet of butcher paper and ask a friend to trace around your body. (You’ve probably done this to your children before.) Color yourself and cut yourself out. (Go ahead and take off a few inches if you want to!) Tape this on the door, and then make the following labels and attach them to the different body parts. “A head full of great ideas,” “A mouth to sing you songs and read you stories,” “Arms for hugging,” “Hands to help your learn new things,” “Pockets to hold surprises,” “Play shoes for outdoor fun,” and “A heart full of love for you!” 

Who Is My Teacher?
Make a book about yourself to read to the children the first day of school. Include a photograph of yourself as a child, family photos, pictures of pets, favorite foods, hobbies, why you enjoy teaching, etc. Let one child take the book home each evening to share with their families. (What a simple way to build a partnership with your parents!)

Hint! You might even ask each parent to make a similar book about his child to place in your classroom library.

Special Memories
You know all of those love letters and pictures children draw for you each year? Why not use a three-ring notebook to save them so children will realize they are special to you? Keep the notebook in your classroom library so the children can revisit it all year long. 

Say “Yes!”
Here's an idea a teacher shared with me years ago.  Go to your principal before school starts and ask her to say, “Yes!” when you ask her a question. Then ask your principal to give you the best and brightest children in your room this year. (To which the principal will reply, “Yes!”) On the first day say, “I asked the principal to give me the best and brightest children this year. And here you are!” Throughout the school year remind them that they are the best and the brightest and they will live up to your expectations!

Sunday, July 29, 2018


These are some simple books that you can make to create interest in reading and nurture your classroom community.

I Like to Come to School
(Tune: "The Farmer in the Dell")
I like to come to school.
I like to come to school.
I like to learn and play each day
I like to come to school.

I like to make new friends…
I like to read and write…
I like to do math…
I like to sing and draw…/

*Ask children other things they like about school and insert their suggestions in the song.
*Write children’s suggestions on sentence strips and use in a pocket chart.
*Make a class book where each child draws a picture about what they like best at school.  They can dictate or write a sentence to go with their drawings. Read the book several times to the class and then allow children to “check it out” and take it home.


Glue each child's photo on a sheet of paper and write “Hello, (child’s name).” at the top. Punch holes in the pages and put them together with book rings. (If you bind the book on the bottom it will be easy to turn the pages as you hold it in your lap.)

Use the book in the following ways:
* Circle or Group Time: Start your day by reading the book together and saying hello to each other.
* Questions: Use the book when you want to ask the class questions. Randomly turn to a page and call on that child to answer the question. This will allow “thinking time” and discourage children from shouting out the answer.
* Transitions: Use this book to dismiss children for learning centers, to line up, and other transitions. Flip through the book and hold up different pictures. As the children see their photo, they may be dismissed, line up, and so on.
* Sing and read this book to the tune of “Good Night, Ladies.”
            Hello, (child’s name).
            Hello, (child’s name).
            Hello, (child’s name).
            We're glad you're in our room.

Who Do You See?
We all know wonderful Bill Martin’s “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” Your children will love saying and “reading” this version with you. Put each child’s photo on a page with this chant at the top:

            (Child’s name), (child’s name), who do you see?
On the bottom of the page write:
            I see (second child’s) name looking at me.
On the last add the teacher’s photo with this rhyme:
            Children, children, who do you see?
            I see (teacher’s name) looking at me.
            (Teacher’s name), (teacher’s name), who do you see?
            I see happy children ready to learn with me!
*Make two copies of this book so one child can take it home each day to share with their families.
*Introduce children to school helpers with a similar book with the principal, secretary, custodian, nurse, PE teacher, music teacher, and other specialists.

*Carolyn Kisloski takes a picture of the children's shoes to make this book..."Whose shoes do you see?"

The Name of My School
Do you get tired of children saying, “Teacher, teacher!” the first few days of school. This song will enable them to learn the name of their teacher, school, principal, as well as their community, city, state, and country. Take photographs of yourself, the principal, the school, your community, and so forth. Glue pictures to construction paper and write a verse similar to those below on each page. Sing the words to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”
The name of my school is (school’s name),
school’s name), (school’s name).
The name of my school is (school’s name).
That’s the name of my school.
The name of my teacher is (teacher’s name), (teacher’s name),
(teacher’s name)…

The name of my principal is…
The name of my librarian is…
The name of my P.E. teacher is…
Hint! Make a similar book for social studies concepts.
                        The name of my city is...
                        The name of my state is...
                        The name of my country is...
                        The name of my continent is...
                        The name of my planet is...
Hint! You could also include the name of your mayor, governor, President, etc.

Saturday, July 28, 2018


How can something so simple be used in so many ways? Make name cards and you’ll be able to use them to help children get to know their classmates, plus:
     print connections
     alphabet knowledge
     phonological awareness,
     motivation to read
     classroom management

Directions: Write each child’s name on a card and glue their picture on the right as shown. Store the name cards in a box or basket.

Sign In 
Place name cards by a large sheet of paper. Each day when children come to school they can find their card and write their name on the chart.

Writing Center 
Keep cards in the writing center so children can use their friends’ names to write stories, notes, etc.

Pull names to line up, answer questions, go to centers, etc.

Place cards on the rug before circle time. Children find their name and sit in that spot. (The cards can be used in a similar manner for snack or table activities.)
NOTE!  This is a perfect way to separate children who challenge you.

Mystery Name
Choose one child’s name each day and place it in an envelope. Give clues about the consonants and vowels in the name. For example, “This person’s name has one vowel and it is in the middle.” Write an “a” on the envelope. “Whose name could it be? This name has a /t/ sound at the end.” Write a “t” on the envelope. “Anybody guess whose name this might be? There is a /p/ at the beginning of this name.” Write a “P” on the envelope. “Stand up if this is your name.” Pull the name card from the envelope to verify.

Give children dry cereal or buttons and let them play Bingo with their name cards. As you call out letters they cover them up if they are in their name.

Name Games
Come back tomorrow for songs and chants you can use.

Hint! As children become familiar with their names, let them choose a symbol or sticker to replace their photo. During the next stage, write each child’s name using a different color for the first letter in their name. Finally, just use cards with the children’s names.

Friday, July 27, 2018


Names are very important to children. (Call them by the wrong name and they will let you know about it!) Here are some songs and chants you can use to help the children learn their classmates’ names as you nurture your “classroom family.”

Who Ate the Cookie?
Child’s name ate the cookie (Hold up name card.)
in the cookie jar.
Who me? (First child responds.)
Yes you. (Class chants.)
Couldn’t be? (First child.)
Then who? (Class chants.)
Second child’s name ate (Hold up another name.)
the cookie in the cookie jar…
*Cut out paper cookies and write the children’s names on them. Store in an empty cookie box and use as you say the chant.


*Cut out gingerbread cookies. Glue children’s faces on the head and write their names on the bodies. Add a strip of magnetic tape to the back and these can be used for signing in, the question of the day, or graphs.                             

*Make cookies and glue the child’s photo to one side and print their name on the other side. Place the cookies face down on the floor. Children try to read their friends’ names and then flip over with a spatula to confirm.

Hickety Pickety
(Clap hands and snap fingers.)
Hickety, pickety bumblebee
Who can say their name for me? Child’s name.
Clap it. (Clap out syllables as you say the name.)
Snap it. (Snap syllables in name.)
Whisper it. (Whisper name.)
No sound. (Lip sinc name.)

Name Cheer
(Cheer each child’s name.)Give me a ‘K’.
‘K’ - I’ve got a ‘K,’ you’ve got a ‘K.’
Give me an ‘i’…Give me an ‘M’
What’s it spell? ‘Kim’ Say it again. ‘Kim’ One more time. ‘Kim’ Yeah!!!

Shakey, Shakey
(Clap hands or slap knees.)
Child’s name, child’s name sick in bed.
Called the doctor and the doctor said,
“Get up child’s name, you’re not sick.
All you need is an exercise trick.”
So hands up, and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Get down and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Turn around and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Sit down and shakey, shakey, shakey.

Hint! When doing these chants, never force children to participate. If you have a very shy child, I would ask them if they would like you to use their name. Often, they want to hear their name, but they don’t want to stand up and dance.

Little Red Box
(Tune: “Polly Wolly Doodle”)
I wish I had a little red box
To put my child’s name in. (Hold up name card.)
I’d take him/her out and go,
“How do you do?” (Pretend to shake hand.)
And put him/her back again.
*Sing “Hug, hug, hug” instead of “How do you do?” as you pretend to hug.
Cover a small box with red paper and insert the name cards. Pull out one at a time as you sing the song.

Pick It Up
Have children stand in a circle. Spread name cards in the middle on the floor. The children find their name and pick it up when you sing it in this song that goes to the tune of "If You're Happy."
If your name is child's name pick it up.
If your name is second child's name pick it up.
If your name is third child's name pick it up.
If your name is fourth child's name pick it up.

Letter Song
(Tune: “The Bear Went over the Mountain”)
Use the first letter of each child’s name as you sing.
W is for Will,
W is for Will,
W is for Will,
And he’s a friend of mine.

(Traditional Tune)
There is a friend in our class
And David is his name-o.
D – A – V – I - D
D – A – V – I - D
D – A – V – I - D
And David is his name-o.
*Hint! You may have to be creative as you use different children’s names in this song. Short names you will have to stretch out and long names try using the first five letters.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


If you haven't signed up for the SOAR TO SUCCESS Conference yet then you need 
to do it today.  You'll get tips for bulletin boards, behavior management, 
social emotional, and everything you need to have your best year ever.
 It starts next week and it's FREE for the first 24 hours.  Don't get left behind!

If you’re starting to worry about getting your room decorated for the first day of school have I got a great idea for you!!!! Wrap yellow caution tape around your door and post a sign that says “Under Construction.” Explain to the parents that you are trying to develop a classroom community and you want your students to decorate their own learning environment. Invite parents to come back at the end of the week to see what their children have created! 

Clare Ashford has a great idea to take “under construction” one step further.
“Before Meet the Teacher night (before school starts), I wrap all my bookcases, computers, etc. in butcher paper and then put an ‘under construction’ sign on them. It serves 2 purposes. 1- that way kids don't get into things while I'm busy talking to people! and 2- we ‘unwrap’ the items together as a class when we're ready to use whatever it is. It is very helpful and makes for an organized start to the year!”

Here are some crafts your students can make to decorate the classroom.

Welcome to the Neighborhood
Make a house from construction paper for each child. Fold the paper in half vertically. Open. Fold in the top corners to the middle. Fold up the bottom. Let children write their name on the front of the house. They can open the house and draw their family. You could also ask child to bring in a photograph of their family. Add some trees and a school and you have a great bulletin board.


Class Quilt
Use group art to create a visual representation of the “community” in your classroom. Give each child a 9” square and have them decorate it with pictures of themselves, drawings of their families or favorite things, collage materials, etc. Punch holes in the corner of each square and tie together with yarn to make a quilt to display in the classroom or hallway.


Friendship Chain
Give each child a strip of construction paper to decorate with their name, symbols of favorite things, or designs. Staple the strips together to make a chain. Remind the children that your classroom is just like that chain. Everyone must work together to keep it connected and strong. Drape the chain over the doorway.

Display Pocket
Make a display pocket for each child from a file folder. Cut a 1 ¼” border around the top half of the file folder. Let children decorate it with their name and pictures. Laminate. Fold in half and staple to a bulletin board or tape to a cubby. Children can display their own work by slipping drawings, stories, etc. in the pocket.
Hint! You can also use a clear sheet protector to display children’s work.

Banners, Pennants, and Name Plates
Use construction to let children create banners or pennants that reflect them. They might include hobbies, favorite foods, pets, family members, goals, etc.

Fit Like a Puzzle
Take a large sheet of poster board and cut it into puzzle shapes. (You will need one puzzle piece for each child in the room. Mark the back of the piece with an “X” so they will know which side to decorate.) After the children have decorated their piece, challenge them to put their pieces together to make a puzzle. Glue pieces to another sheet of poster board to create a picture puzzle for your classroom.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Give me a cheer! Why? They are a positive way to activate the brain and put a smile on children's faces. I can have a gym full of kids and I can quickly get their attention with a cheer. The great thing about these cheers is that every child gets one - you don't have to be smart or wear cool clothes. These are some of the ones that work best for me:

Bubblegum Cheer
Pretend to open a piece of bubblegum and put it in your mouth. Start chewing as you wiggle your head from side to side. Place your palms by your mouth and extend as you slowly blow…one, two, three, four, POP!

Hold your palms together in front of you as if praying. Make a sizzling sound (ssssss) as you wiggle your palms up in the air like a firecracker going off. Clap them above your head, and then wiggle your fingers around and down like sparkles from a firecracker. Finish by making an “Ahhhh!” sound like the crowd watching a firecracker go off.

Pretend to make a hamburger by patting your palms together. Stick out your right hand as if placing a hamburger on a skillet. Make a sizzling sound and say, “Is it done yet?” Turn your hand over and say, “Not yet.” Repeat twice. After the third “Is it done?” give a thumbs up and say, “Well done!”

Roller Coaster
Start by pretending to go up the roller coaster with your hands in front as you make the “ch, ch, ch” sound. Pause at the top and then make three imaginary hills with your hands going up and down as you say, “Whooooo!” Finish by wiggling your hands in the air.

Three Cheers
Give me cheer number one! (Children yell and cheer in a regular voice.)
Give me cheer number two! (Children cheer a little softer.)
Give me cheer number three! (Children wave their arms and do the silent cheer with their mouth wide open but not making a sound.)

This is where you can download the cheer cards. Introduce one each day and then put it in the box. When you need a cheer, just pull one out.

I've got several videos where I demonstrate the cheers.