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Wednesday, October 31, 2018


As much as children look forward to October 31st, teachers get the heebie jeebies just thinking about it! If I were in charge of the world I would cancel school the rest of the week. The children are going to be wound up today just thinking about trick or treating and then they will be full of sugar. My advice is don't make yourself crazy trying to do too much the next few days. Shut your door, play outside, review skills, play games, sing songs, make a book, and take a deep breath!

Here’s an “Emergency Kit” for this week (or any day when things get crazy)!  


Calm Down Lotion - You know that drawer full of body lotion you've received as gifts. Take the label off one and print a new one that says "Calm Down Lotion." Give each child a little squirt to rub on their hands and arms to help them relax.

Tony Chestnut – Have children sing "Tony Chestnut" (one of my free youTube videos). As you sing each verse lower your voice until you are whispering.

*Sing other songs using a whisper voice. You'll be amazed at how it calms down the class.

Turn off the Lights – Something as simple as turning off the lights can reduce stress and energy. You could also play some quiet music as children enter the classroom.

Take a Deep Breath - Have children pretend to breath in hot chocolate as you slowly count to 8. Blow out the birthday candles as you slowly count to 8. Continue counting slowly as children breath in and out.



Ask your children to save their candy wrappers and bring them to school.  Use for some of the activities below:

Counting - Count the wrappers. Tally how many in the whole class.

Sets - Make sets with the wrappers.

Sorting - Sort the wrappers. What’s the sorting rule? Can they regroup them?

Graphing - Use the wrappers to graph their favorite candy bar.

Nutrition - Look at the food value on each wrapper. How many calories? How much sugar? Rank the candies by calories.

Vocabulary - Find descriptive words on the wrappers. Make a list of the words and use them in sentences.

Writing - Fold 2 sheets of paper in half and staple to make a book. Children write “I like…” at the top of each page and glue a candy wrapper underneath. This is a book every child in your room can read! Older children could write descriptive sentences about each candy.


Alphabet Letters - Use the wrappers to make a class book called “The Sweet ABC’s.” Write alphabet letters on 26 sheets of paper. Children glue their wrappers to the appropriate letter. Bind pages together to make a book.
Hint! If you don’t have a wrapper for each letter, let children suggest “sweet” words for the page.


Money - Glue candy wrappers to a file folder. Write a coin value by each wrapper. Children count out the appropriate amount and place it on the wrapper.
Hint! For young children, price the candies from 1 cent to 10 cents and give them pennies. Make the amounts higher for older students.

Art - Let children use wrappers to make a collage.

Finally, take advantage of this “teachable moment” by discussing why sugar is not good for their bodies. What happens if you eat too much sugar? Make a list of healthy snacks that would be better food choices.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


We know that the more senses you activate the more likely the message will get to the brain and stay in the brain.  We also know that the more children get to move the less "fidgety" they will be.  These ideas are definitely win/win for the body and brain!

Air Writing
Children stand and extend their index finger in the air. Explain that you will do “invisible” writing in the air with their magic finger. Have children make numerals, shapes, letters, or write words in the air with their "magic" finger.

Adaptations: Try “foot writing” where they make letters, shapes, and numerals with their foot.
*Invite children to suggest other body parts they can use to practice writing sight words or spelling words. For example, they can write with their elbow, knee, nose, and so forth.

Karate Writing
Explain that some letters are tall. They start at the top dotted line. Some letters start at the middle dotted line. Some letters have a tail. They go below the line. Sing the “Alphabet Song” stretching up in the air for tall letters, putting hands on waist for short letters, and touching the ground for letters with a tail. For example:
     A -hands on waist
     B - hands in air
     G - touch ground

Adaptations: Use letter aerobics for spelling sight words, spelling words, or vocabulary words.

*Count as you karate chop.  Count by ones, fives, tens, etc.
Step and Read
Children stand and walk in place as they read each word in a sentence. When they come to the end of a line they “jump” down to the next line.

Adaptations: When they come to a period they clap their hands.  For a question mark they shrug. When there is an exclamation point they put their fist in the air. On commas, they snap their fingers, and for quotation marks they wiggle 2 fingers on each hand.

Sports Spell
Have children stand and pretend to dribble a basketball. Spell out words as you dribble, and then shoot the ball in the hoop as you say the word. For example:
     T (bounce), H (bounce), E (bounce) ~ “the” (throw the ball in the hoop)

Adaptations: Take a batter’s position. Pretend to take a swing as you say the letters; then hit a home run as you say the word. For example:
     R (swing), E (swing), A (swing), D (swing) ~ “read” (swing around)

*Let children suggest other sports where they could practice spelling words. For example, swimming, soccer, tennis, fishing…it’s endless!

Top to Bottom Math Facts
Children stand and put their hands in the air as the teacher says a number. When they touch their heads the teacher says “plus” or “minus.” As they touch their waist the teacher says a second number. When the touch their knees everyone says “equals.” And when they touch their toes they say the answer to the math fact.
Adaptations: Tell number stories where children touch and tell the answer.
*Let children take turns calling out math facts.

Show Me
Children stand and pantomime vocabulary words. For example: “Show me irate. Show me nocturnal. Show me parched…”

Children stand and as you call out letters they try and make the letter with their body.

*Adapt for phonics by having children show you the sound they hear at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.
*Spell sight words or vocabulary words with their bodies.

Tiptoe and Touch
The teacher calls out a letter, number, shape, etc.  The children must tiptoe around the room and touch something that matches what the teacher calls out.

Patty Cake Play
Let children patty cake as they say nursery rhymes, spell words, count, etc.

Go to and enter discount code FBLive25.

Monday, October 29, 2018


Children will definitely enjoy writing and collecting data with a clip board. 

Directions: Each child will need a 9” x 12” piece of corrugated cardboard. Attach a butterfly clip, insert paper, and let the writing begin!

Use the clip boards for:
(weather, nature walk, clouds, etc.)

(favorite food, ice cream, animal, sports team, etc.)

Write the room
(2 syllable words, seasonal words, nouns, shapes, letters, etc.)

Read the room
(check off words they find, shapes, letters)

Note taking
(write or draw pictures as they listen to a book or watch a video)

(parents, grandparents, friends)

What I learned
(record what they learn as you do a unit of study)

And here's a LIST of lists children can make on clipboards.

List of what they are thankful for.

List of their favorite books, songs.

List of their favorite foods.

List of their favorite subjects at school.

List of their favorite animals/pets.

List of their favorite sports or games.

List of what they can do if they finish their work early.

List of things that make them happy.

List of how to be a buddy/friend.

List of “cheers” and “goals.”

Go to and enter code FBLive25 to get you discount today.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


You can take advantage of all the little “teachable times” in your school day with these ideas. Keep flashcards handy for when you have a few extra minutes before lunch, as children wash hands, or while waiting for the bell to ring. Make a different set of flashcards every few weeks that focus on specific skills your students need to master. 

Hints! Store games in a sand pail on your desk for easy access.

*Keeping Score – Try this idea to avoid students being too aggressive. Cut out two circles from poster board and glue them together. Write “high” on one side and “low” on the other. After playing a game toss the circle. If “high” appears the team with the highest score wins. If “low” comes up the team with the lowest score is the winner.

*If children don’t know the answer when playing games allow them to “phone a friend” (ask a friend) or “ask the audience” (ask the class).

Kids vs. Teacher
Draw a T chart on the board with “Kids” on one side and “Teacher” on the other side. Hold up a flash card. If a child raises her hand and correctly reads the word, she gets a point for the “kids.” If any child shouts out the answer, then the teacher gets a point. 
(If children keep talking out of turn, just continue to give points to the teacher. They’ll figure it out!)

Write “BOOM!” with a bright marker or glitter pen on several of the flashcards. As you “flash” through the cards, children identify the information. When “BOOM!” appears, children jump up and shout out “Boom!”
*Change the surprise word for different holidays and seasons. In November use a turkey and when it pops up children flap their arms and gobble.

Word Worm
Draw the face of a worm on a 9” circle. Pass out a word card to each child. One at a time children come up and place their word next to the worm’s head. Each child reads all of the previous words before placing her word down. How long can the worm grow?

Note! Children can “ask the audience” to read with them if they are unsure of the words.

*Adapt this game for "number worm," "shape worm," or "letter worm."

Go to and enter FBLive25 to get a 25% discount.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Graphic organizers provide a way to organize information and put a “visual” picture in the brain. They are open-ended and encourage critical thinking. Here are a few ways you can challenge students to use graphics for literacy, math, science, and social studies.

Everybody knows how to play tic-tac-toe, but did you know that the lotus diagram could also be used instead of a worksheet?

Tic-Tac-Toe- This is what I know!

Phonics - Put a letter in the middle and ask children to draw a picture or write a word with the sound in each section.

Math - Write a number in the middle and have children put different ways to make that number in each section.

Concept -Write a concept (science, social studies, etc.) in the middle and ask children to add a detail or fact in each section.

Homework - For homework, write a different activity in each section. Children can do three in a row or all of the items. It’s their choice!

*You could do the same thing when doing a unit of study.  Children choose the three (or however many) that they like best.
Tasks – Children write the activities they need to do each day or during the week. (They can color them in as they complete assignments.)

Affixes – Write the prefix or suffix in the middle and then write words using the affix.

Vocabulary or Spelling – Children write a spelling word or vocabulary word in each section. When the teacher calls out words for children get to color them in.

Directions – Children listen and follow directions. (For example: Put a smiley in the upper right hand corner. Draw a star in the middle section on the left. Write your middle name in the middle, and so forth.)


A T-chart helps students sort information. It can be used to discriminate:

Odd and even numbers

Facts and fiction

Nouns and verbs
Science concepts (float/sink, magnet attracts/repels, manmade/natural, recycle/not recyclable, mammals/reptiles, etc.)

Synonyms, antonyms
Positive/negative behaviors  (friends/bullies, healthy foods/junk foods)

Go to and enter FBLive25 to get a 25% discount.

Friday, October 26, 2018


If you missed my FB Live last night you can watch the video:
Check out the new book that Carolyn Kisloski and I wrote called WORKSHEET AVENGERS - 150 THINGS TO DO INSTEAD OF A WORKSHEET on my website.  
Use this code and get a 25% discount:  FBLive25
I LOVE BLANK BOOKS?  Why?  The are open-ended, challenging, and can be used across the curriculum to reinforce reading and writing skills.  Here are two simple books that can be used in a multitude of ways.


Directions:  Fold a sheet of paper into thirds to create a brochure.
Or, try this easy version: roll paper into a circle and “smash” flat.

How to use?

story elements (title, favorite character, beginning, middle, end)
sequence (beginning, middle, end)
phonics (capital, lower case, pictures; long a, short a, aw sound, CVC words)


all about me
field trip, vacation, place they’d like to visit
KWL unit or theme (Know-Want to know-Learn)

sorting (pictures, letters, words, syllables, nouns)

biography (facts, accomplishments)
inflicted endings, comparisons
vocabulary (word, illustration, sentence - ESL)
science (primary and secondary colors)
turn vertically - animals in the air, on the ground, underground (transportation, foods)
drawing a body

House Book

Directions:  Fold the paper in half lengthwise to form a crease. Open. Bring upper left corner to the center crease. Bring upper right corner to the center crease. Fold up the bottom edge to make a house.

How to use?
my family (how we celebrate, have fun, etc.)

book report (title, author, illustrator, favorite scene) 

colors, shapes, number words

letter house (write words or draw pictures that begin with the sound)

word families (write the rime on the front and words inside)


following directions (make a door on the front of the house; put a bird on the
roof; put a trash can on the back of the house, etc.)

animal homes

NAPPING HOUSE – recall characters

number house (write the number on the front and different ways to make the
number inside)

homework – write words in their house they can read

Thursday, October 25, 2018


I'm getting ready to go LIVE at FIVE on Facebook this afternoon (10/25). I've got some great ideas for what to do instead of worksheets! I'll share open-ended strategies that you can use for different age levels and skills that are challenging and engaging. I've also got blogs coming up with these activities.

I've had the best October doing workshops and meeting teachers from different states! 

Don't you love Dave's Halloween costume?  Yep!  He's going to do the "Banana Dance" until he goes bananas!!!

And you know I'd rather sing and dance with little children than anything!


My webmaster (Alex May) has been busy making new YouTube videos to go with some of my seasonal songs. There's one with some Halloween jokes, a scarecrow, and a monster that sings "The Five Days of Halloween."