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Thursday, October 31, 2019


I recently watched a special on "Halloween" on the plane and it was fascinating how this holiday has evolved over the centuries. It's really changed in my lifetime. Back in the fifties there were no costume shops or Halloween stores. When we got home from school on October 31st we put on our imagination caps and came up with a costume. Yes, there were lots of ghosts in sheets and tramps (which most of you don't even know about) and scarecrows and cowboys and cowgirls and gypsies. We also dressed up in our parents' clothes. Did we have fancy pumpkins or bags? NO! We used brown grocery sacks or pillowcases. And, we never had to worry about somebody tampering with apples, popcorn balls, or homemade cookies. Can you imagine the germs in bobbing for apples? How did we ever live? A few houses had pumpkins, but that was the extent of the decorations.

What did we have in common with your children today? We had FUN!!! We were excited! It was a memory that still makes me smile.

And, speaking of memories, we are about to go on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Lands with a group from our church.  Can you imagine walking where Jesus walked?  Getting baptized in the Jordan River?  Eating fish by the Sea of Galilee?  Praying at the Wailing Wall?  Oh, my heart can't wait!  

I just wanted to let all of my friends know that I've got blogs written for every day while I'm gone.  I'll also post pictures on FB if you are interested in our journey.  

Be well, happy, and keep on singing!

P.S.  Neewollah is Halloween spelled backwards! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019








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


Make sets with the wrappers.



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

Use the wrappers to graph their favorite candy bar.


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


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


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.


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.


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 29, 2019


Take a deep breath! You can do this, yes you can! I know it's going to be a wild week, so just go with the flow. If the children are inattentive, engage them with a song, dance, or one of the activities below.

Pumpkin Face 
Play "Pumpkin Face" which is similar to Wheel of Fortune. Think of a vocabulary word or sight word. Put a blank on the board for each letter in the word. Children take turns calling out letters. If they guess correctly put the letter on the line. If their letter is not in the word begin drawing a pumpkin and then adding features. If letters are not in the word make a "bone pile" at the bottom of the board.

Real and Pretend
Do a T-chart of things that are real and pretend.


Halloween Safety
Let them work in small groups and make posters about Halloween safety.

Making Words
How many words can you make out of HALLOWEEN?

Partner Writing
Divide the children into partners and challenge them to write a ghost story together or draw a spooky picture together.

Play a game of pantomime where children act out Halloween symbols and events as their friends try and guess.

Pass the Pumpkin
Play "pass the pumpkin." (You can use a real little pumpkin for this or just pretend with a ball.) Children stand or sit in a circle and pass the pumpkin around as the music plays. When the music stops the one holding the pumpkin has to read a flash card, answer a math problem, recall information from a book, and so forth. 


Try and remember how you felt on Halloween Day when you were a child and share their joy!

Monday, October 28, 2019


Here are some activities you can do with seasonal words this week. You can also use these ideas throughout the year with sight words or spelling words for independent practice or as a center activity.

Mixed Up Words 
Take vocabulary words, Halloween words, or spelling words and mix up the letters. Challenge children to figure out the words and try to write them correctly on their paper.

Hint! Colored pencils or smelly markers make this so much more fun.

Word Makers 
Give children a seasonal word or vocabulary word. How many other words can they make using the letters in that word? (This might be a good activity for children to do with a partner or in a small group.)


Picture Words

Challenge children to write words in a way that reflects their meaning. For example, write “spooky” in shaky letters, “fall” in letters that go down, “colorful” with many colors, “candy” decorated with sprinkles, etc.


Mystery Word 

Choose a word each day as a “mystery word” that relates to the season or holiday. Write it on the board and then tape a sheet of paper over it so they have to “take a peek.” At morning meeting discuss the meaning of the word. Can they dramatize the word? Can they use it in sentences?

Word Search 

There are several free websites where you can create your own puzzles with specific holiday or seasonal words.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


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 on Thursday and Friday!  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.

The Quiet Game 

One child is selected to be “it.” “It” stands in front of the room and says, “Mousie, mousie, how quiet can you be? When I clap my hands 1, 2, 3 (slowly clap 3 times), we shall see!” “It” chooses the classmate who is being the quietest and then that child comes to the front of the room and is the new “it.” (My class LOVED this game. It was a great way to develop self-regulation and calm them down.)
Give Your Mouth a Vacation

Challenge children to “give their mouths a vacation” and practice breathing through their noses.

Use Your Imagination 

Ask the children to close their eyes as you read a story. Challenge them to make “pictures in their brains.” Give them a sheet of paper to illustrate the story.

Play Outside!

Saturday, October 26, 2019


I'll be looking for the St. Louis Arch when I fly there in 
December for the workshop I'm doing for ILASCD.
I hope it will be a spoonful of sugar to help the school year go down!

December 4th, 2019, 9:00am - 3:30pm | Wildey Theatre 
Make Learning Planful, Playful, and Purposeful with Dr. Jean

And January 7th I'll be in Fort Worth - STEAM Ahead!

Since it's almost Halloween, I have a candy story for you today.  I would NEVER use it with children, but it might be fun when you need a laugh or a smile at a faculty meeting. And, you might be surprised how aggressive grown-ups become over candy bars!!


You will need to take a look at the story to decide which candy bars you want to use.  You can easily adapt it to any situation. (It would be fun at a birthday party, family reunion, etc.) The first teacher to raise her hand when a candy bar is mentioned gets the treat.

Your alarm goes off long before you are ready to get up. It really doesn’t matter what time it is – you still are not ready to get up. But you go through the motions of getting ready and before you realize it you are already at school. You walk in the door and are twisted and pulled in ten different directions – just like Twizzlers.

The sink in the room is stopped up, a mother wants to have a long discussion with you, and here come the twins, also known as the Sugar Babies,  
who are on a sugar high. It’s barely 8:30 and you can tell it’s going to be one of those days.

As you settle into the morning routine, out of the corner of your eye you notice the school guinea pigs, Skittles and Snickers

are trying to break out of their cage. Luckily, Ms. Baby Ruth
your wonderful team teacher, catches them and secures the cage. 
The Three Musketeers
Todd, Robert, and Jeremy, are having a contest over who can run the fastest and Anna and Maria are arguing over who’s coming to their birthday party. You smile and pat yourself on the back for “rolling with it” just like a Tootsie Roll.


answering an email and welcoming a new child, the teacher next door wants you to come see the store she set up in the math center. “Oh, Miss King,” you exclaim, “It looks just like 5th Avenue.” 
The books you ordered three months ago have just arrived and the children thank you for Good and Plenty 
things to read. 
Sophie, better known as Butterfingers 
is getting frustrated trying to make something in the art center.  You give her a little help and she smiles and says, “You’re such a Lifesaver."

The day proceeds without a major incident. Well, if you don’t call Kevin dumping a jar of glitter all over the floor. Every time you walk you feel a Crunch

After lunch you get a Starburst 
of energy and begin on the Mounds 
of paperwork that must be done.

When the children finally leave there is a knock on your door and in walks your principal Mr. Goodbar 

Today is Pay Day
You open your envelope and realize you will never be paid for what you are worth – even if they paid you 100 Grand.
 So here are some Hugs and Kisses 
(pass these out to everyone) to thank you for what you do!

Friday, October 25, 2019


Graphic organizers (aka mind maps) are a visual way of putting information in the brain. Graphic organizers are frequently used in reading, but they can also be used to reinforce math skills and help children understand how things fit together. Here are three good reasons to give them a try:

     1. They encourage children to “think outside the box.”
     2. They are much more open-ended and challenging than a worksheet.
     3. They can be done independently or with a partner or small group.

Some common graphic organizers used in the classroom include the attribute web, Venn diagram, T-chart, and tic-tac-toe frame. First, I would model using the graphic organizer with a large group, and then I would assign it for an independent or center activity.

Hint! After completing a graphic organizer invite children to explain what they did. This will enable you to “understand” their thinking process and will help make learning more meaningful.  (Remember, writing and talking are two powerful ways to store things in the brain!)

Attribute Web
Have children write a numeral in the middle and then web different ways to represent 

that number.

Write “shapes” in the middle and then draw all the shapes they know.

Venn Diagram
Write numbers made with a straight line on the left, numbers made from curves on the right, and numbers made from lines and curves in the middle.


Put a number in the middle. Write numbers larger on the left and smaller on the right.

Write odd numbers on the left and even numbers on the right.


Write “tens” on the left and “ones” on the right.

Write a number in the middle and facts that equal that number in the other sections.

Write “10” in the middle and other teen numbers around it.


*Can you think of other ways to turn mind maps into math maps?

Thursday, October 24, 2019


October 24th National Bologna Day
My bologna has a first name,
It’s O – S – C – A – R.
My bologna has a second name,
It’s M - A – Y – E – R.
Oh, I love to eat it every day,
And if you’ll ask me why I’ll say,
Cause Oscar Mayer has a way
With B – A – L – O – G – N – A.


*Here’s the original 1973 video some of you might remember:

Several years ago on Balogna Day, K.J.’s third grade teacher (Mr. D) taught them this song from the 70’s. K.J. sang it to his mother and she got a kick out of remembering the song as they sang it together. Those are the kind of experiences and bridges that are not in your curriculum that children will remember.

Sometimes you just have to shut your door and do something silly like National Bologna Day. And, although I don’t have a bologna song, I do have a sandwich book that’s perfect for descriptive writing.
You'll need two cheap paper plates to make this book. Fold both plates in half. Cut in 1 ½” from the rim on both sides as shown. Cut off the folded edge between the rim on the second plate. Roll up the first plate and insert it in the hole in the second plate. Unroll and you’ll have a book.


*Let children write about their favorite sandwich.
*Have children write a “how to” make a sandwich.
*Invite children to be chefs and create a new sandwich.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Talk about playful and challenging! Take a look at all these things you can do with toy cars. You can pick them up at garage sales or buy them for $1 or less at a dollar store. Use these cars for centers, games, and other activities in your classroom.

What? toy cars, sticky dots, marker


How? Put sticky dots on the cars and number them 1-10. Fasten your seatbelt and here we go!

Numerical Order
Write numerals on sticky dots and place them on the cars. Can children arrange them in order?

Place Value
Use cars for tens and ones.


Sets and Numbers
Make a parking lot with different sets of dots in each space. Children match up numbers on the cars with the correct space.


Roll and Add
Write numerals 1-12 on a long strip of paper. Children roll two dice, add up the numbers, and then move their car to the correct space.

Ask children to sort the cars. What was their sorting rule? Can they sort them another way?

Write lower letters on sticky dots and put them on the cars. Make paper houses with uppercase letters. Can they match the cars with the houses?


Phonological Awareness
Make a parking lot with three spaces. As you say a word children park the car according to where they hear the sound (beginning, middle, end) of the word.