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Saturday, February 29, 2020


Meet my new friend Penelope Play Dough! Several weeks ago someone commented that their administrator did not want to see play dough in their classroom. Well, that's all it took for me to get on my band wagon and explain all the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical benefits of play dough. I also created this packet for you with ideas for using play dough for literacy, math, name it. It's FREE and I did it just for YOU - and for any administrator that doesn't understand the value of playful "hands-on" learning!!!!

I'm going to demonstrate many of these activities when I do FACEBOOK LIVE AT FIVE this Monday on playing and learning with play dough.  Hope you'll join me!

Here's a new song to sing as you demonstrate these different movements:

The Play Dough Song Tune: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
(Children make the motions with the play dough as they sing.)

Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze play dough (Children squeeze dough.)
Feels so good to me.
Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze play dough
It’s easy peasy!

Poke – Poke fingers in the dough.

Pinch – Pinch off pieces of the dough.

Roll – Roll the dough into a snake. 

Pat – Pat like a pancake. 

Friday, February 28, 2020


Today I've got something old and something new!  The new ideas are from teachers in Louisiana and the old ideas are from previous blogs.  Take a look and I hope you'll find something that will make your day more fun!!!

Take a Seat
Clap your hands.  (Clap hands.)
Stomp your feet.  (Stomp feet.)
Shake your booty.  (Wiggle.)
And take a seat!  (Sit down.)
*If you don't like the word "booty" you can substitute "body" or something else.

You Can Do It!
If a child says they can't do something, hold up your hands and say "YOU CAN DO IT!"  Before long the rest of the class will join you when this happens.

Tuck In
When it's rest time for the little ones the children can choose:
Hotdog, hotdog, hot diggity dog!  (Roll the child in their blanket like a hotdog.)
Burrito (Roll the child like a burrito.)
Taco (Hold the sides of the blanket up like a taco shell.)

Sound Match
Write every letter on two index cards. You will need to use as many cards as there are children in your class. For example, if you have 24 students use 24 of the cards or the letters A – L. Pass a letter to each child, but tell them not to let anyone see their letter. Children walk around the room making their sound until they find someone making the same sound. They stoop down and think of a word that starts with that sound. When all students are stopping the teacher yells, “Pop Up ABCs” and the children stand up. Continue playing the game with different letters.

*Make a similar game for younger children with pictures of farm animals. They walk around making their animal’s sound until they find their partner.

Skip or Duet Reading
Take turns reading every other word.

*You can do this as a large group activity or children can do this with a partner.

Singing (Angel Hollandsworth)
When you sing “Today Is Sunday,” give each child a paper plate and plastic fork or spoon to keep the beat.


*Sing the ABC’s or other songs as you tap out the beat. 

Drawing a Person
Many children have difficulty drawing a person, so this is a technique that might help. It's also an interesting way to focus on positional words. First, fold a piece of paper into thirds as shown. Open. Prompt children with these directions:

1. What's at the top of you? Your head! Make the head in this top section.

2. What's in the middle of you? Your body! Make a body in the middle section.

3. What comes off your body? Your legs! Make your legs in the bottom section.

4. What's at the end of your legs...

5. What comes off the sides of your body...

6. What's at the end of your arms...

7. What helps you see...(Some children may need to look in the mirror to see what color their eyes are.)

Talk...hear...smell...continue calling out details for the children to add.

Note! One time I had a little girl who liked to draw naked people. I didn't make a big deal, but I said, "You know, everyone has to wear clothes to school." That's all it took!

Thursday, February 27, 2020


I've had several requests recently for tips on guiding children through the day. Here's a link I did for a conference that I hope will be meaningful.  Choose one and give it a try.  Sure beats saying, "Shhhh!" all day!

Tootsie Roll
Tootsie roll, (Roll hands around each other.)
Lollipop. (Pretend to lick a lollipop.)
We’ve been talking, (Open and shut fingers.)
Now let’s stop! (Make sign language sign for “stop.”)

Hocus Pocus
Teacher says:
“Hocus Pocus!” (Stick out index finger and circle around like a magic wand.)
Children respond:
“Everybody focus!” (Children make circles with fingers and thumbs and place
around eyes like spectacles.)

Give Me a Clap
(Tune: “Addams Family”)
Give me a clap. (Clap twice.) Give me a clap. (Clap twice.)
Give me a clap, give me a clap,
Give me a clap. (Clap twice.)
Give me a snap. (Snap twice.) Give me a snap. (Snap twice.)
Now fold your hands and put them down
Into your lap. (Model putting your hands in your lap.)

Thumbs Up
Thumbs up, across the chest.
Pat on the back because you’re the best!

How Does My Teacher Feel About Me?
Teacher says: “How does my teacher feel about me?”
Children respond: “I’m as special as special can be because my teacher believes in me!”

Magic Clap
Explain to the children that you have a magic signal that only your class will know about. Every time you clap your hands, you want them to repeat the clap and look at you. Practice this by clapping patterns, such as:
clap, clap ~ clap
clap, clap, clap ~ clap ~ clap
After children have repeated the clap and are focused on you, give directions for the next activity.

Hands on Top
Teacher says: Hands on top. (Place hands on head.)
Students respond: Everybody stop. (Place hands on head and freeze.)

Criss Cross
Criss cross, (Sit on floor and cross legs.)
Be your own boss. (Fold your arms and nod head.)

Get a flashlight and shine it on the child who is behaving appropriately.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020


Tell a Fairy Tale Day is February 26th, but any day is perfect for a fairy tale!

Some people think fairy tales are too violent for young children. And I would agree that some of them are a little twisted and dark. However, most of them aren’t any more violent than Saturday morning cartoons. The bottom line is children have enjoyed these stories for hundreds of years. Proof that a good story is a good story! There is usually a protagonist (good character) that struggles with an evil character. The best part of fairy tales is that they always end happily and good prevails. Many psychologists support fairy tales because they believe children will face “dragons” throughout their lives, and fairy tales give them hope, determination, and strength to defeat their problems.

Let’s see how we can use “Tell a Fairy Tale Day” as a springboard for teaching different types of texts.

What is a fairy tale? 

What do children know about fairy tales?
Are they fiction or non-fiction? Why? 

How many fairy tales can they name?
Make a list on the board as they call them out.
Go to the library and search for fairy tale books.


Get a storybook (without pictures) and have the children close their eyes as you read to them. Challenge them to make pictures in their brain.
*Stop before the end of the book and ask them to draw pictures of what they think will happen. Compare their predictions with what actually happened by reading the end of the book.

Read several different versions of the same fairy tale and compare and contrast.

Compare different illustrations of the same fairy tale.

Creative Activities 
Let children dress up like their favorite character from a fairy tale. Encourage them to retell the story and explain why they chose that character.

Have children make puppets of favorite fairy tale characters from lunch bags, paper plates, or sticks.

Divide children into small groups and let them act out their favorite scene from a fairy tale.

I was a lucky little girl because I grew up before videos and iPads. I do remember my mother reading to us from this storybook every night. Look at the forward I found when I opened the book! 


This book is my house.
The door is open and I shall enter.
I shall be happy here because my house has so many windows and
my companions are men and women who love me.
Here I will find laughter, love, romance, beauty, and happiness.

If you are reading my blog today I know you are the type of teacher that instills the “love and happiness” from books. Thank you for keeping the joy alive!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Happy "Mardi Gras" - aka "Fat Tuesday"!

I was fortunate to be invited to Oberlin, LA, last week and I learned a few new things about Mardi Gras. Do you know the meaning behind Mardi Gras? Hundreds of years ago on Ash Wednesday as part of their Catholic faith people gave up meat for 40 days. On the Tuesday before they used up all their "fat" meat. So today many people still celebrate "Fat Tuesday" by partying before giving up something for Lent.

I stopped by Oakdale School on Friday afternoon to do a concert and I got to see their Mardi Gras parade. It was one of the CUTEST things I've ever seen in my life! I was so overwhelmed by the children's happiness that I started to cry! The pre-k and K children decorated "floats" (boxes) with their parents. The primary grade children lined the halls and the little ones paraded down the hall throwing out beads and candy. Talk about HAPPY children and a SPECIAL memory! Instead of testing and pushing skills I think we need to take time to give children a happy memory like those LA teachers!!!!  What you and I need to remember is that for some children experiences like this are as good as it gets for them!  All children deserve a little JOY, candy, and FUN every now and then!!!!

Mardi Gras colors are purple (justice), green (faith), and yellow (power). King cakes are a popular treat decorated with those colors. There's always a little plastic "baby" baked in the king cake and the person who gets the slice with the "baby" has to buy the next king cake. One teacher told me how her children make their own king cakes from a crescent roll. They spread butter on the roll and then sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. An M & M is used as their "baby" and they roll it up and bake it. Then they spread icing and sprinkle sugar with Mardi Gras colors on it. Just look at those faces!!!!


As I was walking down the halls I saw these fantastic bulletin boards focused on social-emotional skills.  It made my heart happy!


Yes, AMAZING things do happen in Allen Parish Schools!!!

Monday, February 24, 2020


Today I've got some simple ideas for what I call “smart art” - or reinforcing skills through art media. 

Note! I titled this blog “The Spot” because a teacher told me she called her art center “The Spot.” I thought that was rather clever and perfect for these simple, open-ended activities.

*Remember, it’s the process and not the product. Children will be using problem-solving and small motor skills as they do these projects.

Pop Up Scene
Skills: comprehension, setting
Materials: construction paper, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, scrap box
Directions: Prepare pop-ups ahead of time by folding the construction paper in half. Cut two slits from the fold 3 ½” from each side and 2 ½” down as shown. Bend the tab in so when you open there will be a 3-dimensional tab. Have children close their eyes and make a picture from a book you have read in their brain. Have them draw the setting of the scene on the inside of the pop-up. Finally, have them draw the main character and glue it to the pop-up.
*Pop ups are perfect for habitat studies or scenes from history.


Skills: letters, color, shapes, parts of speech, seasons, senses, etc.
Materials: paper plates, scissors, glue, catalogs, magazines, markers
Directions: Choose a theme for the collage that relates to a skill – letter, shape, color, noun, etc. Children cut out pictures and glue them on the paper plate. They can also draw pictures or decorate the rim of the plate.


Pipe Cleaner People
Skills: book characters, famous people, retelling a story
Materials: pipe cleaners, scrap box, cloth, scissors, glue
Directions: Demonstrate how to make a stick person from two pipe cleaners. Children can then add a face, clothing, and other details. Let them retell a story with their pipe cleaner people.
*Lunch bags are also perfect for creating puppets of characters from books.

Skills: geometric shapes
Materials: toothpicks, clay, Styrofoam
Directions: Children can use clay or Styrofoam to connect toothpicks and make sculptures. Encourage them to name their sculptures.
*If your school allows food then it’s fun to make sculptures with pretzel sticks and miniature marshmallows.

Dot to Dot
Skills: cardinality, counting
Materials: 2 dice, paper, crayons
Directions: Children roll the dice and add up the dots. They take a black crayon and make that number of dots randomly on a sheet of paper. Can they connect the dots and create something out of it?
*Have children make dots and then exchange papers with a friend. 

Skills: shapes, numerals, letters
Materials: paper, crayons, markers
Directions: Draw a shape or glue a shape in the middle of each sheet of paper. The children choose a shape and then try to create something out of it. Encourage them to fill in the whole page to “camouflage” their shape.
*You could do something similar with letters or numerals.

Sunday, February 23, 2020


Bet you didn't know that February 23rd was International Dog Biscuit Day!  Let's see how we can recycle a box of dog biscuits in our classroom this week.

Woof!  Woof!
Make a “Woof! Woof” game. Cut out dog bones and write sight words, math facts, letters, etc. on them. On a few write “Woof! Woof!” Pass the box around and let each child pull out a bone and identify the information. If they select “Woof! Woof!” they have to get down on the floor on all fours and bark like a dog. (They love it!) 


Dog Biscuit Math
Use the dog biscuits for math activities. Add, subtract, make sets, sort… This dog dish with two sections is perfect for tens and ones.

Who Let the Letters Out?

Place letters in a dog dish or empty box of dog biscuits. Children reach in
and pull out one letter at a time as you chant:
Who let the D out?
/d/ /d/ /d/ /d/ /d/


Our Pets

Make a book about pets. Cut the front and back off the box and cut paper the size of the box. Give each child a sheet of paper so they can draw a picture of their pet and write or dictate a sentence about it. (If they don’t have a pet they can draw a picture of a pet they would like to have.) Put their pictures between the covers of the box, hole punch, and you’re ready to read. 


Dog Food (O.K.  I know this isn't healthy, but its such fun!!!)
You will need:
12 oz. bag chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 stick butter
10-12 oz. box Multi-Bran Chex Cereal
powdered sugar

1. Wash your hands.
2. Melt the first three ingredients in a pan over low heat.
3. Pour the mixture over the Chex cereal and mix until coated.
4. Put 2 paper grocery sacks together, one inside the other.
Pour ½ cup powdered sugar into the bottom of the bag.
Pour in the cereal mixture, close the bag, and shake.
Keep checking and adding powdered sugar until the mixture
looks like dog food.

For fun, serve in a clean dog food bowl!

Saturday, February 22, 2020


I'm telling you about this a few days early because it's going to take some planning to get "unplugged" for the day.


National Day of Unplugging
National Day of Unplugging a 24 hour global respite from technology. it highlights the value of disconnecting from digital devices to connect with ourselves, our loved ones and our communities in real time. Join us for national day of unplugging 2020 from sundown to sundown, march 6 - 7.

Check out this free booklet that you can download on the website:

I loved this little cell phone sleeping bag.
There are many things we do in schools that don’t have an impact on children, but I bet if you “unplugged” for one day it would leave a lasting impression. It could also lead to some great learning opportunities. Students could write opinions, do a T-Chart of things to do with a screen and without a screen, graph preferences, make a book about what to do without technology, do a Venn diagram...

Have you read BLACKOUT by John Rocco. It’s a delightful tale about what happens when a family in a big city loses power. I won’t tell you what happens, but I bet you can guess. I was talking to some children recently about the “olden days” before televisions, video games, cell phones, and computers. They were stunned and said, “What did you do?” I smiled and replied, “You know what? We played outside and had lots of fun!”


Several years ago a teacher told me that they asked the families at her school to record the amount of screen time their child had for a week. The next week they asked the parents to turn off all devices and spend the same amount of time interacting with their child by reading, playing games, doing chores around the house, going for walks, etc. Do you think most families could survive this? It certainly would be a meaningful challenge!

Kids DIY Resource Toolkit at

Friday, February 21, 2020


I've made this book many times through the years. First, I enlarge the words and put one line on each page. I make two copies of each page since there are 15 lines and usually at least 25 children in a classroom. After singing the song several times I let each child choose an animal and illustrate it for our book. Sometimes we do a little research on the internet if they are not familiar with an animal. I encourage the children to use lots of colors and to fill in the page. I let them dedicate their book and then add the school's name as the publisher and the copyright date. The children all sign their names as “Illustrators,” and then I punch holes and bind with book rings. I use the extra pictures on the cover, “The End,” “Comments and Compliments,” etc.


Good-bye Friends!
See you later, alligator!

After while, crocodile!
In an hour, sunflower!
Maybe two, kangaroo!
Gotta go, buffalo!
Adios, hippos!
Chow, chow, brown cow!
See you soon, baboon!

Adieu, cockatoo!
Better swish, jellyfish.
Chop chop, lollipop.
Gotta run, skeleton!
Bye-bye, butterfly!
Better shake, rattlesnake.
Good-bye, my good friends!

*Write the words on a poster and have the children chant with you before they go home at the end of the day.


Let the children make up their own verses and sing to "Down by the Bay."
Todaloo tennis shoe.

Give a hug ladybug.
Better scat alley cat.
Bye bye dragon fly.
Take care, Mr. Bear.
Wave to me, bumblee...

Thursday, February 20, 2020


This wallet is perfect for “saving” sight words, letters, math facts, colors, shapes, and other skills you want children to master.

How to Make a Wallet

Materials: construction paper 9” x 12”, markers, green paper cut 4” x 2”

1st Place the paper lengthwise and fold up the bottom to an inch from the top.

2nd Fold in half.


3rd Open and glue both sides.


4th Let the children decorate the outside.


5th Cut 4 ½ ” x 2 ¼ ” green rectangles and write high frequency words on them.
When children learn a word they get to “save” it in their wallets.


Letter Wallets
Younger children could save letters, numbers, or shapes in their wallets.

Math Wallets - Write addition and subtraction facts on dollars and save them in math wallets.

Vocabulary - Have children write vocabulary words on dollars and store them in their wallets.

Word Families - Use wallets to reinforce word families.