Wednesday, March 3, 2021


A mnemonic device helps you recall how to spell a word or how to remember a string of words or a phrase that stands for more complicated information. I can remember my fourth grade teacher standing at the board saying, “My father taught me how to spell geography by saying: George Elliott’s Oldest Girl Rode A Pig Home Yesterday.” Some days I can’t remember my phone number, but I’ll never forget how to spell geography! I’m sure all of you have had a similar experience and can attest to the power of these clever tricks.
Note!! I know this isn't that meaningful for young children, but you might need to know this if you are ever on "Jeopardy" or if you're helping older children with homework.  Besides, I just felt like giving you (and me) a break today! 

Homes – The Great Lakes are:
Erie, and

My (Mars)
very (Venus)
eager (Earth)
mother (Mars)
just (Jupiter),
served (Saturn)
us (Uranus)
noodles (Neptune).

Roy G. Biv – He’s your friend when it comes to the color spectrum.

Never (North)
Eat (East)
Soggy (South)
Weenies (or Sour Watermelon) West
*Point to the directions as you say this.

Spelling BECAUSE -

Spelling ARITHMETIC (Bridget Weaver)

Eat (Europe)
an (Antarctica)
aspirin (Asia)
after (Africa)
a (Australia)
nutty (North America)
Sandwich (South America).

Months of the Year
Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one excepting February alone;
Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine, till leap year gives it twenty-nine.

*Hold up knuckles on both hands. Point to the knuckles as you name the months. The months with 31 days will be the tall knuckles and the months with 23 or 30 days will be the lower spots in between.

Multiplication by Nine – Hold up ten fingers.
1 x 9 (One - put down left pinky and nine ones will be left.)
2 x 9 (Two – put down second finger/left pinky and you’ll have 1 ten and 8 ones.)
3 x 9 (Three – third finger down for two tens and seven ones.)
4 x 9 (Four – fourth finger down for three tens and six ones.)
5 x 9 (Thumb down for four tens and five ones.)
6 x 9 (Right thumb down for five tens and four ones.)
7 x 9 (Right pinky down for six tens and three ones.)
8 x 9 (Right middle finger down for seven tens and two ones.)
9 x 9 (Right ring finger down for eight tens and one.)

Do you have any mnemonic devices tucked away in your brain? I’d love to hear about them.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021


It makes me sad that there are so many special memories that we can't give children right now.  
One of K.J.'s favorite memories from pre-k was St. Patrick's Day. They got to take off their shoes at nap time and put them in the hall. When they woke up the leprechaun had left them a Rice Krispie Treat in their shoe. 

This blog is a repeat of one I did a few years ago.  I hope you can find something that you can adapt to your current teaching situation - or save these ideas for 2022! 

Leprechaun Mischief
While the children are at lunch or on the playground, turn over a few chairs, put books on the floor, and mess up the classroom. Sprinkle a little green glitter around. Have the children write stories about what they think happened.

Catch a Leprechaun
Challenge children to design “traps” to catch a leprechaun in the block center. Give children an empty sack out on the playground and see who can catch a leprechaun.

Green Snack
Eat foods that are green like celery, broccoli, lime gelatin, snap peas, edamame, etc. You could also use green food coloring to dye cream cheese, milk, yogurt or other snacks.

Leprechaun Lunch
Purchase miniature peanut butter crackers (Ritz), baby carrots, cookies (Chips Ahoy), and other mini-foods. Serve these on dessert plates with napkins cut in fourths. Milk or juice in medicine cups makes this a perfect snack for “wee folks.”

Field Trip
Take a field trip (on the internet) to Ireland. Find Ireland on the globe. How could you get there? Could you go in a car? Why or why not?

Hunting for Gold
Spray paint pebbles or rocks gold. (Spread out on newspaper. Spray with gold paint. Dry. Shake. Spray the other side with gold paint. Dry. Shake. Spray a third time.) Hide the pebbles on the playground before children arrive at school. Tell the children a leprechaun hid some gold for them. What fun they will have hunting for the gold nuggets!

Hint! Need a little bucket for collecting that gold? Hole punch opposite sides of a plastic cup. Insert a pipe cleaner handle and you’ve got a perfect “pot of gold.”

What If?
Have children write stories (or draw pictures and dictate) what they would do if they found a pot of gold.  (I would give it to a food bank!!!)

Monday, March 1, 2021


Bet you didn't know that March 1st was National Peanut Butter Day.
In honor of this day, here's one of my silliest songs that your kids will LOVE!  
(Who wouldn't smile singing about peanut butter on their "underwear"?)

Peanut Butter (Tune: "Allouette")
Peanut butter, we like peanut butter. (Clap hands and march to the beat.)
Peanut butter, that’s what we like best.
Do you like it on your head? (Point to head.)
Yes, we like it on our head.
On your head?
On our head.
Ohhhhhh. (Hands on cheeks and move head from side to side.)

Do you like it on your shirt… (Point to shirt.)

Do you like it on your pants… (Point to pants.)

Do you like it on your socks… (Point to socks.)

Do you like it on your shoes… (Point to shoes.)

On your underwear? (Cover your eyes.)

*Is someone in your room allergic to peanuts? Let them explain what an allergy is and why they can't eat peanut butter. Let them choose another food to insert in the song, such as "macaroni" or "watermelon."

*Tie in with standards by focusing on the questions and statements.

*Cut a sheet of paper in half and then fold in half to make a book. Run off the attached worksheet and let the children put the pictures in the book in sequential order.

Sunday, February 28, 2021


Did You Ever See a Lassie? 
(Traditional Tune - I remember doing this as a kindergartener in 1952, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.  I bet your kids might enjoy it just as much - and it's something that you could do virtually or in person.)

Children form a circle as you explain that a "lassie" is a girl and a "laddie" is a boy. A girl is chosen to be the "lassie." She gets in the middle of the circle and makes a funny motion that the others must mimic as you sing. The girl then chooses a "laddie" to stand in the middle and make a motion. The game continues as girls and boys take turns leading in the game.

Did you ever see a lassie, a lassie, a lassie?
Did you ever see a lassie go this way and that?
Go this way and that way,
Go this way and that way.
Did you ever see a lassie go this way and that? 

Did you ever see a laddie...

Rainbow Wand
Cut the rim off a paper plate and cut in half as shown. Let children color it like a rainbow and then attach tissue paper streamers. They can use their rainbows as they dance and sing.

St Patrick’s Day!
(Tune: “Sweet Molly Malone”- Happy Everything CD)
On the 17th of March (Point heels on opposite feet as if doing a jig.)
About when spring starts
The lassies and leprechauns
Come out to play.
We’ll find four-leafed clovers (Hold up 4 fingers.)
And wear green all over, (Move hands over clothing.)
And that’s how we’ll celebrate (Put hand in the air as if cheering.)
St. Patrick’s Day!

The legends of old
Say there’re pots of gold (Extend arms in a circle.)
A’ sparkling and shining (Open and close fingers to make sparkles.)
At each rainbow’s end.
The leprechauns know (Point to brain.)
Right where to go,
So if you see a leprechaun (Hand over eyes as if searching.)
Make him your friend!

On the 17th of March
About when spring starts
The lassies and leprechauns
Come out to play.
We’ll find four-leafed clovers
And wear green all over,
And that’s how we’ll celebrate
St. Patrick’s Day!

Saturday, February 27, 2021


March winds will be blowing soon.  Here's some ideas to put in your lesson plans for next month.

Five Little Kites 
One, two, three, four, five little kites (Hold up fingers as you count.) 
Flying up in the sky (Fly fingers in the air.)
Said “hi” to the clouds as they passed by, (Pretend to wave to clouds.)
Said “hi” to the birds, said “hi” to the sun, (Wave.)
Said “hi” to the airplanes, oh what fun. (Wave.)
Then “swish” went the wind, (Move hand down in a
And they all took a dive: swooping motion.)
One, two, three, four, five. (Hold up fingers one at a time and count.)

Paper Plate Kite
Cut the inner section out of a paper plate. Decorate the rim with markers. Glue tissue paper streamers to one side. Punch a hole and tie a piece of string on the other side. Go outside and run to make your kite fly. 

Kite Experiments 
Let children make kites out of lunch sacks, plastic bags, and other materials. Have them predict which one will fly best. Experiment to see which one is best. Why did some work better than others?
*This might be a good family project.

Kite Tales

Ask each child to write a story about what it would be like to be a kite. What could you see? What could you hear? How would you feel? What would you do? 

Lion or Lamb? 
Explain the quote, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” Every day ask children what kind of day it is, and then let them color a “lion” or a “lamb” on the calendar. Graph "lion" and "lamb" days and compare at the end of the month.

Wear a Mask ASL
Last spring I did a song about "Wear a Mask" and now Mariela Anderson has provided the ASL version.  She is so talented and adding sign language is just a beautiful thing!

Friday, February 26, 2021


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!

Thursday, February 25, 2021


Looking for something cheap, simple, and easy to do in your traditional classroom or to share with your families?  A bag of large, dry lima beans, a permanent marker, an Altoids tin, and you are all set to reinforce phonics, sight words, and math concepts.  

First, use permanent markers to write the consonants in blue and the vowels in red on the beans.

*Use for making CVC words.
*Use for word families.
*Use for writing word wall words.
*Use for practicing spelling words.
*Use with a friend. One person makes a word and the other person must read it.
*Put the letter beans in alphabetical order.
*Draw ten beans from the tin. How many words can you make with the ten beans? Write them down. 


Write numerals in black and math signs in green.

*Put beans in numerical order.
*Sort odd and even numbers.
*Use for greater than and less than.
*Use for addition and subtraction problems.
*Use for place value.
*Make sets.
*Represent number bonds.

Math Bags

Here's another simple activity with lima beans. Draw a line down the middle of a plastic bag with a permanent marker. Insert beans in the bag. Ask the children to count the beans in the bag. Slide the beans from one side to the other to make different combinations. Can they write down the different combinations?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


Here are some "tips and tricks" to use this week to help your children focus on line or in person.

Check Mate
Before starting a lesson, post a checklist of what students will need. As you read down the list, students respond, “Check!” if they are all set.

Pencils? – Check!
Paper? – Check!
Crayons? – Check!
Eyes Watching? – Check!
Ears Listening? – Check!
Hands and Feet Quiet? – Check! 


Self Control Cue (Becky Gilsdorf)
Use this visual cue to help children who are out of control.
     Cross hands over your chest. (Self)
     Slide both hands down the sides of your body. (Control)
     As the child repeats the movements silently it will calm them down.

Class Callbacks (Sara Quinn)
Try these callbacks to help children focus:
Teacher says: Hands on top. (Students put their hands on their heads.)
Students say: That means stop!
Teacher says: Holy Moly!
Students say: Guacamole!
Teacher says: All set?
Students say: You bet!

*You can go on all day with callbacks. Marco - Polo; Peanut Butter - jelly; Criss cross – sit like a boss, etc.

Finger Friends  (Focus those fidgety hands with this rhyme.)
Two little houses closed up so tight. (Make fists)
Open the windows and let in some light. (Open hands)
Ten little finger friends so tall and straight  (Fingers up and wiggle)
Hurry to school so they won’t be late. (Bounce hands)

Self Control Lotion
I recall a teacher who kept a bottle of lotion on her desk and called it “self control lotion.” When her students were having trouble paying attention she would give them a squirt of lotion and tell t                                           
Hint!  This would be a great idea for sanitizer lotion.

Secret Hands (Melinda Ainslie)
Several years ago at a workshop Melinda shared this idea.  She said that when her daughter started kindergarten she came home from school and asked, “Mama, can you keep a secret? When you put your hands together like this (cross your fingers), it’s MAGIC because you can see better and hear better!”

Brain Toys
Fill a shoebox or basket with stress balls or knotted socks. Suggest children get a "brain toy" when they can’t keep their hands to themselves.  You'll be surprised how a knotted sock can keep little hands still and help them focus.

Hint!  Suggest parents provide their children who are learning at home with similar props.

Wrap a 20” piece of string around a jumbo craft sticks. Children keep these in their desk and get them out when their hands need to fiddle.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021


February 23rd is a big day if you are a dog because it's INTERNATIONAL DOG BISCUIT APPRECIATION DAY. Buzzie (the love of our lives) is going to get some special treats today!

Hint!  Some of these activities would be perfect to share with your families who are dog lovers.

Woof!  Woof! Game
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!)
*You could even do this virtually, but you'd have to pull out the bones for the children as you rotate around the screen.

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


Who Let the Letters Out?
Place letters in a dog dish or empty box of dog biscuits. 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.

Puppy Chow Snack
This may not be the healthiest snack, but kids sure would get a kick out of it.

9 cups Rice Chex™, Corn Chex™ or Chocolate Chex™ cereal (or combination)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Measure cereal and set aside.
In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Monday, February 22, 2021


You can spend a lot of money on science equipment for your classroom, or just go outside and look up in the sky and you’ve got a lesson no matter what your teaching situation might be.

Clouds, glorious clouds! They change daily and are great way for you students to be scientists as they observe, predict, and record.

Let’s Get Started

Ask your students what they know about clouds.

Are all the clouds the same?

Why are there different kinds of clouds?

Why are most clouds white?

What makes clouds move?

This is a perfect springboard for demonstrating how to find new information by searching on the internet, going to the library, asking their parents, and so forth.

My Cloud Book
Fold 2 sheets of paper in half and staple to make a cloud book for each child. Ask them to write the name of a different cloud on each page and illustrate it. (Older children could write descriptive sentences.) On the last page ask them to name their favorite cloud and tell why they like it.

Class Graph
Each day look at the sky and graph the type of clouds in the sky.

Flip Book
Make a flip book with the four basic clouds. (Put “flip book” in my search engine to see how to make this book.)

Cotton Clouds
Challenge children to make the different types of clouds out of cotton.

Types of Clouds

Cirrus Clouds
Cirrus clouds look like wispy streaks high up in the sky. If the sky is blue with a few cirrus clouds it’s going to be a nice day.

Cumulus Clouds
Cumulus clouds look like puffy white cotton balls in the sky. When they turn dark it means it’s going to rain.

Stratus Clouds

Stratus clouds look like a dark blanket in the sky. Look for rain or snow when it is cold.
Nimbus Clouds (Also known as cumulonimbus)

Nimbus Clouds (Also known as cumulonimbus.)
Nimbus clouds are dark and have rain or snow falling from them.

Can you walk through a cloud? Yes, you can! Fog is a cloud on the ground so when you walk in the walk you are walking through a cloud!

Look at the sky with your parents. Name the cloud formations that you see.

Sunday, February 21, 2021


It's about time for a science experiment. This is one of the coolest, easiest, most amazing science experiments that you can do in your classroom or virtually.
You will need:

1 bar of Ivory soap

1 plate (paper or glass)


Put the bar of soap on a plate. Place in the microwave for 90 seconds. (I actually only did it for 70 seconds.) Observe. Talk about magic! The soap will turn into a mass that looks like a fluffy cloud. Remove, cool, and then explore the texture.



Hint! Invite the children to record what the soap looks like before and after microwaving.
*What caused the change? 

Cloud Watch
Give children clipboards, blue paper, and a white piece of chalk. Go out on the playground and challenge them to draw the clouds in the sky. Can they predict what the weather will be from observing the clouds?  

There are many informative books about clouds, as well as whimsical tales like CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, IT LOOKED LIKE SPILT MILK, and THE LITTLE CLOUD. 

I also found some free videos and resources if you want to learn more about clouds:

Come back tomorrow for more science activities to do with clouds.

Saturday, February 20, 2021


Aesthetic appreciation is probably not one of your standards, but I enjoyed introducing famous artists to my students. And the parents always got a kick out of their children talking about Picasso or Van Gogh.  These strategies could easily be adapted to any teaching situation.

Art Appreciation 101


Each week choose a famous artist – anyone from Vermeer to Rockwell to Picasso. You can go online and download prints or check out books from the library. On Monday, give a little background about the artist and show one painting and give the title. Explain that artists always give a “name” or title to their work. “What title would you give this painting?” “What do you see?” “Why do you think the artist painted this?” “What do you think happened before?” “After?” “What do you think the people are saying?” “How does this painting make you feel?” “What materials did the artist use to create this picture?”


On Tuesday show another picture. “Do you remember the title of yesterday’s painting? What do you think is the title of today’s painting?” Compare and contrast. “How are they alike?” “How are they different?” 

Continue introducing a different painting every day. 


*Use paintings to introduce new vocabulary words.
*Use paintings as springboards for writing stories or poems.
*Paintings can also be used for informative writing where children describe details.
*On Friday let children graph which painting they liked best. Why did you like that one? Is there one you did not like?

So, a funny thing happened because I was going to end this blog with an idea about Michelangelo. I was going to suggest you tell the children how he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on his back. Wouldn’t it be fun to tape paper under the table and let the children draw like Michelangelo? Well, guess what? That’s a myth. He actually stood up as he painted and then they attached the panels to the ceiling. You learn something new every day, don’t you? 

I still think it would be fun to tape paper to the bottom of a table and draw!

Friday, February 19, 2021


Here are some simple art projects with crayons that can be adapted to any age or teaching situation. Sometimes adults think that kids should only do an art project one time. The interesting thing is that children will enjoy doing these activities several times.

Dancing Crayons
Materials: crayons, paper, music
Directions: Hold a crayon in each hand. Put on some music, and let the crayons “dance” on the paper.
*This would work well at the listening center using a variety of music, such as classical, country, march, lullaby, etc.

Materials: crayons, rubber bands, paper
Directions: Wrap a rubber band around 3 or 4 crayons. Children can hold the “bundle” and draw a design or picture on their paper.

Dot to Dot
Materials: crayons, paper
Directions: Make a specified number of dots (six, ten, whatever) on a piece of paper. Exchange papers with a friend. Connect the dots. What does it look like? Add details to create an object or design.

Wiggles and Squiggles
Materials: crayons, paper
Directions: Have the children close their eyes and make a design on their paper with a black crayon. When they open their eyes, ask them to create something out of their design.
Adaptations: Have children exchange papers with wiggles and squiggles with a friend.

Folded Designs
Materials: paper, crayons
Directions: Have children take a sheet of paper and fold it several times. Next, open it and trace over the creases on the paper with a black crayon. Finally, fill in each section with a different color, design, or pattern.