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Thursday, October 21, 2021


Did you know that today is Babble Day? What will they think of next? It might be a good day to talk about what the word "babble" means. How many synonyms can you think of for the word "babble"?

Oral language is definitely an important skill for all children - especially after a year of masks and screens! Children need to be able to organize their thoughts and express themselves clearly, but, like anything else, we need to provide them with opportunities to talk, talk, talk!

Babble Breaks
Plan several three minute "babble breaks" where children can talk to their friends today. You could give them a topic to discuss that relates to a unit of study, let them tell jokes, or just chit chat.

Hint! Set a timer so children can learn to regulate when to begin and when to end.

*You might want to use the "buddy sticks" I described on October 4th for children to find a "babble buddy."


Traffic Light

Traffic light colors are a visual way to help children regulate the volume in the classroom. Hold up a green circle when they are free to talk. Yellow means they are a little loud and to turn it down. Red means "stop" talking and focus on the teacher.


Tell Me More 
Place several interesting objects in a gift bag. One at a time, pull an object out and sing to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”

     Do you know what this is, what this is, what this is?
     Do you know what this is? Please tell me more!

Encourage the children to identify the item and tell you as many descriptive words as they can about it.

Conversation Starters 
Run off conversation starters similar to the ones below and place them in a paper sack. Children choose one before they go home at the end of the day and use it to tell their parents about their day.

     Ask me about our story.
     Ask me what song we sang.
     Ask me who I played with.
     Ask me what I learned.
     Ask me what we had to eat.

Story Bits 
Select small objects that relate to a story or unit of study. For example, you could use a button for Corduroy, a fake jewel for Fancy Nancy, a shell for an ocean unit, etc. Children take home the object and explain how the item relates to the book they heard or what they learned at school.

American Idol 
Let children take turns playing “American Idol” as they lead classmates in familiar songs.

Role Play 
Have children act out life situations. For example, what would you do if someone bullied you? What would you do if a stranger tried to get you to ride in their car? What would you do if you saw a fire? What would you do if you found $20 on the bus?

Provide children with puppets and stuffed animals to act out stories and problems.

Audio Recordings 
Let children practice reading simple books, saying rhymes, or singing songs with audio devices.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


I see the moon
And the moon sees me...

Look up in the sky tonight and you'll see a full moon.  


From the time children are toddlers, most of them are fascinated with the moon. The moon is FREE and it belongs to EVERYONE! Wouldn’t it be interesting to have children look at the moon every night for a month with their parents and draw a picture of what the moon looks like? What a meaningful way for families to do a little science together.

Facts for kids about the moon:

The moon goes around the earth. 

The moon has no light, but it reflects the sun’s light. 

The light of sun on the moon creates the different phases of the moon.

That’s why it looks different to us throughout the month. 

It’s called a new moon when you can’t see it.

When the moon gets a little larger at night it’s called waxing.

A full moon is when it looks like a circle.

As the moon gets smaller it’s called waning.

The moon is always up in the sky, but during the day when the sun is bright you can’t see it.

Here’s a neat website where you can get a calendar of the moon’s phases:


*Let one child pretend to be the earth and stand in the middle of the room. Let another child pretend to be the moon and circle the earth.

*What other things can you see in the sky? Take children outside and let them draw pictures of the things they see.

*Is there really a man in the moon? The moon has craters that make it look like a face.
Give children uncolored play dough and let them make a moon/pancake. Have them make craters in their moon with a pencil eraser or the end of a marker.


Don’t forget to read two of my favorite books GOOD NIGHT, MOON, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOON.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021


One of the favorite jobs in my classroom was the "meteorologist."  Each day the weather boy/girl would spin to the weather and we would sing the appropriate word:

Weather Song (Tune: “My Darlin’ Clementine”)

Sunny, sunny, sunny, sunny,
It is sunny in the sky.
S – u – n – n – y Sunny
It is sunny in the sky.

Hint! Insert other words children suggest such as “foggy,” “snowy,” and so forth.

Links to the weather graphs and song:

Weather Words

Write weather words on a language experience chart and point to the letters as you sing.
*Challenge children to come up with synonyms for different types of weather. For example, sunny could be bright, hot, cloudless, etc.

Place a thermometer outside your classroom window so children can learn how to read the calendar and judge appropriate clothing for outdoor play.

Wind Tester
Make a wind tester by stapling a strip of tissue paper to a straw. Hold it up to see if the wind is blowing. What direction is the wind blowing from?
*How else can you tell if the wind is blowing?

How Can You Find Out?

Brainstorm different ways to find out about the weather. For example, look on-line, look at the newspaper, watch the weather report on television, look out the window, etc. 


Monday, October 18, 2021


Either in a traditional classroom or online, you will have children move and leave your group or come and join you. These songs and activities are sure to make them feel special.  Sometimes the "little things" that you do can have a huge impact on children and their emotional well being.

Good-Bye Song to Sing When Children Move Away
(Tune: “Good Night, Ladies”)
Good-bye, child’s name.
Good-bye, child’s name.
Good-bye, child’s name.
We’re sad to see you go.

Hint! Make a book for children when they leave.  Let each child draw a picture or use class photos to make the book.

Class Video
Make a video of students saying good-bye and giving the departing child a special wish.

Autograph Shirt
Invite the child who is leaving to bring a large white T-shirt.  Friends can sign their names and draw pictures with permanent markers.

Welcome New Students
Welcome new students by singing their name in this song to the tune of "Good-Night, Ladies."

Welcome, child’s name.
Welcome, child’s name.
Welcome, child’s name.
We’re glad you’re in our room.

Name Song  (Tune:  "Where Is Thumbkin?")
Here's a fun twist to a name song to introduce children to their new friend.  
All: Where is Sam?
Where is Kim?
Sam and Kim sing: Here we are. Here we are.
All: How are you today?
Sam and Kim: Very well, we thank you.
All: Run around, then switch spots.
(Sam and Kim run in a circle and switch spots.)

Cover a table with bulletin board paper.  Put out markers and crayons and invite the class to make a poster for their new classmate.

Special Buddy
Each day assign a student to be a "special buddy" to the new student to help them know what to do, where to go, what the rules are, and so forth.

Sunday, October 17, 2021


When teaching vocabulary to children, experts suggest using interesting words and building bridges between children’s experiences and words. What a perfect time of year to enrich children’s vocabulary with “spooktacular” and “bootiful” words.
Note! These activities can be used for Halloween words, Thanksgiving words, autumn words, or any unit of study.

Brainstorm “spooky” words, Halloween words, or other seasonal words. How many words can they come up with? Write them on the board as children call them out.
*Older children could brainstorm as a small group activity.

Dramatize Words
Call out nouns or adjectives like “skeleton,” “mummy,” “spooky,” “haunted,” for the children to dramatize. Encourage them to use their faces, hands, and whole bodies.

Write seasonal words on index cards and put them in a sack. Children choose a word and pantomime while their friends try to guess.

Seasonal Alphabet
Write the letters of the alphabet on a sheet of paper. Can they think of a seasonal word for each letter? Example: A - apples, B – bats, C – candy, D – Dracula…

Picture Words
Challenge children to turn words into pictures they represent.

Grow a Sentence
Write a simple sentence on the board. Can children add words to the sentence to make it grow?
I see a pumpkin.
I see a big pumpkin.
I see a great big enormous pumpkin.
I see a great big orange enormous pumpkin.
I see a great big orange enormous pumpkin on the porch.
I see a great big orange enormous pumpkin on the front porch.
I see a great big orange enormous pumpkin on the front porch smiling….

Build a Pumpkin
This is similar to hangman, but you will be drawing a pumpkin, which is much happier than a noose! Put blanks on the board for the number of letters in a word. As children call out letters write them on the appropriate place on the line. If the letters are not in the word make a “bone pile.” For each letter you put in the bone pile draw part of a jack-o-lantern. Start with the pumpkin shape. Add a stem. Add a mouth, nose, eyes, etc.

Saturday, October 16, 2021


Did you know that October 16th is Dictionary Day? It's actually Noah Webster's birthday and a perfect day to let each child make her own personal dictionary. 

Materials: pocket folder, prepared pages with alphabet letters, markers

*Here’s a link where you can download the pages with letters: 

My Personal Dictionary
Ask students to tell you what they know about dictionaries. Brainstorm the many uses of dictionaries. Model looking up words and reading definitions. Explain that each of them will get to create their own dictionary that they can use to help them the rest of the school year. First, let the children decorate the outside of their pocket folder. Insert the alphabet pages. As you add new words to the word wall or have new spelling words, ask the children to write them in their dictionary. These would also be a meaningful way to introduce vocabulary words. Encourage students to use their dictionaries when they write independently.

Hint! You might want to go ahead and type your core sight words on the pages before running them off.

Here are some other activities you can play with their dictionaries.

*Play “mystery word” where you give clues about words.
Can you find a word that starts with /m/ and ends with /d/?
Can you find a word that is the opposite of “fast”?

*Play the “rhyme” game.
Can you find a word that rhymes with “bike”?
Can you find a word that rhymes with “log” and is a pet?

*How many one letter words can you find? How many two letter words? Three letter words?

*Ask children to clap out the syllables in words.

*Can they match up words in their dictionaries with words in the classroom?

*Sort words that refer to people, things we do, describing words, etc.

*Have children find a word that starts with each letter in their name.

*Have children make up sentences (oral or written) with the words.

*Ask children to illustrate words or find magazine pictures that match the words.

*Demonstrate how to use the dictionary on the internet. How is it like their dictionary? How is it different?

Add a separate page each month with seasonal and holiday words children might want to use in their stories and journals.

Homework Hint! Let the children take home their dictionaries one night a week and do some of the above activities with their parents.

Friday, October 15, 2021


Life is full of surprises, and a beautiful "surprise" happened recently when we moved to Greenville, SC. One of our neighbors invited us for dinner and we were talking about our lives and careers. My neighbor mentioned that her daughter worked at a "mostly outdoor" school in Ohio, and we were immediately connected!

I want you to meet her daughter, Dawn Nauman, because what she is doing is exciting, and inspirational, and an endorsement of what early childhood education should be!

Drum roll.....Here's Dawn from the School for Young Children in Columbus, Ohio!

Children thrive on repetition. In the twos classroom, we sing the same song every time we meet, we might read the same book ten times in a row. In the threes, a child might always play with the trains to start the day, or always may be at the playdough table. A child in the fours might need the exact bike they want and a few spins around the playground to get started. Classroom schedules are comfortable repetitious time periods where kids learn to know what to expect and to understand boundaries. Familiar toys, familiar peers and familiar play themes, all those repetitious acts make up play in early childhood. And play is how kids learn. So how does taking a familiar program and becoming intentionally outside during a pandemic feed a child’s need for repetition and learning? It takes it up a notch, in an extremely valuable way.

I remember being at a play-based conference session with the SYC staff a few years ago where a facilitator described a childhood of roaming natural landscapes with her peers and playing in creeks, woods, and fields without a “toy” in sight. She talked about her play-based center which she focuses on loose parts and outdoor time and how that fits into the schemas of childhood. This year I’ve been thinking back to that conference, and that session, and the concept of schemas in early childhood and how the schemas haven’t changed with a change in plans and location but how they have been practiced in some ways in a richer environment. If you aren’t familiar with schemas, there’s a great article on They describe schema as “repeatable behavior … that you can notice in your child's play during early childhood. No matter where you are in the world, these same schemas are exhibited by kids. Experts believe that when kids repeat these patterns in different situations, kids develop physically and cognitively. In turn, they are better able to understand, navigate and interact with their worlds, resulting in transformative learning.”

This year at SYC, repeating patterns in different situations is the name of the game due to so much time with outdoor learning. Think schema combined with problem solving on the fly every day. Kids have the opportunities laid out before them to assess, take a risk, practice their ideas and take time to work them out. When they want to transport something from one side of the playground to another in the fall, they use a wagon or wheelbarrow (or as one of our kids calls it, a wheelie barrel). In the winter they moved loose parts with sleds. If a kid in the morning fours class always plays on the climber, but one day finds it awfully slippery, they might tape it off and put out signs for the next class. (These kids take their repetitive behavior/ problem solving skills with a side of practical literacy). While we can afford many opportunities for children to experience these same patterns in an indoor classroom, changes in natural settings create wonder, unexpected challenges and rewards for those who experience them.

The common behavioral schema in childhood are:








Pandemic SYC is still rooted in supporting social and emotional growth in children. Being outside provides opportunities for kids to build self confidence each time they assume the challenge of dressing for the elements (and undressing for toileting). They learn caution and to trust their judgement on slippery or muddy surfaces. They learn flexibility when a play area changes with the elements and adjustments need to be made to their play ideas. They learn to use their voice when they need help negotiating changes. Community is built in an expansive space that provides room for everyone to join in. Ultimately, teachers recognize that the social and emotional work we do with children has not changed as the play area has expanded, however the opportunities for that work has. We see the same struggles and growth with communicating with peers, setting limits and articulating needs that we see in a largely indoor environment replayed outside. However, this year, the outside has become the added teacher with challenges and rewards abundant for every child.


Did Dawn spark your interest?  You can email her

Thursday, October 14, 2021


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.

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?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021


More?  Less?  Equal?

Divide children into partners and give them manipulatives and a sack with three index cards on which you have written “greater than,” “less than,” and “equal.” One child makes a set with the manipulatives. The second child draws a card from the bag and then makes a set according to the directions on the card.


SQUISH is a similar game that can be played with play dough. One child squishes the dough and makes a set. The second child selects a card and then must squish the play dough to make a set “greater,” “less than,” or “equal.”

Dealer’s Choice
Remove the face cards from a deck of playing cards. Draw three sections on a sheet of construction paper and write “high,” “low,” and “equal.” Children turn over two cards at a time and place the cards in the appropriate pile.

*This is a fun game to play with a friend.

The Price Is Right!
Cut pictures of items from a toy catalog or flyer. Cover up the price. Let children estimate how much each item costs. Show the actual value and determine who guessed more, less, or the closest amount.

Paper Clip

Make a number line on a sentence strip. Use a paper clip to slide to different numbers and the children can see what comes before and after.


Counting on a Shoestring
Write numerals 0-20 on a cotton shoestring with a permanent marker. Insert a bead. Children move the bead as they count. They can clearly see what is one more and one less.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


You can count on me to give you some engaging ways to get kids to skip count.

Counting by Two’s (Melanie Hope)
Have students identify body parts that come in sets of two. Stand and count by two’s as you touch the following body parts:
2 – hands on eyes
4 – hands on ears
6 – hands on elbows
8 – knees
10 – feet
12 – eyes
14 – ears….
You’ll be able to count to 100 by 2’s before you know it!

High Five Book
Trace around each child’s hands on a 6” square and let them decorate it with markers or crayons. Make a cover that says “High Five Book.” Tape the pages together to make an accordion book. Number the pages 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. Read over the book counting by 5’s to 100.

*Make a “Piggie Book” by tracing around children’s feet. Number the pages 10, 20, 30, etc. and practice counting by ten’s with this book.

Whisper Skip Count
One (Touch head as you whisper “one.”)
Two (Touch shoulders and say “two.”)
Three (Touch head and whisper.)
Four (Touch shoulders and say “four.”)
Five (Touch head and whisper.)
Six (Touch shoulders and say “six.”)
Seven (Touch head and whisper.)
Eight (Touch shoulders and say, “eight.”)
Nine (Touch head and whisper.)
Ten (Touch shoulders as you say “ten.”)

*To count by 3’s, touch shoulders and whisper “one,” touch shoulders and whisper “two,” touch waist and say “three.”
*To count by 4’s, whisper on 1-3 and touch knees as you say “four.”
*To count by 5’s, whisper on 1-4 and touch toes as you say “five.”

Odd and Even (Tune: “Old MacDonald”)
There was a teacher who had some numbers
And ODD was their name-o.
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
1, 3, 5, 7, 9
And ODD was their name-o.

There was a teacher who had some numbers
And EVEN was their name-o.
0, 2, 4, 6, 8…

Macarena Count to 100 by Tens

Children stand and do the “Macarena” as they count.
1 (Right arm out palm down.)
2 (Left arm out palm down.)
3 (Right palm up.)
4 (Left palm up.)
5 (Right hand on left shoulder.)
6 (Left hand on right shoulder.)
7 (Right hand behind head.)
8 (Left hand behind head.)
9 (Right hand on left hip.)
10 (Left hand on right hip.)
(Clap two times.)
That is one ten. (Hold up one finger.)


Karate Chop Count 
Feet out, knees bent, karate chop with your right hand and then your left as you count by ones.  
*Do leg curls and chops as you count by 5’s to 100 
*Kick front and back as you count by 10’s to 200. 
*Wax on, wax off as you count by 100’s to 1000. 

Sing and Skip Count

Sing and skip count by 2’s to “Twinkle Little Star.”
2, 4, 6, 8, 10,
12, 14, 16, 18,
20, 22, 24
Then start over and count some more.
2, 4, 6, 8, 10,
Numbers, numbers never end.

Practice counting by 3’s to “Are You Sleeping?”
3, 6, 9, 12 (Children repeat each line.)
15, 18, 21 (Children repeat.)
24, 27 (Children repeat.)
30, 33, 36 (Children repeat.)

4’s “Row Your Boat”
5’s “The Bear Went over the Mountain”
6’s “London Bridge”
7’s “Ten Little Indians”
8’s “This Old Man”

Monday, October 11, 2021

1, 2, 3 - COUNT WITH ME!

Counting is a basic strand across math standards. There’s even research that suggests counting with pre-k children can build math concepts they will use later on in kindergarten and primary grades. To avoid rote counting without meaning, let TOUCH AND COUNT be the mantra you repeat and model over and over. Counting will also have more meaning if you tie it into finger plays, songs, and movements. 

*Adapt these activities for younger children by just counting from 1-10. Older students can count to 100 and beyond. 

Little Red Number Box (Sarah Wilson) 
Put magnetic numbers in a metal tin and then sing the song as you pull out a number. Then count to that number. 
For example: I wish I had a little tin box to put a 6 in. I’d take it out and count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and put it back in.

Move and Count 
Have children count as they jump, hop, and do other movements.

*Count the steps to the lunchroom.
*Count how long it takes everyone to sit down quietly.
*Count the number of chairs in the room, tables, toys, girls, boys, dragons (that's a joke!) etc.

Number Sticks
These math sticks are easy to make and can be used in many ways. You’ll need magnetic numbers and shapes, jumbo craft sticks, and a strong glue (such as E6000). Glue the numbers  to the sticks and you are all set!

*Let children hold up the appropriate stick as you do finger plays and counting songs.
*Can they walk around the room and match up their number with classroom print or the appropriate number of objects?

Number Hunt 
Take lunch sacks and write different numerals on them. Give each child a bag and ask them to take the sack home and bring in that number of objects.  Let children share what they have found with their friends the following day. 

Giant Number Line
Attach a piece of tape to the floor in a prominent place in your classroom. Let children walk on it forwards, backwards, hop, etc. After playing with the line, ask them to sit on the floor. Explain that you’re going to turn it into a number line as you demonstrate writing numbers (0-10) on the tape. 
*Ask one child at a time to walk on the number line as they say each number.
*Call out different numbers and ask random students to stand on those numbers. What is one more? What is one less?
*Give students dot cards (0-10) and ask them to match their card with the number on the line.

Five Little Hot Dogs  (“Five Little Ducks” - Just for Fun CD)
Five little hotdogs frying in the pan.            (Hold up five fingers.)
The grease got hot, and one went BAM!            (Clap.)
Four little hotdogs…            (Four fingers.)
Three…                        (Three fingers.)
Two…                                    (Two fingers.)
One…                                    (One finger.)
No little hotdogs frying in the pan.   (Hold up fist.)
The pan got hot and it went BAM!

Number March (“The Ants Go Marching” - Totally Math CD)
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.  (Hold up 1 finger.)
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.  (Put fist in the air and cheer.)
They all were red and the first one said:
“You’d better catch up, I’m way ahead.”
And they all went marching one by one by one.

The spiders go crawling two by two hurrah, hurrah…  (Crawl 2 fingers.)

The birds go flying three by three hurrah, hurrah…  (Hold up 3 fingers and fly.)

The rabbits go hopping four by four hurrah, hurrah…  (Pretend to hop 4 fingers.)

The horses go galloping five by five hurrah, hurrah…  (Gallop 5 fingers on thigh.)

The fish go swimming six by six hurrah, hurrah…  (Pretend to swim 6 fingers.)

The mice go creeping seven by seven hurrah, hurrah…  (Creep 7 fingers up arm.)

The worms go wiggling eight by eight hurrah, hurrah…(Wiggle 8 fingers.)

The monkeys go swinging nine by nine hurrah, hurrah… (Swing 9 fingers.)

The kids go walking ten by ten hurrah, hurrah…  (Hold up 10 fingers and 
                       pretend to walk.)

You can download a free book that goes with this song at  

Activities:  Let children take different verses and illustrate them.  Put their pictures together to make a class book.