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Monday, January 31, 2022


Several years ago Sam Williams and I created a set of four songs and printables. We can't solve all of education's problems, but we can put a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Oh, yeah!!! They're all FREE and each packet includes:

• Download of the song
• A colorful sing and read book
• A reproducible independent reading book
• Lyric sheet
• Extension Activities
• Worksheets to use in centers

The packets include the following songs:


Color Farm
Five Little Hotdogs
Nursery Rhyme Rap
Shape Song

Here's the link to get you started:

Note! If anyone thinks you're not doing "intentional teaching" with these activities, please take a look at the skills below.

Reading Literature and Informational Text

What is the main idea of the song? Recall details. Talk about the title, the front, and the back of the book. Match illustrations with the words in the song. Identify if the book is a nursery rhyme, fiction, or nonfiction. Ask and answer questions about new words in songs. Read and sing books together with classmates.

Reading Foundations
Use books to reinforce left to right, top to bottom. Point out that words are separated by spaces. Connect what you sing/say to words in the text. Use phonics skills to decode. Point out high frequency words. Identify words that rhyme. Read books independently.

Write and tell opinion about songs. Make original drawings to go with books. Do additional research to learn more about a topic introduced in a book.

Speaking and Listening
Talk/sing and listen in a group activity. Follow group rules as children sing and do movements. Understand and talk about songs.

Language Skills
Use complete sentences. Figure out what different words mean. Relate how words in songs relate to real live. Use books to identify capitalization and punctuation. Use question words.

Children can count, add, and subtract with the “Five Little Hotdogs.” Geometry will come alive with the “Shape Family.” These books provide a meaningful way to connect literacy and mathematics.

Sunday, January 30, 2022


Here's a video I did several years ago with Valentine activities:

Mouse Bookmark
Cut a heart about the size of a child’s hand from red construction paper. Fold in half. Open. Tape a 6” piece of string in the middle. Glue closed. Draw a nose, whiskers, and ears on the heart as shown to make it look like a mouse. Use for a bookmark.

A Little Gift
This is a simple Valentine gift that parents will treasure. Let children wrap a small box or a piece of Styrofoam with wrapping paper and a ribbon. (It would be extra special if the children designed their own wrapping paper.) Add this note:

Here is a little gift
That you can never see.
The reason it’s so special,
It’s just for you from me.
Whenever you are lonely,
Or even feeling blue,
You only have to hold this box
And know I think of you.
Please never unwrap it,
And leave the ribbon tied.
Just hold the box close to your heart,
It’s filled with love inside.

Valentine for Parents 
Let each child take off one shoe and trace around her foot on white paper. Cut it out. Give each child 5 small pieces of red tissue paper to wad up and glue at the end of each toe for toenails. Write “I love you from my head down to my toes” on the foot.

*You can also make thumbprint cards or handprint cards for parents.

Here’s a story just right for this month to help children think about how words can hurt. Cut a large heart out of red construction paper and hold it in your lap as you begin to tell the story below:

This is a story about a special friend named (imaginary name). He always came to school with a smile on his face and a big heart full of love for his classmates. (Hold up the big heart.) (Name) listened to his teacher, did his best work, and helped his friends. However, some of his friends weren’t always so kind. Joe made fun of his shoes and broke a little of his heart. (Tear off a piece of the heart and let it drop to the floor.) Ann said, “I’m saving this seat and you can’t sit here” at story time and broke a little more of his heart. Sammy wouldn’t share his crayons (tear off a little of the heart) and Sara called him a mean name. What are some other things that might break his heart? (Let the children name other things that cause hurt feelings as you let the pieces fall to the floor.) By the end of the day his heart was all in pieces and it was so sad.

Who can tell me how to put his heart back together? What are some kind things you can do for your friends? As children name different acts of kindness pick the pieces of the heart off the floor. Glue the pieces together on a poster as a reminder to have a kind heart. Encourage children to write friends’ names on the poster when they are kind and helpful to them!

Saturday, January 29, 2022


Are you "PUZZLED" today?  Well, that's because it's National Puzzle Day.

There have been numerous research studies that confirm the importance of puzzles in cognitive development. Other benefits of puzzles include:

Small motor skills
Eye-hand coordination
Task initiation and completion
Sense of accomplishment

Puzzles also provide the opportunity for children to collaborate and cooperate with a partner or small group.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate puzzles into your plans this month. You might be surprised at the standards you’ll find!

Jigsaw Puzzle
Put a jigsaw puzzle (50-100+ pieces depending on the age and ability of your students) on a table. Explain that you will leave it out all week and if they finish their work early they can try and put it together. (You’ll quickly be able to identify the children who have done puzzles at home with their families.)

Story Puzzles

Have children draw pictures and write stories on cardstock. Next, let them cut the paper into puzzle pieces. (I’ve found it best to give them a limit of 8-15 pieces or they’ll end up with confetti.) Put these in an envelope and exchange with friends. After putting the puzzles together they can read each other’s stories.

Word Puzzles
Write vocabulary/spelling/sight words on sentence strips. Cut between the letters and place them in an envelope. Children put the letters together and read the word.

Hint! Write the word on the back of the envelope so they can self-check.
Ask them to write the words after they complete the puzzles.

Poem Puzzles
Make 2 copies of nursery rhymes or poems. Glue one to the front of a clasp envelope. Make a puzzle of the other rhyme by cutting between the lines or words. Store in the envelope. Children place the puzzle pieces on top of the original and then read.


Magazine Puzzles
Let children cut out favorite pictures from a magazine. (These could relate to a theme or unit.) Glue pictures to a piece of cardstock and then cut into puzzle pieces.

Cereal Box Puzzles 
Ask children to bring empty cereal boxes from home. Cut the front sections off the boxes and cut into puzzle pieces.

*For younger students it works best to use two boxes that are the same. One can be cut up and then they can place the pieces on the whole.

Greeting Card Puzzles
Ask parents to save old greeting cards. Child can cut off the front of the cards and then use them to make puzzles.


Friday, January 28, 2022



Do a language experience chart where each child completes the sentence, “Love is…” 

*You could also make individual books where each child completes the sentence “Love is…” and draws things that she loves.


Children will be thrilled with a little heart pointer. Let them choose a sticker and attach it to the end of a craft stick. They can use it to read, identify letters, shapes, and so forth.


Heart Puzzle
Cut 4" circles out of red paper. Cut 4" squares out of red paper. Give each child a circle and a square. Demonstrate how to fold the circle in half and cut on the crease to make two half circles (semi-circles). Can the children make a heart from the two halves and the square?

Valentine Concentration
Cut 4” squares out of red poster board. Take duplicates of valentine stickers and place them on the squares. Mix up the squares and place them face down on the carpeting. Play a memory game where children turn over two squares at a time and try to match up like stickers.

Will You Be My Valentine?
(Tune: “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”)
Will you be my Valentine, (Point to various friends.)
Valentine, Valentine?
Will you be my Valentine?
I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine! (Point to self and then a friend.)

Some are red, some are blue, (Hold up fingers.)
Some have lace and ribbons, too.
Some are funny, some are not. (Smile and then shake head “no.”)
I like the candy ones a lot.
*Download this book at

Bringing Home a Valentine
(Tune: “Baby Bumblebee”)
I’m bringing home a valentine for you, (Cup hands and move them to
One that says, “I love you.” the beat in front of your body.)
I’m bringing home a valentine for you
With a great big hug, and a (kiss) (kiss), too! (Hug self and then kiss
in the air.)

Thursday, January 27, 2022


Take a look at all these LOVELY ideas you can integrate in your lesson plans next month.

Chocolate Play Dough (Not edible)
Make play dough using your favorite recipe. Omit the food coloring and let the children knead the dough in cocoa. It will look and smell like chocolate. Purchase a box of valentine candies and remove/eat the candies. Children can roll up the dough and put them in the paper containers.

Valentine Sandwich (Edible)
You will need a heart shaped cookie cutter, bread, cream cheese, and red food coloring to make this sandwich. Mix the cream cheese with red food coloring until it is pink. Cut a heart out of the bread with the cookie cutter. Spread on the cream cheese.

Special Delivery
This is an activity I did over 50 years ago in my classroom. I guess that's why we sang "The postman's on his way" instead of the more politically correct "The mail carrier is on her way." You just go ahead and sing it anyway you like because I bet your kids won't care a bit.
You will need a gift bag or cloth bag for this game. Write "Special Delivery" on the bag. Each child writes his or her name on an envelope and places it in the mailbag. One child is “it” (aka mail carrier) and skips around the room as you sing the song below. At the end of the song, “it” reaches in the bag and chooses an envelope. “It” delivers the envelope to that child and they exchange places. The game continues until each child has had a turn and received an envelope.

The Mailman's on His Way (Tune: “The Farmer in the Dell”)
The mailman's on his way.
The mailman's on his way.
He's bringing lots of Valentines,
I hope he comes my way.

*Change to "maillady" and "her way" when a girl has the bag.
*You could use photos and first names for younger children.

Five Little Cookies
(Hold up 5 fingers to begin.)
Down around the corner at the bakery shop
Five little cookies with sprinkles on top.
Along came (child’s name) with a penny one day.
He/she bought one cookie and ate it right away!

*Make cookies out of felt or fun foam. Pass out pennies to five children have them exchange their penny for a cookie when their name is called.
(I used puff fabric paint to make my sprinkles.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Thank goodness, some things never go out of style!

According to a little research on the web, “Sweetheart” candies have been around since 1901. In the past decade the sayings have been updated with phrases such as “TEXT Me” and “LOL.” Although over 100 years old, it’s good to see these little candies alive and well. Here are some adaptations for using them as a springboard for learning.

Learn a Lot with Candy Hearts 
Conversation hearts are good to sort, count, read, pattern, add, subtract, and eat!
*Estimate how many will be in a bag. Count. Graph the ones that are the same.

Matching Game
Make a game by cutting paper hearts out of construction paper. Write like phrases found on candy hearts (such as “Kiss Me, “Cool One,” “WOW!” “Cutie Pie”) on two of the hearts. Glue one to a file folder and then have children match and read the ones that go together.

Heart Necklace  
Let children make their own paper hearts, hole punch them, and then string them to make a necklace. Encourage them to think of their own phrases they would put on candies. (WOW! Trace, write, hole punch, and string - lots of small motor skills!)

Here's a video I did several years ago with Valentine activities:

Tuesday, January 25, 2022


I know it's still January, but I wanted to give you some LOVELY ideas to include in your lesson plans for the coming weeks. Besides Valentine's Day there's Groundhog Day, Winter Olympics, Abe Lincoln's birthday, and the Super Bowl. It's going to be a busy month!!!!

Groundhog Day

Will spring be early or late this year? I guess we'll have to wait until February 2nd to find out!

Groundhog's Song  
February 2nd, (Hold up 2 fingers.)
Is Groundhog Day.
Gather round his hole (Make circular motion.)
To hear what he’ll say. (Place hand by ear.)
Will spring be early
Or late this year?
Watch and listen
To what you’ll hear.

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with one hand.)
On a sunny day (Stick the index finger from the other hand
His shadow will frighten him (up through the hole and wiggle.)
And he will say,
“I’ll go back in my hole (Tuck finger in your fist.)
And go back to sleep.
You’ll have winter
For six more weeks.”

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with fist and stick up finger.)
On a cloudy day
He’s not frightened
So he will say, (Wiggle finger.)
“I think I’ll stay out
And the weather should clear.
Spring will be here
Early this year.”

Cup Puppet

Let children draw a groundhog or download one off the internet. Staple to a straw. Punch a hole in the bottom of a paper cup and insert the straw in the cup. Raise and lower the groundhog as appropriate in the song.

Sidewalk Shadows

Go outside on a sunny day and have children stand with their backs to the sun. Let them make silly motions and play “Guess what I am?” Give them chalk and let them trace around each other’s shadows.
*Draw shadows at 10, 12, and 2 and compare.

*Play shadow tag where they try to touch each other's shadows.

Where’s the Groundhog? 

Cut twenty 4” squares out of heavy paper. Write high frequency words, math facts, letters, numerals, etc. on the cards. Glue a picture of a groundhog on a 3" circle. Have the children sit on the floor in a circle. Mix up the cards and place them face up on the floor. Identify the numeral (etc.) on each card as you place it down on the floor. Tell the children to turn around. Hide the groundhog under one of the squares. Children turn back around and try and guess where the groundhog is hiding. One at a time children call out a number and then “peek” to see if the groundhog is under it. The first child to find the groundhog gets to have a turn hiding it. The game continues as children hide the groundhog and then try to discover his whereabouts.


Invite children to dramatize the groundhog peeping out of his hole. What if it's sunny? What if it's cloudy?

Note! Visit for more great ideas!

Monday, January 24, 2022


Opposite Day is tomorrow, January 25, but these ideas could add a smile to any cold, dreary day.

Good-Bye and Hello
Reverse the daily schedule by starting the day with your good-bye song and ending with a good morning song and the morning message. Say your Z Y X’s (alphabet backwards) and count backwards. Turn around in your chairs and face the back of the room. Read a book backwards. Oh, and don’t forget to eat your dessert first at lunch!!!

Opposite Song (Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread”)
We can do opposites, opposites, opposites.
We can do opposites follow me.
Top and bottom… (Touch top of head and bottom of foot.)
Front and back… (Touch tummy and then back.)
Happy and sad… (Smile and then frown.)
Left and right… (Hold up left hand and then right.)
Up and down… (Point up and then down.)
Loud and soft… (Say, “Loud,” loud and “soft,” soft.)
Open and shut… (Open and shut hands.)
Stand and sit…and put them in your lap! (Stand and then sit and put hands in lap.)

Let children suggest other opposites you could sing in the song.

Opposite Game
Whatever the teacher says, the students do the opposite. For example if the teacher says “cry” the children laugh. If the teacher says “up” the children point down.

Have children fold a sheet of paper in half and illustrate opposites. Use a T-chart to identify antonyms.

Take photos of children acting out antonyms and use them to make a class book.

Hint! Introduce the word “antonym” and explain that it means the same thing as “opposite.”

*You can also celebrate Backwards Day by reading a book backwards, walking backwards, wearing your shirt backwards, saying a poem backwards, etc.

Sunday, January 23, 2022


Want something new (and easy) to spark a little creativity and critical thinking in your classroom this week? How about one of these open-ended activities?

Mystery Object
Materials: box with a lid
Interesting objects from nature, souvenirs from other countries, etc.
Paper, pencils

Directions: Place an object in the box and tape the lid on. Write clues about what is in the box. Challenge children to draw a picture or write a sentence about what they think it is. At the end of the day open the box and compare responses.

Alike and Different
Materials: common objects such as paper clips, rubber bands, toothpicks, crayons, etc.
Paper, pencils

Directions: Put out two or three objects. Have the children fold a piece of paper in half. On one side of the paper ask them to write how the objects are alike. On the other side have them write how they are different.

Picture This
Materials: interesting magazine pictures or newspaper photographs
Paper, pencils

Directions: Display one of the pictures and ask the children to imagine that they are there and to write a story about what is happening.

Materials: items that relate to a season or unit of study, such as a pumpkin, magnet, pine cone, plastic egg, etc.
Paper pencils


Directions: Place the unique object in the thinking station and ask the children to make a list of all the different ways it could be used.

Saturday, January 22, 2022


It's fun to talk about birds in the spring, but it's also interesting for children to think about how they can help take care of the birds in the winter. 

First, make binoculars from cardboard rollers and go on a winter walk to look for birds and to spark the children's interest in them. 

Brainstorm what they would do if they were birds in the winter. Where would they get their food? Do they think the birds get hungry in the winter? Why? Who wants to help the birds by making them a bird feeder? 

Note! It was definitely the "process" and not the "product" when I made bird feeders with my students.  (In other words, it was messy!) We usually put their feeders in baggies and sent them home, but it'd also be interesting to hang them on your school playground or near a classroom window.

Pine Cone Bird Feeder

Materials: peanut butter, sand, craft sticks, birdseed, yarn

Directions:  Tie a piece of yarn to the pine cone to use as a hanger.
Mix peanut butter with sand to keep the birds from choking and aid in digestion.
Spread the peanut butter mixture on the pine cone with a craft stick and then sprinkle with birdseed.

Adaptations: Spread peanut butter mixture on large pretzels or paper towel rolls.

Milk Carton Feeder

Materials:  milk cartons, scissors, hole punch, string, birdseed

Directions:  Rinse milk cartons and cut a hole as shown. Punch a hole at the top and tie on a piece of yarn or string for hanging. Fill with birdseed.

Bird bread

Materials:  stale bread, egg white, birdseed, cookie cutters, straw, string, paint brush
Directions: Cut out shapes from the bread with cookie cutters.
Poke a hole with the straw and tie on a piece of string or yarn as a hanger.
Brush the egg white on the bread and then sprinkle on bird seed.

Cereal Feeder

Materials:  pipe cleaners, cereal with holes

Directions:  Let the children string cereal on the pipe cleaners and then twist the ends to make a ring that you can hang on tree branches.

Want to learn more about FEED THE BIRDS DAY on February 3rd?

Friday, January 21, 2022


I was "visiting" some of my old blogs and found these ideas for your classroom that might rival HGTV.

How about addition facts on the stairs? The science vocabulary leads to the upper grades. Letters, numbers, shapes and so many skills could “step up” learning.

What a clever idea to use a real picture frame to display children’s artwork!

And you know how much kids love to look at themselves in a mirror. You could put a full-length mirror in each hall with a positive word or character trait.

Showtime on the Smart Board! (KIRPC Head Start, Indiana)
Take some sheets, tie the ends with ribbons, and then hang it on hooks around the smart board.

Out the Door (Nacine Barrow)
Encourage the children to bring in environmental print and post them along with sight words on your door. Students have to read two of the words before exiting the classroom.

Chalk Board Table
Is this cool? Ms. Smalls found an old table they were going to throw away. She painted the top with chalkboard paint and let the children write special messages, draw pictures, write sight words, etc. on it. The kids LOVED it!