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Monday, February 28, 2022



Give yourself a Harry Potter cheer by putting your finger in the air like a magic wand as you go, “You’re psh psh psh – TERRIFIC!!!”

And here’s a terrific magic wand you can make with your students. Take wooden chopsticks or coffee stirrers and dip one end in glue. Roll in glitter, dry, and ABRACADABRA! Now, let’s see if we can do a little magic with the wands in your classroom.

Smart Wands
Children walk around the room and point to words, letters, shapes, etc. that they can recognize.
*Encourage them to use whisper voices and make complete sentences.

*Divide children into pairs and let one child point while the other child reads the word.

Use wands to track print, identify parts of speech, find details in illustrations, and so forth.

Invisible Writing
Use wands to write letters, words, numerals, etc. in the air.

Story Starters
Prompt creativity by having children write stories about what they would do with a magic wand.

Teacher Magic
Close your eyes as you wave the wand and say, “Abracadabra! I wish that all my students would sit quietly and listen to me.” When they are all quiet you can open your eyes. Taa daa!

Hocus Pocus

Can your students help you come up with some other magic chants? On Sesame Street the Count said, "Allah peanut butter sandwiches." In Cinderella the phrase was, "Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo."

Magic Moments
Life is full of magic moments like the experience I had with a talented teenager in Washington.  Several years ago Samara wrote that she wanted to be president of the "Dr. Jean Fan Club."  It was the sweetest little handwritten note that I saved, of course.  Well, about a month ago she had to do a project for school and she chose to interview me.  She makes me look better than I am and I love her for that!!!  Take a look at the REAL ME!

And that's why I do what I do!!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2022


Subitizing is the ability to recognize numbers without counting. Dot cards can contribute to children’s understanding of number concepts, counting, composing and decomposing numbers, and a variety of standards. Take a look at all the ways you can use dot cards in your classroom.

Hint!  Download these free on the internet. 
*Start with dot patterns up to 6 and then extend it to 10 when they are ready.
*Make sure to download dot cards on card stock or heavy paper.

One to One

Children match up pompoms, beans, erasers, pebbles, and other small objects with dots on cards.

Dot Flash
The teacher quickly holds up a dot card and then places it face down. The children hold up that number of fingers on their chest. Ask, “How did you know it was that number?”

Clip It
Children use the appropriate number of paper clips or clothespins to attach to the dot cards.

Copy Cat
The teacher holds up a dot card. The children try to reproduce the pattern with their own counters.

Sort dot cards by amount.
Sort odd and even cards.

Line Up
Students line up the dot cards in numerical order from largest to smallest or smallest to largest.

Match dot cards with dots on dice.
Match dot cards with ten frames with the same amount.
Make puzzle games where children match dots with numerals or words.

Partner Count
Cards are placed face down on the table. One card is turned over and the first child to say the number gets to keep the card. The partner must count the dots to verify it’s correct.
*To make the game more challenging, ask them to say one more than the quantity of dots, one less, two more, etc.

Run off two sets of dot cards. Place them face down on the floor. One child at a time turns over two cards. If the cards match they make keep them and take another turn. If the cards don’t match, they are turned back over and the next child takes a turn.

Top It
You will need several sets of dot cards for this game. Shuffle the cards and lay them face down in a pile. One child at a time chooses a card. The child with the largest number of dots wins both cards. If they turn over the same amount they continue to draw cards until one player has a higher number.

It Adds Up
Two children have a set of cards and face each other. They each turn over a card and add up the amount. The first child to correctly say the answer gets to keep the cards.
*Tally to keep score.

Paper Plates
How about making some dot plates?

Saturday, February 26, 2022


Story sticks are another way to prompt writing.

Materials: jumbo craft sticks
pictures of people, places, events
glue, tape
jumbo craft sticks
green, yellow, and orange construction paper
magazines, newspapers

Directions: Cut 3” circles out of each color of construction paper. Let the children cut out pictures of people, places, and events from the magazines and newspapers. You will need 5-10 of each. Glue the pictures of people to the orange circles, the pictures of places to the green circles, and the pictures of events to the yellow circles. Tape the circles to jumbo craft sticks and place them in a cup or can.

Invite the children to choose a stick of each color to help them write a story. The orange will be the WHO/the main character. The green stick will be WHERE/the place. The yellow stick will be the WHAT/the plot.

*Use photos of classmates, the teacher, famous people, animals, etc. for the WHO sticks.

*To encourage informative writing, tie in the story sticks to units of study or current events. For example, you could use pictures of Presidents, habitats, or environmental issues.

*Let two children work together to write a story.

*Place the sticks in the writing center for independent work.

Hint! For younger children use the story sticks to encourage oral language. Make sticks with interesting characters or objects and let them choose one or two and create a story using them.

Friday, February 25, 2022


Looking for some writing prompts to motivate  your students?  Holidays, units of study, and interests of your class are a good start, but "Chew and Write" is my favorite.

Chew and Write
Give children a piece of sugarless gum. Once they write their name they can open the gum and start chewing. They are allowed to chew the gum as long as they keep on writing!

Predictable Sentences
Give children an open-ended sentence to encourage writing.  

I can…  

I like…

I don’t like…

I see…

I want…

I am...

I wish I were…

When I grow up…

Class Books
These are topics that you could use to make class books. Each child writes and illustrates a page and then bind them together.
















WHAT DOES THE PRINCIPAL DO ALL DAY?  (One of my favorites!)


Thursday, February 24, 2022


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 and shapes to the sticks and you are all set!


Number Recognition
Pass out sticks to children. Can they walk around the room and match up their number with classroom print? Can they match their number with that amount of objects in the classroom?

*Let children hold up appropriate sticks as you sing or say number rhymes.

Numerical Order

Can children get in order from 0-9?

*Pass out sticks and play “I have___? Who has ___?”

Can You Find?
Children walk around the room and find a number less than theirs. Can they find a number that’s greater? Can they find a number that’s the same?

Number Friends
Call out a number. Students have to find a friend whose stick added to theirs makes the sum. Record the different combinations.

Shape Hunt
Pass out shape sticks for children to match in the classroom. Are the shapes flat or solid?

*Walk around the school and look for shapes.

*Look for shapes on the playground.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


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!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


Don’t you just love tools that you can use in lots of different ways? It’s like my kitchen scissors. I couldn’t live without them to open packages, snip herbs, trim meat, cut veggies, etc. Just like tools in your kitchen, I have some handy math tools that you will be able to use in creating multi-sensory experiences in a variety of ways with a variety of skill levels.

Brain beads are a simple tool that can be used to reinforce counting in a concrete way. You will need pipe cleaners and pony beads. Knot one end of the pipe cleaner. String on 10 beads. Knot the other end. 


Slide the beads to the left and then move them over one at a time to the right as you count.

*Flip the pipe cleaner over so the beads are on the left again and count from 11-20. Continue flipping the pipe cleaner and counting higher.

*Slide all the beads at once and count “ten.” Flip it over and slide all the beads as you say “twenty.” Continue counting by ten’s by sliding all ten beads at one time.

Friends of Ten
How many ways can you make ten?

Number Stories
Use the beads for addition and subtraction problems.

Number Bracelets

Make bead bracelets for different quantities. Match the colors of the pipe cleaners to the colors of the beads. For example, you could make a purple bracelet with 6 purple beads and ask the children to show how many ways they could make six. 

*Challenge students to write down the different ways to make six.

Monday, February 21, 2022


Math mats are a “hands on” way to give children concrete experiences with addition and subtraction. Trim a file folder to make a 12” square. Draw a line down the middle of the square as shown. Draw a line down the middle of the top section. Explain that the line in the middle is like the equal sign in an equation. What is on the top has to equal (be the same as) what is on the bottom.

Note! Poker chips, small toys, natural items, small erasers, and other objects can be used with the math mat. You can also make smaller math mats from an 8" square.

Demonstrate how to use counters to make a set in the top left section and a set in the top right section. Count. Pull down the objects into the bottom section and count how many altogether.

Use counters to demonstrate subtraction.

Missing Addend
”If I have 3 and I want 8, how many more do I need? Let’s put 8 in the bottom. Now, move 3 to the top. How many more do you think I’ll need?” Continue to let children move the counters to solve similar problems.


A ten frame will give children another "hands-on" way to explore math concepts.
Note! Five, ten, and twenty frames are available to download on the internet.


Building Sets
Call out a number and demonstrate how to place the counters in the frame starting on the left. Remind them to always start with the first frame on the left.
*Turn the frame vertically to make sets.
*Can you place the counters in a different way?
*Have children count forwards and backwards on their frames.

Addition and Subtraction
Place counters for the first addend on the top row and the second addend in the bottom row. How many altogether?
*Take away counters for subtraction problems.

Double Frames
Extend to a double ten frame for building numbers to 20.


Trace around the children's fingers and cut out. Glue the palms to a sheet of paper. Do not glue the fingers because you want to be able to move them up and down to demonstrate addition and subtraction.

Sunday, February 20, 2022


Saturday, February 26th, is Tell a Fairy Tale Day.   Here are some tips for using fairy tales as a springboard for teaching next week.


Note!  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.  
I love this cartoon I found on the internet!

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 and love of reading alive!

Saturday, February 19, 2022


Besides puppets, take a look at all these other crafts and tools using envelopes.

Trim off a corner from an envelope. Let children decorate it with their initials or a smiley. 

*Use the bookmark to show the “top” of the page.
*Mark a favorite page they’d like to read to classmates “top” of the page
*Mark the solution or other key element in a story with the bookmark.
*Write a vocabulary word on the bookmark and place it at the top of the page when they find that word in the book.

Cut a 1 1/2” strip from the envelope and use it like a bracelet.
*Write letters, words, numbers, and other skills on the bracelet.

*Make a holiday or seasonal bracelet.
*Collect stickers on the bracelet.
*Get friends’ autographs on the bracelet.

*Send reminder notes home to parents on the bracelet.
*Use at the beginning of the school year to help children remember lunchroom numbers or bus numbers. 

Pull and Read

Cut the left end off the envelope. Write children’s names on 9 ½” sentence strips. Glue their picture on the right side. Pull out one letter at a time for children to predict whose name it could be.

*Write sight words, vocabulary words, or sentences for children to pull and read.
*Write math equations with the answer at the end.

Word Puzzles 
Write words (or children’s names) on the front of an envelope. Write the same word on a sentence strip and cut between the letters to make a puzzle. Place the letters in the envelope for the children to put together.


Friday, February 18, 2022


You know, there are a lot of great ideas for teaching materials on FB, but many things are costly and time consuming.  Take a look at these simple learning opportunities from envelopes.

The world keeps changing, but children are the same. They loved puppets over 40 years ago when I started teaching and they still enjoy putting their hand in a puppet and making it come alive. To make an envelope puppet seal the envelope and cut in half as shown. Give children markers, crayons, and other art media and set their creative juices flowing!

Retell a Story
Let children make a puppet of their favorite character from a book and use it to retell the story.

Nursery Rhyme
Make a character from a nursery rhyme and use it to say the rhyme. Encourage children to take the puppet home and say the rhyme to their parents.

Make puppets with different expressions (happy, sad, angry, scared, surprised, and so forth). Let children use the puppets to describe when they feel that way.

People Puppets
Have children glue photos of famous historical figures or heroes. Encourage them to use the puppet to talk about why they admire that person.

Animal Puppets
Let children make puppets about animals you are studying about in science. Use puppets to describe animal characteristics.

Thursday, February 17, 2022


I realize I'm a dinosaur and I don't know much about what's going on with social media.  However, I have felt your stress, frustration, and unhappiness this school year.  It breaks my heart when I read about your schedules, assessments, and expectations. I know it tears you apart when you want to do what's RIGHT for your children and your hands are tied. But, DON'T GIVE UP!!! I think the pendulum is about to swing because there is finally DATA to support what you and I have always believed is BEST for young children.

Please read this article and then pass it on to every administrator, parent, educational decision maker, politician, and everyone else you can think of!!!!

For years I have been saying, WHAT ARE WE DOING? WHAT'S THE POINT? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WHOLE CHILD? Children have one chance in a lifetime to hold hands, sing, dance, paint, make believe, play outside, explore, and have FUN!!! They will have a lifetime to sit in front of a computer, take tests, and be judged!



If you cover every objective in the curriculum, but don’t have time to play outside or take field trips—
What’s the point of Pre-K and K?

If you do every page in the workbook, but don’t have time to laugh, do show and tell, or sing a song—
What’s the point of Pre-K and K?

If you know all your letters and sounds and numbers and sight words, but don’t know how to be a friend or share—
What’s the point of Pre-K and K?

If you score high on the standardized test, but don’t like school and don't feel good about yourself—
What’s the point of Pre-K and K?

If you master every skill and have 2 hours of screen time, but don’t have time to play in the block center or housekeeping or do puzzles or do a finger play -
What’s the point of Pre-K and K?

If teachers are so overwhelmed by the demands, expectations, and assessments they are given that they don’t have time to hug, smile, read, cheer, cherish, and look in the eyes of those wonderful little children in their classroom---
Then what’s the point of being a Pre-K or Kindergarten teacher?

BALANCE is a key to a happy life. We don't have to throw out technology and skills, but we do need to remember what's best for little children and balance academics with play. Slow down and smell the roses!!!


Music can be the “dessert” in your curriculum. Try using some of these familiar tunes to practice reading sight words.

Singing the Word Wall
Sing the word wall from a to z with the tune of “Gilligan’s Island.”

Sight Word Cadence
Children echo each line as you sing four word wall words at a time.
There are some words you need...
If you want to learn to read...
A All And Are
Be Book Boy By…etc.

Two Letter Words
Sing two letter words to “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
If you want to spell he, say “h” “e.”
If you want to spell he, say “h” “e.”
It’s easy as can be when you sing and spell with me.
If you want to spell he, say “h” “e.”

Three Letter Words
Sing three letter words to “Where Is Thumbkin?”
What spells the? What spells the?
T – h – e (T – h – e)
T-h-e spells the. (T–h–e spells the.)
T – h – e. (T – h – e)
*Sing three letter words to “Three Blind Mice.”

*THE Poem: You can say the, or you can say thee,
but you always have to spell it T- h - e!

Four Letter Words
Learn to spell four 4 letter words with “Happy Birthday.”
T – h – a – t spells that. T – h – a – t spells that.
T – h – a – t spells that. T – h – a – t spells that.
*Sing four letter words to “My Darlin’ Clementine” or “YMCA.”

Five Letter Words
Five letter words can be sung to “BINGO.”
There is a word that you should know and green is the word-o.
G – r – e – e – n. G – r – e – e – n. G – r – e – e – n.
And green is the word-o.
*Sing five letter words to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Six Letter Words
The tune of “Ten Little Indians” can be used to spell six letter words.
That spells school.
*The theme song from “The Mickey Mouse Club” can also be used for six letter words.

Seven or Eight Letter Words
*Fit the letters in longer words to “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” and “Coming Round the Mountain.”

Chiming Words
Use a xylophone for this activity. Strike keys on letters and the blend.

Here's a link to the video I did a few years ago on sight words:


Wednesday, February 16, 2022


Sight words here, 

Sight words there,

Online or in person,

Sight words are everywhere!

In today's blog you'll find some whole body strategies to help your students learn sight words. Remember, the more senses you activate, the more likely the message will get to the brain.

Note!  These strategies could also be used for spelling words and vocabulary.

Sign Language
Sign language is a wonderful kinesthetic way to “store” words in the brain. Sign language provides a “hook” or connection for children. After teaching children the manual signs for letters, you can finger spell words. You can also go to and click on the “dictionary” to learn signs for the words on the word wall. Practice saying words, reading words, and signing words at the same time. If children can’t recall a word, make the sign and you’ll be surprised what happens!

Say, Spell, Write, Read
Here’s a little formula to help children remember words.
1st Say the word.
2nd Orally spell the word.
3rd Write the word. (You could do this in the air or on your palm.)
4th Read over the word.

We Like to Move It
Stand and make motions as you read high frequency words. You can disco, hula, pony, monkey, jump, hop, march, clap, snap, swim and so forth.

Patty Cake
Let children patty cake high frequency words with a partner. Children face each other and say the word as they clap their hands. They cross and tap right hands and then left hands as they say each letter in the word. Then they put hands in the air and do “high five” as they say the word.

Sports Spell
Pretend to be athletes and spell words for different sports.

Basketball – Dribble the ball on letters and shoot the ball on the word.

Football – Hike the ball on letters and throw a pass as you say the word.

Soccer – Small kicks alternating feet for letters and a big kick for the word.

Swim – Say letters as you stroke and pretend to dive as you say the word.

Let children suggest motions for baseball, golf, volleyball, tennis, kayaking, and so forth.

Cheering Words

Children stand and step from side as they clap and cheer words:
Give me a B. B! I’ve got a B, you’ve got a B.
Give me an E. E! I’ve got an E, you’ve got an E.
Give me a D. D! I’ve got a D, you’ve got a D.
What’s it spell? BED! Say it again. BED!
One more time. BED!


Choral Reading
Read over the word wall in different voices. Say the words loud, soft, underwater, rock and roll, with an attitude, prissy, spooky, etc.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022


Exercise those bodies and those brains with these counting games.

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. 

*You can also karate chop spelling words and word wall words. Chop with right hand as you say a letter and then chop with the left hand as you say a letter. Hands folded together and bow as you say the word.

Pump Up to 100
Pretend to hold weights as you count.
1-20 - bicep curls (Elbows in, pretend to hold weights in fists with palms up as you bring forearms up and down.)
21-40 - for overhead press (Fists face forwards as you start at your shoulders and push the weights overhead.)
41-60 – side raises (Elbows at 90% angles as you raise them out to the side.)
61-80 – upright rows (Fists together close to the body and raise elbows out and up until fists are at your heart.)
81-100 – frontal raises - (Fists together and arms stiff as you raise them in front of your body to eye level.)
Whew! (Wipe brow!!!)

*Let children get an imaginary jump rope and jump as they count to 100.

Silly Voice Counting
Have children count using different voices. For example: robot, opera, pirate, monster, teacher, cowboy, monkey, surprised, worried, silly, excited, happy, sad, mad, confused, whisper, sleepy, and scared.

*Add holiday or seasonal voices like a scarecrow (reads words in a scary voice), ghost (students say “boo” after each word), witch (read with a cackle while stirring a pot), Rudolph (students flash their hands like blinking lights as they read the word), Frosty (students shiver as they read the words) or Santa (students must say the words three times in a “ho,ho,ho” style), or the Easter bunny (students hop after saying each word).

*Count each "ten" with a different voice.

Draw the face of a worm (Numbo) on a circle or paper plate. Cut 10-15 circles out of construction paper and number 1-10 or 1-25. Pass the circles out to the children. Place Numbo’s head on the floor and ask the children to help him grow. The child with “1” puts her circle down, followed by “2,” “3,” etc. Ask questions, such as: “What number comes between 7 and 9? What comes before 13? What is 2 more than 4?

Tens and Ones(Ginger McCormick)
(Cadence – Children repeat each line.)
I don’t know but I’ve been told. (Repeat)
Tens are tall and ones are small.
First you count up all the tens.
Then add the ones to the end.

*Pick students to be tens and stand tall. Pick students to be ones and sit criss-cross in front of the tens. Count the tall students by tens. Count the students sitting on the floor by one.

Counting by Two’s (Melanie Hope)
Have students identify body parts what come in sets of two. Stand and county by 2’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!

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.”

Shoelace Counting

Write numerals 1-20 on a cotton shoelace with a fabric marker. Slide a bead on the shoelace and move it up and down as you count.
*What’s one more than___? Two less than___?