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Thursday, March 31, 2022




Take a look at these ideas from "the teacher next door"!

Hallway Hug (Jodi Spakes)
When children see friends in the hall teach them to do the hallway hug.
You (Hold up index finger.)
Me (Hold up middle finger.)
Hello (Cross middle and index finger and wiggle.)


Air Hug (Mary Katherine Ellis)
Open your arms as if giving a huge hug in the air.
*This is good for when students see a friend in the hall.
*This is also good when someone comes in or leaves the classroom and the kids want to jump up and give them a hug.

Problem Resolution (Carrie Thouvenot)
After students resolve a problem they can follow this routine:
1st - Fist bump
2nd - Hand shake
3rd - High five
4th - Hug
5th - Walk away happy!

Mirror Talk
If children talk ugly to a friend, then tell them to go talk like that in the mirror and see how it feels.

You Know What to Do
Several years ago I heard an interview on NPR with the Teacher of the Year. She said, “When a child is misbehaving, I stand next to her and quietly say, ‘You know what to do.’” 
* Physical proximity – just getting close – can be a powerful tool.

A friend who teaches 3rd grade said, “I’ll stand next to the child who is misbehaving and say, ‘Am I going to have to kiss you or what?’” Instead of escalating the problem they end up laughing. Just a reminder that humor can be magic.

Hall Chant (Theresa Malone)
My hands are hanging by my side
I’m standing straight and tall.
My eyes are looking straight ahead.
I’m ready for the hall.

Roll Call (Renee Nicolo)
Call the roll in different languages. “Buenas dias.” “Guten morgen.” “Bonjour.” “Gua-cha.”

Testing: Do Not Disturb
One teacher told me she made a sign that said “Testing! Do Not Disturb” and
put it on her door when she didn’t want any visitors to see how much fun her class was having. Another teacher told me she wrote: “Disturbed! Do Not Test!” and put it on her door!


Wednesday, March 30, 2022


Want to know a secret? Even Dr. Jean runs out of new ideas every now and then. Fortunately, I've been collecting ideas from teachers for over ten years and sharing them on my blog. Look at these cool activities I found from ten years ago.

Morning Dance (Genevieve Shafer)
This call and response reminds students to have a positive attitude and that they are all special.
Note! The teacher models each line and then the children repeat the words and movements.

I am ready for school. (wiggle shoulders)
I will have a good day. (twist)
I am confident and will do my best. (stand tall)
I am special and so are you. (point to friends)
We’re all amazing! (spin with arms up)
Thank you God for making me. (pray hands)
I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be! (say loud and proud while jumping with arms in the air)


Classroom Mirror (Andrea Neal)
Children love using mirrors in the classroom. Cover a mirror and ask students to look under it to see your favorite kid.

Peace Corner (Jillian Teder)
Set up a "peace corner" in your classroom where children can go to self-regulate and regain self control before returning to the group when they are overwhelmed or frustrated.

Drawing a Person

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Out Words
Make a chart with “Time Out Words.” Those are words that don’t obey rules like “are, the, one, etc.”

*I've also heard these referred to as "Outlaw Words" because they don't obey the laws.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022


I do have a great story for you today, but first, let's get ready with a chant.

If You Want to Hear a Story
If you want to hear a story, (Begin snapping your fingers to the beat.)
This is what you do
You’ve got to sit down on the floor
And I'll tell one to you.
You’ve got to listen to your teacher.
Raise your hand.
You’ve got to let her know
That you understand.
That’s right! (Snap and then point to children who are sitting quietly.)
That’s right!
That’s right!
That’s right!

Here’s another trick I would use to prompt children for story time. They loved “turn the page, turn the page.”

Open Your Book
Take out your book. (Both palms together.)
Open it up. (Open up palms.)
I have a story to read you-
Turn the page, turn the page. (Pretend to turn a page in the book.)
I know you’ll like it, I do-
Turn the page, turn the page. (Pretend to turn the page.)
We’ll fly to storybook land-
Turn the page, turn the page. (Pretend to turn the page.)
I’ll share the magic with you.
Close up your book and put it away. (Pretend to close the book and
put your hands in your lap.

Everybody Do This
(Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread”)
Everybody do this, do this, do this. (Clap or snap to the beat.)
Everybody do this just like me.

Touch your shoulders, touch your shoulders, (Touch shoulders.)
Touch your shoulders just like me.

Tap your fingers…
Nod your head… (Continue calling other movements for children to imitate until everyone settles down.)

Put your hands in your lap. (Lower your voice as you model putting
You’re ready for a story just like me. your hands in your lap.)


Once there was a very creative and resourceful teacher. There was a huge thunderstorm one night and when she got to school the next morning the whole classroom was flooded. The only thing left were newspapers on the top shelf. So, the teacher gave each child a newspaper and they looked for words they could read and talked about the pictures. After a while she realized the children needed some exercise, so they turned the newspapers into rain hats so they could go outside.
(Fold the paper in half. Open. Fold one top corner to the middle crease. Fold the other top corner to the middle crease. Fold up the top bottom edge. Turn over and fold up the other bottom edge.)

The children had fun wearing their rain hats, but then they heard a “RRRRRR” sound coming down the road. It was a fire truck, and the teacher showed the children how to turn their rain hats into fire helmets.
(Put your thumbs in the corner of the hat and bring them together. Flatten. Fold up one bottom point.)

The children even used their fire helmets like scoops to help put out the fire.


All the water reminded the teacher of boats and pirates, so they turned their fire helmets into pirate hats.
(Bring the other bottom point up to the top.)

Now, all pirates need boats, so they turned their pirate hats into boats.
(Grab the top two points and gently pull out to make your boat.)

They went floating down the stream and ran into a rock and the front of their boat came off.
(Tear a little off the front of the boat.)

They went floating down the stream and they ran into a tree and the back of their boat came off.
(Tear off a little from the back of the boat.)

They went floating down the stream and they went under a bridge and the top of their boat came off. 

(Tear a little off the top.)

Anybody else would have been a nervous wreck, but that teacher knew the children all had life preservers, so they put them on and swam safely back to school.
(Open and hold up as shown.)

And when they got back to school they drew pictures and wrote stories about all of their adventures!

P.S.  I demonstrate this story in a video I did several years ago.

Monday, March 28, 2022



Ralph the Rag
You know, I really miss being in the classroom. O.K., I don’t miss everything, but I sure miss having fun with the kids. They were my best audience and I loved coming up with tricks to capture their interest. One of my favorites was Ralph the Rag. I took an old towel and knotted it at the top and used it like a puppet to focus the children’s attention. I would let Ralph sit on my hand and say:

This is my buddy Ralph the Rag. Let’s see if you can do everything that Ralph does. (I’d lean Ralph one way and wait for them to follow. Then I’d lean Ralph the other way. I’d shake his head, move him backwards, etc. Then I’d have Ralph stand up. The children would follow along as I made him turn around, jump, and so forth. I always ended by having Ralph sit quietly back in my hand.)

If the children didn’t follow along with Ralph or if they kept talking I’d pretend to cry and be Ralph. “The boys and girls aren’t listening to me so I’m just going to go away.” They’d say, “No, Ralph. We’ll be quiet and listen to you. Don’t go away.”  

It was fun and it worked - for a week or so.

Quiet Family
Another trick I used was the Quiet Family. I placed some little toy figures in a lunchbox and said “I have some little friends that would like to visit our class. However, the friends have teeny tiny ears so you’ll have to use teeny tiny voices today.” The class would agree to this and I would open the lunch box and take out the friends. If someone got too loud I could count on another classmate to say, “Shhh! Remember our friends and their little ears!”


Whisper Day 
Make a “whisper only” sign for your door.  Explain that you will only use a whisper voice all day long.  Talk, read, sing, and do all activities with a soft voice.

Turn off the Lights
Something as simple as turning off the lights can reduce stress and energy.  You could also play some quiet music as children enter the classroom.

Give Your Mouth a Vacation 
Challenge children to “give their mouths a vacation” and practice breathing through their noses.  Demonstrate how to slowly breath in on a count of 8 and then breath out on a count of 8.  Remind them  breathing slowly in and out can help them if they are angry.

You’ve just got to create your own happiness and fun every day! I’d love to hear some of your stories.

Sunday, March 27, 2022



Do you remember how happy a new box of crayons made you when you were a child? There was always a lot of “hope” in those sharp, new crayons. Since March 31 is Crayon Day, I'm going to share simple activities you can do with crayons today and tomorrow. The good thing about crayons is they are plentiful, not messy, and very open-ended. You can integrate crayon activities with reading, math, science, social studies or almost any skill in your curriculum.

A Coloring We’ll Go
(Tune: “A Hunting We Will Go”)
A coloring we’ll go.
A coloring we’ll go.
Hi ho, it’s fun you know,
A coloring we’ll go.

Use straight and curvy lines.
Use straight and curvy lines.
With yellow, purple, green, and orange,
We’ll make our picture fine. (Chorus)

The details we will draw.
The details we will draw.
Imagine all the little things.
The details we will draw. (Chorus)

We’ll fill in the page.
We’ll fill in the page.
Use as many colors
As you are in age.

A coloring we’ll go.
A coloring we’ll go.
We’ll put them in the box and close the top
When we’re through, you know.

Check out this new video my webmaster made to go with the song.

Alphabet Art

Materials: crayons, paper

Directions: Draw a large letter in the middle of the paper. Turn the paper all around. What object, animal, person, or place does it look like? Use crayons to "camouflage” the letter to make it look like something.

Adaptations: Challenge children to create an object out of the letter that begins with that sound.

Complete the Picture

Materials: crayons, paper, glue, old magazines

Directions: Cut out pictures of large objects from magazines. Next, cut the objects in half. Glue one of the halves to one side of a sheet of paper. Now, complete the picture by coloring the missing half with crayons.

Hand Dancing

Materials: crayons, paper, music

Directions: Hold a crayon in each hand. Put on some music, and let the crayons "dance” on the paper. 

Little to Large

Materials: crayons, paper

Directions: Make a very small shape or object in the center of the paper. Take a different color of crayon and go around it, making it a little larger. Continue using different colors of crayons and making the object a little larger until it completely fills the page.

Adaptations: Use seasonal objects, such as hearts, kites, leaves, etc.

Negative Space

Materials: crayons, scissors, paper

Directions: Have children cut a hole out of the middle of a sheet of paper. Can they draw a picture incorporating the hole ("negative” space)?


Use crayons to draw a picture of their favorite part of a story.

Trace around geometric shapes with crayons and turn them into objects.

Use crayons to illustrate what they've learned from a science unit.

Draw a picture of "How to be a friend" or "The best thing about me."
P.S. You'll definitely want to check out this new blog by Hannah Severson. It's a blog with resources she's gathered over the years to share with families and educators. Amazing ideas!!!

Blog - Creative PreK Minds

Home | Learning By Play

Saturday, March 26, 2022


Tell the lifecycle of the butterfly with a stick, a bean, and pasta. First, take children on a nature walk and ask them to find a stick that is as long as their arm from their wrist to their elbow. Glue the bean to the left of the stick for the egg. Next comes a spiral pasta for the caterpillar. Then a shell pasta for the chrysalis. Finally, a bow shaped pasta for the butterfly. 

Informative Writing
Let children write factual stories about the life cycle of a butterfly.

*How about a step book or flip book for this activity?

Creative Dramatics
Let children act out the life cycle of a butterfly.

Check out fiction and non-fiction books about butterflies from the library.

What does symmetry mean? Butterfly wings are a good example of symmetry. Cut paper into butterfly shapes and challenge children to make them symmetrical.
*Check out some books on butterflies from the library. Can children decorate their pattern to look like one in the book?

Butterfly Bites
Children will enjoy assembling and eating this butterfly. You will need celery cut in 4" pieces, cream cheese, and pretzel twists. First, spread cream cheese in the hollow part of the celery. Insert two pretzels on either side for wings.

Friday, March 25, 2022


It's spring and that means I need to share a few butterfly things!

Butterfly Handshake 

Extend your right thumb and hook it with your partner’s right thumb. Stick out your fingers and then flutter them around like a butterfly.

Caterpillar Finger Play
A caterpillar crawled to the top of a tree. (Hold up right arm and wiggle left index finger up like a caterpillar.)
I think I’ll take a nap said he. (Wiggle left index finger.)
Under a leaf he began to creep, (Wiggle left index finger under right palm.)
He spun a chrysalis and went to sleep. (Make fist with right hand around left index finger.)
Spring came along, shook him and said,
"Wake up, wake up, you sleepy head.” (Shake right fist.)
Out of the leaf he spread his wings to fly, (Hook right and left thumbs together. Spread out fingers like wings.)
“Look at me! Look at me! I’m a butterfly!” (Fly fingers around.)

Here's a video my webmaster created to go with my song "The Butterfly"

Hint! Butterflies hatch from a chrysalis, a life stage made of a hardened protein. A cocoon is spun from silk and surrounds the pupa of many moths.

Baggie Butterfly
Make a butterfly by tearing up little pieces of colored tissue paper and putting them in a zip lunch bag. Gather up in the middle and twist on a pipe cleaner to make the body and antennae. Attach a string for flying.


Smoosh Painting
Cut butterfly shapes out of newsprint. Fold in half. Children drop paint with a spoon or eye dropper on one half. Fold and rub. Open to view a beautiful butterfly.

Butterfly Puppet
Materials: old sock, markers, coffee filter, food coloring, eye dropper, pipe cleaner, safety pin

Directions: Several days before doing this activity ask children to bring in an old sock from home. First, let them decorate the outside of the sock to look like a caterpillar. They can use markers, pompoms, etc.

Next, prepare a butterfly using a coffee filter. Children fold the coffee filter into eighths. Using an eye dropper, have them drop colored water onto the coffee filter. Open and dry. Scrunch up in the middle and fasten on a pipe cleaner for the body and antenna.

Turn the sock inside out and pin the butterfly inside. Children can begin the story about the butterfly by inserting their hand into the sock. For the "chrysalis," have them begin turning the sock inside out. As the butterfly emerges, the children stick their hand in the sock to reveal the butterfly.

Thursday, March 24, 2022


The world is turning GREEN this time of year. Here are some ways to celebrate the color with a poem, reading, math, science, and art.

Green by Dr. Holly
Green grass,
Green trees,
Green pickles,
Green peas.

Green grows
And green makes
Green lizards,
Green snakes.

Green leaves
Pop out in the spring;
Green is such
A lovely thing!

Remember (Listening Skills and Model Writing)
Read the poem to the children one time. Ask them to recall the different objects in the poem that are green. Write their responses on the board. Read the poem a second time and see how many more objects they can remember. Read over the list together.

Color Recognition (Visual Skills)
Sing this song to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”
Do you see the color green, the color green, the color green?
Do you see the color green somewhere in the room?
Each child gets up and touches an object that is green. (Adapt the song for other colors, beginning sounds, etc.)

Hint! Cover a cardboard roller from a pants hanger with green paper to make a green pointer!


If I Were Green (Oral Language)
Have children close their eyes and pretend they are green. What are they? Write this sentence at the top of a sheet of paper and run off a copy for each child. “If I were green I would be ________.” (Younger children can dictate their responses, while older children complete their own sentences.) Put their papers together to make a class book.


“Eye” Can Graph (Math Comparisons)
Pass a small mirror around the classroom. (You might be surprised, but some children really don't know their eye color.)  Encourage each child to look at their eyes and describe what color they are. Make a bar graph by cutting out eyes from construction paper. Let each child color in a section by the color of their eyes. What color do the most people have? What color do the least number have? Have children go home and look at their parents’ eyes. Are they the same color as their eyes?

Natural Green (Science Investigation)
Ask the children to think about all of the things in nature that are green. Write their list on the board as they call out objects. “Are all of these the same shade of green?” Take the class on a nature walk and have each child collect one “specimen” that is green. Bring their objects back in the classroom and compare. Are they all the same? Have children describe their differences. Can they sort the objects? Did they collect plants or animals? What animals are green? What time of year do you see the most green?

Green Collage (Creativity)
Provide children with green paint, green crayons, green markers, and green paper. Invite children to create a “green collage” on a piece of cardboard or a paper plate.

Scratch and Sniff Green (Word Recognition)
Give each child a heavy piece of paper. Write the word “green” on their paper with school glue. (An adult will need to do this for younger children.) Let each child take a spoonful of lime jello and sprinkle it over the glue. (Model how to shake it around and then dump off the excess.) After it dries, children can “scratch and sniff” the word green.

*Older children could do vocabulary words that remind them of the color green.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


Learning to recognize and label plants, insects, and other objects they study about is a good way to integrate writing and science. With this song learning the parts of a flower will be much easier. Children will also be amazed about the parts of a flower that they eat!

Parts of a Flower (Tune: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”)
Flower (Hands around face.)
Stem (Point to neck.)
Leaves (Stick out arms.)
And roots (Touch feet.) –
Leaves and roots.
Flower, stem, leaves, and roots –
Leaves and roots.
All it takes is sun (Hands up in circle over head.)
And showers (Wiggle fingers down.)
And a seed (Hold out palm.)
Grows into a flower. (Spread fingers of right hand up through left fist.)

Flip Book
Make a flip book where children can label the parts of a flower. To make a flip book fold a sheet of paper into eighths. Open and fold in half. Cut down the three creased lines to the middle to make flips. Turn vertically as shown. Write “Flower," "Stem," "Leaves," "Roots” on the four sections from the top to the bottom. Open and draw the appropriate part of the plant under each label. Don’t forget to draw the seed!

Eating Plants
Discuss what parts of a plant you eat. What roots do you eat? What leaves? What stems? What flowers? What seeds?

*Divide a sheet of paper into fourths and label, “seeds,” “roots,” “stems,” “flowers.” Have children write or draw different foods they eat from each category.

Dirt Pie
Yeah, I know this isn't very healthy, but I'm sure somebody out there would like to do it at home or summer camp.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


Spring is in the air and it's time to do a little planting!

The Planting Song (Tune: “Farmer in the Dell”)
Let’s all plant some seeds, (Pretend to dig with a shovel.)
Let’s all plant some seeds.
Hi, ho, it’s spring you know,
Let’s all plant some seeds.

The rain begins to fall… (Have fingers fall like rain.)

The sun warms the earth… (Hands over head in a circle.)

The seeds begin to grow… (Make a fist with one hand and bring the other hand up through it.)

Growing, Growing!
What does a seed need to grow? Brainstorm with the children and write their responses on the board. Take five cups and draw the following as shown:

soil, water, sun, air
soil, water, air
soil, water, sun (Put in a jar so it doesn't get fresh air.)
soil, sun, air
sun, air, water

Plant several bean seeds in each cup. Encourage the children to predict what will happen. Observe. Evaluate predictions after several weeks.

Seed Hunt
Have children hunt for seeds in their kitchen at home. Bring these in and plant them in clear plastic cups filled with potting soil. Be sure to label. Water and watch.

Seedy Snack
Popcorn, sunflower seeds, pickles, and strawberries! What do they call have in common? They could all be part of a seedy snack. Let the children brainstorm all the things they eat that have seeds.

Planting Jelly Beans
Invite children to think of other things they would like to plant, such as jelly beans or pennies. Place a paper towel around the inside of a clear plastic cup and fill with soil. Plant the jelly beans and pennies between the cup and the soil so the children can observe what happens. Water and place in a sunny window.

Purchase carrot seeds, radishes, and other vegetable seeds that germinate quickly and plant. Water, set in a sunny window, and have the children record the plant growth.
*Transfer to your school garden or a container garden when the plants are several inches high.

Newspaper Tree
My kids always loved to watch me make this newspaper tree. Open three sheets of newspaper and lay on the floor as shown. Roll up and tape. Cut down several strips from the top about 8” long. Reach into the middle of the roll, grab the center, and slowly pull up. Tae daa!

Monday, March 21, 2022


I loved to jump rope as a child because I was always full of energy (and still am!).  I also enjoyed the challenge of teaching my students to jump rope. For some of the children it was easy, but other children really had to work at it. Being persistent and not giving up is a good thing to learn. Jumping rope also encourages social skills, motor skills, counting, and oral language. It’s good for the body and the brain!

Here are some chants we used to say, but you can adapt them if you don’t like the words. You could also use these on a rainy day. Just have the children get a pretend jump rope and jump along as you say the rhymes. What a perfect brain break for kids from pre-k through the primary grades.

*You can jump on two feet or alternate hopping on one foot at a time.

Bubble Gum
Bubble gum,
Bubble gum in a dish.
How many pieces
Do you wish?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5…(How high can you count?)

Bathing Beauty
Bathing Beauty
Thinks she’s a cutie
All she wears is bathing suities.
If you jump to 24, you will get an extra turn.
1, 2, 3…24

Cinderella dressed in yella.
Went upstairs to kiss her fella.
Made a mistake and kissed a snake.
How many doctors did it take?
1, 2, 3…8

Engine No. 9
Engine, engine number nine
Going down the railroad line.
If the train jumps off the track
You will get your money back.
How much money will you get?
1, 2, 3, …10

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, read the news.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, tie your shoes.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, go upstairs.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, sit down in your chair!

Blue Bells
Blue bells, cockle shells, eevie, ivy, over.
I like coffee. I like tea. I like you to jump with me.

Here's my "Jump Rope Rally" video so we can jump together!

Jump Rope Rhyme Book
It might be fun to give children copies of the rhymes and let them make a book of jump rope rhymes. They could illustrate these and use them for independent reading.

Sunday, March 20, 2022


Here's a "Spring Pencil Walk" that I hope your children will enjoy this week. Story symbols can help children develop top to bottom and left-to-right orientation. They’re also an engaging way to develop small motor skills. These stories should be told multiple times so children can practice the pre-writing strokes and feel more competent. You might want to do the same story every day for a week as you invite the children to recall what will come next.
*Make a tape of the story to put in a listening center.

Hint! Demonstrate these stories on the board or a large chart so children will be able to copy what you do on white boards or clip boards.

Let’s put a green dot at the top of the page to show us where to start. And let’s put a red dot down here at the bottom to show where our story will stop. Pick up your pencil and let’s use it to tell a story.

It’s a beautiful spring day, so let’s go for a walk.
The grass is growing nice and tall.
The sun is shining in the sky.
The clouds are rolling around.
The insects buzz up and down.
The little rabbits hop around.
The kites are flying in the air.
All of a sudden, the wind starts to blow.
The wind is blowing in every direction.
Better run home as fast as we can!
Home at last!

A Walk in the Zoo
Here's another story about a walk in the zoo. Can you guess what the different symbols represent?