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Tuesday, May 24, 2022


What better place to do REAL writing about REAL experiences than out on the playground!

Cut 5" off the top of lunch bags. Give children scrap paper and markers to decorate like a camera. (Oops! Some of them might not know about cameras any more so you might need to explain that to them!!) Punch holes and tie on string so the camera can be worn around the neck. Cut 4 1/2" squares and place inside the camera. Take children on an nature walk and invite them to take "photos" of things they see. When you return to the classroom ask them to draw their favorite thing on the paper in their camera. Next, ask them to write or dictate a sentence about their "photo."

*Note! Tie this into science themes by having them take "photos" of signs of summer, animal homes, living objects, and so forth.


Opinion - What I Like to Do Outside

Make blank books by folding two sheets of paper in half and stapling the side. Give children the books, something to write on, and inspire them by sitting under a tree on the playground. 

Descriptive – My Senses
Prepare a worksheet with the following:

I see _______. 
I hear _______. 
I smell _______. 
I touch ______. 

Give children a clipboard and encourage them to explore the playground as they fill in the blanks (write or draw pictures). Let children share their findings with classmates and then put their pages together to make a class book.

Narrative - Cartoon

Prepare cartoon frames for children with 3 or 4 sections. Have them use the cartoon frames to illustrate something they have done outside. Demonstrate how to add dialogue bubbles so the characters can talk.

I Wonder Research

Make “thinking pads” for children by cutting paper into fourths and stapling several sheets together. Explain that you will take a “wonder walk” on the school grounds. If they see something they’d like to know more about, they can draw a picture or write it on their thinking pads. Let children share what they recorded when you return to the classroom. Brainstorm how they can find out more about their topic. 
*Let them do “research” with their parents for homework.

Monday, May 23, 2022


The sun is shining so let’s take state standards out on the playground for some counting and cardinality.

Number Hunt

Take lunch sacks and write different numerals on them. Give each child a bag and ask them to make that set and put it in the bag. Let children share what they have found with their friends. Have children return the objects to where they found them.

*This can also be done with a partner or in small groups.

Hint! Whenever collecting things outside remind the children to only pick up items off the ground. You never want to pull leaves or flowers off plants because it might hurt them. 

Children can count trees, fence posts, balls, bushes, and many other items on the playground.
*Have children estimate how many and then verify their guess by counting. 

Exercise and Count
Have children count how many times they can jump rope. How many jumping jacks can they do? How many times can they bounce and catch a ball without dropping it?

Dot to Dot
Take chalk and write numerals 0-20 randomly on a hard play surface. Children start with zero and run, hop, march, or skip to each numeral in order. 

*Adapt the amount to the ability of your students. 

Fill a basket with rocks, pinecones, leaves, or other natural objects. Ask the children to estimate how many there are. Count the objects. Who guessed more? Who guessed less? Who was closest?

Collect 5 or 6 leaves, rocks, sticks or other natural objects. Place a leaf, then a rock, a leaf, then a rock. “What will come next?” Let children make up their own patterns with objects in nature.

Addition & Subtraction
Work out addition and subtraction problems with sticks, leaves, and other natural objects.

Draw basic geometric shapes (square, triangle, rectangle, oval, rhombus, circle) on 6” cardboard squares. Pass out the shapes and challenge the children can find something on the playground with a similar shape.

*Divide children into small groups and let them make shapes with their bodies on the grass.

Give children rulers to measure objects on the playground. “Can you find something 2” long? Can you find something smaller than an inch? What’s longer than 5”? How can you measure the slide?”

*Give children a popsicle stick or piece of string and ask them to find something longer, shorter, the same size, etc.

Position I Spy!
Children use positional words to play “I Spy” on the playground. For example: I spy something beside the slide. I spy something behind the tree. I spy something above the sidewalk. I spy something between the big tree and the fence…

Ask children to collect different items on the playground. (This will vary with the season and your habitat.) Put their objects together in a big pile. Ask the children to sort the objects. What was their sorting rule?

Collect sticks of different lengths and have the children put them in order from smallest to largest.
*They could also seriate leaves, rocks, etc.


Ask each child to find a leaf on the playground. Make a graph and have the children lay their leaf in the appropriate space. Compare quantities.

Sunday, May 22, 2022


Sometimes you just have to think outside the box to make standards more fun!

Reading Tree
Choose a poetry book, storybook, and non-fiction book to read outside under a shady tree. Can the children identify the books?

Reading Buddies
Divide children into pairs and let them each choose a favorite book. Go out on the playground, find a shady spot, and enjoy sharing their books with each other.
*Encourage them to ask each other questions about the books they read.

Alphabet Walk
Write letters on a paved surface with chalk. Challenge the children to step on the letters as they name them. Can they think of something that starts with each sound.

Word Hopscotch
Draw a hopscotch grid on a paved surface. Write high frequency words in each section. Children hop on the spaces as they read the words.

Talking Stick
Choose a stick on the playground and then have the children sit in a circle under a tree. Explain that you will start a story. As you pass the stick around, the child holding the stick can add to the story. Only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk. You might want to start a story about the day a space ship landed on the playground or the day animals started to talk.

Prepositions on the Move
Using playground equipment, call out various prepositions, such as on, off, over, under, by, between, to, from for the children to demonstrate.

We Can Do Opposites

Gather children around playground equipment and tell them you will call out a word. Can they demonstrate the opposite? For example, if the teacher said down, the children would climb up. If the teacher said front, the children would move to the back. Other words could be over, behind, inside, and so forth.

Verb Relays
Divide children into relay teams. The teacher names a verb and the children act out the meaning until everyone on their team has completed the movement. For example, you could have them walk, march, strut, prance, and so forth.
*It's a good way to integrate synonyms!

Saturday, May 21, 2022


Some of you have one or two more days of school, and some of you have a month to go. What ya' gonna do? Party every day!!!!

Sports Day – Enjoy the warm weather with a “Sports Day.” Children can wear t-shirts and hats from their favorite teams. Let them bring sports equipment to share with friends on the playground.

Beach Party – Bring beach towels and wear sunglasses, shorts, and bathing suits. Set up sprinklers or other water activities on the playground. Play beach ball games, beach music, and have a “cool” snack like popsicles.

Book Party – Encourage children to dress up like their favorite book character. Play “Guess Who I Am?” or have children describe why they like a particular character. Let them bring favorite reading material (books, magazines) from home and sit or lay wherever they want for independent reading

Talent Show - One of my favorite memories is of a Talent Show we had at the end of the school year. I just invited all the children to think of a “talent” (song, dance, story, gymnastic stunt) they could do. We sat in a circle and they all got up and performed! We clapped and laughed and cheered!

Pajama Party – Have children wear pajamas and bring pillows and stuffed animals to class. Read books, watch a movie, and eat popcorn.

Career Day – Children come dressed for the career they’d like when they grow up. After sharing with friends, have each child draw a picture (or take a photograph) and make a class book.

Luau – Make grass skirts from draw string garbage bags. Cut straws in 1” pieces and alternate stringing with paper flowers on dental floss to create a lei. Hula, surf, and eat pineapple fruit kabobs for snack.

Toy Day – Children bring a favorite toy from home and share with their friends.

Wash Day – Wear old clothes and bring sponges, pails, and squirt bottles. Let children wash tables, desks, toys, etc. (You could tie this in with a water play day.)

Teddy Bear Parade – Children bring in a teddy bear or stuffed animal and parade around the classroom. Have them write stories and draw pictures of what they like to do with their bear. Have a “tea party” with your bears.

Board Game Day – Let children bring board games from home. Set aside the last hour in the day to share games and play with friends.

Take a Vacation (Instead of "Time Out")
Carrie Tibetts shared this brilliant idea. First, children get to choose a "vacation location." This is any special place they like in the classroom. If a child needs a break they can "take a vacation" and go to their quiet spot.

Thursday, May 19, 2022


It made my heart happy to be back volunteering in the schools in Greenville this spring.  

Here is a picture from one school that is worth a thousand words.  (Do you think any parents pay attention to this????)

I'm always looking for new ideas and these are some of my favorite creations!

Parents and children painted sticks and then they arranged them on a canvas. 

The children glued crayons to a canvas and then heated them with a hot hair dryer.

Can't get enough positive words in a school!

What a beautiful way to make names and letters meaningful!

So true!

This was created with plastic water bottles and was hanging in the entrance hall.
I love all my new Greenville teacher friends!!!


Wednesday, May 18, 2022


Several weeks ago when I visited a school in Greenville I saw this garden and it captured my interest. The principal explained that her son had died and the children and staff painted rocks and created this beautiful memory garden for her.

I was so intrigued by the project that I did a little more research and found this fabulous website:

Click here to visit Kids Gardening

Just think how you could adapt this to an end of year project. The children could paint rocks with their names, kind words, a welcome message, etc. You could even make a letter garden where children choose a letter, sight word, or other skill and paint a rock. 

Hint!  Rocks can also be a bridge to talking about diversity.  Go on a rock hunt and let each child find a rock.  Have the children sit in a circle and take turns describing their rocks and passing them around for other to hold.  How their rocks alike? How are they different?  How are people alike?  How are they different?  Wouldn't it be a boring world if all the rocks and people looked exactly the same?

Here's some background information from

The American Journal of Public Health published a literature review on The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health examining the health benefits of visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing. The Children and Nature Network’s Research Library is full of studies looking at the social and emotional benefits of spending time in nature. What if you combine the two by engaging in creative activities that encourage self-expression in a natural setting?

In an ideal youth garden setting, kids would have the opportunity to help design the garden and select the plants and special features included. However, when there are a large number of kids utilizing a garden (such as at a school or public space), this level of involvement can be challenging due to cost and available space. Educators can turn to simpler crafts using inexpensive or repurposed materials as an alternative for allowing students to help decorate the garden space and make it their own. This lesson lays out ideas for using painted rocks in your garden to allow young gardeners to express themselves, to communicate with each other, and to contribute to the garden in a personal way.

Note!  They stressed the importance of working together to create guidelines so it's a positive experience for everyone.  

*Acrylic paints/pens and sealant were recommended.

Branching Out
Use KidsGardening’s Growing Poems lesson to encourage more ways of using the garden as inspiration for self-expression.

Check out the Kindness in the Garden lesson for more ideas for incorporating kind acts in garden spaces. Additional ideas can be found through the Compassion Flower Project developed in partnership with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022


The best things in life are free -

like these stories, books, and language activities.

Here's a link to download all of the the activity cards for May 13 through May 17:

Use these prompts to encourage talking, reading, and writing with your child.

Lunch Sack Book

Baggie Book

Gift Bag Book

Box Top Book

Letters of Love

Good Book

I Can Read!

Writer’s Briefcase

Story Tapes

Bedtime Ritual


Monday, May 16, 2022



Download all the activity cards for most recent blog posts here:

Click to download Activity Cards

You'll be amazed by these experiments you can do with simple materials around your home.

Pepper Scatter

Shiny Pennies

Happy Face Balloon

Magnetic Mouse

What’s Up?

Funnel Phone

Growing, Growing

Feely Socks


Sunday, May 15, 2022


People don't stop playing because they grow old -

They grow old because they stop playing!
Stay YOUNG as you play one of these games with your children!


Here's a link to download all of the the activity cards for May 13 through May 16:

Check out these games for indoor and outdoor fun.

Play Ball

Juggling and Balance Beam

Follow the Leader and Mirror

Jump the Creek


Step School

Going on a Trip


Tower Topple



Saturday, May 14, 2022


If they make it - they will eat it!

Let children choose which recipe they'd like to try and then make it with you. Encourage them to plan a shopping list, read the directions, and clean up.

Here's a link to download all of the the activity cards for May 13 through May 16:

Click to download Activity Cards

Here are the recipes you'll find for KIDS IN THE KITCHEN!

Trail Mix

Monkey Tail Sandwich

Letter Bread

Spider Sandwich

Zoo Train

Ants Go Marching

Carrot Hot Rods

Two Babies in the Bed

Fire Cracker Sandwich

Peanut Butter Play Dough

Polka Dot Pizza

Stir Fried O’s


Friday, May 13, 2022


We are so busy trying to give children things we didn’t have ~
that we are failing to give them what we did have!!!

Isn’t that a profound quote? We are in such a hurry to push children and academics that we often fail to remember that they are just little children. Summer is a good time to PAUSE and reflect on your own childhood. What special memories do you have and how can you pass them on to your children?

I’m excited about sharing these activity cards with ideas I’ve collected over the past six decades as a child, teacher, parent. You will find games, songs, crafts, recipes, and activities to build lasting memories in young children. UNPLUG the electronics and PLUG into good old-fashioned FUN! And, the amazing thing is you will actually be nurturing children’s brains with these multi-sensory activities. You will be engaging the WHOLE child as you develop oral language, social skills, large and small motor skills, and emotional well-being.

Please share these with your families, friends, relatives - EVERYONE!  You can use these ideas in summer school, Bible school, camp, a family trip, home school…go for it! 

Here's a like to download all the activity cards:
Click to download activity cards

Special thanks to Carolyn Kisloski (Holding Hands and Sticking Together – for her magic touch with the graphics and design!

The link goes to the first set of cards called LET'S MAKE SOMETHING!
You'll find some simple craft projects and homemade toys that children can enjoy making and playing.

1. Wonder Watchers

2. Hummers

3. Paper Plate Party

4. Magic Wand

5. Cardboard Rollers

6. Magazine Puppets

7. Box Top Puzzles

8. Sewing Cards

9. Sweet Baby

10. Sock Puppets

11. Flannel Board

12. Art Easel

13. Play Dough

14. Play on with Dough

15. Goop

16. Flubber

17. Giant Bubbles

18. Mud Pies

19. Shaving Cream Painting

20. Silly Putty

Thursday, May 12, 2022


Need a few incentives and rewards to keep those kids motivated the last few weeks of school?Rather than stickers or treats, here are reward sticks that you can use to reinforce a special accomplishment or good behavior.

Choose activities that you think would work best for your students from the list below. Write these on jumbo craft sticks with a Sharpie. Place them in a cup and pretend like children are “winning” something when they choose a stick.

Choose a song and lead the class.

Eat lunch with your teacher or a special friend.

Be excused from a homework assignment.

Choose an indoor game to play.

Select the book for story time.

Sit by a favorite person all day.

15 minutes of free time.

Help the teacher do a special job.

Decorate the bulletin board or door.

Sit at the teacher’s desk.

Take off your shoes.

Listen to an IPod or headset while you work.

Take a class game or book home for the night.

Chew sugar free gum.

Be first in line for lunch

Use the teacher’s stamps, pens, or markers.

Choose a board game and play it with a friend.

Hand out supplies.

Be leader of a class game.

Be excused from a written assignment.

Play games on the computer for 10 minutes.

Visit another class in the school.

Work with a friend.

Be a helper in the office, lunchroom, or in another classroom.

Read a story to the principal or another class.

Have the teacher call your parents to tell them what a great kid you are!

Take a note to the principal about what a great kid you are.

Make something at the art center.

Have your work displayed in the hall or on the classroom door.

One special wish!

Note! Let your students suggest activities that they would like for rewards.

Gift Cards
Cut cardboard into 2" x 3 1/2" rectangles and write the non-tangible rewards on these. Let children choose a "gift card" from a bag.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022


Everybody likes to be appreciated - even Dr. Jean. When I do free Zoom visits or school concerts, it means so much to get a little "thank you."

Here are some simple ideas you can use to thank parent volunteers and school helpers at the end of the year.

Sing and Sign Thanks
Teach children this song to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” Use a sign language dictionary to learn appropriate signs.
Thank you
(Repeat twice)
We say thank you
For helping.
We say thank you to you!

Elvis Thank You
Get out your microphone. (Hold a fist by your mouth.)
Wiggle your hips.
(Pretend to twirl your microphone around.)
Thank you! Thank you very much!

Pictures and Letters
Integrate writing by having the children make thank you cards with various art media. 

"Thumb" Body Thanks You!

Gift Certificates
Here are some certificates that Carolyn Kisloski created.

You can download 6 free ones in the preview or order the whole set.

Want more ideas?
Kudos Bar – “Kudos to you!”
Snickers – “Nuts about you!”
100 Grand – “A million thanks for all you did!”
M & M’s – “You’re marvelous and magnificent.”
Mint – “You ‘mint’ the world to us.”
Hershey’s Kisses – and Hugs, too!
Lifesavers – “You were a lifesaver this year!”
Apple – You’re the “apple” of our eyes.
Ice Cream Cone Coupon – You’re the best scoop! Thanks!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


Several years ago Michelle Page shared this idea with me. Talk about ending the year with a special memory!

Note! It could be called Camp Pre-K, Camp First Grade, Camp name of school, Camp teacher's name, whatever!!

Camp Kindergarten (Michelle Page)
We do camp kindergarten the last two weeks in the school year. Every morning we meet at the flagpole for the pledge and camp songs.

*“Baby Fish,” “The Ants Go Marching,” “Banana Dance,” “Peanut Butter,” and "Tooty Ta" are a few songs we sing.

The parents write letters for “mail call” and the children write back.

We take an ABC nature walk and try to find objects for each letter in the alphabet.

We make s’mores and trail mix for snack.

The children bring blankets, towels, and sleeping bags. They get to take off their shoes to read, do work, listen to a story.

We go fishing for words (plastic pool and words with magnets).

We go on a bear hunt and then draw pictures of our adventure.

To tie in science we study about bugs and worms.

What an amazing way to celebrate and end the school year!

Look at our camp t-shirts with the kids’ names on the back.


Monday, May 9, 2022


Here's a sample letter you might want to send home to parents along with these summer activities.

Dear ______, 

Lucky me to spend this amazing year with your child!
(Child’s name) has worked hard and has grown in many ways. 
One of my favorite memories is (something unique about the child).

I appreciate all the support and encouragement you have given 
(child’s name) at home. Behind every great student is a great family!

Saying good-bye is bittersweet. “Bitter” because I will miss (child’s name),
but sweet because I am so proud to have been a part of his/her life! 
Please keep in touch because I know the future holds many wonderful things 
for your child and your family!

Remember to read and laugh every day this summer!

(Teacher’s name)

Have children bring in a plastic or cardboard can from icing, potato chips, or drink
mix. (Avoid tin cans because the edges can be sharp.) Run off summer activities
so they can be cut in strips and placed in the can. Let children cover their cans
with paper and decorate with drawings, stickers, or collage materials. Put the
strips of summer fun in the can. Send the can home with a note encouraging the
parents to let their child select a strip each day and do the activity. 

Hint! Use a plastic sand bucket or seasonal cup for this project.

You can also send home a summer calendar children will enjoy doing with their parents.

Here's a link where you can download the summer activities and calendar.