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Thursday, June 30, 2022


Click to View PD #14 - Story Sticks

Good readers are active readers and they are always looking for information. These story sticks will prompt children to listen carefully so they can identify the story elements.

What? jumbo craft sticks, sock, markers

How? Write story elements (Who? What? Where? When? Why?) on sticks with a marker. Place the sticks in the sock and throw the sock over your shoulder before you begin to read. After reading the story, let different students choose a stick and tell that part of the story.

*Make another set of sticks that say “Title,” “Author,” “Illustrator,” “Problem,” “Solution.” 

*Write “Setting,” “Characters,” “Beginning,” “Middle,” “End” on sticks.

Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Sing this song to the tune of “Ten Little Indians” before reading a story so children will be looking for the information:
Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Ask questions when you read.

I've Got the Whole Story in My Hand
On the fingers of a cotton glove write: "Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" "Why?"
Sing this song to the tune of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."
I've got the whole story in my hand.
I've got the whole story in my hand.
I've got the whole story in my hand
And I can read.
I've got the "Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" "Why?"
I've got the "Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" "Why?"
I've got the "Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" "Why?"
And I can read.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022


You can have a "cup" of learning fun with a box of bathroom cups. These cups are not only quiet to play with, but they develop small motor skills and eye-hand coordination.


Letter Cups  

What? bathroom cups, permanent marker

Why? sight words, letters, phonics

When? small group, centers, independent

How? Write letters on the sides of the cups. Children can put these in alphabetical order or make words with the cups.
(I put the uppercase letter on one side and the lowercase letter on the side.)

*Trace around the bottom of a cup and write uppercase letters in the circles. Have children match cups with lowercase letters.

*Glue pictures to cups and use them to match beginning sounds, ending sounds, vowels, etc.

*Put letters together to make spelling words and word wall words. As a follow-up ask children to write the words.

*Write words on cups. Children can arrange them to make simple sentences.

*Write word families on cups. Children can read the words as they stack the rimes.

*Glue pictures of opposites or write synonyms on cups to make a matching game.

*Write compound words (one word on each cup) and have children stack them and say the word. Write the compound words as an extension activity.

Hint! Store the cups in an empty Pringle's can.

Math Cups

What? bathroom cups, permanent marker

Why? numbers, counting, math facts

When? small group, centers, independent

How? Write numbers with a permanent marker on the sides of the cups.

*Mix up the cups. Ask the children to put the cups in order.

*Trace around the bottom of one cup 20 times on a file folder as shown. Write the numerals in sequential order from top to bottom and left to right in the circles. Children take the cups and match them up to the appropriate circle on the file folder. Next, sweep the cups off and try to stack them up vertically from 1-20.

*Write addition and subtraction facts on the sides of the cups. Write the answer inside on a dot sticker. Children can solve the problem and then check by looking inside the cup.

*Make math cups with multiples so children can practice counting by 2's, 5’s, 10’s, and so forth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022


This keyboard can be used to familiarize students with electronic devices that they will be using at school.

Note! Keyboards vary, so you use the one commonly found in your classroom for your template.

What? shower curtain liner, permanent marker, fly swatter

Why? letter recognition, names, sight words, sounds

When? Large group, small group, learning center, partner practice

How? There are two ways you can make this.

1. Cut the shower curtain liner in half and tape it horizontally to a wall. Place the attached pattern on a document camera and project on the shower curtain. Trace around the keys and letters with a permanent marker as shown.

2. Make a template for the keys. Starting in the middle of the shower curtain make 11 squares horizontally for the first row. Continue drawing off the rest of the keyboard. Write the letters and command keys as indicated. (I made mine on our kitchen island and it was easy to draw that way.)

Hint! Use one color to outline the keys and a different color to write the letters.

Cut the shape of a mitten out of the fly swatter.

*Place the giant keyboard on the floor or on a bulletin board and let the children use it to practice identifying letters.

*Call out a sound and have children tap the letter that makes that sound.

*Have children type out names, sight words, or spelling words.

*For a partner activity, have one child hold a word and check while their partner types it.

Personal Device

Pocket folders are on sale now, so with a little bit glue and a keyboard pattern can make a “personal device” for each student that they will be able to use all year long.

What? pocket folder, keyboard pattern, glue, index cards, marker

Why? names, sight words, letter recognition, vocabulary words

When? large group, small group, learning center, independent practice

How? Glue the keyboard pattern to the right inside pocket of the folder as shown. Let children decorate the outside with markers. Write names, sight words, letters, and other information you want the children to practice on index cards. Place in the left pocket. Children choose a card and put it on the top of their “screen.” After they type the information they save it in the pocket on the right.

*Ask children to write the letter or word after they’ve typed it.

Monday, June 27, 2022


View Letter and Numeral Sticks - PD #11

If you’ve never made these, then today is the day!!! They are a hands-on way children can connect to abstract sounds and numbers and can be used in a multiple of ways.

Letter Pops

What? jumbo craft sticks, magnetic letters, E6000 glue (or similar craft glue)

Why? letter recognition, phonics, print knowledge

When? Large group, small group, independent

How? Glue the magnetic letters to the jumbo craft sticks.

*Children can use these to match letters on classroom print. They can also find objects in the room beginning with that sound.

*Let children hold up letter pops as you sing alphabet songs.

*Children can get together with friends and make words with their letter pops.

*Place the letter pops in a can in the classroom library. Children choose a letter and then match it up with that letter in a book.

*Play “Letter Pokey” which is similar to the “Hokey Pokey.”

*Match upper and lowercase letters.

Shape and Number Sticks

What? jumbo craft sticks, magnetic numbers and shapes, E6000 or similar glue.

Why? number and shape recognition, counting songs and finger plays

When? Large group or small group

How? Glue magnetic numbers and shapes to jumbo craft to use with the activities below.

*Pass out numeral sticks to children. Can they walk around the room and match up their numeral with classroom print?

*Can children get in order from 0-9?

*Ask children to 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?

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

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

*Pass out shape sticks for children to match in the classroom. Are the shapes flat or solid?
Why? letter recognition, phonics, print knowledge

Sunday, June 26, 2022



I’ll get to the POINT! Pointers are a fun way to engage students’ attention. Make some of these before the school year begins and you can pull them out of your “bag of tricks” when needed.

What? craft sticks, chop sticks, googly eyes, fake jewels and fingernails, E6000 (or other craft glue)

Why? Children love anything novel and different. These pointers just add some “hands-on” to the task at hand.

When? Small group, independent

How? Take a look at the list below and choose your favorite.

*Use to track print from left to right.

*Identify key details in a picture.

*Point out letters, words, punctuation, etc. in print.

*Touch shapes, numbers, etc.

*Space between words with pointers.

Magic wand – dip the end of a chopstick in glue and roll in glitter

Finger nail – glue a fake fingernail to a craft stick

I Spy – glue a googly eye to a craft stick

Jewel – glue a fake jewel to a craft stick

Witches’ finger – great fun

Magnifying glass - pipe cleaner formed in a circle

Swizzle stick – buy these at a dollar store

Pretzel stick – point and then eat

Seasonal – glue small seasonal toys or stickers to craft sticks or purchase seasonal pencils

Bugles - point, read, and eat!!!

Giant Pointers

Glue a toy to the end of a cardboard pants hanger or decorate a butterfly net.

Smart Center

This was one of those simple, yet clever ideas that a teacher shared years ago. She said she had a center called the "smart center" with an old pair of glasses and a hand pointer. Children wore the glasses and walked around the room and pointed to words, shapes, colors, letters, etc. to show how "smart" they were. The only rule was you had to use a whisper voice. The teacher who shared this said the kids LOVED this center. She said nobody paid any attention to them, but they thought they were smart just the same!

Saturday, June 25, 2022


There will be transition times in every school day when you will need a bag of tricks to entertain the children. If you don’t direct children’s attention in a positive way they will become restless and troublesome. With this juke box you will always have a song or rhyme handy when you have a few extra minutes or can’t think of anything to do.

Juke Box

What? gift bag, poster board or fun foam, marker, scissors

Why? focus children’s attention, oral language, social skills

When? Transitions, in between times, preparing for group activities

How? Decorate the gift bag with the words “Juke Box.” To make CDs cut 4” circles out of fun foam or heavy cardboard. Write words to songs, finger plays, rhymes, and chants on the CDs and place them in the “juke box.” When you’ve got a few extra minutes pretend to give a child a quarter. Tell them to put it in the juke box and pull out a song or rhyme.

Hint! Invite that child to lead the class in the song or poem.

Song Pops

Cut 3" circles out of card stock or heavy paper. Write song titles on the circles and glue to craft sticks to make "song pops." Place in a can and when you need to wiggle and smile pull out a song pop and sing and dance!

Tide Tricks

Use an empty box or jug from Tide detergent. Keep simple games, stories, play dough, puzzles, blank books, etc. in it for when you need something to “tide” children over to the next activity.

Friday, June 24, 2022


Tired of giving out candy and stickers? Here are some inexpensive rewards to use for special treats!

What? jumbo craft sticks, Sharpie markers, plastic cup

Why? non-tangible rewards

When? To celebrate a special accomplishment, good behavior, kindness, etc.

How? Choose activities that you think would work best for your students from the list below. Write these on jumbo craft sticks with a permanent Sharpie and then put the sticks in a cup. Pretend like children are “winning” something when they draw a stick from the can.

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!

Gift Cards

What? plastic gift cards or cardboard, markers, gift bag

How? Save plastic gift cards and hotel room keys and cover them with paper. (You can also cut cardboard into 2” x 3 ½” rectangles). Write non-tangible rewards on these and place them in a small gift bag. Let children choose a “gift card” for a reward.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2022



Click to view July PD #07 Fingerplay

If I were in charge of the world every early childhood teacher would do finger plays. Why? Finger plays nurture oral language, comprehension, small motor skills, short term memory, phonological awareness, math concepts, etcetera, etcetera. Finger plays can also be used to engage children’s attention and they are perfect for transition times. 

What? index cards, book ring, copy of finger plays

How? Glue copies of finger plays to index cards and punch a hole in the upper left hand corner. Attach to a book ring and introduce one each week.

Create a class book of finger plays by having children illustrate their favorites.

Send home copies of finger plays so parents can enjoy them with their children.

Note! Speech and language specialists emphasize the importance of doing these over and over and over again to improve fluency.

Here are five videos where you can learn how to do the finger plays. There’s really no right or wrong way to do them, so feel free to adapt motions that are comfortable to you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022



Handshakes are a “hands” on way to connect with the children physically and emotionally as you start your day.

Handshake Greeting
Have each child stand as you extend your right hand to them. Say, “Good morning child’s name.” Teach the children to look you in the eyes as they shake your hand and say, “Good morning teacher’s name.”

Note! It would be good to have a discussion about this and ask them if they’ve ever seen adults shake hands. Why do we shake hands? Which hand should you use? Put a sticker or stamp on their right hand or tie a ribbon around their right wrist to help them remember. Explain that it’s important to give a firm handshake, smile, and look the other person in the eyes.

Shake a Hand (Tune: “Mulberry Bush”)
Everybody shake a hand, shake a hand, shake a hand.
Everybody shake a hand and walk around the room.
(Walk around the room as you shake hands.)

Everybody give high 5… (High five.)

Hug a hand… (Palms together, wrap thumbs around, and squeeze.)

Knuckle bump… (Make fists and bump knuckles.)

Boogey down… (Wiggle down and up with a friend.)

Smile and wink and walk back to your seat. (Smile and wink.)

Happy Handshakes
Here are some other handshakes your class might enjoy. Choose one and do it every day for a week. After you’ve introduced several you can let a special helper choose the handshake for the day.


Butterfly – Hook right thumbs together. Extend the other four fingers to make the butterfly’s wings. Pretend to flutter the butterfly’s wings as you move your hands in a circular motion.

Squirrel – One friend extends her arm. The other friend quickly runs fingers from the wrist up to the shoulder. Switch places.

Thumb Kiss – Hold up thumbs and touch as you make a smacking sound.

Hamburger – Children bump fists and say, “Burger.” Open fists and wiggle fingers together as they say, “Fries.” Hands in the air and shake fists and hips as they say, “Shake.”

Farmer – The teacher crosses her fingers and points thumbs down to represent the cow’s utter. The child grabs the thumbs and pretends to milk the cow.

Cool Dude – Partners knuckle bump and then open their fist and slide it back as they say, “Pssshhh!”

Double Cross Handshake
– Shake right hands and then reach across and shake left hands.

Lumberjack – Partners hold up right thumbs and grab them with the left hand. Partners then clasp right fingers and pretend to saw back and forth.

Builder – Shake hands and move them up and down vertically as you say, “Here’s a hammer.” Move hands horizontally back and forth as you say, “Here’s a saw.” Gently twist wrists as you say, “And here’s a screwdriver.”

Potato – Bump fists as you say, “Baked potato.” Bend index fingers and touch as you say, “Tader tot.” Open fingers and wiggle with your partner as you say, “And fries.”

Ghost – Extend arms and swish back in forth as you say, “Woooo!”

Buzz! Extend index finger and touch to your partner’s index finger as you make a buzzing sound.

Fisherman – Place right hand on each other’s right forearm and tap gently like a fish tail. Bend right arm back as if reeling in a fish as you say, “Good morning!”

Hand Hug – Hold up right palms and touch in the air. Bend thumbs around and gently squeeze.

Spiderman – Partners hold up four fingers and intertwine. Spiders have 8 legs and you have 8 wiggly fingers.

Biker – Children hold out fists and stick up thumbs. The teacher grabs the thumbs and pretends to turn them while making a “Brrrrmmmm” sound. “Now your brain is revved up and you’re ready to learn!”

Body Parts – Call out different body parts and challenge children to greet partners by gently touching elbows, knees, heads, ankles, toes, chins, etc.

Jellyfish – Bump fists and then open and close fingers as you pull them back like a jellyfish.

Bow Wow – Partners bow and then make “w’s” by sticking up three middle fingers. Open mouth and place “w’s” on either side to create the word “WOW!”

4-H Hello – Children can choose one of these “H’s.”
High Five (High five partner.)
Handshake (Shake hands.)
Hug (Hug each other.)
Hollywood kiss (Air kiss on left and right.)

*They can also choose a homerun, which is all four!

Hint! Cut a hand, numeral “5”, heart, and lips out of fun foam or felt. Place on the floor so the children can stand on the one they’d like.

P.S. Think about saying good-bye to your students at the end of the day with a handshake.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022


Have you ever wanted to grab someone’s cell phone and throw it out the window? So have I! Cell phones can be a nuisance, but they call also be a “rabbit trap” for children to learn.

Giant Cell Phone

What? shower curtain liner, permanent marker, fly swatter

Why? numeral recognition, letter recognition, phone numbers, math concepts

When? Large group, small group, independent

How? Cut the shower curtain liner in half lengthwise. Make a template (cardboard pattern) for the keys so they will all be the same.

Use the attached pattern to draw the cell phone.

*Type out phone numbers with the fly swatter.

*Type bus numbers or lunchroom numbers.

*Throw a beanbag and identify the number

*Throw a beanbag and do that many jumping jacks.

*Throw two beanbags and add up the numbers.

*Play Twister by putting hands and feet on different numbers.

*Add up the numbers for different sight words.

*Let children make up their own games.

Note!  You can also find templates for iPhones that might be a little more current.

Personal Cell Phones

Children will also enjoy having their own cell phone.

What? copies of a cell phone, heavy paper, scissors, markers, glue

Why? numeral recognition, counting, math facts, phone numbers, phonics, names, sight words

When? Small group, transition times

How? Give children a copy of a cell phone and ask them to cut it out.  Next, let them trace around the back of the phone on heavy paper and cut it out. Glue the front of the cell phone to the back. Decorate the back with markers.

*Call out letters or numbers for children to identify.

*Type out phone numbers or zip codes.

*Spell words. How much is a word worth?

*Use for math facts or number stories.

*Teach children how to type 911 in emergencies.

*Let children make up their own learning activities to do with their phones.

Monday, June 20, 2022


Purposeful practice for automaticity (aka repetition) is important for skill mastery. These are some simple tools that will provide children with multiple experiences in learning letters, numbers, words, and math facts. They are also a vivid example of “intentional teaching” and “active learning.”



What? foam visor, index cards, markers

How? Each day choose a key skill you want the children to master. This could be a letter, shape, animal, vocabulary word, math fact, etc. Adapt to your curriculum and the level of your students. Write the skill on the index card and tape it to the visor. One child is selected to be the “supervisor” for the day. That child stands at the door whenever you leave the classroom with their arm stretched out. Classmates must say the information on the visor before exiting.

High Five

What? construction paper, markers, tape

How? Cut two hands out of construction paper and write key skills on them. Tape to the classroom door. Each time children enter or exit the classroom they “high five” the hands and say the information.

Sunday, June 19, 2022


Click to view video for July PD Day 3


Why? oral language, speaking and listening skills, motivation

What? cylinder block, index card, tape, marker

How? Write a capital “I” on the index card and tape it to the cylinder block to make your “I phone.” Explain that only the person holding the “I phone” can talk.

Begin your day by singing, “Tell me something good…”

Pass the phone to a child and ask them to tell you a sentence about something they are happy about or looking forward to doing that day. Children continue passing the phone around the group as each child says something starting with “I….”

Use the phone at the end of the day for students to recall something they learned or something they did that made them feel proud.

Use the phone for children to answer questions or retell a story.

Hint! Put a sticky dot on the back so the children can turn the volume up or down!

P.S.  You can also create a "talking stick" with a stick from a tree.