photo 3am_dj_home_zps919fb85e.png photo 3am_dj_about_zps7cce4c75.png photo 3am_dj_website_zps73051235.png photo 3am_dj_ss_zps6759ec2a.png photo 3am_dj_bs_zps43e27832.png

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.

Saturday, June 18, 2022



If you’ve never made my Letter Bears you are going to be thankful when school starts if you make them. They are a perfect way to transition children and reinforce skills at the same time.

What? construction paper or colored card stock, scissors, markers

Why? letters, colors, numbers, shapes, sight words

When? Large group transitions, dismissal

How? Cut 26 bears out of the construction paper. Write upper and lowercase letters on all the bears. Mix up the bears and then sing this song to the tune of “Twinkle Little Star” as the letters are revealed:

Dd bear, Dd bear, what do you see?
I see Kk bear looking at me.
Kk bear, Kk bear, what do you see…

Focus children’s attention while they settle down for a story or lesson with the letter bears.

*Use the bears as a transition activity. Dismiss children to line up, wash their hands, etc. when the letter that their name starts with appears.

*At the beginning of the school year make bears with the children's names. For younger children use their names and photos.

*For younger children make color bears or shape bears.


*Use the bears to reinforce other skills, such as the numerals 10-20 or sight words.


*Hide the bears around the classroom or playground for the children to find and identify.

*Each month make a similar game using seasonal cutouts. Adapt to different skills you are working on each month.

Click here to download the bear pattern.

Friday, June 17, 2022


Several years ago I did a “Summer PD” (professional development) every day for a month. These were short little videos with some of my favorite ideas. I’m going to rewind those blogs this coming month so you’ll have materials that you can create for your BACK TO SCHOOL KIT.

I like to think of my blog as an “antique” store with OLD ideas that are valuable because children need hands-on and fun activities now more than ever.  I invite you to pick, choose, adapt, and make these ideas work for you.

I know that the past two years have been STRESSFUL and FRUSTRATING. Make a commitment to yourself that each day when you go back to school that you are going to SHUT YOUR DOOR and do something FUN every day just because…just because you want to.







Why? letters, sight words, names

What? jumbo craft sticks, clothes pins, markers (Sharpies work best.)

How? Write the letters of the alphabet on the clothespins. Write words on the craft sticks. Children match letters and clip them on the stick to make the words.

*Use these at the beginning of the year with children’s names.

*Place in a center for children to practice sight words or spelling words. As a follow up ask students to write the words.

Hint! Store these in pencil boxes.

If you’re going shopping this week here are some supplies you might want to get for the projects I'll be demonstrating the rest of the month:
Spring clothes pins
Shower curtain liner (opaque)
Fly swatter
3 pairs of white cotton garden gloves
Jumbo craft sticks
Magnetic letters and numbers
E6000 glue (I LOVE this stuff! It’s the best craft glue ever!)
Sharpie markers
File folders
Clear sheet protectors
Toy cars
Swing trashcan
Bathroom cups

Hint! If you don’t want to make these yourself, you can save the ideas to give to parent volunteers when the school year begins.

P.S. I am so grateful to all of you who read my blog. Believe me, writing this is a task of love. So many teachers have touched my life and shared with me over my 50+ year journey that it’s PAYBACK time. The truth is, writing this blog keeps me from getting dementia. Seriously, what would I do if I didn’t do this? So thank you! Thank you!

Thursday, June 16, 2022


Make your playground or backyard your very own science lab.

Discovery Walks
Go on a walk and have children touch various objects. “How does it feel?”Have them close their eyes and try to identify objects by their sense of touch.

*Take a listening walk where children close their eyes and try to identify different sounds in the environment.

Dirt Detectives
Use magnifying glasses and sticks to dig in the dirt. What is dirt composed of?

Human Sun Dial
Have one child face north at 9:00 in the morning. Mark where they are standing and draw their shadow with chalk. Have the child stand in the same spot and record their shadow at various times in the school day.

*Play shadow tag where children try to step on each other’s shadows.

Cloud Watch
When there are cumulus clouds in the sky, have the children lay on their backs and look for animals and other objects in the sky.

*Let them draw pictures of clouds with white paint and a Q-tip on blue paper.

Melt Down
Give each child a paper cup with an ice cube in it. Who can make their ice cube melt fastest?
*Color the ice cubes with food coloring.

*Draw with ice cubes on the sidewalk.

Sit and Watch
Children can use a hula hoop or 7' piece of string for this activity. Lay the hula hoop on the ground (or make a circle with the string) and sit inside. Encourage children to sit quietly and use their senses to observe their habitat.

*Give them paper and a pencil to draw or write observations.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022


You know it makes me sad that so many of you are not allowed to cook in your classrooms any more. When I think of the cooking experiences I had with my students it makes me smile. One of my favorite memories was when we were making pizzas. I said, “Let’s put them on the pan so I can bake them.” Floyd, a precious red head said, “That’s O.K., teacher, I’ll just eat mine raw!”

I have so many old/antique files that I just can't make myself delete.  Today I've got some recipes I found to go along with nursery rhymes and songs.  Even if you can’t cook in your classroom, you might enjoy making these with your own child, a neighbor, a scout troop, or a grown friend! You might even have some parents that would enjoy preparing these foods with their children.
Ole King Cole’s Coins
Every king has a treasure trove filled with coins so why not make these healthy coins to fill up your students.

Fresh carrots
Sour cream

Have the students wash and scrub the carrots with a vegetable brush. Now slice them up so that they look like coins. Chop up the dill and mix in the sour cream for the students to dip.

Name Cakes
After singing the ABC’s the children can eat them with me!

Rice cakes
Peanut butter, cream cheese or frosting
Alphabet cookies

Find the letters of your name and place them on the table. Spread the topping of your choice over the rice cake and press down the letters of your name into the topping on the rice cake. These name cakes were alphabetically delicious.

Muffin Man Zucchini Muffins
The Muffin Man didn’t have this recipe in his cookbook but now you do.

½ cup grated zucchini
1 egg
2 Tablespoons of oil
¼ cup of honey
¼ cup of grated lemon peel
¾ cup of flour
½ teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cinnamon

Add the first five ingredients and mix well. Now add the rest and pour into muffin tins that have liners added. Bake at 400 degrees for twenty minutes. I’ll bet the Muffin man steals this recipe.

Jack Horner’s Thumbprint Biscuits
Jack Horner stuck his thumb in a plumb, but your children will get a kick out of sticking their thumbs in a biscuit.

Canned biscuits
Grape jelly

Give each child a biscuit and tell them to stick their thumb in the middle. Let them fill the hole in the middle with a spoonful of grape jelly. Bake according to directions on the package. Have your children say, “What a good (boy, girl) am I!

Moon Pizzas
The cow jumped over the moon and the astronauts landed on the moon. This recipe will add a whole new dimension to the rhyme or a study of the solar system.

English muffins
Pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella
*Pepperoni, olive slices or cheeses shaped liked stars or moons are optional

Toast the English muffins ahead to time - especially if you like your pizza crust crunchy. Now spread the pizza sauce over the surface of the moon (English muffin) and add the mozzarella and other toppings of your choice. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese melts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022


You might not be able to catch a real fish, but you can certainly 
catch an idea with Gold Fish crackers today.

You’ve got to love Gold Fish crackers. They don’t have sugar, they are not messy, they are not expensive, and they are perfect for many math activities.

Prepare snack size bags with colored fish so children can dive into these activities…

How many fish are in your bag?

Count and see how many you have.
Did you estimate more or less?
Is it an odd or even number?

How can you sort the fish?

How many of each color?

Can you make a pattern with the fish?

Addition and Subtraction 
Make sets and join them together.
Eat and subtract. Can you make up a number story with the fish?

Catch and Eat
You’ll need large pretzel rods, peanut butter (or cream cheese), and fish crackers for this snack. Dip the end of the pretzel rod (fishing pole) in the bait (peanut butter) and see how many fish you can catch and eat.

*There’s even a website ( where you can learn about Finn and his friends and play games.

Rainbow Fish
After reading "Rainbow Fish," cut strips of paper 8 1/2" by 1 1/4." Cut slits half way through 1 1/2" from each end as shown. Children can color their fish and then hook the tabs to make a fish. Toss in the air and watch your fish fly!!!
P.S. Older kids could use ROY G. BIV to color their fish.

Monday, June 13, 2022


Who doesn't want to go fishing on a beautiful spring day?

Have You Ever Been Fishing? (Tune: “Turkey in the Straw”)
Have you ever been fishing (Pretend to fish.)
On a bright and sunny day, (Circle arms like the sun.)
When you see those little fishies (Fold hands and wiggle.)
Swimming up and down the bay?
With their hands in their pockets (Put hands in front.)
And their pockets in their pants. (Put hands in back.)
All the little fishies do the (Hands on hips and wiggle.)
Hoochie coochie dance!

*Sing fast, faster, and super duper fast!

Catch a Fish
Staple an 18” piece of string to the end of straw. Let children make fish out of construction paper and tie to the other end of the string. They can use these as they sing the song.

Catch and Eat
Give children a pretzel rod, some gold fish crackers, and a spoonful of peanut butter. Children dip the end of the rod in peanut butter and then catch a fish.

Fish Finger Play
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, (Slowly hold up one finger at a time on right hand.)
I caught a fish alive. (Clap hands together as if catching a fish.)
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, (Hold up fingers on left hand.)
I let it go again. (Open palms and pretend to release.)
Why did you let that fishy go? (Shrug shoulders.)
Because it bit my finger so. (Hands on hips.)
Which finger did it bite? (Shrug shoulders.)
The little finger on my right. (Hold up pinky on right hand.)

Hint! Talk about double meanings of words by explaining what a "school" of fish means.

Paper Plate Fish
You will need paper plates, brad fasteners, markers, and crayons for this project. Cut a triangle out of the paper plate to be the mouth of the fish. Attach the triangle to the back with the brad fastener to make the tail. Color with crayons or paint with water colors.

Hint! Tie in "greater than" and "less than" with the fish's mouth.

Baby Fish 
Baby fish, do-do, do-do-do-do, (Open and shut index
Baby fish, do-do, do-do-do-do. fingers to the beat.)
Baby fish, do-do, do-do-do-do, (Open and shut index
Baby fish, do-do, do-do-do-do. fingers to the beat.)

Momma fish… (Open and shut hands.)
Daddy fish… (Open and shut arms.)
Giant whale… (Extend arm and leg to make whale’s mouth.)

*Let children make up other verses, such as one about uncle fish, grandma fish, etc. Have the children suggest arm movements to do for the different fish.

And here's a new video that Alex May just created....

Sunday, June 12, 2022



We will celebrate Flag Day on June 14, but here’s a song you can sing all year to prompt your class before saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

We Love Our Flag
(Tune: “Farmer in the Dell”)
We love our flag.
We love our flag.
We love America
And we love our flag.

Red, white, and blue,
Red, white, and blue,
The colors of our country’s flag
Are red, white, and blue.

50 stars of white
On a field of blue
Stand for 50 states
Where we live, it’s true.

Thirteen stripes
In red and white
Stand for the colonies
For freedom they did fight.

We love our flag…

* Use the words in the song to explain the meaning of the stars and strips.

Here’s the link to download the book:

Check out this video to learn another song about our flag. The last verse is my favorite:
We are all Americans
And so we always say I CAN!
We try and do our best
Because we are Americans.

Click to view video.

Flag Etiquette
Teach children flag etiquette and the importance of not dragging the flag on the ground.

Design a Flag
Give children a sheet of white paper and the scrap box and let them design their own flags.

O.K. If you've read to the end of this blog, I've saved the best idea until last. Whenever your class completes an art project let them "parade" their creations around the room. Put on some catchy music and they can walk around in a circle holding up their work. It's so funny because they really think they are "special."

Foam Hands(Cheri Rummens, Mansfield Preschool)
Cut hands out of foam and write “left” and “right” on them before taping them above the calendar and flag. Remind the children to look and see which hand they should place on their heart before they do the pledge.