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Tuesday, January 31, 2023


Share the LOVE this month with these songs. You can download the books on

Will You Be My Valentine?
(Tune: “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”)
Will you be my Valentine, (Point to various friends.)
Valentine, Valentine?
Will you be my Valentine?
I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine! (Point to self and then a friend.)

Some are red, some are blue, (Hold up fingers.)
Some have lace and ribbons, too.
Some are funny, some are not. (Smile and then shake head “no.”)
I like the candy ones a lot.
*Download this book at

Bringing Home a Valentine
(Tune: “Baby Bumblebee”)
I’m bringing home a valentine for you, (Cup hands and move them to
One that says, “I love you.” the beat in front of your body.)
I’m bringing home a valentine for you
With a great big hug, and a (kiss) (kiss), too! (Hug self and then kiss
in the air.)

The Broken Heart
Here’s a story just right for this month to help children think about how words can hurt. Cut a large heart out of red construction paper and hold it in your lap as you begin to tell the story below:

This is a story about a special friend named (imaginary name). He always came to school with a smile on his face and a big heart full of love for his classmates. (Hold up the big heart.) (Name) listened to his teacher, did his best work, and helped his friends. However, some of his friends weren’t always so kind. Joe made fun of his shoes and broke a little of his heart. (Tear off a piece of the heart and let it drop to the floor.) Ann said, “I’m saving this seat and you can’t sit here” at story time and broke a little more of his heart. Sammy wouldn’t share his crayons (tear off a little of the heart) and Sara called him a mean name. What are some other things that might break his heart? (Let the children name other things that cause hurt feelings as you let the pieces fall to the floor.) By the end of the day his heart was all in pieces and it was so sad.

Who can tell me how to put his heart back together? What are some kind things you can do for your friends? As children name different acts of kindness pick the pieces of the heart off the floor. Glue the pieces together on a poster as a reminder to have a kind heart. Encourage children to write friends’ names on the poster when they are kind and helpful to them!

Run off "Kindness Tickets" and distribute them to your students. Children can thank friends for a kindness shown by writing their name on a ticket.

Monday, January 30, 2023


Some things never go out of style, such as conversation hearts. According to a little research on the web, “Sweetheart” candies have been around since 1901. In the past decade the sayings have been updated with phrases such as “TEXT Me” and “LOL.” Although over 100 years old, it’s good to see these little candies alive and well. Here are some adaptations for using them as a springboard for learning.


Conversation Hearts
Conversation hearts are good to sort, count, read, pattern, add, subtract, and eat!

*Estimate how many will be in a bag. Count. Graph the ones that are the same.

Matching Game
Make a game by cutting paper hearts out of construction paper. Write like phrases found on candy hearts (such as “Kiss Me, “Cool One,” “WOW!” “Cutie Pie”) on two of the hearts. Glue one to a file folder and then have children match and read the ones that go together.

Heart Necklace
Let children make their own paper hearts, hole punch them, and then string them to make a necklace. Encourage them to think of their own phrases they would put on candies. (WOW! Trace, write, hole punch, and string - lots of small motor skills!)

Here's a video where you can watch me demonstrate some of these Valentine activities.

Sunday, January 29, 2023


Are you working on your February lesson plans this weekend? Here are some "lovely" ways to tie the holiday in with skills and standards.


How many ways can you say, “I love you”? Teach children sign language for the term, and then challenge them to demonstrate other ways to say “I love you.” (For example, curl in your fingers and then touch your thumbs to make a heart shape. Hug yourself and then point to someone. Explain that people put “X O” at the end of a letter to represent a kiss and a hug.)

*Make a list of all the school helpers that you appreciate and make cards for them using thumbprints or hand print flowers with sign language for “love.”

Fold two sheets of paper in half and staple. Ask children to write predictable books starting each page with “Love is…” Younger children could draw pictures and older students could write detailed sentences.

Draw a heart in the middle of a sheet of paper and write the word “love” in the middle. Younger students could draw pictures of things they love, while older students could write synonyms for the word.

*This would be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the use of a thesaurus.

Take the word “love” and use it for teaching tenses, comparisons, prefixes, etc.
“He love me.” What would sound better?
Love – unloved
Love - loving

Put a heart sticker in the middle of a sheet of paper. Challenge children to write a poem about the sticker and around the sticker. They could also write an acrostic poem with the word “valentine” or “heart.”

You can use a paper heart or three-dimensional heart for this activity. Have children close their eyes while you hide the heart somewhere in the room in plain sight. When they open their eyes, they can stick up their thumb when they spy the heart. If they are called on, they have to describe where the heart is using positional words. For example, “The heart is under the clock beside the calendar.” That child then gets a turn to hide the heart.

Make pointers by attaching heart stickers to craft sticks. Children can use these for reading and also for demonstrating positional words. “Put your heart over your head. Put your heart under your chin. Put your heart behind your back…”

Saturday, January 28, 2023


Groundhog Day is this Thursday, but you'll want to give this little guy some attention one day this week.

Groundhog Day – February 2nd 
(Tune: “Say, Say, My Playmate”)
February 2nd, (Hold up 2 fingers.)
Is Groundhog Day.
Gather round his hole (Make circular motion.)
To hear what he’ll say. (Place hand by ear.)
Will spring be early
Or late this year?
Watch and listen
To what you’ll hear.

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with one hand.)
On a sunny day (Stick the index finger from the other hand
His shadow will frighten him (up through the hole and wiggle.)
And he will say,
“I’ll go back in my hole (Tuck finger in your fist.)
And go back to sleep.
You’ll have winter
For six more weeks.”

If he sticks his head out (Make a hole with fist and stick up finger.)
On a cloudy day
He’s not frightened
So he will say, (Wiggle finger.)
“I think I’ll stay out
And the weather should clear.
Spring will be here
Early this year.”
*You can download the book at

Cup Puppet
Let children draw a groundhog or download one off the internet. Staple to a straw. Punch a hole in the bottom of a paper cup and insert the straw in the cup. Raise and lower the groundhog as appropriate in the song.

Sidewalk Shadows
Go outside on a sunny day and have children stand with their backs to the sun. Let them make silly motions and play “Guess what I am?” Give them chalk and let them trace around each other’s shadows.
*Draw shadows at 10, 12, and 2 and compare.

*Play shadow tag where they try to touch each other's shadows.

Where’s the Groundhog?
Cut twenty 4” squares out of heavy paper. Write high frequency words, math facts, letters, numerals, etc. on the cards. Glue a picture of a groundhog on a 3" circle. Have the children sit on the floor in a circle. Mix up the cards and place them face up on the floor. Identify the numeral (etc.) on each card as you place it down on the floor. Tell the children to turn around. Hide the groundhog under one of the squares. Children turn back around and try and guess where the groundhog is hiding. One at a time children call out a number and then “peek” to see if the groundhog is under it. The first child to find the groundhog gets to have a turn hiding it. The game continues as children hide the groundhog and then try to discover his whereabouts.

Invite children to dramatize the groundhog peeping out of his hole. What if it's sunny? What if it's cloudy?

Note! Visit for more great ideas!

You can watch me demonstrate some of these February activities on a video I did a few years ago.

Friday, January 27, 2023


This is a perfect way to integrate vocabulary and give your students something to look forward to next week. On Monday explain that you will have a “vocabulary parade” on Friday. They will each need to think of a special word that describes them. (You can call these “Fancy Nancy” words or ask them to get their parents to help them think of a big, new word!)

Encourage them to come up with their word by Wednesday, and then use their word as a writing activity. Have them write their word, the definition, use it in a sentence, and then illustrate it.

On Friday give them a long strip of paper or a sentence strip. After writing their word they get to decorate it with markers, glitter, etc. Pin the words on them and let them parade around the room to music. One at a time children pretend they are on the “runway” and model their words. As they model they tell their classmates their word, the definition, and why they chose it.

Holiday Every Day!
This is another great way to extend vocabulary. (K.J.’s third grade teacher Mr. D used this strategy and it was amazing how K.J. connected with the words.) Each day announce what holiday it is and tie in a vocabulary word with the holiday. (There are several websites where you can find random holidays for each day.) For example, on “National Milkshake Day” you could teach the word “savor” or “scrumptious.”

We’re great, but no one knows it.
No one knows it so far.
Some day they’ll realize how wonderful we are!
They’ll look at us, and point at us, and then they’ll shout, “Hurray!”
Let’s cheer how we’re wonderful beginning with A.
A- We’re awesome.
B- We’re brave.
C- We’re creative.
D- We’re dynamic
E- We’re enthusiastic
F- We’re fantastic.
G- We’re gifted
H- We’re honest
I- We’re imaginative
J- We’re joyful.
K- We’re kind.
L- We’re lovable
M- We’re magnificent.
N- We’re nice.
O- We’re outgoing
P- We’re polite.
Q- We’re quick.
R- We’re responsible
S- We’re special.
T- We’re terrific.
U- We’re unique.
V- We’re valuable.
W- We’re wonderful.
X- We’re excellent.
Y- We’re youthful
Z- We’re zany!

*Give each child a letter to illustrate. Put their pictures together to make a class book.

Hint! One teacher said her class sang this song for their end of the year program. Each child held up a letter and said the word.

Thursday, January 26, 2023


These movements will make learning about punctuation more fun!

CapitalCapital letters are at the beginning of a sentence. They tell you to “GO.” Have children stand every time you come to a capital letter.

Periods tell you when to stop. Sit down when you come to a period.

Sit like cowboys and cowgirls by straddling chairs. When you come to a period, children pretend to pull back on the reins as they say, “Whoa!”

Question Mark
When you come to a question mark, put your index finger on your head and shrug your shoulders.

Exclamation Point
Put your fist in the air for an exclamation mark.

Hop for a comma.

Two fingers in the air and wiggle.

*Let children come up with their own movements for punctuation.

Say the abc’s according to the punctuation marks.

Punctuation Detectives
Use glass pebbles to highlight punctuation.

Twist the end of a pipe cleaner and use to find punctuation marks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023


Do you know the "WH" brothers? Well, they sure are snoopy! They always ask questions and want to know who, what, where, when, and why. 

WHO wants to know the person or thing.
WHERE wants to know the place.
WHEN wants to know the time.
WHAT wants to know what’s happening.
WHY wants to know the reason.

Here's a song to “Ten Little Indians.”
Who, What, Where, When, Why?
Who, What, Where, When, Why?
Who, What, Where, When, Why?
The five snoopy guys!

"WH" Sticks
Write "Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" "Why?" on jumbo craft sticks and put them in a sock. To prompt your students to listen throw the sock over your shoulder before reading the book. After reading pass the sock around and let children pull out a stick and tell that part of a story.

WH Glove
Write "Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" "Why?" on the fingers of a cloth glove. After reading a story children insert the glove on their hand and recall the story elements.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023


How about some simple strategies to encourage children to focus on key ideas and details?  They can be adapted to any age level or content.

Magic Paintbrush
Give students a clean paintbrush and ask them to “paint” details in a book. “Who can paint the main character?” “Who can paint where the dog is hiding?” 

Books Up
Children will need multiple copies of a text for this activity. Ask questions and when children find the page with the answer they hold their book up in the air.

Musical Books
This activity is similar to musical chairs. Arrange chairs in a circle and place a book on each chair. Play some catchy music and invite the children to march around. When the music stops, each child finds a chair, picks up a book, and begins to look through the book. Give the children one or two minutes to scan through their books. The teacher randomly points to children and asks, “Can you tell me the setting of your book?” “Can you tell me a character in your book?” “What do you think your book will be about?”

Mystery Picture
Before reading a book, select a “mystery picture” page. Show it to the class and tell them to look closely at the picture and smile if they think they know what the book will be about. Begin reading the book. When you get to the “mystery picture” page encourage the children to discuss what they thought the book would be about. Were they right or wrong?

*Cut a hole in a sheet of paper and use it to focus on an important image in the book.

Listen, Predict, Draw
Fold a sheet of paper into fourths to make a book for each child and ask them to number each page. Begin reading a book. Stop after several pages and ask children to draw what they think will happen next. Continue reading. Stop after a few more pages and have children draw what they think will happen next. Do this two more times. 

Monday, January 23, 2023



February 1, 2023 


Let’s give children a break from “rigor” and “instructional time” and give them the opportunity to do what is becoming a lost art – PLAY!

February 4, 2015, was the first annual Global School Play Day and it has grown rapidly. They are hoping to reach 500,000 students this year and you can join in on the fun!

How do you make this happen? Personally, I would get my families and parent organizations involved. (Administrators might listen to them more than to you or me.)

Here are some other tips I learned from the website:

1. EDUCATE Remind parents and administrators about the benefits of play. (There are some good videos on the GSPD website.)

2. GET SOCIAL Use social media to encourage other schools to get involved. #GSPD2017.

3. CALL FOR TOYS Tell your students they can bring anything they want to school to play with on February 1st. (No electronic devices or toys with batteries!)

Don't organize
Don't tell them how to play
Don't interfere

5. SHARE AND REFLECT Share pictures, ideas, and reflections after the event. Encourage students to talk to their parents about the day and continue to PLAY at home.

Note! Even if your school won't do it for a full day, couldn't they at least let the kids play the last hour of the day?

Come on everybody! Let's all PLAY on February 1st!

Sunday, January 22, 2023



What do you need to do ahead of time?

Run off copies of my discovery bottles from my website (February, 2017).

Send home a letter to your parents similar to the one below along with directions for one of the bottles:

Dear Parents,

We are excited that your child is going to participate in his or her first SCIENCE FAIR this week. Please help your child make a “discovery bottle” using the attached directions. You are welcome to look on the internet to find another bottle that you’d like to make. (Just search “discovery bottles” or “sensory bottles” for more ideas.)

Water bottles are perfect for this project. Soak the bottle in warm water or blow with a hair dryer to remove the label. The only difficult part is removing the sticky glue left on the bottle. (I’ve found the easiest thing to do is just put a piece of clear packaging tape over the sticky part.) You’ll find most of the materials for making these bottles in a junk drawer or in your kitchen cabinet.

Please send the bottle back to school this Friday. For our science fair we’ll let each child “show and share” how they made their bottle. We’ll create a special science center so the children can revisit the bottles and discover and explore over the next few weeks.

We hope you’ll stop by and see all of the creative ways children can recycle bottles and LEARN!

Note! The only thing you’ll need to do is glue the lids on with E6000 or a similar glue. Shake, rattle, and roll those bottles!

Of course, you'll want to award a "participation" ribbon to each child!

Saturday, January 21, 2023


Learning math facts will be a lot more fun with a song.

Addition Pokey (“Totally Math” CD)
Put 1 finger in. (Hold up finger on right hand.)
Put 1 finger more. (Hold up 1 finger on left hand.)
Shake them altogether (Roll around.)
And then lay them on the floor. (Place on floor or table.)
Add them both together, (Bring hands together.)
And you don’t want to stall.
Now you have 2 in all.

2 fingers…3 fingers…4 fingers…5 fingers

*Do “Addition Pokey” with other facts.

Hi Ho - Adding We Will Go (Tune: “The Farmer in the Dell”)
1 plus 1 equals 2 (Hold up fingers as you sing.)
1 plus 1 equals 2
Hi, ho, adding we’ll go. (Roll hands around.)
1 plus 1 equals 2

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

Hint! You might want to make this with one hand for the younger children.

Money Musical Chairs
Place chairs in a circle and put a coin on each chair. Play some music for the children to march around. When the music stops the children have to identify the coin by where they are standing.

Sing and skip
Count by 2’s to “Twinkle Little Star.”
Practice counting by 3’s to “Are You Sleeping?”
4’s “Row Your Boat”
5’s “The Bear Went over the Mountain”
6’s “London Bridge”
7’s “Ten Little Indians”
8’s “This Old Man”

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

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

Doubles Don’t Give Me Trouble
(Sarah Jackson)
(Tune: “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”)
1 + 1= 2, 2 + 2 = 4, 3 + 3 = 6, 4 + 4 = 8, 5 + 5 = 10, 6 + 6 = 12
Now I know my doubles,

Tally Song
Teach children this “hands” on song about tally marks to the tune of “Little Red Wagon.”
Put down a tally mark in a row. (Open palm and put down index . finger.)
Put down a tally mark in a row. (Put down middle finger.)
Tally, tally in a row, (Put down ring and pinky fingers.)
Fifth one goes across. (Put thumb across.)

*Use pretzel sticks to sing and tally.

Friday, January 20, 2023


O.K. O.K. Just a few more strategies for helping children master those sight words.
Hint! Think about how you could use these same techniques for teaching letters, numbers, vocabulary, and other skills that children have to master.

Spotlight on Reading (Vickie Spencer)
Use this idea to line up and learn. Turn the lights off and then pass a flashlight to one child. That child shines the flashlight on a word and reads it. She then passes the flashlight to another friend. Children continue reading a word and passing the flashlight to a friend until all have read a word and lined up.

Sight Word Selfie! (Myca Lopez)
Children walk around the room and take selfies with sight words they can read.

*Have them do this at home using their parent's camera. Parents send these to school and the class can read over them on the interactive white board.

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.

Word Wall Ball (Lynn Urban)
Students earn a bead for each word wall word they learn and string it on a necklace. Once all word wall words have been learned, they earn a star bead. In the spring celebrate with a BALL! Students wear nice clothes and their word bead necklaces. Serve refreshments, and dance!

Thursday, January 19, 2023


Children have different learning strengths and weaknesses. Some children have good visual memory skills, while others (kinesthetic/tactile learners) learn better through the sense of touch.

Shaving Cream
Squirt shaving cream (non-menthol) on each child’s desk. After they explore with it they can practice writing words.

Cut letters out of sandpaper and glue them on poster board to make words. Children trace over the letters with their fingers as they blend the sounds.

Sand and Salt Trays
Cover the bottom of a tub or shoe box with sand or salt. Let children practice writing words in the tub.
*You can also write words on construction paper and place them in the bottom of the tub. Cover with sand. Children scrape away the sand and try to read the word.

Lotty Dotty
Write words by making dots with a water-based marker. Put a drop of glue on top of each dot. Dry. The marker will bleed into the glue to create a textured word. Children trace over the dots as they read the word.
Hint! Let children make rubbings of lotty dotty words. Can they connect the dots and write the word?

Bumpy Words

Write words on top of needlepoint canvas with a crayon. Children can trace over the bumpy letters as they read the word.

Disappearing Words
Give children a cup of water and a piece of sponge. Children write words with the sponge on a chalkboard. Can they remember the word as it dries and disappears?
*They can also write words with a paintbrush on the sidewalk.

Rainbow Words
Children write words with a black crayon or marker in the middle of the page and then trace around the word with different colors of crayons.
*Hint! Write a “giant” word in the middle of a large sheet of newsprint. Tape it to a wall and encourage all of the children to trace around it.

Note! These strategies can be adapted for learning letters, numbers, shapes, etc.

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2023


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven or Eight Letter Words

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

Chiming Words

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

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2023


Purposeful practice for automaticity (aka repetition) is essential to skill mastery. The problem is when you drill children they get bored and don’t pay attention. Here are some chants and movement strategies to practice sight words, spelling words, and vocabulary words.

*Don't forget that these ideas can be adapted for kindergarten through elementary grades!

Clap and Snap – As you spell out words clap on the consonants and snap on the vowels.

Jumping Jacks – Do jumping jacks for each letter in a word.

Palm Pilot – Hold up one palm and trace the letters in a word with the index finger of the opposite hand. After making the letters say the word and “take it to the brain” by pretending to run your fingers up your arm to your brain.

Back Writing – Stand in a circle and spell out words on your neighbor’s back. Erase before writing a new word.

Cheer Words – Step back and forth as you clap and spell out words.
Give me an “E.”
I’ve got an “E” you’ve got an “E.”
Give me ….
What’s it spell? (Shout out word.)

Disco – Finger up in the air and move it across your body as you say different letters in a word. Hands on hips as you say the word.
Patty Cake – Children face a partner. They say the word as they clap. They cross and tap partner’s hands on each letter. Then high five and say the word in the air.

Air Writing – Children use their finger, foot, knee, tongue, elbow and other body parts to spell out words in the air.

March – Children march and swing arms on each letter. They salute and say the word at the end.

Body Writing
Tall letters (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) - touch your head
Tummy letters (a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, z) – touch your tummy
Toe letters (g, j, p, q, y) – touch your feet
For example:
H – touch head
O – touch tummy
P – touch feet
Clap as you say the word “hop.”