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Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Don't let standards be the Grinch and steal away your fun this month. Take a look at some of these ideas I’ve got for you!

Sight Words
Each day let children write a high frequency word on a strip of paper and glue the ends to make a link in a chain. They can practice reading over previous words each day as they add a new word and link.

Snowman Math 
Give children the outline of a snowman similar to the one shown. They can take buttons or other manipulatives and place sets in the top two sections. Join them together in the bottom circle to make the sum. Ask students to write the equation.
*Give children a certain number of buttons. How many different combinations can the make on the snowman to come up with the same sum?

Descriptive Writing 
Fold 2 sheets of paper in half and staple to make a book for each child. Children think of a title for their books and add their name as author and illustrator. Have them write and complete the following statements on each page:
(My holiday) smells like…
(My holiday) looks like…
(My holiday) sounds like…
(My holiday) feels like…
(My holiday) tastes like…

*For younger children run off the sentences and let them dictate sentences.

Preposition Elf 
Hide an elf or similar seasonal toy in a different place in the room every day. Encourage children to use complete sentences as they describe where the elf is.

*Let children take turns hiding the toy and calling on friends to describe its location.

Read, Read, Fast as You Can! You Can Do It! We Know You Can!
I saw this delightful bulletin board several years ago. What an engaging way to get children to read sight words!

Give children long pieces of paper so they can make a time line of the “Gingerbread Man.” (I cut my strips from grocery sacks.)
*Read several versions of the “Gingerbread Man” and compare and contrast.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Jingle Bell Club(Kitty Allen)
Kids get to sign their name as members of the “Jingle Bell Club” when they learn to tie their shoes. They also get a jingle bell on a ribbon to tie on their shoe laces.

Here are a few more items I picked up at the dollar store.

Gel Stickers

Free play on windows or a mirror. These can also be used on a cookie sheet.

Santa Chair Cover
Those of you who do flexible seating could use this as a special treat.  
*Children could sit in the chair and write a letter to Santa.

A Coloring We'll Go
I am the last person in the world who would encourage coloring books over creative art, but the truth is that some kids just like to color. I was working with some child care centers years ago and my rules were no worksheets or coloring sheets and no screen time. I went into a teacher’s room and to my dismay there was a group of girls sitting at a table coloring. They were chatting and have a grand time. The teacher said, “They beg to do worksheets and use coloring books.” Oh, well! So, put a holiday coloring book and crayons in a center as a reward if children finish their work early. It might entertain them and it certainly will do no harm.

Science -Winter Nature Center
Materials: magnifying glass, clip board, paper, pencils, tub

Let children look at the items with a magnifying glass. Can they make a list of all the items they find in the tub?

Can they write descriptive sentences about what they find?

Monday, November 27, 2023


Match and Memory

Materials: stickers or gift cards, heavy paper cut in 3 1/2” squares

Attach 2 of each different sticker to the squares. Younger children can use these as a matching game.

Older children can play a memory game with these by place them face down and turning over two at a time.

Fit Like a Puzzle
Materials: puzzle and frame, marker
Write an uppercase letter on each puzzle piece and a lowercase letter on the shape in the frame. As children match up letters they will complete the puzzle.

*Use for math facts, synonyms, number words, and other skills.

Foam Letters

Materials: gift bag, foam letters, paper, pencils

Place foam letters in the gift bag. Children draw a letter, write the letter, and then draw something or write a word that starts with that sound.

*Hide the letters in the classroom for children to find. Can they get with a friend and make a word with their letters?

Silly Glasses

Materials: silly glasses, paper, pencil, clipboard
Children walk around the room and write words they can read.

*Can they find a word for each letter of the alphabet?

*For a partner project let one child wear the glasses. The friend takes a pointer and points to words for their friend to read.

Book Presents (Danielle Underwood)
Wrap holiday books up like presents. Randomly choose a name out of a popsicle tin and let that child unwrap the present. After reading the book, display it for the children to look at during free time.

Holiday Brain Breaks (Sharon Smith)
Have the children stand and in place and

Melt like a snowman…
Waddle like a penguin…
Twinkle like a Christmas tree…
Prance like a reindeer…
Laugh like Santa...
Smile like an elf...

*Adapt for different seasons and themes.

P. S. Here's a video where I demonstrate many of these materials.

Sunday, November 26, 2023


Keep those little hands busy with these materials.

Cookie Cutters
Materials: cookie cutters, pencils, scrap paper, scissors

Children trace around the cookie cutters on scrap paper and then cut out with the scissors.

Children can hole punch and then use the shapes to make ornaments or a necklace.

Paper Plate Sewing Cards

Materials: holiday plates, hole punch, yarn

Punch holes around the outside of the plates. Let children “sew” yarn through the holes.

*You can also make sewing cards out of old greeting cards.

Play Dough Writing
Let children make a pancake with the play dough and then write with a golf tee. This will strengthen those little fingers as they practice writing letters, numbers, shapes, words, etc.

String bells on pipe cleaners and string to make jewelry.

Gifts for the Birds
Materials: pipe cleaners, cereal with holes
Let children string cereal on pipe cleaners. Twist the ends to make a circle and hang outside for the birds.

Cut It Out
Materials: catalogs and advertisements

Put catalogs, coupons, advertisements, etc. in a center with scissors, glue, and paper.
Children can cut out objects they would like to “get or give” and glue them on a paper.

Saturday, November 25, 2023


A package of pompoms, bows, erasers, or other small items and you're set for "merry math."

Materials: pompoms or other small objects

Ask children to sort the pompoms. What was their sorting rule? Can they sort them another way?

Use the pompoms for making patterns.

Have children estimate the number of each type and then verify by counting.

Math Mat
Children place the correct amount on the trees.

Match Dot Cards
Pompoms are a perfect one-to-one activity for younger children.

Materials: foam numbers

Touch and Tell
Place numbers in a bag. Children reach in, feel a number and try to identify what it is. They can take it out to confirm and then write the number.

Number Hunt
Put numbers in a box of Styrofoam packing or sand. Children search through the Styrofoam packing and color off the numbers as they find them.

Materials: stamp set

Stamp a pattern, stamp out math facts, or stamp a set.

Materials: foam dice

Roll of the Dice
Roll them, count them, add them, or let children make up their own games with the dice.

Friday, November 24, 2023


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Yes it is! If you're going shopping this weekend stop by the dollar store and fill up your cart with decorations and "junk." Over the next few days I'll show you some fun learning centers you can create from inexpensive materials. I know some schools don’t allow “holidays,” so I tried to focus on a “winter” theme as much as possible. I mean, who can object to winter????

P. S. Here's a video where I demonstrate many of these materials.

Napkin Books
Materials: holiday napkins, paper, stapler

Cut paper the size of the napkin. Insert 4-6 sheets of paper in the napkin and staple at the top as shown. Place these in the writing center for creative writing.

Note! The front of the napkin could also be used as a story prompt.

Sticker Story

Materials: holiday stickers, paper, pencils, pens

Let children choose a sticker and put it in the middle of a sheet of paper. Challenge them to write a poem or story or draw a picture around the sticker.

Giving Book
Materials: paper, rubber band, seasonal pencil, advertisements and catalogs, scissors, glue

Fold 3 sheets of paper in half. Punch 2 holes about 2 ½” down on the crease side as shown. Insert a rubber band in one hole and slide one end of the pencil through the loop. Slide the other end of the pencil through the other loop. Let children draw or cut out pictures of items they would like to GIVE to family members and friends.

Holiday Card Center

Materials: paper, pencil, envelopes, markers, crayons, stickers, scrap paper, etc.

Place the writing materials in a tub. Make a seasonal picture dictionary similar to the one shown. Add a class directory with students’ names and photos. Teach children how to fold a sheet of paper into fourths to make a basic card. Invite them to make holiday cards for family members and friends.

Note! You could also ask them to make cards for school helpers and volunteers.

Letters to Santa
Some of you may not be able to do this, but an open center where children could write letters to Santa might get them excited about writing.

Note! There are several free templates for these letters on the internet.

Thursday, November 23, 2023




This has got to be one of the most special days in the year. Food, family, and holding hands and being grateful is what life is all about. 

Wherever you are today and whatever you are doing, take a moment to count your blessings.

I bless you.

I bless your heart.

I bless your life.

I bless your health.

I bless your home.

I bless your family.

I bless your work.

I bless your spiritual life.

May your day overflow with blessings!


Tuesday, November 21, 2023


I wish I could come to your school and sing with your kiddles today, but I do have some old YouTube videos that might entertain them.

Monday, November 20, 2023


Do you get tired of reminding your students to put their name and date on their work.  Here's a tune just for you!

Name on Your Paper (Tune: "Shine and a hair cut - two bits")
Name on your paper ~ first thing!
Name on your paper ~ first thing!
Where does it go?
At the top.
Where does it go?
At the top.
Name on your paper~ first thing!
Name on your paper~ first thing!

*Add a verse that says, "Date on your paper - second thing!"

Secret Code
Each day give your students a "secret code" to put on their work. Write it on the board and explain that it's the date. For example, the secret code for today would be 8-7-18.

The Teacher Needs to Know Who Did the Work and So
Here's another song to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" to remind children to write their name.

Put your name on your paper first thing.
Put your name on your paper first thing.
Your teacher needs to know who did the work and so
Put your name on your paper first thing.

Name Notes
Here's a great idea for class note cards. Give each child a 4" square and ask them to draw their picture and write their name. Reduce the size and glue to half a sheet of paper or around a full sheet as shown. Make many, many copies and use for notes to parents or place in the writing center for the children to use.

Sunday, November 19, 2023


Teachers all over the USA are thankful that this is a short week! Forget "skills" and give your children some special memories. Here is a song memory from when I was little girl many, many years ago. It's still a great song and a meaningful way to compare/contrast and talk an about the "olden days."

Over the River
(Traditional Tune)
Over the river and through the woods (Pretend to hold reins of a sleigh
To grandmother’s house we go. and drive as you bounce up and down.)
The horse knows the way (Put hands behind back and nod
To carry the sleigh like a horse.)
Through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river and through the woods, (Pretend to drive sleigh.)
Oh, how the wind does blow. (Wrap arms around self and shiver.)
It stings your toes and bites your nose (Touch nose and point to toes.)
As over the ground we go.

Through the country and cities far (Pretend to drive a car.)
In sun or wind or rain.
We might go by train (Pull down on train whistle.)
We might take a plane. (Fly hand like a plane in the air.)
Or maybe a bus or car. (Hold out right hand, then left.)
Through low valleys and mountains high (Look down low and then up.)
Now, grandmother’s house I spy. (Hand over eyes.)
Hurrah, for the fun! (One fist in the air.)
Is the turkey done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie! (Cheer with other fist.)

Comparisons – Use a Venn diagram to compare what it would be like to visit grandmother a long time ago and how we visit now. How are things the same? How are they different?

Graphs – Make a graph of how they will travel to their Thanksgiving dinner. Car? Plane? Train? Bus? Boat? Stay at home!

Olden Days
Bring in a rotary phone, typewriter, record player, and camera. (A note to parents might help you find one of these.) Talk about how they were used when their grandparents were kids. What do we use now instead?
*Hint! I think it's important for children to know what these items are because most of the books copyrighted before 2000 have pictures or reference them.