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Sunday, July 14, 2024


Always end the day with a song to give children a happy thought and a smile.

Good-Bye Chant

Put your thumbs up if you learned something new today. (Put thumbs up.)
Clap your hands if you had fun today. (Clap hands.)
Give yourself a hug if you were a kind friend today. (Hug self.)
See you tomorrow for another special day. (Wave and smile.)

Pat on the Back

Cut hand shapes out of construction paper. Write a positive comment about each child on a hand. Tape the hand to their back before they leave at the end of the day.

Saturday, July 13, 2024


Make students beg, "Do it again!" with these quick engaging stories. 

NOTE!  If you want copies of these stories, put the title of the story in the search engine near the top of this page.

Hint!  Before telling your story you need to focus children’s attention with a chant or rhyme similar to the ones below:

If you want to hear a story, (Snap fingers to the beat.)
This is what to do.
Sit down quietly
And I’ll tell one to you!
That’s right, that’s right, (Point to children sitting quietly.)
That’s right, that’s right!

Two Little Hands

Two little hands go clap, clap, clap. (Clap hands 3 times.)
Two little fingers go snap, snap, snap. (Snap fingers 3 times.)
Two little eyes go blink, blink, blink. (Blink eyes.)
If you want to hear a story go wink, wink, wink. (Wink eyes.)
(Lower your voice as you say each line.)

Hands Up High

Hands up high. (Hands in the air.)
Hands down low. (Hands down.)
Hide those hands, now. (Hands behind your back.)
Where did they go? (Shrug shoulders.)
One hand up. (Right hand up.)
The other hand, too. (Left hand up.)
Clap them, (Clap.)
Fold them, (Fold in lap.)
Here’s a story for you!

Friday, July 12, 2024


Join me and discover how to have fun keeping some of the traditional nursery rhymes alive. 


Story Elements

Discuss the characters, setting, problem, resolution, etc. in nursery rhymes.

Rhyme of the Week

Select a rhyme each week and write it on a poster or language experience chart. Reread the rhyme each day.
*Clap the syllables.
*Find words that rhyme.
*Listen for words that start the same.
*Look up unusual words in the dictionary.
*Dramatize the rhyme.
*Say the rhyme the wrong way and let children correct you.
*Leave out a word and let the children fill in the missing word.
*Connect with art by letting children make puppets, play dough characters, etc.

Piggy Back Tunes
You can sing traditional nursery rhymes to tunes such as “100 Bottles of Pop on the Wall,” “Yankee Doodle,” and ”Gilligan’s Island.”

Thursday, July 11, 2024


Here are some "timeless" finger plays that will have those little fingers and hands totally engaged. Don't worry about age, language or mobility issues, these songs work with everyone. Try these during cooldown or on a scheduled basis. 

Finger Play Ring

Punch a hole in the index card and insert it on a book ring. In several months you will have a ring of rhymes that you can use to entertain the children.

Finger Play Juke Box

Glue finger plays to 6” circles and place them in a gift bag. Write “Juke Box” on the front of the bag. When you have a few extra minutes hand a child a pretend quarter. Tell the child to, “Put it in the juke box and pull out a rhyme.” That child can lead the class in the finger play.

Finger Play Book

Get a pocket folder and invite the children to help you decorate it. Each week as you learn a new rhyme put a copy of the words in the book. (Clear sheet protectors work well for this.) During transitions use the book to entertain the children. (And when I say "entertain" there's more going on here because finger plays really do make children smarter!)

Wednesday, July 10, 2024


It's important for early childhood educators to understand how nursery rhymes and finger plays help children develop language skills and small motor skills. It's also important to help families understand the value in these simple rhymes so they can reinforce them at home.

What skills can children develop by saying nursery rhymes and finger plays?

Engagement – Doing a finger play is a natural way to engage children’s attention and help them focus.

Oral language – Repetition of finger plays and nursery  rhymes builds oral language skills.

Auditory memory – Children activate their short term memory as they memorize rhymes.

Comprehension – Most finger plays and nursery rhymes have a simple story plot for children to follow.

Imagination – With so much time spent in front of a screen, finger plays and nursery rhymes encourage children to make pictures in their brains.

Sequence – Remembering the sequence in finger plays can help children retell stories.

Phonological awareness – Nursery rhymes and finger plays build a foundation for rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.

Eye-hand coordination – Visual connections with finger plays are important for writing and reading.

Small motor skills – Doing finger plays is like sending the fingers to the gym to exercise.

Active Learning - Multiple senses are engaged as children watch and wiggle their fingers and repeat rhymes.

Purposeful Practice for Automaticity
(aka repetition) - Children will enjoy saying these rhymes over and over.

Brain Breaks - Children will be oxygenating the brain and crossing the midline as they do finger plays. Memorizing poems and rhymes is also good for short term memory.

Executive function – Children develop self-regulation and impulse control when they participate in finger plays.

Social skills – All children can be successful with finger plays with this group experience.

Transitions - Finger Plays can be used to entertain children during transitions or any time you’ve got a minute or two.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024


Brain breaks are short movement activities that help children focus and give them a positive outlet for energy and wiggles. Young children need brain breaks every 15-20 minutes to energize their brains and activate their senses.

Note! Children tell you things by their behavior and they will usually let you know when it’s time to get up and move!

Here are three pages of brain breaks that are quick, easy, and fun.

My suggestion would be to choose one at a time and practice it for several days. (Not all of these are going to work, so just throw the ones your students don’t like in the trash and move on to another one.) Glue popular activities to an index card or jumbo craft stick and save them in a bag. After a few weeks you’ll have a bag full of brain breaks.
*Older students will enjoy choosing a brain break and leading their classmates.

Monday, July 8, 2024


In today's video you'll find some simple props and classroom management tricks. You'll be surprised how the "I" phone, "Super" visor, "high five hands," and juke box can add a little fun to your day!


Flashlight Spotlight
Take a flashlight and shine it on a child who is modeling the behavior you are looking for. “Spotlight on (child’s name). He’s got his math book and he’s ready to learn.”

Happy Chappy
You will need some lip balm with a fragrance. Gently rub children’s right hand with a “happy chappy” when they are following directions.

You Knock My Socks Off!

You will need an old pair of socks, a stick, and a piece of string 18” long for this project. Tie a sock to each end of the string. Tie the middle of the string to the stick. When children do something outstanding, take the stick and wave it in the air as you say, “You knock my socks off!”

Mr. Good for You!
A cloth glove, markers, fiberfill, and pipe cleaner are all you need to make a “good for you hand.” First, draw a happy face on one side of the glove with the markers. Fill the glove tightly with fiberfill or another stuffing. Gather the bottom of the glove and secure with a pipe cleaner. Children get “Mr. Good for You” and pat themselves on the back when they accomplish a new task.

Magic Lotion
Take an empty pump dispenser of hand lotion and remove the label. Make a new label for the lotion that says, “Mr./Mrs. (your name)’s Magic Lotion” and tape it to the bottle. When children are upset, frustrated, get a boo boo, or have hurt feelings, give them a “squirt” of magic lotion.

Peace Flower
When two children have a disagreement let them hold the flower with both hands as they look at each other. When they have resolved their conflict they can hug and to back and play.

Sunday, July 7, 2024


"Shhhhhh!"  That doesn't work well with kids, so here are some attention grabbers that will engage children in a positive way. 

Hint!  The best attention grabbers involve children's hands as well as their eyes and ears.  Keep doing the motions and chanting the words until the entire class is following along.

MORE?  Here's another video with a few more tricks to help children focus.



Saturday, July 6, 2024


BRAIN HUGS are an easy strategy that you can use to wake up those little brains - and maybe your brain, too! Draw a line vertically down the middle of your body. That’s called the midline. Every time you cross over that line, you are activating both sides of the brain and building bridges between the hemispheres in the brain. In this video you'll learn some exercises for crossing the midline that are perfect for a brain break or between content areas.

Hint! Put a piece of masking tape or painter’s tape down their bodies so they can visually see how they cross the midline when they sing and exercise.

Friday, July 5, 2024

PD at Home - CHEERS

Give me a cheer! Why? Cheers are a positive way to activate the brain and put a smile on children's faces. I can be in a gym full of kids, and I can quickly get their attention with a cheer. The great thing about these cheers is that every child gets one - you don't have to be smart or wear cool clothes or be the fastest runner. 

Would you like to download these cheer cards?   Introduce one each day and then put it in the box. When you need a cheer, just pull one out.

Thursday, July 4, 2024


Children spend so much time in front of a screen that many of them have a difficult time actually connecting with others and looking them in the eyes. These handshakes are a great way to encourage children to interact with their teacher and friends. They also involve multiple senses that will activate the brain. 

Hint! 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.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024


Several years ago I recorded some "mini" workshops in Texas for the Education Service Center 13. (O.K., to be honest, when you look at the videos you'll realize that I looked quite a big younger 10 years ago than I do now.)

Over the next week I'll post one of those videos each day. I hope that for those of you who can't afford the money or time to attend a conference this summer, this will fill you with ideas and encouragement to start the new school year.

I also hope that these videos will remind you that the best things in life are FREE! Children want and need what they've always wanted. They want to be loved, they want to play and have fun with their friends, and they want to feel confident and capable.

Let's get started today with some good morning songs that will energize children's brains and put a smile on their faces. When you sing, your brain emits endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Choose one of these songs and use it every day for several weeks or months. It will become an "indicator" activity to let children know that it's time to settle down and get ready for a great day.

When you go to an athletic event you will notice how everyone finds their seats and gets ready for the game when they hear the National Anthem.  In the same way, children will be ready to gather and get ready for the "games to begin" when they hear the good morning song.


Check out the new videos that Alex May just created.  Aren't his animal drawings fantastic?

Tuesday, July 2, 2024








Cheers in Spanish
I’m so excited to share these cheer cards that Carla Ureno (El Paso ISD) created! It’s not easy to translate some of these things into Spanish, so Carla needs to KISS HER BRAIN! 

P.S. And thanks to Teacher Toni for updating the graphics. She made them the perfect size to put on a ring.

¡Que las disfruten!

Monday, July 1, 2024


These songs are a meaningful bridge between English and Spanish-
and Spanish and English!

1. Hello Friend
2. Hola Amigo
3. Days of the Week
4. Dias de la Samana
5. Months of the Year
6. Meses del Ano
7. Weather
8. La Cancion del Tiempo
9. Today Is Sunday
10. Hoy Es Domingo
11. Opposites
12. Opuestas
13. Color Farm
14. Colores en la Granja
15. Alphabet in English
16. Alfabeto en Espanol
17. Five Little Monkeys
18. Cinco Monos Pequenos
19. Macarena Math
20. Matematicas de Macarena
21. The Rules Rap
22. Rap de Reglas
23. Tooty Ta
24. Tu Ti Ta
25. Couch Potato Pokey
26. La Sofa Papa Pokeyic
27. If You Are Happy
28. Si Usted Esta Feliz
29. My Mother Is a Baker
30. Mi Mama Es Panadera
31. Special Me
32. Yo Soy Especial
33. Good-Bye Friends
34. Adios Amigos