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Monday, July 22, 2024


Create a daily schedule that reflects the age of your students and your curriculum goals. 

"Picture" Our Day
Children read "pictures" before they read words so put photos of different activities on large index cards. Attach a piece of magnetic tape on both sides. As you review your schedule each morning you can insert specials and adapt to changes. Turn the cards over as you complete each activity so children will understand the progression of the day.


Hang Ups
Draw large T-shirts on poster board. Take photos of students doing daily activities. Write the activity, time, and glue the picture to the T-shirts. Next, hang a clothesline across the top of one of your bulletin boards. Clothespin the T-shirts in order to the line. As you move through the day, turn over each shirt so the students can see their day get shorter and shorter. When you get to the last T-shirt do an “end of the day” dance!!!

Our Special Day
This is a book that will help children feel comfortable as they learn the daily routine in your classroom. Read the book each morning to prepare children and to capture their interest in activities you have planned. You could also send the book home with one child each evening to share with their families.

First, take pictures of the children engaged in your daily activities and routines. Glue pictures to construction paper and write captions similar to the ones suggested. (Adapt to the age level of your students and your curriculum.) Put the pages together and bind to make a book.

Welcome to Marshall School
Put away your backpack and get ready for a great day! 

We start our day with circle time and a song!
We talk, do the calendar, and learn together.

Next, it’s time for language arts.
We read, write, listen, and learn!

Time to go outside for P.E.
We need to exercise our bodies as well as our brains.

Next comes math! We count, add, subtract, measure,
graph, and think!
Time for lunch.
I’m hungry! How about you?

Story time is always special.
Books are friends that we love to visit again and again.

Then it’s time for learning centers.

Let’s recall and review our day.
Don’t forget your backpacks!
Good-bye, friends!
See you tomorrow!

You can use a play phone for this activity. Start each day by passing the phone around the class and asking each child to say a sentence about what they want to learn or do that day. “I …..” Only the person holding the phone is allowed to talk!


Sunday, July 21, 2024


The amazing thing is that the more parents are involved, the better their children do and the more they value the school. One of the best opportunities to get your parents to sign up to help will be when you have your open house.

Here are some suggestions for a check list where parents could check off how they will support your program:

Attend meetings and conferences.
Chaperone field trips.
Make phone calls or send emails.
Plan parties.
Collect free items for projects. Participate in recycling programs.
Make games and materials for the classroom.
Assist with technology for the classroom.
Plan service projects and fund raisers.
Share their culture, trips, career, or a hobby with the children.
Volunteer to tell stories, assist with learning centers, help with a project.
Tutor children.
Participate in clean-up days or repair broken equipment.
Compile a class scrapbook or video.
Advocacy for legislation that supports children and education.
What other hobbies or talents would you be willing to share with our class?

Brown Bag Special
This is perfect for the working parent. Put materials for making games, art projects, etc. in a brown grocery sack. Children get to deliver the “brown bag special” to their parents to complete at home. They will be so proud to return the bag knowing that their parent is involved in their classroom!

Hint! For parents with computer access and financial resources, ask them to download books and free materials from the internet. For other parents, you could put in paper and a pattern for them to cut out for a class game. Everybody can do something and everybody needs to feel appreciated for their efforts!

Helping Hands
Cut out paper hands and write different items you would like for your classroom, such as paper lunch bags, tissues, plastic bags, etc. (You know all those things you have to buy with your own money! Materials could range from something inexpensive to a Dust Buster or old rocking chair.) Tape these to your door and “invite” parents who would like to help to choose a hand and purchase those items.

The Kissing Hand
What would we do without this wonderful book to help children (and parents) transition to school. I know there are countless activities to do with this book, but one of the simplest is to have parents and children trace and cut out each other’s hands the first day of school. After kissing the hands, pin the parent’s hand to the child and send the parent to the “tear tea” below with their child’s hand.

Tear Tea
Sometimes it’s as difficult for the parents to say good-bye as it is for the children. Planning a tea for parents in the library after they drop their children off will ease the separation. It would also be a great time to recruit volunteers for the school!

Hint! Give a pack of tissues as a party favor!

Welcome Step Book for Parents (Kristine White)
Prepare a book for parents with important information.
Welcome – All about the teacher
Contact Information – email, phone, conference schedule
Daily Schedule
Weekly Folders – expectations for the parents
Morning Procedures and Afternoon Dismissal

Tell Me About Your Child
Give parents an envelope and ask them to write you a letter about their child. What a simple way to encourage parents to share special information and show how much you care!

TLC for Parents
Put the note below in an envelope with a cotton ball and tea bag and send it home to the parents the first day of school.

Dear Parents,
Thank you for entrusting your child to me. I promise to do my best every day to be your
child’s companion in learning. Sit down, relax, and have a cup of tea. Hold the cotton ball in your hand to remind you of the gentle spirit of your child. I know we will have a wonderful year as we learn and grow together!
Sincerely, (Teacher’s Name)

Saturday, July 20, 2024


If you’re stressed about getting your room decorated for the first day of school, I've got a great idea for you!!!! Wrap yellow caution tape around your door and post a sign that says “Under Construction.” Explain to the parents that you are trying to develop a classroom community and you want your students to decorate their own learning environment. Invite parents to come back at the end of the week to see what their children have created!

Clare Ashford has a great idea to take “under construction” one step further.
“Before Meet the Teacher night (before school starts), I wrap all my bookcases, computers, etc. in butcher paper and then put an ‘under construction’ sign on them. It serves 2 purposes. 1- that way kids don't get into things while I'm busy talking to people! and 2- we ‘unwrap’ the items together as a class when we're ready to use whatever it is. It is very helpful and makes for an organized start to the year!”

Here are some crafts your students can make to decorate the classroom.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Make a house from construction paper for each child. Fold the paper in half vertically. Open. Fold in the top corners to the middle. Fold up the bottom. Let children write their name on the front of the house. They can open the house and draw their family. You could also ask child to bring in a photograph of their family. Add some trees and a school and you have a great bulletin board.

Class Quilt
Use group art to create a visual representation of the “community” in your classroom. Give each child a 9” square and have them decorate it with pictures of themselves, drawings of their families or favorite things, collage materials, etc. Punch holes in the corner of each square and tie together with yarn to make a quilt to display in the classroom or hallway.

Friendship Chain
Give each child a strip of construction paper to decorate with their name, symbols of favorite things, or designs. Children sit in a circle and one at a time give the teacher their strip to staple and make a chain. Remind the children that your classroom is just like that chain. Everyone must work together to keep it connected and strong. Drape the chain over the doorway.

Banners, Pennants, and Name Plates
Use construction to let children create banners or pennants that reflect them. They might include hobbies, favorite foods, pets, family members, goals, etc.

Fit Like a Puzzle
Take a large sheet of poster board and cut it into puzzle shapes. (You will need one puzzle piece for each child in the room. Mark the back of the piece with an “X” so they will know which side to decorate.) After the children have decorated their piece, challenge them to put their pieces together to make a puzzle. Glue pieces to another sheet of poster board to create a picture puzzle for your classroom.

Isn't this a great sign for your classroom door?

Mirror, Mirror!
You know how much kids love to look at themselves in a mirror. Each day put a positive word or note on your classroom mirror to remind the children how special they are!

Lights, Camera, Action!
I loved this idea from KIRPC Head Start in Indiana. The teacher said she bought sheets, tied the ends with ribbons, and then hung them on hooks around the smart board. Taaa daaa!


Friday, July 19, 2024


These are some simple books that you can make to create interest in reading and nurture your classroom community.

I Like to Come to School
(Tune: "The Farmer in the Dell")
I like to come to school.
I like to come to school.
I like to learn and play each day
I like to come to school.

I like to make new friends…
I like to read and write…
I like to do math…
I like to sing and draw…/

*Ask children other things they like about school and insert their suggestions in the song.
*Write children’s suggestions on sentence strips and use in a pocket chart.

*Make a class book where each child draws a picture about what they like best at school. They can dictate or write a sentence to go with their drawings. Read the book several times to the class and then allow children to “check it out” and take it home.

Hello Book

Glue each child's photo on a sheet of paper and write “Hello, (child’s name).” at the top. Punch holes in the pages and put them together with book rings. (If you bind the book on the bottom it will be easy to turn the pages as you hold it in your lap.)

Use the book in the following ways:
* Circle or Group Time: Start your day by reading the book together and saying hello to each other.
* Questions: Use the book when you want to ask the class questions. Randomly turn to a page and call on that child to answer the question. This will allow “thinking time” and discourage children from shouting out the answer.
* Transitions: Use this book to dismiss children for learning centers, to line up, and other transitions. Flip through the book and hold up different pictures. As the children see their photo, they may be dismissed, line up, and so on.
* Sing and read this book to the tune of “Good Night, Ladies.”
Hello, (child’s name).
Hello, (child’s name).
Hello, (child’s name).
We're glad you're in our room.

Who Do You See?
We all know wonderful Bill Martin’s “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” Your children will love saying and “reading” this version with you. Put each child’s photo on a page with this chant at the top:

(Child’s name), (child’s name), who do you see?
On the bottom of the page write:
I see (second child’s) name looking at me.
On the last add the teacher’s photo with this rhyme:
Children, children, who do you see?
I see (teacher’s name) looking at me.
(Teacher’s name), (teacher’s name), who do you see?
I see happy children ready to learn with me!

*Make two copies of this book so one child can take it home each day to share with their families.
*Introduce children to school helpers with a similar book with the principal, secretary, custodian, nurse, PE teacher, music teacher, and other specialists.
*Carolyn Kisloski takes a picture of the children's shoes to make this book..."Whose shoes do you see?"

The Name of My School
Do you get tired of children saying, “Teacher, teacher!” the first few days of school. This song will enable them to learn the name of their teacher, school, principal, as well as their community, city, state, and country. Take photographs of yourself, the principal, the school, your community, and so forth. Glue pictures to construction paper and write a verse similar to those below on each page. Sing the words to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”

The name of my school is (school’s name),
school’s name), (school’s name).
The name of my school is (school’s name).
That’s the name of my school.
The name of my teacher is (teacher’s name), (teacher’s name),
(teacher’s name)…

The name of my principal is…
The name of my librarian is…
The name of my P.E. teacher is…

Hint! Make a similar book for social studies concepts.
The name of my city is...
The name of my state is...
The name of my country is...
The name of my continent is...
The name of my planet is...
Hint! You could also include the name of your mayor, governor, President, etc.

Need a smile for the first week of school? Check out this video that my webmaster Alex May created.

How do bees get to school?
By school buzz.

How do fish get to school?
By octobus.

What do gorillas learn in school?
Their Ape, B, Cs.

What does a snake study in school?
Hisss - tory

Why did the music teacher need a ladder?
To reach the high notes.

What kind of school do you go to if you’re a surfer?
A boarding school.

Thursday, July 18, 2024


It’s often said that, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” That is particularly true with children and their parents! I shared the brochure below at some "online" back to school workshops that I did. Several teachers sent messages asking for more details, so here you go!

Make a brochure about yourself, your school, and fun activities you have planned for the year and mail it to the children before school begins. To make a brochure, fold a sheet of paper into thirds. On the front section write “Welcome to your name’s Classroom Family!” On the left section place a picture of yourself and write some personal information about your family, pets, experience, etc. On the inside write “We’ll have a great year together…" list all the fun activities with pictures.

*I think an emoji paper doll teacher would be a big hit as well.
Note! That Dr. Jean doesn't have any wrinkles!!!

Paper Doll Teacher
Here’s something fun to make for your door to welcome the students. Lay on a large sheet of butcher paper and ask a friend to trace around your body. (You’ve probably done this to your children before.) Color yourself and cut yourself out. (Go ahead and take off a few inches if you want to!) Tape this on the door, and then make the following labels and attach them to the different body parts. “A head full of great ideas,” “A mouth to sing you songs and read you stories,” “Arms for hugging,” “Hands to help your learn new things,” “Pockets to hold surprises,” “Play shoes for outdoor fun,” and “A heart full of love for you!”

Who Is My Teacher?
Make a book about yourself to read to the children the first day of school. Include a photograph of yourself as a child, family photos, pictures of pets, favorite foods, hobbies, why you enjoy teaching, etc. Let one child take the book home each evening to share with their families. (What a simple way to build a partnership with your parents!)

Hint! You might even ask each parent to make a similar book about his child to place in your classroom library.

Welcome Collage (Emily Hall, Danville, VA)
Make a poster with “Who is teacher’s name?” in the middle. Put pictures of your favorite things, places, foods, etc. on the poster. Add personal pictures of friends and family. Display this at Open House. For the first few days of school let each student pick a picture for you to talk about.

Special Memories
You know all of those love letters and pictures children draw for you each year? Why not use a three-ring notebook to save them so children will realize they are special to you? Keep the notebook in your classroom library so the children can revisit it all year long.

Make a welcome kit for each child when they come to open house or to visit before the first day.  Put the letter and some of the following items in a zip bag:
cotton ball, Hershey’s kiss, sticker, rubber band, penny, tissue, gold star, band aid, Life Saver, gold thread eraser (You can adapt these items anyway you'd like.)

Welcome to your new classroom. Each item in this bag has a special meaning for you!”

*The cotton ball is to remind you that this room is full of kind words and warm feelings.
*The chocolate kiss is to remind you that I care about you.
*The sticker is to remind you that we will all need to stick together and
help each other.
*The rubber band is to remind you to hug someone.
*The penny is to remind you that you are valuable and special.
*The tissue is to remind you to help dry someone’s tears.
*The star is to remind you to shine and always try your best.
*The bandage is to remind you to heal hurt feelings in your friends and yourself.
*The gold thread is to remind you that friendship ties our hearts together.
*The eraser is to remind you that everyone makes mistakes, and that is okay.
*The Life Saver is to remind you that you can always come to me if you need someone to help you.
With love, (Teacher’s Signature)

Wednesday, July 17, 2024


How can something so simple be used in so many ways? Make name cards and you’ll be able to use them to help children get to know their classmates, plus:

print connections
alphabet knowledge
phonological awareness,
motivation to read
classroom management

Write each child’s name on a card and glue their picture on the right as shown. Store the name cards in a box or basket.

Sign In
Place name cards by a large sheet of paper. Each day when children come to school they can find their card and write their name on the chart.

Writing Center
Keep cards in the writing center so children can use their friends’ names to write stories, notes, etc.

Pull names to line up, answer questions, go to centers, etc.

Place cards on the rug before circle time. Children find their name and sit in that spot. (The cards can be used in a similar manner for snack or table activities.)
NOTE! This is a perfect way to separate children who challenge you.

Mystery Name
Choose one child’s name each day and place it in an envelope. Give clues about the consonants and vowels in the name. For example, “This person’s name has one vowel and it is in the middle.” Write an “a” on the envelope. “Whose name could it be? This name has a /t/ sound at the end.” Write a “t” on the envelope. “Anybody guess whose name this might be? There is a /p/ at the beginning of this name.” Write a “P” on the envelope. “Stand up if this is your name.” Pull the name card from the envelope to verify.

Give children dry cereal or buttons and let them play Bingo with their name cards. As you call out letters they cover them up if they are in their name.

Hint! As children become familiar with their names, let them choose a symbol or sticker to replace their photo. During the next stage, write each child’s name using a different color for the first letter in their name. Finally, just use cards with the children’s names.

Hold up name cards as you sing this song to the tune of "Good Night, Ladies."
Hello (1st child)!
Hello (1st child)!
Hello (1st child)!
We're glad you're here today!

Hello (2nd child)! and so forth...


Are these cute or what???

Use the attached pattern to make bears for the students in your classroom. Take photos of their faces and run them off to be about 2 1/2" or to fit in the bear's head. Glue their face on the head and then write their name on the body. Start each day by singing the children's names in the song below to the tune of "Twinkle Little Star" as you hold up their bear.

(1st child's name) (1st child's name) who do you see?
I see (2nd child's name) looking at me.
(2nd child's name) (2nd child's name) who do you see?
I see (3rd child's name) looking at me....

Tuesday, July 16, 2024


When is your first day back to school?
Whenever it is, this coming week I'll share 
activities to get you excited to begin.

Names are very important to children. (Call them by the wrong name and they will let you know about it!) Here are some songs and chants you can use to help the children learn their classmates’ names as you nurture your “classroom family.”

Who Ate the Cookie?
Child’s name ate the cookie (Hold up name card.)
in the cookie jar.
Who me? (First child responds.)
Yes you. (Class chants.)
Couldn’t be? (First child.)
Then who? (Class chants.)
Second child’s name ate (Hold up another name.)
the cookie in the cookie jar…

*Cut out paper cookies and write the children’s names on them. Store in an empty cookie box and use as you say the chant.

*Cut out gingerbread cookies. Glue children’s faces on the head and write their names on the bodies. Add a strip of magnetic tape to the back and these can be used for signing in, the question of the day, or graphs.

*Make cookies and glue the child’s photo to one side and print their name on the other side. Place the cookies face down on the floor. Children try to read their friends’ names and then flip over with a spatula to confirm.

Hickety Pickety 
*This is great for phonological awareness!
(Clap hands and snap fingers.)
Hickety, pickety bumblebee
Who can say their name for me? Child’s name.
Clap it. (Clap out syllables as you say the name.)
Snap it. (Snap syllables in name.)
Whisper it. (Whisper name.)
No sound. (Lip sinc name.)

Name Cheer
(Cheer each child’s name.)Give me a ‘K’.
‘K’ - I’ve got a ‘K,’ you’ve got a ‘K.’
Give me an ‘i’…Give me an ‘M’
What’s it spell? ‘Kim’ Say it again. ‘Kim’ One more time. ‘Kim’ Yeah!!!

Shakey, Shakey
(Clap hands or slap knees.)
Child’s name, child’s name sick in bed.
Called the doctor and the doctor said,
“Get up child’s name, you’re not sick.
All you need is an exercise trick.”
So hands up, and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Get down and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Turn around and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Sit down and shakey, shakey, shakey.

Hint! When doing these chants, never force children to participate. If you have a very shy child, I would ask them if they would like you to use their name. Often, they want to hear their name, but they don’t want to stand up and dance.

Little Red Box
(Tune: “Polly Wolly Doodle”)
I wish I had a little red box
To put my child’s name in. (Hold up name card.)
I’d take him/her out and go,
“How do you do?” (Pretend to shake hand.)
And put him/her back again.
*Sing “Hug, hug, hug” instead of “How do you do?” as you pretend to hug.
Cover a small box with red paper and insert the name cards. Pull out one at a time as you sing the song.

Pick It Up
Write children's names on paper plates.  Have children stand in a circle and put 4-5 plates in the middle on the floor.  The children find their name and pick it up when you sing it in this song that goes to the tune of "If You're Happy."
If your name is on a plate pick it up.
If your name is name is on a plate pick it up.
If your name is on a plate then we think that you are great.
If your name is on a plate pick it up.

*Hint!  For younger children say the name on the plate as you put them on the floor.

Letter Song
(Tune: “The Bear Went over the Mountain”)
Use the first letter of each child’s name as you sing.
W is for Will,
W is for Will,
W is for Will,
And he’s a friend of mine.

(Traditional Tune)
There is a friend in our class
And David is his name-o.
D – A – V – I - D
D – A – V – I - D
D – A – V – I - D
And David is his name-o.

*Hint! You may have to be creative as you use different children’s names in this song. Short names you will have to stretch out and long names try using the first five letters.

Monday, July 15, 2024


This August will be the 55th anniversary of my career as a teacher. Can you believe it? I started teaching at Montclair Elementary in1969. I remember that I was terrified about my first day. My mother smiled and said, “Oh, honey, just love them and be sweet to them.” That was some of the best advice then, now, and forever!

It used to be so much more fun to be a teacher. It’s more difficult now because of academic pressure, data, test scores, and lack of support from parents. I worry about you because it seems so many of you are getting “beat up” by evaluations and unrealistic demands. Think of me as your “grandmother teacher” who hugs you and tells you that you’re doing a great job...BECAUSE YOU ARE!

A friend who taught with me over 50 years ago visited recently and said, “I remember how you would take the most pitiful little child and write on their hand: YOU ARE AMAZING AND WONDERFUL! Or, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! Or, YOU ARE SPECIAL! She said, “Why did you do that?” My response was, for once in their lives, I wanted them to feel that way. I wanted them to know that someone believed in them. (Now they’d probably throw me in jail for writing on a child’s hand, but you get the point.)

(Tune: “Simple Gifts”)
Jean Feldman and Hollynd Feldman Karapetkova

Tis’ you who cares,
And tis’ you who shares.
Tis’ you who teaches
Children everywhere.
Tis’ you who inspires,
Tis’ you who molds.
You help children’s gifts
And dreams unfold.

Tis’ you our teachers
For some child you’re the
Only one who cares.
And when you come at last
To the end of your days,
I have touched a life
Is what you can say.

It’s not the test scores.
It’s not the workbooks.
Into the hopeful eyes
Of each child you must look.
You plant the seeds of learning
With smiles and grace.
Each day you make the world
A better place.

Tis’ you our teachers
For some child you’re the
Only one who cares.
And when you come at last
To the end of your days,
I have touched a life
Is what you can say.

P. S.  Sometimes you just have to SHUT YOUR DOOR, follow your heart, and do what is best for your children. (It also is easier to ask forgiveness than permission!)

Here is a sign that one teacher told me she put on her door. I showed it at a workshop and a participant came up at the end and said, "Dr. Jean, I don't think my principal would like that."  Come on, you just have to have a sense of humor!!!

P.S. One year I had an "issue" with an administrator. I happened to be teaching adults at the time and I was standing up for something I believed in. It broke my heart and my spirit, but I will never forget what one of my adult students said: "Dr. Jean, don't let them take away your joy!" I tell you that because NOBODY CAN EVER TAKE AWAY YOUR JOY IF YOU DON'T LET THEM!!!