Thursday, April 19, 2018


April 19th is National High Five Day, but you can start any day with a high five and a smile! Wouldn't your kids be surprised if you drew a smile on your hand like this one?


High Five Cheer

Teach children how to give themselves a “high five” for a job well done. Hold up both palms facing each other in front of your chest. Pretend to wave with one hand as you hold up five fingers on the other hand. “Hi 5!” Get it?

Pat on the Back
Trace around each child’s hand on construction paper and let them cut it out. Write a positive comment about each child on the hand and tape it to their back at the end of the day. Parents will be proud when they see their child’s “pat on the back.”


Pickle Tickle Partner Game

Up high. (Give a high five up in the air.)
Down low. (High five down by knees.)
Cut the pickle. (One child touches fingertips horizontally as the other child pretends to slice in between.)
Give a tickle. (Gently tickle each other.)

High Five
Write sight words on hands and tape to your classroom door. Students must "high five" a hand and read a word before exiting the classroom.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I have so much fun going through ideas teachers have shared with me at my workshops. See if you can make a “fist list” of three new things you’d like to try this week.

Rainbow Clap(Kammi O'Hara) 

Start on one side of your body and clap in an arch over to the other side.

Spiderman(Jessica Schmidt)

To focus children’s attention in the hall say, “Spiderman.” When the children hear that they need to "glue" themselves against the wall.

Silence (Karen Reindl) 

Tell the kids you're going to play "silence." 
"Let's shake it out!" 
Stand tall and still and hold up one hand. Slowly put up one finger at a time. However, if they make noise before that stop until they are silent again. When you get to 5 or 10 everyone can clap.

Self-Regulation(Sarah Mumaw-Flury) 

To discourage children from shouting out the answer, have them whisper their answer to the question in their hand and then hold it up. When the teacher says, “Release!” they open their hand and say/whisper the answer. 

First Thing on Your Paper(Christine Williamson) 

The first thing I do is always the same. 

Pick up a pencil and write my name!

Word of the Day(Mairin Born)

Put a sight word each week (or day) in a clear nametag pocket. All week the kids must name the word or turn it into a sentence as a "ticket" to talk to the teacher.
Hint! Use shapes or letters for younger students.

Class Names(Tune: "Ten Little Indians") 

Aiden, Grayson, Hugh, Jack 
Jacob, Jayden, Mac, Maddie 
Nicholas, Oliver, Samuel Willa 
These are the kids in our class. 

*Sing this song all year to learn each other's names, alphabetical order, etc. With different class sizes, just adjust the names to fit by either singing quickly in a row or drawing out one name a little longer. 

Stress Button(Christine Burchfield)
Put a piece of Velcro on a poker chip for children to keep in their pocket. They can rub the Velcro on the chip to calm down.
*Place Velcro strips on the side of their desk to rub and relax. (Pam Armon)

N.A.P.(Joy & Dawn)

Teach children to say “N.A.P.” when they make a mistake or bad things happen.
N – not
A – a
P – problem

Useful Signs(Miranda)

Teach children signs for white and chocolate milk, as well as specials like art, music, PE, etc.

Daily Song List
Make a song list for each day of the week with a different good morning song, calendar song, phonics song, movement song, and good-bye song.

15 Minutes of Walking/Exercising
Whether or not you have a Fitbit, try building 15 minutes of walking each day as you count, sing letter songs, say days of the week, months, spell words, and review other information.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Engagement is a term that is appearing frequently in educational discussions because so many teachers seem to be struggling with getting children to focus and pay attention. Children are increasingly disengaging from the real world because they are living in a passive state on the screen.

First thing to do is TURN EVERYTHING OFF! If there is a screen on the children will look at it and not at you.
Here are some other tips to engage your students.

1. Look children in their eyes and smile. I don’t care where I go when I sing “I like you there’s no doubt about it” I have the children in the palm of my hand.

     I Like You(Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread”)
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it. (Point to self and then a friend.)
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it.
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it.
     You are my good friend. (Point to friend and then self.)

2. Give your students 100% of your attention. Be in the moment!!! Send the message that YOU are the most important thing in the world right now. I’m giving you my best and I need to you to do the same.

4. Be enthusiastic! Teachers can add the magic to anything with their facial expression, voice, and body language.

5. Be dramatic and break into a song or do something silly. The brain loves novelty!

6. Physical proximity! Get close to your students. Create an intimate space by having the children sit on the floor in a circle. A gentle touch can send a positive message to the brain.

7. Use their name frequently. You might have a child day dreaming and simply saying their name will bring them back to reality.

8. Do a movement activity to focus those busy hands. Lead children in a cheer or a clapping pattern. Use call backs and attention grabbers.

     Tootsie Roll
     Tootsie roll, (Roll hands around each other.)
     Lollipop. (Pretend to lick a lollipop.)
     We’ve been talking, (Open and shut fingers.)
     Now let’s stop! (Make sign language sign for “stop.”)
     Call Backs
     Teacher says: Hands on top (Place hands on head.)
     Children respond: Everybody stop (Children freeze.)
     Teacher says: Macaroni and cheese.
     Children respond: Freeze please (Children freeze.)

9. Use positive redirection to get them to do what you want them to do. Instead of saying, “Sit down and be quiet,” trying singing this tune as you model the motions:

     Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Lap (Tune: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes")
     Head, shoulders, knees, and lap, (Point to appropriate body part.)
     Knees and lap.
     Head, shoulders, knees, and lap, (Point to appropriate body part.)
     Knees and lap.
     Legs are criss-cross applesauce (Cross legs and fold hands.)
     And our hands are in our lap, lap, lap.

10. Lower your voice and pretend to be calm as you cross your hands and smile.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Years ago on our kindergarten assessment we had a section with personal skills, such as “Knows full name, knows address, knows phone number, knows birthday, etc.” It might not be part of your assessment these days, but it is important for children to memorize this information.

Driver's License
Having children make a driver's license might just be the perfect incentive to encourage them to learn their full name, birthday, and address. Use a small photo of each child and attach it to card stock with information similar to the one pictured. Older children can write in the information and younger children can dictate it to an adult.
Hint! It might be helpful to have a hand mirror so children can identify their eye color.

Full Name
Help children learn their full name “The Wheels on the Bus."

My full name is (first) (middle) (last),
____, ____, ____,
____, ____, ____,
My full name is (first) (middle) (last),
That’s my full name.

Birthdays can be sung to “Happy Birthday to You.”
September 24th,
September 24th,
My special birthday
Is September 24th.

Phone Number
Phone numbers can be learned by singing them to “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.”

Addresses can be sung to “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”
874 Pine Oak Circle,
874 Pine Oak Circle,
874 Pine Oak Circle,
Cincinnati, Ohio

Zip Code
Learn zip codes by singing them to the tune of “BINGO.”

There is a zip code where I live
And I will sing it to you.
Now I know my zip code.

These are good rhymes to transition children, as well as to reinforce birthdays, phone numbers, and addresses.

Apples, pears, peaches, plums,
Tell me when your birthday comes.

Candy, candy, ice cream cone.
Tell me the number of your telephone.

Rabbit, dog, cat, mouse,
Tell me the number on your house.

Hint! Have a “cheat sheet” with the information so you can prompt the children that don’t know.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


I have so much fun looking at old blogs and finding ideas that I'd forgotten about. Take a look and maybe you'll find something new this week as I journey down Memory Lane.

Push, Pull, Click, Click (Susan Shomo)
Use this chant to focus children’s attention before identifying flash cards:
Push. (Push hands in the air.)
Pull. (Make a pulling motion)
Click, click. (Snap fingers.)
Say this sound/letter/word/shape
Really quick!

Friendship Lotion (Jennifer Smith)
Write “friendship lotion” on a bottle of lotion or disinfectant. (You could also use an empty bottle.) Children take turns passing it around as they put some in their hands. When everybody has some rub your hands together as you say…”It smells like friendship.”
*This is perfect for the beginning of the school year or whenever you have issues with being kind to friends.

Home/School Connection (M. Seay)
Make a visual conversation starter by writing “Today at school I…” For a closing activity students circle or color what they did so parents can talk to them about it when they get

Crocodile Circle Time Fun (Dona Worley)
You can make a game using a Cascade dishwasher soap box. See for details. Children draw letters or words out of the crocodile.
*Make a hippo game out of a container with a purple top.

Letter Bottle
Fill a plastic bottle half full with sand or salt. Add letter beads and shake. Give children an answer sheet with the alphabet letters from A to Z. As they turn the bottle they can mark off the letters that they find.
*You can do the same thing with little objects.        
Erasers (Megan Blevins)
Use socks as erasers for dry erase boards. You can also glue pompoms to the lid of dry erase markers and use to erase.
Hint! I used E6000 glue! Love the stuff!

Sticker Writing
Let the children pick three stickers to help prompt them to write. After writing they can add a background and details.

Sensory Play (Kristy Vicars)
Place shredded paper in the sand/water table. Hide small objects like rubber animals, beads, magnetic letters, etc. in the paper. Children use tweezers or plastic spoons to remove and identify the objects.

Field Trip Book (Laura Buell)
Take pictures on field trips. Print the pictures, put them in sleeve protectors, and put them in a report folder. Children dictate or write about the pictures on sentence strips. Slide the sentence strips in the sheet protectors and the children will “love” to read about their trip.

Movement Patterns (Amy Grubb)
For transitions or to regain focus do a pattern for students to repeat. Examples:
Snap, snap, clap.
Hop, spin, stomp.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


A Louisiana teacher shared this sweet story about what happened when she let her class "adopt" a special tree on the playground. They named their tree Maggie and hugged her, drew pictures of her in different seasons, read stories and sang songs under her, wrote get the idea. One day as a group of children were playing, one child snapped a branch off another tree. A little boy started to cry because he said, "You're hurting Maggie's friend." I'm not sure "adopting a tree" was in their state standards, but it's a beautiful story about instilling a love of nature in children. And, it's so easy just to take a moment every now and then to focus on trees and all the living things this time of year.                                    

National Arbor Day is April, 27, so you'll want to be sure and check out this website and plan some special activities for your class.

Plant a Tree
Contact your local cooperative extension service, Forestry Services, or National Arbor Day Foundation for free seedlings. Discuss what your tree will need to thrive. Prepare the soil, water your tree, and record its growth.
Divide children into small groups and let them brainstorm all the products we get from trees.
*THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein is a wonderful book to share, but my little kids always wanted to know, "Why did he have to get old?" (I wonder the same thing sometimes!!!)

TREEmendous Writing
Let children look out the window or sit under a tree and write descriptions. Think about the colors in the tree. Are there animals in the tree? What are the parts of a tree?
*For creative writing, ask children to complete this sentence: If I were a tree I would...

Tree Identification
Get a book on trees from your school library. Take a nature walk and challenge the children to identify the trees on the school grounds. How does the bark on trees vary? Do all trees have blossoms in the spring? How are the leaves different?
*Hint! Give children a clipboard and let them draw their favorite tree.
*Let them do rubbings of leaves from different trees and compare.

What's a deciduous tree?  What's an evergreen tree?
Sing this song to the tune of "London Bridge" to help your students learn how about deciduous and evergreen trees.
     If your leaves fall to the ground,
     to the ground,
     to the ground.
     If your leaves fall to the ground
     You're deciduous.
     If your leaves stay green all year,
     green all year,
     green all year.
     If your leaves stay green all year,
     You're an evergreen.

Friday, April 13, 2018


Your students are going to be so proud of this “Earth Book” when they take it home to share with their families.   

Materials: 8” squares of the following colors:
2 orange, 1 green, 1 blue, 1 yellow, 1 brown, 1 purple

To construct the book place down the orange square for the back of the book. Place the “purple sky” on top of this, then the “brown mountains,” “yellow sun,” “blue water,” “green tree,” and finally the front cover with the circle cut out. Staple on the left side. Younger children can read this as a wordless book. Older children can write descriptive sentences on each page. 
Hint! Your students will be overwhelmed to do this all in one day, so stretch this project out by asking them to just do 2 or 3 pages a day.

Here's a pdf with the patterns.