Monday, September 30, 2013


No, I'm not selling my house, but today's blog is about LISTS. Last week I heard a reporter discuss how "people love lists."  List of the top ten best dressed...list of the top college football teams...list of the best movies...lists, lists, lists!  It dawned on me (in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep) that making lists would be a good way to engage children in informative writing.

Younger children could make lists of 1-5, while older students could do lists of 10.  Younger children could draw pictures, dictate, or use invented spelling.  Older students could be encouraged to write complete sentences.  So, what could they make lists of????  Bet you could add to this list!

List of their favorite books.
List of their favorite songs.
List of their favorite foods.
List of their favorite subjects at school.
List of their favorite animals/pets.
List of their favorite sports or games.
List of what they can do if they finish their work early.
List of the things they love.
List of things that bug them.
List of things that make them happy.
List of how to be a buddy/friend.

Lists could also be included in units of study by having children keep a list of things they learned, facts, etc.

So, are you going to love it and LIST it?

Sunday, September 29, 2013


I should be apologizing to you for not sending you better blogs the past few days, but I only had a few hours at home to turn around and head to DC to visit the grandchildren.  Ahhh!  My JOY!  Anyway, here’s a sweet thought for you on this Sunday.  And I promise I’ve got some great blogs coming your way starting Monday!

When I am introduced as a teacher, I am usually asked what I teach.  When I say, “Kindergarten,” I generally hear a very flat, “Oh.”  I have never been certain whether that is an expression of pity, disgust, or perhaps disinterest.  Always I wish I had time to explain to them like this: 

Yes, I teach kindergarten.  Where else would a handsome and very young man put his arms and me and ask, “Do you know I love you?”

Where else could I see a fashion show daily and keep up on the latest trends for
the very young?

Where else could my limited wardrobe be complimented or my earrings thought

Where else could I eat a soiled piece of candy from a grimy little hand and not become ill?

Where else could I have the privilege of wiggling loose teeth and receive the promise that I may pull them when they’re loose enough?

Where else could I guide a chubby little hand that some day may write a book
or an important document?

Where else could I walk around the room and have little warm hands reach up to touch me?

Where else could I forget my own aches and pains because of so many cut fingers, scratched knees, bumped heads, and broken hearts that need care?

Where else could my mind stay so young as with a group whose attention span is so short that I must always keep a bag of tricks up my sleeve?

Where else could I feel so close to my Maker as I do each year because of something that I have done to help one of His little children learn and grow.
            Yes, I teach kindergarten and I love it!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Leaf Hunt - Give each child a lunch sack and let them collect 2 or 3 leaves from the ground. Bring these back in the classroom and sort by shape, color, etc.  You could also graph the leaves by shape.  (Whenever you collect items outside emphasize the importance of taking things from the ground.  Return the objects to where you found them after exploring with them in the classroom.)

Research – Check out a leaf identification book from the library.  Can children match up their leaves with those in the book to identify which tree they came from.
Leaf Rubbings - Lay a sheet of paper on top of a leaf. Remove the paper from an old crayon and rub the side over the leaf to make a print.Hint! Use rubber cement to glue the leaf to the table. It will be easier for the children to make a rubbing, and you can just rub off the rubber cement after the activity.
Leaf Book - Let each child find a "favorite" leaf. To preserve, place the leaf in a sheet of newspaper and put a book on top. Place the leaf in a zip baggie. Encourage children to dictate or write a sentence about their leaf. Put the baggies together to make a class book.

I Wonder Why? - Brainstorm why leaves turn colors and fall off trees in the fall. Have children go home and do a little research with their parents and report results in class the following day.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Gray Squirrel
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,         (Hold hands close to chest like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail.                  (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.                  (Wiggle your bottom.)
Wrinkle up your little nose,         (Wrinkle nose.)
Hide a nut between your toes.     (Pretend to hold a nut in your paws.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.

Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,         (Hold hands close to chest like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail.                  (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.                  (Wiggle your bottom.)
Climb up in the tallest tree.         (Arms climb up above head.)
Let your tail blow in the breeze.  (Wiggle bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.

Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,         (Hold hands close like paws.)
Swish your bushy tail.                  (Wiggle your bottom.)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.                  (Wiggle your bottom.)
If you’ll be a friend of mine,         (Point to self and then a friend.)
I will be a friend of yours.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel,
Swish your bushy tail.

Note!  Visit, click on September, 2007, and then click on “Gray Squirrel.”  You will be able to download an adorable book that Martha Sheehan created to go with this song.  The song is on disk one of my CD “Happy Everything.”

Gray Squirrel – Have children draw the body of a squirrel on a gray sheet of paper and cut out it out.   Staple the squirrel to a straw to make a puppet.  Staple a piece of felt or fake fur to the squirrel for a bushy tail.
*Trace around children's feet and attach with a brad to make a squirrel.

Nutty Math – Purchase a bag of mixed nuts at the store.  Children can use these for counting activities, as well as sorting and patterning.  Children will also enjoy cracking the nuts open and picking out the “meat.”
Note!  Be aware of allergies before using nuts in your classroom.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Some of you have asked where I will be in the upcoming school year.  Whoopee!  Here are my dates.  Look on the (Staff Development for Educators) website for details.
ROCK, RHYME, WRITE, READ!  (And a Little Common Core!)
10/22-Harrisburg, PA,
10/23-Mt. Laurel, NJ 

11/06-Houston, TX 

11/07-Dallas, TX 

11/13- Los Angeles, CA 

11/14-Phoenix, AZ 

11/19- Columbia, SC 

12/03- Islandia, NY 

12/04 - Hartford, CT 

1/15-Atlanta, GA
1/16-Milwaukee, WI
1/21-Salt Lake City, UT
1/22-Denver, CO
1/28-Wichita, KS
1/29-Springfield, MO
2/4-Albuquerque, NM
2/5-El Paso, TX
3/25-New Orleans, LA
3/26-Jackson, MS
4/01-Knoxville, TN
4/02-Lexington, KY
4/08-Des Moines, IA
4/09-Elk Grove Village, IL
5/06-Livonia, MI
5/07-Indianapolis, IN

*I’ll also be presenting at these Kindergarten Conferences:
12/05-06/13, Florida Kindergarten Conference - Orlando, FL 

12/09-10/13, North Carolina Kindergarten Conference - Greensboro, NC

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I received this email and photo from my friend Sam Williams who is a FANTASTIC teacher in Tampa!  They are into the Common Core BIG time, but Sam continues to find ways to teach creatively while meeting the rigorous demands.  This has the writing standards all over it!!!

I wanted to send you this picture. I am doing a different take on reading 'buddies" this year. I have a super hero theme in my classroom. We have paired up with a 4th grade class and we call them our Super Friends. I have always done reading buddies, but this year the 4th graders interviewed my kids and then my kids interviewed them. The idea is for them to build a connection and understand their Super Friend’s likes, family, friends, etc. So at our next meeting we are going to the library and the 4th graders will teach our kids how to find books that they are interested in. Believe it or not, I am planning (later in the year) to do a research project with both classes so they will work together on this project and go to the computer lab and library to do research.

I can already see the benefit with my kids. They have really opened up. It also helps that my non-English speakers are paired up with a bilingual 4th grader.  The picture I am forwarding is of a student who did not talk for the first several days of school. (Mom and Dad do not speak any English.)  She is already asking questions, saying a few words, and today on her own counted to 5 and put the numbers in order. YEAH!  I just wanted to share one of my little successes with you.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


How about a quick, inexpensive, multi-functional game today? 

WHAT?  small photo album (available at Walmart or a dollar store), construction paper, markers

WHY?  RAN – otherwise known as Rapid Automatic Naming - is the ability
to look at a picture or image and retrieve the name for it.  This is an important pre-reading skill, but it transfers over to recognition of sight words, math facts, and many other academic tasks.

The advantage of this game is that you can play it when you have two or three extra minutes before lunch, after math, etc.  Adapt the game for very young children with pictures of animals, fruits and vegetables, etc.  For older children use shapes. Letters, numerals, words, fluency phrases, math facts…there are endless possibilities!  Change the “joke” card to relate to a holiday, season, or theme.  For example, in November use turkey stickers and the children can stand up and “gobble.”  When doing a dinosaur unit use pictures of dinosaurs with the word “ROAR!”
This version is for children to practice “subitizing,” or recognizing the amount without counting.  When the blank card appears they jump up with their arms in the air and say, “Zero the Hero”!
HOW?  Cut paper the size of the photo album.  Make dot patterns on the cards.  Leave several blank.   Insert in the album.  When you flash through the children quickly call out the amount.  When the blank/zero amount comes up they pretend to be Zero.                       

*You add the magic in any game!  Be dramatic, be silly, and they’ll love you and the game!

Monday, September 23, 2013


Did you know that Mt. Rushmore and Graceland are the top two iconic places in the United States?  And my husband and I have been lucky enough to visit both of them this year!!!  Mt. Rushmore is breathtaking!  Crazy Horse is amazing!  The Black Hills are spectacular!  And the teachers and children in South Dakota are WONDERFUL!!!  Wendy Jarvis at the State Department of Education set up my whirlwind tour of Rapid City, Pierre, and Sioux Falls last week.  Memories of driving through cornfields and sunflower fields in the golden autumn sun will stay with me forever!  That’s what I call America’s heartland!

Squirrel Handshake  (Alicia S.)
One partner holds out their arm while the other partner quickly crawls up from the wrist to the shoulder with fingers.

Fire Truck Cheer  (Kayla & Students)
Make siren sound as you twirl your finger around.
Act like putting out a fire with a hose.
Point and say, “That’s smokin’.”

Backpack  (Amy Bruening)
Cut one inch off the top of a lunch sack.  Cut in half to make two straps to glue to the back.  Fold down the top about two inches.  You’re ready for a bear hunt or nature walk!

Let’s Make a Circle (Val Minihan)
(Tune:  “Lassie and Laddie”)
Let’s make a circle, a circle, a circle.
Let’s make a circle and hold hands right now.
Hold hands with a friend.
The circle won’t end.
Let’s make a circle and hold hands right now.
*What a sweet way to start circle time!

(Tune:  “Bingo”)
There was a very fuzzy duck
And Ducky was his name-o.
D – u – c -  k – y
D – u – c -  k – y
D – u – c -  k – y
And Ducky was his name-o.

Ring around the Rosie  (Rhonda Henschen)
Here’s a second verse after the children are on the ground…
Cows are in the meadow
Eating buttercups.
Thunder, lightning,
We all jump up!  (Children jump up!)

Lids of Learning (Lynn)
Save gallon milk lids to sort by color, make a tower, write a letter or number and match, etc.

Color Finders  (Meghan Kelly)
Give children binoculars or spy glasses (made from TP rolls) and they can be the “color finders”!
*Works with any concept, such as shapes, letters, etc.

Train Tracks (Carrie Spillman)
To help three and four year olds line up tell them to make a train.  Each child has to join the train and stay on the tracks.  If a child runs ahead remind them to “stay on the tracks.”

Attendance Math  (Heidi Stroud)
Write children’s names on index cards and hold up one at a time.  Children stand when they see their name.  Count all the children and then subtract the missing children.  14-2=12

Transition Song  (Sarah Jensen)
Here comes uncle Jesse.
He’s riding through the fields
On his horse and buggy
And he’s hollering  (Color # name).

Teamwork (Rhonda Henschen)
After playing a game, to encourage teamwork and good sportsmanship gather in a huddle, put hands in together, and cheer, “We had great teamwork!  Good job!”

Putting on Gloves   (Ardeth Egleston)
Little ones struggle with putting on gloves.  Cut the fingers off an old pair of gloves so they can see where to put their fingers and practice.

Sweet Smelling Day (Jill)
Put peppermint, lemon, root beer, or almond extract in a basket by the door.  When the children leave for the day, put a dab of extract on a cotton ball and rub it on the back of their hand to smell on the way home and remind them that they had a sweet smelling day!

Music Notes (Teresa Presner)
Use hands to help children learn music notes. 
Make a circle in the air and raise 4 fingers.  “A whole note is worth 4 beats.”
Lift 2 fingers.  “A half note is worth 2 beats.”
Lift one finger up.  “A quarter note is worth 1.”
Bend that one finger in half.  “An eighth note is one worth ½ beat.”

7 Little Letters  (Marj C.)
Give laminated upper and lowercase letters to children.  Insert letters in the song “Five little ducks went out to play…”  Children hold their letters up and go to the teacher when their letter is sung.

A Ram Sam Sam
A ram sam sam  (Tap fists on top of each other.)
A ram sam sam
Gooly gooly gooly gooly gooly  (Roll hands around.)
Ram sam sam.
A ram sam sam
A ram sam sam
Gooly gooly gooly gooly gooly
Ram sam sam.
A raffi, a raffi,  (Throw arms up in the air.)
Gooly goooly gooly gooly gooly
Ram sam sam.
A raffi, a raffi,
Gooly gooly gooly gooly gooly
Ram sam sam.

Flannel Boards  (Barbara Biwer)
Cover the lid of a pizza box with felt.  Keep flannel pieces inside so children can retell stories and them put them away.

Quieting Trick  (Paul Plume)
Explain to the children that Samari are loud and noisy, but Ninjas are quiet and patient.  Pretend to be Ninjas when you walk down the hall.

Phone Song  (Heather Tromp)
(Tune:  “Camptown Racers”)
393-9093 Do dah do dah
393-9093 Do dah do dah
The Pumpkin House Story.  Somethings never go out of style!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


It's the first day of my favorite season!!!  Here some activities to celebrate this week!

Leaves Are Falling
(Tune:  “London Bridge”)
Leaves are falling  (Echo song.  Children repeat each line.)
Leaves are falling   (Flutter fingers down.)
To the ground.       (Touch the ground.)
To the ground.
Red, orange, and yellow  (Flutter fingers.)
Red, orange, and yellow
Falling down.          (Touch the ground.)
Falling down.
*Let children dramatize being leaves and dancing in the wind.  As the song ends they fall quietly to the ground.
*What happens to leaves after they fall from the trees?  Later in the fall when there are lots of leaves on the ground demonstrate how to pick up a handful of leaves and crumple them in your hands.  Explain how those leaves will decay and turn into soil.

It’s Fall
(Tune:  “It’s Raining”)
It’s fall, it’s fall,
The best season of all.
Pumpkins, scarecrows,
Football, too.
A special time for me and you.

Why do you think they call this season “fall”?  What’s another name for fall?
What season comes before fall?  What season comes after fall?  Fall is a cool off time between hot summer and cold winter.

Signs of Fall
Brainstorm signs of fall and write them on the board.  What kind of clothes do we wear in fall?  What’s the weather like in the fall?  Are there any special seasonal foods we eat?  What kind of sports are popular in fall?   What holidays do we celebrate in the fall?  What do animals do to get ready for winter?  What do plants do in the fall?
*Let children make an attribute web and label it with pictures of words of things that remind them of fall.

Nature Walk
Go on a nature walk and look for signs of fall.  Provide children with tablets, paper, and pencils so they can record their “observations” on the walk. 

I Like Autumn Language Experience Chart
Let children dictate sentences about why they like autumn.  Older children could write their own original stories about, “Fall, Fall, Best of All!” 

Acrostic Poem
Write the words “fall” or “autumn” vertically down the side of a sheet of paper.  Children think of a word that starts with each letter that relates to fall.

Paper Bag Tree

Tear (or cut) four strips from the top of the bag to the flap.  Open.  Squeeze the middle of the bag and twist.  Let the children tear red, orange, and yellow paper and glue it to the tree. 
*What fruits and nuts grow on trees?  Let children make their favorite fruit tree. 
*Make a spooky tree by adding bats and owls.

If you have a special party or event this fall, use a grocery bag to make the arrangement below.  Scatter leaves and small pumpkins at the bottom and you'll amaze your guests!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


School has started and parent conferences are just around the corner.  I wanted to share a few tips to make this a more meaningful experience for you as well as for your families.
Sit beside the parent at a table, rather than behind a desk.
Keep the conversation focused on the child.
Have samples of the child’s work to share with the parents.  Focus on the total child, including intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development.
If there is a problem, brainstorm solutions and develop a plan for action.
End the conference on a positive note by reassuring the parents and thanking them for their support.
Provide an interpreter for parents who do not speak English. 
Follow-up with the parents after the conference.

Below is a questionnaire that I used to help parents share information about their child and to guide the conference.  I asked the children, “Would you like me to give your parents some homework?  Well, here is something they need to fill out and bring to our conference next week.” 
Note!  If parents show up without the form, simply smile and say, “I’ll give you a few minutes to fill  this out before we get started.”


Please fill out this form and bring it to your conference on __________________at _________________.

Child’s name__________________________  

1.  My child’s favorite activity at school is________________

2.  My child expresses concern about_____________________

3.  My child’s strong qualities are__________________________

4.  Areas I feel my child needs to work on are_____________

  1. Something I would like to see my child do at school is _______

6.  Is there any special information about your child that you think we should know about?________________________________________________

Cheers and Goals
Here’s another idea for conference time.  Ask parents to write down three things positive (cheers) about their child and three goals that they have for their child.  This will give the teacher insight as to what is important to parents.  It will also provide the teacher with the opportunity to say, “This is what I can do at school to help your child accomplish these goals.  What can you do to help at home?”

Friday, September 20, 2013


Play, Play, Play!

Dear Parents,

You’ve heard it said that “play is the child’s work.”  This is so true!  They have a lifetime to be a grown up and work, but only once to be a child.  The good news is that as you play with your child you are actually laying the foundation for learning and life.  Children don’t need more “stuff.”  What they want and need most is time and attention from you!  The important thing is to follow your child’s lead as you create special memories!  Here are some “play activities” to get you started:

Read a book.                                      Tell a joke.           
Exercise.                                             Sing a song.
Play hide and seek.                           Hum.

Say a nursery rhyme.                        Play a card game.
Talk.                                                     Make a puppet.
Juggle two paper towels.                 Swing.

Sit on the floor together.                   Build something with blocks.
Blow bubbles.                                    Go outside and take a walk.
Cut pictures out of magazines.        Skip.

Play a board game.                           Skate on paper plates.
Count.                                                  Look out the window.

Go on a nature walk.                          Make a wish.
Jump or hop as long as you can.     Do a job together.                                   

Play a memory game.                        Write a letter.

Cook something together.                 Do a finger play.                          
Work a puzzle.                                    Make a band of pots and pans. 

Pantomime.  Guess who I am?        Play “I spy.”

Draw a picture.                                    Read the funny papers.                       

Put on a puppet show.                       Go to the library.                                   
Make a book.                                      Make a card for someone.                       

Play a rhyming game.                        Play with play dough.

String pasta or cereal on                   Draw with chalk on the                       
dental floss.                                         sidewalk.                                      

Play follow the leader.                        Make silly faces in a mirror.     

Draw a picture.                                    Put on some music and dance.

*Hint!  Cut these suggestions up into strips and place them in a sack.  Let your child choose a strip and then do that activity.