Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Here are a few more gifts your students (or own children) can make.

Materials:  cardboard, puzzle pieces, glue, photograph
Directions:  Cut cardboard into 4” x 8” picture frames.  Let children glue puzzle pieces around the edges.  Tape a photo to the back.
Adaptations:  Add a magnetic strip to the back so it can be hung on the refrigerator.
Decorate with buttons for mom and say “Cute as a button!”
Decorate with golf tees for dad.
Stack colored craft sticks to make a frame.
Materials:  copy paper, construction paper, crayons, stapler
Directions:         Ask each child to bring a copy of a favorite family recipe from home.  (You could ask parents to send in a recipe for a special dish from their culture, a healthy snack food, a “kid friendly” dish, etc.)   Have each child decorate his page with a black pen.  Run off copies for each child, and then put them in a construction paper cover to make a recipe book.
Adaptation:  You could also let each child dictate how to make the recipe her parents have sent in.  Put her version at the bottom of the page.
Materials:         old shoes, gallon of school glue, old paint brush, gold spray paint
Directions:  Ask each child to bring in one old shoe.  Pour the school glue in a disposable container, and then let them paint the glue all over their shoe.  (Inside, outside, all over!)  Dry for several days on wax paper.  Have children paint glue all over their shoe a second time.  Dry.  Spray paint gold or silver.
Adaptations:  Stick a sprig of holly in the shoe or add this poem: 
Here is my little shoe. 
I made it just for you. 
When I’m grown and tall,
you can remember me small.

Materials:  burlap, felt scraps, glue
Directions:  Cut burlap into 8” x 3” strips.  Let children unravel ½” from all four sides.  Cut flowers or other shapes from felt and glue on the burlap.
Adaptation:  Children could also use plastic needles to sew yarn designs on burlap bookmarks.

Materials:  pipe cleaners, letter beads
Directions:  Let children string beads on a pipe cleaner.  (They can do initials, names, or a pattern.)  Twist the ends and you’ll have a perfect bag tag.
Materials:  cardstock, black felt tip pen
Directions:  Cut an 8 ½ x 11” piece of paper in half.  Fold in half and ask child to draw a picture of her family with a felt tip pen on the front.  Open and place two pictures at a time on the copy machine.  Make 5-10 copies on cardstock.  Cut apart, fold, and tie with a decorative ribbon.         
Materials:          1 cup flour, 1 cup salt, ½ cup water, ornament hangars
Directions:         Mix all the ingredients together to make the dough.  Let the children mold the dough or flatten so it is ½” thick and cut with cookie cutters.  (Use a straw to punch a hole for a hangar.)  Let the dough dry for a day.  Turn the dough over and dry another day.  Paint with tempera paint and spray with shellac.
Adaptation:           Dissolve 2 Tb. instant coffee in ½ cup hot water and add to the flour and salt.  Your ornaments will look like gingerbread cookies.
Hint!          Shorten drying time by baking in a 250° oven for 5-10 minutes.

Materials:         white tube socks, fiber fill, rubber bands, markers, felt scraps, wiggly eyes, and other craft accessories

Directions:  Have children fill the bottom of the sock with 3 large fists of fiberfill.  Put a rubber band around this section.  Put two fists full of fiberfill in and then put a rubber band around the middle section.  Put one fist full of fiberfill in to make the head and put a rubber band.  Pull the top cuff of the sock over the head to look like a hat.  Decorate with wiggly eyes, felt scarf, yarn hair, etc.  Draw on a mouth and buttons with markers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Your holiday dilemma is solved! Here are inexpensive, simple, and easy gifts your students can make. You’ll save money as you nurture the true spirit of giving in children. Best of all, these projects will be treasured because they are one of a kind! They are made by the gifted hand of a child!

It’s important to be sensitive to different beliefs children may have this time of year. Gifts don’t have to be for Christmas or Hanukkah ~ you can give someone a gift anytime just because you care about them!

Hint! Make sure that children DO these projects themselves! They need to reflect the children’s individuality and efforts. 

Materials: juice or vegetable can, glue, pasta, spray paint
Directions: Remove the label from the can. Let children glue pasta (bow ties, spirals, macaroni, etc.) around the can. Spray paint gold or silver.
Adaptation: Children can also cover a can with construction paper. Next, let them create a collage on the can with pictures and words cut from magazines.

Materials: wood scraps (4” x 10”), nails, markers, picture hangers
Directions: Let children decorate the wood with markers. Next, let them hammer 4 nails spaced evenly apart. Attach a hanger to the back.

This is similar to the key rack except children attach plastic hooks to hold scarves, belts, and ties.

Materials: paper, markers, pens, construction paper, ribbon
Directions: Each child will need 3 sheets of paper. Cut the paper into fourths to make 12 pages. On each page, children write (or dictate) a different job they could do for their parents, such as set the table, give a back rub, clean their room, etc. Make a cover from construction paper. Hole punch in the upper left hand corner and tie with a ribbon.


Materials: rocks, yarn, glue, markers, felt, wiggly eyes
Directions: Go on a rock hunt and let each child find a special rock. Have children wash their rocks and set them aside to dry. Decorate the rocks with wiggly eyes, markers, yarn hair, etc. Add a piece of felt to the bottom to make a paper weight.
Adaptation: Let children name their rocks and write stories about how to care for them.

Directions: Cut the cardboard roll into 1 ½” sections. Decorate with stickers, yarn, fabric, lace, etc. 
Adaptation: Insert holiday napkins.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Someone once told me that ringing bells make you happy.  Sounds good to me!  I'm tying bells on my shoes and I'm ready to "jingle all the way."  And, WHAT FUN WE ALL WILL HAVE TONIGHT AT FIVE O'CLOCK!
Sleigh Riding – Have children sit on the floor facing the same directions.  Demonstrate how to hold the person’s waist in front of you.  As you sing "Jingle Bells" sway forwards and backwards to the beat as if riding a sleigh.

Bell Bracelets – Let children thread several jingle bells on a pipe cleaner.  Twist the ends together to make a bracelet children can shake as you sing.

Jingle Bell Painting - You will need an empty cheese ball container or similar cylinder shape with a lid. Cut a piece of paper so you can roll it and put it in the cylinder. Take two jingle bells. Drop one in red paint and the other in green paint. Use a spoon to transfer the bells to the can. Put on the lid, then shake up the can as you sing “Jingle Bells.” Take out the paper and you’ll have a jingle bell painting!

Candy Canes

This is a craft idea that you can use to decorate your classroom.  Take a square sheet of paper (8 1/2" x 8 1/2" works well) and color around the edges with a red marker or crayon.  (Demonstrate how to cut a square by folding up the bottom edge to the side to make a triangle.  Cut off the top and you'll always have a square.)  Put a pencil at a bottom point and roll up as shown.  Tape the end, remove the pencil, and use as a pointer or decoration.
*Use the candy cane as a prompt for descriptive writing.  Children could also brainstorm creative ways to use candy canes or write original stories about how candy canes were invented.

Candy Cane Book
Fold 3 sheets of paper in half.  Punch holes about 2" from the top as shown.  Take a rubber band and insert it through one hole and slide one end of the candy cane through the loop.  Insert the rubber band in the other hole and slide the other end of the candy cane through that loop.
*Make a similar book with a holiday pencil.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


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?

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!

Timeline – 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.

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 (Elf on the Shelf or one of his friends) 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.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


You're still eating Thanksgiving leftovers and it's already time to think about December lesson plans.  Over the next week I’ll post art projects, gifts children can make, recipes, and lots of FUN ideas.  Join me for LIVE at  FIVE on Monday where I'll demonstrate these projects and sing you a song or two.

Note!  If you do not celebrate holidays in your schools, feel free to adapt these projects. 

*You can trace around their hands and cut them out, or let children dip their hands in paint and print.  You could also use fabric paint and make holiday shirts with their handprints.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Carolyn Kisloski and I have been working on units that integrate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  (They are actually STREAM packets because they also include Reading and Art.)  I'll let Carolyn tell you how she uses them throughout the school year.

Dr. Jean and I just finished putting together our STEM All Year Packet! This bundle includes 9 STEM packets- everything you need for a year of STEM- and more! It has 440 pages of activities, challenges, anchor charts, book ideas, writing prompts, 10 Prezis (each with songs, anchor charts, videos, activities, and games to go with the packet topic), and downloads for 13 of Dr. Jean's songs. My children sing Dr. Jean's songs all the time. And when they know those songs, I know they know what we've learned!


I start the year with I am a Scientist, because it gives my students a great overview of what it means to be a scientist.

I use the activities in the Colors packet right along with I am a Scientist, in the beginning of the year. It's a great introduction to science activities using what they know and a great review of colors in September and October.

In October and November, I like to talk about Living and Nonliving Things. This is a fun unit for the children, and I've found that it actually works well with our fiction and nonfiction reading and writing units. We talk a lot about stuffed animals vs real, live animals, and make the connections with fiction and nonfiction stories. I also like working on the Living and Nonliving Unit in October because we do many activities with apple and pumpkin life cycles, so this unit fits in perfectly.

I love teaching The Five Senses in December. The holidays are such a fun time for the children to realize how important their senses are! There are so many wonderful smells, fun things to see, different textured items to touch- as well as different temperature items (hot chocolate and snow, for example!), happy holiday songs to hear, and of course... plenty of great opportunities to taste different things. I teach this unit with Mr. Broom. He is a favorite every single year.

January is a perfect time for Healthy Body! Healthy Me! for all of us- for the kids and for me! This is one of my favorite units. We visit this unit all year long, actually.

In February, I begin our Birds and Bird Nests Unit.

March is all about The Water Cycle, Water, and Clouds. I love this unit. I sort of love the water cycle way too much for some reason. It's so much fun to teach. My children love learning the songs and can teach anybody all about the water cycle and clouds when they are done with this unit!

We Go Green in April for Earth Day. This is a really important unit that gets the children thinking about our earth and keeping it safe and clean. I love teaching the children this unit, because they are at such a great age where they take it to heart and want to make a difference. Having fun activities to remember will hopefully help them remember what they learn for the rest of their lives!

May is a great time for Bugs and Insects. The children LOVE to find bugs- and are so interested to learn all about them. Sometimes I'll do some of the activities from this unit in September- like when I find a centipede or fun looking bug in the classroom, and we need to study that. It's a great time to play a Bug Game during center time when this happens to reinforce any skill we are working on. By May, the bugs are out in full force and we have fun taking magnifying glasses outside and finding all we can find.

O.K. Time to turn off the computer and hit those big sales today! Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 24, 2016





Thanksgiving blessings to all of you and your families!

With love,


Wednesday, November 23, 2016


You know I LOVE fingerplays! They are almost a lost art in our world of screens and technology, but children enjoy them as much today as I did when I was a little girl many, many years ago. Through fingerplays children can develop oral language, listening skills, small motor skills, their imaginations, and much more. They can be used to focus the children’s attention or during transitions to engage children.

Several months ago Vanessa Levin ( and I did a webinar on fingerplays.

Everyone wanted more, more, more, so Vanessa created this delightful packet with all of my favorite fingerplays.

What’s Included?
The 54 page printable fingerplay set in color includes:
     Detailed explanation of why fingerplays are an important part of every early childhood classroom
     List of standards/skills supported through the use of fingerplays
     Words to 40 different fingerplays
     Each fingerplay includes directions for hand motions or movements.

These might be better than Black Friday bargains!!!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I missed "Sandwich Day," which was November 3rd. John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, was born on November 3rd. Rumor has it that he was a heavy gambler and that he created the sandwich by putting meat between two pieces of bread so he could stay at the gambling table longer.

Here’s a unique sandwich book you can make this week. It’s a little “rabbit trap” to engage your students in writing their opinion or a description of their favorite sandwich. You could also use it as a “how to” make a sandwich.

Materials: 2 paper plates, scissors, markers or crayons
Directions: Fold one plate in half. Open. Cut in on the rim approximately
2½ ” from each side on the creased line as shown. Fold the second plate in half. Trim off 4 “ of the creased edge between the rim as shown. Roll the first plate and fit into the hole in the second plate. Fold in half.

*Let students brainstorm all the different types of sandwiches with a friend.

*How many different types of condiments can they think of to go on a sandwich?

*Make a graph of your class’ favorite sandwich.

Monday, November 21, 2016


No matter how you say it, I met some great teachers in Louisville last week.

Brain Dough
Call play dough “brain dough” when using it to reinforce skills (like make objects that start with a sound, make an animal you are studying, create geometric shapes, etc.).

Counting Hands
Fill surgical gloves with rice and tie at the bottom. Children will enjoy using these to count and work out simple math problems.

Pat Gusoff (
Pat shared more good ideas than I could use in a dozen blogs. She’s a teacher of 4-5 year olds at Temple Trager Early Childhood Center and she is passionate about helping children sing, dance, explore, and express!!! Check out some of her amazing HANDS ON learning fun!

Personal Puzzles
Ask each family to send in a picture of their child the dimensions of 4 duplo blocks. Use clear packing tape and add the child’s number and name to other sides of the blocks. Save puzzles in individual berry baskets.
Scoop and Match
Foam letters, trays, and measuring cups from the dollar store.
Say It and Spell It
Yard Sale Teepee for Buddy Reading
5 Little Turkeys to Retell
Shower Curtain Bean Bag Toss
Unifix Cubes and Feather Fun
Shower Curtain Rings with Ribbon
                                Counting Frame with Swim Noodles