Saturday, October 25, 2014


Read at Home Book
Cut 9” x 12” sheets of construction paper in half. Let each child choose 4 or 5 different colors and staple them together to make a book. Write “I Can Read” on the front and let the children decorate with their name and picture. Send the book home with a note to the parents about helping their child recognize different logos, signs, and words on products and in the home and as they drive down the road. Encourage parents to help their child cut out words they can read from boxes, magazines, and advertisements. Ask children to bring their books back to school to “read” with classmates.

I Like
On Monday send home a sandwich bag with a note asking parents to help their child look for words she can read on food labels, toys, advertisements, and other products around their house. Children cut these out and bring them to school Friday in the sandwich bag. On Friday, encourage the children to “read” the labels that they have brought to class. Write the words “I” and “like” on index cards for each child. Model how to place the cards on the floor with a label from their bag. Point to the words as you read, “I like logo.” Ask the child to read it for you as you point to each word. Comment, “Look at you reading!!!!”
*Put a small piece of magnetic tape on the back of index cards and logos and send home as a reading activity for children to do on their refrigerators with parents.

Traffic Signs
If you use “google images” you can download traffic signs that children will be familiar with. You can make memory games or lotto games with the signs.
*Let children glue signs to paper towel rolls to use in the block center.
Shopping Mall
Cut store logos from Sunday advertisements. Tape to wooden blocks and make your own mall in the block center.

This website ( has fantastic ideas for using environmental print. You’ll even find several pages of foods, restaurants, and household products to download.
I started doing my free concerts at Charleston Schools this week and what a happy time we had!  "Tooty Ta" is always their favorite and I gave "birthday boy" my pumpkin story.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Children are naturally curious about all the signs and words they see daily in their environment. By using environmental print we can help children make print connections, develop visual memory skills, and motivate them to read. 

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

Ask children to save food wrappers from snacks and their lunches. Glue wrappers to sheets of paper and write this rhyme at the top of each page:
            Old Mother Hubbard
            Went to her cupboard
            To get her poor dog a bone.
            But when she got there
            The cupboard was bare
            And so the poor dog had…(Children read food logo.)

What’s for Breakfast?
Ask children to bring in the box from their favorite cereal. Cut the front section off and on a sentence strip write: “Child’s name eats name of cereal.” Glue to the bottom of the cereal box. Put all the boxes together and make a book. Write “What’s for Breakfast?” on the front cover. Hole punch and put the boxes together with book rings.
*You can also make a book with sacks from fast food restaurants.

Read sayings on T-shirts, sports jerseys, shoes, and other clothing the children wear to school.

We Can Read Bulletin Board
Ask children to bring logos from food boxes, magazines, toys, clothing and household products. Make a poster or bulletin board that says: “We Can Read!” Let children glue their logos to the poster. Read over the words together.

Matching Game
Cut the fronts and backs off food boxes. Mix them up and then challenge children to match up the ones that go together.
*Play a visual memory game by placing food boxes face down on the floor. Children turn over two at a time and try to match them up.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Brain research emphasizes the importance of having children recall information throughout the day. (Think of it as that extra pat on the back or a second helping of dessert.) What a simple strategy that most of us don’t utilize nearly as much as we should. Here are a few tips for having children recall information after you’ve read a story, taught a lesson, or at the end of the day.

Thumbs Up Thinking – If you’ve learned something new you can stick up your thumb. If you’ve learned more than one new thing you can stick up a finger for each additional thing.

Right Now! Right Now! - Stop at random times in the day and shout, “Right now, right now, right now, right now! Who can raise their hand and tell me something they know right now that they didn’t know when they came in the classroom this morning?”

Partner Share – Have children turn to a friend and share something new they learned.

Toss and Tell – Take a bean bag or wadded up paper ball. Ask a review question and then toss the ball to a student. The student answers the question or says something they learned and then tosses the ball back to you. Continue as time permits.

Draw – Let children make “thinking pads” by cutting scrap paper into fourths. Staple about 10 sheets together. Use thinking pads to have children illustrate what they’ve learned after a lesson or after reading a book.

Visualize – Have children close their eyes and reflect on what they did well and what they learned.

Microphone – Pass around a play microphone or telephone for children to state what they’ve learned.
*Let children pretend they are a news reporter and state facts about the day.

Kiss Your Brain – Write “Kiss Your Brain!” on a poster and tape it to your door. Before children leave for the day they must say something they learned and then kiss their brains.

Chant – Start a beat for this chant by slapping thighs and clapping hands. Go around the room as you say the chant and children respond:
Hey, Hey, what do you say?
What did you learn in school today?

So, what do you RECALL from reading my blog today?  Can you use one of these ideas in your classroom this week?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Today is National Nut Day, but those of you with peanut allergies don’t have to worry about this blog. Here’s a nutty song for you!

I’m a Nut
I’m a little acorn brown
Lying on the cold, cold ground.
Everybody steps on me.
That is why I’m cracked you see.
I’m a nut. Click! Click! (Move head from side to side as you click your tongue.)
I’m a nut. Click! Click!
I’m a nut, I’m a nut,
I’m a nut. Click! Click!

Called myself up on the phone (Extend pinky and thumb and hold to ear like phone.)
Just to see if I was home.
Asked myself out on a date.
Said to be ready about half past eight.
I’m a nut…

P.S.  I can't upload long videos on my blog, so that's why I could just sing one verse.

Activities: What happens if an acorn gets buried? It just might grow into a big oak tree.
Take a nature walk and look for nuts on your playground.
Bring in a bag of mixed nuts for children to sort, count, and crack.
*Be aware of nut allergies in your classroom! You could even have a discussion of what it means to be allergic to something and why you have to be careful about allergies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Did you know that today is Babble Day? What will they think of next? It might be a good day to talk about what the word "babble" means. How many synonyms can you think of for the word "babble"?

I'm going to get on my soap box about the importance of babbling/talking/oral communication. Download the free app called "dragon." Or, just hit the microphone the next time you want to send a text or email and you'll have an "ah ha" moment! The children in your classroom will probably all have voice activated computers in the near future. They need to be able to organize their thoughts and express themselves clearly for the message to appear accurately on the screen. Like anything else, if we want children to be able to communicate orally, we have to provide them with opportunities to talk, talk, talk.

Babble Breaks
Plan several three minute "babble breaks" where children can talk to their friends today. You could give them a topic to discuss that relates to a unit of study, let them tell jokes, or just chit chat.

Traffic Light
Traffic light colors are a visual way to help children regulate the volume in the classroom. Hold up a green circle when they are free to talk. Yellow means they are a little loud and to turn it down. Red means "stop" talking and focus on the teacher.

Quiet Friends
When I taught I had a lunch box with some little toy figures in it. Before we had sharing time I would explain that my quiet friends wanted to visit our class, but they had teeny tiny little ears. Could everyone remember to use a quiet voice so they wouldn't hurt their ears? I know you think this sounds stupid, but it worked. If a friend got too loud I could count on one of the students to go, "Shhh! Remember the quiet friends." The quiet friends went back in the lunchbox until the next time we had a class discussion.

Whisper Wednesday
If you let your students babble today, why not make tomorrow Whisper Wednesday? Make a sign for your door that explains you will whisper all day long. Whisper read, whisper sing, whisper might find it such a soothing interlude that you will make every Wednesday WHISPER day!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Several years ago while visiting a school I saw two shiny new bikes on display in the library. Every time a child read a book they got to put their name on a ticket to win the bike. What a great way to motivate children to read! These ideas aren’t quite as big as a bike, but I bet you might spark a little interest with them.

Book Drawing - You will need a roll of tickets (purchase at an office supply store) or make your own. Each time a child reads a book she gets to write her name on a ticket.  Collect these in a sack during the week. On Friday, draw a name out of the sack and that child WINS a book! 
*It could be a book that you purchased or a book that the class has made.

Stay Up Late and Read - To reward children make copies of “Extra 15 Minutes” coupons similar to the one shown. Children who earn the ticket get to stay up an extra 15 minutes at bedtime and read to their parents.

Lottery - Put children’s names on strips of paper in a cup. During the day encourage children to practice reading their favorite sentence or page. The last few minutes in the day, pull “winning” names from the cup and let those children read.

Popcorn Party – Get a large jar and write “Popcorn Party” on it. Every time any student  reads a book she gets to add a cotton ball to the jar. When the jar is full the whole class gets a popcorn party.

P.S.  I asked Mr. Google about "reading incentives" and he gave me lots of great links.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Tired of giving out candy and stickers?  Try these inexpensive rewards for a special treat!   Choose activities that you think would work best for your students from the list below.  You could even let your students suggest activities.  Write these on jumbo craft sticks with a permanent Sharpie and then put the sticks in a cup.  Act like the children are “winning” something when they get to draw a happie stick from the can.

Eat lunch with your teacher or a special friend.
Be excused from a homework assignment.
Choose an indoor game to play.
Select the book for story time.
Sit by a favorite person all day.
15 minutes of free time.
Help the teacher do a special job.
Decorate the bulletin board or door.
Sit at the teacher’s desk.
Take off your shoes.
Listen to an iPod or headset while you work.
Chew sugar free gum.
Use the teacher’s stamps, pens, or markers.
Be leader of a class game.
Be excused from a written assignment.
Play games on the computer for 10 minutes.
Visit another class in the school.
Have the teacher call your parents to tell them what a great kid you are!
*A coupon book with a few of these makes a great holiday gift for students!