Thursday, November 26, 2015


Some of you are cooking, some of you are traveling, some of you are sleeping, but I hope you all take a moment today to pause and...

     Make a list of your blessings. 

     Call someone who has done something nice for you.

     Write an email or send a card to someone you appreciate.

     Acknowledge the positive traits of others around you instead of their negative traits.

     Think of all the people who have done you good and forgive those who have hurt you.

     Do a little act of kindness today and every day.

Several weeks ago my exercise instructor said her church gave everybody a twenty dollar bill and told them to give it to a random person who looked like they needed a little love.  As they handed the $20 they were to smile and say, "You are special and God loves you."  I thought it was such a great idea I've given away five $20 in the past two weeks.  One went to a convenience store clerk, another to a housekeeper, a tired looking fast food server... I've been blessed more than the people I've given the money to.  And, it's not the money.  It's an acknowledgment that I recognize you and appreciate you.  Somebody cares.

I appreciate each of YOU!  Thank you for caring for children every day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Yay!!! It's almost Turkey Day!

I'm in eating and party mode and I hope you are as well. Here's a flash mob we did at the NAEYC Conference last week in Orlando. It was a last minute thing, but it was so much fun!!!

California Here I Come!
I've got a few more workshops coming up in December if you live in CA or NJ.  (I'm smiling because one teacher said her principal wouldn't give her permission to go so she said she had a "doctor's appointment."  She wasn't lying because she went to see "DR." Jean!)

December 3rd - Concord, CA  ( for details)
December 4th - Rancho Cordova, CA   (
December 11th - West Orange, NJ  (

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


You know that I don’t try to do commercials on my blog, but I’ve got as much on my mind today as you do, so I’ll just throw this out there.
If you’re out shopping this weekend, here’s an inexpensive product that kids and grown-ups alike will enjoy. Crayola makes WINDOW MARKERS and WINDOW MARKERS WITH CRYSTAL EFFECTS that are washable and will bring out creativity in anyone. They’d make a great holiday gift or stocking stuffer, or just put them out to entertain guests when you’re busy cooking.

*Yes, they really do wash off! K.J. and Kalina had as much fun cleaning up with the spray bottle and rag as they did drawing.

As a teacher, here are some other uses for the markers in your classroom:

Write letters, words, numerals, shapes, or anything you want to reinforce on windows or mirrors.
*Let children wear sunglasses and identify the information with a pointer.

Let children practice writing letters, numerals, spelling words, etc. on classroom windows.
* How about rainbow writing? Make giant letters, shapes, words, etc. on windows. Children can take the markers and trace around the figures with different colors.

Use these as a reward or when children finish their work early.

Use the classroom mirror as a message board to write words of encouragement, reminders, or to celebrate accomplishments.

Special Days
Let children decorate classroom windows for holidays, seasons, themes, or other special events.

Write a word or theme and invite children to add their own thoughts to the window.

Sign In
Children can write their name or a special message when they come to school each morning.

What an open-ended art center this could be throughout the year!

Note! You could even have “window washer” as a classroom job. I found it was best to wipe off the marks with a wet towel before using a window cleaner.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Have you noticed some students who just can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves? These are some "tricks" that might be particularly helpful in the weeks ahead.

Get a box and write “brain toys” on the it. Next, get some old socks and tie knots in them. When children need to focus invite them to get a “brain toy” from the box. They can hold the sock, untie it, tie knots, and give their fingers something to do.

I’ve had teachers say, “Well, what if everybody wants a sock?” Who cares? Get a sock for everyone. The main goal is to give children an outlet that is acceptable, quiet, and won’t bother another student.

A similar idea came from a first grade teacher. She gave each of her students a jumbo craft stick to decorate. They tied a 20” piece of string to their sticks and kept them in their desks. When their hands got “figdgety” they could get out their fiddle sticks and wind and unwind the string.

One of the simplest ideas for fidgety fingers came from a teacher a few weeks ago who taught her children to cross their fingers and wiggle their thumbs. Then she challenged them to wiggle their index fingers, pinkies, etc.

You just never know what will work until you try! I recall a teacher who kept a bottle of lotion on her desk and called it “self control lotion.” When her students were having trouble paying attention she would give them a squirt of lotion and tell them to rub it in. They believed her just like Dumbo believed he could fly with the feather in his trunk! Her students would actually come up to her and say, “I need a little self control lotion.”

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Need a new idea this week?  Here's a great lesson to tie in the "olden days" with life in 2015.  Bring in a typewriter, rotary phone, camera, and record player.  (The real thing would be best, but photos will work as well).  Show these one at a time to your students and see if they know what it is.  What do we use now that is similar?
*Note!  Any literature before 2000 will have these tools and so it's importance to help children make the connections.

Sing this traditional song and then compare it with the contemporary version.

Over the River (Traditional Tune – Happy Everything CD)
Over the river and through the woods
(Pretend to hold reins of a sleigh as you bounce up and down.)
To grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow.
(Wrap arms around self and shiver.)
It stings your toes and bites your nose
(Touch nose and point to toes.)
As over the ground we go.
Through the country and cities far
(Pretend to drive a car.)
In sun or wind or rain.
We might go by train
We might take a plane.
(Fly hand like a plane in the air.)
Or maybe a bus or car.
Through low valleys and mountains high
(Look down low and then up.)
Now, grandmother’s house I spy. (Hand over eyes.)
Hurrah, for the fun! (Fist in the air.)
Is the turkey done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Use a Venn diagram to compare what it would be like to visit grandmother a long time ago and how we visit now. How are things the same? 
Make a graph of how they will travel to their Thanksgiving dinner. Car? Plane? Train? Bus? Boat? Stay at home!

Have children interview their grandparents to see what Thanksgiving was like when they were a child.

Thankful Books
Give each child 2 paper plates. Use the plates as a pattern to cut circular pages for the book. Children can draw, write, or cut out pictures of things they are thankful for on the blank paper. Insert their pages between the paper plates, punch a hole at the top, and use a ribbon or a piece of a pipe cleaner to bind the book. 
Purchase seasonal napkins at a dollar store. Cut blank paper the size of the napkin and insert inside. Staple at the top and the children will be ready to write or draw in their book.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Manners can take you a long way in this world - although they are not included in most state standards! Manners are part of the “hidden curriculum” that we can nurture daily in little ways. This is a perfect time of year to talk about thanking others and what it means to be polite. Here’s a simple echo song to encourage children to use their “magic words.”

I Have Manners (Tune: “Are You Sleeping?” - Children repeat each line.)
I have manners,
I have manners,
Every day,
Every day.
If I want something
If I want something
“Please,” I’ll say.
“Please,” I’ll say.

I have manners,
I have manners,
Every day,
Every day.
When someone is nice
When someone is nice
“Thanks,” I’ll say.
“Thanks,” I’ll say.

*Role play when to say, “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “excuse me.”

*Teach children these signs and use them as prompts:
     Please palm open on chest and circle around
     Thank you fingers on chin and then down to palm

*Let the children use puppets to model what to do in similar situations:
     How do you greet a new student?
     How do you call a friend and invite them for a play date?
     What do you do when someone pays you a compliment?
     What do you do when someone gives you a gift?
     What do you do when someone has a book that you want?

Table Manners
There are several good books about manners, but I liked to use a stuffed animal to demonstrate negative behavior. I’d ask the children to help me show the toy the correct thing to do.
     “Coco always chews with his mouth open. Who can show Coco the correct way to chew your food?”
     "Coco just grabs food that he wants. What is the polite thing to do when you want someone to pass you food?”
     “Coco eats his food and then runs out to play. What should Coco say before he leaves the table?”

Friday, November 20, 2015


Although most children grumble about doing chores, jobs at home can be a powerful way to develop “task initiation and task completion.” Chores also help children feel “worthy” and a valuable part of the family unit.

We often “assume” that children know how to do a task and then we get frustrated when they don’t do it correctly. That’s why it’s important to model expectations and demonstrate specific steps. Here's an activity that would be perfect for a learning center or housekeeping area.

Setting the Table
Bring in some plastic plates, utensils, and cups and demonstrate how to set the table. You might want to trace around the items on a paper placemat so the children can match one to one.

Training Tools
Go to the dollar store and purchase a dustpan, broom, duster, etc. Demonstrate how to use these and then invite children to help you keep the classroom clean.

*I had a Dust Buster in my classroom that the kids loved to use. If there was a mess we would say, “Who you gonna call? Dust buster!”

Teeny Tiny Duties
There are some tasks that young children can do at home and some that are way too difficult. Let children share the chores that they have at home. Make a list of these tasks on the board. Ask children to choose several three or four that they could do to help at home and make a job chart. Tell them to hang it on the refrigerator and keep track for a week. Demonstrate how to make a check mark each day when they complete the task.

*Remind your students that they are responsible for doing the job without having their parents tell them!