Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Children LOVE pictures of themselves, don’t they? If you’ll take photos of children and make multiple copies you’ll be able to use them for dozens of games, books, and art projects throughout the school year.

Cut out 3” squares from cardstock. Glue two photos of each child to the squares. Children can use these for a matching activity. They can also place photo cards face down on the floor and try to match pairs by turning over two cards at a time.

*Write the child’s name on one square and glue their photo to the other square for more a more challenging game.

Have children sort photo cards by beginning sounds, number of syllables, alphabetical order, etc.

Puppet People
Attach photos to straws or craft sticks and use for working out problems or making up original stories. 

TP People
Glue full body photos to TP rolls and use in the block center or with a puppet theater.

Tape children's pictures to unit blocks and use for building, graphing. and other activities.
Flannel Friends
Attach a small piece of Velcro to the back of each photo and use with a flannel board.
*Be sure to include pictures of the teacher, principal, and school helpers.

Clothespin Kids
Glue children’s faces to spring clothespins and store in a cookie tin. Use for songs, asking questions, transitions, etc.

Art Projects
Let children cut out their faces and use them for various art projects. For example, they could draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up around their face, draw themselves as their favorite storybook character, make a collage with their friends’ pictures, and so on.
Class Stationery
Use children’s photos to make stationery. Use the stationery to send notes home to parents or for the writing center.

Business Cards
Use your computer to help children design personal business cards. Include the child’s name, school, teacher’s name, and a graphic of their choice. Print on cardstock, cut apart, and have children distribute them to family members, neighbors, and friends. How cool is that!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I like to come to school - and you'll be ready to go back to school with my webinar this Thursday. Here's the link so you can register:

I Like to Come to School
(Tune: "The Farmer in the Dell")
I like to come to school.
I like to come to school.
I like to learn and play each day
I like to come to school.

I like to make new friends…
I like to read and write…
I like to do math…
I like to sing and draw…/

*Ask children other things they like about school and insert their suggestions in the song.
*Write children’s suggestions on sentence strips and use in a pocket chart.

*Make a class book where each child draws a picture about what they like best at school. They can dictate or write a sentence to go with their drawings. Read the book several times to the class and then allow children to “check it out” and take it home.

My First Week
You will need zip sandwich bags, construction paper cut to fit in the bags, and photos of each child, a class photo, children's drawings, etc. Glue photos to the construction paper. Next, let the children draw a self-portrait or what they like best at school etc.   (They can dictate or write a sentence to go with their illustration.)  Insert the paper in the sandwich bags and close.  Stack the bags up and then staple outside the zipper to create a water-tight seal.

Hello, How Are You?
(Tune: “Skip to My Lou”)
Hello, first child’s name, how are you? (Wave.)
Hello, second child’s name, how are you?
Hello, third child’s name, how are you?
We’re so glad to see you!
Continue singing the song inserting children’s names.

Turn to your neighbor and shake their hand… (Shake hands.)
Turn to your neighbor and give high five…(Give high five.)

I Like You!
(Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread”)
I like child’s name, there’s no doubt about it. (Point to self
I like child’s name, there’s no doubt about it. and then a
I like child’s name, there’s no doubt about it. child.)
We are all good friends. (Make sign language for “friend”
                                               by hooking index fingers.)

Echo Song
(Tune: “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
The teacher sings the first line and the children answer singing the second line.
Who has two eyes? (Teacher asks)
I have two eyes. (Children respond)
Who has one nose? (Teacher asks)
I have one nose. (Children respond)
Who has two ears (Teacher asks)
I have two ears. (Children respond)
Now we know. (Clap and sing together)
Now we know.

Continue singing other questions about eye color, pets, siblings, likes, hobbies, etc. Talk about how we are alike and how we are different.

How Are You Feeling Today?
Some children will be thrilled about starting school and some children will be scared to death. It is important for children to recognize and name their feelings, and it is also important for teachers to accept those feelings. Teach children sign language for happy, sad, sleepy, angry, scared. (Visit to see a video clip of these signs.) As you sing the song to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" children can make the appropriate sign and discuss their feelings.

How are you feeling today?
How are you feeling today?
Show us the sign,
And it will be just fine.
How are you feeling today?

*Insert “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “sleepy,” “scared” in the song as you hold up puppets with those expressions. Children can stand when the emotion they are feeling is sung.
*Make puppets with expressions that children can hold up as you sing.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Oops! Yesterday I gave you the wrong link for my Back to School webinar. Here is the correct link. Hope to see you this Thursday!

You know you're going to have a great year if you plant these "good seeds" in children!

I Am Special
(Tune: “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
I am special.
I am special.
Take a look.
You will see.
You will see.
Someone very special.
Someone very special.
And it’s me!
And it’s me!

*Place a hand mirror in the bottom of a small box and put the lid on top. Explain to the children that the most wonderful thing in the whole world is in the box. “It’s so special there’s only one like it in the world!” Watch children’s smiles as they open the box and see their faces!

What Are You?

Start each day by asking children to repeat this saying from "The Help" in unison.
Teacher says:           What are you?
Children respond:     I am kind.
                               I am smart.
                               I am important.

Looking through My Window
(Tune: “Go in and out My Window”)
I’m looking through my window.
I’m looking through my window.
I’m looking through my window,
And I see my friend (child’s name).

*Take an old picture frame and spray paint it gold or silver. Glue on “jewels” or
glitter. Hold it in front of your face as you sing the song. Pass it to different
children as you use their name in the song.

Important Person
(Tune: “Lassie and Laddie”)
Child’s name is important, important, important.
Child’s name is important to you and to me.
At work and at play
He/she does his/her best each day.
Child’s name is important to you and to me.
*Choose one child at a time and hold them in your lap as you sing the song.

Hand Hug
The children hold hands and form a circle. The teacher begins the hand hug by squeezing the child’s hand on her right as she says something positive about them. That child then squeezes the hand of the person on her right and makes a positive comment. Continue going around the circle giving a “hand hug” and a positive comment.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


While I'm busy getting ready for my back to school webinar this Thursday, I'll give you a sneak peak of some of the activities I'll be sharing.   Here is the registration link
Children love their names and will feel so special when you use their name in one of these chants. These activities will also nurture your classroom community and help the children get to know their new friends.
Who Ate the Cookie?
Child’s name ate the cookie (Hold up name card.)
in the cookie jar.
Who me? (First child responds.)
Yes you. (Class chants.)
Couldn’t be? (First child.)
Then who? (Class chants.)
Second child’s name ate (Hold up another name.)
the cookie in the cookie jar…
*Cut out paper cookies and write the children’s names on them. Store in an empty cookie box and use as you say the chant.
*Cut out gingerbread cookies. Glue children’s faces on the head and write their names on the bodies. Add a strip of magnetic tape to the back and these can be used for signing in, the question of the day, or graphs.
*Make cookies and glue the child’s photo to one side and print their name on the other side. Place the cookies face down on the floor. Children try to read their friends’ names and then flip over with a spatula to confirm.

Hickety Pickety
(Clap hands and snap fingers.)
Hickety, pickety bumblebee
Who can say their name for me? Child’s name.
Clap it. (Clap out syllables as you say the name.)
Snap it. (Snap syllables in name.)
Whisper it. (Whisper name.)
No sound. (Lip sinc name.)

Name Cheer
(Cheer each child’s name.)Give me a ‘K’.
‘K’ - I’ve got a ‘K,’ you’ve got a ‘K.’
Give me an ‘i’…Give me an ‘M’
What’s it spell? ‘Kim’ Say it again. ‘Kim’ One more time. ‘Kim’ Yeah!!!

Shakey, Shakey
(Clap hands or slap knees.)
Child’s name, child’s name sick in bed.
Called the doctor and the doctor said,
“Get up child’s name, you’re not sick.
All you need is an exercise trick.”
So hands up, and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Get down and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Turn around and shakey, shakey, shakey.
Sit down and shakey, shakey, shakey.

Hint! When doing these chants, never force children to participate. If you have a very shy child, I would ask them if they would like you to use their name. Often, they want to hear their name, but they don’t want to stand up and dance.

Name Cards

Glue each child’s name to a sentence strip and write their name. Hold these up as you sing their names in songs.
Hint! When children become familiar with each other’s names, make new name cards without the picture clue.
Little Red Box
(Tune: “Polly Wolly Doodle”)
I wish I had a little red box
To put my child’s name in. (Hold up name card.)
I’d take him/her out and go,
“How do you do?” (Pretend to shake hand.)
And put him/her back again.
*Sing “Hug, hug, hug” instead of “How do you do?” as you pretend to hug.
Cover a small box with red paper and insert the name cards. Pull out one at a time as you sing the song.

Pick It Up
Have children stand in a circle. Spread name cards in the middle on the floor. The children find their name and pick it up when you sing it in this song that goes to the tune of "If You're Happy."
If your name is child's name pick it up.
If your name is second child's name pick it up.
If your name is third child's name pick it up.
If your name is fourth child's name pick it up.

Where, Oh, Where?

(Tune: “Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch”)
Where, oh, where is our friend, child’s name.
Where, oh, where is our friend, child’s name.
Where, oh, where is our friend, child’s name.
We’re so glad that you’re here today.

Letter Song
(Tune: “The Bear Went over the Mountain”)
Use the first letter of each child’s name as you sing.
W is for Will,
W is for Will,
W is for Will,
And he’s a friend of mine.

(Traditional Tune)
There is a friend in our class
And David is his name-o.
D – A – V – I - D
D – A – V – I - D
D – A – V – I - D
And David is his name-o.
*Hint! You may have to be creative as you use different children’s names in this song. Short names you will have to stretch out and long names try using the first five letters.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


When I was in St. Louis we joked about a song to sing for your faculty when you have your first meeting. Here are some suggestions:

On the first day of school my principal gave to me…
         One new I E P.
On the second day of school my principal gave to me…
         Two heads of lice
         And one new I E P.
On the third day of school my principal gave to me…
         Three broken computers…

You get the idea! Here are other possible verses the teachers suggested:
Stomach bug
Hovering parents
Recess duty
After school meetings
Late parents
No internet service
Broken laminator
Data collecting
Runny noses
No ink for the copier
Fire drills
Bathroom accident 


Friday, July 18, 2014


Jumping Beans (Gail Harwin)
Make 15-20 flash cards with shapes, letters, numbers, colors, math facts etc. Add 5 or 6 additional cards with jumping beans. Children pull a card and give the answer. When a jumping bean card is pulled the children jump up and down like beans.

Calendar Song (Elaine Barreca)
When talking about yesterday, today, and tomorrow, break into song for each one.
1. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.
         That’s because it was _____.
     2. My country tis of the…Today! Sweet land of liberty…Today!
         Of thee I sing! Today! Of thee I sing! Today! Today is_____.
     3. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow
         Because it will be ______.

Big Book Big Glasses (Ashley Beran)
Buy a pair of big clown glasses from the dollar store and pop out the lenses. Whenever you read a “big book,” be sure to wear your “big glasses.”

Reading Comprehension for Young Children
(Kathy Reuter)
To work on reading comprehension with young children ask, “What was your favorite page?” The child describes the picture she liked best. We have to find the page and then we talk about the picture. Every child gets to describe a favorite illustration.

100 Days of Knock-Knock Jokes (Laura Staley)
Use 100 knock-knock jokes for the 100 days of school. Post them in the hallway because they are good for reading, discussing the meaning of the joke, and they entertain the students while they are waiting.

Scrabble Cheezits (Laura Staley)
Use cheezits with letters for hands-on phonics.
You can also use cheezits for measurement because they are 1” wide.

Grants for Workshops (Laura Staley)
An application for scholarships to attend workshops can be found on website.

Mrs. Nosey (Laurie Clark)
Buy a pair of silly glasses with a big nose at a dollar store. You will also need a silly hat, boa, purse, etc.  When the class is noisy I’ll say, “I’ll see if my aunt Mrs. Nosey is nearby. She might be looking for friends who are working quietly.” I’ll go around the corner and put on the glasses, hat, boa, and become “Mrs. Nosey.” Mrs. Nosey says, “Oh, my! I hope I can find some friends working quietly because they will get a nice stamp/sticker on their work!”
Or, she might come out at writing time and say, “I’m so excited! Your teacher said I could catch some friends who are doing their nicest writing and leaving spaces. I can’t wait to give them a special stamp/sticker.”
*I just do this once a month so it stays special.

Silent Hike (Terri Eggers)
Collect objects from nature and hide them in a bag or container. For example: leaf, seed pod, dead insect, dried flower, feather, snake skin, etc. Explain that you are going to take them on a silent hike inside the classroom. The only rule is that everyone must be silent. They can only use their senses to learn about nature. Have the class sit in a circle. The teacher models looking in the container and smells, listens, feels, or looks at an object. Pass the object around the circle. At the end, answer questions about the objects. Students then write about their silent hike in a journal.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


WOW!!! Did I meet some FANTASTIC teachers at Summer Camp in St. Louis this week! I bet you’ll find an idea here to use when school starts. 
P.S. There were so many great ideas I’ll post some today and some tomorrow. 

Noodle Sensory Fun (Kyle Kranes)
Cut fun noodles into sections and let the children roll on their back, arms, legs, belly. It’s a great cool down and brain break – and perfect for sensory kids.
Hint! Another teacher said she used a bath scruffy to rub on children’s arms if they have sensory integration issues.

Line Up Call Back (Jeana Rhoades)
I say “line.”
You say “up.”
Line (teacher)
Up (Children)
I say “sit.”
You say “down.”
Sit (teacher)
Down (Children)
“Happy” – “Monday” etc.

Line Up Ninjas (Annie Kolsea)
Ninjas are sneaky and they walk quietly and wear a mask. Put one hand on your forehead and one over your mouth and tip toe like Ninjas.
(Mouths are closed. Hands are busy. Feet are quiet.)

Name Game Line Up (Heather Barrio)
Play the name game to transition to go home, outside, etc. The teacher picks a student to stand up. That student picks a friend to line up, and the game continues until one person is left. The last child gets to pick me!!! This activity helps children learn their classmates’ names. If a student says, “I don’t know her name.” Explain that they should say, “What’s your name, friend?” This also helps shy students engage with the group.

Vowel Flip Book (Krystal McVicker, American International School, Vietnam)
Make a flip book with 5 flaps. Write the vowels on the top of the outside. Children draw or cut out pictures with short vowel sounds and glue them under the correct vowel flap.

*Another teacher shared that they use flip books to reinforce beginning reading and sight words like “the,” “a,” “I,” etc. Write “the” on the front of all four flips. Children open and draw a picture under each flap. Then they can read “the house,” “the sun,” and so forth.

Popsicle Stick Virtue Book (Jane Lake)
After studying virtues, make a booklet for each word and then let children illustrate it or cut pictures out of magazines. You could also call it a “Good Manners Book” or “My Best Behavior Book.”
Examples of virtues could be: be kind, think of others, love everyone, listen and watch, be eager and excited, share with others, try my best, be ready.

Fantastic Friends (Jane Lake)
At the beginning of the year (or for Valentine’s Day) make a book about friends.
1. A good friend is…
2. I’m a good friend when…
3. What friends like to do together…
4. Symbols of friendship…
5. Names of my friends…

Fire Prevention Month (Mindy Russo)
Write sight words on flames on the board. Divide children into groups and give each one a spray bottle to “put out the fire.” Have a one squirt rule. The kids love it and it will clean your board!

Wait and Bake
A teacher was talking about children who needed a little more time before starting school. She said, “You know, they just need to wait and bake in the maturity oven!”

Eye Ball Stories (Penny Salvato) 
*I cracked up with this one! 
I use two stories about how the eyeballs are collected to make pointers. 
1. Kids lose an eye on the playground and I collect them. 
2. I collect eyes from “bad” kids and put them on sticks. 
At Halloween I give the kids witch fingers and tell them I chopped off fingers. After a long time they turn into rubbery witchy fingers.