Sunday, April 26, 2015


April certainly brought "showers" to us this year! Can't wait to see all those May flowers! 

Rain (Traditional Tune)
It’s raining, it’s pouring, (Make rain by wiggling fingers
The old man is snoring. in a downward motion.)
He went to bed,
And he bumped his head, (Pretend to bump hand with palm.)
And he couldn’t get up in the morning. (Shake head “no.”)

Make Rain
Make “rain” as a transition activity to quiet children. Hold up one palm and tap with one finger from the other hand. Next, slowly add another finger and tape with two, then three, four, and five. (At this point you can also stomp your feet to make thunder.) Reverse the process by tapping with five fingers, then four, three, two, one. Quietly place your hands in your lap. It will really sound like a rain storm is coming and then going away. 
Rain in a Jar Experiment
Fill a large glass jar with very hot water. Set a pie pan full of ice cubes on top of the mouth of the jar and observe what happens. Encourage students to draw observations.

The Water Cycle (Tune: “My Darlin’ Clementine”)
Evaporation (Push palms up.)
Condensation (Hands together in air.)
Precipitation all around (Wiggle fingers down.)
Accumulation (Sweep arms in circle.)
Evaporation (Push palms up.)
The water cycle goes
Round and round (Make circles with arms.)

Rain Bracelet
Children will be able to retell the water cycle with this bead bracelet. Have them string on the following beads as they repeat the water cycle:
Evaporation - clear bead
Condensation - white bead
Precipitation - blue bead
Accumulation - brown bead
Evaporation – yellow bead (sun) to evaporate the water

Saturday, April 25, 2015


It’s springtime and off we go to a College of Charleston baseball game this evening. (I think I’m looking forward to the popcorn and hotdog more than the game, but don’t tell anyone!) 

Many of my students played T-ball this time of year and were motivated to play “baseball” games in the classroom. You can make these games as competitive as you like.

Let’s Play Ball!
Write “1st,” “2nd,” “3rd,” and “Home” on paper plates. Place the plates in a diamond shape on the floor. Divide the class into two teams. Let them “huddle” and come up with a team name. The first team lines up and one player at a time stands on “home” as the teacher “pitches” a flash card to them. (Flashcards with words, letters, math facts, etc. can be used.) If the student can identify the information on the flash card they can walk to first base. The game continues as different players on the team come up, identify the flash card, and move around the bases. Tally points on the board. The second team then has a turn at bat.
Note! If they don’t know the answer you can call them out. I did this when I taught first grade, but with kindergarten I let the other players on the team help them. The great thing about being the teacher is that you are the baseball commissioner and you can change the rules to work for you!!!

Batter Up
Cut 4” circles out of cardstock and draw baseball stitching on them. Write words, letters, math facts, etc. on most of the baseballs. On a few write “out” and on a few write “home run.” Mix up the balls and place them in a bag. Children take turns choosing a ball and reading the word. If they select “out” they are out of the game. If they select “home run” everybody cheers.

Friday, April 24, 2015


The Book with No Pictures (Andrew Thompson) 
This book by B. J. Novak is a fabulous read aloud that will have pre-k through 5th grader laughing and catching a little “reading fever.”
(Of course, I had to go right out and buy it. Kalina and K.J. are in Australia now, but I read it to them when we skyped the other night. I also read it to a Flat Stanley someone sent me.) 

Air Writing (Lisa Callis)
Go from large to small as you practice air writing letters, numerals, shapes, etc.
Stick out one arm and write with your finger.
Hold your shoulder with the opposite hand as you write with one finger.
Hold your elbow and write.
Hold your wrist and write.
Hold finger and write.

Cup Game (Julie Larmer)
Write addition and subtraction problems on the top of a plastic cup. Write the answer on the inside on a dot sticker. If the student gets the answer correct they get to use the cup to build a tower.
*Use cups for spelling words to read and spell.
*Sort odd and even.
*Use for greater than and less than. (One cup has a greater than sign, less than, and equal sign. The other cups have numbers.) The student picks out 2 cups and places the correct sign between the numbers.

Transitions (Shamara Myers)
Moving to the Carpet
Criss cross applesauce
Criss cross for me.
Criss cross applesauce
Won’t you criss cross for me
In 1 – 2 – 3!

Standing on Letter Carpet
(Tune: “We Just Got a Letter” from Blue’s Clutes)
Two feet on one letter
Two feet on one letter
That’s where you should be
In 1 – 2 – 3!

Moving to Tables
Pencil, pencil in the air
I see pencils everywhere.

Compound Word Cheer ((Shelby Steele)
“2 words” (hold up 2 fingers)
(clap your hands) and say “put together”
(1 hand on your hip and 1 finger in the air) “to make one word”
“A compound word is…
2 words put together to make one word.”

You’re on a Roll Cheer (Shelby Steele)
Say, “You’re on a roll!” as you roll your arms back and forth.

Smart Chickens and Cowboys (Laura Wensell)
Turn off the lights and flash up words for children to read. Insert a few pictures of chickens and a few of cowboys. When the chicken comes up children flap their arms and cluck. When the cowboy appears they stand up and say “yee haw”!
Record the time as the kids get faster and faster.

Check out this video to see how Erica uses sign language to dismiss tables to line up.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


T E Double N E Double S Double E (clap clap) Tennessee! (fist bump) 
That’s the Tennessee cheer I learned last week when I was in Murfreesboro. The teachers also taught me some other cool things. 

Magnetic Fun (Tonya Baijo & Jean Burnette)
Cut pieces of pipe cleaners and put them in an empty plastic bottle. Use magnets to drag the pieces around.
*Use a magnetic wand with cut up pieces of pipe cleaners. Draw a face on the wand and you’ll have a silly willy.

Silent Signals (Katie Adams)
Students can give a “silent signal” while the teacher is teaching. The teacher can signal back without stopping the lesson and shouting out.
Restroom – sign language “R”
Water – sign language “W”
Pencil Sharpener – sign language “P”

Getting to Know You (Brandy Marti)
Send parents “homework” on the first day of school. Ask them to write a letter telling you all about their child. Explain that this is the time to brag about their child and tell you what they what you to know about their child. (The parents think its great.)

Positive Postcards (Margaret Moore)
Give your class list to the last year’s teacher. Have them highlight their students and give one positive descriptive word. Send postcards to the students saying, “Mrs. ___ told me you are so artistic. I’m so excited you are in my class! You can be our class artist for the year.”

Family Facebook Page (Denise Gaither)
Set up a CLOSED Facebook page where parents can check out pictures of activities, newsletters, announcements, links to research, skills, and so forth.

Check out this video where Erica uses sign language to encourage her students to make a straight line.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Yesterday was Kindergarten Day. How did I miss that one? We’ll just do a “Belated Kindergarten Day” today. Froebel started the first kindergarten in Germany in 1837, and his birthday was April 21. Kindergarten originated to help children adapt to learning and social interactions in a fun way. Froebel believed in self-directed play, singing, dancing, blocks…a “garden” where children could grow! He’d probably roll over in his grave now if he saw what was going on!!

As I write this I am remembering my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Myers. I LOVED her! I mean I worshipped her! She was a fairy godmother and the center of my world. She seemed ancient to me at the time, but I’m probably way older now than she was when she taught me. Thank goodness for hair dye and make up!!!

I remember playing “The Farmer in the Dell” and other circle games. I also remember the finger play “Here are grandma’s glasses…” We had sugar cookies with a hole in the middle that we would put on our finger as we ate and we also had orange kool-aid. (Oh, my goodness! The sugar police would get Mrs. Myers for sure!!!) My favorite activity was painting. I especially liked to paint princesses. Back in those days the only princess I knew about was Cinderella, but I longed to be like her. One day as I was at the easel I painted a stripe down my leg. It looked so good I painted another…and another…and another…until my legs had beautiful stripes all over them. Mrs. Myers could have squelched my creativity right then and there, but she just laughed and said, “Don’t do it again.”

Another memory I have is learning to tie my shoes. I wore corrective saddle oxfords I feared would come untied at school and then what would I do? Everyone would know that I couldn’t tie shoes!!! Well, one day they came untied and Mrs. Myers said, “You’re a smart girl. Now, you just sit down and figure it out.” And you know what? I did!!!! She knew when to coddle and when to push.

And incredible as it may seem, although all I did was PLAY in kindergarten I can actually read and write!!

Note! Although I’m focusing on “kindergarten” today, this message holds for all early childhood teachers from preschool through first grade.


If you cover every objective in the curriculum, but don’t have time to play outside or take field trips—
What’s the point of kindergarten?

If you do every page in the workbook, but don’t have time to laugh, do show and tell, or sing a song—
What’s the point of kindergarten?

If you know all your letters and sounds and numbers and sight words, but don’t know how to be a friend or share—
What’s the point of kindergarten?

If you score high on the standardized test, but don’t like school—
What’s the point of kindergarten?

If you master every skill and have 2 hours of screen time, but don’t have time to play in the block center or housekeeping or do puzzles—
What’s the point of kindergarten?

If teachers are so overwhelmed by the demands, expectations, and assessments they are given that they don’t have time to hug, smile, read, cheer, cherish, and look in the eyes of those wonderful little children in their classroom---
Then what’s the point of being a kindergarten teacher?

But we know that five is a magical time, and children only have one chance in a lifetime to be five. SHUT YOUR DOOR and hold hands, sing, dance, paint, tell stories, make believe, play outside, and continue to give children happy memories! And only you can do that because YOU are a kindergarten teacher and YOU are SPECIAL and AMAZING just like the children you teach!

Love always,  Dr. Jean

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Poems are a perfect partner for creative activities in your classroom.  Take a look...

Illustrations – After listening to a poem, have children close their eyes  and make a picture of it in their heads. Then let them draw that picture on paper with crayons, markers, or colored pencils.
*Let children illustrate poems with water colors, chalk, or other media.

Collage – Let children choose a favorite poem and make a collage with magazine pictures, photographs, natural objects, or art media.

Pennants and Banners– Cut pennant and banner shapes out of construction paper and let children write or illustrate poems on them.

Puzzle Poems– Cut cardboard or tag board into 12” squares. Let children write original poems or copy poems on the cardboard. Then give them makers and crayons to illustrate their poems. Finally, have them cut the square into puzzle shapes. Store in a zip bag. Let children exchange puzzles and put them together and read.

Poetry Quilt - Give each child a square and let them write an original poem or rhyme on the square. Let them decorate a frame around their poem with crayons. Glue the children’s squares to a large sheet of bulletin board paper. Be sure to leave at least an Inch between the squares. Take 12” pieces of yarn and tie them in bows. Glue the bows between the squares so it will look like a quilt. 

Puppets, Sculptures, and Bookmarks – Let children use a “scrap box” or “junk box” to create other “artful” objects for poems.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Ask the children, “What do poets do?” As they respond comment, “You know, we can do that, too. We can all write poems and be poets!!!” Here are some simple activities to start your students on the road to writing poetry. 

An acrostic is an easy way to begin writing poetry. Model how to do this on the board by writing a word vertically. Have children to think of a word that begins with each letter. Read over what you have written, and you have a poem.
Name Acrostic – Children think of a word that describes them for each letter in their name.
Holiday or Season- Write the holiday or season and then add an adjective that begins with each letter.
Non-fiction – Write a vocabulary word from a unit or theme and then
challenge children to write a word that begins with each letter. 

Write several lines of poetry, leaving blanks at the end of each line. Encourage the children to fill in words that rhyme. Have them help you sound out the words as you write them. For example:
I saw a pig
Who could ______.
I saw a cat
Who could ______.
I saw a sheep
Who could ______.
And I can rhyme
Any time!

*Use similes for blank poems. For example, children could fill in the line to “Hungry as a _____. Quiet as a______. Sleepy as a ______. Mad as a _______. Good as _______. Sweet as ______.” And so on.

Give children predictable sentences similar to the ones below. All children have to do is fill in a missing word, and they’ll have a poem.
Hint! They can use words that rhyme, nonsense words, or words that don’t rhyme.
I like_____.
I like _____
I like _____.
Do you like____?

I can _____.
I can_____.
I can_____.
Can you_____?

*I know….I wish….My mom is…Dogs can….Spring is….Green is…. And so forth!
*Write predictable poems using the five senses. It looks like…It sounds
like…It tastes like… It smells like…It feels like…It’s a ….