Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Last week my friend Leigh Ann Towater said when she put on my DVD a little boy talked to me on the smart board and said, "Get it, girl!" I mean, what 70 year old wouldn't be tickled to death by a comment like that!

I wish I could get in my car and drive across the United States and just "pop" into your classroom. There's nothing that fills my heart quite like being in front of a group of children! Since I can't do that, I've decided to start making some little videos you can share with your class. If you and your children enjoy them, I'll make more and more and more.

"King Kong" and "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" in sign language are my first two. Let me know what you think. (King Kong)

                            (Sing and Sign "I Know an Old Lady)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Here's another simple idea from Carolyn Kisloski that can make lining up a learning game.

Why?  Taking advantage of those few minute transitions throughout the day can add
hours of instructional time to your year! These activities can make lining up to leave
the room another learning opportunity for your students.

When?  Large group

What?  3” X 5” cards with different numbers on each card

How?  Write one number, zero to twenty (or as many as students in your class), on each
3” X 5” card. Shuffle the cards and hand one to each student sitting at the desk or table. Have students line up in numerical order at the door. 


More?  Have students line up and organize themselves silently. 

As the year progresses, write one number on each card, but begin at a number
other than zero, for instance 12 or 36, and count on from there.

If your class has trouble recognizing certain numbers, for instance 12 and 20 or teen numbers, only hand out cards with those tricky numbers written on the cards. Call twelves to line up. Then, call twenties.

Make cards with numerals, ten frames, dots, or objects. Call a number to line up. 

Draw shapes on cards to practice shape names and recognition.

Use color cards and have students line up in an AB or ABC pattern.

Write, “You go 1st.” or “I am 1st.” on a card for an extra surprise.

Call the game, “Snowball Line-Up,” and have each number written on a piece of
scrap paper. When you call students with a certain number to line up, they can crinkle their paper into a snowball and throw it into the recycling bin on their way to line up.

You could also ask students to put their cards in a basket by the door when they line up so the cards are ready to use next time.

Monday, January 15, 2018


Carolyn Kisloski who created the "Happies" with me is a treasure of good teaching strategies.  Honestly, I've been at this rodeo a LONG time, but she constantly teaches me something new.  


Why?  Little changes make a big difference for children. Special reading spots add an exciting twist to independent reading.

When?  Independent center time, whole group quiet reading

What?  List of reading partners, large craft sticks with different, special reading areas in the classroom written on each stick 

*Have as many special spots as there are groups of partners.

How?  Divide the class into partners for reading. Change the partners often, sometimes matching students with partners on their reading level and sometimes mixing levels. Each pair draws a craft stick with a special reading nook on it which will be their reading spot for the day. Some special places could be underneath tables, by the teacher’s desk, on the rug, in special chairs, or in the hall outside of the classroom. Students can take turns reading one book to each other or take their book bin to their nook and read quietly for the entire independent reading time. After one student reads a book, the partner must ask the reader one question about the book and give the reader one compliment about her reading.

More?  Invite another class, either at your grade level or another grade level, to read with your students during a special reading time.

This is a letter that Carolyn sends home to her families to give them ideas to use when reading at home with their child.  Most parents want to help their children, and this will give them specific strategies that they can use.  Actually, it's a pretty good prompt sheet for teachers as well!


Want more "happies" for your classroom? 

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Cyber world is exploding with social media, smart phones, hand held devices, watches, toys, ad infinitum.  Children can use electronic devices for entertainment, but they are also wonderful tools to help children learn and explore. However, are young children really ready for all the experiences (good, bad, and ugly) that are in cyber world? Parents tell their children not to talk to strangers and not to go to dangerous places in the real world. Likewise, we need to set some boundaries and educate children on internet safety.

Daniel Sherwin ( shared an article he wrote about an experience his child had with cyber bullying. I’m quite certain many of you with older children have had similar issues, and you’ll appreciate the tools and strategies he suggests to help both children and parents cope.

Behind the Screen: How to Help Your Child Overcome a Cyberbully
It used to be that bullying stopped once the final school bell rang, but with millions of children using a computer or phone each day, bullying has found its way onto the screen in the form of cyberbullying. As a parent, you try your best to protect your child, but you can’t always monitor them online.

After my son and I moved to a new city and I got him enrolled in school, he found himself screen-to-screen with an online bully. Two years later, and we have finally found some strategies that work, as well as helpful ways to ease anxiety both at home and at school. Moving creates many emotional challenges for teens, but cyberbullying shouldn’t be one of them. Here are a few tools to help your child cope.

What is Cyberbullying?

Before you can address cyberbullying, you need to first understand what it is. Cyberbullying refers to bullying that takes place using electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets via communication tools like social media, text messages, and chat rooms. So, what makes this type of bullying different? When it comes to cyberbullying, it can happen 24 hours a day, and it is often posted anonymously and distributed to a large audience of peers, making it difficult to trace back to the source.

While the mean or hateful communication can be deleted, this might not happen until after it has been shared with others. For example, a cyberbully might create a fake social media profile and spread rumors. Even if the account is reported and deleted, others have seen and likely shared it, or taken pictures of it on their phone to share with others. While bullying that happens in person is often one or several isolated events, cyberbullying has a direct impact that can spread long after the initial contact.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open
When my son first approached me about his cyberbully, my first thought was to get the school involved – I wanted to put a stop to it immediately. However, the bully was anonymous, leaving everyone’s hands tied. After taking time to speak with my child, he revealed that a particular student was mean to him at school, even sending text messages and posting hateful comments on his social media page. Cyberbullying can take on various forms, including harassment, blackmail, and humiliation, so make sure you understand the entire story before developing a plan of action.

The first step to ending cyberbullying is to have a conversation with your child. Bullying is usually related to school life, and your child understands both the situation and context better than anyone, so getting their perspective will be helpful in getting to the bottom of things. Resist the urge to react quickly – the goal isn’t revenge. Your ultimate goal should be to help your child heal and restore their self-respect.

Set the Rules
Set rules as a means of protecting your child, not punishing them. The victims of cyberbullying are just that – victims—but by laying down a few rules, you can put some water on the flames. Sit down with your child and learn how the social networks they use work. Review your child’s online presence and help them set up safeguards against cyberbullying by utilizing privacy settings and reporting tools. While it is tempting to ban computer usage altogether, resist this urge. Taking away electronic privileges not only sends the message that you child is in the wrong, but it could lead them to be more secretive with their online life. Instead, set time limits for screen time and encourage positive activities.

One of the largest effects of cyberbullying is anxiety and stress, and due to its online reach, your child might feel like their home is no longer a place of solitude and calm. Make your home a stress-free zone by encouraging your child to do things they enjoy such as sports or hobbies. For my son and I, we found that escaping to the yard to kick around the soccer ball before dinner was a great stress reliever, and put us both in a comfortable zone to open up conversation about school, activities, and life.

Cyberbullying is far-reaching, making it seem scary and impossible to tackle. Spend some time talking with your child, set rules for online time, and build up their self-respect by spending time together unplugged.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


I know many of you would like more materials in English and Spanish. My webmaster has created some videos just for you. Here are links to the “Weather Song,” “Opposites,” and “Days of the Week” in Spanish. We hope to add more in 2018. DISFRUTAR!



Days of the Week Spanish


Five Little Monkeys


My webmaster has been busy 

Friday, January 12, 2018


If you’ve been to my workshops I always mention this idea. It’s a great way to involve parents and get some cool materials for your science center.

What do you need to do ahead of time?
Run off copies of my discovery bottles from my website (May, 2012). Send home a letter to your parents similar to the one below along with directions for one of the bottles:

Dear Parents,

We are excited that your child is going to participate in his or her first SCIENCE FAIR this week. Please help your child make a “discovery bottle” using the attached directions. You are welcome to look on the internet to find another bottle that you’d like to make. (Just search “discovery bottles” or “sensory bottles” for more ideas.)

Water bottles are perfect for this project. Soak the bottle in warm water or blow with a hair dryer to remove the label. The only difficult part is removing the sticky glue left on the bottle. (I’ve found the easiest thing to do is just put a piece of clear packaging tape over the sticky part.) You’ll find most of the materials for making these bottles in a junk drawer or in your kitchen cabinet.

Please send the bottle back to school this Friday. For our science fair we’ll let each child “show and share” how they made their bottle. We’ll create a special science center so the children can revisit the bottles and discover and explore over the next few weeks.

We hope you’ll stop by and see all of the creative ways children can recycle bottles and LEARN!

Note! The only thing you’ll need to do is glue the lids on with E6000 or a similar glue. Shake, rattle, and roll those bottles!

Of course, you'll want to award a "participation" ribbon to each child!
What a great way to get students excited about SCIENCE!

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Did you ever sing the song "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold..."? This rings true in early childhood. We want to be ready and excited to try new things, but we also need to treasure activities and materials that have always worked with children. Puzzles are one thing that will never go out of style, and to celebrate National Puzzle Day on January 29th, here are some "old" and "new" activities with puzzles.

There have been numerous research studies that confirm the importance of puzzles in cognitive development. Other benefits of puzzles include:
     Small motor skills
     Eye-hand coordination
     Task initiation and completion
     Sense of accomplishment

Puzzles also provide the opportunity for children to collaborate and cooperate with a partner or small group.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate puzzles into your plans this month. You might be surprised at the standards you’ll find! 

Jigsaw Puzzle
Put a jigsaw puzzle (50-100+ pieces depending on the age and ability of your students) on a table. Explain that you will leave it out all week and if they finish their work early they can try and put it together. (You’ll quickly be able to identify the children who have done puzzles at home with their families.) 

Story Puzzles

Have children draw pictures and write stories on cardstock. Next, let them cut the paper into puzzle pieces. (I’ve found it best to give them a limit of 8-15 pieces or they’ll end up with confetti.) Put these in an envelope and exchange with friends. After putting the puzzles together they can read each other’s stories.

Word PuzzlesWrite vocabulary/spelling/sight words on sentence strips. Cut between the letters and place them in an envelope. Children put the letters together and read the word. 

Hint! Write the word on the back of the envelope so they can self-check.
Ask them to write the words after they complete the puzzles.

Poem Puzzles
Make 2 copies of nursery rhymes or poems. Glue one to the front of a clasp envelope. Make a puzzle of the other rhyme by cutting between the lines or words. Store in the envelope. Children place the puzzle pieces on top of the original and then read.


Magazine Puzzles
Let children cut out favorite pictures from a magazine. (These could relate to a theme or unit.) Glue pictures to a piece of cardstock and then cut into puzzle pieces. 

Cereal Box Puzzles 
Ask children to bring empty cereal boxes from home. Cut the front sections off the boxes and cut into puzzle pieces.
*For younger students it works best to use two boxes that are the same. One can be cut up and then they can place the pieces on the whole.

Greeting Card Puzzles
Ask parents to save old greeting cards. Child can cut off the front of the cards and then use them to make puzzles.