Monday, April 23, 2018


These games can easily be adapted for different languages.  The advantage of a game is that two children can play them together and help each other.  Repetition is also important and these games can be played multiple times or sent home for practice with parents.

Peeking Puppies
Cut puppies out of construction paper using the attached pattern. Write the word in Spanish on the body of the puppy. Fold down the ear and write the word in English under the ear. Children identify the word and then self-check by “peeking” under the ear.        


Sock Match
Cut matching socks out of construction paper. Write a word in English on one sock and the Spanish translation on another sock. Mix the socks up in a bag. Children find the matching socks and clothespin them together.

Cut 4” circles out of poster board or fun foam. Write the word in Spanish on one side and the English translation on the other side. Children will need a pancake turner/spatula to play the game. Spread the circles on the table. Children read the word and translate. Then they flip over the circle to check their response on the back.  

Stretch and Match

You will need heavy cardboard cut in 5” x 8” rectangles. Cut notches in each of the long sides as shown. Write a word in Spanish by each notch on the left side. Write a word in English by each notch on the right side. Children stretch rubber bands between matching words. Draw lines between correct answers on the back so children can self-check.

Poke and Peek
Cut simple shapes out of poster board (cars, animals, plants, etc.) Punch holes around the edge of the shape. Write a word in English by each hole on one side of the shape. On the reverse side write the word in Spanish by the appropriate hole. Children take a straw or pencil and insert it by a word. After translating the word, they flip the shape over and check their response on the back.
Hint! Children could also play this game with a friend.    

I would love to see someone do a study on using sign language as a strategy for learning a second language.  Sign language could provide a physical and multi sensory bridge for making connections between two languages.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Many times at workshops teachers ask, “Do you have any ideas for learning a second language?” It’s funny, but almost every project I demonstrate I’ll say, “You know you could use this by….” Most of my activities are easy to adapt for different age levels and content. I’m no expert, but here are a few tips that might help.

The more senses you activate and the more you engage children physically and mentally, the more likely the message will get to the brain and stay in the brain. Say it, move it, sing it, act it!

You have to hook new learning to something that is already in the brain to make those connections. And, you have to repeat things over and over and over again to make those pathways firm.

Games are a natural way to engage children and provide that purposeful practice for automaticity.

I Spy!
This is an old game, but it could easily be played using words for colors and shapes of a second language.
Example: I spy something rojo!

Touch Something
The teacher says a word (color, shape, object) and the children have to walk around the room and touch something that matches the word.

Simon Says
Change the words of Simon Says to reinforce body parts.
Example: Simons says put your hands on your cabeza.

Musical Words
Write vocabulary words on paper plates and place them on the floor. (You might want to write the word in Spanish in red on one side and the word in English in blue on the opposite side.) Play some catchy music and tell the children to dance around. When the music stops, the children find a plate and pick it up. The children silently read their word and translate it. The teacher randomly points to several children to identify their word and tell what it means. The children then put the plates on the floor and the dancing continues.
Show Me
Each child has a set of vocabulary cards that they place on their desk or on the floor. As the teacher calls out a word, the children find it and hold it up in the air. (You could vary this by calling out the word in English, saying it in Spanish, giving a definition, and so forth.)

Four Square
Fold a sheet of paper into fourths. Open and trace over the creased line. In the upper right corner write the word in English. In the upper left corner write the word in Spanish. In the bottom right corner the children illustrate the word. In the last section they write sentences using the word.

Paper Plate Puzzles

Cut paper plates into thirds. Write a word in English on one third. Write the word in Spanish on another section. Draw a picture clue in the third section. Mix up pieces. Children put the puzzles together and read the words.

*Hint! You could use puzzlers for number words, color words, animals, foods, etc

Saturday, April 21, 2018


April 21st - National Kindergarten Day

At the end of the day, will it really matter if they learned to read when they were five or when they were six?

At the end of the day, will it really matter if they wrote a paragraph when they were in kindergarten or second grade?

At the end of the day, will it really matter what score they got on a standardized test?

At the end of the day, will “rigor” in kindergarten be more important than play?

At the end of the day, it will matter if children feel good about themselves, know how to get along with others, find joy in learning, and have happy memories.

On NATIONAL KINDERGARTEN DAY, I question why we are pushing and rushing and shoving our children. Are the actually going to be smarter, brighter, and better at the end of the day…

They’ve Taken Away Our Song
By Jean Feldman

We used to sing and play outside.
     We’d hold hands and we’d dance.
Now we have to sit still and take tests.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to build with blocks.
     We’d finger paint and do puzzles.
Now we do worksheets.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to dig in the sand,
     Play circle games and play pretend.
Now we sit in front of a big screen.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to cook and go on field trips.
     We had show and tell and rest time.
Now we have to stay on task.
     They’ve taken away our song.

Our teacher used to have time
     To sing us rhymes and tell us stories.
Now our teacher has to collect data.
     They’ve taken away our song.

Give children back their song,
     Laugh, and love, and play,
So when they’re all grown up
     They’ll remember kindergarten in a special way.

As kindergarten teachers, we know that five is a magical time. Children have one chance in a lifetime to be five, and we will continue to hold hands, and sing, and dance, and tell stories, and do finger plays, and play pretend, and give children happy memories because we still believe in “kinder garden”-– we are KINDERGARTEN TEACHERS!

Sweet memories of my kindergarten.  One of the best years of my life.
I've forgotten many years in school, but I'll never forget kindergarten.
Maybe that's why I became a kindergarten teacher so I could pass on
the joy and give other children happy memories.  Do you feel the same way?

Friday, April 20, 2018


Someone at a recent workshop asked if I had any “tricks” for helping children discriminate b and d. Most experts suggest that it is developmental and you shouldn’t be too concerned before the age of 7. However, I looked through my files and here are some tips.

B and D (Mary Ann Rosier)
Make a fist with each hand and put up the thumbs with fists facing each other. “B” comes first in the alphabet so the stick is first. “D” comes after “B” so the stick is on the right.
Using a copy of the alphabet underline “b c d.” Explain that “b” /c sees/ “d.”
B and D Discrimination (Mary Marsionis)
Children use left hand to make a sign language “b” and right hand to make a “d.” Say “big dog” to remember “b” and “d.”

B vs. D (Mary Myers)
Here’s another idea for helping children distinguish these letters. “B” has the bat (stick) and then the ball (circle). “D” has the doorknob (circle) and then the door (stick).
Draw a bed. Use a lowercase “b” for the headboard and a “d” for the foot of the bed. 

Write "b" on 10 index cards and "d" on 10 index cards.  Shuffle the cards and then ask the children to sort them.
Sensory Activities
Practice writing “b” and “d” in the air as you say:
Make a line and then a circle for “b.” Make the circle and then the line for “d.”

Have children roll play dough and place it on top of the letters.

Trace over letters in a sand tray.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


April 19th is National High Five Day, but you can start any day with a high five and a smile! Wouldn't your kids be surprised if you drew a smile on your hand like this one?


High Five Cheer

Teach children how to give themselves a “high five” for a job well done. Hold up both palms facing each other in front of your chest. Pretend to wave with one hand as you hold up five fingers on the other hand. “Hi 5!” Get it?

Pat on the Back
Trace around each child’s hand on construction paper and let them cut it out. Write a positive comment about each child on the hand and tape it to their back at the end of the day. Parents will be proud when they see their child’s “pat on the back.”


Pickle Tickle Partner Game

Up high. (Give a high five up in the air.)
Down low. (High five down by knees.)
Cut the pickle. (One child touches fingertips horizontally as the other child pretends to slice in between.)
Give a tickle. (Gently tickle each other.)

High Five
Write sight words on hands and tape to your classroom door. Students must "high five" a hand and read a word before exiting the classroom.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I have so much fun going through ideas teachers have shared with me at my workshops. See if you can make a “fist list” of three new things you’d like to try this week.

Rainbow Clap(Kammi O'Hara) 

Start on one side of your body and clap in an arch over to the other side.

Spiderman(Jessica Schmidt)

To focus children’s attention in the hall say, “Spiderman.” When the children hear that they need to "glue" themselves against the wall.

Silence (Karen Reindl) 

Tell the kids you're going to play "silence." 
"Let's shake it out!" 
Stand tall and still and hold up one hand. Slowly put up one finger at a time. However, if they make noise before that stop until they are silent again. When you get to 5 or 10 everyone can clap.

Self-Regulation(Sarah Mumaw-Flury) 

To discourage children from shouting out the answer, have them whisper their answer to the question in their hand and then hold it up. When the teacher says, “Release!” they open their hand and say/whisper the answer. 

First Thing on Your Paper(Christine Williamson) 

The first thing I do is always the same. 

Pick up a pencil and write my name!

Word of the Day(Mairin Born)

Put a sight word each week (or day) in a clear nametag pocket. All week the kids must name the word or turn it into a sentence as a "ticket" to talk to the teacher.
Hint! Use shapes or letters for younger students.

Class Names(Tune: "Ten Little Indians") 

Aiden, Grayson, Hugh, Jack 
Jacob, Jayden, Mac, Maddie 
Nicholas, Oliver, Samuel Willa 
These are the kids in our class. 

*Sing this song all year to learn each other's names, alphabetical order, etc. With different class sizes, just adjust the names to fit by either singing quickly in a row or drawing out one name a little longer. 

Stress Button(Christine Burchfield)
Put a piece of Velcro on a poker chip for children to keep in their pocket. They can rub the Velcro on the chip to calm down.
*Place Velcro strips on the side of their desk to rub and relax. (Pam Armon)

N.A.P.(Joy & Dawn)

Teach children to say “N.A.P.” when they make a mistake or bad things happen.
N – not
A – a
P – problem

Useful Signs(Miranda)

Teach children signs for white and chocolate milk, as well as specials like art, music, PE, etc.

Daily Song List
Make a song list for each day of the week with a different good morning song, calendar song, phonics song, movement song, and good-bye song.

15 Minutes of Walking/Exercising
Whether or not you have a Fitbit, try building 15 minutes of walking each day as you count, sing letter songs, say days of the week, months, spell words, and review other information.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Engagement is a term that is appearing frequently in educational discussions because so many teachers seem to be struggling with getting children to focus and pay attention. Children are increasingly disengaging from the real world because they are living in a passive state on the screen.

First thing to do is TURN EVERYTHING OFF! If there is a screen on the children will look at it and not at you.
Here are some other tips to engage your students.

1. Look children in their eyes and smile. I don’t care where I go when I sing “I like you there’s no doubt about it” I have the children in the palm of my hand.

     I Like You(Tune: “Shortnin’ Bread”)
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it. (Point to self and then a friend.)
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it.
     I like you, there’s no doubt about it.
     You are my good friend. (Point to friend and then self.)

2. Give your students 100% of your attention. Be in the moment!!! Send the message that YOU are the most important thing in the world right now. I’m giving you my best and I need to you to do the same.

4. Be enthusiastic! Teachers can add the magic to anything with their facial expression, voice, and body language.

5. Be dramatic and break into a song or do something silly. The brain loves novelty!

6. Physical proximity! Get close to your students. Create an intimate space by having the children sit on the floor in a circle. A gentle touch can send a positive message to the brain.

7. Use their name frequently. You might have a child day dreaming and simply saying their name will bring them back to reality.

8. Do a movement activity to focus those busy hands. Lead children in a cheer or a clapping pattern. Use call backs and attention grabbers.

     Tootsie Roll
     Tootsie roll, (Roll hands around each other.)
     Lollipop. (Pretend to lick a lollipop.)
     We’ve been talking, (Open and shut fingers.)
     Now let’s stop! (Make sign language sign for “stop.”)
     Call Backs
     Teacher says: Hands on top (Place hands on head.)
     Children respond: Everybody stop (Children freeze.)
     Teacher says: Macaroni and cheese.
     Children respond: Freeze please (Children freeze.)

9. Use positive redirection to get them to do what you want them to do. Instead of saying, “Sit down and be quiet,” trying singing this tune as you model the motions:

     Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Lap (Tune: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes")
     Head, shoulders, knees, and lap, (Point to appropriate body part.)
     Knees and lap.
     Head, shoulders, knees, and lap, (Point to appropriate body part.)
     Knees and lap.
     Legs are criss-cross applesauce (Cross legs and fold hands.)
     And our hands are in our lap, lap, lap.

10. Lower your voice and pretend to be calm as you cross your hands and smile.