Sunday, August 20, 2017


Kids and lines don't go together very well, but it's a necessary part of classroom life. Instead of "keep your hands to yourself," try one of these positive approaches.
I’m Ready (Say or sing to the tune from "Gilligan's Island")
I’m looking straight ahead of me.
My arms are at my side.
My feet are quiet as can be,
I’m ready for outside.
Hint! Write the chant on a poster and tape it to the door.

Line Up Song  (Tune: “Hi Ho, Hi Ho”)
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to (lunch, play, home, etc.) we go.
With our heads held high and arms by our sides
And our belly buttons all in a row.

Hips and Lips
Teacher says "Hips" - children put one hand on their hips.
Teacher says "Lips" - children put index finger from the other hand on their lips.

Hallway Trip
“Zip” – pretend to zip your lips.
“Flip” – fold arms across your chest.
“We’re ready for the hallway trip.”

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

Let’s Pretend!
Marshmallows - Have the children put “marshmallows” in their mouths (Puff out cheeks.)
and put “marshmallows” on their feet. (Model walking slowly and gently.)
Museum Hands – Children clasp their hands behind their backs.
Butterfly Wings or Angel Wings - Children put their hands behind their backs and stick out their elbows and flap them like wings.
Fix It Up
When students forget school rules and appropriate behavior, simply say:
STOP! (Put your hand in the air.)
BACK IT UP! (Have them return to their seats.)
FIX IT UP! (Choose a child to describe the appropriate behavior.)

Days of the Week
Name your tables, rows, etc. according to the days of the 
week. On Monday, the “Monday table” gets to line up first all day long. For example:
“Monday table, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.” On Tuesday, call the “Tuesday
table” first all day. “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday.” Every group will
have a turn being first as well as last.

Line Up Rhymes
Use these rhymes to dismiss children:
Apples, peaches, pears, plums –
Tell me when your birthday comes.
(Each child tells their birthday.)

Cat, dog, frog mouse –
Tell me the number on your house.
(Children say their street address.)

Ring, ring, anybody home?
What’s the number of your telephone?
(Children state their phone number.)

A E I O You may be dismissed.
(Point to children as you say the vowels. The child who would be “U” may line up.)

Wall Push Ups
While children are waiting and standing in line in the hall encourage them to do push ups against the wall.


Saturday, August 19, 2017


Here are some ideas that may help your students work out their own problems.

Peace Flower
You’ll need a large fake flower to make “peace.” When two children come to you to solve an argument hand them the flower. Explain that they must both hold the flower with two hands and look at each other. When they’ve worked out their problem and have “peace” they can hug and go back and play.

Peace Talks
Here's another “peaceful” way to solve problems using a composition book or spiral notebook. Ask the children who have had a conflict to sit next to each other at a table. Open the notebook and put it between them. Explain that you want to know both of their opinions of what the problem is. Give them pencils and ask them to write and draw their version of what happened in the book. When they have resolved their problem they can bring you the book and go back and play.

Problem Resolution
After students resolve a problem they can follow this routine:
1st - Fist bump
2nd - Hand shake
3rd - High five
4th - Hug
5th - Walk away happy!

Mirror Talk
If children talk ugly to a friend, then tell them to go talk like that in the mirror and see how it feels.

Peace and Quiet
Here's an attention grabber that never fails. Tell children when you make the peace symbol (middle and index finger up in the air) with one hand and put the index finger from your other hand on your lips they should do the same thing. Tadaa! Peace and quiet!!!!

Friday, August 18, 2017


"Positive redirection" is the best solution to many common classroom problems. Today I've got some ideas that might work for children who constantly interrupt during a read aloud or when others are talking. I'd start by having a class discussion about how to be a polite listener. Remind children that it hurts people's feelings when you interrupt when they are talking.

Me, Too!
Sign language for "me too" is a way that children can show they've had a similar experience. Demonstrate how to stick out your thumb and pinky as you bend down your other three fingers. Touch the thumb back and forth to your chest to show "me, too"!
Show students the symbol for join/connect in sign language. (Hook two index fingers together.)  Students put one hand on their head for what’s in their head and then they hold out the other hand for what’s in the book.  Join the fingers together to connect what’s in their head and what’s in the book to make a schema.  Encourage them to show you that they are listening and connecting to the book as you read with this sign.
Paper and Pencil
Explain that if they have something to say during a story they can write it down or draw a picture so you can talk about it when the story is over.

Teacher, Teacher!
Tell children if they want your attention when you are talking to another adult or if you are busy they can hold your hand.  You can let them know that you are aware of them and will help them as soon as you can by placing your other hand on top.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


O.K.  It's important to listen to children, but tattling can be like a fire out of control.  To prevent negativity/aka “the squeaky wheel” from getting too much attention, it’s important to have a discussion with your class at the beginning of the year about what is an emergency. If someone is in danger of getting hurt, then it’s an emergency. (One teacher said she used the “3 B Principle” – bathroom, blood, or barf!!!) There are also several good books out now that help children understand when it is appropriate to tell the teacher and what happens when you cry wolf. (A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Fran Sandon is adorable!)

Check out some of these ideas that teachers have shared with me.  And, never ever forget to have a sense of humor!

Leave a Message
Put an old phone on your desk for children to tell their concerns. Explain that you’ll listen to your messages at the end of the day. You might even want to have a directory.
Press #1 for the teacher.
Press #2 for your parents.
Press #3 for the principal.
Press #4 for the President…etc.

Write It
Get a spiral notebook and write “Things the Teacher Needs to Know” on the cover. When children come to tattle hand them the book and say, “Write it all down and don’t leave out a thing.” If they say, “I can’t write,” respond with, “Well, just draw a picture and don’t leave out a thing!”
Comment Box
Put a box, notepad, and pencil on a shelf. Explain that when they want to complain or make a comment they need to write it on a piece of paper. They must start their sentence with a capital letter and end it with a period if they want the teacher to read it at the end of the day.

Lunch Bag
Open a lunch bag and set it on your desk. When children come up to tattle say, “Go put it in the bag. I’ll listen at the end of the day.” (Yes, trust me! They will go over and talk in the bag.) At the end of the day put the bag next to your ear and pretend to listen for 15-20 seconds. Then wad up the bag and throw it in the trash as you say, “That’s the end of that!”

Tell the Mirror
Place a small mirror on your wall and when the children start to tattle say, "Why don't you go tell that little boy/little girl in the mirror?"

Tattle Time

One of my favorite stories about tattle tales came from a teacher many years ago. When her students tried to tattle she’d smile and say, “I’m sorry. Today’s not tattle tale day. Wait until May 14th and then you can tell me.”

Another teacher said she used the concept of an Oreo cookie for tattle tales. The child reporting had to say one nice thing, then the tale, then another nice thing.

Tattle Toy
Choose a stuffed animal or puppet to listen to children’s complaints and tattles. Be sure and name the character. Explain that when you are busy they can always tell Teddy (or whatever) their problems. He’s always there waiting to be their friend.

*You can also let them tell a plant or other inanimate object.
Here’s another great idea for tattle tales. Put a photograph of the President on your wall and say, “I’m just your teacher. Why don’t you tell the President?” You won’t believe it, but the children will walk over and talk to the picture!

Sometimes a sense of humor is the best solution to a problem. Keep calm and laugh inside!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


You know I LOVE sign language! I’m certainly no expert, but if I can do it, anybody can do it. Let me give you a few reasons why I’m such a believer in the power of SIGN:
It’s quiet.
It’s multi-sensory.
It’s engaging.
It’s good for differentiated instruction and for children who are non-English speakers.
It’s free and it’s simple.

Here are some great signs for classroom management to start your school year. I’d explain to the class that you are going to teach them a new language called “sign language.” It’s a special language for people who can’t hear because you talk with your hands. I’d suggest introducing one new sign each day. Encourage the children to model what you do when you make the sign. In a few weeks, you’ll be amazed at how the volume in your classroom has been turned down.

Pay Attention (Palms pointing towards face and shake back and forth.)

Stand Up (Two fingers standing on palm and then point up.)

Sit Down (Two fingers sitting on 2 fingers of other hand and point down.)

Walk (Walk fingers.)

Line Up (Fingers up with right pinky and left thumb touching.)

Bathroom (Make “t” and wiggle.)

Water (Make “w” with fingers and place near your mouth.)

More (Fingertips touching.)

Wonderful (Palms open facing out and move down and then up.)

I love you! (Fingers up with middle finger and ring finger bent down.)

Look! Listen! Learn (“L” by eyes, ears, and then brain.)

Finished (Brush hands away from chest.)

Help (Make a fist with one hand and place it on the open palm of the other hand. Bring both up in the air at the same time.)

Stop (One palm open. Pretend to chop it with the other palm.)

Wait (Hold hands open and off to the side and wiggle the fingers.)

Yes (Make an “s” with your fist and raise and lower it like your head.)

No (Middle and index finger straight and close toward the thumb.)

Please (One palm open on chest and make a circular motion.)

Thank you (Touch fingertips on chin and extend out.)

Sorry (Make fist and rub on chest in circular motion.)

Excuse me (One palm up and brush fingertips of other hand across.)

Note!  There are several excellent websites where you can view videos of these signs.  (,, and

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I have so much fun learning new ideas from teachers all over the country. I bet you'll find an idea or two just right for your class today.

Dental Health (Stephanie Velasquez)
Glue the cut out of a white tooth on a colored sheet of paper and place in a clear sheet protector. Let the children color the tooth with a dry erase marker to represent the “germs" on the tooth after they eat. Children use a toothbrush to erase the germs.

Old MacDonald (Clarisa Ehrmantraut)
Make a red barn out of paper and staple a zip bag behind it. Use pictures of animals and insert them in the baggie as you sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

Pool Noodle Wiggle Sticks (Alison Zukowski)
Poke holes through a swim noodle (6”-12” long) and thread ribbon through it. Knot the ribbon and use for movement activities.
*Tie ribbons to diving rings and use for movement activities. 

Puppets (Nancy Patrick)
Use puppets to sing the song "I Had a Bird."
Swat Game (Elizabeth Allen)
Write letters, numbers, colors, shapes, words, or whatever skill you want to reinforce on a big piece of paper. Give children small fly swatters and as you call out information they can "swat" it. 

Same Song - New Verse (Megan Munselle)
Here are some new verses for "The Banana Dance."
Build the house, build build the house...Rock the house, rock, rock the house...
Form the Skittles, eat the Skittles, taste the rainbow...
Form the potato, peel the potato, mash potatoes...

Listen and Obey (Stephanie Velasquez) 
If we listen to our teachers (point to ears) 
And do it right away. (point with finger) 
Happy, happy, happy is our day. (point and smile) 
OBEY! (Everyone yells together.) 

Morning Dance (Genevieve Shafer) 
This call and response reminds students to have a positive attitude, it’s O.K. to make mistakes, and they are all special. 
I am ready for school. (wiggle shoulders) 
I will have a good day. (twist) 
I am confident. (stand tall)
I’m not better than you. (lean and point to the side) 
You’re not better than me. (lean and point to the other side) 
We’re all amazing! (spin with arms up) 
If I fall, I get up. (tuck and touch floor and stand up “x” with body) 
I win or I learn. 
Thank you God for making me. (pray hands) 
I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be! (say loud and proud while jumping with arms in the air) 

Classroom Mirror (Andrea Neal) 
Children love using mirrors in the classroom. Cover a mirror and ask students to look under it to see your favorite kid. 
*If a student is upset, sad, or misbehaving then ask them to go find the happy well-behaved student that you know in the mirror. When they see themselves they will smile, and it usually changes their attitude. 

Under (Elma Valdez) 
Tape caution tape across the classroom doorway and have the children crawl “UNDER” the tape for the letter “U.” 

Monday, August 14, 2017


Pat Gusoff told me about a fantastic family project she uses to decorate her room. You're going to love her ideas! 

Here is the canvas color board idea I did last year with my families.

First we made the “white” board together as a classroom activity. We “hid” white items all over the room and went on a color hunt!

This is a copy of the letter that I sent home. The children colored their note with their specific color.

We kept them hanging up all year and sent them home at the end of the school year!
Note! Michaels carries 8x8 canvas boards in packs of fives. Use your teacher discount and coupons that come in the mail.

I drew picture frames outside of our classroom for our children's first one-hour visit to draw their self portraits!

Go Fishing
Here is an oil pan from the dollar store that I painted blue with acrylic paint. I’ll fill it with water for the ping pong balls that I numbered and mini sharks! Happy fishing with the lobster claws!

P.S. She calls her ideas "Pat-rest" instead of Pinterest!

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Over 40 years ago when I taught in the lab kindergarten at DeKalb College I found a purple ditto in an old file with this thought on it. “Source Unknown” was all it said at the bottom. Times have changed, but our hearts as educators remain the same. On this Sunday before many of you start your journey into the new school year I thought it was appropriate to remember WHY we do WHAT we do!

When I am introduced as a teacher, I generally hear a very flat, “Oh.” I have never been certain whether that is an expression of sympathy, pity, arrogance, or disinterest. Always I wish I had time to explain to them like this. Yes! I’m a teacher and I love my job!

Where else would a handsome and very young man put his arms around me and ask, “Do you know I love you?”

Where else could my limited wardrobe be complimented or have someone say, “You sing pretty.”

Where else could I eat a soiled cookie from a grimy little hand and not become ill?

Where else could I guide a chubby hand that some day may write a book or important document?

Where else could I get to play outside, laugh, sing, read and get paid for it?

Where else could I forget my own aches and pains because of so many scratched knees, bumped heads, and broken hearts that need care?

Where else could I forget about taxes and our country’s political problems because Josh isn’t adjusting as he should and Margo needs help with her math?

Where else could my mind stay so young as with a group whose attention span is so short that I must always keep a bag of tricks up my sleeve?

Where else could I feel so close to my Maker as I do each year because of something that I have done to help one of His little children learn and grow.

Yes, I am a teacher and I LOVE my job!

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Do you remember Deputy Barney Fife from Mayberry RFD? One of his favorite sayings was “nip it in the bud.” That’s something to take to heart as the school year starts. Take your time to teach rules and routines and the rest of your year will go much smoother.

Rules help children feel secure and know what behavior is expected of them. Choose a few simple rules and state them in a positive way. You can get a free download of this “Rules Rap” from my website this month.

Rules Rap
The rules, the rules, the rules of the classroom. (Snap fingers.)
The rules, the rules, the rules of the classroom.

Follow, follow, follow directions, (Point index fingers.)
Follow, follow, follow directions. Chorus

Feet and hands, feet and hands, (Point to feet and hands.)
Feet and hands to yourself. Chorus

Small voices inside, tall voices on the playground.
(Quiet voice, then loud voice.)
Small voices inside, tall voices on the playground. Chorus

Work together, don’t fight, or you’ll get in trouble.
(Clasp hands, then hold nose.)
Work together, don’t fight, or you’ll get in trouble. Chorus

Here's a video where your children can do the "Rules Rap" with me.

After teaching the class the “Rules Rap” discuss why rules are important. Say, “I know everyone in our class has a good rule to share with us.” Give each child a sheet of paper to draw a rule. Older students can write the rule and younger students can dictate the rule. Put their rules together, make a cover, and bind to make a book. Explain that when adults agree to do something they sign a contract. “Everyone made these rules. Are you all going to obey these rules? (Of course, they’ll agree!) Then I’m going to let you put your thumb on an ink pad and stamp your thumbprint on our book to show that you will abide by these rules.” 
When children are doing something they shouldn’t be doing take the book and point to a page as you say, “Look, it says _______ in the book. Show me the right thing to do.” (Most of them can’t read anyway, so you can turn to any page in the book!)

Friday, August 11, 2017


I am frequently asked about center management.  There is no “right” or “wrong” way, but you do have to adapt to your district’s requirements, the age of your students, and your standards.  Here are some strategies that I have used in the past.

Weekly Contract
Each week my students received a “contract” with ten centers they “got” to visit during the week. We did center rotation for 45 minutes at the end of the day when they were too exhausted to sit and listen. They got to choose where they went and how long they stayed in each center, but the goal was to do all ten activities by the end of the week. If they finished they got “Fabulous Friday”! What was Fabulous Friday?? They got to take their shoes off and do whatever they wanted. They LOVED it!!!
After visiting a center they colored it in and then raised their hand. My assistant walked around with a hole punch and would punch the activity after they explained what they did or learned. (During this time I could pull one or two students to give them extra help.)

Yes, I did limit the centers to 2 or 4 at a time. On Monday we’d go around the circle and they chose where they’d like to start. If a center already had four people they had to make another choice. When someone left a popular center then they could go there. This really worked itself out. If they wanted to stay in blocks all day Monday they could, but then they’d have to work a little faster the rest of the week to complete their center cards. It was amazing how they became self-directed learners by the end of the year!

Numbered Centers
I visited another kindergarten that had something similar. Children had index cards with numbers 1-10 on them. These were tied to a string that they wore around their necks. Scattered around the room were the numbers 1-10 with something to do at each station. As children completed the activity they raised their hand and the teacher punched their card.
Check List
Another idea might be to have a class list with the children’s names at each center. Write the focus goal at the top. As children complete assignments they make a smiley face or other comment next to their name.

Choice Board
Make a choice board with the different learning centers you have in your classroom. Put dots to control the number of children who can play in each center at a given time. Write each child’s name on a clothespin or put Velcro on the back of their photo. Children take their clothespin or photo and clip it by the center where they would like to play. If all the spaces are used, then they must make another choice. They may stay there as long as they want. When they leave they take their clothespin and attach it to another center that is open.
*Use alphabetical order to determine who chooses first each day. For example, on Monday the first five children in the alphabet get first choice. On Tuesday, the next five in alphabetical order, etc.

Make a digital camera available so children can take photographs of the work and projects they do in centers.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


I showed this backpack on my webinar yesterday and someone asked for directions and a copy of the poem.

Punch holes in the top of a lunch bag (which is actually the bottom of the bag). You will need to do this for the children. 
Put a pipe cleaner through the holes and twist to make a handle. 
Lift up the flap and tuck the bottom of the bag under it. 
Give this to children when they register and ask them to decorate it and bring it back with a family photo the first day of school. (You could also do this the first day of school.)

*Every child needs a picture of their family at school, and they also need a picture of their classmates at home. At the end of the first week of school make another backpack with a class photo and send it home to encourage children to talk about their new friends.

Here’s my backpack poem to share with parents to remind them how children learn through play.


What’s in your backpack?
It’s empty today.
Where’s your work?
Did you just play?

When I built with blocks
I learned about shapes.
I balanced and shared –
Our skyscraper was great.

I played in the windy house
And talked with my friends.
I rocked a baby
And played pretend

In science I observed,
Guessed, and experimented, too.
The same things grown up
Scientists do.

Art was messy.
I created and explored.
I solved my own problem
When I spilled glue on the floor.

My fingers got a work out
With puzzles and clay.
Those same muscles
Will help me write one day.

I counted and sorted and
And measured, too.
I used my brain
Like a math whiz would do!

Out on the playground
I ran like the wind.
I learned to take turns
And helped a hurt friend.

Story time is what
I always like best.
I can use my imagination
And give my body a rest.

I sang and danced,
Learned a finger play, too.
I answered questions
And said “please” and “thank you.”

There will be time
For worksheets and tests,
But talking and playing
Is how I learn best.

I love to go to school!
I’m glad I’m me.
An empty backpack
Means I’m learning, you see!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Several teachers have asked how to help parents and administrators understand the value of play.  I actually did an article called "It's All About Play" on my website that you are welcome to share with others:

As you set up your classroom, you might want to describe what children are learning as they play in the different centers.  (Below you’ll find some of the captions that I used in my classroom.) When parents or others visited my room, I would encourage them to walk around and read the descriptions.

Dramatic Play

It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing social skills, emotional skills, independence, oral language, my imagination, responsibility, and the executive function. I may use these skills as a mother, father, safety officer, or politician one day.
It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing motor skills, math concepts (number, size, shape, space), oral language, social skills. eye-hand coordination, self control, and my imagination. I may be a builder or architect when I’m grown.

It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing my creativity, small motor skills, problem solving, sharing, cooperation, independence and responsibility. I may use these skills as an artist, illustrator, or designer one day.

It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing oral language, social skills, small motor skills, concepts about quantity, shape, size, pattern, and an interest in math. I may use these tools as a computer programmer, accountant, or mathematician in the future.

It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing alphabet knowledge, oral language, print knowledge, listening skills, eye-hand coordination, concepts about the world, and the desire to read. Maybe I’ll be a publisher, author, or librarian when I grow up.

It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing a curiosity about the world, sensory skills, problem solving, language skills, and experience with the scientific process (observing, predicting, experimenting, recording, reporting). If I’m a doctor, lab technician, pharmacist, or landscaper I will utilize these skills.

Small Motor
It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing small muscles, eye-hand coordination, attention span, social skills, and concepts about size, shape, color pattern. I might use these skills as a chef or dentist one day.

It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing oral language, alphabet knowledge, print connections, phonological awareness, visual skills, book knowledge, phonics, motivation to read. No matter what I become when I grow it, it will be important to know how to read.

It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing eye-hand coordination, small motor skills, alphabet knowledge, self confidence, vocabulary, and an interest in print. I might use these skills one day as a journalist, administrative assistant, or poet.

Embrace the curiosity, enthusiasm, energy, and JOY of young children and let it be the momentum and springboard for developing skills and meeting standards! Play can be just as “rigorous” as a worksheet.


Hint! You could also make a book with the descriptions and photos of your students working in the centers. Let one child take the book home each evening to share with their families.
Don't forget my webinar this evening at 7:30!  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


It's still not too late to sign up for my webinar tomorrow evening!

Several teachers have asked if I had materials for dual language programs. I'm so glad you asked! Music is the universal language for all children and my "Ole! Ole! Ole!" CD can provide a bridge for learning both languages. (I sing in English and a teacher from Mexico sings in Spanish.) There are songs for routines, literacy, math, and just for FUN!
"Hello Friend," "Days of the Week," "The Rules Rap," "Five Little Monkeys," "Tooty Ta," and "Special Me" are just a few of the songs you will find.  Go to to order this CD.

Sign Language

Sign language can be a powerful "hook" to put things in the brain.  As you introduce vocabulary, demonstrate the word in sign language.  ( has a dictionary with videos to help you.)
*I'd love to see someone do a graduate research project on this!!

Kids are kids no matter what language they speak, and they all enjoy learning with games.

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!

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.
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.

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
As with anything, the more active the children are, the more likely they will learn. Sing, move, play and have fun!

Monday, August 7, 2017


We encouraged teachers to ask questions when they registered for my Back to School webinar.  Time won't permit me to answer all of them in an hour, so this week on my blog  you'll find classroom management tips and ideas to solve common classroom problems.

As you greet your new group of children, you'll realize that some of them talk too LOUD and some of them talk too soft. Here are some ideas to help children learn to modulate their voices in the classroom.

Picture Cues 
How about having a picture of a lion, a mouse, and a child?  When they can talk in a regular voice put up the child. When you want them to use a whisper voice post the mouse, and when they can use a loud voice (like when they go outside) put up the lion. 

Songs, Chants, Poems - Practice singing songs or saying rhymes with a “lion,” “mouse,” or “normal” voice.

Alphabet Conductor – Explain to the children that you will be the conductor as they sing the alphabet song. When your hands are close together they should whisper, but as your hands get farther apart they should sing louder. As you bring your hands closer together they should lower their voices to a whisper.

Simon Says – Play “Simon Says” as you ask children to clap, stomp, or make other noises loud or soft.
         Simon says clap loud.
         Simon says clap soft.
         Simon says hum loud.
         Simon says hum soft.
         Stomp loud. Oops! Simon didn’t say!

Musical Instruments – Place several musical instruments (drum, sticks, triangle, etc.) on the floor. Children close their eyes, listen, and describe if you made a loud or soft noise. They could raise their hand if the noise is loud or keep their hand in their lap if it is soft.

Volume Button - Use a cylinder block for a microphone. Attach a sticky dot for a volume button. Pass the “microphone” around the room for the children to say “Good morning!” or another simple phrase. Remind them to turn the volume up if their voice is too soft. Turn the volume down if their voice is too loud. 

Henry Hush  
(Hold up your index finger as you sing this song to the tune of “London Bridge.”)
Henry Hush says,
“Please be quiet.” (Pretend index finger is Henry.)
“Please be quiet.”
“Please be quiet.”
Henry Hush says, “Please be quiet.”
Shh! Shh! Shh! (Finger on lips as you lower your voice.)

Cell Phone – Demonstrate loud and soft with the volume control on your phone or the computer. 

"Back to School Webinar"
August 9, 7:30 pm

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Environmental print is one way young children “read pictures” and develop visual literacy. Using environmental print at the beginning of the school year is a great way to help children make print connections, develop visual memory skills, and motivate them to read.

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

Ask children to save food wrappers from snacks and their lunches. Glue wrappers to sheets of paper and write this rhyme at the top of each page:
 Old Mother Hubbard
 Went to her cupboard
 To get her poor dog a bone.
 But when she got there
 The cupboard was bare
 And so the poor dog had…(Children read food logo.)
What’s for Breakfast?
Ask children to bring in the box from their favorite cereal. Cut the front section off and on a sentence strip write: “Child’s name eats name of cereal.” Glue to the bottom of the cereal box. Put all the boxes together and make a book. Write “What’s for Breakfast?” on the front cover. Hole punch and put the boxes together with book rings.
*You can also make a book with sacks from fast food restaurants.  
Read sayings on T-shirts, sports jerseys, shoes, and other clothing the children wear to school.

We Can Read Bulletin Board

Ask children to bring logos from food boxes, magazines, toys, clothing and household products. Make a poster or bulletin board that says: “We Can Read!” Let children glue their logos to the poster. Read over the words together.

Read at Home Book

Cut 9” x 12” sheets of construction paper in half. Let each child choose 4 or 5 different colors and staple them together to make a book. Write “I Can Read” on the front and let the children decorate with their name and picture. Send the book home with a note to the parents about helping their child recognize different logos, signs, and words on products and in the home and as they drive down the road. Encourage parents to help their child cut out words they can read from boxes, magazines, and advertisements. Ask children to bring their books back to school to “read” with classmates.
I Like

On Monday send home a sandwich bag with a note asking parents to help their child look for words she can read on food labels, toys, advertisements, and other products around their house. Children cut these out and bring them to school Friday in the sandwich bag. On Friday, encourage the children to “read” the labels that they have brought to class. Write the words “I” and “like” on index cards for each child. Model how to place the cards on the floor with a label from their bag. Point to the words as you read, “I like logo.” Ask the child to read it for you as you point to each word. Comment, “Look at you reading!!!!”

Block Engineers
Cut store logos from Sunday advertisements. Tape to wooden blocks and make your own mall in the block center.


Out the Door
Last January when I was in Pleasanton, TX, Nadine Barrow shared this idea. She posts words and environmental print on the inside of her door. Students have to read two of the words before exiting the classroom.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


One of my favorite pre-writing activities at the beginning of the school year is called “Writing Round the Mulberry Bush.” I clearly remember where I got this idea. About 15 years ago I was doing a workshop in Huntsville, Texas. A young teacher said, “My mentor needs to tell you how she teaches handwriting. Her kids have the best handwriting in the school.” Well, she grabbed my attention and when I asked the older teacher her secret she smiled and said they practiced “Writing Round the Mulberry Bush” several weeks before introducing letters.

Basically, you have children make the strokes as shown on a blank piece of paper as they sing the different verses to the song “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.” It makes sense because children need to go from top to bottom and left to right as they learn to master simple strokes.


Good teaching is good teaching, and I’m going to let Denise Brackenridget Brownlee tell you how she adapts this activity in her classroom.

At the beginning of the year we did not begin by writing names. Instead we began with your “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” song. We incorporated the song in a multi-step process.

1st We began by singing the song on the carpet. As we sang, I would write the marks on the board. After many exposures, children would join me by writing it with 2 fingers on the carpet or in the air.

2nd We then transitioned to the salt trays. Children had the opportunity to explore the salt. We also discussed how to gently shake the tray to "erase" your writing. We began by using fingers to draw as we sang. Then we transitioned to unsharpened pencils.



As you can see in the photos, children were at various skill levels and worked at different paces. I sang the song slowly as I would walk around the table to assist children with the direction they were writing.

3rd In our final step we moved to a worksheet that I created. As we sang the song, we now drew the marks in the boxes. I would model this as well. I kept a paper from the 2nd or 3rd day in their portfolio. We worked on this process for a couple of weeks. It was pretty amazing to see the difference from the first worksheet to a worksheet a few weeks later. Later on I was able to tie the concepts that we used with Mulberry Bush into name writing.

Note! I did this activity right before parent conferences. It was a great way to demonstrate to families how much their child's fine motor skills were developing.

I loved how much we were able to incorporate this song into so much of what we did. The kids greatly enjoyed it and it was valuable as a writing foundation in my TK classroom.