Sunday, December 10, 2017


How can you tell if children are engaged? All you have to do is watch them as they cut and glue and string beads. Their little tongue will be moving and they will be totally engrossed in the activity. Look around your house today and grab some of these materials to recycle in your classroom this week. You'll be developing small motor skills, and you'll also keep those little hands busy!

Wrapping Paper Tear - Take in scraps of wrapping paper and put them in a tub. Invite children to tear them and then glue them to a paper plate to make a collage.

Cardboard Tubes - Cut cardboard tubes from wrapping paper into 6" sections. Children can decorate them and then use them to hum along to favorite holiday tunes.

Greeting Cards - Cut the front off cards and give children a hole punch. After punching holes they can sew yarn or ribbon through the holes.

Stringing - Put out beads and pipe cleaners and let children design "jewelry."

Scrap Box - Want to keep children focused in a positive direction. Put out a scrap box with construction paper and other art media and challenge them to create gifts for family members.

Stencils - Do you have some old cookie cutters in a cupboard?  Bring them to school and let children trace around them with colored pencils.

Play Dough Mats - Place copies of Christmas trees, gingerbread boys/girls, and other seasonal objects in a clear sheet protector.  Children can decorate the trees and gingerbread boys/girls with play dough.

Saturday, December 9, 2017


Need an idea for your holiday party.  They are easy to adapt for any event. For example, instead of playing pin the red nose on Rudolph you could play pin the carrot on Frosty's nose. Rather than using sweet treats you could use pencils, stickers, or another prize.

Hint!  Parents who are in charge of your party might appreciate these suggestions.

Pass the Parcel
This is actually a game a student from England taught me. Thus, “parcel” instead of “present.” My students LOVED this! Fill a box with sugarless bubblegum, pencils, small toys, or stickers. There should be enough for everyone in the group. Next, wrap the present over and over again with wrapping paper, tissue paper, or funny pages from the newspaper. Children sit in a circle and begin passing the “parcel” around as music is played. When the music stops that child gets to open one layer on the package. (If the package lands on someone who has already had a turn they pass it on to the person sitting next to them.) Continue the game until the gift is reached. That child then passes out the goodies to the rest of the group.
Hide and Hunt
Children love to hunt for things, so if the weather is nice you can hide jingle bells, snowballs (cotton balls), chocolate gold coins, small toys, etc. on the playground for the children to find.
*Divide the class in half. Let one group hide the objects for the others to find and then reverse roles.

These won’t really crack, but they are lots of fun to make or give to friends. They can also add a special touch to a special holiday table.

You will need: cardboard rollers, wrapping paper, candy, small toys, curling ribbon
Cut the cardboard rollers into 5” sections. Fill with candy and little toys. Roll in wrapping paper, twist the ends, and tie with curling ribbon.
*This would be a nice gift to make for a nursing home or shelter. 

Magic Number
Fill a clear jar or container with candy, cotton balls, or jingle bells. The person who guesses the closest amount is the winner.

Pin the Nose on Rudolph
Draw a reindeer on a poster or chalk board. Cut out red circles and have each child write her name on a circle. Put tape on the back of each circle. One at a time, blindfold each child and spin them around gently three times. Face them towards the reindeer and challenge them to put the nose on Rudolph. Who can get the closest?

Puzzle Pairs
Take old greeting cards and cut them in half like a puzzle. Give each child one half. Have them close their eyes while the other half is hidden in the room. Children tiptoe around the room until they find their matching puzzle piece and sit down.

Pantomime and Name That Tune
Children love to perform, so they always enjoy playing “Guess who I am?” with seasonal objects or toys. They can also take turns humming seasonal songs for their friends to identify.

Word Games
Write a seasonal word on the board. How many words can they create using the letters in the seasonal word?
Hint! Pair children for this activity to enable all children to feel successful.

Holiday Four Corners
You will need four seasonal pictures to tape in each corner of the classroom. For example, a snowman, bell, candy cane, and candle. One child is “it.” “It” hides her eyes and counts to ten as the rest of the class tiptoes to a corner. “It” then calls out one of the objects. The students in that corner are out and must sit in the “stew pot” (center of the room). “It” counts to ten again as the students tiptoe to a new corner. The game continues until one child is left. That child becomes the new “it.”

Friday, December 8, 2017


I don’t know why, but many teenagers are obsessed with my “Banana Dance” video. I think they are making fun of an old lady singing about fruits and vegetables, but I also think I might make them a little happy. If you read the article yesterday about depression and anxiety in high school and college students it seems they might need something to relieve their stress.


My hope is that “Guacamole Christmas” will make you sing, dance, and be happie!

Form the avocado ...
Peel the avocado ...
Guacamole Christmas 

Form the tree 
Trim the tree
Lights to see pretty lights to see

Form the cookies 
Bake the cookies
Eat the cookies

Form the snowball
Roll the snowball 
Build the snowman

Form the house
Decorate the house
Rock the house

Form the stocking 
Hang the stocking 
See the goodies – candy and toy goodies 

Have a happy Christmas, happy happy Christmas
Feel the love
Share the love

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Since December 7th is LETTER WRITING DAY, I thought it might be a good day to write a blog about it. With texts, emails, etcetera, letter writing is almost a lost art. However, it’s something children should be exposed to and it is a meaningful way to practice informative writing.

Children will easily remember the parts of a letter with this song to the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes:”

     Head, greeting, body, closing, signature.
     Head, greeting, body, closing, signature.
     These are the parts of a letter.
     Head, greeting, body, closing, signature.

*Point to your head as you say “head.”
Point to your mouth as you say “greeting.”
Point to your body as you say “body.”
Point to your knee as you say “closing.”
Point to your feet as you say “signature.”

*Let children write letters to their friends in other classes and deliver them at the end of the day.

*Write letters to your governor, the President, children’s favorite authors, movie stars, famous athletes, etc.

*And, yes, you might even be at a school where they can write letters to Santa!  (You can download these free from several sites.)


Here’s a simple way to make a letter/envelope.
     1. Write your letter.
     2. Fold in the top two corners as shown.
     3. Fold up the bottom.
     4. Fold down the top triangle and secure with a sticker.
     5. Turn over and write the name of the recipient.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017


My daughter recently shared an article with me that is a MUST READ!

Is the Drive for Success Making Our Children Sick?
Across the country, children are experiencing depression, anxiety and even physical strain because of the pressures of school.

This is a wake up call for educators, parents, and administrators. Holly commented:

As usual, we've got it all wrong--I love the last few sentences about what really matters: "cultivate deep learning, integrity, purpose and personal connection." I think you've been saying that for several decades now!

I have been saying that and I’ll keep on saying that!!! Let children be children! Quit forcing academics down their throats and holding data over their heads and let them enjoy learning, playing, and being with their friends.

I can’t solve the world’s problems, but I can give you a little something to add joy to your day. Several years ago Sara Lensing shared an adaptation of “Going on a Bear Hunt.” My webmaster helped me create this video called “Going on a Santa Hunt.” 


Yes, I know this isn't very professional. It's homemade for sure, but I hope your children will enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


If you want children to write, then you have to give them a book that they will be excited about writing in. Here are some simple books to capture children’s interest any day of the year.

Winter Book
Purchase seasonal pencils at the dollar store. Fold 3 sheets of paper in half. Punch holes about 2” from the top and bottom on the creased edge. Insert the rubber band through one hole and slide the pencil through that loop. Insert the other end of the rubber band and slide the other end of the pencil through that loop. Use for descriptive writing about weather. Winter feels like…. Winter smells like…. Winter sounds like… Winter tastes like… Winter looks like….

*You could also use these for children to write signs of winter or to record daily weather.
Napkin Book
Purchase napkins from the dollar store. Cut paper the size of the napkin and staple inside to make a book. Use the picture on the napkin as a writing topic or just place these in the writing center for an open-ended activity.
Candy Cane Book
Take two sheets of paper and cut them in half. Fold in half. Punch holes about 1 ½” from the top and bottom on the creased side. Insert a rubber band in one hole and insert one of the candy cane in the loop. Insert the other end of the rubber band in the other hole and insert the other end of the candy cane.
*If your school does not allow outside food then let the children make their own candy cane out of a popsicle stick.

Peppermint Stick Writing
After reading a holiday story give each child a candy cane. Have them close their eyes and savor the candy cane. Next, ask them to write descriptions about their candy cane.

*You could also have them write stories about visiting candy land.

Sticker Story
Let each child choose one or two stickers.  Have them put their stickers on their paper and draw a picture incorporating them. Then ask them to write a story about their drawing.


Monday, December 4, 2017


Here are some math activities to keep children engaged over the next few weeks.

Magic Number 
Children stand in a circle and begin counting off. When you get to 25 (Christmas Day) that child must sit down. Start over again at 1 and continue counting until one child is left.

Mingle Jingle
Children tiptoe quietly around the room as they whisper, "Jingle, jingle." When the teacher calls out a number, they must form groups with that amount. Those students who are leftover can do a jumping jack or other silly movement. Continue having the children mingle and jingle and form different sets.


Materials: advertisements from toy stores, grocery stores, or discount stores, paper, pencils, scissors, glue

Write questions similar to those below on a chart. Children fold a sheet of paper into fourths and then write a number in each section. Then they look through the advertisements and cut out an object that answers each question.

1. What costs less than $10.00?
2. What costs more than $100.00?

3. If you had $20 what would you buy for your family?

4. What would you like to buy for yourself? How much does it cost?

5. Draw a T-chart on the back.  On one side write "wants" and on the other side write "needs." Children cut out pictures (or write words) for things they actually need and things they'd like to have.
Seasonal Shapes
Take a walk around the school and look for different shapes in seasonal objects. Can they find a circle? Triangle? Rectangle? Square? Cube? Cone? Sphere?
*Let them make a shape collage by cutting objects out of advertisements and catalogs.

Estimation Jar
Before children enter the classroom fill a jar with seasonal candy or small toys. Invite them to look at the jar and write their “estimate” on a sheet of paper. At the end of the day empty the jar and count the contents. Who guessed more? Who guessed less? Who guessed the closest amount?

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Here are some holiday jokes to make you smile.  Write one on the board each day to use for choral reading, double meanings of words, and phonological awareness.                          

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Holly who?
Holly – days are here again!

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Dexter who?
Dexter halls with boughs of holly.

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Mary who?
Mary Christmas to you!

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Avery who?
Avery merry Christmas to you!

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Wayne who?
Wayne in the manger…

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Oakham who?
Oakham all ye faithful…


Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Rabbit who?
Rabbit up carefully – it’s a present.

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Donut who?
Donut open until Christmas.

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Olive who?
Olive the other reindeer.

What’s red and white and goes up and down?
Santa Clause in an elevator.

What did the ghost say to Santa?
I’ll have a boo Christmas without you.

Who delivers presents to dogs?
Santa paws!

Who delivers presents to cats?
Santa claws!

Why did the elf go to school?          
To learn his ELFabet!
Why do rappers like Christmas so much?
Because of all the wrapping!

What did the reindeer say when he saw an elf?
Nothing. Reindeer can’t talk.

How do you scare a snowman?
You get a hair dryer.

What do snowmen eat for Christmas?
Frosted Flakes.

What goes, “Oh, oh, oh!”
Santa Claus walking backwards.

What do you call the wrapping paper leftover from opening presents?
A christ-MESS.

What Christmas carol is a favorite of parents?
Silent Night.

Saturday, December 2, 2017


Your kids are going to love this “Santa Hunt” that Sara Lensing adapted from “The Cool Bear Hunt.” It would be great to have the children draw a story map after you've done this several times.

Santa Hunt 

Get out your backpacks.
Open ‘em up.
Let’s put in some cookies for Santa and his reindeer.
And, let’s put in a thermos of milk in case he gets thirsty.
Oh. and don’t forget your Christmas lights in case it gets dark.
Zip ‘em up and repeat after me.
(Children repeat each line.)
We’re gonna find Santa (March and slap thighs.)
Before Christmas day.
He has a big, round belly (Extend arms.)
And a long, white beard. (Pull down from chin.)
Look over there! (Point.)
It’s a Candy Cane Forest!
Can’t go over it. (Arms over head.)
Can’t go under. (Arms down low.)
Can’t go around it. (Circle arms.)
I guess we’ll go through it. (Open palms and shrug shoulders.)
Slurp, slurp, slurp! (Pretend to suck on candy cane.)
We’re gonna find Santa
Before Christmas day.
He has a big, round belly
And a long, white beard.
Look over there!
It’s a hot chocolate river.
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under.
Can’t go around it.
I guess we’ll swim across it. (Stroke arms as if swimming.)     

We’re gonna find Santa
Before Christmas day.
He has a big, round belly
And a long, white beard.
Look over there!
It’s a gingerbread house!
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under.
Can’t go around it.
I guess we’ll go through it.
Yum, yum, yum! (Pretend to eat gingerbread.)
We’re gonna find Santa
Before Christmas day.
He has a big, round belly
And a long, white beard.
Look over there!
It’s Santa’s workshop.
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under.
Can’t go around it.
I guess we’ll go through it.
Shhh! (Finger over lips.)
Get out your Christmas lights. (Pretend to get out lights.)
Turn them on – click.
Let’s set out the cookies and milk.
I see a big, round belly.
And a long, white beard!
It’s Santa!
He-he-he! We can’t let him see us!
Tip toe! (Tiptoe.)
Quick! Go through the gingerbread house! Yum, yum, yum,!
Swim across the hot chocolate river!
Go through the Candy Cane Forest! Slurp, slurp, slurp!
Go home.
Open the door.
Shut the door.
We found Santa.
Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 1, 2017


Today you'll find the preview for our December Happies on my website.


Start each day off right by singing “Feeling Fine” and doing a handshake like the hamburger or the 4-H hello.

Cheer your students on with a brain hug, rollercoaster cheer, or cheese and grater.

Grab their attention with “How does my teacher feel about me?”

And use “Open, Shut Them” and “Miss Molly” to engage their hands, eyes, and ears.

We’ve got videos of all of these, plus science experiments for the senses, a math game, and tips for scissor skills. And how could you get through December without “Jingle Bells”?
We hope you’ll be LAUGHING ALL THE WAY with these free activities!


People frequently ask us for activities in Spanish. I’m excited to tell you that my webmaster (Alex May) had created two new videos just for you!

“Weather Song”


Here's my Facebook video I did on "December Happies"

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Save your money with "one of a kind" wrapping paper and cards.

Wrapping Paper – With tissue paper, paper plates, paint, and cookie cutters you’ll be all set to create your own wrapping paper.  First, fold a paper towel and place it on a paper plate.  Pour paint on the paper towel.  Let children dip the cookie cutters in the paint and print on the tissue paper.
*Recycle paper grocery sacks to use as wrapping paper.
*Let children paint with pine boughs on newspaper to create wrapping paper.
*Use fruits or vegetable prints to create one of a kind wrapping paper.

Gift Tags – You’ll need card stock, an ink pad, fine tip markers, and ribbon to make these gift cards.  Cut cardstock into 2” x 5” rectangles.  Fold in half.  Children press their thumb on the ink pad and then print on the front of the card.   Let them add details with markers.  Punch a hole and tie on a ribbon.

Holiday Cards
Demonstrate how to fold a sheet of paper in half and then into fourths. Remind children to put the greeting on the front and be sure and sign their name inside.
Holiday Dictionary
Prepare a folder with holiday words children might use in making cards.

Recycle Cards
Ask parents to send in old holiday cards.
Cut off the front and punch holes around the edges to make sewing cards.
Cut into puzzle shapes.
If cards have a relief children can do crayon rubbings.