January 2009


Crossing the Midline

Get oxygen going to the brain by doing jumping jacks, windmills, squats, waist bends, scissor kicks, and other exercises.

Jog in place in place or pretend to jump rope.

Explain that some letters are tall. They start at the top dotted line. Some letters start at the middle dotted line. Some letters have a tail. They go below the line. Sing the “Alphabet Song” stretching up in the air for tall letters, putting hands on waist for short letters, and touching the ground for letters with a tail. For example:

A -hands on waist
B - hands in air
G - touch ground

Use letter aerobics for spelling out words on the word wall, spelling words, or vocabulary words.

Hint! You can also clap in the air for tall letters, clap in front of you for short letters, and clap down near the floor for letters with a tail.


Have children stand and pretend to dribble a basketball.

Spell out words as you dribble, and then shoot the ball in the hoop as you say the word.

For example: T (bounce), H (bounce), E (bounce) ~ “the” (throw the ball in the hoop)

Basketball Dribbler
Take a batter’s position. Pretend to take a swing as you say the letters; then hit a home run as you say the word. For example: R (swing), E (swing), A (swing), D (swing) ~ “read” (swing around)

Let children suggest other sports where they could practice spelling words. For example, swimming, soccer, tennis, fishing…it’s endless!

Say the alphabet backwards from Z to A. Count backwards from 20, 50, or 100.
Can you say the days of the week backwards or the months backwards?

Hand dancing can be done as children sit on the floor or in a chair. Put on some lively music and then have children follow along as you make the following hand motions to the beat of the music:
Monkey- Put fists out in front and pretend to climb a vine.
Pony- Pretend to hold your reins and bounce up and down.
Swim- Move arms as if swimming.
Hitch Hike- Stick up thumbs and move them back and forth in front of body.
Twist- Bend elbows and twist body at waist.
Funky Chicken - Make arms like wings and flap up and down.
Batman- Make V’s with fingers and sweep in front of your eyes.

*Let children make up their own hand dances for classmates to imitate.

Hint! Do each motion for 20-30 seconds.

I learned to do this hand jive in Cal Allen, TX, and it is a super transition and brain break. Play a broadway tune, country music, rock and roll or anything that YOU like that has a strong, steady beat. Begin making the following motions and the children will naturally follow along.

Slap thighs four times
Clap hands four times
Shuffle right palm over left palm four times
Shuffle left palm over right palm four times
Thump right fist on left fist four times
Thump left fist on right fist four times
Reach up and pretend to grab something with your right hand.
Put it in your left palm
Smash it with your right hand.
Open your left palm and pretend to blow something from left to right.
Continue this pattern until children are focused and ready to begin the next activity.

Hint! I always ask the children, “What are you grabbing?” Sometimes they say love, happiness, a kiss, a smile, a rainbow, a snowflake…etc.! Imaginations are a wonderful thing!


Have children do this activity on each other’s backs:

Cross cross, (Make an “x” on back.)
Applesauce, (Wiggle fingers down back.)
Spiders crawling up your back. (Crawl fingers up back.)
Warm breeze. (Gently blow on neck.)
Gentle squeeze. (Hug from behind.)
Now you’ve got the (Tickle fingers down back.)

Children will need a partner for this activity. One partner does the movements below on their friend’s back and then they reverse positions.

The itsy bitsy spider
Went up the water spout. (Wiggle fingertips from waist up to shoulders.)
Down came the rain and
Washed the spider out. (Move fingers down like rain.)
Out came the sun and
Dried up all the rain. (Open palms and make circular motions on the back.)
And the itsy bitsy spider
Went up the spout again. (Wiggle fingertips up the back.)

Have children stand next to their partner and extend their inside arms around their partner’s waist. Each child will use her outside arm to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and cooperate with their partner to make the motions. It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Wake up the brain by changing your “state of mind”! You can use these strategies for choral reading, counting, reading word wall words, reading independently, doing flash cards, saying poems, etc.

Sit Like a Boss – Children cross arms, lean back, and put feet up on their desk.

Cowboy and cowgirl – Children turn chair around and straddle it as if riding a horse.

Rock and Roll – Pretend to hold guitar and dance and sing.

Opera – Extend arms and sing words dramatically.

Underwater – Put pointer between lips and vibrate as you read or talk.

With a cold – Hold nose and talk or read.

Backwards – Turn chairs around and face the back of the room.

Change seats – Children exchange seats with a classmate.

Down Low – Lay on the floor and read, write, and work.

Silly Me! Teacher puts on a hat, silly nose, glasses, etc.

Lighting – Turn off the lights, use floor lamps, open blinds, etc.

Aroma therapy – Peppermint and citrus wake up the brain!

Let children lay on their tummies and read, write, draw, or play games.


Have children stand up and repeat the words
to this chant as they make the appropriate

Granny rocks

My granny went to the county fair. (Children repeat each line.)
And she bought a chair while she was there.
And she rocked, and she rocked, (Rock back and forth.)
And she rocked, and she rocked.

My granny went to the county fair. (Children continue rocking and repeating words.)
And she bought a fan while she was there.
And she fanned, and she fanned, (Fan self with left hand.)
And she fanned, and she fanned.
And she rocked, and she rocked,
And she rocked, and she rocked.

My granny went to the county fair (Continue rocking and fanning.)
And she bought some shears…
And she cut… (Pretend to cut with right hand.)
And she fanned…
And she rocked…

My granny went to the county fair (Continue rocking, fanning, and cutting.)
And she bought some gum…
And she chewed… (Pretend to chew gum.)
And she cut…fanned…rocked…

My granny went to the county fair. (Rock, fan, cut, and chew.)
And she blew a bubble there.
And she blew, and she blew (Pretend to blow and extend hands.)
And she blew, and POP! (Clap hands.)

When you need a break, let children get up and tell jokes or riddles.

Hint! Keep a book of jokes and riddles on your desk.

First, have the children take several deep, slow breaths. Ask them to place their hands on their diaphragm so they can feel their lungs expanding and contracting. Ask them to inhale through their noses and exhale through their mouths on a slow count of eight. For example: Inhale 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ~ and exhale 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

*Have them close their eyes and imagine they are a balloon filling up with air. Exhale and let all the air out.

*Pretend to be a bag of sand and let all the sand run out.

*Challenge children to close their eyes and imagine they are floating on a cloud as they inhale and exhale.

Help children release stress by tightening and relaxing different body parts.

Squeeze your hands tight as you can. Tighter. Tighter. Now relax.
Squeeze your toes tight as you can. Tighter. Tighter. Now relax.
Squeeze your arms…
Legs… Shoulders… Mouths… etc.

Demonstrate how to hold your two index fingers a few inches from your eyes on either side of your head. Look at the right index finger with both eyes and then look at the left index finger. Do this several times to improve attention.

To do the WAVE, ask children to look at you. Explain that when you point to them, they can stand up, wave their arms in the air, and then sit down. (This is often done at sports events.)

Hint! Do the wave several times. Do it forwards and then reverse and do it backwards.

To BUZZ, have children stoop down together. Very slowly and quietly begin making a buzzing sound. Increase the “buzz” as you rise in the air and extend your arms. Slowly return to the squatting position as you lower the buzz to a whisper. “Buzz” up and down several times.

Tell the children to do exactly what you do and they’ll get a surprise!

Tap right index finger to your left palm 10 times.
Tap right index finger and middle finger to your left palm 10 times.
Tap right index, middle, and ring finger to your left palm 10 times.
Tap right index, middle, ring, and pinky finger to your left palm 10 times.
Clap hands 10 times.
Clap hands and stomp feet 10 times.
(Reverse movements)
Clap hands 10 times.
Tap right index, middle, ring, and pinky finger to your left palm 10 times.
Tap right index, middle, and ring finger to your left palm 10 times.
Tap right index finger and middle finger to your left palm 10 times.
Tap right index finger to your left palm 10 times.
Place hands quietly in your lap and smile.

Did you know that every hour the brain needs water? Have children keep a water bottle at their desk and “take a swig” on the hour.

Play “Simon Says,” “Copy Cat,” or other movement games.

When you sing, your brain emits endorphins that make you happy and give you energy. Sing your heart out with one of these songs:

She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain
The Wheels on the Bus
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
Home on the Range
The Cool Bear Hunt
Mother Goony Bird
Silly Willy
The Bear Went over the Mountain
Peanut Butter
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
The Farmer in the Dell
Found a Peanut
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
Skip to My Lou


When you have a few extra minutes, play “American Idol.” Children get to choose songs and take turns leading the class.

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