January 2009



Fancy Chair
Shannon Hannaman of Baton Rouge uses a “fancy chair” as a vocabulary builder. The children get to sit in the “fancy chair” and say “fancy words.”

The Old Man Who Swallowed Words
Shannon has adapted “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” to teach words.

I know an old man, who swallowed a word. (Hold up a word.)
What would he say if he swallowed this word? (Kids read the word.)
That’s absurd!

Word Wizard  
Shannon chooses a “word wizard” each day to wear a cape and hat and hold a wand. This student gets to be the “teacher” and decide how to teach a new word. They can cheer it, shine the flashlight on it, or play it on the xylophone (strike a key for each letter and then slide down the xylophone as you blend the sounds and say the word). Word Wizard

Block Measuring
Here’s another great idea from Shannon to reinforce math skills using unit blocks. One child lays on the floor. Another child uses blocks to measure their height and width. Use different sizes of blocks and compare.

Story Bag
Tricia Kennedy of Denham Springs, LA, created a story bag to develop oral language.
She collects interesting items and places them in the bag. The first child picks an item and makes up a sentence about the object. The second child picks another item and adds a sentence about it.
Continue passing the bag around the circle as each child adds to the story.

Pep Talk
This would be a great activity to start the school year or to welcome students back in 2010. Christen Hulgan from Richland Elementary in Memphis shared this idea. During morning meeting the class forms a friendship circle. The teacher asks one child to stand in the middle. Then the teacher says, “Child’s name, there are many things I love about you.” The teacher makes 3 or 4 positive comments about that child. The teacher squeezes the child’s hand on her right. That child says, “I love (whatever they love about that person or something that person has done that was kind).” The child in middle must look them in the eyes and say, “Thank you.” When you have finished going around the circle the teacher says:
Give child’s name a clap.
Blow child’s name a kiss.
We love you child’s name.

Writing Bracelet
String a small bead on yarn and knot to make a bracelet. (It should fit very loosely on the child’s wrist.) The child holds the bead with pinky and ring man and then picks up her pencil. Taa daa! She’ll have the correct pencil grip.

Give children a counting bear to hold in their hand when they write. Call it a “sleeping bear.”

Here’s another idea to help children hold a pencil correctly. Take your thumb and index finger and say, “Quack-Quack,” like a duck. Pick up your pencil with the duck’s beak.

Red Light – Green Light
Use “stop” and “go” fingers to develop pencil grip. The first three fingers (thumb, pointer, tall) have green dots and the last two fingers (ring and pinky) have red dots. There is also a red dot on the palm. “Green – Go” fingers pick up the pencil and “Red – Stop” fingers rest on red dot in the palm.

Let Me See Your Funky Pencil
Eva Rogers from Newbern Grammar in Newbern, TN suggested this activity to Dr. Jean during a workshop. To get kids ready to write adapt “Let Me See You Bugaloo” and say:

Let me see your funky pencil (or crayon).
What’s that you say? (Children repeat.)
Let me see your funky pencil.
What’s that you say? (Children repeat.)
Oo ah ah ah, oo ah ah ah,
Put it on your paper!

Which Is My Left Hand
Robyn Valentine from Dyersburg, TN, taught us this rhyme to help children learn their left and right. Make “L’s” with your thumbs and index fingers and hold them up as you say:

Which is my left hand?
Sometimes I cannot tell.
But if I hold my thumbs straight out
It always makes an “L.”

Very Hungry Caterpillar Story Bracelet
Tricia Kennedy made a story bracelet with her grandson for THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR. String a white bead on a pipe cleaner for the egg. String on a green bead for the caterpillar. Add a red bead for the apple, two yellow beads for the pears, etc.
What a great idea for comprehension, sequencing, and retelling a story!

Compliment Cookie
Every time someone compliments your class, they earn a letter to spell “compliment cookie.” When the word is spelled, they all get a cookie for a treat.

Secret Code
Each day write a “secret code” on the board. That’s the date!
For example: 01-04-2010.

Humpty Dumpty Book
(I think this idea came from Dennis Dickey, Sardis, GA.)
Here’s a second verse for “Humpty Dumpty.”
Humpty Dumpty was such a sight,
A jumbled up mess of yellow and white.
People would ask as they walked by the wall,
“What would he be if he never did fall?”
Give each child an oval shaped piece of paper to draw what they think became of Humpty Dumpty. Put these together to make a class book.

A New ABC Tune
Sing the ABC song to the tune of Yankee Doodle.

Chicka Chicka Names
After reading CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM! Amy Benton makes a special book for her class. She makes a coconut tree with the letters in each child’s name and makes up a silly rhyme for each child’s name. The kids help illustrate the book by drawing pictures of themselves by their coconut tree.

Name Sticks  
Name Sticks Monica Lopez Reese of Topeka, KS, makes sticks for each of her students with their name and a thumbnail picture. At the beginning of the year, children find their stick each day and put it in a cup that says, “We are here.” As the year goes on she removes their pictures so they can identify their name. Monica suggests using other information like their phone number, address, or birthday on the sticks.

Johnny Jump Up
Susan Burchett of Rockville, MD, uses this game to reinforce letters, numbers, words, etc. On flash cards write letters (or other concepts). On several cards draw a picture of a figure jumping. As you flip through the cards the children identify the information. When you get to “Johnny Jump Up” the children jump up.

The Container Game
Julie Underwood from Germantown, MD, uses this game to develop small motor skills. She hides small toys in a variety of containers, such as a baby wipe box, peanut butter jar, soda bottle, etc. Children open the container, take out the object, and then put it back.

Quiet Poem
Nicole Bishop of Reno, NV, uses this poem to quiet her class:
I can hop, hop, hop like a bunny. (Hope on one foot.)
I can run, run, run like a dog. (Run in place.)
I can walk, walk, walk like an elephant. (Stomp feet.)
I can jump, jump, jump like a frog. (Jump.)
I can swim, swim, swim like a goldfish. (Move arms as if swimming.)
I can fly, fly, fly like a bird. (Flap arms.)
I can sit right down, fold my hands, (Sit down and put hands in lap.)
And not say a single word.

What Do Children Learn When You Sing and Dance?
Good teachers know the brain research and their standards. That way you can validate “having fun” in your classroom! At a recent workshop a teacher asked if I would share some of the ways children learn when you sing and dance:

LANGUAGE SKILLS– oral language, auditory memory, vocabulary, comprehension, sequence, phonological awareness (rhyme, rhythm, alliteration), phonics

MATH SKILLS– patterns, positional words, sets and numerals

SOCIAL SKILLS – following directions, classroom community, cooperation, self-control, stress relief, all children can experience success

PHYSICAL SKILLS – eye-hand coordination, oxygenate the brain, large and small motor skills, crossing the midline, flexibility, strength

WHAT ELSE? – imagination, creativity, joy, and memories

The Star Polisher
(Source unknown, shared by Leah Becks)

I have a great job in the universe of occupations.
What do I do? I’m a “star polisher.”
It’s a very important job. If you want to know how important, just go out at night and look at the stars twinkling and sparkling.You see, I’m a teacher, an educator, a mentor. The stars are the children in my class.
My job is to take them – in whatever shape they come – and shine and buff them and then send them out to take their places as bright twinkling beacons in the sky. They come into my room in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re bent, tarnished, dirty, crinkly or broken. Some stars are cuddly and soft. Some are prickly and thorny. As I buff and polish, I train and teach my little stars. I tell them that the world cannot do without them. I tell them they can be the brightest, shiniest stars in the sky and the world will be a better place because of them. Polishing Stars
Each night as I look at the sky, I’m reminded of my very important job and awesome responsibility. Then I get my soft buffing cloth and my bottle of polish in preparation for tomorrow…for my class of little stars.

Wishing you JOY as you polish all your little stars in 2010!

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