Friday, July 28, 2017


Yes, flannel boards are “old fashion,” but children today enjoy them just as much as children did 25 years ago. To make a simple flannel board, staple the sides of a file folder and glue felt to the front. You can glue words to stories and finger plays on the back and then store the pieces inside.

*Make simple story characters from felt so children can practice retelling stories.

*Make simple objects or shapes from felt for math activities.


*Cut out children’s photos and attach Velcro to the back. Children can use the characters to create original stories.

*Use felt pieces as visuals for finger plays.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Games are a natural way to develop social skills as you reinforce letters, words, numbers, math facts, etc. Games are also a good way to nurture self-regulation and 21st Century Skills of cooperation and communication.

Stinky Cheese is a hit no matter what age or what skill. In fact, a teacher created “stinky feet” and “stinky socks” because her students enjoyed it so much. But the real secret of any game is YOU! You add the magic with a dramatic voice and silly giggle.
Someone once asked me if I would play the game if a student got upset if they lost. My answer was, “YES!” Children need to learn how to lose. Role play what you should do if you lose by teaching the children to shrug and say, “Oh, well!” Don’t overreact or force them to play, but make it so much fun they won’t be able to resist!

Stinky Cheese
Why? sight words, fluency phrases, letters, math facts, shapes, etc.
What? lunch bag, yellow construction paper, marker
How? Cut cheese slices out of poster board or fun foam using the link below. Write letters, words, numbers, etc. on most of the cheese slices. On two slices write “Stinky Cheese!” Place the cheese slices in a lunch sack. Children pass around the sack drawing out one slice at a time. If they can identify the information on the slice they
get to keep it. If they get “Stinky Cheese!” everyone holds their noses and says, “Stinky Cheese!” That person must then put all her slices back in the bag.

*How about a game of “stinky feet” and “stinky socks”?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Brain breaks are short movement activities that help children focus and give them a positive outlet for energy and wiggles. Young children need brain breaks every 15-20 minutes to energize their brains and activate their senses. However, children tell you things by their behavior and they’ll let you know when it’s time to get up and move!


It’s important for the teacher to model brain breaks and participate with the students. These activities have an additional benefit by reducing stress and boredom – in adults and children!

Here are three pages of brain breaks that are quick, easy, and fun. 


My suggestion would be to choose one at a time and practice it for several days. (Not all of these are going to work, so just throw the ones your students don’t like in the trash and move on to another one.) Glue popular activities to an index card or jumbo craft stick and save them in a bag. After a few weeks you’ll have a bag full of brain breaks.
*Older students will enjoy choosing a brain break and leading their classmates.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


What? small swing trashcan (from the dollar store), googly eyes, pom pom, felt scraps, craft glue, magnetic letters 
How? Decorate the trashcan similar to the one shown. Insert magnetic letters in Letter Man. Children take turns pulling out a letter, making the sound, and saying a word that starts with that sound.

*Ask children to feed Letter Man all the vowels…all the letters that are blue…the letters in alphabetical order…the letters in their name, etc.

*Place Letter Man in a center. Children choose a letter and then write it on their paper. Older children could write a word that starts with that letter.

*Children choose a handful of letters. How many words can they write with those letters?

*Write sight words on index cards. Feed letter man the cards as you sing, “I know an old man who swallowed a word. What would he say if he swallowed the word? That’s absurd!”

Monday, July 24, 2017


Sign language is quiet, free, provides another pathway to the brain, and keeps those little hands busy! Here are a few simple songs you can use to introduce manual signs for alphabet letters.

     Sing and Sign
     (“Where Is Thumbkin?” – Children repeat each line.)
     Where is A? (Hands behind back.)
     Here I am. (Make sign for “a.”)
     What do you say, A?
     /a/, /a/, /a/.

Continue using other letters and making the manual signs.

The Alphabet in My Hands

(“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”)
     I’ve got A /a/ /a/ in my hands. (Sign the letter “a.”)
     I’ve got A /a/ /a/ in my hands.
     I’ve got A /a/ /a/ in my hands
     And I can read.

Continue signing and singing other letters.

Hint! Encourage the children to make “strong” letters. As children tighten up muscles in their hands, they will also be strengthening small motor skills.

Sign Language Center - Make a SIGN LANGUAGE CENTER with a pocket folder. Glue a copy of manual signs for letters on the inside of the folder. Write alphabet letters on index cards and place in the pocket. Children choose a card and then try to reproduce that sign.  For older children, write sight words or spelling words on index cards for them to practice spelling manually.


Classroom Management - Learn signs for classroom transitions, such as “pay attention,” “sit down,” “water,” or “restroom.”

Sign and Spell – Use sign language to spell children’s names and other words.
*For older children fingerspell words and see who can decode them.

Word Wall Words – Learn signs for high frequency words. Visit and click on “dictionary” to see signs demonstrated.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


How about a few "tools" for your bag of tricks!

You Knock My Socks Off! 
You will need an old pair of socks, a stick, and a piece of string 18” long for this project. Tie a sock to each end of the string. Tie the middle of the string to the stick. When children do something outstanding, take the stick and wave it in the air as you say, “You knock my socks off!”
Mr. Good for You! 
A cloth glove, markers, fiberfill, and pipe cleaner are all you need to make a “good for you hand.” First, draw a happy face on one side of the glove with the markers. Fill the glove tightly with fiberfill or another stuffing. Gather the bottom of the glove and secure with a pipe cleaner. Children get “Mr. Good for You” and pat themselves on the back when they accomplish a new task.
Magic Lotion
Take an empty pump dispenser of hand lotion and remove the label. Make a new label for the lotion that says, “Mr./Mrs. (your name)’s Magic Lotion” and tape it to the bottle. When children are upset, frustrated, get a boo boo, or have hurt feelings, give them a “squirt” of magic lotion. 


Saturday, July 22, 2017


In the book THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD, one key finding was the impact parents have on their child’s academic success. When parents are interested in what their children are learning at school and talk to them about it, the results are amazing. Parents who model reading and read to their children also contribute to school success.

One teacher said she tells her parents, “All the children in my classroom need a laptop this year. Two laptops would be even better. These are not the kind of laptops that you plug in. They are the kind that come with two knees and are just right for talking and reading and loving!”

Check out these monthly reading calendars that will engage families at home. Run them off and you’ll be set for the year.

Hint! Save these to review with your parents at conference time.

Brown Bag Special
Many parents work and can’t volunteer in the classroom so this is a perfect opportunity to get them involved. When you have things that need to be cut out or if there is something you’d like downloaded from the internet, put it in a large grocery bag that says “Brown Bag Special.” Children whose parents agree to help take the bag home for their parents to do the project.