Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Action Harvest Poems and Songs!


Pumpkin, pumpkin, on the wall, (reach arms up high on tip toes)
Pumpkin, pumpkin, tip and fall. (sit on the floor)
Pumpkin, pumpkin, roll and rock, (rock side to side)
Pumpkin, pumpkin, down the block! (lay flat, log roll)

WATCH ME GROW (tune: Mary had a little lamb)

We are pumpkins, watch us grow, (squat/ slowly rise up, arms out)
watch us grow, (jump) watch us grow. (jump)
We are pumpkins, watch us grow, (squat/ slowly rise up, arms out)
Straight up don’t you know. (squat and jump up high then sit)


One day I found a pumpkin seed. (Pick a seed up off the ground)
I planted it, and pulled the weeds. (Dig, plant, pull weeds)
It sprouted roots, and grew a vine.(Move your arms like sprouting roots)
A pumpkin grew; I called it mine. (Cross your heart and sway)
The pumpkin was quite round and fat.(Open your arms and rock on feet)
The vine, it crept just like a cat. (Walk on hands and feet)

PUMPKIN SONG (tune: I'm a little teapot)

I'm a little pumpkin, short and round.
Here is my big stem, next to the ground.
When it’s time to pick me, don’t you doubt!
Just cut me open, and scoop me out!


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Saturday, September 27, 2008


Come say and do twelve months with me,
Learn them in order, that’s the key.
January, February, March,
April, May, June,
July, August, September,
October, November, December!

In January I shiver and shake. (shiver)
In February, Valentines I make. (draw heart in air)

In March my kite blows in the sky. (wave hand)
In April, raindrops fly right by. (wiggle fingers downward)

In May, flowers grow in the pot. (wiggle fingers upward)
In June the days get really hot. (fan yourself)

July the 4th we celebrate. (explode like fireworks)
August swimming is really great. (swim)

September welcomes in the Fall. (fall like a leaf)
October harvest comes to call. (pick apples or corn)

November turkeys are on the go. (flap wings)
December ends with a Ho Ho Ho! (rub belly)

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Energy Conservation Book Review and Activity!

Keesha’s Bright Idea written by Eleanor May and illustrated by Amy Wimmer is full of delightful facts about energy usage and waste. This unusual book brings the relevant issue of energy conservation to life with fun characters and an interesting story. The colorful, hip illustrations with their many details keep young children’s attention. On almost every page you’ll find a box with quick tips of fresh new information, which stimulates class discussion. My students were eager to share their own energy saving stories from home, and couldn’t wait to share the new facts and tips they learned in school with their families.

I coupled this book with a great activity. We made “I save energy” T-shirts with energy tips displayed. We hung them with clothespins on a rope across our classroom. I strongly recommend this book and give it a rating of 5.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008


It includes movement activities to learn how to spell the days of the week, worksheets, matching activities, and much more!

7 DAYS A WEEK (Sung to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat")
As they are singing the children can sit in a pike position on the floor and row with their arms.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008



I’m in the clock club, I’m OK. (Arms overhead make a circle)
I tick all night, and tick all day. (Marching, hands on hips)

I have two hands, and have a ball, (Marching, two hands out)
Because I have no arms at all. (Marching, hands behind back)

My minute hand, moves with such power, (Standing, circle arm quickly)
with sixty minutes in every hour. (Standing, circle arm quickly)

My hour hand just isn't as fast, (Standing, circle arm slowly)
In a big race, it comes in last. (Standing, circle arm slowly)

Quarter past, half past, in there place (Point arm to the left, then down)
Quarter to, o'clock on the face. (arm right, then up)

Twenty-four hours makes just one day, (Arms overhead make a circle)
There’s always time for us to play! (jump in place)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Recognizing, counting, spending, giving, and saving money are important life skills that should be taught to young children. Educating, motivating, and empowering children to become regular savers will enable them to keep more of the money they earn and do more with the money they spend.

Here is a song and a rhyme that children love to say that will help them identify the different coins and bills we use as money.


Penny, penny,
Easily spent.
Copper brown
and worth one cent.

Nickel, nickel,
Thick and fat.
You're worth five cents,
I know that.

Dime, dime,
Little and thin.
I remember,
you're worth ten.

Quarter, quarter,
big and bold.
You're worth twenty-five
I am told.

THE DOLLAR SONG (to the tune of "Ten Little Indians")

10 little, 20 little, 30 little pennies.
40 little, 50 little, 60 little pennies.
70 little, 80 little, 90 little pennies.
100 pennies make a dollar!

2 small, 4 small, 6 small nickels.
8 small, 10 small, 12 small nickels.
14 small, 16 small, 18 small nickels.
20 nickels make a dollar!

1 tiny, 2 tiny, 3 tiny dimes.
4 tiny, 5 tiny, 6 tiny dimes.
7 tiny, 8 tiny, 9 tiny dimes.
10 dimes make a dollar!

1 big, 2 big, 3 big quarters.
4 big, 4 big, 4 big quarters.
1 big, 2 big, 3 big quarters.
4 quarters make a dollar!


To help the children identify money, you can make simple puzzles for them to put together. For instance, just find an image of the front and back of a quarter on line. Glue the front and back together, then laminate for durability. Simply cut the sheet into large puzzle pieces for a fun activity. It’s a good idea to make the dime a small puzzle and the quarter a large puzzle.


Make a large Qq or quarter on a poster board. The quarter (also called a quarter dollar) is worth 25 cents or 25 pennies. Have one or more children count out 25 pennies. One quarter can be written 25¢ or $0.25. The front of the quarter pictures a left-facing profile of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America.

The front reads, "LIBERTY," "IN GOD WE TRUST," and the year the coin was minted or made. The small initial by Washington is the mint-mark, showing the location that produced the coin (D means Denver, Colorado, S means San Francisco, California, and P means Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

The back of the quarter pictures the presidential coat of arms (an eagle with outstretched wings). The back reads, "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," and "QUARTER DOLLAR." E PLURIBUS UNUM is Latin and means one out of many.

Let the children make crayon rubbings of the quarter using different color crayons. The children then cut out the rubbings and glue them to the giant poster board. This, too, could be used as a puzzle.

COUNT OUT MONEY (activity found on www.makinglearningfun.com)

Once your children have learned the value of each coin, place some money amounts on index cards in a bowl. As show in the picture above a child picks out $.45 for Cracker Jacks with a circle large enough for a quarter, and two circles large enough for two dimes. When they are ready, eliminate the circle clues, and have them count out the money on their own.

MONEY STORE is great fun. Let your child arrange empty food cartons or boxes to create a store. Either you or your child can put a price tag on each one. For young children the items may cost 1cent to 5 cents each, while older children can handle 10 cents to a few dollars. After shopping at the store they pay you with play money. At first, allow them to buy just one object. When they’re ready, increase the number of items.


Parents should emphasize the importance of money by their example. Explain the difference between a “need” and a “want” using this game. You explain to the children that Mashed Potatoes represents something we “need” to survive as it provides nutrients for our bodies, and that Gravy represents something that may make the mashed potatoes taste better, but it isn’t something we “need” to survive. Therefore it is a “want.” You have then shown the difference between a “want” and a “need.”

The next step is to create flash cards or cut out pictures from magazines and have the children yell out MASHED POTATOES for something that represents a “need” or GRAVY for something that represents a “want.”


Teach the children to set goals by earning and saving money for a particular purpose. Ask them what items they may want to save for. (toy, gift for someone, charity) This helps the children learn the value of money.


Talk about the benefits of a piggy bank or savings account. Make a piggy bank. Use a large plastic jar, four empty thread spools, a milk bottle top and some construction paper. Glue the spools on one side of the jar for the pig's legs. The milk bottle top should be glued onto the plastic jar lid as the pig's nose. Use the construction paper to make pig ears and a curly tail. A grown up can cut a slot in the top of the pig for the money to be put in. Explain that the bank pays them for the use of their money by giving interest. Parents should encourage saving, but allow them to use some of their money on special occasions. Point out the increases in their savings account as interest is paid to them.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Multiplication Tips!!

If you're children are struggling with multiplication, try these mental and physical multitasking activities to get your children back in the swing of things. This hula hoop game is fun with two or more players taking turns and keeping score, but can work as well with one.


1. Have your children make individual lists of the multiplication tables. (skip counting) Fold each list and place them in a bowl.
2. Each child takes a turn picking from the bowl. They must recite the table while using the hula hoop. (Ex. 4,8,12,16...) The other child can time them and check for correctness.
3. Now the next player gets a turn. After several turns, the player with the highest time wins.
4. You can modify this activity by changing the movement. (Ex. jump in and out of the hoop, hop on one foot in the hoop, circle the hoop on your wrist)


Cut a 12 cicles and laminate them for durability. Use a bag of beans for counters. Write a multiplication problem on an index card. Explain that the first factor is the number of circles you need to use, and the second factor is the number of beans to put on each circle. (Ex. 5x7=) 5 circles with 7 beans on each circle. The kids will love this fun way to use concrete manipulatives to understand abstract concepts.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Music, Movement, Phonics, Math

Music and movement are essential ingredients in any preschool classroom. Studies have shown that children retain more information when they use more of their senses in learning. By adding music and movement to the learning process children become more engaged, have more fun, and retain much more.


Staple a scarf onto a wooden dowel to create a flag. Create clear boundaries and rules for this movement exploration activity to keep your classroom safe. I like to tell each student that there is a bubble around him or her that cannot be broken. Anyone who breaks someone's bubble will have to take a rest. Play slow classical music and watch the graceful fluttering of the flags. Change to fast marching music and watch the sharp percussive movements emerge.


After exploring some movements that can be done with a flag, divide the class into small groups and ask them to create a short routine. If space is a problem, this activity can be done outside and then one group at a time can do their routine in the classroom. A typical routine might be:
8 counts of giant arm circles
8 walks in a circle with the flag held out to the side
8 counts of circles overhead (helicopter)
8 counts of flags high, flags low

Using the tune, "You're Happy and You Know It," practice consonant sounds with movement.

If you’re happy and you know it,
Bounce around "b" "b"
If you're happy and you know it,
Bounce around “b” “b”
If you're happy and you know it,
Then your face will surely show it
If you're happy and you know it,
Bounce around “b” “b”.

Creep along “c” “c”...
Dance with me “d” “d”...
Flap your arms “f” “f”...
Gallop now “g” “g”...
Hop along “f” “f”...
Jump so high “j” “j”...
Kick the air “k” “k”...
Laugh out loud “l” “l”...
March in place “m” “m”...
Nod your head “n” “n”...
Pull a rope “p” “p”...
Run in place “r” “r”...
Slide with me “s” “s”...
Tap your feet “t” “t”...
Vacuum now “v” “v”...
Walk around “w” “w”...
Yawn right now “y” “y”...
Zip your coat “z” “z”...


With masking tape, make a giant circle, square, triangle, and rectangle on the floor. As the kids sing the "Shape Song" a small group jumps inside the shape they're singing about. Everyone can draw the shape with his or her finger in the air. Make sure all the children get a chance to jump inside the shapes.

Tune: "Farmer in the Dell"

A circle's like a ball,
A circle's like a ball,
Round and round
It never stops.
A circle's like a ball!

A square is like a box,
A square is like a box,
It has four sides,
They are the same.
A square is like a box!

A triangle has 3 sides,
A triangle has 3 sides,
Up the mountain,
Down, and back.
A triangle has 3 sides!

A rectangle has 4 sides,
A rectangle has 4 sides,
Two are long, and
Two are short.
A rectangle has 4 sides!

The more music and movement you can incorporate into preschool activities the more fun and success the children will have in learning and retaining the material that they are taught.

Kathy Stemke on Education Tipster

Kathy Stemke on Helium
Kathy Stemke on Associated Content
Kathy Stemke’s Website

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Have Fun with Puppets!

Use your puppet station to teach reading, creative writing, math, geography, art, science and even proper behavior and social skills. Incorporate great books and creative activities to keep learning fun!

1.Little Red Hen

a. BEHAVIOR- Share stories about helping others- what are situations where you could help someone-how does it make you feel?

b. SCIENCE- (Book Idea- “Bread Comes to Life: A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat” by George Levenson) What do you need to grow wheat- how does it turn into bread? Grind up some wheat into flour. Draw a chart of the sequence from the planting of the seed to the baking of the bread. Make bread.

2. Baby Hippo

a. GEOGRAPHY/SCIENCE-Where is Africa- what kind of habitat does a hippo live in? How long do they live? What do hippos eat? (Book Idea- “One Hippo Hops” by Jane Yolen and “Fun with African Stencils” by Sue Brooks)

b. ART- Make a class book of African animals with stencils.

c. CREATIVE WRITNG/STORYTELLING- The baby hippo is coming to your house for the weekend. What will you do with her/him- what games will you teach her -what will you feed her- how does she make you laugh?

3. Pizza Pie

a. SCIENCE- You open up a pizzeria for a specific animal, keeping in mind, their behavior and habitats. Draw the pizzeria and the menu. What would an emperor penguin want on its pizza and what would the restaurant be made of? (Book Idea-“Tacky the Penguin” by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger) Use this read along book with its CD at your listening center before you have puppet time.

b. MATH-With a large poster board circle (the pizza) cut it in half - 2 semicircles, cut those in half 9great introduction to fractions)

4. Aquarium

a. Science -Fish- How do they breath? Why are they covered with scales? (Book Idea- “What is it Like to be a Fish?” By Wendy Pfeffer and “My Visit to the Aquarium” by Aliki)

b. creative writing/drawing- if you were a fish what part of the ocean would you swim in- would there be a shipwreck- would you have a hide-away in seaweed or a coral reef- what other sea creatures would you see- starfish -jellyfish- what would you dream of at night? (illustrate)

5. Norman

a. CREATIVE WRITING/DRAWING- Norman is expanding his mind, learning new things, and working on his circus act. Do you have a pet that you can imagine having a different life? Perhaps a cat, which could purr so beautifully she becomes an opera singer. Invent an animal if you don't have one, like a dog that loves to cook or a fish that does ballet. How about an iguana that stars in a SCI-Fi movie? Describe this creature’s daily activity from dawn to dusk.

b. MATH shapes can be found all over the circus. (Book Idea-“Circus Shapes” by Stuart Murphy and Edward Miller)

Kathy Stemke on Education Tipster
Kathy Stemke on Helium Kathy Stemke on Associated ContentKathy Stemke’s Website

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Handwriting Word Clues

For capital A, start at the rooftop, go down the slide to the sidewalk, then down the slide the other way, and cross at the fence.
For lowercase a, don't start at the fence. Start under the fence. Go up and touch the fence, then around and touch the sidewalk, around and straight down.
For capital B, go straight down to the sidewalk, around for his big chest, and around for his big tummy.
For lowercase b, start at the roof, go down, b-b-bounce up and around.
For capital C, start just below the rooftop, go up to touch, around, and up.
For lowercase c, start like little a: Go up and touch the fence, then around and up.
For capital D, start at the roof, go straight down, pick up, and go around.
For lowercase d, first little c, then little d.
For capital E, go down for a strong backbone, over for his hat, over for his belt, over for his shoes.
For lowercase e, get in the center of the space below the fence; go toward the door (or window), up to touch the fence, around and up.
For capital F, go down, over for his hat, over for his belt (but no shoes).
For lowercase f, start to make a little c up in the air, then straighten it out, go down, and cross at the fence.
For capital G, form a big C, then come back to the line to give him a tray to hold straight.
For lowercase g, first make a, then, gee, that's a good idea: If the ball falls, it falls into the basket.
For capital H, down for a wall, down for a wall, then cross at the fence.
For lowercase h, start at the rooftop, come down, and hump over.
For capital I, start with a straight back, then give him his headdress and his moccasins.
For lowercase i, go down from the fence, and give him a feather.
For capital J, go down, and turn to make a basket, and put his hat on.
For lowercase j, start at the fence, go down through the sidewalk, and turn the same way, and give him a dot.
For capital K, go down, come out here, into the center, and down to the sidewalk.
Lowercase k is just as tall as his daddy. Start at the rooftop, go down, pick up at the fence, into the center and down.
For capital L, go down and turn the corner.
For lowercase l, just a straight line down from the rooftop to the sidewalk.
For capital M, go down straight, down the slide, up the slide, and down straight.
For lowercase m, go down, hump around, hump around.
For capital N, go down straight, down the slide, down straight.
For lowercase n, go down, up, and hump over.
For capital O, always form a C first, and then close it up.
For lowercase o, same way: first a little c and close it up.
For capital P, go down, pick up, and around to the fence.
For lowercase p, start at the fence, go straight down into the ditch, come up and put his chin on the sidewalk.
For capital Q, first make a big O, and give the queen her walking stick.
For lowercase q, start with an a, come down, and give the queen some curly hair.
For capital R, down, pick up, and around to the fence, then slant down.
For lowercase r, down, up, and hook over.
For capital S, first form a c up in the air between the rooftop and the fence, then swing back.
For lowercase s, form a tiny c up in the air, and then swing back.
For capital T, go down and cross at the top.
Lowercase t is just a teenager, not as tall as his daddy, but not short either; cross at the fence.
For capital U, down, curve, and up (no stem).
For lowercase u, down, curve up, and straight down for a stem.
For capital V, slant down and up.
For lowercase v, slant down and up.
For capital W, slant down, up, down, up.
For lowercase w, down, up, down, up.
For capital X, down on a slant, pick up, back in the other direction.
For lowercase x, down and back.
For capital Y, start with a v up in the air, and put a stem on it.
For lowercase y, go down on a slant, pick up your pencil, slant down, touch, and on into the ditch.
For capital Z, make a 7, and then go back.
For lowercase z, make a little 7, and then go back.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Teaching Toddlers to Read

Children develop much of their capacity to read in the first three years of life, when their brains grow to 90% of their adult weight. Talking, singing and reading to your child develops and strengthens links between their brain cells which enable them to understand and develop language skills. Therefore, you should read to your toddler as often as possible. Teach him the alphabet, letter sounds, and some simple sight words. Then teach him to blend sounds together to make words. Because a toddler has a short attention span, you need to keep the practice sessions very short and full of fun.

Reading aloud to your child helps your child to learn the correct way to read. By hearing you read the words on the page and sound them out, he learns that letters make words, and words make sentences, and sentences are how we communicate with each other. Communication is very important in how a person relates to the rest of the world. Reading aloud to your child encourages interpersonal communication, which is vital to a child's development.

There are many activities that will make reading fun, and help to keep the toddler engaged in reading.

1. Use musical instruments to create suspense, or silliness. This can bring a story to life as well as keep each child engaged. You can even have them make simple shakers with beans or rice inside a can. They can use it at different times. For example: shake the shaker when you hear the word ______.

2. Have the children act out what you read. If the character walks to the store, they should be able to walk in place as they reach a door and open it and grab some groceries. This should be fun and can help on those days it's raining out and their energy levels are high.

3. Use a prop bag to illustrate parts of the story. If your reading “Miss Spider’s Tea Party,” you might have a rubber spider, silk butterflies, a tea cup, and a handkerchief to wipe the spider’s tears away.

4. Ask your child questions about the story. Reading comprehension is one of the hardest things to teach a child if it doesn't come naturally to him. In order to comprehend something, you must be paying attention to it. Help your child to develop his ability to comprehend stories by asking him questions either about what he thinks is about to happen or what has already happened. This develops critical thinking, which helps later in life in making major decisions.

5. Do a fun activity after you finish the book that relates to the book in some way. For instance, if the book is about a tall person, make your own stilts using metal cans. If you read a book about lions or the circus, you can have your child jump through a hoop like a lion at the circus. This activity may be done indoors or outdoors. Add words of encouragement such as, "Come my beautiful lion!" Continue raising the hoop, then alternate between high and low.

Reading to your child on a regular basis will give him an appreciation and respect for reading. If reading is important to you, it will become important to your child. A bookcase full of a variety of great books should be available. The "Dr. Seuss" and "Dick and Jane" books are wonderful, because they are full of repetition. This will enable your child to learn sight words such as: it, at, on, in, the, etc. Learning sight words will help keep the frustration level down when they start to read books.

Here’s a fun sight word game called, “Stinky Cheese.” Cut triangles out of yellow construction paper. On 20 triangles write sight words that you want to practice. On 5 triangles write “stinky cheese.” Put the triangles in a sack and shake them up. The toddler pulls out a triangle. The child reads the sight word on his cheese. If he chooses “stinky cheese,” he holds his nose and says, “Stinky cheese!” in a silly voice.

Most toddlers are physically active and love to move. Take advantage of this natural trait by moving to short rhymes that introduce letter sounds. An A-Z list of Action Animal Phonics Rhymes that promote lots of movement can be found on this blog in the blog archive. Introduce a new sound each week and have fun.

Toddlers learn quickly with hands on activities. Make clay out of flour, salt, and warm water. Form a large A, a, and apple out of the clay. After the letters and apple dry have fun painting them and practice the letter sounds by singing silly songs. Take turns thinking of a word that begins with that letter/ sound. For example: say "A is for a a a a aaaaligator." You’ll be surprised what words the toddler will come up with. Your toddler will be proud of the letters he makes and will want to show them to everyone.

Another great way to teach a toddler letter sounds is to make a personalized book. Take a photo of the toddler with food that starts with each letter and paste it on top of an 8”-11” piece of paper. Under each picture with large letters write, Aa – Brian eats an apple, Bb- Brian eats a banana, Cc- Brian eats a carrot, etc. He will certainly learn his name, learn the letter sounds, and enjoy seeing himself in his phonics book.

Once your toddler has learned the letter sounds, it's time to start blending them together to make words. Here, too, fun must be a vital ingredient. Plain Unifix cubes are a wonderful manipulative for the development of small motor movements in toddlers. By gluing uppercase and lowercase letters to each cube and cover with clear nail polish for durability you can use them to teach reading skills as well. Make several sets of each. Make sets of opposite words, rhyming words, and sight words.

1. These are great for practicing the alphabet. You can link them together using all uppercase, all lowercase or uppercase A-lowercase a.
2. Put each child’s name in a zip lock bag for name practice.
3. You can build words with them.
4. They are great for word families too. Have (a-t) linked together and ask what letter can go in front to make a word.
5. Link together word opposites like, big-small, or long-short.
6. Link together words that rhyme like red-bed, or tall-fall.
7. Practice reading sight words that are on the cubes. Make a tower of correct and incorrect words. Try again on the incorrect words. Try to make a giant tower with all the sight words correct.

By making reading fun with exciting books, games, and manipulatives, toddlers will learn to read naturally. Fill their world with letters and words by decorating their rooms with alphabet posters and shelves of colorful books. My daughter was eager to learn, and she was reading just before her third birthday. But, each child is an individual with their own interests and timetable. The key to teaching toddlers to read is to surround them with fun reading tools, and let them set the their own pace for exploration and reading.

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