Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Today let's see how we can tie in poetry with writing standards.  First, ask the children, “What do poets do?” As they respond comment, “You know, we can do that, too. We can all write poems and be poets!!!” 

Hint!  When writing poems it doesn't matter if children use words that rhyme, nonsense words, or words that don't rhyme.

An acrostic is an easy way to begin writing poetry. Model how to do this on the board by writing a word vertically. Have children to think of a word that begins with each letter. Read over what you have written, and you have a poem.

Name Acrostic – Children think of a word that describes them for each letter in their name.

Holiday or Season- Write the holiday or season and then add an adjective that begins with each letter.

Non-fiction – Write a vocabulary word from a unit or theme and then
challenge children to write a word that begins with each letter. 



Cut out pictures from magazines, calendars, and catalogs.  Let children choose a picture and then write a poem about it.

Write several lines of poetry, leaving blanks at the end of each line. Encourage the children to fill in words that rhyme. Have them help you sound out the words as you write them. For example:
I saw a pig
Who could ______.
I saw a cat
Who could ______.
I saw a sheep
Who could ______.
And I can rhyme
Any time!
*Use similes for blank poems. For example, children could fill in the line to “Hungry as a _____. Quiet as a______. Sleepy as a ______. Mad as a _______. Good as _______. Sweet as ______.” And so on.

Give children predictable sentences similar to the ones below. All children have to do is fill in a missing word, and they’ll have a poem.
Hint! They can use words that rhyme, nonsense words, or words that don’t rhyme.
I like_____.
I like _____
I like _____.
Do you like____?

I can _____.
I can_____.
I can_____.
Can you_____?

*I know….I wish….My mom is…Dogs can….Spring is….Green is…. And so forth!
*Write predictable poems using the five senses. It looks like…It sounds
like…It tastes like… It smells like…It feels like…It’s a ….

Laurel Wreath
Just for fun, let children make laurel wreaths out of paper plates and leaves.  The Greeks awarded these in Olympic events for sports as well as poetic meets.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Since April is National Poetry Month, here are some ways to tie in poetry with standards. Poems really can be like a "breath of fresh air" to blow in JOY and FUN to language arts.

Hint! Cut a pocket off an old pair of pants and staple it to a bulletin board. Store favorite poems in the pocket so the children can read them over and over.


After reading a poem with your students, read it again clapping the number of syllables in each word. You could also snap, stomp, hop or make other movements for the syllables.
Rhyming Words
Following a reading, mention that you heard words that sounded alike at the end. Repeat two of the words that rhyme. Let’s read the poem again and see if you can listen for other words that rhyme. As children find words that rhyme, highlight them on the poem with highlighting markers or tape. Write sets of words that rhyme on the board. Underline the letters that are the same. Have children think of other words that have the same sound at the end. Write the rhyming words on the board as the children call them out.

Read poems that have strong alliteration. Ask children to identify words with the same beginning sound. Highlight the words in the poem or list them on the board. Can children add other words to the list that begin with the same sound?
*Just for fun, choose an initial consonant sound and alliterate each word in a rhyme. For example: Bumpty Bumpty Bat Bon Ba Ball. Bumpty Bumpty bad ba breat ball…

Before reading a poem, encourage the children to look at the title or illustrations and predict what the poem might be about.

High Frequency Words
Highlight word wall words that are in poems. Pass out flash cards with words and challenge children to match them with words in the poem.

Parts of Speech 
Ask children to identify verbs, nouns, and other parts of speech in poetry.
After reading a poem, ask appropriate questions that will develop comprehension skills. Is there a main character? What was the setting? When did the poem take place? What happened at the beginning? Middle? End? Was there a problem or resolution? What will happen next? What was the main idea? 

Genres of Literature 
Help children recognize different types of literature through poetry. Could the poem really happen or is it pretend? Poems and books that are pretend are called “fiction” and those that are real are called “non-fiction.” Is the poem humorous or serious? Does it tell a story (epic) or is it just a rhyme?
Mental Imagery
Being able to visualize what is happening in a story, poem, or text is a strategy for improving comprehension. Have children close their eyes as you read different poems to them. Encourage the children to make a picture in their brains to go along with what they hear. After listening to the poem, encourage the children to discuss the pictures that they made in their heads.

Monday, April 23, 2018


These games can easily be adapted for different languages.  The advantage of a game is that two children can play them together and help each other.  Repetition is also important and these games can be played multiple times or sent home for practice with parents.

Peeking Puppies
Cut puppies out of construction paper using the attached pattern. Write the word in Spanish on the body of the puppy. Fold down the ear and write the word in English under the ear. Children identify the word and then self-check by “peeking” under the ear.        


Sock Match
Cut matching socks out of construction paper. Write a word in English on one sock and the Spanish translation on another sock. Mix the socks up in a bag. Children find the matching socks and clothespin them together.

Cut 4” circles out of poster board or fun foam. Write the word in Spanish on one side and the English translation on the other side. Children will need a pancake turner/spatula to play the game. Spread the circles on the table. Children read the word and translate. Then they flip over the circle to check their response on the back.  

Stretch and Match

You will need heavy cardboard cut in 5” x 8” rectangles. Cut notches in each of the long sides as shown. Write a word in Spanish by each notch on the left side. Write a word in English by each notch on the right side. Children stretch rubber bands between matching words. Draw lines between correct answers on the back so children can self-check.

Poke and Peek
Cut simple shapes out of poster board (cars, animals, plants, etc.) Punch holes around the edge of the shape. Write a word in English by each hole on one side of the shape. On the reverse side write the word in Spanish by the appropriate hole. Children take a straw or pencil and insert it by a word. After translating the word, they flip the shape over and check their response on the back.
Hint! Children could also play this game with a friend.    

I would love to see someone do a study on using sign language as a strategy for learning a second language.  Sign language could provide a physical and multi sensory bridge for making connections between two languages.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Many times at workshops teachers ask, “Do you have any ideas for learning a second language?” It’s funny, but almost every project I demonstrate I’ll say, “You know you could use this by….” Most of my activities are easy to adapt for different age levels and content. I’m no expert, but here are a few tips that might help.

The more senses you activate and the more you engage children physically and mentally, the more likely the message will get to the brain and stay in the brain. Say it, move it, sing it, act it!

You have to hook new learning to something that is already in the brain to make those connections. And, you have to repeat things over and over and over again to make those pathways firm.

Games are a natural way to engage children and provide that purposeful practice for automaticity.

I Spy!
This is an old game, but it could easily be played using words for colors and shapes of a second language.
Example: I spy something rojo!

Touch Something
The teacher says a word (color, shape, object) and the children have to walk around the room and touch something that matches the word.

Simon Says
Change the words of Simon Says to reinforce body parts.
Example: Simons says put your hands on your cabeza.

Musical Words
Write vocabulary words on paper plates and place them on the floor. (You might want to write the word in Spanish in red on one side and the word in English in blue on the opposite side.) Play some catchy music and tell the children to dance around. When the music stops, the children find a plate and pick it up. The children silently read their word and translate it. The teacher randomly points to several children to identify their word and tell what it means. The children then put the plates on the floor and the dancing continues.
Show Me
Each child has a set of vocabulary cards that they place on their desk or on the floor. As the teacher calls out a word, the children find it and hold it up in the air. (You could vary this by calling out the word in English, saying it in Spanish, giving a definition, and so forth.)

Four Square
Fold a sheet of paper into fourths. Open and trace over the creased line. In the upper right corner write the word in English. In the upper left corner write the word in Spanish. In the bottom right corner the children illustrate the word. In the last section they write sentences using the word.

Paper Plate Puzzles

Cut paper plates into thirds. Write a word in English on one third. Write the word in Spanish on another section. Draw a picture clue in the third section. Mix up pieces. Children put the puzzles together and read the words.

*Hint! You could use puzzlers for number words, color words, animals, foods, etc

Saturday, April 21, 2018


April 21st - National Kindergarten Day

At the end of the day, will it really matter if they learned to read when they were five or when they were six?

At the end of the day, will it really matter if they wrote a paragraph when they were in kindergarten or second grade?

At the end of the day, will it really matter what score they got on a standardized test?

At the end of the day, will “rigor” in kindergarten be more important than play?

At the end of the day, it will matter if children feel good about themselves, know how to get along with others, find joy in learning, and have happy memories.

On NATIONAL KINDERGARTEN DAY, I question why we are pushing and rushing and shoving our children. Are the actually going to be smarter, brighter, and better at the end of the day…

They’ve Taken Away Our Song
By Jean Feldman

We used to sing and play outside.
     We’d hold hands and we’d dance.
Now we have to sit still and take tests.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to build with blocks.
     We’d finger paint and do puzzles.
Now we do worksheets.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to dig in the sand,
     Play circle games and play pretend.
Now we sit in front of a big screen.
     They’ve taken away our song.

We used to cook and go on field trips.
     We had show and tell and rest time.
Now we have to stay on task.
     They’ve taken away our song.

Our teacher used to have time
     To sing us rhymes and tell us stories.
Now our teacher has to collect data.
     They’ve taken away our song.

Give children back their song,
     Laugh, and love, and play,
So when they’re all grown up
     They’ll remember kindergarten in a special way.

As kindergarten teachers, we know that five is a magical time. Children have one chance in a lifetime to be five, and we will continue to hold hands, and sing, and dance, and tell stories, and do finger plays, and play pretend, and give children happy memories because we still believe in “kinder garden”-– we are KINDERGARTEN TEACHERS!

Sweet memories of my kindergarten.  One of the best years of my life.
I've forgotten many years in school, but I'll never forget kindergarten.
Maybe that's why I became a kindergarten teacher so I could pass on
the joy and give other children happy memories.  Do you feel the same way?

Friday, April 20, 2018


Someone at a recent workshop asked if I had any “tricks” for helping children discriminate b and d. Most experts suggest that it is developmental and you shouldn’t be too concerned before the age of 7. However, I looked through my files and here are some tips.

B and D (Mary Ann Rosier)
Make a fist with each hand and put up the thumbs with fists facing each other. “B” comes first in the alphabet so the stick is first. “D” comes after “B” so the stick is on the right.
Using a copy of the alphabet underline “b c d.” Explain that “b” /c sees/ “d.”
B and D Discrimination (Mary Marsionis)
Children use left hand to make a sign language “b” and right hand to make a “d.” Say “big dog” to remember “b” and “d.”

B vs. D (Mary Myers)
Here’s another idea for helping children distinguish these letters. “B” has the bat (stick) and then the ball (circle). “D” has the doorknob (circle) and then the door (stick).
Draw a bed. Use a lowercase “b” for the headboard and a “d” for the foot of the bed. 

Write "b" on 10 index cards and "d" on 10 index cards.  Shuffle the cards and then ask the children to sort them.
Sensory Activities
Practice writing “b” and “d” in the air as you say:
Make a line and then a circle for “b.” Make the circle and then the line for “d.”

Have children roll play dough and place it on top of the letters.

Trace over letters in a sand tray.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


April 19th is National High Five Day, but you can start any day with a high five and a smile! Wouldn't your kids be surprised if you drew a smile on your hand like this one?


High Five Cheer

Teach children how to give themselves a “high five” for a job well done. Hold up both palms facing each other in front of your chest. Pretend to wave with one hand as you hold up five fingers on the other hand. “Hi 5!” Get it?

Pat on the Back
Trace around each child’s hand on construction paper and let them cut it out. Write a positive comment about each child on the hand and tape it to their back at the end of the day. Parents will be proud when they see their child’s “pat on the back.”


Pickle Tickle Partner Game

Up high. (Give a high five up in the air.)
Down low. (High five down by knees.)
Cut the pickle. (One child touches fingertips horizontally as the other child pretends to slice in between.)
Give a tickle. (Gently tickle each other.)

High Five
Write sight words on hands and tape to your classroom door. Students must "high five" a hand and read a word before exiting the classroom.