Monday, June 26, 2017


These games have a built in feedback. Children can play them over and over and you’ll make sure they are learning the correct information. These games can be played with a partner or individually.

Why? letters, sounds, math facts, contractions, antonyms, etc.
What? spatula or pancake turner, corrugated cardboard, fun foam
How? Cut 3 ½” circles out of cardboard or fun foam. Write uppercase letters on one side and lowercase letters on the other. Place the circles on the floor or a table. Children name the letter on one side, and then flip it over to self-check.
*Write words on one side and glue matching pictures on the back.

*Write children’s names on one side and glue their picture on back.

*Put pictures on one side and initial consonants or vowels on back.

*Write questions on the front and the answer on the reverse side.

*Write antonyms on opposite sides.

*Write two words on the front and the contraction on the back.

Why? numerals, math facts, phonics, contractions, etc.
What? heavy paper
How? Cut out paper sharks using the pattern on the following page. Fold down the top fin. Make a set on the body and then lift the fin and write the numeral.


Why? math facts; number words, phonics, review questions
What? construction paper
How? Fold construction paper in half. Place a football pattern with the top of the pattern on the fold. Write math facts, number words, etc. on the front of the footballs. Write the answers on the inside.

Peeking Puppies
Why? words and pictures, upper and lowercase letters, antonyms, math facts and answers, etc.
What? construction paper
How? Cut puppies out of construction paper. Bend down the ear. Write one thing on the puppy’s body and write the answer under the ear.

Use Your Brain!
Why? math facts, phonics, antonyms, etc.
What? poster board, hole punch, golf tee or pencil
How? Cut a brain out of poster board using the pattern on the following page. Punch 10-12 holes around the outside of the edge. Near each hole write a math fact. On the reverse side, write the answer to the math problem near the hole. Outline the shape with markers and decorate. The child sticks a pencil or golf tee in the front and then turns it over to check their answer.
*Two children can also play this game. One “pokes” and the other confirms.

Why? rhyming words, compounds, math concepts, blends, etc.
What? paper plates, rhyming pictures, markers, scissors, zip bag
How? Cut paper plates in half using puzzle designs similar to those shown. Glue pictures that rhyme on each half. Mix up the pieces. Children say the words and match up the plates that rhyme. The game is self-checking because the pieces will fit if they match the correct pictures.
*Use hearts, kites, pumpkins, or other seasonal shapes to make puzzlers.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


These games are perfect for children to play with a partner or with a small group. Peer teaching is one of the best ways for children to learn, so children who have mastered skills will be able to help their classmates succeed.

Pony Round-Up
Why? upper and lowercase letters, numbers, beginning sounds, etc.
What? spring clothespins, heavy paper
How? Cut ponies and saddles out of cardstock paper using the pattern on the following page. Print an uppercase letter on each pony, and a lowercase letter on each saddle. Children take the ponies and stand them up using the clothespins as legs. Next, children match the correct saddle for each pony.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Why? matching upper and lowercase letters, pictures and sounds, sets and numerals, math facts and answers, etc.
What? heavy paper, clothespins
How? Cut bears and shirts out of paper. Write uppercase letters on the bears and lowercase letters on the shirts. Children match bears and shirts with clothespins.

Clip It
Why? letters, sight words, names
What? jumbo craft sticks, clothes pins
How? Write the letters of the alphabet on the clothespins. Write words on the craft sticks. Children match letters and clip them on the stick to make the words.

Concentration ~ Memory
Why? visual skills, shapes, sets, things that go together, etc.
What? poster board, stickers
How? Take ten 4” cardboard squares and put like stickers (or draw like pictures) on two of the squares. Place the cards face down on the floor or on a table. One at a time, children turn over two cards. If the stickers on the cards match, then they may keep the pair and have another turn. If the cards do not match, then the next person may have a turn. Children must use visual memory skills to try and remember where matching pairs are.
*Use holiday and seasonal stickers to make concentration games.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


When my children came to reading group they would beg, “Can we play a game? Can we play a game?” I always told them if they worked hard that we might have time to play a game at the end. What they didn’t realize was that the games I made probably taught them as much as my reading lesson!

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 pattern on the following page. 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” or “stinky socks”?

*An empty cheese cracker box makes a more durable container for the game.


Why? letters, words, sentences, math facts, etc.
What? jumbo craft sticks, permanent marker, plastic cup
How? Color the end of five sticks purple, five red, five blue, five green, five orange, and five yellow. On the other part of the stick write skills you are working on. Place the sticks in the cup with the colored end on the bottom. Choose a random color. Pass the cup around. Children choose a stick and identify the information. If the choose a stick with the designated color they yell, “Fiddlesticks!” and they have to place their other sticks back in the cup.

My Messy House
Why? sight words, letters, numerals, shapes, etc.
What? different colors of construction paper, clothes pins, piece of string
How? Cut clothes out of construction paper and write skills on them. Tie a string (clothesline) between two chairs. Spread the clothes on the floor as you say, “My house is so messy. Who can help me clean it up?” Children take turns choosing an item, reading it, and then hanging it on the clothesline.

Go Fishing
Why? letters, sight words, math facts, etc.
What? stick, string, magnet, brad fastener
How? Cut out fish using the pattern on the following page. Write skills on the fish and attach a brad fastener for eyes. Tie one end of a piece of string to the stick and attach the magnet to the other end of the string. Spread the fish out on the floor. Children try to catch a fish by dangling the magnet over the eye. They can keep the fish if they can identify the information on it.


Friday, June 23, 2017


Got a minute or two, try one of these quick games.

Johnny Jump Up

You will need a photo album and index cards to make this game. Write words on the index cards and insert them in the plastic sleeves. On several cards draw a stick figure jumping and write, “Johnny jump up!” Randomly insert the Johnny cards in the album. As you shuffle through the book children read the words. When Johnny appears they all jump up and shout, “Johnny jump up!”
*Adapt this game to popular cartoon figures or seasonal characters.

Where’s Kitty?
Place flash cards in a pocket chart. Take a small picture of a cat and explain you will hide kitty behind one of the cards. Have children close their eyes as you hide kitty. “Who knows where kitty is?” Children take turns calling out a word and then looking behind it for kitty. The first child to find kitty gets to hide it for the next round.
*Adapt kitty for holidays or seasons. It could be a skeleton, turkey, cupid, etc.

Catch and Tell
You will need a beanbag, sponge ball, or tiny stuffed animal to play this game. The teacher says a letter and then tosses the ball to a child. That child must name something that begins with that sound before tossing the ball back to the teacher.
*This game can be adapted for rhyming words, colors, math, social studies, and other skills. It’s perfect for waiting in the hall or during transitions.

Each child takes a sheet of scrap paper and writes a word wall word, spelling word, math fact, etc. on it. Children wad up their sheet of paper to make it a “snowball.” Divide the class into two teams and have them stand about 20 feet from each other. When the teacher says, “Let it snow!” children begin throwing their snowballs at the opposite side. Children pick up a snowball and identify the information on it before throwing it back at the other side. The game continues until the teacher says, “Freeze!” Count the number of snowballs on each side. Who has more? Who has less? In this game, the team with the smaller amount is actually the winner! Everyone gets another snowball and the game continues.

*At the beginning of the school year, have children write their names on snowballs and play the game. It’s a great way to get acquainted with classmates.

*As a study review, have children write questions on the snowballs. When children open them they must answer the question before throwing it again. Remind the children that if they don’t know the answer, it’s O.K. to ask a friend for help.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


You can take advantage of all the little “teachable times” in your school day with these ideas. Keep flashcards handy for when you have a few extra minutes before lunch, as children wash hands, or while waiting for the bell to ring. Make a different set of flashcards every few weeks that focus on specific skills your students need to master. You can use these games for letters, shapes, numbers, sight words, math facts, etc.
*Store games in a sand bucket on your desk for easy access.

*Keeping Score – Try this idea to avoid students being too aggressive. Cut out two circles from poster board and glue them together. Write “high” on one side and “low” on the other. After playing a game toss the circle. If “high” appears the team with the highest score wins. If “low” comes up the team with the lowest score is the winner.
Hint! If children don’t know the answer when playing games allow them to “phone a friend” (ask a friend) or “ask the audience” (ask the class).

Write “BOOM!” with a bright marker or glitter pen on several of the flashcards. As you “flash” through the cards, children identify the information. When “BOOM!” appears, children jump up and shout out “Boom!”
*Change the surprise word for different holidays and seasons. In January use a snowman sticker and write “Brrrr!” The children stand up and pretend to shiver when it appears.

*Another fun version is “cowboys” and “chickens.” Insert pictures of a few cowboys and a few chickens. When the cowboy appears the children stand up and pretend to twirl a lasso. When the chicken appears they stand up and flap their arms and cluck.

Kids vs. Teacher
Draw a T chart on the board with “Kids” on one side and “Teacher” on the other side. Hold up a flash card. If a child raises her hand and correctly reads the word, she gets a point for the “kids.” If any child shouts out the answer, then the teacher gets a point.

(If children keep talking out of turn, just continue to give points to the teacher. They’ll figure it out!)

Pick Up
Place the flash cards randomly on the floor in the middle of the room.  Divide the class into two teams. Choose one child from each team to come up and play. Call out a word. The first child to pick it up wins a point for their team.

*At the beginning of the school year write the children’s names on plates. Have children stand in a circle and place 5 plates on the floor. Sing, “If your name is on a plate pick it up” to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

Musical Plates
You remember the old game where you placed chairs in a circle and walked around until the music stopped? If you didn’t find a chair you were OUT! This is a similar game that can be used to reinforce letters, words, math facts. etc. Write information you want to reinforce on paper plates. Scatter them on the floor. Play some catchy music for the children to dance to. When the music stops each child finds a paper plate and picks it up. The teacher randomly points to various children to identify the information on their plate.
Word Worm
Draw the face of a worm on a 9” circle. Pass out a word card to each child. One at a time children come up and place their word next to the worm’s head. Each child reads all of the previous words before placing her word down. How long can the worm grow?
Note! Children can “ask the audience” to read with them if they are unsure of the words.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


We’re off on our family vacation today and I won’t be home until July 3rd. Of course, I’ve done my lesson plans like a “good” teacher so you’ll have something to keep you busy while I’m gone.
One of the sessions that I’m doing at the I Teach Kindergarten Conference in Las Vegas in a few weeks is called “Game On!” If you’re not going to the conference, I’ll be sharing the content from that session so you’ll have ideas, patterns, and a bucket of games when school begins.

All you have to say is, “Let’s play a game!” and you will naturally engage your students. But there’s more than PLAY going on with these games!

Standards – Sugar coat those standards by developing a game around the skills you want to reinforce.

Executive Function – Through games children can develop task initiation and completion because there is a beginning and an end. They also learn self- regulation and delayed gratification.

Active Learning – With games children can talk, interact with friends, and use multi-sensory materials.

Purposeful Practice for Automaticity – In order to master skills children need to repeat and practice them. Clearly, kids would rather do that with a game than with a worksheet.

Intentional Teaching – Teachers can create flashcard games, board games, or a variety of games based on any skill (letters, numbers, sight words, vocabulary, math facts, science or social studies, etc.) Think about skills in your curriculum and there’s the content for your game.

21st Century Skills – Children will naturally develop cooperation, collaboration, and communication as they share and play games.

Brain Research – The brain likes anything that is novel and challenging. Games add that element of fun and motivation to academic content.

Differentiated Instruction – Games can be adapted for specific needs and used for small group, independent, or take home practice.

Limited English Learners – Games can provide that visual and auditory connection in a non-threatening way.

Instructional Time – Take advantage of transitions and those few extra minutes during the school day by playing games.

Look at your standards. What skills do your students need to master?
Are they struggling with any letters, sight words, shapes, math facts?
Be specific with the content you choose. Start simple and make the games increasingly complex. Remember, nothing succeeds like success.

construction paper, poster board, fun foam, file folders, scissors, tape, glue, hole punch, jumbo craft sticks, magnetic letters, markers, recycled materials, small toys and inexpensive items you can find in a dollar store

You can make games yourself.
You can ask parents to make games for you.
You can share games and rotate them with other teachers.

Store games in zip bags, manila envelopes, pencil boxes, plastic tubs, or other containers. *Hint! Color code with stickers to indicate content area.

Demonstrate how to play the games and keep the rules simple. It often takes several times for the children to “get” a game. Model how to care for the materials and clean up.

Games can be used for large group instruction during transitions. They can be used with small skill based instructional groups. And, they can be used for independent practice.

Tip! Use games to motivate your students by saying, “If you work hard we will have time to play a game.”

*Try using “Brain Lotion” before playing games with pieces. (Take the label off a bottle of hand sanitizer and replace it with a label that says “Brian Lotion.” This will keep your games clean and germ free.)

YOU add the magic! You can take any game and make it more exciting with your attitude. Be dramatic and challenge your students! Come back tomorrow for some “quickie” flash card games.


State and City Song (Holly Koop, Grand Forks, ND – Traci Plante / Singer)
Children will easily remember their city and state when you sing them to “Yankee Doodle.”
     Here I am in name of state
     Living happily!
     All my friends and relatives are
     Nice as they can be!
     City, I love you!
     City, is my home!
     State is my state
     And for this we celebrate!

Brown Bag Special (Diane Landoll, Lawton, OK)
For parents who work, send projects home in a brown grocery sack marked “Brown Bag Special.” Include materials, patterns, and directions for what you want them to make. The child will be so excited to take the bag home and the parent will feel positive about what they have contributed to your classroom.

Blessing (Deanna Hofmeister & Tami Zwaschka, Mankato, MN)
Here’s a sweet blessing to the tune of “Twinkle Little Star.” (Although you can’t use this in a public school, you could use it in a church school or with your children at home.)
     Thank you, thank you, Lord we pray
     For this food we have today.
     We love you so very much.
     God bless every one of us.
     Thank you, thank you, Lord we pray
     For this food we have today.

Recall Bears
Connie Cook cuts out bear heads and writes story elements (Who? What? When? Where? Why?) on them. Children pick a bear before the story and then answer it after the story.
Shoe Tying Journey (Allison Caspers, Oak Grove Lutheran)
Kindergarteners know how to navigate the web, but many do not know how to tie shoes. Get a suitcase and put an old shoe in it along with the poem below. (Allison uses two suitcases.) Each night a child gets to take home the suitcase and practice tying the shoe. When they have completed their “Shoe Tying Journey” they receive a PASSPORT OF ACCOMPLISHMENT for learning to tie their shoes.

*There are several sites online where you can download free certificates.
1-2-3-4 – Tying Shoes
Let’s get ready to tie your shoes.
Over and under. Now, what to do? (Pull strings tight.)
1. Make a loop that looks like a tree. (Make a loop with right string.)
2. The other string is a rabbit you see. (Hold up left string.)
3. The rabbit goes around and in a hole. (Take left string around loop and stick
in the hole.)
4. Pull the loops tight and there is your bow! (Take both loops and pull.)