Saturday, August 12, 2006

Kittens and Mittens Bulletin Board

For nursery rhyme week, if you use a system where children move their clothespins or name tags when they arrive and depart each day, then you can make an interactive bulletin board with cats and mittens.

Copy a mitten pattern and allow children to color the mitten. Then write the child's name on each mitten.

Here are two nice patterns:

Place some kittens on the board and use a line from the nursery rhyme such as, "Little Kittens, Find your mittens" or you could use the entire rhyme or the first few lines.

Kitten patterns:

You can use a small basket under the board or a sturdy manilla envelope to hold the children's mittens, although I always preferred to put a string along the bottom of the board with clothespins. Children would put their tags there when they left school each day and find them there when they returned the next day. Then each child would have another clothespin "spot" on the bulletin board where they would put their tags (in this case, their mittens).

If your children are young and can't handle the motor skills involved with clothespins, use magnets or velcro. Just make sure that you secure the velcro with staples or you'll end up with a ripped bulletin board. Also, with magnets, make sure you test them before you affix them permanently (does side A go with side B) or they will repel each other.

Another note on magnets... Magnets can be very dangerous if two are swallowed, so I wouldn't recommend using them if you have children who put things in their mouths. Laminating the mittens after the magnets are in place should be sufficient for older children.

Three Little Kittens

Three little kittens,
They lost their mittens,
And they began to cry,
Oh, mother dear,
We sadly fear
Our mittens we have lost.

What! Lost your mittens,
You naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie.
Meow, meow, meow.
No, you shall have no pie.

The three little kittens,
They found their mittens,
And they began to cry,
Oh, mother dear,
See here, see here,
Our mittens we have found.

What! Found your mittens,
You silly kittens!
Then you shall have some pie.
Purr, purr, purr,
Oh, let us have some pie.

The three little kittens,
Put on their mittens,
And soon ate up the pie;
Oh, mother dear,
We greatly fear
Our mittens we have soiled.

What! Soiled your mittens,
You naughty kittens!
Then they began to sigh,
Meow, meow, meow.
Then they began to sigh.
The three little kittens,
They washed their mittens,
And hung them out to dry;
Oh mother dear,
Look here, look here,
Our mittens we have washed.

What! Washed your mittens,
You're good little kittens.
But I smell a rat close by!
Hush! Hush! Hush!
I smell a rat close by.



Three men in a tub

And who do you think they be?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick maker,

Turn them out knaves, all three

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory, dickory, dock!
The mouse ran up the clock;
The clock struck one,
And down he run,
Hickory, dickory, dock!

Polly and Sukey

Polly, put the kettle on,
Polly, put the kettle on,
Polly, put the kettle on,
And let's drink tea.

Sukey, take it off again,
Sukey, take it off again,
Sukey, take it off again,
They're all gone away.

London Bridge

London Bridge is broken down,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
London Bridge is broken down,
With a gay lady.

How shall we build it up again?
Dance over my Lady Lee;
How shall we build it up again?
With a gay lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
Build it up with silver and gold,
With a gay lady.

Silver and gold will be stole away,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
Silver and gold will be stole away,
With a gay lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
Build it up with iron and steel,
With a gay lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
With a gay lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
Build it up with wood and clay,
With a gay lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
Wood and clay will wash away,
With a gay lady.

Build it up with stone so strong,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
Huzza! 'twill last for ages long,
With a gay lady.

There Was an Old Woman

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread.
She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

What are little boys made of, made of?
What are little boys made of?
"Snaps and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails;
And that's what little boys are made of."

What are little girls made of, made of?
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice, and all that's nice;
And that's what little girls are made of."

The Tarts

The Queen of Hearts,
She made some tarts,
All on a summer's day;
The Knave of Hearts,
He stole the tarts,
And took them clean away.

The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the Knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he'd steal no more.

Peter Piper

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

The Bells

"You owe me five shillings,"
Say the bells of St. Helen's.
"When will you pay me?"
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
"When I grow rich,"
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
"When will that be?"
Say the bells of Stepney.
"I do not know,"
Says the great Bell of Bow.
"Two sticks in an apple,"
Ring the bells of Whitechapel.
"Halfpence and farthings,"
Say the bells of St. Martin's.
"Kettles and pans,"
Say the bells of St. Ann's.
"Brickbats and tiles,"
Say the bells of St. Giles.
"Old shoes and slippers,"
Say the bells of St. Peter's.
"Pokers and tongs,"
Say the bells of St. John's.

The Crooked Sixpence

There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence beside a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

Ring a Ring O’ Rosies

Ring a ring o' roses,
A pocketful of posies.
Tisha! Tisha!
We all fall down.

Pease Porridge

Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot,
Nine days old.
Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot,
Nine days old.

Peter Pumpkin Eater

Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater,
Had a wife and couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well.

The Ten O’Clock Scholar

A diller, a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar!
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o'clock,
But now you come at noon.

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a feather flock together,
And so will pigs and swine;
Rats and mice will have their choice,
And so will I have mine.

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
Silver bells and cockle-shells,
And pretty maids all of a row.

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating of Christmas pie:
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"

A Week of Birthdays

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for its living,
But the child that's born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Old King Cole

Old King Cole
Was a merry old soul,
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe,
And he called for his bowl,
And he called for his fiddlers three!
And every fiddler, he had a fine fiddle,
And a very fine fiddle had he.
"Twee tweedle dee, tweedle dee," went the fiddlers.
Oh, there's none so rare
As can compare
With King Cole and his fiddlers three.

One, Two, Buckle my Shoe

One, two,
Buckle my shoe;
Three, four,
Knock at the door;
Five, six,
Pick up sticks;
Seven, eight,
Lay them straight;
Nine, ten,
A good, fat hen;
Eleven, twelve,
Dig and delve;
Thirteen, fourteen,
Maids a-courting;
Fifteen, sixteen,
Maids in the kitchen;
Seventeen, eighteen,
Maids a-waiting;
Nineteen, twenty,
My plate's empty.

Bye Baby Bunting

Bye, baby bunting,
Father's gone a-hunting,
Mother's gone a-milking,
Sister's gone a-silking,
And brother's gone to buy a skin
To wrap the baby bunting in.

The House that Jack Built

This is the house that Jack built.
This is the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the farmer sowing the corn,
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

The Mulberry Bush

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,
Here we go round the mulberry bush.
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our hands,
Wash our hands, wash our hands,
This is the way we wash our hands,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our clothes.
Wash our clothes, wash our clothes,
This is the way we wash our clothes,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we go to school,
Go to school, go to school,
This is the way we go to school,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we come out of school,
Come out of school, come out of school,
This is the way we come out of school,
On a cold and frosty morning.

The Cat and the Fiddle

Hey, diddle, diddle!
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, marry, have I,
Three bags full;

One for my master,
One for my dame,
But none for the little boy
Who cries in the lane.

Lock and Key

"I am a gold lock."
"I am a gold key."
"I am a silver lock."
"I am a silver key."
"I am a brass lock."
"I am a brass key."
"I am a lead lock."
"I am a lead key."
"I am a don lock."
"I am a don key!"

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down, and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Then up Jack got and off did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.

Handy Pandy

Handy Pandy, Jack-a-dandy,
Loves plum cake and sugar candy.
He bought some at a grocer's shop,
And out he came, hop, hop, hop!

Jack Sprat

Jack Sprat
Could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean;
And so,
Betwixt them both,
They licked the platter clean.

Old Mother Hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker's
To buy him some bread;
When she came back
The dog was dead.

She went to the undertaker's
To buy him a coffin;
When she got back
The dog was laughing.

She took a clean dish
To get him some tripe;
When she came back
He was smoking a pipe.

She went to the alehouse
To get him some beer;
When she came back
The dog sat in a chair.

She went to the tavern
For white wine and red;
When she came back
The dog stood on his head.

She went to the hatter's
To buy him a hat;
When she came back
He was feeding the cat.

She went to the barber's
To buy him a wig;
When she came back
He was dancing a jig.

She went to the fruiterer's
To buy him some fruit;
When she came back
He was playing the flute.

She went to the tailor's
To buy him a coat;
When she came back
He was riding a goat.

She went to the cobbler's
To buy him some shoes;
When she came back
He was reading the news.

She went to the sempster's
To buy him some linen;
When she came back
The dog was a-spinning.

She went to the hosier's
To buy him some hose;
When she came back
He was dressed in his clothes.

The dame made a curtsy,
The dog made a bow;
The dame said, "Your servant,"
The dog said, "Bow-wow."


See a penny and pick it up,
All the day you'll have good luck.
See a penny and let it lay,
Bad luck you'll have all the day.


One, two, three, four, five,
Once I caught a fish alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
But I let it go again.
Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite?
The little one upon the right.

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the King's horses, and all the King's men
Cannot put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating of curds and whey;
There came a big spider,
And sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

The Black Hen

Hickety, pickety, my black hen,
She lays eggs for gentlemen;
Gentlemen come every day
To see what my black hen doth lay.

Diddle Diddle Dumpling

Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John
Went to bed with his breeches on,
One stocking off, and one stocking on;
Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John.

Five Toes (or This Little Piggy)

This little pig went to market;
This little pig stayed at home;
This little pig had roast beef;
This little pig had none;
This little pig said, "Wee, wee!
I can't find my way home."

Three Blind Mice

Three blind mice! See how they run!
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a thing in your life
As three blind mice?

Simple Simon

Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
"Let me taste your ware."

Says the pieman to Simple Simon,
"Show me first your penny,"
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
"Indeed, I have not any."

Simple Simon went a-fishing
For to catch a whale;
All the water he could find
Was in his mother's pail!

Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle;
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.

He went to catch a dicky bird,
And thought he could not fail,
Because he had a little salt,
To put upon its tail.

He went for water with a sieve,
But soon it ran all through;
And now poor Simple Simon
Bids you all adieu.

Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs, in his nightgown;
Rapping at the window, crying through the lock,
"Are the children in their beds? Now it's eight o'clock."

Georgy Porgy

Georgy Porgy, pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgy Porgy ran away.

Banbury Cross

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see an old lady upon a white horse.
Rings on her fingers, and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.

Just Like Me

"I went up one pair of stairs."
"Just like me."

"I went up two pairs of stairs."
"Just like me."

"I went into a room."
"Just like me."

"I looked out of a window."
"Just like me."

"And there I saw a monkey."
"Just like me."


"Pussy-cat, pussy-cat,
Where have you been?"
"I've been to London
To look at the Queen."

"Pussy-cat, pussy-cat,
What did you there?"
"I frightened a little mouse
Under the chair."


Hush-a-bye, baby, on the tree top!
When the wind blows the cradle will rock;
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall;
Down will come baby, bough, cradle and all.

To Market

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig.
Home again, home again, jiggety jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety jog.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.

If Wishes Were Horses

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
If turnips were watches, I would wear one by my side.
And if "ifs" and "ands"
Were pots and pans,
There'd be no work for tinkers!


A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly.

Thirty Days Hath September

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
February has twenty-eight alone,
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting leap-year, that's the time
When February's days are twenty-nine.

Going to St. Ives

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives.
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?


Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick.

Robin Redbreast

Little Robin Redbreast sat upon a tree,
Up went Pussy-Cat, down went he,
Down came Pussy-Cat, away Robin ran,
Says little Robin Redbreast: "Catch me if you can!"

Little Robin Redbreast jumped upon a spade,
Pussy-Cat jumped after him, and then he was afraid.
Little Robin chirped and sang, and what did Pussy say?
Pussy-Cat said: "Mew, mew, mew," and Robin flew away.


Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake,
Baker's man!
So I do, master,
As fast as I can.

Pat it, and prick it,
And mark it with T,
Put it in the oven
For Baby and me.

Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee

Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee
Resolved to have a battle,
For Tweedle-dum said Tweedle-dee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew by a monstrous crow,
As big as a tar barrel,
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.


Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day;
Little (name of child) wants to play.

Little Boy Blue

Little Boy Blue, come, blow your horn!
The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn.
Where's the little boy that looks after the sheep?
Under the haystack, fast asleep!

Little Bo Peep

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can't tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
And bring their tails behind them.

Little Bo-Peep fell fast asleep,
And dreamt she heard them bleating;
But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
For still they all were fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook,
Determined for to find them;
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they'd left all their tails behind 'em!

It happened one day, as Bo-peep did stray
Unto a meadow hard by--
There she espied their tails, side by side,
All hung on a tree to dry.

She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye,
And over the hillocks she raced;
And tried what she could, as a shepherdess should,
That each tail should be properly placed.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Getting organized D-I-Y style — Free!

If you've got access to a printer and a guillotine paper cutter (most teachers do) or if you can make it to Kinko's... then you've got everything you need to make your own custom planner instead of shelling out big bucks for the refills.

I use the Dayrunner Classic and each page is really just a regular 8.5 x 11 sheet folded in half. So I've found tons of stuff at D*I*Y to keep me organized with just the regular templates. They've also got a whole package of teacher templates, a lesson planning template and a widget that will help you make your own pages just the way you want them.

All standard sizes are available, they are all free, printable, and they even have some programs for digital organizers.

Disinfecting your keyboards…

I know that when I was working in a center environment, all the teachers used the same computer in the office for things like finding contact information on families or finding forms to print.

Imagine how ookie that keyboard must have been. There's a report in the Boston Globe today about a study of keyboards used by nurses and how they were just loaded with bacteria and such. I can see how that would be and know that in a child care environment you come across similar germs and the like.

The study tested out some disinfecting wipes to see if they would get rid of the bad stuff and yet not harm the keyboard. What worked?

"Clorox wipes, CaviWipes and Sani-Cloths. All worked well, removing 95 to 100 percent of bacteria. So did three other products, plain old 70 percent isopropyl alcohol; Vesthene, a different germicide; and a chlorine product containing 80 parts of chlorine per million."

Not a bad habit to get into before the sick season hits in a couple of months...

Friday, June 2, 2006

California wants free preschool for all

There's a proposition on the table that will provide Californians with free preschool for their 4-year-olds. It's Prop 82 and you can read more about it at yeson82.com.

A press release announced that,

"Studies show that children who go to quality preschool read earlier and learn faster. But only 20% of our children actually go to quality preschools. Prop 82 will provide a free, high-quality preschool education for every four- year old in California. It will provide trained, credentialed teachers in every classroom and more parental involvement. According to the Legislative Analyst, all revenues would be used for the new preschool program, and Prop 82 provides audits and criminal penalties, including possible jail time, for misuse of funds."

More and more states are moving toward free preschool and I think it's a great idea. It's not always easy to ensure that your child care center will have highly trained or credentialed teachers, so this is a good move. If child care centers want to compete, then they will have to start hiring better teachers, I suppose. Although it's hard to compete with "free" either way.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Snipping Six Pack Rings

When I was young, taking care of the environment, recycling and such were pretty new concepts. I remember the ads for littering featuring the Native American with a tear, and I learned that I should snip the six pack rings to prevent animals from ingesting them or getting tangled up in them.

When I started working with young children, when I would do a unit with a recycling or environment theme, this would always be a project of ours.

At the time, I think it was borne somewhat out of my own habits and also a desire to just... get them started. When you really think about it, small children have little power over the very large damage that is being done to the environment, but this is one small way to get a good habit started. If you give them that, and they feel like it is a responsibility they have, then for many, this will just be one of many habits that they develop over the course of their lives.

I know that this is how it worked for me. As an adult, I am very aware of the things I do and how they affect the environment. I drive very little and the car I drive is not a gas-guzzling SUV. I recycle way more than I put into landfills and I use services like freecycle to keep the BIG stuff out of landfills as well. I am constantly educating myself about ways I can do even more. As it is, compared to most who live in the United States, my footprint is pretty small (8 acres compared to the average 24, but that's still too big, I fear...)

So, while it may be true that something small and easy like snipping six pack rings doesn't do just a whole lot for the environment compared to the big, hard things... for kids and maybe for their parents who aren't that "in the know" about environmental issues... it is a start that could translate into a lifetime of good habits.

So include this activity (or something similar) in your lesson plans that have to do with the environment or Earth Day, etc....

Monday, May 29, 2006

FamilyFun: Little Grass House - and More Family Fun

FamilyFun: Little Grass House - and More Family Fun

LIttle Grass House

This is a great idea for a spring curriculum, gardening, growing, etc. and would be so much fun for homeschoolers and school age programs.

It's a grass house that grows on sponges inside a "Tupperware dome."

Just make sure you've got a couple weeks to watch them grow.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Lesson Plan: Welcome New Class

This lesson plan looks like this:

Week 1 Lesson Plan Welcome New Class

And you can download a .pdf version of it here

Week: Second Week of August

Letter: Aa

Color: Red

Number: 1 *

Shape: Circle

Theme: Welcome New Class

Show and Tell: Bring something red

Homework: A Beka ABC-123 page 21


Circle Time: Welcome and get to know all of our classmates. Learn where to sit at circle time. Talk about some of the rules (criss-cross applesauce, keep hands and feet to self, raise hand to speak/don't interrupt others, use potty signal to go to the bathroom, watch where you walk so you don't step on anyone's hands). Allow children a moment to tell their name and a few things about themselves (if a child gets stuck, ask about a favorite toy, something they did over the summer, what they want to do when they are older, what their favorite shirt or article of clothing is, what foods they like or dislike). After this, I introduce myself and talk about some things I enjoy.

Language Arts/Writing: A Beka Writing with Phonics K4 Manuscript page 1

Math/Science/Social Studies: Cut and glue red circles. During this activity, I would have different items available in a large bucket on each table (like cardboard juice cans, margarine/oatmeal lids, plastic cups and any other circular items I could find) and red paper, pencils or markers, scissors and glue. I would demonstrate ways of tracing and freehanding circles. Then I would give each child their choice of another color of construction paper to glue their circles to in whatever way the wished.

Arts and Crafts: Color and cut hearts for "Hurting Hearts" story. During this activity I would have a worksheet with a heart (like this one) and would allow some time for the children to decorate the hearts as they desired with markers or colored pencils. (Sometimes setting a timer is a good idea to help introduce time concepts and keep things moving along if your time is structured). When the timer goes off or everyone is close to finishing, I tell them to cut out their hearts. When that is finished, I then tell the story of the "Hurting Hearts."

To tell the story, I have my own heart and I ask the children to do what I do. I pretend that someone has told me that I am ugly and I tear off a piece of my heart saying, "That really hurt my feelings." I keep doing this with other insults or things that can hurt feelings until my heart is torn into many pieces. Then I get some tape and start to slowly tape the heart back together, making sure the children see how difficult it is along the way. Then I explain that this heart is like our own hearts and that it hurts when we say things that aren't nice to each other and that it's hard to mend our hearts afterward. I explain that even while our hearts may heal from being hurt, they never quite look the same as the whole heart we began with.

At this age, I am not much of a subscriber to the "sticks and stones/but words can never hurt me" theory. Words do hurt and I don't want to deny this or imply to the kids that they should deny the strong feelings that hurtful words can evoke.


Circle Time: Establish class rules. Some teachers run their classroom more like a democracy and some more like a dictatorship. I am somewhere in the middle but with a lean toward democracy. So what I do is ask the children what some good rules are, word them appropriately and fill in any blanks they may have left. I always make a posterboard of the class rules and make or find pictures to illustrate each rule. I keep this visible all year long.

Some teachers like to say "No" a lot in their rules (like no running, no yelling, no hitting), but it's worked better for me to word things in a positive manner and give the children an example of what TO do rather than what NOT TO do. So I might say "Use only gentle touches with classmates" rather than "No hitting." I also don't use the word "friend" much, and this is a personal preference as well. For example: "Be nice to your friends." Instead, I prefer to say classmates or use the name of the child who was harmed/affected (this makes it more personal and real). We aren't all friends, and when it comes time to discipline, saying "We can't hit our friends" can very easily provoke "But he's NOT MY FRIEND." When a child is angry, chances are the object of their anger is definitely not in the friend category. What can you say to that response without implying that children don't have the choice in who to be friends with? I would rather teach that -- friend or foe, everyone deserves respect. Maybe if they learn this lesson early, when the time comes to choose friends wisely in later grades, they will be confident that they can.

I've also found that I can make some generic rules that apply to many things and this helps children learn to expand on knowledge. For example, if I say, "Leave things how you found them or better," I can remind children with just this phrase each time they leave trash on the floor, don't put toys away, don't close a door, don't turn off a faucet, don't turn out a light, don't return a borrowed pencil, don't flush the toilet, stomp on a harmless bug, etc. I can say "Treat others how you wish to be treated," and slowly but surely, after reminding them with this rule over and over, they really do start to sympathize and think about things before they say and do them. I remember one year I had a girl who said to her classmate in the home living area (in a really stern voice, eyes squinted and all): "I really wanna take that apron from you but I'm gonna wait my turn because I don't want you stealin' it from me one day!" Sounded a bit mean, but still, she was making progress in terms of following the rules. This same girl just a few months earlier wouldn't hesitate to clean the clock of any of her classmates to get whatever she wanted. So I was very proud of her in this case.

Language Arts/Writing: Draw names from a hat. This is for a later activity. What I do is write everyone's names on a large strip of paper and fold them and put them into a hat. One at a time, I have the children draw a name, I hold that name up and ask if anyone can guess whose name it is. Since it's the beginning of the year and there aren't many children who can read at this age, chances are no one will know. Some children will recognize their own name, but some won't. This is just one activity that helps them learn their names and the names of classmates. You would be surprised how much children learn from this, especially when you have names on cubbies, tables, carpet squares, etc. They start to figure out that Brandon starts with a B and what the B sound is. Some of the first words that children in a classroom like this will ever recognize by sight are the names of their classmates.

I then take the paper and make a note on the other side who drew it and I tell them that we will do something special with those names tomorrow.

Math/Science/Social Studies: A Beka ABC-123 page 1

Arts and Crafts: Q-tip painting with red paint. For this, I just put some red paint in a bowl and have a cup or tray of Q-tips available with a large sheet of paper for each child. Make sure you have plenty of Q-tips and keep a trash can nearby for the old ones. They get pretty soggy fast, even moreso if you use thin paint. I usually use a pretty thick tempera for this.


Circle Time: Discuss how we do homework. OK, homework... (sigh). Given the choice, I would never assign homework outside of "bring something red to class tomorrow" or "Spend some time outside looking for a bug tonight." But the school where I worked at this time felt it was very important to prepare children for the onslaught of homework they would receive at the elementary level... and so there you have it.

Basically I used this time to discuss that I wanted them to try their best, to ask parents if they got stuck, to take home their folder every Wednesday and put it back in the same spot each Thursday morning when they returned. I had one of those milk crates that I used to hold their folders. I used the same folder to return artwork and workbook papers, so this was a nice way to make sure all that stuff made it home once a week. I also kept a blank calendar page in the very front and would make notes to parents and put stickers on each day for behavior. I'm very much in favor of a private behavior chart rather than having clips or magnets or other behavior charts that are visible to other children and their parents. Not only do I feel it's excessively humiliating, I feel that it is a violation of a family's privacy.

Language Arts/Writing: Practice writing names. This was a skill that was stressed by the school where I worked. I think it was one of their selling points to parents. So there you have it. I can tell you that the kindergarten teachers at the public school certainly appreciated "our" kids being able to do this. Whatever. :)

To accomplish this, I would make blackline papers at first and then later move to dotted lines. A Beka worksheets have space for names on them at the top of every page, so they got ample practice. At the beginning of the year I would allow the children to use their initials since this helped just knowing whose paper it was, and usually I would go around to each child's paper and put their initials in dashes at the top for them to trace like this:

Tracing Name

There are a variety of manuscript related fonts available to teach children letters, how to write their names, etc. I used a font called SchoolHouse Printed and Microsoft Word to make papers that looked like this:

Manuscript Font of Child's Name (Jennifer)

You can buy these fonts if you have some money in your budget or find many useful teaching fonts online for free and create your own worksheets. Just remember to save and/or print and make copies of the pages with the names of each child so you'll only have to do it once for the year.

Math/Science/Social Studies: Hair color chart with paper plates. I used this to introduce the concept of making and using charts, counting and recognizing and embracing the differences in children, self-awareness. I would give each child a paper plate and have them draw a picture of themselves making sure to have them use their actual hair color. Then I made labels on sentence strips or other paper for each hair color and we would staple or otherwise affix the plates on the wall or a bulletin board with the end result something like this:

Hair Color Chart with Paper Plates Simulated with Crude Drawing

(And boy don't I wish I only had 10 kids in my class. haha.)

Arts and Crafts: Colored Pencils: Make a welcome card for your classmate. Basically, with construction paper, crayons, markers or whatever you'd like to use, I let them make a card welcoming the child whose name they drew yesterday. I give them the actual paper with the name on it so they can glue it to the card or copy it if they are able and want to. When they are dry (probably tomorrow) I let them go one at a time and put the card in the classmate's folder, helping if they need it. Most are able to match the name on the card to the name on the folder tag or get pretty close. You could also let them put it in the child's cubby or just give it to that child person to person.


Circle Time: What things are red in our class? This is a fun activity, just make sure there are plenty of red things to point out. I had a big white board in my classroom, so as they children answered I would write each item on the board in a big list with a little drawing by the word signifying what it was. I made lots of lists like this during circle time and would leave them up so children could go to them later and have conversations, which they often did. (Many times it would be the girls and they'd gather in a group of three or four and point at each item and try to determine who it was who found it during circle time.)

Language Arts/Writing: Dot-to-dot "A". I usually just made a sheet for this and made copies every week like this:

Dot to Dot A, nothing fancy

Download a full size .pdf version of dot-to-dot A

Sometimes I made my worksheets fancy schmancy, but for things like this, I just found it easier and faster to do them by hand. If you have neat handwriting or know someone who does and will help you out, then go for it. Just remember, you want your writing to be an example to the children. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you've got sloppy handwriting that doesn't conform to what you're trying to teach then maybe try to find standard worksheets and such.

Math/Science/Social Studies: A Beka ABC-123 page 19

Arts and Crafts: Spool Tracing to experiment with circles. For this activity I would have a variety of different sized thread spools and colored pencils and would let the children see what they could do with them. I would do a few myself and show them how I could make a bike, tracing the spools for wheels or I'd make a big pizza and use the spools to make pepperonis. It's good to explain that making circles is hard (and I could show them with the pizza drawing, when I used the spools there was more symmetry than when I freehanded the large circle of the outline of the pizza.) This is not to try and get children to rely on objects or tracing, but rather to show them that sometimes you want to be exact and sometimes you don't.


Circle Time: Upper and lower case. What does it mean? For this I just use the alphabet strip on the wall and write the letters on the white board while talking about which is which. I also talk about names and how the first letter is upper case but the rest of the letters aren't. I write different letters and have them guess which they think it is, upper or lower.

Language Arts/Writing: A Beka Writing with Phonics K4 Manuscript page 2 (you will notice that we did page 1 earlier in the week. I do this a lot, complete one side of the page and save it in a file to pass out and finish the other side later in the week. If you do this, make a note of it so you don't end up sending papers home and having nothing to do later on when the other side is planned.)

Math/Science/Social Studies: Apple oxidation experiment. This is a great resource for this experiment, with pictures and clear instructions/explanation of what's going on. Be sure you do all the apple cutting, however. :)

Arts and Crafts: Freestyle watercolors at easel. Just what it sounds like, I just put the watercolors at the easel with really big paper and let them do what they wish. Sometimes kids get stuck, so I keep magazines and catalogs handy in the art area so they can get some inspiration.

Disclaimer: This lesson plan is for a Pre-K/4-year-old Kindergarten class that I put together when I was working at a school that emphasized academic learning in writing and math and that used books in the A Beka series. Books and book pages have been left in this plan. You can modify the plan to exclude this or any other academic exercises that you feel are not appropriate for the age of your children. In addition, feel free to modify the plan to fit the age of your children. This is just a guideline. You may also need to modify the plan to correspond with holidays, of course, the dates of which may vary from year to year.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Bounty - Kiddie-Do List Maker

Bounty - Kiddie-Do List Maker

Do you have parents who are asking about how to get the kids to get their chores done or who want their children to learn to set daily or weekly goals?

Bounty has this cute list maker where you just plug in your tasks and pick a background and it prints up all snazzy.

There are other versions available like one for significant others or for yourself. Might come in handy if you're co-teaching and have tasks to share for the week as well.

In addition, check out the calendar you can print and personalize with a class picture.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Classroom Wishlist

Classroom Wishlist

What an awesome idea. I cannot begin to tell you how much money I've spent over the years on things for the classroom because it wasn't in the budget or because a director or whoever deemed it unnecessary. I should own stock in the contact paper company. Seriously. And how many times did I run out of boxes of tissues before the year was over? And really, I cannot name a single time that there was enough colored tissue paper for a single project I've done.

And I'm not a wasteful teacher, either. I save every little scrap of tissue and construction paper. I get newspapers to donate the ends of their rolls of paper for art projects. I use the backs of company letterheads that would be tossed out every time someone goes through "rebranding." I am the queen of wallpaper and carpet scraps. I melt crayons down into multi-colored sticks. I make my own paints, pastes and glues wherever possible. Every container for manipulatives and art supplies used to be a container for something else -- oatmeal, chocolate milk mix, baby wipes... I could go on forever here.

Now, you can sign up here, add items to your wishlist and send a brochure to your parents. If they want to donate items, they can do so and it's tax deductible.

Give it a try. If you're already using this system, feel free to leave a comment and let readers know how it's working for you.

Can I Charge More for a Special Needs Child?

L.C. asks:

"I have a question and am seeking input from several people.

I run a small in-home daycare, and have an opening for one child. I am interviewing today to fill the position. The child with the interview is a 6-year-old child with special needs. He has the size/ability of a 2-year-old child. He is diabetic and has down syndrome. I know that is child would require extra care -- would it be wrong to increase my weekly rate for this child?"

Most centers can charge fees related to care above and beyond what another child without special needs would receive, but it's iffy and the costs have to be directly related to services that you provide that fall outside "reasonable accommodations." Because even home child care providers are often required to follow title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it would be best to familiarize yourself with these regulations and do an individualized assessment of your program and how it would handle this child.

The government has a very comprehensive FAQ on this topic here:


And this can answer many of your questions.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Woman’s Day Magazine: Calendar Corner

Here are some great (free, printable) calendars for your classroom or homeschool. Right now there are three months ready -- January, February and March -- with more to come soon. Each month has two parts: the actual calendar and a top portion that has fun events and important holidays.

These can be colored and used to decorate the calendar. If you want to make them into stickers, have the children color them and then use this recipe for making stickers and stamps.

Woman's Day Magazine: Calendar Corner

Friday, February 17, 2006

Making a Pine Cone Birdfeeder

Winter is nearly over and even though it's been a mild winter this year, food is always harder to come by for the birds during this season. Bird feeding is a great winter activity and can help kids get a closer view of these amazing creatures.

Bird feeders can be expensive, however. Luckily, there is no shortage of pine cones in nature and in most homes and centers, peanut butter isn't too hard to find, either. Add a few more things and some little hands to put it all together and you've got yourself a birdfeeder.

Here's a step-by-step guide:

First, gather your ingredients.

  • pine cones (one for each child)

  • peanut butter (figure one 16-ounce jar for about 12 pine cones)

  • corn meal (about 1/2 cup per jar of peanut butter used. This is optional, but it adds nutritional value and keeps the peanut butter from being too sticky or runny)

  • string, ribbon or yarn (about 2 feet per pine cone)

  • something to spread the peanut butter with

  • waxed paper

Gather the ingredients to make your pine cone bird feeder

Next, tie string to the pine cone. Older children can do this alone, but if you're doing this with toddlers, do it ahead of time. It's a lot harder to do once you've got peanut butter and bird seed everywhere. :)

Tie string around your pine cones first

Place corn meal (optional) and peanut butter in a bowl and mix. If you're doing this with younger children, giving everyone a turn at mixing is a good way to keep everyone's attention and involvement.

Put cornmeal and peanut butter in a bowl for mixing

The mix should look thicker and have lost its oily shine
. This will make the peanut butter easier to work with and the meal adds nutritional value for the birds.

When mixed together, it should look thick like this

Place the birdseed in a container. Use a dish that has a bit of a lip or is deep so that spills will be prevented. Any birdseed will do, really. It's not necessary to use a type with smaller pieces. Cardinals and other colorful birds will be attracted to it if it has sunflower seeds.

Put the birdseed in a container for rolling.  Make sure it's a little deep to prevent spills

Spread peanut butter on the pine cones. If using spoons, plastic spoons will probably break, so use metal spoons or something sturdy. Make sure to use the utensil to push the peanut butter deep into the crevices.

Spread peanut butter in the crevices of the pine cone with popsicle sticks or a spoon

Roll the pine cones in the birdseed.

Roll the peanut butter coated pine cones in bird seed

Lay the finished feeders on waxed paper until you are ready to hang them. This gives the added benefit of keeping hands clean. When you're ready to hang them, you can just wrap each one in the paper for carrying. They can also be wrapped up to send home and they won't stick too much when unwrapped.

Lay the finished pine cone bird feeders on waxed paper to prevent sticking and mess

Hang the bird feeder. Find a strategic location. Try to choose an area where you have seen birds "hanging out" before. Hang it near existing feeders or along a fence.

Hang your pine cone birdfeeder in a strategic location where birds will find it

If you have many children doing this project and not many branches, you can put the feeders on one string and hang them in a row between two trees or bushes or along a fence.

Hang the bird feeders on one string in a long row if you have many children, if desired

Sit back and wait for the birds. It doesn't take long. I hung this feeder and it took about five minutes for Mr. Cardinal here to land on a nearby branch.

Soon, birds will find the feeder.  It took this cardinal about 5 minutes

I think he's starting to figure out that some food is nearby...

It looks like the cardinal has found the feeder, he knows something is there

Ah ha. There he's found it.

Ah, the cardinal has figured out where the feeder is for sure

And a few minutes later, a European Starling finds the feeder, as well.

A European Starling has found the feeder, too

Thursday, February 16, 2006

High-Quality Early Childhood Education Provides Clear Long-Term Economic Benefits

Note: Ellen Galinsky knows her stuff. :) I had the opportunity to hear her speak at an NAEYC conference and that was yeeeears ago that she was pushing these same ideas that are now taken for granted as necessary for high quality programs...

High-quality early childhood education programs provide measurable economic benefits, on-going research by the Committee for Economic Development (CED), a business-led public policy group, has found.

CED's latest paper, The Benefits of High-Quality Early Childhood Education Programs: What Makes the Difference?, by Ellen Galinsky, President of the Families and Work Institute, a New York City based research organization, examines the factors associated with high-quality early education programs. Ms. Galinsky examined three well-known, high-quality early education programs -- the High/Scope Perry Preschool project, the Carolina Abcedarian Project and Chicago's Child-Parent Centers (CPC) -- and for one of the first times, has examined what those programs did to have such lasting impact decades later, relying, in part, on interviews with the principal investigators of those programs.

"The Galinsky paper reinforces that high-quality programs are a prerequisite if we expect early childhood education programs to generate future economic returns," said Charles E.M. Kolb, President of CED. "Determining key characteristics of quality Pre-Kindergarten education is an important piece of the argument for investments in early education programs in this country, and this research does just that. Other studies show public benefits of around seven dollars and more for every dollar invested in early childhood education and the Galinsky research shows what common factors can be found in these quality programs."

Findings of The Benefits of High-Quality Early Childhood Education Programs: What Makes the Difference? include: All three programs studied had common factors that contributed to remarkable and enduring effects and return on investment. Some of those basic factors are known:

Where this paper makes its greatest contribution is that it goes beyond the basics to explain the programs' long-term success:

This paper follows the January 10, 2006 New York City conference, Building the Economic Case for Investments in Preschool, a comprehensive forum attended by over 200 business leaders and education experts to discuss progress in local, state and national efforts to establish universal, quality pre- kindergarten for all American children.

The Benefits of High-Quality Early Childhood Education Programs: What makes the Difference?, as well as materials on CED's early childhood education project, including the groundbreaking 2002 report, Preschool for All: Investing in a Productive and Just Society, can be found at www.ced.org.

CED is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of more than 200 business leaders and university presidents. Since 1942, its research and policy programs have addressed many of the nation's most pressing economic and social issues, including education reform, workforce competitiveness, campaign finance, health care, and global trade and finance. CED promotes policies to produce increased productivity and living standards, greater and more equal opportunity for every citizen, and an improved quality of life for all.

Source: Committee for Economic Development

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Georgia launches early learning standards

Georgia is pretty serious about education.

I know this because my S.O. went to college completely funded by this great state, while I invested over $50,000 in my education in my home state and I will be paying off my student loans till I'm in the grave, folks.

At any rate, I've known how they feel about "a free college education for all" but I never knew how serious they were about educating their youngest...

When I saw in a press release that some early learning standards were released, I thought I'd go have a look-see.

These standards are excellent and I wish I had something like this when I was caring for infants and toddlers. They focus on the birth to three age range and can do a lot to educate caregivers and parents about what to expect and how to shape a child's learning.

My thoughts...

  • Directors can use them to shape your programs and as a basis for staff inservices

  • Parents can use them to see what their child should be learning and to help evaluate the child care program their child is attending

  • Family child care providers can keep on file for every child in their care as a sort of Individualized Education Program (IEP)

  • Parents who plan to homeschool can use this as a guideline for the early building blocks for future education

  • Teachers, caregivers and nannies can use the standards to evaluate the children in their care and to make sure that there are no gaps in their teaching/caregiving.

And of course, while all children grow and develop at their own rate, I think that parents and caregivers who use something like this are going to be more apt to notice developmental delays and problems when a child is consistently behind in areas... these types of referrals are so important -- better safe than sorry and the earlier the better!

So download the full version or just those parts you're interested in... it's free and it's one of the best I've seen.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Printable Awards

If you want to reward the students in your class or your homeschool with certificates, there are many available here. There are awards for reading, book reports, star student, student of the week/month, neat work, and lots more.

Student Awards Screen Shot

The best part: It's a free download and you can burn them to a CD and share them with your fellow teachers or parents in your homeschool group.

Follow the instructions on the Web site for printing.