Monday, May 16, 2016


Happy May! 
Happy End-of-the-School Year to many! 
Happy children-outdoors-as-the-weather-turns- warmer in some parts of the world.  
Onward we trudge/skip/wiggle for those of us who teach year ‘round!  
   Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup here – in surprisingly chilly Chicago, though since it IS Chicago, no weather should take anyone by surprise here!

   Yes, I’ll share a song – but before dessert, let’s talk about the main course of what we do: delivering educational content and enriching experience to little people.  I’m going to concentrate on DELIVERY here – how we can make our students more engaged and focused on the content we serve up.  My intent is not to turn every teacher into an entertainer.  Yet there are techniques that seasoned performers use that can come in handy in the classroom, too!

  •       In order to learn, children must be engaged.
  •      In order to be engaged, you must get their attention.
  •      In order to get their attention, you may have to be entertaining at times!

"A tree grows like this!"
How did they know what to do?
I showed them with my body, and a picture!


     But...but…but – I hear you – “I’m a teacher, not an entertainer!”  I know!  But as a teacher, caregiver, or parent we have many tools we use as we interact with children. This is a gentle reminder that how we present content matters!

Even a tiny tot can focus and be fully engaged!

Your basic toolbox:  your voice, eyes, facial expressions, gestures, full-body movements – YOU!
You can add:  Visuals, props, participation/movement, stylistic elements.
It’s not difficult – you are probably already doing this!  But check yourself – what can you add, improve or change?

YOUR VOICE:  Do you speak at a comfortable volume to be heard by all, but not shouting?  (My laryngologist tells me that teachers are his “best” clients – they constantly lose their voices due to strain – and the need to keep talking even when vocally compromised from all the little germs their students share with them!)  Is there a “smile” in your voice?  Are you speaking at a rate your students can process?  Young children process language at about 120 words-per-minute.  The average adult speaks at 160 WPM.  Slow down just a little for better comprehension!

EYES:  Are you making eye contact with every student during the first few minutes of class?  No, you don’t have to lock into a staring contest – but meaningful eye contact puts you in relationship with each child that lasts all day.  Add an encouraging nod and smile and it goes a long way for better behavior!

FACIAL EXPRESSIONS:  Is your face “alive”?  I’m not talking about what my mother called “making faces” – mugging is different.  Children intuitively read your face – an arched eyebrow, a small frown, crinkly eyes – it’s good practice for them to interpret non-verbal communication.

GESTURES/FULL-BODY MOVEMENTS:  What are we saying with our bodies?  Remember, children copy the movements they see from adults – make it interesting!  A child recently said to me, “I like the way you dance, Miss Carole.”  We hadn’t done any formal dancing that day, but I do move around a lot – changing position from floor to standing, moving to a different side of the room and using my body to illuminate a point.  It’s not about being manic – it is about being interesting. 

An invitation to dance!
ADD-ONs:  Visuals, props, opportunities for participation and getting off our bottoms and adding a musical component to any lesson will enhance a child’s learning and retention.  Provide instruction that engages all three primary learning styles:  visual, auditory and kinesthetic.  
   The occasional change in style – speaking in a whisper, pantomiming an instruction, mood music under an activity – tells students that you are engaged in their learning process while getting their attention.

 Now for a song!  This is one of my student’s favorites this Spring – they act it out while singing!  You can hear a clip of it HERE.  It’s on my “Season Sings!” cd.

We jump, jump, jump in the puddles
As the rain goes pittery-pat!
We jump, jump, jump in the puddles
And we put on our coat and our hat!
We put up our umbrellas –
And we pull on our boots with a tug – (grunt!)
We jump, jump, jump in the puddles
And we’re snug as a bug in a rug!

Have a Splash - act out putting on a coat, opening an umbrella, and tugging on those boots!  End in a snuggly self-hug!  

Oh - and don't forget "GROWING!" - the pictures at the top of this blog are of that wonderful little rhyme I featured on my September 2015 blog - check it out!  It's perfect for Spring and Summer, too!
Blowing you kisses!
Need a professional development workshop? Want a Family Concert for your school, library, park district or church? Want a classroom visit?  Contact Me!

Yours for a Spring Song!
“Miss Carole” Stephens


  1. lovely post! Such simple and powerful tips....thx!

    1. You are welcome, Enrique! Nice to see a post from you after such a long absence!


We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment below....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...