Sunday, June 25, 2017

Playing Circle Games

Circle games are fun and can be played as soon as you can walk around a circle holding hands.  HOWEVER ~ ~ for the teeny tinies, it must be simple!
These little guys are playing "Ring around the Rosie"
This song is simple. Hold hands.  Walk.  Fall down. Giggle. Get back up and do it AGAIN!
Children ages 1 - 3 can get very frustrated if there are too many rules to follow.  The idea for them is fun.  For the adult, it is beginning skills, time together and, fun.

These children range in age from 3 to 6.  They are playing
"All Around the Circle",  on the "Wide-mouthed Bullfrog" CD.
This game has rules.  Games with rules are best after the age of 6 when children can understand.  This does not mean you should not play these games with them; it means know their ability and use it as a tool to get the skill in place

How to play "All Around the Circle"
Children form a circle with one in the center.  Everyone holds hands and walk around the child while singing "All around the circle I can do what you do"
The child in the middle says "Stop right still"  Answer "I can do what you do"
The child in the middle "Put your hands on your hips" Answer "I can do what you do"
The child in the middle "Let your right foot slip"   Answer "I can do what you do"
The child in the middle "Then do it like this"  At this point the child makes up a silly motion and everyone does it.
When it comes to the counting part -
 "1, 2, 3, 4 Spin around and pick someone we'll do some more"
The child in the middle covers his eyes with one hand and puts his arm out with his pointer finger extended and turns until he hears the word SOMEONE.  When he hears the word SOMEONE, he stops, opens his eyes and whomever he is pointing to takes his / her place.
The song repeats until the end, which prompts
"Everyone be seated 'cause there is no more!"

For the next blog, we will learn "In and Out the Windows", which is for 4.5 - 7 and has more steps and rules to follow.

Till then, please remember to share, comment and like our brain facts page
Music with Mar. Inc.
Maryann "Mar." Harman
Music with

Friday, June 23, 2017

Homemade Ball Maze Game

Hi! It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended use.

Recently we made some ball maze games for our preschoolers to use. These games are great for developing hand-eye coordination and for helping kids gain more control over their movements. Plus they are just fun to use!

Homemade Ball Maze (Brick by Brick)

What you need: cardboard tubes, plastic trays or shallow boxes, tape, large marbles or small balls

Cut your cardboard tubes to shorter lengths. Tape the tubes to the tray, leaving space between the tubes for the ball to roll. We used clear tape and taped through the tubes. You could also tape over the tubes with decorative tape or clear tape.

Homemade Ball Maze (Brick by Brick)

Kids can hold the sides of the tray and move it around to make the ball roll, trying to get the ball to roll through the tubes.

If you use larger trays/boxes and tubes, you can create a game that kids can use with partners. Add table tennis balls instead of small balls to this larger game.

Homemade Ball Maze (Brick by Brick)

If you want to add more elements to your game, print letters or numbers on the tubes. Challenge kids to roll through specific tubes. If you are using numbers on the tubes, roll a numbered cube and then try to get the ball through that numeral tube and not through in other tubes.

Adjust the game to fit whatever you want to emphasize. Or keep the game as a motor development activity. Since we had a space theme for these activities, we used balls that looked like planets and called them orbit trays. And our fun was out of this world! (Sorry I couldn't resist.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Many Themes in a Child-led, Play-based Program

I am a former "Queen of Themes" who has proudly stepped down from her thrown.  

For those of you that are new to me, here's the abbreviated version of my journey, with an option to read more:

For the first 11 years of my career as an early childhood professional, I was addicted to themes (read about it HERE).
I was a stubborn and proud of my teacher-led preschool program.  (read about it HERE)
I THOUGHT I was running a child-led, play-based program.  (read about it HERE)

What I know now, is: I WAS WRONG.

Luckily, for the children in my play school, I made changes.
I am incredibly grateful for my theme-filled past, however, as it helps me spot the themes that now occur organically in my TRULY child-led program.

In the past, I chose the themes.

I chose them in August.

I chose them for every single week from August-May in AUGUST.  Yet, I thought I was considering the "current" interests of my group. 

I admit that some of "my" themes were based on the interests of the children in my program, but the majority were chosen because of the clever ideas I came up with to execute said themes.  I considered myself to be the "queen of themes".

NOW, I know that
CHILDREN are the "Queens and Kings of Themes", I just wasn't giving children enough credit.  I was blinded by my own need to express MY creativity, that I wasn't allowing children to express theirs.

I'd like to share the themes that were led by the TRUE Queens and Kings of themes in my program.  These themes all occurred during the morning of February 2, 2017, and were all led by children.

Theme One:  Sewing

Before:  I would have done a week-long theme on sewing.  The letter we would have focused on was "s".  I would have had all sorts of books available about sewing, opportunities to sew, we would have rhymed with sew, we would have sewn with a variety of materials:  cooked spaghetti, yarn, string, skinny strips of fabric.  Weaving would have been incorporated.
Number of children participating:  EVERYONE.  No one had a choice to not participate. It was meaningful to no one as the idea belonged to me, not the children.

Now:  One child in my program has made an old slipper into a stuffed animal.  He used the stuffing from one of his torn stuffed buddies at home as filler for his monkey slipper.  He has brought this "stuffed animal" to school several times.  Yesterday, when he arrived, he was really wanting to get rid of the "sock" part of this stuffed animal (the part of a slipper that comes up on a child's ankle).
Together, he and I problem solved back and forth.  I offered an idea, he shot it down, he offered and idea, we discussed the possibility of that etc. (COLLABORATION at it's finest).  FINALLY, we agreed on an idea.  We would pull out some of the stuffing, in order to make room for the sock part to fold into the slipper (he did not like the idea of cutting it off).  He would then sew the slipper opening closed.  I gathered a REAL needle and thread, and together, we sewed until I knew I could trust him to use caution and complete the project successfully.
Number of children participating:  ONE.  No one else was even aware this was going on.  This was a meaningful moment for ONE child.

Theme Two:  Valentine's Day

Before:  I would have spent a week or two focused on Valentine's Day.  The theme would have ended with a traditional Valentine's Day filled with repeated requests to "sit still", "don't eat all your candy now", "listen for your name", "make sure your bag is open so a Valentine can be placed inside", "sit still", "sit still", "don't eat all your candy" etc. etc. etc.  aye yi yi!
Number of participants:  EVERYONE.  No one had the option to not participate.

Now:  Valentine's Day is handled completely different in my program now.  It is child-led.  Children are welcome to bring full, unopened boxes of Valentine's to school.  They can then play with them to their heart's content.  Books are read that talk about the traditional Valentine's Day.   Children spend the majority of their time ripping Valentine's apart, stuffing them in envelopes, practicing writing each other's names etc.... all in their own time, and their own choosing.
On this particular day, Feb. 2, Zoey (who is in her third year in my program) walked into school carrying a file folder full of papers.  It turns out that the day before, her mom took her to Target so she could choose what box of Valentine's she wanted to bring to school this year.  Upon entering the store, Zoey announced "Mom, I want to make a Valentine for Denita and Elsie."  Her mom said "Sounds good.  Let's go and choose some supplies."  Shortly after, Zoey decided she wanted to make a Valentine for everyone, she did not want to buy a box of cards.  And so.. that is exactly what she did.  She returned home and went to work, constructing 12 Valentines because she was INTRINSICALLY MOTIVATED to do so.  This was genuine, straight from the heart.
Number of participants:  One, but in a way, it involved everyone as Zoey handed out a Valentine to each child.  The children had the opportunity to express gratitude and feel special.  Zoey, was EMPOWERED by HER thoughtfulness and ideas.  Zoey has the rest of her life to have to do things other people tell her to do.  At the age of 5, she should be allowed to experience autonomy.

Theme Three:  Shadows

Before:  Since this was in celebration of Ground Hog Day, I would have spent a week learning about ground hogs, yet not a single child would have actually gotten to experience a ground hog.  I would have focused on the cutesy songs about ground hogs popping out the ground.  We would have colored carbon copied ground hogs that were found in the latest teacher's magazine and we would have glued them to a craft stick and stuck them in a styrofoam cup.  Shadows did not come into play for this theme until my journey towards a true play-based program began.  My first step was ditching the ground hog and focusing on shadows.  Shadow play would have been a part of the environment for one week.
Number of participants:  Everyone. No one had the option to not make a ground hog, and later, not play shadows.

Now:  I simply re-arranged the room the evening before, leaving a bare wall for shadow play.  I then added a lamp, and waited for a child to ask why there was a lamp sitting on a table.  When that moment happened, thanks to the natural curiosity of children, I simply turned off the overhead lights, and turned on the lamp.  The why, was quickly answered by the children:  "Look!  Shadows!!"; "My shadow is small here, but it's big when I walk over here!"  "My shadow looks like a witch!" ; "My shadow is nice."  etc. etc.  As the children were exploring their shadows, the book "The Dark Dark Night" by Christina Butler (that we had read the day before) came into their play.  One child did mention that it was Ground Hog Day, and he explained it to empty ears.. no one, not a single child cared.  What they DID care about, however, were the shadows they were making.  Shadow play continued until someone requested the projector.  I switched out the lamp for the overhead projector and shadow play continue with an added element.
Number of children participating:  Everyone.  No one was forced, but all were naturally curious and had to experience and discover their shadows.

Theme Four:  The Mitten

Before:  I would have led the children in a theme based around the classic book by Jan Bret:  "The Mitten".  We would have explored, in depth, each animal (even though we got to touch, smell or hear none of them), we would have made construction paper mittens, we would have acted out the story (not organically, but led by me, assigning roles to the children).  The letter "M" would have been the focus for the week.  Stations would have been set up all related to the story, "The Mitten" in some way.
Number of participants:  Everyone.  No one would have had the option to not participate.

Now:  While the lights were out, and some children were still exploring shadows, and projection play, one child asked for the finger lights (we had played with them the day before).  After playing with the finger lights for a while, one child wondered what would happen if we put a finger light inside a balloon.  And so.... like all wonders that happen in my program we tested it to find out.  We learned it was awesome.  The process of getting the light into the balloon (I held the balloon open with my fingers, while one child pushed in the light), gave ME a wonder.  SO... I added on to the moment, I extended the learning and simply said "I wonder what else we can fit inside a balloon."  There were several "takers" to my wonder and they were EXCITEDLY gathering items they predicted would fit into a balloon.  SO, I quickly grabbed ANOTHER balloon, and held it open, while object after object was tested.  Some fit, some failed.  After about four items made it inside the balloon, I blew it up.  I held it up to the light and we "oohed and awed" about the affect.  I then released the air (resulting in a stretched out balloon that suddenly had room for MORE) and the children gathered more items.  I repeated the process one more time.  Then I added this:  "Hmmmmm..... boys and girls, I wonder what would happen if I tie the balloon and then....... POP IT!!!!?"  SQUEALS of delight followed that wonder.  So, I quickly tied it, grabbed a pin, and gave plenty of warning to ALL that a balloon was about to be popped (not every single child was a part of this...and I wanted to give fair warning).  "POP!!!"  EVERYONE inside the balloon FLEW all about the room!!  This was quickly followed by "DO IT AGAIN!"  And so, the whole process was repeated.  When we reached the "pop" stage, I asked who wanted to have the honor of popping the balloon (I like to hand moments like this off to the children as much as possible in order to empower them with ownership).  After the second time, I said "Boys and girls.  Does this remind anyone of one of our favorite books?!"  "The book about animals squeezing into something very small......."  One child's face LIT UP and he said "The book about the white glove!!!"  (aka: "The Mitten").  After doing the balloon thing one more time, that child said "Can we read "The Mitten" now?!"  YES WE CAN!
Number of participants:  The number of children participating varied throughout this play.  I have eleven children enrolled in my program, ten were present on this day.  The number of participants varied from 8 to 3.

No... your eyes do not deceive you... that IS a big stuffed mouse from Ikea (if you have heard me speak, you know all about those) INSIDE a balloon!!!

So proud.  This child just successfully shoved a frog shower puff into the balloon!!

I handed the process of holding the balloon open to the children.  THIS IS HARD WORK!

Theme Five:  Outer Space

Before:  I would have done a week-long theme on outer space.  We would have talked about gravity, and of course, experienced it.  We would have imagined everything else.  We would have focused on the letter "O", possibly "A" for astronaut.  We would have explored lots of books and pictures.  But nothing would have been real, and none of the children were ever very interested, but I did it none-the-less because it felt like a right-of-passage for all preschoolers to learn about outer space..something that even adults can't really comprehend.
Number of Participants:  Everyone.  No one would have had the option to not travel to outer space with us.

Now:  After the balloon excitment, one child meandered back to the overhead projector.  He proceeded to figure out that the magnatiles would work on the projector, and he built a rocket ship.  Another child noticed, and "hopped aboard", declaring to everyone that he was about to blast off into outer space.  He was quickly empowered as other children grabbed hold of HIS idea and they too took off for outer space.  The children shared all the info they knew about space travel that they had gathered from siblings and parents, sparked by their own questions.
Number of children participating:  Two - six.

This child is trying to move the rocket by pushing it up.  Prior to this, the children standing at the projector were making the rocket ship blast off.  This child has yet to connect the cause and effect factor of playing with the overhead projector.

I didn't have the heart to tell them that they weren't all in the rocket, and that they were about to burn up.  Sigh.
Theme Six:  Birthdays

Before:  I never did a theme on Birthdays, as I wanted each child's actual birthday to be something special.

Now:  Birthdays happen pretty much daily in my program.  Someone,, creates a birthday cake out of SOMETHING.  On this day, Ellery created a birthday cake with flubber, using scissors for candles.  He made it for his friend, Zoey.  (perhaps because she made him a Valentine?)
Number of children participating:  Two.

Theme Seven:  Puppet Theater

Before:  The puppets would have come out for a two-week appearance (just the one's that I allowed the children to play with...aka: the "cheap ones").  I had a huge stash of puppets reserved for special appearances ONLY.  Some puppets were only seen once a year, and they were only run by me.  WHY?  Because I didn't want the "magic" of puppets to be spoiled.  (hand to forehead...what on earth was I thinking?!?!)
Number of Particpants:  Again, EVERYONE, as no child had a choice.  (This is painful for me to reflect upon.  I gave children no choice.  None.  I worried something fierce about the child that might be bored, or might not want to participate.. and so, participation was mandatory, whether they liked it or not)

Now:  The puppets were "set free" almost two years ago.  ALL of the puppets.  Even the super expensive ones.  It was the best decision I ever made.  Puppets are the tool some children need to open up, and express themselves.  Puppets are the catalyst of imagination, and a peek into the soul of the children who are timid or shy.  Puppets belong IN THE HANDS of children, not to be reserved for the hands of teachers only.
On this particular day, the puppets were not in the environment, but since the children in my program are empowered, they are not afraid to ask for what they need.  One child wanted to put on a puppet show, and so he asked for what he needed:  the puppets.
At first, all of the children, every single one grabbed a puppet.  This left NO ONE to observe the puppet show.  Oliver (whose idea this was to begin with) was so incredibly sad.  The other children heard him, and demonstrated AMAZING compassion.  It looked like this:
"Awe man!!  Now there is no one to watch my show!  This was the worse idea ever!  WHY did I think of this idea!"
Within seconds of this, one child said "I'll watch your show!", and they headed across the room to grab a chair.  This was followed by several more children saying and doing the exact same thing.
Number of children participating:  Every single one.  And they all had a choice.

Theme Eight:  Teacher Pride and Reflection

Before:  I was so proud of my clever ideas.  I thrived on thinking of outside-the-box ways of bringing themes alive for children.  I had a plan, and we stuck with the plan.  Children learned that I was in control, and their job was to listen and do what I said.  I was proud of the children who listened to me and followed directions so well, and frustrated those who wanted to ignore my directions and do things their own way.

Now:  I am incredibly proud of the clever thoughts and ideas of the children in my program.  I am constantly amazed at the natural flow of child-led play.  I love observing, and reflecting upon how one idea leads quite naturally, and sometimes bizarrely into another idea or theme.  I am constantly in awe of the number and variety of themes that we visit on a daily basis.  There is no pattern, there is no right or wrong.  There are days where the themes visited are countless, while others, all the children participate in the same theme for almost the entire duration of our time together.
I love my job of quiet observer and facilitator.  I love following the unpredictable lead of children, I love TRYING to predict what they may do with various materials I place in the environment.  With that said, I love it even more when they bamboozle me with their amazing, unfenced ideas.

Indeed, children are the true Kings and Queens of themes.

About the author:
Denita Dinger is an internationally-known speaker and author who loves to share humorous, intentional and inspiring keynotes and workshops to anyone who has young people in their lives.

For more information, contact her at:

Follow her on Facebook at Play Counts as well as her two program pages:  Kaleidoscope Play School (her child-led play school) and Camp Empower (a school-aged summer play camp) and her podcast group:  Embracing Play Community.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Montessori-Inspired Bee Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

I'm excited today to share a theme that's fun for summer and is especially helpful for children who are afraid of bees. With knowledge, children can learn to be safe around bees while still understanding the good things about bees. 

Free Bee Printables and Montessori-Inspired Bee Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free bee printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired bee pack). Here, I'm sharing ideas for using free bee printables to create Montessori-inspired activities. 
You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

Montessori Shelves with Bee-Themed Activities

Montessori Shelves with Bee-Themed Activities  

My shelves with bee-themed activities include a free honeybee culture card here designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired bee numbers and letters (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

I have a number of bee books for our bee theme. We always enjoy the National Geographic Readers, such as this theme's Bees. Are You a Bee? and From Flower to Honey are on our shelf, but I have quite a few bee books in our book basket as well. 

You could mix your bee-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special bee area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have a mixture of skill levels, although they're mainly for 3-5 year old pre-readers. You'll find a couple of more advanced activities below. If you’re a homeschooler, just choose the activities that work for your child’s interests and ability levels. If you don’t have room for all the activities you’d like to do, just rotate them. 

Honeybee Culture Card (on Shelf with Bee Books) 

Bees Book with Honeybee Culture Card I'm happy to share with you a lovely hand-painted honeybee culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce a bee theme. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free honeybee culture card here

The description says: “Honeybees live in a highly organized society collecting pollen and nectar from flowers. They make honey in hexagonal cells in their hive.” 

Montessori Types of Bees 3-Part Cards Types of Bees 3-Part Cards Free Printable: Montessori 3-Part Cards - Types of Bees from Max and Naoli 

I used a Montessori-Services medium-size tray and two small tabletop easels to hold the cards. There are many ways to display 3-part cards, but this is a super-simple one and works especially well in a homeschool. 

The cards are gorgeous, and Zoey loves them. She was fascinated to learn the names of the different types of bees. 

Parts of a Bee Activity Parts of a Bee Activity Free Printable: Parts of a Bee Labeling by Color or Word from A Little Pinch of Perfect 

For this activity, I used a Multicraft tray and a Bambu condiment cup to hold the pieces. 

There's a version of the printable with just words and another with colors. I like that younger children can do the activity by matching the colors. Then you can discuss the parts of the bee together. Of course, traditional 3-part cards are great, too. You'll find a link for those in the list below. 

Bee Life Cycle Work 

Tray with Life Cycle of a Bee Materials Free Printable: Animal Life Cycle Cards from The Pinay Homeschooler 

Free Printable: Bee Life Cycle from NASA Climate Kids 

I put all the materials on a Multicraft tray. The Safari Ltd. Life Cycle of a Honey Bee set is perfect for this! I used both life cycle printables because I liked having a variety of materials, such as a handmade book and life cycle chart from The Pinay Homeschooler printable and the gorgeous drawing from NASA. They're great with the 3-dimensional figures. There are some other wonderful life cycle materials in the list below, too.

Working with Life Cycle of a Bee Materials

Zoey really loves this activity. 

Beehive and Bee Cards and Counters Beehive and Bee Cards and Counters Free Printable: Beehive Numbers (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber)

I used a Montessori Services basket, 55 little wooden bees, and a small bamboo condiment cup to hold the bees. I LOVE these little wooden bees! They're inexpensive and come with so many in a package that they can be used for a number of activities. Zoey finds them very appealing, too. 

I like to lay out my numbers and counters in the traditional Montessori way of rows of two counters with a left-over counter centered below the bottom row. This gives a visual impression of odd and even. For more about creating DIY numbers and counters and a link on how to present the lesson, check out my DIY Cards and Counters post.

Beehive and Bee Cards and Counters Layout 

I use a Montessori Services rug for the layout. 

Bee Clothespin Count-and-Clip Cards Bee Clothespin Count-and-Clip Cards Free Printable: Bee Clothespin Number Work from The Helpful Garden 

For this activity, I used a Multicraft tray and miniature clothespins with the little wooden bees glued on for interest. It was very easy to prepare and is great for fine-motor skills as well as counting and number recognition! 

Bee is for Bumblebee Missing Number Activity What Number Is Missing from the Honeycomb? Activity Free Printable: Bee is for Bumblebee Missing Number Activity - from ABCs to ACTs 

For this activity, I used a  Multicraft tray and a small bamboo condiment cup for the numbers. 

It was extremely easy to prepare, and it's just a simple way to reinforce numbers 1-20. 

Honeycomb and Honey Letters for Letter H Object Basket and Salt Writing Tray

Letter H Salt Writing Tray with Honey and Honeycomb Letters  
Free Printables: Honeycomb and Honey Letters for Letter H Object Basket and Salt Writing Tray (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

As you can see on my shelves, I used a Montessori mystery bag and blindfold for the letter h basket. I got the basket, mystery bag, and blindfold from Montessori Services, and I used a variety of small objects that beginning with the /h/ sound. 

If you'd like ideas for teaching phonics, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics post. 

For the salt writing tray, I used the wooden tray from the Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Shapes. You can use whatever tray or container work best for you, though. I simply colored salt by putting some Wilton gel food coloring in a plastic bag with the salt and shaking it until it was mixed thoroughly. I wanted it to look a bit like pollen! I added a bee from the Safari Ltd. Insect TOOB for interest. 

Bee Themed Double E Word Slider 

Bee Themed Double E Word Slider  

Free Printable: Bee Themed Double E Word Slider from Royal Baloo 

This is simply a cute and fun bee-themed activity for children working on reading phonograms. It's so easy to put together after you print it out on cardstock!

More Free Bee Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free bee printables from around the blogosphere: Free Bee Printables and Montessori-Inspired Bee Activities. And be sure to subscribe to my email list if you'd like to get an exclusive free printable each month (plus two more awesome freebies right away): Free Printables.

More Insect Posts and Resources

Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBook

If you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12. I'm also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!

Have fun this summer!
Deb - Siganture
Deb Chitwood
Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 42 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and 3-year-old granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Summer: Freebies, Opportunities + Fresh AIR!


Have you started your official summer? Have you crossed the finish line? Are you on the final count down? How do you go about reflection for the year just concluding? When do you start your planning for the year ahead? 

By all means where ever you are on the continuum I am here to congratulate all of your hard work, effort, enthusiasm and the progress your students made under your direction. Teaching young children is filled with hilarity and stress.... walking the tight rope between the two is what makes for a healthy and lengthy career. 

I had the great good fortune to make four author-illustrator school visits last week, in four different school districts. It is always so great to get into classrooms and see the fun that has been unfolding. 

In the photo above we are comparing my original art (quilt-of-fabric) to the printed version in my first picture book, "You're Wonderful." 

It is always fascinating to give the students the opportunity to ask questions of me as an author. Certainly one of the most intriguing questions of the week......... 

"Do you have an electric stove?"

That is definitely the first time that anyone has ever asked me that one!  

I was thrilled to see our Wobble Seats in 'action' in the classroom. The feedback is amazing. Everyone understands how much they contribute to learning, just by seeing them. For some children they are THE answer. The reality is that it comes down to budget. 

***We take purchase orders and offer quantity discounts.

One of my favorite things about being connected to our #TeacherFriends on the internet, is seeing such amazing projects. I am especially appreciative of works that are created in collaboration. Take a look at this amazing work created by Suzanne Turner's Kinder kids in Virginia! 

Click on the picture for a jump over to the blog with a further explanation of mural work. 

This work deserves display in an art gallery! 

Just earlier today we arrived to our annual sweet-summer spot and we have now appreciated our first sunset of the season. I can officially exhale. 

My GREAT, good news is that I have received word from Zaner-Bloser that they are going to fly me out to Vegas for "I Teach K" where I will present a 'Lunch and Learn' on Monday..... IN THE BALLROOM! 

And here's the pretty amazing part.... all of the participants to respond ahead of time will be given a box lunch for attending! So there is a free lunch after all! If you're planning to be in Vegas, I hope that you can add us into your agenda. Watch your inbox for the specifics. You will be receiving an email with details. 

I will then fly from Vegas to Dallas for Frog Street Press annual SPLASH conference. 

I combed the interwebs over at Teachers Pay Teachers for some summer-time freebies to support and encourage you. 

Summer Math for Kindergarten Freebie

Summer Bucket List Bookmark Freebie for Kindergarten and First Grade

Summer Printables Getting Ready for Kindergarten {Freebie}

Summer Addition Word Problems (FREEBIE)

Free Summer Mystery Picture Math Activities

Non-Fiction Emergent Reader: Clown Fish ~FREEBIE~

End of Year Math Review Summer Practice FREEBIE Preview

Summer FREE


Class Rewards {HUGE FREEBIE}

Summer Writing Prompts - FREEBIE!

Kindergarten Round Up Handout {freebie}

Free Sample of Kindergarten No Prep Summer Math Review

Sweet Summertime Mystery Words Freebie

June Math Journal - Kindergarten

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