Welcome teachers!

This is a special section for you. Please feel free to check in anytime to look for new and different spins on some of our old standby topics. New tips keep coming! Start at the top to find the newest ones and then keep scrolling down.

Please note that parenting tips are available at

One Whole Day! The Scheduled Way

Here is a fun poem to teach to kids this month. It is all about the beauty of one whole day. With structure being great for kids, this poem is designed to help children live in a more meaningful, organized and comfortable way.

Oh What a Beautiful Day!

Good morning I love you. Get up and get dressed.
A new day is here, and that is the best!

Wash up and get ready. The day is brand new.
There’s fun to be had and so much to do.

Breakfast is made. I hope it’s just great.
The table is set. Just fill up your plate.

Your lunch is all packed and ready for you.
Your snack cups are out. Just take one or two.

Focus on work when you get to school.
Do your own best for that is our rule.

Come home to regroup and relax in your way.
Then finish your work and go out to play.

When dinner time comes, your family’s there.
We talk and we laugh. There’s so much to share.

Then nighttime arrives, and the chores left are few.

We sit and relax and then talk the day through.

To bed is what’s last when we rest from the day.
We sleep; we repair; we let dreams have their say!

~ Dr. Sally


Chess as an Educational Tool!

Our news today comes from  www.azcentral.com Channel 12 TV in Arizona and is dated April 30, 2014.

Chess Success!

The Killip Elementary School Chess Team won the Arizona Scholastic State Chess Championship for the 7th year in a row. Killip Elementary School in Flagstaff, which has the highest number of students from low-income families in the city, keeps dominating the state.

“The students not only took several kings during the 2014 Arizona Scholastic State Chess Championship, a team of second-and third-graders took first place.”

“We never give up on each other,” said player Karen Mercado, 10. “We practice, practice, practice.”

Coach Ted Komada said that about 500 students and 50 teams from all over Arizona attended the state games held April 11-13 at Flagstaff High School. He made it clear that as their coach he is cautious to only point out when they win in the tornaments.  Komada said. “As long as we play to our fullest potential, even if we don’t win an award, we still won. We find fun in our work.”

With about 40 Killip kids participating in their various age groups, this is the seventh consecutive year that a Killip team has won.

Some Important Background

“A large number of these kids come from low-income families, and funding for the chess program comes only from parent, student, and staff fundraising efforts. Komada says parents often donate food, drinks, cups, and other miscellaneous supplies to offset expenses.”

“The team started with Komada about 10 years ago with just a handful of kids. Now there are over a hundred members, and no professional coaching.”

‘We’re not chess players, we’re teachers,” Komada said. “We’ve learned right alongside the kids.”

“He says they would love to get a chess expert from the community to come in from time to time to help their more advanced player get to the next level.”


There is everything good about this story.

  • From the standpoint of learning, this is tops. Learning chess is like learning another language… and that is soooo good for children.
  • Playing chess is a strategy game that requires a lot of thinking and planning. It provides an excellent model for learning to think and plan in life in general.
  • This success shows that you can take a learning experience that is usually reserved for advantaged children and bring it to the disadvantaged… and not only bring it, see these young children shine with it.
  • As you read how this coach coaches, you will see an outstanding example of excellent teaching. Here is what he said:

“As their coach I’m cautious to only point out that they win in the tournaments,” Komada said. “As long as we play to our fullest potential, even if we don’t win an award, we still won. We find fun in our work.”


Poor Child Behavior from an Underlying Cause

A recent article called Working with Children with Attachment Issues by Linda Ranson Jacobs gives insight into some kinds of poor child behavior.

Here is how Linda describes the essence of the problem:

A new report was just released by Princeton University that stated approximately 40 percent of children in the U.S. lack strong emotional bonds in their lives. A child’s primary attachments will form with their parents and begin very early in life. However, there are different levels of attachment that kids can form. In the absence of appropriate emotional bonds with their parents, many of these children can still bond with an alternate caregiver such as a grandparent, childcare staff or caring baby sitters. These “secondary bonds” allow these kids to move forward with only minimal attachment issues.

She continues with information about why this issue is so important.

“If children don’t form emotional bonds and connect with their primary care givers as infants, they will more than likely face behavior issues such as aggressiveness and defiance as children and hyperactivity as teens and adults.”

The full article

Working With Children With Attachment Issues

by Linda Ranson Jacobs

tells many reasons for attachment issues. Also included are signs of this problem in children and ways to help.

Most of all, Linda tells us at the end what you can do to help any such deprived children to attach. She even goes so far as to resort to suggesting to attach to things. She wants us to understand that “attachment” is that important.

As with all positive interactions for children, the sooner the better; but as with help for all people “It is never too late to lend a hand.”

• A complete copy of the Princeton report can be downloaded at http://www.suttontrust.com/our-work/research/download/265.

Linda Ranson Jacobs is one of the forefront leaders in the area of children and divorce. 


April, Spring and Volunteering

We welcome April with a kind heart for these and many other reasons:

* Spring is under way.

* New growth is everywhere.

* Cleaning up and de-cluttering are all around.

And as they say… “A young man’s fancy turns to love!”


Kind hearts and volunteering go hand in hand. Think up your own special way this month to inspire your students to focus their positive energy on helping others.


Teach this quote about caring and sharing to your students. Knowing the author, they are likely to learn it fast and well.

“The miracle is this—

the more we share,

the more we have.”

~ Leonard Nimoy

American actor, director and writer


Reading All Around

Technique – Make reading a part of your students’ everyday world.

There are so many ways to have fun with it. Check for letters, words and phrases on the clothes your students are wearing. Make an organized game out of reading each other’s shirts.  Keep looking all around for signs of all sorts–Exit, Open, Closed and many more. Last but not least are newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. They also bombard you non-stop with all kinds of words, phrases, sentences and more.

Reading is everywhere! Find what you like, what you think your students will like, and have fun.


Go on a word hunt. See how many words you can find right in your classroom.

Take advantage of all the high-quality books available and be sure to make time for reading every day.


Teaching Shapes to Kids

Keep your students busy, have fun, and teach the shapes at the same time.

Shapes are all around us. Look around your classroom, and you will see them.

* Do you have square tiles on your floor?

* Is your desk in the shape of a rectangle?

* Do you have a round table for reading, art, or small group activities?

* Triangles may be harder to find, but you can make them by dividing any square in half.

You can also have your students collect shapes. If you have a bag for each child, plastic or paper, you can take them on a circle hunt. They may find parts of toys, plastic or paper plates, cups, chalk, crayons or markers, or any number of school items. You can do this same activity for other shapes like squares, triangles, and rectangles; and you can do it indoors or out.


It is comforting to know that you can teach young children with few or no materials… and the price is right!


ROY G BIV! A Great Looking Guy

Have fun with colors this month.

Here they are in rainbow form: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet


Here’s an idea!

Choose a color with your students and write together poetic sentences about it.

Here are some hint words: hides, sounds, feels, wants…

See these fun thoughts about turquoise blue.

Turquoise blue hides in the shadows of the biggest gray clouds.

Turquoise blue sounds like ice being scratched by shining silver blades.

 Turquoise blue feels like a soft matte material.

Turquoise blue wants smiles and happiness.

How about turquoise blue and you?!!!!


Language Development News for Infants and Toddlers

Here is news exactly as it appeared from the Associated Press under the topic of SCIENCE.

Babies’ Brains are Helped by Hearing More Words

“New research shows that both how much and how well parents talk with babies and toddlers helps tune the youngsters brains in ways that build vocabulary skills.

Children who hear more words at an early age—not from TV but from someone speaking directly to them—fare better. And longer, complex sentences are fine. The idea is to prime the brain to learn new words through context.”


Very important to know is that this information has been researched many times before in all different ways by an abundant number of people in a multitude of environments. Most important to know is that what is left to be done is to implement it. Easier said than done!

Past Studies

* Research exists telling us that the higher the quality and quantity of parent language, the more successful children will do in school.

* Research exists explaining that it is the interactive nature of real speech that makes the TV not as effective as listening, talking and responding.

* Research exists showing that when high quality and quantity speech is used, the brains of those children who are exposed to it by the age of two are larger and more well-developed than those of children who hear mostly short choppy sentences like “Stop that; Go away; Leave me alone,” and “Not now” during that time.

According to a summation of research, it turns out that the most effective parent-child interaction related to later life success is both a high quality and high quantity of language. Such information has been available since the late 1980’s.


Using Technology to Treat Learning Disabilities

The Monday section is filled with parenting tips. Tuesday is for Q & AWednesday gives parenting techniques.

While care of the body is, was and always will be the be all and end all for life success, we must all be on guard for what the world of technology brings our way.

In the Tuesday, February 11, 2014 Wall Street Journal we find a featured article called Electric Boost to the Brain. Upon further examination we find that the focus of the new research is on sending low-dose electric currents through the brains of adults and children as young as eight to make them better at math.

The diagnosis needed for such a treatment is a math learning-disability called developmental dyscalculia, similar to dyslexia but with numerals instead of letters. This condition is different than just finding math difficult. According to the article, people with this problem “also may have trouble with daily tasks, such as remembering phone numbers and understanding bills.”

Given all of this background, here is more information reported in the article.

  • “Up to 6% of the population is estimated to have a math-learning disability.”
  • “Whether transcranial electrical stimulation proves to be a useful cognitive enhancer remains to be seen.”
  • “Cognitive training helps to some extent in some individuals with math difficulties.”

Here is one more piece of data related to individual differences and their effect on the treatment. “Whether a room is dark or well-lighted, if a person smokes and even where women are in their menstrual cycle can affect the brain’s response to electrical stimulation, studies have found.”


Be careful! Capacities beyond our “human” selves are now being stretched far into the unknown. We are taking all kinds of concrete technological treatments and applying them to people who are just the opposite–non-concrete, emotional, and extremely complicated; and we are trying to make both of them work together.


Teaching Love, Kindness & Health

Share with your students three special meanings for the word heart, featured so prominently all during this Valentine’s Day month–love, kindness, and health.

* Love – Your heart emits love from inside and out. It shows on your face without any doubt.

* Kindness – Your heart shows your kindness each day that you live. Receiving is fine, but you beam when you give.

* Health – Your heart guides your health with each vital heart-beat. You exercise well, and you watch what you eat.


Changing “Special Needs to “Extra Help”

Hello Teachers!

This is important information for you as it relates to the students in your classroom who need “extra help.” Here is a recent question that I received from a mom who has a child with “special needs.” As I responded to it, I realized that it is time to change the term. While “special needs” focuses on the deficit area(s), “extra help” acts on doing whatever is necessary to lead the child on to success.


I have a daughter, Madison, who is now 7 years old, who has special needs.  In a nutshell, Madison was born 9 weeks premature, and has had issues that follow her to this day.  Since she was born she has received every therapy, first through Early Steps, then through Child Find, and for the past several years, privately.  Madison continues to have speech and language issues, as well as significant learning disabilities.  In addition, she is a very severe stutterer.  Otherwise, she is a very happy first grader who attends a charter school in Boynton Beach.

We are in the process of getting her tested to try and figure out the correct placement for her.  I believe socially the best thing for her is to keep her mainstreamed, however, she is a year behind her peers and even with all the support she receives all day, is having a hard time keeping up. We are wondering if we need to send Madison to American Academy or Lighthouse Point Academy for children with severe learning disabilities.  She will receive the McKay scholarship, but even so, it will still cost about 23K each year, and again, I worry about the peer group.

In addition, we are always looking for tutors.  Both academic, and behavioral.  Thank goodness for the most part, Madison is a pleasure in the outside world.  However, at home with us she is quite a handful, and it has become a challenge trying not to let her behavior negatively impact her three year-old sister.

I am wondering if there is any advice you can give me on schools, tutors, or resources.  As I am sure you are well aware Madison’s therapies alone are incredibly expensive.  I want to make sure I am leaving no stone unturned in terms of getting her the help she needs and exploring every resource available in Palm Beach County (we live in West Boynton Beach).

~ Madison’s Mom


Hi Madison’s Mom,

Thank you so very much for contacting me. I love having this opportunity to talk to you about special needs and advise you the best I can about them. Since all children are individuals with different strengths and weakness, the strategies I have developed to enhance and enrich development are designed for all… just to be tailored individually and uniquely by the parents who use them.

Your concept of “mainstream” is excellent and should be maintained. We all have the same 24 hours each day to use in the best ways we can, and we all also are a product of our experiences. The idea is to do what we can to make our children’s experiences as good as possible. Special education is tricky. It is necessary for the extra support and intervention it supplies, but at the same time it can block important essential exposure for “normal” development.

Parent support and camaraderie is another important avenue to keep open. Talking with other parents who face or have faced some of the same challenges helps a lot. This “special” job that we have is a “creative” one. There is no one route to take or any simple formula available. It is always a work in progress. “There is always more than one way to skin a cat.”

My best advice is to always keep in mind, as you continue to pursue services for your daughter, a clear idea of what you are hoping to accomplish at that particular time. Always keep evaluating your resources by the enrichment they provide in these five developmental areas–cognitive, motor, social-emotional, and language. They are all important.

Where have we traveled? To the destination that includes as many regular activities like dance, sports, music, art and play as possible combined with the most effective therapeutic intervention(s). Special needs parenting is not easy. You have to do all the regular care that all children need and then in addition, meet the extra challenges. If that sounds difficult, it is.

I hope the daily tips on  Parenting Tips with Dr. Sally will provide you with good ideas and many starting points to pursue. Each one is based on both research and application. They are all enhanced by my personal experience. I also hope that by the interactive nature of the different blogs on this site that you will also receive additional parental and professional help. If you have particular teachers or specialists who you work with, please invite them to join in as well. In that way we can all work together.

Thank you very much for participating with us.


Teaching through Play!

Have fun with play. It is a very valuable teaching tool.

Play sounds like fun, and it is fun; but it is also a child’s work, his or her major avenue for learning. Appropriate toys and valuable play have such a major impact on learning that they will affect a child’s education and development for the rest of his or her life.

Implicit in high quality play is the concept of interaction. On the simplest level this is contact with a toy. On the next level it includes with the toy other people, children and/or adults. On the highest level it is a process, an open-ended activity without a set of specific actions, results, or correct solutions that conform to adult standards. It is a creative process and generates from a child’s self-direction. Cherish this free-form concept and allow it to flourish.

Excerpted from Constructive Parenting pp. 93-94.


Playing with a toy is valuable, but playing with a toy with you increases its worth. As you and your students continue to enjoy toy and game activities together, you both will benefit. Learning will increase, and your relationship will be enriched.

January! the Month of the New Beginning

Much child learning takes place as a result of playing. While toy activities are the focus of play during the first three years, game activities take center stage after that. Start simple games during the preschool years from ages 3 to 5 and continue to follow-up with increasingly more complex ones for many years to come.

Children’s playthings are not sports and should
be deemed as their most serious actions.

—Montaigne: Essays I. xxii (cited in Evans, 1993, p. 102)


Tips for a Happy Healthy New Year with Children

  • Include your students as partners in your “special project” decision-making as much as is possible and appropriate. They will love this new role.
  • Begin a classroom exercise program. Design one for each student individually and then make a few for the whole class.
  • Make a special time each day to talk about daily eating. Instill in your students an understanding of natural food as a way of life and make it a goal to continue to eat nutritious foods all through the year.
  • Discuss sleep schedules. Suggest that each of your students make a fixed bedtime that includes winding down time to start.
  • Celebrate the holidays in new, personal, and creative ways.  Set up a craft table all stocked with paper, crayons, scissors, markers, etc. to make holiday decorations for the different holidays as they come up.

January! The Month of the New Beginning


Teaching Gratitude for the New Year!

Thank you November and December for all the good advice about giving and caring!!!!

As we start the new month of January and the New Year of 2014, we are happy to focus on the wonderful concept of “a new beginning.”  At the same time, however, a little regretfully, we leave behind some of our former empathetic thoughts.

In the article The Art of Raising Children with a Gratitude Attitude published in the December 24, 2013 issue of The Wall Street Journal, we get a good reminder. From that we learn from several studies to hold on to our “giving and caring” attitude.

Here is the back-up information!

One study of high school students “found that those who showed high levels of gratitude, for instance thankfulness for the beauty of nature and strong appreciation for other people, reported having stronger GPAs, less depression and envy and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.” Other studies confirmed!

Hofstra’s Dr. Froh says, “Express gratitude to your spouse. Thank your kids. By reinforcing this, kids will internalize the idea”, and do it on their own.”

On the other hand… Dr. Watkins cautions, “Don’t shove it down their throats. His family gives thanks at Thanksgiving, but it’s not a formal process. “Don’t make this, ‘It’s your turn, so say something whether you feel it or not.’ he says.”

“Dr. Emmons believes gratitude is actually easier for kids.” Here’s the part I like the best…

“Kids have a natural affinity to gratitude. They often teach parents as much or more about gratitude than the other way around.”

Here’s what to do…

Include giving and caring in your New Year “beginning.”

And here’s how to do it…

Not too much focus and not too little… Make it just right!


Teach about the Holidays with Limericks

Here is a fun poem about December. It is a limerick. Use it with your students and teach them how to make up others. Some would be good for the message on holiday cards. Others could be for memory skills. Still others could help with teaching about winter and some of the nice things that people do together at that time. All can be part of a great lesson in writing poetry.

There once was a month named December.

The month that all children remember.

Good wishes we send

Without any end

As soon as it passes November.


Rainbow Friday!

After a full month of “giving thanks” and focusing on the good, it is time to re-focus.

As you transition with your students from “giving thanks” to “giving,” have fun with the beautiful colors of the rainbow —ROY G BIV

red   orange   yellow      green      blue   indigo   violet

Use these colors with your students as a way to transition from the fall colors of (orange and yellow) to the winter holiday ones of (red, green, and blue).

Have fun with this creative concept in your own creative way.


November! The Month of Giving Thanks

Today and tomorrow are the days of transition…

They may be known as Black Friday and Black Saturday, but you can turn these days into “all the colors of the rainbow!”


Use Singing to Teach Vocabulary!

Tip – Use singing in a new and different way to help your students expand their vocabulary.

Singing is a wonderful way to help your students learn new words. In addition, with this new technique that is really fun to use, you can foster language development even more.

Give some of our old standby songs a brand new twist.

Here are some ideas:

  • Old Mac Donald Had a House, Car, Yard, etc.
  • The Great Big Spider
  • Drive, Drive, Drive Your Car

Make up other new songs like these as you think of them.


is for Read

S is for Sing

T is for Talk

Remember how important the “R, S, & T of Language” is for learning? Very important. While you are enjoying the simple process of singing with your students, you are stimulating language development and bonding. If you go ahead and sing in this new way, you are also adding more language skills and a whole bunch of creativity to the mix.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 197


Read Aloud to Teach!

Use real books to teach real information.

Select a book that you think your students will both enjoy and understand. Read it aloud sentence-by-sentence or paragraph-by-paragraph. After each sentence or paragraph either explain what it means or ask your students if they understand.

Keep in mind that you are communicating ideas, thoughts, and information and not testing your students or putting them on the spot in any way. Many books have ideas, thoughts, and information in them that are over the heads of children and need to be explained. You might even find specific vocabulary words that need to be made clear.


There are many different reasons for reading out loud to children. For each reason there are many different kinds of books to select. For this particular activity choose a book that you think will be of particular interest to your students. Here are some popular topics–planes, trains, cars, presidents, dolls, different cultures, etc. The list goes on.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, pp. 193-194

November! The Month of Giving Thanks

Behavioral and psychological research gives us this info about giving thanks. It makes people

* Happier

* More resilient

* Have stronger relationships

* Be healthier

* Feel less stressed


Why Turkey!

Here is a question that your students might soon be asking you. It always pays to be prepared!!!


Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving?


Here is the classic answer. You may know another one.

Queen Elizabeth of the 16th century in England was eating roast goose during a harvest festival when news came that the Spanish Armada had sunk on its way to attack England. The queen was so pleased that she ordered a second goose to celebrate. Thus, the goose became the favorite bird at harvest time in England.

When the Pilgrims arrived in America from England at harvest time, geese were hard to find; and turkeys were more prevalent. Therefore, they switched their tradition to turkey and made that their main cuisine for that time of year.

Here’s a fun piece of information: Male turkeys are nicknamed “toms,” while females are called “hens.”

NOTE: Isn’t it nice to “talk turkey!”

November! Time to Give Thanks

Start off each day with one student telling his or her own special “thank you.” Have fun with your students doing this all month long.


Listen & Tell: A New Kind of Classroom Secret!

Tip – Use famous and fun stories to practice memory skills with your students.

Read a well-known story to your students like The Three Bears, The Hungry Caterpillar, The Three Little Kittens, Green Eggs and Ham, Blueberries for Sal or one of your own favorites. Then ask for a student to tell the story back to you. As all the other students listen, encourage them to listen to the whole story and then comment at the end on any part(s) of the story that were left out.

Parenting Insight…

Help your original storyteller as much or as little as is necessary to tell the story. That is one way you can use and enjoy your coaching role as a teacher.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, pp. 193-194


Listening & Remembering! Fun & Challenging!

Tip – Practice memory skills by telling your students something that happened to you that day and then by having one student tell you back what he or she heard.

Then switch roles and have a student tell you what happened to him or her for you to tell back.

Next move on to playing this game student-to-student.

Telling will be fun, but being able to tell back what you heard will be the “teaching lesson” and reward.

At the end of each tell-back, the original speaker should feel free to make any additions or corrections to the story. Feel free to exchange all kinds of daily experiences.


People love to talk about what they have done, but few focus on being able to listen well enough to be able to tell it back. You and your students will delight when you show each other that you both listened and remembered. This is a nice way to share experiences with one another.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 192


Memory Practice in a Game Format!

Tip – Practice memory skills with your students for spur-of-the-moment fun!.

Play a game by taking turns naming objects in a selected category. Always repeat what has been said and then add your new item. Here is an example of the way it works.

Student – Green cup

Teacher – Green cup, green marker

Student – Green cup, green marker, green chalk

Teacher – Green cup, green marker, green chalk, green paper

Choose great categories. That is your key to this game. Here are some popular ones: green (or any color), round, wooden, hard, soft, big and small. You may think of others.


Name up to five items at any one time and then switch to a new category.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, pp. 191-192


October! The Month of Positive Energy

Help your students brush up on some social skills with these stanzas from

The Magic Words of Manners



Friends are great, the best there is.

Each one is like a treasure.

Share a friend with someone else.

That’s a special pleasure.


To do the introduction,

It starts a standard way.

Specific words are what you’ll need.

This is what you say,






When you hear this introduction

With this very special start,

Get ready with your answer.

It’s your own important part.



Now it’s time to listen.

You can smile in advance.

Here is what your friend might say

When having a good chance.



Teach the Art of Gift Giving!

Teach your students how to make a gift list. While most children are caught up today thinking about what they “want” for Christmas, tune up your students to focusing on what they will “give.” Spend extra time this year helping each child decide what he or she would like to give to different people. Believe it or not, just this kind of on-going focus all holiday long will spark a genuine interest on the part of your students to either want to buy or make gifts for those he or she really loves.

NOTE: I have with this technique turned around the most ardent gift-getting children. Your gift? Enjoying what you gave your students, the ability to all of a sudden, in their own time, wake up and discover that it really is more fun, satisfying, and rewarding “to give than to receive.”


Teaching about October!

October starts off the holiday season with Halloween. No advice in this tip, just some holiday thoughts to ponder. Here goes…

  • Happiness – It comes from things you buy, make, think of and create. Talk to your students about how they would like to enjoy this holiday.
  • Apples – This amazing fruit of the season is at its best. Ask your students how they will incorporate this fresh food into their own nutrition plans.
  • Love – No one knows exactly what it is. Ask your students what are their plans for showing it all month long.
  • Late Night – Trick or treating is usually a late night. Ask your students how they plan to make their Thursday night run smoothly.
  • Orange – This is the main color for Halloween. Ask your students to think of ways they might like to incorporate this color at home.
  • White Flour and White Sugar – These ingredients, known not to be good for the body, are in many Halloween products. Teach your students about different kinds of substitutes for them.
  • Energy – This is a time of year for high energy. Talk to your students about new and different ways to channel their holiday enthusiasm in wholesome ways.
  • Expectations – These run high during any holiday season. Talk to your students about different kinds of strategies for remaining calm and peaceful.
  • Natural – Candy corn and orange and black food coloring are the opposite of natural. Talk to your students about different ways to incorporate oranges, pumpkins, carrots and other natural orange foods into their meals and snacks.

Happy Halloween from all of us here at “Parenting Tips!”

October! The Month of Positive Energy

Here is one of my favorite thoughts from Cynthia Goldberg’s new poetry book A Tale of Two Cynthias.

“Face your fears. Never give up. There’s always time to give and care.”


Back to School Knowledgeable!

September, our ninth month, marks the traditional start of the new school year. To achieve in school it takes confidence, and to have confidence, it takes knowledge. Here is a fun piece of knowledge that you can teach your students. It comes in three parts.

1. September (from the Latin septem, “seven”) was originally the seventh of ten months.

2. March (from the Latin Martius) was originally the first month of the year.

3. Around 153 BC January and February were added to the beginning of the year… And that is how September became the ninth month.


Teaching Auditory Comprehension through Art!

Tip – Use art and creativity as a fun way to enhance your students’ listening skills.

Here are two easy ways to do this: Stringing Beads and Creating Artistic Designs. You will probably think of others.

Stringing Beads

Tell your students to string a few beads at a time in a certain order. Here are some examples:

  • Blue and then red
  • Yellow, blue, and then red
  • Blue, yellow, green, and then red

Keep adding colors to your directions up to a level of difficulty that is appropriate for your class. Three is usually plenty. Four gets hard.

Creating Artistic Designs

Give crayon or markers directions by color in whatever order you decide… something like this:

  • Color with blue and then purple
  • Make straight lines with red, pink, and then green
  • Add circles with yellow and then orange

Same as before, three usually provides an appropriate level of both challenge and success.


If you do not have beads available, you can use painted noodles, colored empty spools, or something else you find for stringing. Creativity is it. Children love it, especially in today’s times which can be so very “virtual.”

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, pp. 187-188


Teens Murdering “for the fun of it!”

While this senseless murder falls under the category of “Parenting in the News,” I am taking this opportunity to share it with you as teachers. You have your own influence on kids, and you also interact with parents. You also have your own special way of seeing the effects of societal violence on children.

In a recent article on August 20, 2013, Erin McClam, staff writer for NBC News, described it this way. “They saw Christopher go by, and one of them said: ‘There’s our target.” One of the boys further explained, “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.”

Christopher Lane, a baseball player, was visiting the town of Duncan, where his girlfriend lived. By chance, he passed the home where the teens were staying and was gunned down at random.

Even bigger news is that murders on the part of teens is increasing.

It is parenting news because we all heard on TV or read in the paper about the pain expressed by Christopher’s parents Peter and Donna Lane.

It is more parenting news because Jennifer Luna, mother of one of the teens said, “I wouldn’t want to be in that position that they’re in right now. I’m always on my kids. I always tell them: If I lost y’all, I wouldn’t be able to live.”

It is even more parenting news because we are all aware of the problem of violent videos and movies and how they affect children, and yet no one is doing anything about that.

In addition, we all know as parents that the first three to five years of life lay the foundation for all later learning and development. We also know that the majority of our parents face difficult conditions during those years and need help.

Where are we? What are we doing?


The Art & Science of Listening

Tip – Listen to your students the way you would like your students to listen to you.

Here is how “listen” is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (p.1049). “To make an effort to hear something.”

According to current teachings, the following tips form the basics for excellent teacher-student communication. They actually come to us from the world of business where interpersonal communication is highly valued as an important key to success.

What is good about these is that they are catching. Once you use them enough with your students, your students will comfortably and naturally use them with you, peers, and others.

  • Look directly into your student’s left eye as he or she talks. That gives you a stronger point of focus as you try to understand what he or she is saying.
  • Be on the same level as your student.
  • Be as much as you can in the same position as your student.

Once you are set, here is the best part. Speak for 30% of the time and listen for 70%. To aid in this process there are special words of communication that can encourage your student to talk. “Oh, uh huh, good, then” and “Tell me more about…” There are also open-ended questions like these that work. “How did you do that? Why did that happen?” and “What was that like?”


Look at the letters in these two words LISTEN and SILENT. Yes, they are the same. It is interesting to ponder the relationship of these two actions.

  • You are silent when you listen.
  • You communicate through silence as well as through words.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, pp. 183-184

August! The Month of Dignity

Here is a subtle nuance for this month–learning from silence, something you do not hear. What is your student not talking about anymore? With your new listening skills go ahead and pursue what has been happening at school and when on the playground. Maybe there is a favorite game no longer being mentioned. Use your new listening skills in your own dignified way to communicate and find out.


A Summer Poem for Kids

Here is a wonderful summer poem to enjoy with your students this summer.

Canobie Lake Park

by Cynthia Goldberg

As printed in her new book A Tale of Two Cynthias

Recently we went to the park.
It wasn’t too bad.
It wasn’t too dark.
I had fun in the sun with my friends. I wish it never had to end.

The rides were cool.
Some were wet, and some were dry. Getting wet was part of life there. The summer ended,
And that was a bummer.

It’s been nice
And not too hot being in the spot light.
I’ve realized the spotlight is a great place to be. How cool and how much fun!
We make our own blessings,
Counting Angels one-by-one.

August! The Month of Dignity

Imagine thinking about an amusement park in terms of dignity? It looks like Cynthia did.


Teach each stanza separately to your students. Depending on their age and ability, use the sections to serve your own teaching purposes. Stanzas 1 & 2 seem great for drawing pictures. The last one is more abstract and might lend itself to a interesting conversation about “being in the spotlight.”


Teaching Limericks in July

The once was a month named July

So loved and adored and here’s why

With days full of sun

The kids having fun

And temperatures going sky-high!

Limericks! Remember those? Combine your own words with a simple rhythm, and what do you have? Hours of fun for you and your children. Write them for and with your younger ones and have your older kids write their own.


Tip – Teach your students how to color in the lines in a new and creative way.

If by chance you thought making your own “follow-the-dots” was great, try this! Make your own “color-by-number” design.


Just as you did by following last week’s tip, your students can make one of these on their own too… and at just the right level.

They can start with a simple drawing that has only two sections to it and gradually expand to a more complicated design with three, four, five, six, seven, or eight parts.

Once they make their designs, instruct them to place a number in each section of their drawing. Next they need to assign a color for each number they put on their design. Then they need to write a key to follow. If they don’t want to write the color word, they can also put colored lines in their numbered key. Your students can do this activity all by themselves, or you can assist as needed.

Fun Extension!

Make this into a detective-type activity. If you make up the project for all your students, you can ask them to find all the 1’s, 2’s, etc. As in other coloring activities, it is appropriate to emphasize coloring in as much of each whole space as possible.


Eye-hand coordination continues. As you look on, remember that coloring skills improve over time. It is also appropriate to expect different levels of coloring expertise from different children.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 174 – 175.


“Follow-the-Dots” to Writing Success!

Tip – Teach your students to make their own “follow-the-dots” challenges.

Ever find yourself looking through activity books for dots activities and think that they all look confusing? While some kids can’t wait to get their hands on the most challenging puzzles of all, others find what is available much too complicated.


Introduce your students to their own “Make-your-own” kind. They can use numbers or letters to label the dots. They can spread out the dots, arrange them randomly on the page, or make them into specific designs.

Fun Extension!

Depending on the age, interest, and experience of your students, they might want to make “follow-the-dots” designs for each other.


Writing practice continues. Besides being fun, there is really a lot to these. Eye-hand coordination, concentration, and learning to control the length of writing a straight line are just a few of the perks that come along with this kind of hands-on interactive fun.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 176 – 177.

June! Month of the Dads

Here’s an idea! Have each student design a “follow-the-dots” challenge for their dad.


Copying and Coloring with a Creative Touch! 

Tip – Teach your students copying and color skills in a fun and creative way.

Start by having them fold an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet of paper in four parts. Then have them draw two circle shapes in the two upper sections. Next ask them to color the circles and then copy and color their own shapes in the two lower sections. Emphasize coloring in the whole shape.

For even more fun, give them another sheet of paper and do the activity again. This time encourage your students to draw the top shapes in the two top sections for you to copy. Keep to the circle practice or have them challenge you with other interesting and fun shapes. Once you finish your copying, return the paper to your students for coloring all four shapes.

As your students make each shape, they are getting both writing and drawing practice. As they color, they also get eye-hand coordination experience.


“Write” is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (p.2061) as “to form (letters, words, or symbols) on a surface such as paper with an instrument such as a pen.”

“”Draw” is defined in the same dictionary (p. 561) as “To inscribe (a line or lines) with a pencil or other marking implement.”

The game described above has been designed to reinforce both writing and drawing skills. The circle is also the letter O, and all the other shapes are completed curved line.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 171 – 172.

June! Month of the Dads

Right after Father’s Day makes a great time to find out from your students how they celebrated. Emphasize appreciation for all that fathers do. A wonderful project could be a “Thank you Dad” card. Work this out in your own favorite way and with whatever materials you have on hand. Most important is to help your students capture their feelings and give them a fun and concrete way to pass them on to their dad.


 Standards and Teaching Effectiveness

As you probably know, new educational standards are in the works again. While such changes are usually greeted with accolades by the educational and parent community, the new “Common Core,” which lay out what students should know from kindergarten through 12th grade, has caused much concern.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article called Learning Goals Spur Backlash, these standards, “which were written by a group of governors, state officials and other experts,” find not all states to be on board. Here are some of the notable problems:

  • Being an intrusion into local education decisions
  • Having children not prepared yet for the corresponding Common Core exams
  • Adding more “Informational” text to classrooms which crowds out literature
  • Causing good students to “freeze or break into tears” because they have not been fully prepared to take the new kind of tests
  • Having some parts of the math be weaker than what was required before

Down to Basics

Ever since my mother has been in the field of teaching, dating back to the 1960’s, the state of education seems to have been in the same boat about student abilities to meet educational standards… getting worse. She was always telling me at the time about how her students were just not “meeting the standards” anymore. When I went to school, she told me all of us were not “meeting the standards” in an even worse way. When my kids went to school, the problem of meeting standards got even worse. In each generation, educators, who were grappling with what to do, eventually came up with the exact same solution–raise the standards. Needless to say, I have always had my doubts about “standards.”

As a teacher myself, at all levels, including teacher education on the college level, my focus has always been on improvements for teaching. Made sense to me. My thought, odd as it may seem today, was to try to keep getting students better at “meeting the standards,” even surpassing them. Creating “new” and more difficult ones to meet never occurred to me as a solution.

In our “fast-paced” world of today, “back-to-basics” always seems to get lost. However, “Reading Writing, and Arithmetic” will always be here to stay, and we need to stay focused on them.

Now here is some “back-to-basics” for teaching. By coincidence, it just happens to be… as simple as ABC.

A – Always connect with your student.

B – Be kind, clear, and responsive.

C – Capture every moment you can to teach, teach, teach.

May! The Month of the Mothers

Continue to do “Mother Appreciation” projects all month long. One card, present, or day is really not enough.

NOTE: Starting on Mother’s Day, May 12, just for the month of May, we will be switching to a Q & A tip format.

Send in your teaching question now to mainoffice@mommyperks.com, and Dr. Sally will answer it as soon as possible on Tuesday Afternoon Tea. If you would like to ask your question anonymously, please indicate that on your question.


Activity – A Categories Game

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Areas Being Developed – Fine Motor Skills and Thinking… all in one activity!

Start asking the parents to send it magazines with great pictures in them. Your students will love bringing in items from home, and the parents will appreciate their opportunity for extra connection with your classroom. Be sure to mention that catalogs from stores are also good for this activity.

Use the magazines and catalogs to hunt for these specific categories of pictures: Food, Animals, and Flowers. Each one will provide you will excellent material for teaching. Once you have all the cut-outs, mix them up. Then one-by-one together play a sorting game with your students.

You can set up the activity in pairs, small groups, or with your whole classroom, whichever you find most helpful to your particular situation.

– Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, pp. 110


Language, language, language! It is built right into this play-and-learn activity. First you can talk about whether or not a picture fits a category. Next you can discuss colors and other pertinent information of choice. Last but not least you will see all kinds of letters, words, and sentences that will enrich what you are doing.

May, the Month of the Mothers!

Once your activity is over, have each student design for his or her mom a beautiful art collage.

Here is a popular theme: The Rainbow of Happiness!”

Look for fruits and flowers in all the colors of the rainbow. If you keep looking, you will find them all.

Need help from ROY G BIV?

Here goes: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet!


“Secret Message,” An Amazing Teaching Tool!

Tip Make the most of your students’ curiosity.

Choose your own place to create a “Secret Message” for your students. Make one everyday, every few days, or once a week… your choice

Here are some popular places to write these:

  • On your chalkboard
  • On a dry erase board
  • On a plain piece of paper

No matter how you write yours or where you decide to put it, place a piece of paper over it to cover it up. No part should be seen easily… because… this is a “secret” message.

Match your message to the reading level of your students. Even if your students cannot read, make a simple message that you can read to them whenever you see anyone lifting up your paper cover to see what might be under it.

Make your message into an action request. Once your students get the hang of this, they will love surprising you with their ability to carry out the directions. No pressure here. No need for your students to be right or perform… just a happy interchange between the two of you and a chance for your students to enjoy natural growth in the reading process.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 166 – 167.


Curiosity is the drive, and surprise is the fun.

A Bouquet of Positive Feelings!

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The Power of Partnership!

Activity – Working Together, Not Apart!

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Areas Being Developed – Social Skills and creativity… all at one time!

Use any building set you have available like wooden blocks, Bristle Blocks, sponge letters or numbers, Legos, Tinker toys, Lincoln Logs, bottle caps (not too small to be swallowed), and more.

Then start off your students creating in partnership. One child begins and then the other child goes next. Have them keep taking turns adding pieces one-by-one. No rush, no fuss, just the simple fun of sharing time together in a very constructive way.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 106


As your students work in partnership, you will see their camaraderie grow. Interestingly enough, this is a wonderful way to teach your students to get along better with each other.

A Bouquet of Positive Feelings!

Here are three inspiring sayings that appear on the website Cynthia Goldberg… from my heart www.cynthiagoldberg.com in her Bookmarks section. Please feel free to write each one out and post them in prominent places in your classroom for “positive feelings.”

* Peace creates magical wonders.

* Love others the way you want to be loved.

* Face your fears. Never give up. There is always time to give and care.


Games with Letters!

With 26 letters placed back-to-back from A to Z, you can have a 13-card set. Depending on what works best for you, you can make one set or have fun guiding your students through the project. Use either 3”x5” index cards or the 5”x8” size and place on them stick-on letters that you can get in an office supply store.

If you hole-punch each one and add a yarn loop, your students can hang them. If you keep them plain, you have all different kinds of card game options open to you, even hiding them. If you just want to focus on how to write the letters, make up a game for tracing your fingers around the textured letters. Great fun is to find objects that match like “D for Door Knob” of “W for Window.” Try “B on a Book” and “T on a Table.”


How special it is to have a “homemade” toy that you can use in many different ways to teach your students the letters. If you tried this kind of teaching before in a more formal way, now you have the simplicity of 13 cards to use and enjoy in your own creative way. Fun and learning is an amazing combination!

A Bouquet of Positive Feelings!

Play your own game of alphabet flowers. Lets’ start…

A is for Azalea

is for ?????. Hard to think of ones like Begonia, Buttercup, or Birds of Paradise? No matter! Use more common flower-like words like Bud, Blossom, and Beautiful

C is for Chrysanthemums

D is for Daisies

NOTE: Play has no real rules. The only parameters are the ones you make up and enjoy.


Enjoying April!

Find here fun and interesting information to use in the classroom all month long.

Part I  – If you like themes, here is a suggestion – “A Bouquet of Positive Feelings.”

A great way to start is with lines of poetry from the book Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman. It is an important poem about the power of love that parents have for their children.

I wanted you more

than you ever will know,

so I sent love to follow

wherever you go.

It’s high as you wish it. It’s quick as an elf.

You’ll never outgrow it… it stretches itself!

So climb any mountain..

climb up to the sky!

My love will find you.

My love can fly!

Part II – April Birthday Information


April 1 – 19 – diamond

April 20 – 30 – emerald

Birth Flower:

April 1 – 19 – Sweet Pea or Daisy

April 20 – 30 – Lily of the Valley

Zodiac Sign:

April 1 – 19 – ArIes

April 20 – 30 – Taurus

Shower your birthday students this month with the beauty of April’s richness!

Part III – Earth Day – both background and current data

Mission – To provide education, inspire leadership, and encourage action for a healthy environment. (1990)

The establishment of Earth Day was an event on April 22, 1970 started by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After witnessing the ravages of a major oil spill in 1969 and inspired by the student anti-war movement, he called for an environmental teach-in. Over 20 million people participated that year. Gathering national attention, it later became called “Earth Day.” Today it is observed on April 22 each year by more than one billion people and many national governments in 192 countries. Earth Day appears on calendars around the world.

As you celebrate this year, I call your attention to a new and very important aspect of this day – the Moon.

We all know that…

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first to land on the moon on July 20, 1969 and that Neil Armstrong took the first steps six hours later on July 21st. The two men then continued to explore together, and six missions followed with a total of 12 men landing on the moon by December 1972.

However few know that…

along with their backpacks, an American flag, and half the Apollo 11 moon-landing module, there is a large amount of debris left on the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin left some sentimental mementos like a patch from the never-launched Apollo 1 mission and commemoration medals. Others left more, some purposeful and some not. There are 73 goodwill messages from leaders around the world and a small gold pin shaped like an olive branch as a symbol of peace. In addition, there are a whole host of other commemorative and personal objects like golf balls, a silver astronaut pin, and the fallen astronaut statuette left by the crew of  Apollo 15.

We also have a long list of huge man-made objects on the moon like retroreflectors (the only artificial objects still in use) and many surface equipment packages that are no longer used. The remains of five specific rockets from the Apollo program are the heaviest single pieces of debris left, and here are are some of the other more notable items:

Luna 2 – 1959

Ranger 4 – 1962

Luna 5 -1965

Luna 9 – 1966

Surveyor 1 – 1966

Apollo 11 – 1969

Moon Buggy – 1971 – There are three altogether on the surface, gently gathering dust.

There is more.

Here is the part to make us think…

The largest amount of trash outside of earth’s atmosphere is in fact on the moon. We hear about the amount of waste floating around in our atmosphere all the time. However, we never hear about what we have done to our “earth’s best friend.”

The moon has only been accessible to us for decades, rather than hundreds of years. However, in the short time available to humanity it is estimated that we have left over 375,000 pounds of debris on its surface and taken back to earth about 842 pounds of the moon.

If debris is not bad enough, here is what happened on October 9, 2009

NASA crashed a piece of space junk into the moon’s south pole to find out if the dark, cold craters there contained water in the form of ice that we might some day be able to use? The impact of the 2.2-ton empty rocket part kicked up a cloud of dust. Then, a spacecraft flew down through that dust, checked for water, and sent data and live footage of the impact back to earth, before crashing into the moon as well.

Few know that…

shortly after that specific crash, huge numbers of natural disasters like vicious hurricanes, major earthquakes and  giant tsunamis began to occur at record rates. In addition, our current extreme weather patterns started right at that time. Many experts espouse theories about the new trend of increased natural difficulties, but no one has yet come up with this possible connection to our lunar activities.

This Earth Day…

let us not forget the magnificence of our full moon and its continuing beauty throughout every phase. Let everyone remember that she is Luna, Latin name for the moon and the basis for a very important calendar. Let us all continue to love and respect our handsome man who helps us with all our dreams and who remains such a faithful committed companion to our very wonderful earth. It is he, our very best friend, who continues to bring in our tides and pull up our hopes.

Ohhh April 22, 2013! Look what we have done to our earth and now to the moon!

NOTE: The lunar surface is dryer than our driest deserts. Maybe we are not the ones who really need that water.

A Bouquet of Positive Feelings!

If possible and appropriate to your teaching situation, make it a homework assignment to go outside tonight and take a joyous look at our gorgeous moon. Then filled with its power, come back inside and use its spirit to tell someone in your family what you really mean, “I love you to the moon and back.”

The next full moon will be on April 25, 2013


Oprah’s Question that Others Answer

Each month in O the Oprah Magazine, Oprah asks a major question. Next she asks for readers to answer it on oprah.com. Then she selects from all of the responses, specific ones that she especially likes, and features them in an upcoming issue. Here is the question she printed in the March 2013 issue and the first sentence of all the answers she chose to feature.

What’s the one item you’d never part with?

* My collection of sea glass from around the world

*  My grandfather’s pocket watch

*  A ticket stub from an Andrea Bocelli concert six years ago

*  My marathon medal

*  A trunk of letters sent between my grandfather and me

*  My Texas A&M University class ring

*  My scrapbook

*  A photo of my sons, Adam and Michael, on Adam’s first birthday, in 1971

*  A jade necklace I got in China when we adopted our first daughter

*  A doll my mother gave me as a child

Each selection is explained a little further about why the particular item means so much.  Not one has to do with monetary value. All have to do with sentiment, a personally motivating connection, or a major life lesson.

Translated into teaching terms, introduce the word “materialistic.”

Ideas of March!

Design your own classroom activity based on this concept. As your students reveal to you their prized possessions, you are all bound to have a meaningful and eye-opening lesson.


Tip – Stand up tall; sit down straight, and match, match, match!

Reinforce mid-line awareness in these two important ways:

  • Full Body – Talk to your students about a strong central core that goes from top to bottom.
  • Eyes – Help you students focus on the midpoint of a picture by making the two halves meet.

Get out your favorite child magazines that you are done with and look for big and beautiful pictures that are symmetrical. Faces, trees, and houses are most frequently available. You will probably find others. Once you find a few, cut them out and then in half vertically.

Next have fun with your students making the two parts match.


Reading and writing are once again the focus. Strong mid-line awareness is a very important concept for the other process of crossing it.

Ideas of March!

If you cannot find symmetrical pictures to cut, have your students draw their own. A bowl and a lamp are two good ones that are pretty easy to draw and very good for this kind of activity. Your students may also like to draw and/or color these or others as well.

Here’s another thought! Paper plates. Children love to color these, especially on the ripples on the border. Easy to color and easy to cut… You can’t beat that!


Exercise Those Eyes!

Tip – Practice with your students movements that go from left to right.

Cut short pieces of yarn or ribbon about 9 to 12 inches long and give one to each pair of students. Have each pair stand up tall and look straight into each other’s eyes. Then have one student from each pair move the yarn or ribbon slowly across his or her body from his or her right to left (left to right for the child across). Then ask the children across to keep their heads straight and follow the yarn or ribbon with their eyes only.


The idea is to help your students get as comfortable as possible with the left-to-right progression. Reading and writing are a big deal, both skills that require repeated movements from left to right; and they will both go more smoothly with this kind of motor patterning.

Ideas of March!

Think of other creative and fun ways to do this activity. How about a flashlight? Project the light on a wall and have one student at a time come up to follow it… with eyes only and from left to right.


March Into Spring!

Going along with our new theme this month of celebrating holidays in new and different ways, I will do my best to give you information that I hope you will find interesting, fun, and helpful.

Here is a basic list of March holidays as identified this week on Tuesday Afternoon Tea.

March 10 – 2:00 am begins daylight savings time (spring ahead)

March 15 – Ides of March

March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day

March 20 – First day of spring

March 26 – First day of Passover

March 29 – Good Friday

March 31 – Easter Sunday

Now, here’s the new twist. Add the March birthdays to this list. Then make sure every child has a copy of all the special dates as a guide for the month.

When it comes to celebrating birthdays, I am sure you have your own special way. Now, in case you do not already know them, here are a few facts about March that you might like to add to help spark the creative spirit of your students.

  • Birthstone – Aquamarine
  • Birth Flower – Jonquil (Daffodil)
  • Zodiac Sign – Pisces (2/19 – 3/20) Aries (3/21 -4/19)

March on… March to the beat of your own drum… March, march, march!


The Pattern Game!

Start this game with simple patterns and then progress to harder ones.

With two colors of checkers in front of you, place a few of them in a pattern. To set this up for your classroom, use whatever tools you have. You might want to draw your pattern on a dry erase board with red and black solid circles. Another idea is to use a magnet strip and cut it into small squares, one for each checker, and then place your pattern on a magnetic board. Today there are many choices for adapting this activity for small or large groups.

Then have your students make a matching pattern to yours with their group of checkers. Continue the activity with harder and harder patterns.

Parenting Insight…

While pattern awareness is a valuable skill, this particular game fosters the left-to-right reading progression.

“In order to learn to read you have to be able to cross the midline of your body with your eyes.”

Emergent Literacy!

You can’t get much more emergent than this! First you go through the pattern with checkers. Next you go through it with letters and words… and before long reading is well underway. Makes sense to me!


Childhood Games as Teaching Tools

From “Ring Around a Rosie” to “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” children’s singing games are packed full of learning experiences.

As you have fun with your students doing the “world-famous” Hokey-Pokey, enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Areas Being Developed – Motor Skills, Language, and Left & Right

Stand opposite your class and play this well-known game. Turn around carefully as you model the direction accurately. Here is a recommended order for body parts:

  • Left hand, right hand
  • Left foot, right foot
  • Head
  • Whole self

When you “do the hokey-pokey,” you can be creative about this movement. When you “turn yourself about,” you and your students should turn in the clockwise direction.

Enrichment Information!

Any child activity that has stood the test of time like the “Hokey-Pokey” must have a lot to offer. Let’s check that out. Here are the primary benefits:

  • An excellent natural way for teaching and reinforcing the concepts of “left and right.”
  • A valuable technique for teaching and reinforcing movement in a clockwise direction.

Consistently going from left to right and moving in a clockwise direction establishes order for children.

Emergent Literacy!

Enjoyable childhood games combined with easy-to-learn lyrics form the basis of much language learning.

Easy-to-learn lyrics promote clear speech.

Loved games are played over and over and through repetition and familiarity promote learning.


Posture and Learning Success!

Stand up, sit down straight, straight, straight!

Midline awareness and then crossing it are lifetime learning tools (brain development), and the process begins in the early years. Here is some valuable information about what happens.

  1. One of the first milestones of development is lifting the head. That is something that takes place in a straight-up motion. After that all the other milestones occur in a symmetrical position–sitting up, crawling, standing, and more.
  2. Next come the movements that are done to meet at the midline like clapping.
  3. After that it is important to keep in mind that as you direct your child in the most basic movements and exercises, the body should be midline-centered with the head facing forward.


As you observe your little ones sitting, kneeling, and playing; be on the lookout for posture. Do whatever you can in a supportive, subtle, and helpful way to help your students align their bodies in a symmetrical way. Emergent Literacy!

For years professionals have talked about posture and its physical importance. Now you know it is also basic for learning. While you sensed before intuitively that slouching was not optimal, now you know it is even more important than that. To fine out more about “emergent literacy,” go to www.emergent-literacy.com.

Adapted from the introduction to “Games for Midline Development” in Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, pp. 85 – 86. The next set of tips will focus on some of the actual games that are especially beneficial to midline development.


Activity – Sing-a-Long!

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Area Being Developed – Language

Play your favorite child music that has clear words! Write the words clearly on your blackboard. Then as you all sing together, point to the words, syllable by syllable.

Enrichment Information…

Research tells us that singing is one of the best vehicles for stimulating language in young children. Connecting the spoken word with the visual is the secret to this particular activity. Fun and learning at the same time; how good is that!


Valentine’s Day and Learning!

Here are some lines for making Valentine’s Day cards in the classroom.


Thank you Mom for all you do.

Thank you Dad for being you.


Here’s a thought for just you two.

“I love you, and that is true!”


Here’s a message just for you.

It’s a simple “I love you.”


Emergent Literacy!

The joy in sending a home-made card beats out sending a store-bought one in almost every way. It is also great for reading, writing, understanding, and speaking skills. And it is as a memory tool too. Learn more about literacy development at www.emergent-literacy.com.


Teaching the Spirit of Knowledge along with its Content!

“Knowledge is power!” Use this great educational “booster” for beginning a school day.

Here is a way to apply it to studying about President Obama. Have your students take turns explaining something they know related to the topic. Here are some examples:

  • President Obama is our 44th president.
  • He just got inaugurated for his second term.
  • It was our country’s 57th inauguration.
  • The economy is a big problem for our president.

Let each student’s piece of information stimulate conversation, action, and fun. While you can explain to your students the value of knowledge, bringing it to the fore and helping them feel it’s power works the best.


What is so great about learning is that whatever you already know lays the foundation for learning more. In addition, when you know how to do something right, it is much easier than doing it wrong. Here’s another perk. Knowledge provides security.


Activity – Warm Up, Cool Down*

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Area Being Developed – Motor Skills

Turn your outside free play into focused aerobic exercise. Your students will love it! Select an agreed-upon activity like one of these–running, jumping, hopping, skipping, and galloping, and begin!

Here is an example using running. Give directions like this…  slow, fast, slow. Repeat this game with any or all of the other movements. Play as long as you all want.


Running, jumping, skipping, and hopping are all activities your students will enjoy. In addition, they are particularly good for the heart and circulatory system.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 60


10 Writing Tips that Work!

Use these ten tried and tested tips for fostering writing development in the early years.

Children love them!

1. Rejoice in your students’ progress. Watch scribbles turn to purposeful lines, curves to complete circles, and circles to parts of letters and numbers. Notice all markings that look like creative designs.

2. Model clear and excellent writing as much as possible. Your students will love to do what you do.

3. Show your students how to correctly hold a pencil, pen, crayon, or marker. Keep at it. You will not be sorry. It is very important for your students to learn these fine motor positions correctly from the start. Unlearning and re-learning are both much harder to do.

4. Buy pencil grips for your students. These are very helpful for little fingers. They are inexpensive and come in different styles and textures.

5. Bring in junk mail for your students. Check each one of the enclosures for large letters that might be good for tracing. Be sure to use the white spaces on the backs of both the envelopes and the enclosures for free-form drawing and coloring.

6. Introduce recommended activities to build fine motor dexterity. Here are some favorites: finger puppets, puzzles, chalkboards, painting, clay, and play dough.

7. Enjoy reading to your students from big print books. Point out as many words as you can. Direct exposure to print stimulates the writing process.

8. Create a writing station. Just as it is beneficial to have a comfortable reading corner, so it is important to have a special play area set up for writing and drawing.

9. Have a chalkboard with chalk and erasers handy for your students. That is an old-time favorite.

10. Put out a secret message everyday. Read it to your students in the beginning. See how long it will take for them to start reading it to you.


Have fun with writing, drawing, and creating. The more you all enjoy these activities, the faster and better your students will grow with them.

Time Well-spent on the Playground

Here is some valuable information about playgrounds. No matter how yours is set up, it is designed to promote growth and development by encouraging movement. People are mobile and meant to be on the go. That is their happy state of being. The younger the child, the more the movement, the older the person in general, the less time spent being active.

Original playgrounds were set up so that children could move in every direction:

  1. Slide – up and down
  2. Swings – back and forth
  3. Merry-go-round – around
  4. Jungle Gym – every direction

The newer playgrounds are quite different but also effective. However, if by any chance you have an old-fashioned one as described above at your school, enjoy. Have fun as you encourage a variety of movement in all directions. How nice it is to know that what others may think is just time off is actually time well-spent.


Movement through space, especially on playground equipment, builds body coordination, muscle strength, and concentration. Not bad for a few hours a week of fun! As you also know, fresh air is the best air of all.


Play and Say*

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Area Being Developed – Social & Language Development, a Relationship-Building Activity

Here is a fun poem that is designed to be a vehicle for practicing pleasant social interactions.

The first two lines are for participation. The next five are for listening. The last part is for participating again.

Hello, what is your name?

How old are you?


Glad to meet you.

Yes, it’s true.

Let’s play a game that’s fun to do.

Listen to the words I choose,

And tell me what it is you use.


What do you drink from?

What do you eat with?

What is the food on?

What do you like to eat?

What do you like to drink?

What do you like to play?

What do you like to say?

Start by asking the first question. Wait for an answer. Then ask the second question following the same procedure. When you start line three, put out your hand for a handshake and start the “Glad to meet you” section of the poem.


The last part is for developing verbal expression. After much repetition, you and your students will get to know this poem like an old friend. You will be able to say much of it from memory at all different times. The more you play it, the more your students will be able to expand and articulate the answers better.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 46


Teaching Students about the Odds of Winning.

Here is a fun way to help your students better understand lotteries, sweepstakes, and contests. Give a pair of dice to each pair of students and then give instructions for a very simplified version of a lottery game.

One person throws the dice six times and then writes down on a piece of paper each of the numbers numbers he or she gets. Then the other person throws the same pair another six times, one for each of the first person’s six numbers. The idea is to see how many matches you can make. Have the students switch parts and keep playing as many rounds as you like. Remember to explain that in a real lottery situation, each number chosen is from 1 to 60.

Winning in our society has been made to look deceptively easy. The excitement of lotteries, sweepstakes and contests bombard children all the time. Even cereal boxes, soda caps, and yogurt containers appeal to unsuspecting children whenever they can.


Luck plays a major role in life. It has a crazy bounce that comes from different people, different places, different things, and a multitude of unknown factors that impact us daily.

Imagine how many others may not have read this tip… and you did. How lucky is that!


Teaching about Chanukah with “Who, What, Where, When,” and “Why”


Chanukah, a Jewish Holiday which means “dedication,” starts this year on Saturday December 8 and goes through Saturday December 15 for the traditional 8 days.

The Story Behind It

It all started in 168 BC. First the Syrian-Greeks made the Jews worship the Greek gods. Then the Jews rebelled. By 165 BC, they defeated the Syrian-Greeks and regained control of their holy Temple in Jerusalem. By then it was quite defiled. In order to purify it, they wanted to burn ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. While it looked like the oil left was enough only for one day, this small amount of oil continued to burn for the full 8 days… and that was a miracle!

Chanukah, which means “dedication,” reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.


It is customary for people who celebrate Chanukah to light candles each night starting with one and ending with eight. The candelabra is called a menorah, and there is a raised spot on each one for an extra candle called the “shamash” designed to light all the other candles.

Chanukah is a time for lights, happiness, and joy. While it is not a major holiday in Judaism, it has taken on a large celebratory quality because of its time-frame being so close to Christmas.


This current topic of Chanukah lends itself well to high interest language development. It should work especially well for a “who, what, where, when, & why ” lesson.


My Family Collage*

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Area Being Developed – Social Development – Self-awareness and Self-esteem

Buy a box of colored file folders. You won’t be sorry. While they have so many uses, one of my favorites is for games.

Pass out a file folder to each student and have each one write with a marker the title “My Family” on the outside. Instruct your class to use the inside to place photos of people in their family. Using double-sided tape to attach the photos, have your students place them in a collage-like fashion anywhere in the folder. As they bring in each photo of a family member or pet, have them place their photos in a collage-like fashion in their own folders.

Enrichment Information…

A folder adds an element of surprise to this “family unit” concept. Your child will always have the fun of opening it up to see who is shown inside.

Tradition! Suggest to your students to make a new folder each year around holiday time and to look back from folder to folder to enjoy how his or her own family has grown and changed over time.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, p. 43


Teach your students to focus on positive occurrences.

Here is a fun way to build positive feelings. Name a topic, and then have students one at a time add a good memory. Here are some examples.

  • Soccer – “I made a goal.”
  • School– “I finished my work.”
  • Lunchtime – “I sat with Alistair.
  • Reading – “I read out loud.”
  • Recess – “I loved the slide.”

Modify this activity to serve your own teaching atmosphere. For boosting morale, get quick answers out loud. For writing, take written answers on a page. For both writing and speech, choose an activity and have your students either write or talk about it.


When it comes to success, the sky is the limit. Enjoy it in your classroom as much as you can. For honors, awards and certificates, display them freely. For all acts of kindness, point them out. Because only a few students get official awards, notice good deeds and individual accomplishments at every turn. No matter how small the positive, your awareness of it multiplies its meaning for the individual.

Make a big deal out of any kind of success. It is a big deal!

Holiday Cheer! Start a success box for the holidays and enjoy it to the hilt. Design it your way for your classroom. If a few students can create and/or decorate it, that would be great. If you need to make it and supply all the note paper and writing supplies, that is good too. If older students can write their own, and you need to write for younger ones, go ahead. In whatever way you choose, capture as many student successes as you can.

Holiday Gift Idea! Tidbits for Teachers by Email. Send a subscription to a colleague. Just drop me a note at mainoffice@mommyperks.com and let me know who you would like to have it sent to and any special note or holiday greeting you would like to add. Be sure to include the e-mail address of the other teacher.


Create “Me Boxes” for the Classroom

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Area Being Developed – Social Development – Self-awareness and Self-esteem

Ask each child in your class to bring in an empty shoebox or another kind of container that is similar in size. The idea is that all students will have their own  “Me Boxes.” The purpose of this kind of box is to have a place to keep items that children bring to school that are special to them or just plain fun.

In addition, it will be a teaching in tool in several other ways:

  • Understanding how to separate school supplies from those items that are not.
  • Having an actual container for storing items that otherwise might be distracting.
  • Creating a high interest focal point for all different kinds of language development activities.

Each day set aside time for a few students to choose one or more items from their containers to talk about and/or share with the class. You can teach with these presentations by stressing how important it is to stand up straight and speak clearly while addressing a group.

Enrichment: As you hear different explanations from your students, observe carefully. Find out as much as you can about their likes, dislikes and other forms of uniqueness. As you discover more and more, so will your students continue to learn more about each other. The whole activity will raise the quality of everyone’s social relationships while at the same time building self-awareness and self-esteem for each individual student.

The Holidays are coming! Use this tool to help you think about holiday projects for your students.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg.


Make a Thanksgiving and Thankfulness Word Book

Buy a little spiral-bound index card notebook or another kind of small writing book for each of the children in your classroom. Then each day or every few days ask your students for a favorite Thanksgiving or thankfulness word to write in it, one per page. Even if your students are too young to read, they will love having their own book of specially chosen words to carry around and show to others. Here are examples : Thanksgiving, Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Family, Friends and so many more. Exposure to the words, letters, and your pronunciation make a wonderful way to model clear speech, build reading skills, and demonstrate writing techniques.

The Chinese Touch! They are a culture of “thank you.” One of the wonderful sites to visit is the Temple of Heaven. As an important and beautiful structure that remains from the days of antiquity, we learn that people came there three times a year to pray. In the spring it was for rain. In the summer it was for the crops. At the winter solstice, it was to give thanks for the harvest. {I recently spent time in China. I will be sharing tips with you, over the next few weeks, based on what I saw and learned!}


Teaching Energy, Force and Motion (Pre-k & k)

Roll that Ball!

Activity 46 – Ball Roll

 Age Range – Pre-school & K

Area Being Developed – Pre-Science – Energy, Force, & Motion

As much fun as all those commercial windy ball toys are and as creative as all those museum swirly exhibits are, what you can create for fun and learning in the classroom is even better.

With simple materials like books and a ball you can make your own “play-and-learn” ramp game. As you increase the incline of your ramp, the faster the ball will go.

Take a few books down from a shelf. Make sure one of them is long and wide, about 81/2″ x 11″ in size. Start with a small stack of two books with the big one set up as a ramp.  Then have your students take turns rolling the ball down the ramp. Add one book at a time for steepness and have fun watching the ball go down faster and faster.

Enrichment: Continue with the ball in any way you want. Research tells us that a ball is a child’s favorite toy. For rolling, throwing, and even in any sport; it never does the same thing twice… and that is fun!

NOTE: Tip excerpted from Make Your Own Preschool Games by Sally Goldberg, Ph. D, p. 31


The Many Lessons of Columbus Day

“In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”

Columbus discovered America while looking for a shorter way to get to some islands in Southeast Asia to make important trades for Spain. He ended up in the Bahamas at a place he named “San Salvador.” Columbus came back there three more times to do more trades and never knew he had not reached his correct destination. He went the exact right route and came to the wrong place.

Was it his fault that he did not get to Southeast Asia? No. Did he know that North America and South America were going to be in the way of where he was going? No. Did he discover something new and wonderful by his mistake? Absolutely yes!

What a new way to understand your students!  In some circumstances a student may have had no idea that something beyond his or her knowledge was causing a problem. Use open-ended questions to find out. Here are some examples:

  1. How did that happen?
  2. Tell me about…
  3. Tell me more.
  4. Explain it further.

No guarantees, of course! However, it might be worth a try. Use this timely story to remind you to look into situations carefully. You could end up being very glad you did.


Making Paste in the Classroom

Activity 45: Paste-a-Pasta

Age Range: Preschool and Up

Area Being Developed: Pre-Science, Understanding Matter

Put some flour on a paper plate. A quarter cup is a good amount for starting. Then add water slowly. Again, a quart cup should work well. Use a spoon to mix it until it becomes the consistency of paste. Taking into account your students’ ages and experience, guide them to participate as much as possible. Then go ahead and set up a pasting activity. Use colored paper ready and pasta pieces of any shape. Have fun pasting!


From the pre-science perspective, you are teaching your students that you can mix certain materials together to get other materials.

From the twenty first century world of technology point of view, you are showing your students that a common substance like paste that people so often buy is really made up of simply combined substances.

In our world of instant,and ready-made, making something with your students as basic as paste should prove to be an amazingly valuable experience. Enjoy!

NOTE: Tip excerpted from Make Your Own Preschool Games by Sally Goldberg, Ph. D.


A Shapes Game for the Classroom

Activity 44: Recognizing Shapes

Age Range: Preschool and Up…

Area being Developed: Pre-Geometry and Spatial Sense

Start with a simple shape like a circle, square, or rectangle and make the activity into a treasure hunt. Take turns looking for a particular shape. Here are examples of shapes you might find in your classroom:

Circles – paper plates, door knobs, pencil holders, buttons, and table tops

Squares – windows, CD cases, boxes, and table tops

Rectangles – doors, windows, books, and desk tops

There are all different kinds of shapes in many places in your classroom, the office, and outside. Some will be hard to find at first; but as you continue to look, you will find more.


Circles, squares, and rectangles are all around. Triangles, hexagons, and other shapes are there too, but they are harder to find. As simple as this game may seem, play as a shape detective lays the initial groundwork for later success in geometry. Designed as a break from other more tedious work, this game is fun and educational at the same time.


Exercise and Sports Movements in the Classroom

Technique 41 – Feel confident as you introduce exercise and sports movements to your students. They will be smarter for it.

Traditional school activities are good for the brain, but motor activities have their own special way of contributing to learning.

While our culture has a way of separating motor development from learning and brain development, in reality the two are inextricably linked. The brain is totally responsible for all movement, and all movements are recorded in the brain.

Practice Makes Perfect!

For gross motor skills, a good example is learning to hit a ball with a bat. The brain directs you through all your movements. Then when you swing, your movements are recorded in your brain. They then influence you for the next time. How wonderful it is to learn movements correctly from the beginning and how difficult it is to change learned patterns.

For fine motor skills, learning to hold a pencil is a good example. How wonderful it is to get it right in the beginning and how difficult it is to break an old pattern.


So much happens during the course of a day, but show whatever appreciation you can for exercise and sports movements. Your attention to those areas will mean the world to your students and be beneficial to them at the same time.


September! Let’s Brush Up on Labor Day!

Monday September 5th was such an important holiday, and few of us can explain it well to kids. Here is a quick refresher!

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is dedicated to the achievements of American workers and constitutes a yearly national tribute to our country.

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. Some show that it is Peter J. McGuire, a member of a worker’s organization. Others believe it is Matthew McGuire, a member of what was considered a more proper trade union. Recent research supports Matthew.

The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday. By 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many cities in our country.

Today, as you know, Labor Day is a major national holiday and represents to us all a re-focus from summer fun to a more business-like frame of mind.

Main idea! We are a country built on hard work, and we now have a wonderful holiday to celebrate it.


Use Student Names 

A lot!

Use your students’ names as much as possible. A person’s name is his or her favorite word. It brings great pleasure when he or she hears it. The more you say a student’s name, the stronger your relationship will become with that student.

Here is a game you can play to practice this idea. Make a list of ten action words. Write each one on a separate index card. Then have students take turns picking cards and doing the actions. Each time a student picks a card, say the student’s name and then ask him or her to do the action. Here are some examples:

“Isabelle, jump ten times.

“Rebecca, walk across the room.”

“Joshua, do ten jumping-jacks?”

“Monique, point to your nose.”


This is a “back-to-school” friend-making” idea. Teach your students to say their friends’ names as much as possible. Saying a name has its own way of showing interest. When you show interest in someone else, they usually show interest back to you.


Tech Toys and the Classroom

For years parents and teachers have been fearing that one day hi-tech activities might take the place of real play for the lives of many children, and it looks like that day has finally arrived. The results of a survey of 2,000 British parents found that families spent an average of more than $15,000 on toys for each child before the age of 19. While we do not know for sure, many parents in the US probably spend even more.

As you know, vital to outdoor play are social skills development, language learning, and creativity. Here’s what’s happening:

  1. Parents are facing pressure to buy the latest toys and gadgets.
  2. Children are missing out on active play necessary for developing balance, coordination, motor skills and spatial awareness.
  3. Children are not getting enough vitamin D which has been found to be linked to eyesight problems and weight gain.
  4. Children are missing out on learning how to both collaborate and cooperate.
  5. Children are not getting the needed first-hand experience that teaches trial and error, risk-taking, discovery and how things work.
  6. Children are not growing sufficiently in the areas of imaginative play and innovative thinking.
  7. Parents are spending more time buying toys than playing with their children.

Teachers are under a similar pressure to teach their students with hi-tech equipment. While there is no simple solution, do what you can on a daily basis to use outdoor play as much as you can. In addition, use as much indoor time as you can find to create as many opportunities as you can for good old-fashioned unstructured play.


“Hands-on Learning”

Technique 38 – Enrich “hands-on” learning with rich “sensory” input:

Sight          Sound          Taste          Touch          Smell

Sight: Think about the physical environment in your classroom and make it as appealing as possible.

Sound: Be as aware as possible of the impact of sound. When it comes to music, it can be very relaxing and add an element of calmness to your environment. Classical is outstanding. Other known favorites are Peruvian flute, Tibetan masterpieces, and the Celtic harp. Always avoid loud harsh sounds.

Taste: As you know tastes are amazing. They can also be extremely memorable, one way or another.

Touch: Texture is a great touch concept. Since we do much exploration through feeling and manipulating, exposure to different kinds of surfaces and moderate weights are recommended.

Smell: Smell is extremely powerful. Many aromas can make lasting memories.


People remember 10 percent of what they hear, 50 percent of what they see, and 90 percent of what they experience.

All experiences are important and make an impact. Everything anyone does shapes what he or she will be able to do. Each decision or choice impacts all future ones. Maria Montessori tells us, “There is no eraser.”



As you start this new school year, try this for a theme.

Confidence! And the secret?

“Anything worth doing is worth doing right!”

Choose one or more of these thought conditioners… and have fun with them in any way you wish. Maybe you will want to create one for each student in your class. Sing with them, dance with them, and enjoy them in your own special way as you make them come alive!

I am smart!     Great at art!     Nothing to it!     I can do it!

I am strong!     I’m not wrong!     I am bright!     I am right!

Back to school!   That is cool!    Do my best!     Ace the test!

Make up your own.


Activity 39: Follow the Leader

Age Range: 2 1/2-Years-Old on…

Area being Developed: Self-esteem… Feeling good about oneself!

“Follow the leader, the leader, the leader. Follow the leader… just like me.”

As you keep to the beat of the directions, make up your own actions to follow. They can be as simple as clapping your hands or patting your head or as challenging as jumping ten times or doing knee-bends. Start as leader. Next encourage a child in your class to take over. Then pick different children to be the leader.

Make this into creative play. Enjoy each other whether you are taking the lead or following. Surprise is part of the fun.

Dr. Sally Says…

When you follow a child you help that child to feel good about him or herself.


Technique 35 – Use a reward as a positive part of your guidance system.

Following directions is the best! It carries with it it’s own natural rewards system. Not following them sometimes has built-in discomfort. However, sometimes it does not.

For those kinds of situations when they do not have any automatic consequences, it is helpful to have rewards that you can take away. An appropriate example would be something like this, “After you clean up your books, you can go out to play.”

In this way the possible loss of a reward is presented in a positive way. Guiding your class in this way is fair, firm, and positive. It is proactive, not reactive, and includes the perspective of teaching.


When you do a good job, you feel great! However, if you do not live up to your own standards, the situation becomes less rewarding. If you do not hold a glass carefully, it might fall. This is the same for your students. If they do not take good care of their papers, they might get crumpled on the way home. Many times these disappearing rewards are built into a situation. However, sometimes they are not.


July 4th! Independence Day!

History is never easy to explain to children, but this month provides a wonderful opportunity to give it a try.

Just as children grow to the point of adulthood and eventually go out on their own, so can a people grow in such a way that they need to separate from another country and start a country of their own.

On July 4, 1776 our forefathers declared themselves free and separate from Great Britain. While freedom is easy to take for granted, this month is the exact right time to talk to your class about it and the amazing country that we continue to build because of it.

Celebrate well and enjoy!

Tip 46 –Teach your students the magic of the words “thank you.”

The key words for showing appreciation are “thank you.” Start by using these words often. The more you use them, the more your students will use them too. Soon it will become second nature for all of you.

The way to teach children to say “thank you” is to say “thank you” to them.

Here are some common ways to say it:

“Thank you for helping me carry the books.”

“Thank you for listening so well today.”

“Thank you for putting all your crayons away.”

As you look around for different ways to say “thank you,” you will see that opportunities are endless.


“Appreciation plays a large role in the friend-building process. When you show appreciation to others, they in turn will show appreciation to you. Well-known psychologist William James said, ‘One of the deepest drives in human nature is the drive to be appreciated.”  Peale, p. 177

In the teacher-student relationship, there are so many opportunities for asking, commanding, and sometimes even demanding. However, now you know there are equally as many, if not more, ways to show appreciation. Being aware of the real magic words “thank you,” you can dramatically enhance your whole relationship with your class.


Technique 33 – React with humor by changing your point of view.

Another way to use humor is with a negative sentence. Everyone likes a challenge.

Here are some examples.:

  • “You wouldn’t be able to put all your papers away, would you?”
  • “You couldn’t read this whole book, could you?”
  • “You couldn’t be in line with your whole desk clean by 1:30 pm, could you?”

You can probably already hear loudly and clearly all these“ Oh yes I can(s).”


Anytime you can take the pressure off or switch a situation from serious to humorous, you will find yourself way ahead of the game. Enjoy this new technique. Not only is it fun, it works!


June 17th! Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is celebrated in various countries all over the world. In the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom it falls on the third Sunday in June. Celebrate well!

Father’s Day has an  interesting, meaningful, and long history. Surprisingly enough, Father’s Day did not become an official holiday until President Nixon’s proclamation in 1972.

Here is the fun part!

1909 – Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, the oldest of six children who were raised by her father after her mother died during childbirth, thought of the idea. Listening to a Mother’s Day sermon, she made up her mind to establish a day to honor fathers.

1910 – The first Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane, WA on June 19, 1910.

1924 – President Calvin Coolidge recommended that the third Sunday in June be set aside for this national holiday.

1966 – President Lyndon Johnson signed a similar proclamation in 1966.

1972 – President Nixon signed the proclamation that made Father’s Day into the national holiday we have today.



Tip 43 – Help your students have as many positive experiences each day as possible.

Be positive. While it is easy to point out when something goes wrong, it is more difficult to notice when all is well. Turn yourself into a success detective. Outwardly acknowledge simple things like putting an item in the right place or sitting up straight. Such recognition will make your students feel happy and important. The more you catch your students being good, the more happy times you will all have together.


All experiences find their way into memory. Once in memory, they continue to affect future behavior. Positive experiences lead to more positive ones, and that is the goal.


Activity 33 – Walk & Talk!

Sometimes the simplest activities are the best.

Area being Developed: Language (Speaking & Listening)

Take a walk with a few of your students or even your whole class. Then let the conversation flow. Modify this idea to fit your own teaching circumstance.

If you want to find out from one child what happened, go outside together and… let the conversation flow.

If you want to work with a small group on a topic, walking together and then stopping in different locations to chat works great.

If you just want to give your students some time to talk, take your whole class out and let them enjoy each other. One way to simplify this activity with a large group is to have your students walk in pairs.

Insight… Taking a walk provides an excellent venue for conversation.


Technique 30 – Be a part of the solution.

Gaining cooperation in the classroom is always important. The quicker you gain it, the faster and more efficient teaching becomes. Participation turns out to be a successful key. Here are a couple of examples that use the process:


If you want your students to get ready for a new task, you can say something like,

“While you clear your desks, I will set up the computer and get out the crayons.”

Then when the first step is accomplished…

“While you take out your pencils, I will get the scissors.”


If you want your students to put the shelves in order, you can say something like,

“While you gather all the equipment, I will pile up the books.”

Then when the first step ins done…

“While you find all the puzzle pieces, I will collect the papers.”

Insight… Your participation gives your students the message that you are on the same team. It gives the idea of working together, and your students will really like that.



Mother’s Day!

A Humble Beginning…

In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day as a national holiday. Flags were flown to honor mothers who had lost their sons in war.

An Amazing Transformation…

In 2012 children everywhere in our country will celebrate Mother’s Day, one of our most important national holidays. Cards and presents will be made, and just about every mom will get treated to a wonderful meal out.

Being a mother has never been easy, and still is not. As times change the job changes, but one thing stays the same. Love! Every mother has it, and each mom uses it in her own way to make life as good as possible for her children.

Have fun as you prepare with your children whatever special Mother’s Day treat you are planning!

Happy Mother’s Day!


Welcome May! A Proverb about Peace

May Day was established to celebrate the coming of spring, and Mother’s Day was created to honor mothers. With May Day behind you and Mother’s Day ahead, I wish you a “light in your soul” to enjoy all month. Here is an ancient Chinese Proverb starts with that “light” and ends with “world peace.” Share it with your children in your own special way.

If there is light in the soul,

There will be beauty in the person. 

If there is beauty in the person,

There will be harmony in the house.

If there is harmony in the house,

There will be order in the nation.

If there is order in the nation,

There will be peace in the world.


Technique 27 – Be a person, not a god… by talking about your childhood.

Here are some fun ways to start:

  1. I was named after…
  2. My grandpa always…
  3. My brother and I liked to play…
  4. My favorite chore was…
  5. I never liked when I had to…
  6. My favorite toy was…
  7. I wanted to grow up to be a…
  8. I always wished…
  9. I listened to music on a…
  10. The first president I remember was…


Share with your students real thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Then watch your relationship grow!


Tip 37 – Teach your students how to have a positive point of view.

Take turns with your students starting sentences with the words “I like…”  If you play this game at the end of the day, change your starter words to “I liked…” and have fun reflecting on the day. Here are some examples for both your beginning and end-of-day games:


* I like cream cheese.

* like riding my bike.

* I like coloring.


* I liked when you put the words on the board.

* I liked when you watched us on the slide.

* I liked when you played Bingo with us.



Once you start playing this game, you will probably think of more and more things you both like. Probably you will find more and more time to play this game like… while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, riding in the car, or even at the dinner table. Here’s a real bonus! As you continue to play, you will probably become more appreciative of each other and more content in general.

Is it Earth Day or Birthday?

Earth Day is one way of saying happy birthday to our world. While April 22nd is not the day the earth was born, it is the anniversary of the day in 1970 that the United States took on the global awareness to make one day each year a reminder that the earth is a precious gift of life. The message was so well-stated and so well-received that we still have that day today to remind us to take care of what we all share together–our wonderful planet.

Therefore, just as you celebrate each child’s birthday this year, set aside April 22nd to celebrate with your class another year of our collective lives. Talk about all we have accomplished so far as a society and have fun as you think up new and different ways to help our earth continue to flourish for many years to come.

Happy Earth Day!


Tip 36 – Teach your students to think about peaceful places.

Have fun describing for them peaceful scenes for them to envision. Here are some examples:

  • A beautiful valley filled with magnificent flowers, all glistening in the sunshine.
  • A silvery lake at night sparkling with the reflections from a gorgeous full moon.
  • A jagged coastline full of splashes from forceful waters brushing up against it at the end of the day.

Enjoy making up some of your own.

NOTE: Some of your students may even want to draw some of them.


The best things in life are free, and that includes thoughts. Who would have thought of that!

Peaceful thoughts are little gifts you can give to your children any time during the day.



Technique 24 – Change the environment.

Yes, distracting the child is the name of this game. It works! Often it is the easiest way to nip a difficult situation in the bud. Here are the basics:

* Remove the child from the situation.

* Enrich the present surroundings.

* Remove whatever it is that seems to be causing the trouble.

* Replace the difficulty with something more functional.

If all else fails, talk to your child about the situation and figure out together how to set up the situation so that both of you will feel satisfied.

Insight… It only make sense to set up yourself in an optimal way. More often than not, there are several choices for intervening. Once you hit on the right solution, you are likely to notice a very big difference. Fighting a situation takes a lot of unnecessary energy. It is only fair that you have your full capacity to be positive, warm, and supportive.

While swimming up stream is difficult, going with the flow always works well.


Technique 23 – Be a person, not a god.

Present yourself as a real person to your children. Share real thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Feel free to make mistakes and also to follow up with sincere apologies. Besides expressing yourself, seek your students’ thoughts, feelings, and ideas as much as possible.


Baby talk is out. Adult talk is in. With this style, you show your students respect.

“In like a lion and out like a lamb!”

What to do? Here are some ideas.

  • Take turns acting like a lion and then like a lamb.
  • Find pictures of lions and lambs.
  • Draw or color lions and lambs.
  • Eat lamb food like lamb chops or lamb stew.
  • Talk about lions and cubs and sheep and lambs
  • Make animal sounds like roars and baas
  • Have fun with rhymes like “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
  • Make words out of the letters of M A R C H.

Don’t forget! You can always march to the beat of a different drummer.


Technique 22 – Believe in your student.

Believe in your children, and they will believe in themselves.


Believing in your students has far-reaching effects. If you believe they will succeed, they are likely to do it.


Tip 20 – It is better to tell a child that he or she can play with a toy after a classmate has finished with it than just to say that he or she cannot play with the toy.


As you build your daily relationship with your students through interactions, you are being positive. You are focusing on what your students can have as opposed to what they cannot.


February! Sing a Valentine’s Day Song

Singing with hand-motions has a wonderful way of bringing joy to children.

Here is a well-known song that has been delighting little ones for generations. Say or sing the words together. Be sure to add the hand motions as indicated.

If you all end up liking this song a lot, make it your Valentine’s Day tradition.



Skidamarink a dinka dink (Wiggle your arms and fingers.)

Skidamarink a doo (Wiggle your arms and fingers.)

I love you. (Hug yourself or hug each other.)


I love you in the morning (Bend at the waist and move your arms from side to side.)

And in the afternoon. (Stand up straight. Put your arms out straight, and then move them from side to side.)

I love you in the evening (Make a big circle over your head.)

And underneath the moon. (Move your big circle from side to side.)

Ohhhh (Move your hands quickly down to your sides.)

Skidamarink a dink a dink (Wiggle your arms and fingers.)

Skidamarink a doo. (Wiggle your arms and fingers.)

I love you. (Hug yourself or hug each other.)

Repeat whole song as often as you like.



February! Month of the Heart

You say “February,” and I say “Valentine’s day.”

You say “February,” and I say “American Heart Month.”

You say “February,” and I say “Kind heart.”

No matter you or I say, February is the month of the “heart,” a full month (all 29 days) to fill with

  • Love
  • Health
  • Helpfulness

Write these word in big letters on separate cards. Display them prominently in your classroom. Talk about their meaning and make words out of their letters. The more creativity you put into each one, the more you and your students will get out of them all. Enjoy!


Label Jars! Not People

How sad it is that the “autism” label has hit the news related to school funding. This kind of label which is given out by a doctor should be treated like any other diagnosis–privately and with dignity. Whatever teaching, therapy, or enrichment is recommended is fair game, but the term “autism” is definitely not a word that should be shared with a young child or anyone besides the immediate family and anyone with whom they would like to discuss their situation.

While labels carry with them limitations, children carry with them individuality, hope, drive, and enormous amounts of energy that can be directed in joyful and positive ways.

Any child who we label as “autistic” has differing combinations of the problem and to different degrees. Each and every child, with or without a disability, is born into the world with his or her own unique set of abilities and challenges. It is those abilities and challenges that should be the focus of any and all talks about school funding.


Technique 17  – Listen and communicate in fun and easy ways.

Your part of the conversation should be made up mostly of open-ended questions that will stimulate your children to talk. In addition, it should have nurturing words and sounds like “good, oh, really, hmm, etc.” to encourage them to keep explaining more to you.

Here are some basic questions you can ask.

With the word “what” there are questions like

What happened?

What did you think about that?”


With the word “how” there are ones like

How did that happen?

How did you do that?


With the word “why” there are

Why did you do that?

Why did you say that?

These are open-ended questions that will not lead to yes or no answers.

Insight… Did you know that effective listening comes in a 70:30 ratio? That means listening about 70% of the time and talking about 30% of it.


Tip 27 – Tell your children what to do, and stay away from what not to do.

Here are a few examples of guidance that works:

  1. Walk in the hallway.
  2. Put your books on your desk.
  3. Sit up straight.
  4. Write with the pencils.

Here are some examples that have no effect at all:

  1. Don’t run in the hallway.
  2. Don’t leave your books on the floor.
  3. Don’t slouch.
  4. Don’t write with the pens.

“What to do” is the magic!.  “What not to do” just does not work.

Insight… It is very important to choose your words wisely. Your children will hear the pro-active part of what you say.


A New Way to Look at an Old Idea!

How much fun is that!

Kudos to Trader Joe’s for giving us a creative brown bag idea! The next time you shop in Trader Joe’s you will notice that right on their brown bags are child-friendly directions for making cheerful decorations.

Using their guidance you will be able to make festive chains and novelty gift tags to use all winter long. You can even cut apart the bags and use them as homemade wrapping paper. If you have only one or two bags, you can make templates out of the patterns and trace them either on brightly colored paper or on paper that your children can color brightly.

Even though the holidays are over, you now have another resource for enjoying creativity and the “gift of giving” all winter long. Share this idea with your parents. In addition, refer them to December! The Art & Science of Giving on Wednesday Evening Wine for even more creative ideas.






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