January 2009


Ideas from the "Big D"
Dallas, Texas
June 15 & 16, 2009

1. Brown Bag Camera (Teresa Stotler, OK)

We all loved this camera Teresa made out of a lunch sack! Cut off about 5” from the top of the sack to make the camera. Decorate the bag with a lens, flash, viewer, etc. Add cord or ribbon to make the strap. Take children on a walk and let them “snap” a picture of some “thing,” some “one,” something green, etc. Make photographs (paper cut 4 ½” x 5 ½”) to fit in the bag and have children draw pictures or write sentences about what they “snapped.” Perfect for non-fiction writing!

Brown Bag Camera

2. Fingernail Pointers (Audrey Gonzales, Uvalde, TX)

Hot glue artificial nails to craft sticks. Use as pointers for tracking words or “finger spacing” between words.

Fingernail Pointers

3. SMART Board/Whiteboard Contestants (Julie Cunday)

Child’s name come on down.
You’re the next contestant on
Name that number (letter, etc.).

4. Reading Group Tubs (DruEllen Duncan, Pearland, TX)

Use 12"x12” Rubbermaid drawers to organize daily work for skill based instructional groups.

5. Hand Tally (Sharon Sire, New Orleans, LA)

Use your hand to show tally marks. Starting with your index finger stick up 4 fingers as you count. Bend thumb across palm to make five.

6. Class Pledge (Brenda Stremmel)

Make a class flag from the children’s handprints, and then teach children this pledge:

I pledge to myself on this day
To try to be kind in every way.
To every person big or small
I will help them if they fall.
I will love myself and others, too.
That’s the best that I can do!

7. Fishing Game (Jean McPhee, New Orleans, LA)

Cut fish out of fun foam and add a brass brad for an eye. Make a fishing pole from a wooden dowel and circle magnet for the “hook.” Write letters, words, math facts, etc. on the fish. Children take turns going fishing. They get to keep the fish if they can identify what is on it.

8. First Grade Song (Jackson Elementary, Pauls Valley, OK)

Sing this song to the tune of “Shortnin’ Bread.” You can adapt “first grade” to your grade level or the name of your school.

I like first grade.
We learn things at school.
Reading, writing, ’rithmetic,
It’s always cool.
*We like recess,
We like lunch.
We like P.E.
A big, big, bunch!

*Art and music
Computers, too.
Library books
And reading with you!

Learning good manners
And how to be a friend.
Choosing the right way
Again and again!

9. 6 vs. 9 (Donna Bell, Magnolia/Woodlands, TX)

Use this rhyme to help children discriminate #6 from #9.

Number 6 is always sick.
Holds his head down, ick, ick, ick! (Bend head down.)
Number 9 is always fine.
Holds his head up all the time! (Hold head up tall.)

Donna also suggested using the giant cell phone like a “Twister” game.

10. Handwriting Warm-Up (Allison Burney, Rowlett, TX)

Buy individual containers of play dough for each child. (These are available where they sell party favors.) Before doing handwriting activities, let the children warm up their fingers by playing with play dough. One day they might make snakes, another day snowballs, and another day free play with the play dough. The children won’t realize that they are building small muscles that will help them write.

11. Start the Day with a Smile! (Eva Arteaga)

Put a smiley sticker on each child’s right hand when they arrive at school. This will help them learn their right hand and encourage them to be at school on time!

12. Abracadabra! (Emily Hilbig, Houston, TX)

Close your eyes and pretend to wave a magic wand as you say:

I want my friends to make good choices
like sitting on their bottoms
and using inside voices.”
Snap your fingers and open your eyes!

13. Photo Puzzles (Kindra Schoenradt, Austin, TX)

Take photos of children and glue their picture to craft sticks. Write a letter in their name on each stick. Cover with clear contact or clear tape. Cut apart with an exacto knife. (This is a good activity to send home.)

14. Photo Memory Game (Kindra Schoenradt, Austin, TX)

Make copies of children’s photos and glue to cardboard squares to make a memory game. You could have them match up like photos or have them match up photos and names.

Photo Memory Game

15. State Chant

This echo chant based on “Alligator” could be adapted to any state to teach your capitol, state bird, etc.

It’s where we live, it’s where we live, it’s where we live and play.
The bluebonnet is our flower.
Its blooms are blue and white.
Austin is our capitol.
Our state is out of sight!

16. Hugs and Bubbles (Erin Erwin)

To remind students to get in line quietly ask them to cross their arms in front and put their “hug on.” Then tell them to put a bubble in their mouths. Remind them to breathe!

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