Good Communicators

Note!  There are multiple lists of 21st Century Skills.  The topics below are suggested by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  I’ve also included “health literacy” from the Iowa Core framework.  Early childhood educators have always been committed to the WHOLE child.  I believe WHOLE-heartedly that 21st Century Skills do indeed balance the academic core with children’s social, emotional, and physical well-being.

Good Communicators
Communication is both expressive (speaking and writing) and receptive (listening and reading).  Body language, facial expression, gestures, and tone are also a part of communication.  Teachers can promote oral language daily by:

  • Giving children time to “play” and communicate with friends in learning centers.
  • Modeling complete sentences and good grammar.
  • Taking time to listen to children and respect what they have to say.
  • Providing quiet time for children to think and organize their thoughts.
  • Valuing children’s imaginations and creativity.
  • Encouraging parent involvement by reminding them to TURN IT OFF and spend time talking to their children!
  • Saying finger plays, rhymes, songs, chants, and poems.
  • Reading, reading, reading – and then reading some more!
  • Expecting children to answer in a complete sentence.  (This could be a meaningful plan for the entire school with support from administrators, special teachers, lunchroom helpers, etc.)  Model how a sentence should sound and have children repeat it.

Routines -Take advantage of “teachable moments” throughout the day.  Greet children by shaking their right hand and saying,
           “Good morning, child’s name.”  
            The child responds, “Good morning, teacher’s name.”

  • Let children take turns being the “Meteorologist” and giving the weather report in the morning.  They could also be the “News Reporter” and review what you have done at the end of the day.
  • Use this chant to get children’s attention:
                 Teacher:  How does my teacher feel about me?
                 Children:  I’m as special as special can be
                                   because my teacher believes in me!
  • Say the chant below to end your day:
                      Hey, hey, what do say?
                      What did you learn in school today?
                      (Each child states what she learned or
                       liked best.)

Feelings – Help children identify feelings and learn appropriate ways to express their emotions.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.  
      (Clap twice.)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.  
      (Clap twice.)
If you’re happy and you know it,
Then your face will surely show it.        (Smile.)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.   
      (Clap twice.)

If you’re sad and you know it cry your eyes…  (Rub eyes.)
If you’re mad and you know it stomp your feet… (Stomp feet.)
If you’re scared and you know it shiver and shake…
      (Wrap arms and shake.)
If you’re surprised and you know it say, “Oh, my!”…
      (Open eyes wide.)

  • Let children suggest other emotions and movements.
  • Brainstorm what causes different emotions and appropriate responses.  What makes you happy?  What can you do when you’re happy?  What makes you stressed?  What can you do when you’re stressed?
  • Make class books such as “Things to Be Happy About,” “Things that Bug Us,” or “Scary Things.”
  • As you read books to the class, encourage students to describe how characters are feeling.  Have they ever felt like that?
  • Let children pantomime different feelings as friends try and guess what they are.
  • Puppets can often help children express feelings and work out problems.




Sign Language – Use sign language for classroom management, identifying feelings, and prompting children to use good manners.  Visit,, or to learn signs.

Manners – Demonstrate good manners and expect children to be polite to each other.  “Please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” will take you a long way in life!

  • Role play looking someone in the eye, extending your right hand, and saying, “Hello, _____!” 
  • Demonstrate how to introduce a friend and then let them practice with a partner.
  • Teach children how to answer the phone and take a message.

Directions – After giving directions, invite a child to repeat what you said to classmates.

*Have children make “how to” books using words or drawings.  Recipes, sports, crafts, and other special interests are a good springboard for informative writing.

Show and Share – Instead of “bring and brag,” focus show and tell on a specific theme you are studying, such as a sound, science concept, shape, etc.

  • Provide a child-size podium (old music stand) for children to stand behind when they speak.
  • Have children close their eyes as friends take turns sharing.  Can everyone remember one thing at the end of sharing time?
  • Try “show what you know” where children can demonstrate what they have learned about a theme.  They could do an art project, make up a song, do a skit, make a video, etc.

Listen Up – Occasionally, have children close their eyes when you read a story.  Can they make pictures in their brain?  Can they identify story elements?

  • Play “Simon Says,” “Gossip,” and other listening games.
  • Focus children’s attention, and then practice giving directions ONE time.  If children need a prompt, invite a student to tell them what they should be doing.

Self-Esteem – Accepting children for who they are and what they are is the first step in creating a positive sense of self. 

  • Pass a hand mirror around the classroom and ask each child to say one thing they like about themselves.
  • Have a “compliment circle” where children take turns saying something kind to friends.  Friends must respond with, “Thank you!”
  • Let children draw pictures to contribute to a class book called “The Best Thing about Me!”
  • Start your day by holding each child on your lap and singing this song to the tune of “Lassie and Laddie.”
                      Child’s name is important, important, important.
                      Child’s name is important to you and to me.
                      At work and at play,
                      He/she does his/her best each day.
                      Child’s name is important to you and to me.

Family Feedback – Encourage parents to ask their child about their school day.  Suggest asking specific questions, such as “What was your favorite thing?”  “Who did you play with?” 

*Turn it off!  Remind parents how important it is to provide quiet time so their child will have their undivided attention. 

“Unplugged” time in the car, at meals,  and at bedtime will open the door for conversation.


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