Getting to the Core

mother's day card, mother's day activities, mother's day crafts, sign language activities, sign language crafts, teaching sign language to children.Teaching sign language is a wonderful fine motor skill.  My Y5's picked it up quickly and loved learning how to say new things. 

I also taught them a few songs, and although I didn't have them learn all of the letters of the alphabet, most of them enjoyed learning how to spell their names at the beginning of the year. 

For Mother's Day I thought it would be fun to design a card around this lovely language and to teach children how to spell MOM in sign language.  

  1. To sign "I love you.":
 -Have your students make a fist and put their pinkie finger up to make the letter "I".
 -Have them cross their arms over their chest to "say" the sign for "love".
 -Have them simply point to their mom's for the word "you"
 -For the card, I did the finger spelling for the letter "U".

There are many great sign language sites.  I have two favorites:  Favorite #one,   Favorite #two.  ( Click on the links to check them out.)

It's wonderful to be able to see someone demonstrate the sign, and the alphabetical listing makes things easy and quick to find words.

mother's day card, mother's day activities, mother's day crafts, sign language activities, sign language crafts, teaching sign language to children.I hope you enjoy making this card and teaching your students how to say "I love you Mom!" Check out the sites if you want to have them say "Happy Mother's Day!"

I have received tons of positive feedback from parents about this aspect of their child's learning.  I know it will be a hit for you too!

Click on the link to view/download the Mother's Day Sign Language Card Templates

Scroll down for article #4 today.  A quick and easy art center:  Make a Mother's Day Bookmark!

Mother's Day Gift Ideas:

Mother's Day Blue Ribbon, Mother's Day gift, Mother's Day booklet, Mother's Day ideas, mother's day activities, mother's day card, mother's day crafts, mother's day gift, mother's day badge, mother's day blue ribbon, mother's day writing activity, mother's day center activity, If you're like me, you're probably wondering where on earth April flew off to, and thinking what should I do for Mother's Day that will soon be here!

I thought a child being able to make a booklet for her and then read it to their mom would make a nice keepsake, perhaps this could be "the gift!"

I wanted to help children realize all the things busy mommies do for them, so that they could truly understand and appreciate their mom and why Mother’s Day is such a special Day; so I designed an easy reader with that idea in mind and followed it up with a blue ribbon-"craftivity" that students can make for their moms as a special card.

Start by having a discussion. Ask your students what things their moms do for them and what are their favorites.  Make a list of them on the board and see if they can think of a symbol or picture that would represent that task.

From a 5-year-old's point of view, here are some of the things my Y5's thought of: cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry (washing & ironing), helping with school work, taking me places, taking care of me when I’m sick or hurt, buying me things, doing things with me (listening to me), reading stories to me and my mom loves me (hugs me and kisses me goodnight!)

After the discussion, pass out the booklets.  

Students TRACE the words.  They find the matching pictures and CUT and GLUE them to the correct numbered boxes in their booklet. 

When everyone is done, read the booklet as a whole group a few times, ‘til everyone is able to read it independently, so they can take it home and share it with their moms.  What a wonderful gift that will be!

You can make the booklet even more of a keepsake by including their school photo; have students glue it over the clipart boy or girl. 

Mother's Day Blue Ribbon, Mother's Day gift, Mother's Day booklet, Mother's Day ideas, mother's day activities, mother's day card, mother's day crafts, mother's day gift, mother's day badge, mother's day blue ribbon, mother's day writing activity, mother's day center activity, When you’re done with the reading activity have students make the blue ribbon card for their mom. Remember to have them sign their name under the “I love you."

Click on the link to view/download the Mother’s Day: Thanks For All You Do booklet and blue ribbon activity.

Scroll down for another Mother's Day idea: Teaching your students how to sign "I love you!"

April showers not only bring May flowers, they bring MUD and WORMS! Two of my favorite childhood aspects of spring!  I enjoyed making mud pies so much as a little kid I thought it would be fun to make up some activities for my Y5’s to reinforce report card standards using mud as well as worms as fun mini-themes.  I’ve also posted a few other rainy day activities!

Go ahead; dive into the past and pretend you’re a child once more.  Get out those pots and pans, grab some wooden spoons, wait for a warm spring drizzle and then go splash in some muddy puddles as you take your pot and pan parade down the block.  It’s one of my favorite memories that I used to do with my own children.

worm activities, worm science, april science activities, april writing activities, april art activitiesWiggly Fun!

Going for a worm hunt is also fun, then have a worm race!  Whose worm will wiggle the farthest?  How many inches did they wander?  Bring them home and toss the worms in your garden.  Click on the links to check out these websites to learn more about the great earthmovers!  Interesting worm articles and background.    Short list of worm facts.   Top 10 facts about worms.

worm flip for facts science activity, worm art project, worm writing projectNow write your 3 favorite facts on the worm flip sheet. Click on the link to view/print the Worms: Flip for facts! Activity sheets. There are 2 sheets. Print the numbered sheet for a cover then fold in half and cut the numbered “doors” so they flip “up”. Print the “picture page” on the BACK of the number page.

Write 3 facts about worms under the pictures and you have a quick mini-science lesson about worms that includes reading, writing and computer skills!  (Great adventure with a Smart board.) I know your students will enjoy learning about these interesting creatures that can actually live even if they are cut in half and have no lungs but breath with their skin!

Worm Writing:

Stir those imaginations and ask your students what they like to do in the mud, then practice those writing skills and have them each make a page for a class Mud Book.  Make the book a keepsake by having students glue their school photo over the man's face in the picture.  I’ve included a cute mud poem if you’re also studying poetry at this time.  Click on the link to view/print the mud writing extension.

Worm Math:

Toss in some math and have your students make a Making Mud Pies counting booklet.  Using their fingerprints makes it a nice keepsake.  Students TRACE the number words and numbers and then WRITE the number somewhere on the page. After they have done that, they press their index finger on a brown stamp pad and press it on top of the pie pan to make a mud pie.

mud pie, april art, april writing, april reading, april rain projectsWhen everyone had completed their booklet, read it aloud as a whole group to reinforce concepts of print.  It’s a great way to reinforce number word recognition and is an easy reader that builds students’ self-confidence.

More mud pie fun that reinforces color words is a booklet entitled: My Many Colored Gumdrops. It has a teacher manipulative as well as 2 graphing extensions.

pig in the mud, spring art project, April art projectMudlicious Art:

Just in time for Mother’s Day, for a fun art project that makes another great keepsake, make some “Mudlicious” art prints by pressing a child’s hand in brown paint and putting it on either the boy or girl stationery provided.

I’ve also included a pig.  You can print this off and have each child cut it out and glue it on a piece of light green or powder blue paper.  Have them draw a pen for their pig and then using a sponge, have them add mud to their picture, dabbing some in the pen and on their pig.  I use an Ellison die cut for this and have them dab paint inside the template as well.  See photograph.  Click on the link to view/print the Mudlicious art projects.

Shape Fun:

If you’d like to review shapes, Shapely Pig is a fun way to do that and includes all of the major shapes in one quick and easy art activity that makes a great center. I've also included a skill sheet of words that rhyme with pig. Have your students brainstorm their own list and write them on the board and then put them in alphabetical order. Students can trace then write them on this skill sheet. Click on the link to view/print Shapely Pig and rhyming skill sheet

This art project is a nice go-together with the booklet: The Shape of My Mud which is a fun easy-reader booklet that includes a graphing extension and word wall flashcards.  Another April-themed booklet that reinforces shapes is The Shape On My Cloud.

It’s Raining the Alphabet:

To make mud you have to have rain.  I still remember my grama Lydia bringing my raincoat and umbrella to school when unexpected showers happened in the late afternoon.  I also had those wonderful little red rain boots to splash away many an hour puddle jumping.  Once I was late for school jumping in every one I happened upon along the way!  Make copies of this cute “dressed-for-rain” child, laminate him, cut out cards and have your students match the lowercase umbrellas to the matching uppercase letters. I've also included a set for shapes and a blank set if you'd like to do something with numbers.  Click on the link to view/print the umbrella cards.

Rainy Writing:

Make a class booklet by having your students each write and illustrate their favorite rainy activity and then graph the results.  Click on the link to view/print the class rain booklet.

april art, april science activities, april writing activities, worms, rain, cloudsRaindrop Art:

Complete your rainy day fun by making some “April showers bring May flowers” raindrops.  They look lovely dangling from the ceiling suspended with fish line.  Simply make a template out of tag board or a file folder using my master.  Have a room helper trace and cut out 2 clear contact paper raindrops for each student.  I buy it by the roll from the grocery store.  You can find it in the housewares’ section with shelf paper.

Have the helper peel back just the tip of the raindrops so that it will be easy for you to peel off the rest of the backing quickly on the day you will make the raindrops.  Write each child’s name in tiny print on the bottom edge of one of the drops.  The other drop is the back of the raindrop.  On the day you want to do the raindrops, start with this project.

Peel back the contact backing and lay the raindrop sticky side up.  I bend and fold the top pointy part of the raindrop and press it down onto the table so that it sticks to the desk/table where each child will sit.  I inform them that their raindrop is sticky and not to move it, but simply place their flower confetti on top of their raindrop and then raise their hand when they are done.  I come over and place the other raindrop on top of this raindrop so that two sticky sides are together.  Older students can do this on their own but my Y5’s need assistance getting the two drops to match up or they don't have their entire drop covered before they press it down.

Punch a hole in the top and tie on a piece of fish line.  Packages of floral confetti can be purchased at any party store.  I buy several different kinds and spill them on 8” paper plates that I have in the middle of the tables.

My students can put on as many flowers as they want, as long as they put on only ONE at a time and count as they place them on their raindrop.  They have to put on at least 10.  I also let them sprinkle on a little opalescent or silver glitter so that the raindrops sparkle and show up a little better when they shimmer from the hallway ceiling.  Click on the link to view/print the raindrop template and photograph.

Rainy Day Activities:

For more fun rain activities click on the bolded links. Rain Rain Go Away Come Again Another Day, is an easy reader booklet that reinforces days of the week words, Where’s My Umbrella is a spatial direction booklet, Where Have All The Raindrops Gone and 10 Little Raindrops are booklets that reinforce numbers and math skills.  My 87-page Rain Unit is chock full of a variety of skill sheets and fun ideas for rain-themed centers as well! Become a gold subscription member and get all my activities at no additional cost!

April art project, rain art project, cloud art projectApril art project, cloud art project, rain art project, flower art project, May art projectTinsel Rain:

One of the prettiest April art projects my students create is their rain cloud mobile.  The rain is made out of silver tinsel that I buy on sale after Christmas.  We tape it to the bottom of one of the clouds and then put another cloud over the top.  This project can be found in my 98-page May Art Book and is one of my students’ favorites!


It’s pouring right now as I put the finishing touches on this article.  The perfect weather to do some fun projects or snuggle with your little one and read some great books! Puddles are beginning to pool and there’s mud everywhere!

One of my personal favorites is Mud Puddle


It’s my favorite book by this author.  Can a mud puddle really sneak up on a child and get them dirty?  How fun is that? The repetitious verse and “What do you think will happen next?” predictability, make it a wonderful read aloud, and will have your students waiting in anticipation and giggling!

Stuck in the Mud story

muddyI also recommend Mud by Wendy Lewison.  My Y5's LOVE this book.  It's an easy read and the pictures get them giggling.  They'd love nothing better than to jump into the pages and join the characters getting dirty playing in the mud.  It's a wonderful "what do you think will happen next?" prediciton book as well. 

  Stuck in the Mud, by Jane Clarke, is also a “must have” for your “mud collection”.  A little chick is stuck in the mud and 1-by-1 the farm animals try to get her out.  Rhyme and repetition of (s)he pushed and (s)he pulled make this another fun read aloud with a surprise ending.

mud_bookFinally, Mud by Mary Lyn Ray is a lovely free-form poem that includes great descriptive words with lovely illustrations that make mud and springtime come alive.

 Well it’s time for me to don my umbrella and boots and brave the rain, puddles, and mud--not that I really want to go out, but we have a new puppy and she needs to, sort of fitting as it’s raining cats and dogs!raining cats and dogs, april art projects,








wind and the sun Aesop fablesI love using Aesop’s Fables to teach life lessons to my students.  The last week of March when we are studying wind I tell them the story of the Wind and the Sun.  I explain to them that these stories have a moral or lesson that they should learn and we discuss what that might be when I finish telling it. 

Since these fables are very short they make fun interactive stories where all of your students can get involved.  It’s not quite a Reader’s Theatre but a great introduction to that type of activity.  I’ve made some clipart cards that you can hold up while you tell the story or you can pass them out to your students to hold up at the appropriate time while you're telling it.

wind and the sun Aesop fables After you've told the story reenact it by having some of your students play the part of the wind, while some of them play the part of the sun.  Instruct the wind children to pretend to be really conceited and boisterous, puffing themselves up and blowing really hard making lots of wind noise. 

If you want the wind noise to sound realistic, help them out by downloading the sound of the wind and then playing it.  Microsoft has a variety of wind sounds that are perfect for this. Click on the link.  Wind sounds.

You’ll also need to assign students to play the part of the people that are affected by the wind and sun.  Pass out some hats so that they can toss them off when the wind blows; they’ll also need to put on their jackets or a sweater so that they can clutch them tightly when the wind students are blowing extra hard.

They can then take them off and wipe their brows and act all hot and sweaty when the sun people shine on them.  Designate a swimming area so that they can all jump in the “pond” to go swimming when the sun people reach their highest heat level.

 They can then get out of the pool and lay on the “beach” as the sun students shine over them.  The wind people can then say in unison: “Sun you have won our bet; you are the strongest!” 

During snack time I show several Aesop Fable videos.  My set stars Bill Cosby.  Click on the links to several YouTube videos of this tale. There are quite a few, but I thought these 3 were the best.  Video one.  Video two.  Video three.

Click on the link to view/print the pictures and my version of the story to go with them.  The Wind and the Sun Aesop Fable cards. Enjoy.


A few years ago they added 3D shapes to our Y5 report card standards. I thought, terrific, how am I going to do that?  My students don’t even know the flat shapes!  Do I teach them after they learn the flat shapes, or do I teach them at the same time?  I decided it would be less confusing if I waited ‘til my students had mastered one-dimensional shapes and then introduce this new concept during the second semester and teach it much the same way that I do the

latter and it has worked just fine.  3-D Shape Book.

                                                                 teaching 3D shapes, 3 dimensional shapes, sphere, cone, cylinder, cube


Get Parents Involved:

I get parents on board and we work as a team.  It’s always been my philosophy that Together Everyone Achieves More.  To make this fun for them I recently dreamed up a Shape Scavenger Hunt. Click on the link to view/print the flashcards.  

Post the shapes in the room: I think “A picture is worth a 1000 words.” is especially important for young children.  I have a 3D poster that I purchased at a teacher store,

I have 3 (small, medium and large) yellow, lime green, and turquoise spheres dangling from the middle of my ceiling.

A foam dice (cube), plastic ice cream cone (cone), foil-wrapped toilet paper tube (cylinder) and a plastic ornament (sphere) shapes are stuck to my calendar bulletin board. (We review the shapes whenever we do calendar.)

I have a "What 3-D Shape is our Mystery Shape Today?"  laminated-hinged sign on the black board. Underneath the sign is a picture of one of the 3D shapes.  I call on a quiet child to take a guess, and then reveal the shape.  Click on the link to view/print one for your room.


Play Games:

To help get my students familiar with the shapes and the vocabulary I play familiar games with them.  I print off two pictures of each shape and laminate them and then I hang them from the ceiling in each corner of my room with fish line.  I can refer to them anytime during the day as well as play the game “Four Corners”. Click on the link to view/print the shape signs.  

3 D Shape-Four Corners: I choose a child to be “It” and cover their eyes.  We count backwards from 10-0 while the rest of the students quietly scamper to a corner.  When we get to 0 “It” calls out “Freeze!”  Anyone not in a corner/under a 3D shape-sign or moving and not frozen is out and must come sit on the carpet with me.  “Its” eyes are still covered.  They call out a 3D shape.  All of the students in that shape corner are out and come sit on the carpet.  The first “It” joins the rest of the students who are not out.  I choose a new “It” from the out students and play continues ‘til there is only one person left.

What’s Missing? Students sit in a circle.  Run off a set of 3D shape pieces, laminate and cut them out.  Follow the directions on the game sheet.  Click on the link to view/print the What's Missing Shape Game.

Flashcard Flip: I print off several sets of the flashcards, laminate and cut them out.  Punch a hole in one corner and put them on a split ring.  I keep these by my rocking chair and during reading or calendar time I take the cards off the ring and flip them over really fast.

The child who identifies the card first gets to hold it.  The student who has the most cards by the time I get through flipping through the entire pack gets a sticker or 2 Smartie candies.  Everyone gets one for participating.  (These cards were in the Letter home link above.)

Dice Games: Each week we play a dice game.  I always ask my students what shape the dice are.  All of my units have 2 dice games included in them.

Manipulatives: When my students play with perfectly square blocks I have them refer to them as cubes.  I’ll give them time to play with Unifix cubes and have them do patterning and addition and subtraction activities with them using the word cube as we work.  I’ve made monthly mats specifically for this purpose.  Click on the link to view/print “We’re in a Unifix”

Because catching and tossing is one of our standards, I’ll use a variety of balls and have students say “Sphere!” when they catch it.  I also have a rubber ice cream cone and rubber can from our kitchen set and we’ll toss those and say “cone” and “cylinder” as well.


Use Food:

Children enjoy eating to help learn and snack foods provide the perfect lesson.  When my students are learning the “flat” shapes I buy skinny pretzels and let them make the shapes out of the pretzels and then eat them.  For the 3D shapes I buy Bugles for cones, cheese balls for spheres, croutons for cubes, and a large marshmallow for a great cylinder. 

I read about another teacher using combos which I think is another yummy alternative! You can have your students eat one of each and then glue each one to a strip of construction paper and then label them.  Instead of gluing a marshmallow, we use an uncooked noodle. I buy the large straight ones that are great for making necklaces.


Art Projects:

 I include at least one 3D-shaped art project each month.  This usually turns out to be a cylinder, which is OK, because that seems to be the term that is the most difficult for my students to remember.  Cylinder projects have been toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, tin cans and rolled paper (windsocks).  For a cute March windsock check out the St. Patrick’s day article.  We made a cone-shaped tee pee tent in November.


Tabletop Lessons and skill sheets:

My students complete patterns, play “I Spy”,  match real counter parts and count 3D shapes for various lessons so that they get used to seeing these shapes.  These skill sheets are found in my 44-page Learning 3D Shapes Book.

Also included in that book are 2 Easy Reader Booklets, which is another way my students become familiar with this concept.  In both booklets they TRACE and then WRITE the sentence, and then they CUT and GLUE the appropriate shape to the page.  There’s a graphing extension for one booklet and certificates of praise for both. 

Self-esteem is built because most students can read both of these books by the end of the day whenever I teach them.  I incorporate our simple and most-used word-wall words.  The 3D shapes are reinforced and the pictures of "real-life" objects help them to get a handle on the 3D shape as a real "thing" and not just a block-like object.

I hope that you got some tips to help things shape up for your students!

I’d enjoy hearing how you go about teaching 3D shapes and what’s working for you.

Something new: While searching the web today I found a site that has free down loads so that you can print off masters to made the paper 3D shapes.  This would be too difficult for my students, but I'm going to make them myself so that I can display the before and after in my classroom.  Click on the link if you're interested.

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