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December 17, 2010

Welcoming the Holidays! – Week 17

Well, I wasn’t planning on publishing a blog this week, but there seem to be plenty of folks out there who are still teaching for a few more days next week, so maybe these resources will help out in a last minute pinch!  For those of you who, like me, are all finished teaching for now and are just beginning two weeks of vacation, then maybe you can file these things away until next year! 

First of all, thanks to all of you who voted for my blog, because we did make the top 3 in one category of the Edublog Awards!  HeidiSongs Blog received an award for Second Runner Up in the Best Use of Audio Category!  Apparently, there were quite a few of the early childhood teacher blogs that won awards, so as a group, I think we all did pretty well.  Here are the category winners:

Best Teacher Blog:  Teacher Tom’ Blog at
Best Group Blog: Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning at
Best Individual Tweeter: Teach Pre-school at
Best Resource Sharing Blog (First Runner Up):  PreKinders at

So kudos to everyone, and thanks to everyone for voting!

1.  Poinsettia Book Buddy Project

I posted a picture of this beautiful art project on my HeidiSongs Facebook page, and several people asked me to share the pattern for it.  So I brought home the file and got to work on it, and I am sharing it with you today as a free download!  I do want to point out that making the points on this poinsettia is rather tricky, and NOT something I would attempt to do with Kindergartners without plenty of help!  We always do this project with our third grade book buddies, or not at all.  The hard part is wrapping the petal around a finger to form a point.  Then the child needs a drop of glue to make it stick, and then they have to count to 20 or so and hold it while it dries.  The rest of the project is a snap!  The directions are included in the download.  These poinsettias certainly make a beautiful bulletin board border or decorative edge on a window, etc.  I put them along the edges of our classroom loft and the banister of its stairway.

2.  Elf Color Word Worksheet

It always seems relaxing to me to sit with the children while they color in a color word worksheet, so I made another one for my class to do this week.  I like to sit and chat with them, and ask them to read me the words on the page.  We also usually wind up spontaneously bursting into song, and singing all of those color word songs as they try to figure out each word!  If you are not familiar with the color word songs, check them out on Sing and Spell Vol. 2.  This CD/DVD is a staple in my class.  I also sing these songs with the class acappella (meaning with no CD) while I explain the art project each day.  For example, as I cut out a piece of red paper, I say, “What color is this?”  The children call out, “Red!” and then we start singing the red song.  I think that this keeps them engaged while I demonstrate how to make each part of the project.  We also have a song about the word, “cut” that we sing all the time while I cut when we get tired of the color word songs, but it is not recorded yet!  I guess it will have to go on a future project!  But this is how it goes:  (One of these days, I’ll video tape my kids singing it and post it on Facebook so you can hear the tune, for those of you that have a well developed musical memory!)  Unfortunately, this song is to the tune of a very old German “Orchestra Song” that my mom used to sing with me when I was little, and I doubt many people would know it!  But if you do know it, this snippet of the song comes from the piano “pling, pling, pling” section.

The “Cut” Song

Cut, cut, cut, cut, C-U-T,
C-U-T, C-U-T!
Cut, cut, cut, cut, C-U-T,
Cut, cut, C-U-T!

Keep the scissors straight ahead,
Straight ahead, straight ahead,
Turn the paper round instead,
Cut, cut, C-U-T!

3.  Gingerbread Man Counting Worksheet

We are still working on identifying the numbers from 11-30, and on counting out numbers in groups of tens and then counting on from there.  The songs from Jumpin’ Numbers Vol. 2 are great fun in practicing that!  My class’ personal favorite right now is the song for number 17. 
Here is another free download of one of those worksheets that help kids practice that!  We have done GOBS of practice with manipulatives, (especially using those number Christmas Trees from my blog’s entry on week 16) and I think that the children really have this concept down now.  During our calendar time, another thing that I have done is start asking the children to tell me a certain number that I am pointing at, and then ask them which number comes before, and which number comes after it.  This gives them extra practice identifying the numbers in addition to practicing the concepts of before and after.  When they were having trouble getting it, I decided to line a few of the children up, and designated a line leader.  Now most of them could tell me who was before and who was after a certain person!  Now all we need to do is transfer that skill to a number line. 

4.  Gingerbread Man Graph and Project
Some of the Kindergarten classes at my school this year put on my Gingerbread Man Musical play, and I took my class to go see both performances of it!  It is such a fun play to watch – I love to see the children singing and enjoying themselves!  In fact, even though I chose to have my class “sit this one out” and wait until May to put on my newest Wide Mouthed Frog play (which I absolutely LOVE), I felt quite a few twinges of regret that my own students were not up there performing, too!  But the reason that I have cut it down to performing just one play a year with my class is that my traveling and presenting schedule during the school year is quite demanding.  My calendar is just plain FULL of presentation and staff development dates, and if I don’t pace myself I run the risk of getting burned out and sick. 

ANYWAY, my class still very much enjoyed the shows, and we read the books and did the activities that go along with the show anyway!  And I also made this little graph that goes along with the Gingerbread Man story, and I am including it as a free download this week!  I ran it front to back with the counting worksheet above, and they easily finished both sides in about 15-20 minutes, with a little time to spare to color in some of the pictures. 

My class also painted Gingerbread Men this week, and they turned out absolutely darling!  To make this project, simply give the children a tracer of the Gingerbread Man and let them trace and cut it out.  I like to give them a variety of brown colored sheets of paper to choose from.  After that, they can paint it using regular tempera paints mixed with lots of white paint to give them a pastel shade.

Here are some great multi-cultural Gingerbread Man books to check out!

1.  The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires
This is a REALLY fun southwestern version of the traditional tale.  “Giddyup, giddyup, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!”  My kids absolutely LOVED it!

2.  Musubi Man: Hawaii’s Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama
I just ordered this one from Amazon myself, so I haven’t read it yet.  But the reviews were SO good, and it was only seven bucks!  Let’s just say that I LOVE adding to my “Gman collection!”

3.   The Gingerbread Man (Easy-to-Read Folktales) by Karen Schmidt

For the straight up, plain old version, this one is the BEST!  Simple language, nice clear pictures, and just four bucks on Amazon.

4.  Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

This one is a classic by Jan Brett.  Need I say more???

5.  Runaway Radish by Janice Levy
Here’s another one that I’ve heard of but haven’t yet read.  I just ordered it online!  I can’t wait to read this one- it looks like fun!  There’s a bilingual version, too, but it is more expensive than the English only version.  This story is set in Mexico, and it’s a radish that runs off.  Go figure!

6.  Alaska Gingerbread Moose by Phyllis Adams
Okay, now I’ve heard EVERYTHING!  The author says that she and her grandson made this up while improvising their own bedtime stories.  (Okay, I want THAT child in my class!!!)

7.  Stop That Pickle! by Peter Armour
Go, pickle, go!!!  I have heard this book read aloud in a conference presentation and giggled myself silly!  I’m so glad that I just found it again online!  And NOW I have to STOP SHOPPING!!!!!!

5. Make Your Own Rudolph Book into a Sound Effects Story!  
Here’s something fun to try!   Add some sound effects to make a Sound Effects Story out of any book you have!  We did that today with my existing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer book.  (I just shared this on Facebook, but I was thinking that just in case some of you might have missed it, I would add it here.)  The idea with a Sound Effects Story is that each time the reader comes to one of the key words, he or she pauses a second and the kids must respond with a certain sound and/or motion.  I have found that if you start the motion for the kids, they will all start saying the sound.  This jogs their memory, just in case they need it.  These are the motions for my Rudolph Sound Effects Story:

*  When the kids heard the word “Rudolph” or “nose,” they pointed to their noses and said, “Blink, blink, blink!”
*  When they heard the word, “Santa,” they all said, “Ho, ho, ho!”
*  When they heard the word “reindeer,” they all said, “Reindeer!” in a sing-songy way, as in the echo from the Rudolph song.
*  When they heard the word, “elf” or “elves,” they pretended to hammer something and said, “Work, work, work!”
*  When they heard something sad, (such as when the reindeer wouldn’t let him play,) they all said, “Awwww!”
*  When they heard the word, “presents,” they shouted, “Hooray!”

It was WAY fun!  You can do this with any version of the story that you have.  My kids even were started spontaneously adding their own sounds and motions as I went along!!! They are SUCH a sweet group!

6. Sing & Spell Giveaway!  
Check out the “Doman, ABA, Dayhome and Homeschooling Momma” Blog for an upcoming giveaway of one of our Sing & Spell DVDs. Monique is a talented and dedicated dayhome provider who endlessly tests and reviews early childhood products with her kids. Check out her blog and sign up for the giveaway.

Have a happy holiday, and a wonderful vacation!