Sunday, October 26, 2014

Monsters Math and Literacy Activities

Monsters can be funny, silly, and educational too.  Here is a fun twist on Five Little Monkeys.  It teaches counting, one-to-one correspondence, addition, subtraction, cardinality, and number sense too!

As always, nursery rhymes, chants, and poems are powerful literacy tools too.  Remember to sign up by email in the top right corner, so you don't miss any blog posts.  

Disclosure:  Amazon links are included.

  • Cut the 10 pipe cleaners in half.
  • You need 4 - 1/2 size pipe cleaners for each monster.
  • Fold the smaller pipe cleaners in half.
  • Twist together.
  • Glue pom pom onto twisted pipe cleaner.
  • Glue onto the front of a clothespin.
  • Add googly eye.
  • Ready to play!


  • Lay a piece of large scrap paper, plastic table cloth, or copy machine lid on table.
  • Children use dot markers to paint their beds.
  • Let dry.
  • Ready to play!

Use the prop to teach literacy, fine motor, and math skills just like in The Five Monkeys.

After the children learn the chant (download FREE printable for words), give them opportunities to play using the prop in the traditional manner.  Then use the prop for listening and following directions.
  • Put 1 monster on the bed.
  • Take 1monster off the bed.
  • Put 3 monsters on the bed.
  • Take 2 monsters off the bed.
  • Take the 1st monster off the bed.
  • There are 5 monsters on the bed.  
    • How many do you need to take off so there are only 2 monsters still on the bed.
No time to make the monsters?   I have included a FREE printable with friendly paper monsters to use along with a reading book, math printables, and literacy tips for reading the book.   CLICK HERE.

Here are some of my favorite, fun monster books.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Activities

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed.  One fell off an bumped its head. Chants, nursery rhymes, and poems are the cornerstone of early childhood classrooms.  They help children play with the rhythm of language, build oral fluency, and build number sense.  They cover important skills such as rhyming, fluency, and cardinality.

It's never too early or too late to introduce children to these classics. My granddaughter is only 7 months and she squeals when we say these to her. She is listening to our pitch, volume, and tone while learning about language. My 3 year old grandson is learning about rhyming words and counting.  Pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st grade students are learning about one-to-one correspondence, number sense, subitizing, and decomposing and composing numbers (adding and subtracting).

I love to use paint sticks to make these hands-on props for story retelling. The children can hold onto the handle with one hand while manipulating the clothespins with the other.  Anytime we can build in natural fine motor practice it's a win-win situation. I've included directions for turning this paint stick into a bed along with a FREE printable.  Don't forget to sign up by email in the top right corner to receive notification of my new blog posts.

I used felt monkeys that I found at Michaels craft store to glue onto the clothespins. They have removable stickers on the back.  Leave the backing on the monkeys and glue to the clothespin.  If you remove the backing it will make the whole back part sticky.  I also made a FREE printable with monkeys in case you can't find the felt ones or prefer to use the paper ones.  I also included the words to the rhyme.  The printable will be towards the end of the post.



Disclosure: Amazon links are included in this post.



Glue the monkeys onto the clothespins as seen in the picture below. Your project is complete!  Keep reading for ideas for teaching and learning. 


  • Children hold with one hand.
  • Children open and close the clothespin with the other hand, which will require using a pincer grasp.
  • Children cross the midline (body position) when they remove the monkeys closest to the handle.

  • Teach the rhyme to the children.
  • Use pitch, tone, and volume (be dramatic) to engage the children.
  • Play echo-repeat.
    • Teacher/adult says one line.  
    • Children repeat.
    • Vary the tone, pitch, and volume.
    • Children repeat.
  • Do a choral version (everyone says it together).
  • Leave off the last word of the sentence.
    • Children fill in the missing word.
  • Talk about how the words bed and head sound the same at the end.
    • Tell them that the words rhyme.
    • Think of other words that rhyme with bed. 
      • fed, head, led, Ned, red, said, wed, bread, fled, Fred, shed, sped
  • Clap the syllables in the rhyme.
    • five, bed, fell, off, bumped, head, called, said, no, more = 1 syllable
    • little, monkeys, jumping, mama, doctor = 2 syllables

  • Children put the monkeys on the bed one at a time while counting.
    • one-to-one correspondence
  • Talk to the children about ordinal positions.
    • 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
    • Have the children take turns touching the first monkey.
    • Have the children take turns touching the last monkey.
    • Continue with the 2nd through 5th.
  • Children say the rhyme and remove one monkey at a time.
    • one-to-one correspondence
    • number sense or cardinality 
  • Children say how many are left after removing one monkey.
    • Counting which will lead to subitizing.
    • Subitizing is knowing how many are in a set without counting.

  • Through repetitive play, children understand that the numeral 5 represents a set of 5 monkeys.
  • By removing 1 monkey off the bed, children will build number sense
  • Children will work on taking the number 5 (monkeys) apart and make other number combinations sets (decomposing numbers).
    • 5 & 0, 4 & 1, 3 & 2, 2 & 3, 1 & 4, 0 & 5.

  • What do you notice about our monkeys?
  • Can you put the monkeys into sets or groups?
    • 2 monkeys are on the bed
    • 3 monkeys are NOT on the bed (or on the floor)
  • What will happen when one more monkey falls off?
  • How do you know?
  • What will happen if one monkey jumped back on the bed?
  • How do you know?
  • Model mathematical conversations with children so they will use math conversations with their peers during play.

No felt or no time?  You can use duct tape or painters tape to decorate your bed.  Or give the children some dot markers and let them create their own bed out of a paint stick.
CLICK HERE for the FREE Five Little Monkeys which includes a book, math sheet, and monkey manipulatives for the clothespins.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Five Senses and Fall

Fall is a perfect time of the year for children to learn about the 5 senses.  Children can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste all of the changes that occur during the fall.  Fall is also the perfect time for children to write and record information about their 5 senses.

Before young children can write about fall, they need to have rich experiences with the changes that occur in the fall.  They need to have conversations about fall.  They need to express their thoughts orally before they write too.

How can they experience it? We use our five senses all of the time during the fall. We taste the different types of apples.  We see the leaves change colors.  We touch pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.  We smell apple cider and pumpkin pie.  We hear the leaves crunch beneath our feet and geese flying overhead.

During the fall, I like to take my children on nature walks around the school.  We carry our writer's notebooks and jot down thoughts and draw pictures about our walk.  We take time to look. We take time to listen.  Some children will walk and write or draw quick sketches. Some children will sit down outside and write.  Some do both. When we come back into the classroom, I give them opportunities to finish their thoughts as we share and discuss with our friends. We then come together as a group and make a list or anchor chart of our experiences.  We turn and talk to our friends again.  Did they notice the same thing?  Did they see or hear something different?

All of these experiences help young children become writers.  We then make a 5 senses chart labeling our Five Senses and what we can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste during autumn.  This anchor chart and the children's notebooks provide experiences that will prepare them for writing.  Our anchor chart grows over the period of a couple of weeks.  Vocabulary takes time to build.  Writers need time to write.  I love to look at their first attempts and then compare them to their writing after we've had more experiences and conversations about autumn.  The growth is amazing.

Here is a sample of my new mini-video that I just completed.  The song is titled "It's Time for Fall" and is a predictable text song that covers all of the changes that occur during the fall. You can read more about it HERE.

I made a book for your children to use as they write about their five senses and fall.  It comes in 3 different versions depending on the age and developmental writing level of your children.   

CLICK HERE to download your free printable books.

You can encourage young children to become writers by helping them have experiences to write about, conversations to build their vocabulary, and opportunities to express their thoughts in both pictures and in words.  When children uses their 5 senses, they become more empowered to use vocabulary and make connections to their writing.  And autumn is the perfect season to use our five senses to connect to writing.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Spy - Eye Spy Dollar Store Game

Children need hands-on engaging activities while learning and reviewing skills. When I create a game for centers, I think of how it can be differentiated to meet the wide range of learners in the early childhood classroom.  The best activities are ones that children beg to do over and over again and can be transferred into all areas of the curriculum.  Teach the procedures for playing, then let the learning begin.

I receive questions from parents and grandparents who visit my blog and want activities for working with their children at home.  This game would be easy to implement at home, as it can be used for reinforcing letters, sounds, sight words, word families, and math skills too.

I purchased the eyeball above from the Dollar Tree.  I didn't take a picture before I took them out of the bag, but here is what they look like on Amazon.  The Dollar Tree carries these during the fall, but if you can't find these you can use a googly eye too.  Amazon links are included below.


  1. Write the skill on the white sticker or directly onto the cups.
  2. Model how to play in whole group or small group setting.
  3. Have the children close their eyes.
  4. Place the eyeball under one of the cups.
  5. Chant, "Eye Spy, I Spy."
  6. Children open their eyes.
  7. Call on students one at a time to guess which cup is hiding the eyeball.
  8. Students read the word or the skill of the cup where they think the eyeball is.
  9. Students lift the cup to see if they are right
  10. Game continues until the eyeball is found.
  11. Repeat game again.

I purchased the cups shown in the picture ABOVE at the Dollar Tree too. They came in packages of 20 and were in the birthday section with the paper goods.  To store the game, stack the cups and place in a small tub or container along with the eyeball.  Or you can just stack the cups standing up and place the eyeball in the top cup.  Your children can:
  • Read the word.
  • Spell the word.
  • Use the word in a sentence.

The cups in the picture ABOVE are mini-sized cups from the Dollar Tree.  These come in packages of 20 and were located with the kitchen cups and plates. Notice how small they are in comparison to the eyeball.  It fits perfectly underneath.  These cups take up less room and work great for letters, words, and numbers too. Your children can:
  • Say the letter.
  • Say the sound.
  • Name something that begins with the letter.
  • Put the cups in ABC order first.


Your children can also work on reading word families.  The following are ways to address the skill but also change the skill for students who need remediation or a challenge.
  • Work on one word family at a time.
  • Work on two word families at a time.
    • Students can sort the word cups when finished.
  • Student says the sounds for each letter on the cup and then blends the sounds together to read the word.
  • Student names the letters on the cup. (REMEDIATION ACTIVITY for Letter Fluency Practice)
  • Student reads the word then changes it. (CHALLENGE ACTIVITY)
    • Student reads the word cat and changes it to cats (adds an s).
    • Student reads the word sat and changes it to sit (irregular verb), sits, sitting.
    • Student reads the word then thinks of a bigger word that has the word family in it, such as pat - pattern, fan-fancy, ban-banner, man-manners, fat-fatter, tan-tanagram.

  • Shapes
    • Name the shape.
    • Name an real world object that has the shape.
  • Colors
    • Work on color recognition.
    • Say the color.
    • Spell the color word.
  • Counting Dots
    • Count the number of dots.
    • Use sticker dots for subtizing or recognizing without counting.
  • Numbers
    • Work with numbers from 0-5.
    • Work with numbers from 0-10.
    • Work with numbers to 20.
    • Work with numbers to 100.
    • Work with numbers to 1000.
    • Say the number and tell whether it is odd or even.
    • Say the number and then give a math fact to make that number.
      • 5 could be 2+3
      • 10 could be 4 + 6
      • 20 could be 10 + 10
    • Write math facts on the cups.
      • Student solves the math fact.
    • Write 2 numbers on the cup.
      • Students says whether it is greater than, less than, or equal.
  • Children's Names
    • Use students' names or family names.
    • Children read the name.
    • Children spell the name.
  • Children's Pictures
    • Use students' pictures or family pictures.
  • Animal Stickers
    • Name the animal.
    • Spell the animal name.
    • Name the animal and the habitat.
  • Parts of Speech 
    • Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives
    • Read the word and identify whether it is a noun, verb, or adjective.
    • Say the word and use it in a sentence.
  • Vocabulary Words 
    • Read the word and then say the definition.


Children can play in pairs at center time.  One student hides the eyeball, the other person reads the skill and tries to locate it.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Easy Dollar Store Game Pieces for Kid's Activities

I wanted to share an easy way to make game pieces for both reading, math, and just for fun too.  I was at the Dollar Tree last week and saw these cupcake toppers hanging in the aisle.   They were colorful and seasonal.  So I decided to bring them home and make some games with them.

The first thing you need to do is to remove the stick.  Carefully slide the stick back and forth (not much) and it will release from the object.  Pull the stick out and you have 24 game pieces to use for all types of games.  They are thick and slick, so they do not need to be laminated.

Here are some ways to use these pieces.  First, put dot stickers on one side of the pumpkins or other cupcake topper pieces.  Write the ABC's on them.  You can put the capital letter on one side and the lowercase letter on the other side. Put them in a container and have the children draw one out of the bag, say the letter, make the sound.  You can even leave one blank.  If they draw the blank one, they say "Jack-o-Lantern" and everyone has to put their game pieces back in the container.  Or your children can draw them out of a container and put them in ABC order.

Make word family game pieces with them.  Make sets for individual word families.  Put them in a baggie.  Children see how many words they can make.  They can record the words in a word notebook or on a piece of blank paper.

  • Write the uppercase and lowercase letters on the same side
  • Write sight words on side.  
  • Write numbers on one side.
  • Draw shapes on one side.
  • Color in the circle with different color markers.


Write numbers and corresponding dots to make math games.

You can also find these cupcake toppers at party supply stores, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby.  I found spiders and skeletons too.

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