Alphabet Recognition through Music

So I finally made the move back into the public school system, and I am having a blast in Kindergarten.  This is a different stretch than teaching third grade, but more academic than preschool.

kindergarten cop

The other day, one of my co-workers brought me to this wonderful YouTube channel called “Have Fun Teaching,” and I suggest that you all visit this channel if you have young children or teach young children.  They have songs for each letter of the alphabet including the full song.  It is in an upbeat rhythm so it makes the students get excited.  I even let my two year old watch one and she really got into it.  They are amazing, they tell whether the letters are consonants or vowels, they show words with the letter, and they even go through the sounds – repetitiously! They have other songs about shapes, friendship, counting, and even stretching.  They are totally going to be viewed on my blog multiple times because how amazing is that!  Check out the song that got me hooked below!

Children’s Author Series – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl has created some of the best young fiction novels.  If your child is looking for something to read that is fun, interesting, and imaginative – this author is for you.  Dahl has a number of novels as well as poetry collections perfect for the elementary/middle school reader. Here are some of my favorite.


The BFG – A young girl named Sophie is taken to a giant’s homeland where he reveals that he is the only generous giant that collects and distributes good dreams to children.  He gets rid of children’s bad dreams as well and uses them to fight the other giants that try to steal and eat human children.  Sophia tries to get the giant to approach the Queen of England to try capture the other giants to stop them from eating more people.  Read more about this book at Amazon.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The beloved story of Charlie Bucket and his adventures inside Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.  Five lucky children get a chance to go inside and unlock the secret’s of Wonka’s factory. Read more or buy the book from Google Play.

  James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach – After a horrible trip out in London where his parents are eaten by a rhinoceros, 4-year-old James must live with his two horrible aunts. After being treated horribly by the two aunts, one day James meets an old man who gives him a special gift and explains how to use it.  When he accidentally uses it on the wrong thing, something else magical happens and James is put on the adventure of his life.  Read more or purchase this book from Amazon.


Matilda – A young girl who has incredible intellectual abilities is treated horribly by her family and shown little attention.  From a young age, she starts reading anything and everything she can. When she begins school, Ms. Honey, her teacher, notices that she is quite different from all the other children.  She takes a special interest in this child after learning her parents do not appreciate her gifts.  Meanwhile, the headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull shows how little she cares for children.  Read more to find out what happens to Matilda at Google Books.

Revolting Rhymes

 Revolting Rhymes – A collection of classic well known fairy tales retold with different endings.  The six tales include Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Little Red Riding Hood.

*Disclosure – I do not endorse Google Play, Google Books, or Amazon

Cooking with Children – Banana Bread


Cooking with children is a fun hands-on experience that teaches them real life skills and starts the process of understanding how to measure, eat healthy, and take pride in their work. My daughter loves to bake with me. She pours all the ingredients into our Kitchen Aid and turns it on and off.  Such an easy way to get them involved at 2. I first started with her when she was around 18 months. This is a great fine-motor activity because it involves pouring one thing into another.  It will be messy, but messy is good when children are exploring and learning.

Banana bread is one of my daughter’s favorite baking dishes, so I have decided to share a recipe with you that is amazing.


Ingredients and Needed Things

3-4 bananas

⅓ cup of butter (not margarine)

1 egg

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of baking soda

3 pinches of salt, or about a 1/4 teaspoon

1 cup of whole wheat flour

½  cup of white flour

Spray or butter (to grease the baking dish)

Baking dish

A mixer

Bowl, or Kitchen Aid


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350º.

Step 2: Peel and mash 3-4 bananas in the bowl.

Step 3: Melt ⅓ cup of butter and pour over the bananas.

Step 4: Beat one egg and pour over the mix in the bowl.

Step 5: Pour one cup of sugar into the bowl.

Step 6: Mix on low

Step 7: Pour one teaspoon of vanilla into the bowl.

Step 8: Pour one teaspoon of baking soda into the bowl.

Step 9: Sprinkle 3 pinches of salt into the bowl.

Step 10: Mix on low

Step 11: Pour both the 1 cup of whole wheat flour and the ½ cup of white flour

Step 12: Mix on low

Step 13: Grease the baking pan

Step 14: Pour the mixture into the bowl and place in the oven for 1 hour to cook

Step 15: Let it stand 5 minutes when you pull it out

**A mixer is not needed, this can be mixed by hand

I hope you find it delicious and your children enjoy helping you in the process!

I Gotta Go, I Gotta Go!!


One challenge that almost every parent tackles is the wonderful world of potty training.  I am currently in this phase and boy what a phase it is.  We understand how to use the term “potty” loosely even though when we say it, it means two seconds later.  The best thing is when you are in the middle of your grocery shopping and you look into those little eyes, and they say “Potty!” You quickly find the nearest bathroom, find a place for your cart full of food, find an empty stall, put them on it, and yes ten seconds later they say “All done!” and nothing happened! Since I am in this wonderful phase – I thought I would share it with the rest of you that are going to be here soon, one day, or would love to reminisce of those once fun days.

Children’s Therapy and Family Resource Centre

This site gives a list of typical developmental signs for the toddler and preschool age child to observe.  It also provides strategies, myths, and readiness files (along the right side) for more information.

Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics – A Child-Oriented Approach to Toilet Training

This link provides a scholarly study that was conducted with over 10 years of research to show a method that has been successfully used in toilet-training based on the physical and emotional maturation of children.  Most participants were between 18-36 months, with a majority of children reaching this milestone at 24 months.

Mayo Clinic: Potty Training: How to Get the Job Done

This link gives insight into when a child may or may not be ready for toilet training, provides strategies for going, and offers ways to reward.

Parenting: 6 Potty Training Methods

This article gives six different methods that you can try and discuss trying.  Each one has the pros and cons listed.  This article is brought to you by Parent Magazine.

**The important thing to realize is that ALL children are different.  There are multiple approaches that one can take to potty training, but when a child begins to refuse – it is best to back off for a while and try again after some time.

**Picture courtesy of




Walking, Talking, Sleeping…If You are Lucky

As parents, we naturally are concerned from the moment our children are born about everything.  We wash their stuff with special soap, we post “Baby on Board” signs on our cars and drive slower than we have ever before, and we neurotically wake up every 20 minutes for the first few months just to make sure they are breathing – yes, guilty! To better assist with some information, it would be helpful if you take the poll to which developmental milestone has you thinking “up at night.” I will most a follow-up post with the results.

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Get Them Engaged!

To get children and even adults interested, it helps to “hook” them! It is important as educators that we capture our learners attention and engage them.  Whatever you are teaching, if the learner is interested and engaged then they are more likely to listen, “pay attention, and practice higher-level critical thinking skills” (Center for Teaching & Learning, 2014).

Here are some tips from the friendly faces of Southwest Airlines that make the routine safety check a fun enjoyable experience.

Rapping flight attendant safety routine

Amazing flight attendant safety routine

Engaging Students In Learning from the Center for Teaching & Learning, University of Washington has some interesting ways to engage your learners.

Engaging Students from the Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning, University of Delaware also has a list of ways to engage your learners and what an engaged classroom may look like.

What are some ways that you engage your learners?

Center for Teaching & Learning (2014). Engaging students in learning. University of Washington. Retrieved from


Making Words – At, Cat, Catch, Hatch, Hitch, Ditch, Ditching

making words

Who remembers this activity:

The teacher goes to the board and writes down the word Christmas Vacation and says you have five minutes, write down as many words you can think of or make.

Dr. Timothy Rasinski talks about an excellent method to assist children that have a problem with this activity to make and write words.  It is a great teacher guided activity to build spelling, vocabulary, and phonemic awareness.


An excellent handout accompanies the audio file to show how this activity is demonstrated.  I especially recommend the “Codes for Marking Letter/Sound Features.”

Audio and PDF Courtesy of Rasinski, T. (1999). Making and writing words. Reading Online. Available at http// Retrieved from

Photo courtesy of

Color-Shape Hopscotch – A New Way to Play

Most adults have heard of hopscotch.  It is typically played on a blacktop, and all you need is  a piece of chalk. Simple!


Another way to play the game is simple. We call it Color-Shape Hopscotch. You can use construction paper, chalk, paint, or in this case, Duck Tape.  Who doesn’t love colored duct tape? What you do is simply take the duct tape and create a shape with a different color – blue square, yellow triangle, red circle, etc. You can do it in a straight line or like the traditional hopscotch board.  We, my teaching partner and I,  chose to do our hopscotch in a straight line to focus on three skills – recognition of shapes, recognition of colors, and hopping.  Our age group has many young 3 year olds, so jumping with two feet is a goal.


Have children line up behind the first shape.  You can focus on shapes or colors, or both.  Give out directions or have another child do so.  For example, tell the child, “Hop on the diamond, or hop on the circle.” Another way you can play is say, “Hop on the pink shape, or hop on the green shape.” If children know both, you can reinforce both concepts and say, “Hop on the yellow square, or purple rectangle.”

I hope this gives you a new spin on an old game! Happy playing!

Grandma, What is a Record Player?

20th century inventions

Many people laugh when they hear these types of sayings from young children, even teenagers these days.  It is one of those things in life that makes you feel old because that type of technology is no longer around.  Right now, think of five things in your lifetime that are already outdated, or have a better model.  Stereo 8, or 8-tracks, jukeboxes, floppy disks, records, bag phones, and the list goes on.  Previous generations used different types of technologies that were the cutting edge of the time.  When the phone first came out, people that could use it did because it made life easier then sending snail mail or telegrams.  When the light bulb was invented, it was ideal because you did not have to light a candle after dark to complete a task. Different technological inventions have been created for a long time, and people used them.

Today, inventions are still cutting edge because what we know about technology, science, psychology, and other subjects is more profound.  We have created different types of technologies that have linked all parts of the world essentially (or anywhere you can pick up a WiFi, or internet connection).  Just like 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago, we are using the types of technology that are created.  Mark Prensky, coined those that are born into this “millenial” generation, or those born close and into the 21st century “digital natives” (2001, p. 1).  What makes them digital natives though?  Is it that they are born into a generation where a multitude of technology is the primary market.  It depends on what you describe technology as?  Technology used to be the automobile, phones, black and white televisions, radios.  During that time, these are the types of things that made life more productive.  Today, cell phones, laptops, tablets, robots, and even more improved versions of old technology continue to do this very thing – make life more productive.

The question in regards to education is “do we use these types of technologies effectively?” As an educational technologist, I would say that children are coming to schools with a lot of knowledge knowing how to operate many types of technologies.  That does not necessarily mean they know how to use that technology to help them in the educational realm, which is where effective teaching can occur to make the technology more productive in another sector.  In a sense, digital native is a term that should not be coined for this particular generation, or the “millenial.” Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Silent Generation all have unique technologies that were used to assist in their lives – so why not label them as this as well?  Our technology is just different.

When looking at generational differences from an educational technologist vantage point, I think it is important to bear this idea in mind, “there are generalizable generational differences that are worth taking into consideration in the ‘knowledge worker’ or professional workplace and other contexts such as higher education. For example, there are differences with respect to attitudes, work habits, and motivators that anyone managing cross-generational teams should understand” (Reeves, 2008, p. 20).  These are the types of things that we should be focused with as we continue to integrate technology into education. Attitudes, work habits, and motivators may be what separate us, not the tools of the time.  People learn in respectively the same ways if you look at cognitive learning theory research.  The idea of sensory reception, decoding and analyzing, and short and long term memory may be bigger factors than one’s age.

A great teacher can make any technological device not necessary; however, with the assistance of technology, that great teacher can bring the world to the fingertips of his/her students.  This is the benefits of technology, as I mentioned – making life more productive.  Live in a rural town of Montana and cannot afford to take your 5th graders to Washington D.C. – take virtual trips into the Smithsonian, Skype a class in Georgetown, watch C-SPAN to see how congressional laws are made.  All of these examples demonstrate how a powerful tool is effective when used in the right context for the right reasons.  Placing a tablet into a child’s hands is like giving them a beautiful expensive paperweight when there is no context behind it.  The same goes for an adult. If it is not used correctly – the tool is meaningless no matter what generation’s hands you place it in.

*Photo courtesy of


Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Reeves, T.C. (2008). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum from January 22-25, 2008 at

Summer Precautions: Water Safety

With summer in full swing, water safety is an important concept to discuss with your children. Whether you are on the beach, swimming, or riding on a boat, being aware of the dangers and making safe practices is important. The following are simple things to always keep in mind while riding in a boat:

  • Wear a United States Coast Guard approved life jacket (found at many boating equipment stores)
  • Have plenty of food and water as dehydration can occur quickly for young children
  • Carry extra dry clothes so that children do not stay in wet clothes for extended periods of time
  • Keep a well-stocked first aid kit for any accidents on board.
  • Keep signal flares on board for emergencies but protected in a location where children do not have access to them. If this is impossible, supervise children so they do not play with flares as they can cause serious injury of death.


All of these items are necessary in case an emergency happens or if you have to stay out longer than planned. Another good practice is to be very familiar with the boat that you are on, such as knowing the location of the fire extinguishers and life rafts if it is a larger boat. Finally realize that a boat is constantly in motion on the water, develop a good sense of balance, model proper behavior such as refraining from horse play and always keep one hand gripped somewhere on the boat for stability.

Swimming dangers can come up regardless if you are on a beach, lake, or in a river. Always have children wear USCG approved life vests or floating devices.  Knowing about currents is an important thing to share with your children. Being swept with the current is a possibility.

  • In a river with a steady current, a swimmer should swim sideways (parallel) angled in towards land and never against the current, this will cause fatigue. The current on a coastal shoreline can be very unpredictable, especially with an undertow or rip current.
  • Rip currents and undertows are strong and it is recommended that you allow the current to take you until you are free. Most people that fall victim to either tend to fight against the current and tire quickly.
  • Once free, you just swim perpendicular to the shore pacing and staying calm.
  • Teach children to call for help if they are able too.
  • Model that not going past where they can touch the bottom is good practice.