Hap Palmer CD: Learning Basic Skills Through Music

This is one of my favorites and a favorite of nearly everyone who has used it according to the Hap Palmer website.   If you are interested in ordering this, you can go to Hap Palmer’s website by clicking on this link: Learning Basic Skills Through Music.  I used this in my Early Childhood class, and I enjoyed it as much as the children.  These learning songs are great action songs as well that help get out the wiggles out of restless students.   Here is a list of the songs:

  • 1. Colors
  • 2. Put Your Hands Up In The Air
  • 3. The Elephant
  • 4. The Number March
  • 5. Marching Around The Alphabet
  • 6. Growing
  • 7. This Is The Way We Get Up In The Morning
  • 8. Birds
  • 9. What Are You Wearing?
  • 10. What Is Your Name?

By the way, Hap Palmer’s first recording of this was in 1969, but it is still as catchy and enjoyable today as it was back then.   Hap Palmer’s songs are timeless!  The songs are easy to learn and help with retention of skills in a musical way.

Alphabet Letter Party

Celebrate when a child learns a letter of the alphabet that has been hard for them to learn.  Make a cookie cake either from scratch or buy a roll of the child’s favorite refrigerated cookie dough and spread it out on a pizza pan to bake.  If the child enjoys decorating, then let them decorate the cookie cake, or if they really enjoy being surprised then surprise them with it.  The main thing is to celebrate the learning that has taken place and encourage them to learn more things that might be difficult for them.

Making Math More Fun

Would you use a math games package that has ideas for making math more fun? If so, this package has print and play math games to enhance learning.   Print and play math board games, print and play game sheets, or print and play math card games can make learning more fun.  If you’re interested, just simply download these e-books for a fast and efficient way to make math games that are interesting and stimulating.

Mobile Learning – Learning on the Go With iPhones

Our two year old grandson loves to play educational games on our daughter’s iPhone.  It’s perfect to keep him occupied when they’re in the car, at the doctor’s office, or up in her office at work.  His favorite game right now is Toddler Teasers.  The games include letters, numbers, shapes, and colors, and it’s available at the iTunes App Store.

It’s amazing to me that our grandson, who is two years and two months old, knows how to play games on an iPhone.   Technology is amazing and such a wonderful tool for learning!.

“Word World” – Excellent Children’s TV Program

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I highly recommend the TV Program called “World World.”  Our grandson just turned two years old, and he knows his alphabet and is making sounds of the letters on his own.  He has watched World Word for the past year, and for a long time that was the only thing on TV that kept his attention.  He loved it!  And he was absorbing reading skills effortlessly.  (By the way, our daughter and s-i-l did not let him watch much TV, especially when younger.  Word World was the only show he watched.)

ABOVE, you will notice our grandson’s World World toys that you can buy at Target and other places.  These toys reinforce the skills learned on the program.

Make Simple Flashcard Games


This game was made very quickly as you can probably tell, but children don’t usually notice that.  (I try to make the games neat.)  The student decorated the game with Batman stickers.  I wrote the words on index cards.  If the word was read correctly then the student got to advance to the next space.

These easy gameboards can be decorated by the student so they take ownership of the game and enjoy playing it.   If several students will be playing the game, take a whole sheet of poster board and draw the basic path with “Start” and “End.”  Let the students decorate it.

Bottle caps make good playing pieces to move along the path.

Teaching Kids About Shapes


When teaching children about shapes, they need to do various activities to learn the differences between the shapes.  Some students may need much repetition, and some may learn them quickly.  Adjust the activities according to the student.  Here are some activities:

  • Compare the shapes to objects: “A circle is round like a ball.”  “A square is like a window (square shaped).”  “A rectangle is like a door.”   “A triangle is shaped like pizza or an ice cream cone.”
  • Have actual shapes for the student to feel. For teaching about a circle, you could use lids, tops to bottles, a ball, a plastic cup (the top and bottom), and any objects you see that have a circle in them.  In the picture below, you will even see a round, Spider-Man wipe-off board.   For teaching about a square, you could use a square box, a square book, a square cake pan, etc.  Count the four sides on all the squares.  For teaching about a rectangle, you could use a rectangular shaped box or book, an oblong cake pan, a Kleenex box, a notebook, etc.  Count the four sides on all the rectangles, two longs sides and two short sides.  For teaching about a triangle, you could use an ice cream cone, a piece of pizza (or a picture of one slice of pizza), a party hat, etc.  Count the three sides on all the triangles.
  • Use simple workbooks like the ones pictured above that have stickers and/or activities.  Count the sides on the squares, rectangles, and triangles when working with them.
  • Having students trace the shapes is an excellent activity.
  • Have students cut out the shapes. You can draw large shapes for the students to cut out first and then later progress to smaller and smaller shapes.


Teaching Science to ESL & First Grade Students: COMPARING & GROUPING OBJECTS (Same & Different)

Following the lesson on The Five Senses, students can compare and group objects.   Here are some activities:

  • Make sure students understand “same” and “different.” Have two objects that are exactly the same and one that is different (such as two math books and an English book, or two identical balls and one that is different, etc.)  Show the two objects that are the same and talk about how they are alike.  Then show two objects that are different and talk about the ways they are different.
  • Show two flowers that are not completely alike and talk about the ways they are the same (both are pretty, both smell good, both have stems, both have leaves, etc.) and ways they are different (one is shorter, they are different colors, etc.)  Talk about how we use our senses of look, smell, and touch when we’re comparing the flowers.
  • Explain to students there are different ways to compare things. Have a group of objects such as shells that the students can practice comparing and putting into groups such as big shells/little shells and then white shells/colored shells.  Other objects that you could use to compare and group would be different sizes and colors of seeds, various rocks, or different sizes and colors of marbles.
  • Have students compare their pencils.  Remind students there are different ways to compare things.  Have students with pencils longer than six inches line up on one side of the room.  Have students with pencils shorter than six inches line up on the other side.  Another comparison would be to have yellow pencils on one side and colored pencils on the other side.  Or pencils with erasers on one side and those without erasers on the other.

Children’s Books to Teach the Color Orange

Here is a good selection of kids’ books that can be used to teach the color orange:

  • An Orange for a Bellybutton by Haruo Fukami
  • An Orange in January by Dianna Hutts Aston
  • Autumn Orange by Christianne C. Jones
  • Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
  • Each Orange Has 8 Slices by Paul Giganti  (Reprint)
  • Mystery of the Flying Orange Pumpkin by Steven Kellogg
  • Orange by Nancy Harris
  • Orange Juice by Betsey Chessen and Pamela Chanko
  • Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
  • Orange:  Seeing Orange All Around Us by Sarah L. Schuette and Elena Bodrova
  • Oranges by Inez Snyder
  • Oranges to Orange Juice ( How Things Are Made) by Inez Snyder
  • Otto’s Orange Day by Frank Cammuso Jay Lynch
  • Star in My Orange: Looking for Nature’s Shapes by Dana Meachen Rau
  • The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
  • What Columbus Found:  It Was Orange, It Was Round by Jane Kurtz
  • Why is an Orange Called an Orange? by Cobi Ladner

Teaching Children to Count Objects


As a first grade teacher in the public schools and in doing private tutoring in my home, I found it very rewarding to teach young students, and I know there are others who feel the same way.   Aspiring pre-school and elementary teachers can earn a teaching certificate online from a wide array of universities.

One student I tutored at my home knew how to count to ten, but one of the skills we had to work on a lot was how to count objects up to ten.  He would often get mixed up after counting five objects, would start counting too fast and miss some objects, or  he would start moving backwards and recount objects he had already counted.  It took a lot of repetition for him to learn to do this, and so we did various activities.  These are some of the activities we did:

  • Have student put 10 Teddy Grahams or Fish Crackers in a row.  Have student count slowly, touching each cookie or cracker as they count it.  Count with the student a couple of times if necessary. If successful, they get to eat one cookie.  Then count the 9 remaining cookies.  If successful, they get to eat one more cookie.  Repeat until all cookies have been eaten.
  • Use simple number workbooks.  I was able to find two sticker and activity workbooks for this student that he enjoyed. Some pages involved stickers and some involved coloring.
  • Line up various objects to count such as blocks, pennies, game pieces, etc.  Count how many there are and make a game out of it, such as put six blocks in the bucket, nine pennies in the piggy bank, etc.


Fry’s Instant Words List: First 100 Words

The first 10 words below make up about 24% of all written material, according to Dr. Edward Fry.  The first 100 words make up about 50% according to him.

Copy the words on index cards and have students practice them, starting with the first 10 or 20 words.  Then add 10 or 20 more, depending on the child’s level.  The goal is to work on all 100 words.

There are 300 words in Fry’s total list.

First group of 20 words:

  • the, of, and, a , to , in, is, you, that, it
  • he, was, for, on, are, as, with, his, they, I

Second group of 20 words:

  • at, be, this, have, from, or, one, had, by, word
  • but, not, what, all, were, we, when, your, can, said

Third group of 20 words:

  • there, use, an, each, which, she, do, how, their, if
  • will, up, other, about, out, many, then, them, these, so

Fourth group of 20 words:

  • some, her, would, make, like, him, into, time, has, look
  • two, more, write, go, see, number, no, way, could, people

Fifth group of 20 words:

  • my, than, first, water, been, call, who, oil, now, find
  • long, down, day, did, get, come, made, may, part, over

Teaching Science to First Grade & ESL Students: The 5 SENSES

These ideas are good for all students, including ESL and those with learning disabilities.  Teaching science to ESL students involves a lot of hands on activities, visuals, and labeling. Here are some ideas:

The 5 Senses – Use a lot of various things for each sense.  Label by putting names of things on index cards:

  • SEEING – have different objects or pictures to look at such as things of different colors and shapes, etc.   An activity would be to group things together that are the same color or the same shape.
  • FEELING – have objects of different textures to touch such as rough and smooth, hard & soft objects (rock, stick, cotton ball, feather), etc.  An activity would be to group all the rough rocks together and all the smooth stones together.
  • HEARING – have different things that make sound such as musical instruments, small drum, container with popcorn in it so it makes noise when shaken, etc.
  • SMELLING – have various things to smell such as a cotton ball with perfume, small containers with different spices, cotton ball with vinegar, etc.
  • TASTING – have different things to taste (something sweet, something salty, something sour)

Concepts to cover:  We find out many things by using our senses.  Our eyes help us see, our hands help us feel, our mouth helps us taste, our ears help us hear, and our nose helps us smell things. We can tell if things are the same or different by using our senses, and we can group things together that are alike.  Many times we will use several of our senses.   If we’re looking at flowers, we can look, smell, and touch the flower.


  • Play “The 5 Questions Game” with various objects from all the five groups.  Ask, “Can you see it?  Can you feel it?  Can you hear it?  Can you smell it?  Can you taste it?”
  • Have an assortment of various seeds or dried beans.  Have the students sort the seeds/beans in different ways.  For example, sort them by colors, then sort by shapes, and then sort by size.
  • Put some objects in a brown paper bag.  Let students feel the objects inside the bag and guess what they are.
  • Matching Game:  Have small pictures of ears, eyes, mouth, hands, and nose.  Glue each picture on an index card.  Write each of these words on an index card:  hear, see, taste, feel, smell.  Have student match the pictures with the corresponding word.

Teaching Kids to Brainstorm

Brainstorming stretches children’s minds. This skill is useful in something as simple as writing a sentence all the way to creative writing. It’s also useful in reading skills, math skills, social studies and science skills, and also in higher level thinking skills.  It is used in problem solving and the creation of solutions.  Creative people brainstorm, and this will be a skill children will use throughout their life.


The first step in teaching children how to brainstorm is for the teacher to model brainstorming, show them how you yourself brainstorm. Think out loud to demonstrate this. Take something they can see such as one of their classmates.   Think out loud and write on the board everything about that student.  For example:

  • Her name is Sally.
  • She’s in first grade.
  • She has blonde hair.
  • She has long hair.
  • She’s wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
  • She wears glasses.
  • She has a big smile.
  • She has a picture of a dog on her T-shirt.

Another example would be to take a book, preferably a big book so all students can see easily.   If I had the book about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, then this is what I would write on the board from what we could see in the picture on the front of the book:

  • There are three bears.
  • One bear is really big.
  • One bear is little.
  • One bear is in-between size.
  • The bears are brown.
  • There is a girl.
  • She is little.
  • She has blonde hair.
  • She is wearing a dress.
  • Here dress is blue and red.
  • There is a house.
  • It has a door and two windows.
  • There are lots and lots of trees (a forest).
  • There are flowers beside the house.

After you have modeled for the students, then brainstorm together with the students.  After that, have the students practice brainstorming with a partner, then by themselves.


The second step is to brainstorm about something known that they can’t see. Again, it’s important for the teacher to model brainstorming and think out loud. Show them how you yourself brainstorm. Choose something to brainstorm about that’s well known to them.  Maybe it’s the school playground, the car in the garage, or grandma and grandpa’s house. After modeling this, then have the students brainstorm together with you on another topic. Ask them for their input and suggestions. Then let them try it by themselves or with their partner.


This last part is valuable in creative writing. Follow the same steps in parts one and three, except this time it will be brainstorming something they don’t really know much about. Discuss ideas with them and try to pick something that interests them. Ask “what if” questions and stir their imaginations. Examples would be “what if you went to the moon” or “what would it be like if you could fly,” etc.

Teaching First Graders How to Write a Sentence

First graders, as you know, come with varying levels of skills.  Some students will be clueless on how to even begin writing a sentence.  That’s when the teacher needs to brainstorm with those students. Here are some ideas that are good with first graders, ESL students, or students with learning disabilites:

  • Pick a topic to write about that is of high interest.  It’s close to Valentine’s Day, so I will pick Valentine hearts.
  • Discuss with the students, “Now what do we want to say about hearts?”  Let them share their ideas and write them on the board.
  • Pick one idea that is not a complete sentence such as “pretty and red.”
  • Explain that a sentence is about someone or something.  Ask, “What is it that is ‘pretty and red?’  Our sentence has to tell us.”   Hopefully, someone will say “a heart.”
  • Write the complete sentence on the board:  A heart is pretty and red.  Underline the two main parts of the sentence and show that the sentence is about “a heart” and “is pretty and red” tells about that heart.
  • Another student may have said, “a pink heart.”  So the teacher would ask, “What about a pink heart?  The sentence has to tell us something about this pink heart.”   The end result might be:  A pink heart is on the table.
  • Go through the other student ideas and work together to make sentences out of them.
  • Then give each student a heart-shaped piece of handwriting paper and let them try writing their own sentence.

Some students will be able to sound out words to write their own sentence, and some students will not be able to do that.  With those students, you need to work one-on-one:

  • Ask what their sentence is about.
  • Start with the first word, sound it out slowly for the student, and go sound by sound while having the student write the sound they hear.
  • Do this with each word until the sentence is finished.

Soon, when the students feel more competent in writing a sentence, discuss with them the following:

  • Sentences always start with a capital letter.
  • Sentences always end with a period or something else.  Nearly all their sentences will be telling sentences at this point.

Always praise their work and find something positive to say about it.  Make them feel proud and take ownership of their work.   Those who are fearful of writing should eventually get to the point where they can write their own sentence.

* If your students can write sentences, then you might want to read “How to Teach Kids to Write a Paragraph.”

Children’s Books to Teach About the Color Blue

Here is a good selection of kids’ books that can be used to teach the color blue:

  • And to Name But Just a Few: Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue by Laurie Rosenwald
  • Blue 2: A Pop-up Book for Children by David A. Carter
  • Blue Goes to School (Blue’s Clues Series) by Angela C. Santomero
  • Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
  • Blue Moo by Sandra Boynton
  • Blue’s Best Rainy Day (Blue’s Clues Series) by Deborah Reber
  • Blue’s Big Parade by Justin Spelvin
  • Blue’s Checkup (Blue’s Clues) by Sarah Albee
  • Blue’s Clues Chanukah (Blue’s Clues Series) by Jessica Lissy
  • Blue’s Clues Holiday by Angela C. Santomero
  • Blue’s Fall Day by Lauryn Silverhardt
  • Blue’s Halloween Hide-and-Seek by Michael T. Smith
  • Blue’s Snack Party by Kevin Cardinali
  • Blue’s Thanksgiving Feast (Blue’s Clues Series) by Jessica Lissy
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Colors: Blue by Esther Sarfatti
  • Counting With Blue by Lauryn Silverhardt
  • Good Night, Blue by Angela C. Santomero
  • Guess Who Loves Blue! by Deborah Reber (good for Valentine’s Day)
  • Healthy Snacks With Blue by J-P Chanda
  • In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck
  • It’s Valentine’s Day! (Blue’s Clues Series) by Brooke Lindner
  • Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
  • Old, New, Red, Blue (Step Into Reading – story about race cars) by Lagonegro
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • Sky the Blue Fairy by Daisy Meadows
  • Thomas and Friends: Blue Train, Green Train by Rev. W. Awdry
  • Welcome to Blue’s Clues! (Blue’s Clues Series) by Angela C. Santomero
  • One For Me, One For You: A Book About Sharing (Blue’s Clues Series) by Sarah Albee

Example of a Simple Book: I Like Trucks and Cars

Here is another example of a simple book I made with a four year old tutoring student using pictures out of the Sunday paper.  We worked on color words, sight words, and adding “s” to the end of the word “car” to make it mean “more than one.”  He caught on real quick to that.  (This student was reading when he started kindergarten.)







Children’s Books to Teach the Color Red

Here is a good selection of kids’ books that can be used to teach the color red:

  • Ann Likes Red by Dorothy Z. Seymour
  • And to Name But Just a Few: Red, Yellow, Green and Blue by Laurie Rosenwald
  • Big, Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Clifford: The Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
  • Colors: Red by Esther Sarfatti
  • Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
  • Little Red Cowboy Hat by Susan Lowell and Randy Cecil (southwest version of Little Red Riding Hood)
  • Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges
  • Little Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm
  • Little Red Riding Hood:  A Newfangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst
  • Little Red’s Autumn Adventure by Sarah Ferguson
  • My Red Umbrella by Robert Bright
  • Old, New, Red, Blue (Step Into Reading – story about race cars) by Lagonegro
  • One Fish, Two Fish Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • One Red Dot: A Pop-up Book for Children by David A. Carter
  • Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell
  • Red by Sarah L. Shuette
  • Red is Best by Kathy Stinson and Robin Baird Lewis
  • Red Lace, Yellow Lace: Learn to Tie Your Shoe! by Mike Casey
  • Red, Stop!  Green, Go! by P. D. Eastman
  • Red Train by Will Grace
  • Red-eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley
  • Ruby the Red Fairy by Daisy Meadows
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Bunsen
  • The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven
  • The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood
  • The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone
  • The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
  • The Red Lemon by Bob Staake
  • With Love, Little Red Hen by Alma Flor Ada

Children’s Books to Teach the Color Green

Here is a good selection of kids’ books that can be used to teach the color green:

  • And to Name But Just a Few: Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue by Laurie Rosenwald
  • Big Green Pocketbook by Candice F. Ransom
  • Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Colors: Green by Esther Sarfatti
  • Eco Babies Wear Green by Michelle Sinclair Colman
  • Green by Sarah L. Shuette
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Green Puppy Goes to the Dentist (Blue’s Clues) by J.C. Schwanda
  • Green Says Go by Ed Emberley
  • Green Wilma by Ted Arnold
  • I’m Sorry! (Blue’s Clues – Green Puppy) by Justin Chanda
  • Nature’s Green Umbrella by Gail Gibbons
  • Purple, Green and Yellow by Robert Munsch
  • Red,Stop! Green,Go! by P. D. Eastman
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

Example of a Simple Book: Spider-Man

Here is another example of a simple book I made with a four year old tutoring student, a big fan of Spider-Man, who knew all his alphabet sounds.  We were working on learning to spell the word “man,” so this book reinforced what we were working on and motivated him to want to read. He really enjoyed this activity.



Making Simple Books to Teach Skills

Making simple books to teach skills is so simple and easy.  These little books can be used to teach so many skills and used on different levels from pre-reading to independent reader.  Most children enjoy making a book on something they are really interested in, and they want to read it.  They enjoy gluing on pictures or drawing pictures to illustrate their story.


  • Interest in looking at books because the child is interested in the subject matter
  • How to hold a book and turn the pages
  • Learning the parts of a book such as the cover, the title, the author
  • Learning that the spoken word can be written down and then read over and over again in book form
  • Learning that we read starting with the top line and read in a left-to-right manner
  • Learning that the first word in a sentence always starts with a big, capital letter and the sentence ends with a dot/a period  (Later you can proceed to question marks and exclamation marks.)
  • Learning that the pictures on a page go along with the story and can provide clues about the story
  • Learning that anybody can make a book and put their ideas down on paper
  • Learning various phonetic skills depending on the words used
  • Learning sight words


  • Computer paper or any blank, unlined paper
  • Colored markers
  • Pictures from magazines, newspapers, brochures about the zoo or tourist destinations, children’s stickers (whatever interests them such as Batman, Spiderman, Hello Kitty, holiday stickers, etc.)
  • Stapler


  • Brainstorm with the child and decide on the topic for the book.
  • Make the cover page and write the title and write the child’s name as the author.
  • If the child is a pre-reader, have them dictate one sentence for each page.
  • Let the child watch you write the sentence so they visualize the process of writing the spoken word on paper.
  • Let the child illustrate the sentence either by drawing a picture, gluing on a picture from a magazine or brochure, or choosing stickers for their illustration.
  • Complete the book, maybe 3-5 pages for a beginner.
  • When the book is finished, start with the cover and read the title and the author, running your finger under each word as you read.
  • After you have read the book, encourage the child to read it or read it again with you.  Help the child to run their finger under the words as they are being read.
  • Older children will not require as much guidance when making books.  Depending on their skills, help them when necessary.


Teaching Children Needing Language Development

During my first years of teaching, I taught language development and used a wonderful language development kit supplied by the school.    Here are some of the main things I used in this class:

  • Puppets! Children will sometimes respond to a puppet when they will not respond to an adult.
  • Songs! Most children will relax and open up to fun songs and learn things effortlessly because they are having fun.
  • Hands-on materials! In teaching shapes, for example, the children can experience what a circle and square feel like.
  • Games! Using simple games is a great way to practice skills that might become too repetitive otherwise.
  • Stories! Simple stories can help to teach concepts.

These are all things that help to make the learning experience fun and rewarding, something that this Early Childhood class looked forward to experiencing.