ABC Song Video from KidsTV123

This is the classic ABC song that many of us know.  Here it is with visuals of the alphabet which I think is the best way to sing this song.  Some children can sing the song, but when it gets to “l, m, n, o, p” then they get mixed up because that part of the song goes so fast. They might not know the letters or realize that section contains five separate lettersl

This video of the song is great because it incorporates auditory and visual senses together.  The children are seeing each letter as they sing it, and hopefully they will put the auditory name with the visual letter.


New WordWorld Library

The new library from WordWorld has five great, fun, and educational stories for children.  Linda Labbo, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia, has great things to say about these books.  She says, “Words come to life on screens in unique ways that invite children to interact with stories, characters, and language. The interactivity scaffolds children’s attention and provides age appropriate prompts that ensure an entertaining and educational experience.”   Scaffolding is very important in the learning process, and WordWorld utilizes that specialized teaching strategy.

In my opinion as an educator, I think Word World is one of the best children’s educational programming available. The literacy lessons presented in the WordWorld television series are extended in these books.  Kids can either read them on their own, have someone read to them, or have the stories read to them by the narrator.  A Guide providing strategies is also available to maximize learning.

These are the five books:

  • A Smile for Crocodile
  • Duck’s First Sleepover
  • Snug as a Bug
  • The Big Race
  • Totally Terrific Duck

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.

How to Teach Kids to Write a Paragraph

Credit: Free pictures from

Writing can sometimes be a difficult subject to teach young students.  I have found that when teaching a new concept, it’s good to break it down into several steps.  I taught ESL students plus Gifted & Talented students in the same classroom for many years, and I found that most of them benefited from this.  There will be some students who grasp the concept easily or may already have the concept in place, and those students need to move on to enrichment activities.  But for those struggling with the concept of writing a paragraph, I have broken the concept down into smaller steps:

  • PREREQUISITE: The students need to know how to write a sentence.
  • DEFINITION: First, a child needs to understand the definition of a paragraph.  When we say that we’re going to write a paragraph, they may have no concept of that.  So, the first step is to explain and give examples of paragraphs.  Here is how I might explain it: “Today, we’re going to learn about paragraphs.   Can anyone tell me what a paragraph is? (I would say “good try” if they totally missed it, and if they got part of the answer then I would incorporate the correct part of their answer into my explanation.)   A paragraph is a group of sentences that tell about one thing.”
  • EXAMPLE: Let me share some paragraphs with you.
  1. Example of one paragraph:  “Kim’s favorite thing was to spend time with her dog. She played with her dog every day after school.  She fed her dog two times a day.  In the afternoons, they would go for a walk together. Kim liked her dog a lot! Questions: What did Kim like? (her dog)  What did she do with her dog? (played with it, fed it, went for a walk with it)  What is the paragraph about?  (Kim spending time with her dog)  This is a paragraph with a group of sentences that tell about Kim and her dog.”
  2. Give example of a non-paragraph:  “Now listen to this:  Luke liked to play sports.  The tree was green.  The clock stopped working.  Lions like to roar real loud. Questions: What is this about?  (Luke, a tree, a clock, and lions)   Is it a paragraph? (wait for answers)  No, because it’s not about one thing.  It’s about completely different things.”
  • WRITE A PARAGRAPH TOGETHER: “Let’s write a paragraph together about our classroom.” Have students tell facts about the classroom and formulate a paragraph on the board using their answers.
  • STUDENTS WRITE THEIR OWN PARAGRAPH: Have students pick something of interest to them and write a paragraph about just that one topic.  Make suggestions for those students having trouble thinking of a topic.  Walk around the room and help those students who are getting off topic.

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 paragraph.

Now Featuring: Homemade “Book of Colors”

Jami, the writer at Ain’t She Crazy, made a great homemade book about colors for their young son.  She used puff paint to write the names of the colors which is a great tactile sensation for little hands.  There are no pictures of objects with a particular color, just simply the colors hidden under flaps. It is well-made and invites children to discover each hidden color and then trace the name of the color with their fingers. Good job, Jami!

WordWorld “Build a Word” App for iPhone

The immensely popular WordWorld “Build a Word” app is now even better! In response to feedback, they installed the following upgrades:

· Re-programming the app to be compatible with the 4.0 iPhone operating system.

· Randomizing the presentation of the WordFriends for more WordBuilding fun!

· Decreasing the price. You can now purchase the app for the low, low cost of only $0.99.

“The “Build a Word” app is based on the WordWorld television show. Children will shake up this “WordBuilder” to watch letters float across the screen. They can then place letters in the outline provided to build words one letter at a time. By pushing the letters of each word together, words will magically “morph” into WordFriends! DOG, DUCK, PIG, ANT, FROG, SHEEP, BUG, COW, CAT and BEE come to life and help children build early literacy skills.”

You can download the WordWorld “Build a Word” app from iTunes.

FREE Site: Starfall – A Fun Way to Help Teach Reading

Many of you already know about Starfall.  For those who don’t, it’s an excellent free site to encourage children to learn to read while having fun.  This site is great for children learning their alphabet letters, learning the sounds of letters, and learning how to read words or short stories.

How to Teach Main Idea to First Graders

With any skill I teach in the classroom, I model the skill, have the students work on the skill with guided practice, and then observe them as they work on the skill independently.   Using these steps, this is how I would teach “main idea.”

First, write a short paragraph on the board or overhead such as this one: Michael had fun at the school carnival with his friends.  They ate pizza and then played a lot of games.  They had their faces painted.  They ate popcorn.  Then it was time to go home.

Explain that main idea tells what the whole story is about.  Explain how the first sentence tells the main idea in this story, Michael had fun at the carnival.  Then proceed with the following sentences to show how they support the main idea.

  • “Is eating pizza and playing a lot of games fun?”  “Yes.”
  • “Do most kids think getting their faces painted is fun?”  “Yes.”
  • “Is it fun to eat popcorn?”  “Yes.”

Now show how the supporting sentences would not be the main idea:

  • “Is the main idea (the whole story) about eating pizza?”  “No, because they played games, had their faces painted, and ate popcorn, too.”
  • “Is the main idea about playing games?”  “No, because they ate pizza and popcorn, and they had their faces painted, too.”
  • “Is the main idea about having their faces painted?”  “No, because they played games, and they ate pizza and popcorn, too.”
  • Reinforce how the main idea, the whole story, is about Michael having fun at the school carnival with his friends.  And all of these things (eating pizza, playing games, having faces painted, and eating popcorn) are ways to have fun.

Next, give the students a worksheet with no more than four short stories on it.  Make sure the stories are separated with lines so it will not cause any student to be confused.  Make sure the stories are numbered so you can easily refer to a certain story.

  • Read the first story together orally with the class and also all of the choices for main idea.  Work through the process in the same way as the above story.  Have the students underline the main idea in the story with a crayon or colored marker.  Then have them mark the answer.
  • Read the second story and answers orally with the class, but this time have them choose the answer by themselves.  After they have marked their answers, talk about the correct answer and why it is correct.  Allow students to change their answer, if necessary.  Make sure they underline the main idea in the story.
  • Have students complete the third story independently.  Again, after they have marked their answer, talk about the correct answer and why it is correct.  Let them correct their answer.  Make sure they underline the main idea in the story.
  • Complete the fourth story in the same manner as the third one.

Give students a similar worksheet in the same format and have them complete the worksheet independently.  Then you can assess how well each student understood the concept of main idea.

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.

Teaching Kids: Getting Kids Ready to Read

Tips for helping a child get ready to read:

  • Hopefully, the child will have been read to on a several-times-a-week basis starting during their baby years.  If not, parents should begin now reading to their child every day.
  • Help develop a love for reading in the child.  Make story time special and in a special place.  It should be fun, with books that interest the child.
  • Visit the library every week during children’s story time.  While at the library, let the child choose a couple of books to check out and take home.
  • Play alphabet games with the child.
  • Play games of what happened  “first, next and last.”  (Ex:  First, you brush your teeth.  Next, you put on your pajamas.  Last, you go to bed.)  You can do this with any activity the child does.
  • Have the child watch “Word World” on TV.  It teaches alphabet letters and words in a cute, colorful format.  Our grandson absolutely loves that program and started watching it when he was a baby.  He’s 19 months old now, and it is the only show that will keep his attention the entire time.  He already knows most of his uppercase letters.  If you’ve never watched Word World, I highly recommend it.  It’s one of the best children’s shows on television.

When reading a book to the child:

(You will have to adjust the questions according to the age of the child.)

  • Talk about the picture on each page first before reading the page.
  • Run your finger under words as you read them.
  • Play a guessing game of “What do you think will happen next?” as you are reading the story to the child.
  • Ask, “Why do you think this happened?” when appropriate.  Accept their answer as valid and never put down a child’s answer.  If they don’t know why, suggest a possibility.
  • Share what you like and what you don’t like about a story.
  • Ask child what they liked and what they didn’t like about the story.
  • Talk about what happened first, next, and last.
  • Talk about what the story is mainly about.
  • Have child draw pictures about the story.

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 the Universe

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This is a great “big book” (or “board book” as some may call them) that is made by Funfax.  It’s great for teaching different levels:

  • Young children – just talk about the basics
  • ESL students – pictures and visuals are great for teaching them
  • Gifted students – deeper material in the book can be used with them and higher level questions can be presented
  • Science lesson – pick and choose the material in the book you need for your lesson

I’ve had my book for a while, but they are still available through Amazon.

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.


Teaching Science to ESL Students in 6th-8th Grades

A good friend of mine taught Science to ESL Students in 6th-8th grades.  The students she taught had reached “conversational language” level, not “academic level.”  It usually takes two years to be able to communicate in a foreign language, but more to learn in that language.  Her students had one year of English instruction beforehand, and English was spoken in her classroom.  So she had a difficult task to teach students who were still on a conversational English level and not on an academic level.

Here are some tips from my friend:

  • Animation is important.  At the middle school level, students generally don’t like animation, but these ESL students looked for clues in all areas. Moving arms in directions, changing voice tones for emphasis, etc.
  • Teacher uses balls with flashlights, etc., to show the concepts of the basics of atoms, astronomy, chemistry, etc.
  • Use lots of simple visuals and drawings.

This teacher told of this example:

I had a very low English level girl from Mexico paired up with a brand new Vietnamese student with even lower English proficiency. They had to do a lab with measuring, graphing, etc. They were one of the best groups!! They communicated with pointing, moving objects, nods and smiles, and did better together than either could have apart.  And they did this totally by signals. It takes cooperation, though, and middle schoolers get embarrassed so easy.  They don’t want to appear ‘dumb’ so they act like they don’t want to do things.

This is my opinion:

Labeling was done in the first year of learning English, and I think it would still be good for students with less English profiency in the second and third years.   If they already know what the object is and how to read the word, having the label could also reinforce learning how to spell the word.

Teaching About Volcanoes


Most kids are fascinated with volcanoes.  When teaching about them, it is important to let kids make a volcano, have good pictures of real volcanoes, and if possible, a video, since most students are not able to take a field trip to actually see one.  If you are fortunate to be on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, then you can hike up to the top of Diamond Head, an extinct volcano.  We did this, and it was quite impressive.  Or you can visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, which we also did, and you might get to see an actual lava flow.  We didn’t get close enough to see a lava flow, but we did walk through the Thurston Lava Tube which was very interesting.

Here is a book we own that has many great pictures of volcanoes:


  1. Use a large pan,  9 x 13.   Place an empty 16 ounce bottle in the middle of it with the top off.
  2. Using either papier mache, modeling clay, or salt play dough, make a mountain with vertical ridges around the bottle.  Do not cover the top of the bottle.  Paint brown and let dry.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap and 1 tablespoon baking soda in a cup and carefully pour into the bottle in the middle of the mountain.  (If you’re brave, you can add a few drops of red or orange food coloring in with the soap and baking soda.)
  4. Place the pan with the mountain outside.  Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the bottle and stand back.  Your volcano will erupt!
  • For ESL students, be sure and label everything.
  • For Gifted students, ask higher level questions.  There is a chemical reaction when the baking soda and vinegar are mixed.  It produces a carbon dioxide gas (a chemical reaction) which is the same gas that a real volcano produces.


  • Kit:  Volcano Island – Discovery Extreme Light and Sound Rumbling Volcano  by  Poof Slinky
  • Our Amazing Volcanoes / Earth Science Kit by Poof Slinky

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  • Dk Readers:  Eruption–The Story of Volcanoes (Level 2) by Anita Ganeri
  • National Geographic Readers Volcanoes! by Anne Schreiber
  • The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top:  A Book About Volcanoes by Gail Herman and Bob Ostrom.  Good for PreK-1.  Not your typical Magic School Bus book.
  • Volcanoes by Jacques Durieux and Philippe Bourseiller.Spectacular photos!
  • Volcanoes (All Aboard Science Reader) by Nicholas Nirgiotis.  Go0d for K-2.  Pictures look like clay.
  • Volcanoes (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Franklyn Mansfield Branley and Megan Lloyd.  Good for PreK-2 and older.
  • Volcanoes!  Mountains of Fire (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4) by Eric Arnold.  Good for 4th grade.


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.

Example of a Simple Book: I Want to Travel

Here is an example of a simple book (see explanation) I made with a four year old tutoring student who knew all his letter sounds.  He really enjoyed this activity.  With this book, we worked on additional skills such as learning the sight word “want.”   (This student was reading when he started kindergarten.)

Simple Book:  I WANT TO TRAVEL



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.



Examples of Word Webs

Word webs are great to use with kids.  I have used them in the regular classroom, with ESL students, and with Gifted & Talented students.  Here are some examples of different word webs that you can print.  Just click on the highlighted words:

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.


Techniques for Teaching ESL Children

These are some good techniques for teaching ESL children:

  • Face the children when you are speaking.
  • Speak clearly at an average to slow rate.  Do not exaggerate your words.  Speak normally.
  • Avoid using idioms or confusing phrases.
  • Explain things in more than one way.
  • Repeat key words, phrases, and ideas.
  • Use comparisons, similes, analogies, and opposites when appropriate.
  • Brainstorm using a white board or chalk board.
  • Build upon the children’s experiences.
  • Use visuals and props as often as possible.
  • Use culturally appropriate materials.
  • Demonstrate whenever you can.
  • Provide a print-rich environment.  Label objects with the name of the object written on an index card.
  • Ask children various kinds of questions to determine understanding.
  • Have the children role play.

One Strategy for Teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) Students: Labeling Objects

One important strategy when teaching ESL students is to have a “print rich” environment.  In other words, label everything you can.  Index cards and colored markers are a great way to do this.   Here are some examples of things to label:  chair, table, desk, door, window, chalkboard, bookcase, flag, trash can, TV, etc.   The more you can label, the better.

How to Teach Phonics Using Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Workbooks

Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Workbooks have been one of the best, inexpensive ways that I have taught phonics through the years.  As you can probably guess, I am a strong believer in phonics.

Being the #1 choice for teaching phonics for over 40 years, these workbooks are easy to use.  Over 50 million children have learned to read with the help of these phonics workbooks.

When I was teaching first grade in an ESL (English as a Second Language) school, new reading curriculum was adopted one year that utilized the “Whole Language” approach to teaching reading.  The other first grade teachers and I quickly realized that this approach was not working for our ESL students or for students with learning disabilities.  Children who learned to read effortlessly would learn no matter what approach was used, but most of our students needed the structure and stability of a good phonics program.   We told our principal and the PTA president  our beliefs, and the PTA purchased a Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Workbook for each child in first grade.  They did this  faithfully every year, and we were able to teach our students how to read by supplementing the Whole Language approach with phonics.