Whitney’s Hug

December 13, 2014 |

Whitney’s Hug

I have always considered it an honor to be a mother and a teacher of children.  Some of the greatest lessons I have ever learned in life, are those I learned from children: enthusiasm for life, trust, readiness to make friends, forgiveness, and faith in God.

This morning before preschool, I prayed that I could help make it a special day for my students.  Since there were only two official school days left, I wanted them to leave preschool with the happiest memories possible.  It turned out to be a wonderful day!  During circle time I was telling the children that the school year was almost over and that it would soon be summer, after which they would be going on to Kindergarten.  I told them that I knew they would have a wonderful time but that I would miss them very much.  I wanted the children to know that growing up and moving on is a happy experience so I showed them my smile.  Inside, however, I was fighting the tears at having to tell these dear little friends “good-bye.”  Sensing the sadness which I’d failed to hide, a cute little angel came to my comfort.  Right at that moment, in an act of sheer preschooler spontaneity, sweet little Whitney jumped up. With a playful grin, she ran across the circle to me.  Then she took a bounding leap, landed right into my lap, and gave me a great big bear hug.  The surprise of it brought a huge smile to my face; then I was laughing – laughing through tears.  Suddenly all of the other children jumped up and ran over to join in the fun.  They basically surrounded Whitney and me in an enormous, group bear hug.  It was electrifying!  The memory of fourteen chubby-cheeked smiles, and their sweet, contagious giggles, not to mention twenty eight little arms all reaching out for the hug, is still tickling my heart.  It was the most precious preschool moment ever!!!  I was surrounded by some of God’s purest little angel spirits, and found myself in heaven.  This happy yet tender moment gave me a glimpse of the joy which Christ must have felt, as He gathered his little ones.  It’s no wonder he wept.  I’m still weeping – even as I write!

Thank you Whitney, for your pure, Christ-like love!  It has left an indelible imprint on my heart!

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Word Building I – Word Families – for Literacy Centers

October 1, 2013 |

wb on mat

One of my favorite things to teach is reading!  Hearing a young child read his/her first word is like watching a baby take his/her very first step.  EXCITING!!!  After teaching my students the phonetic sounds of  letters, I like to use a time tested and proven pre-reading activity called Word Building.

wb card and pix


Word building is a Montessori inspired activity that helps emergent readers develop essential reading skills (encoding, decoding, analyzing and blending).  It’s a FUN, “hands-on” method that keeps emergent readers actively engaged in the learning process.

I’ve just posted my Word Building I unit on MY SHOP at TpT.  It focuses on VCV words found in the following word families: an, at, en, et, ig, og, ox, ug.

This resource includes detailed teaching instructions, class word building activities and individual word building activities.  There are also worksheets, for those who want to offer a quick review and writing practice.


Word Building I also includes instructions (with pictures) on how to make a magnetic movable alphabet.

wb tray and words

This resource also includes step-by-step instructions (with pictures) on how to make a large pocket chart for classroom word building and classroom sentence building lessons.

sentence building

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Joie De Vivre! (pronounced “zhwah duh veev”)

October 1, 2013 |

joie de vivre pix 2

Oct. 2012 — What do I LOVE about teaching little learners?  I love their innate “Joie de vivre!”  This is a French expression that describes a quality of joy in living that seems to come effortlessly to children. Joie de vivre is about experiencing enthusiasm for the simple things in life.  Many adults possess this quality, however, if we’re not careful, we can sometimes allow ourselves to become over burdened by the daily pressures of life. Because children are usually unencumbered with life’s daily grind, they know how to mindfully enjoy the moment.  Children are carefree, and spontaneous, and somehow know instinctively how to savor the simplest pleasures of life.  As adults, we may not have the luxury of recapturing those carefree childhood days, however I believe it’s important to make an effort to recapture a little joie de vivre–even if it’s only for a few moments each day.  Children can teach us how.

This past week, during recess, my vibrant preschool students taught me that life is full of excitement – and that there’s pleasure to be found all around.  One day, they found great amusement in the large gooey worms that had gathered in great numbers on the sport court.  The freshly fallen rain had invited the worms and the children were thrilled by these new playground pals!  One extra fat worm specifically caught their attention.  Bubbling over with pure joie de vivre, the children were jumping and twirling and laughing out loud.  “Let’s make a tunnel for the worm!” Soon nearly a dozen pre-kinder kids were lined up, feet spread apart, squealing with joy as their slimy new friend slithered its way through.  One little girl even created a “leaf blanket” for the worm, “to help him stay warm!”

That day at recess, I too experienced sheer “joie de vivre!”  I’ll be honest, my joy didn’t come from the slimy creature crawling on the concrete (that’s just not my thing–even though I sometimes pretend it is, in order not to squelch the joy of my students).  That day the deep down joy in my soul was about my kids, their enthusiasm for life, their cheery pink-cheeked grins, their giddiness, their glee-filled giggles and their total thrill at the wonders of nature.  For that moment all daily cares dissolved as I found myself enthralled and enamored by cute little clapping hands, tiny dancing feet and ever present, easily ignitable joie de vivre!

What do your students teach you about “joie de vivre?”  Please share your stories and experiences of how children have taught you to find joy in the simple pleasures of life!



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Making Memories!

September 30, 2013 |

When I was a teenager I learned to use the phrase “We’re makin’ a memory” any time something interesting happened in my life.  Naturally the memories I preferred to make were happy ones.  Sometimes, however I used the “makin’ a memory” phrase to motivate myself to persevere through life’s challenges because I knew that one day it would be a memory (and hopefully an experience I learned from).  Memories come in many different flavors: humorous, happy, hard, sad, scary, sweet and so forth.  The emotions we connect to our memories are endless.  The one element that all memories have in common is that somehow they stirred up enough emotion to stay in our long term memory banks.  Somehow they were meaningful enough for us to hold on to.

My teaching memories are some of my favorites!  To help me hold on to my teaching memories, I’ve decided to create a page on my website called, TM&Ms (Teacher Memories & Musings).  If you have a great teaching story, I hope you will consider sharing it with me.  Please send it to www.littlestarrlearners@gmail.com

Happy remembering!!! :D

Here’s a link to my first TM&M – “Joie de Vivre”

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Calendar Wall and Seasonal Pointers FREEBIE!

September 12, 2013 |

Cal.Wall and Seasonal Pointer

My students each love having their turn to be the “teacher helper” because it means that they get to use the “seasonal pointer” to point to the months of the year while we sing our “Months of the Year” song.

To download this Calendar Wall and Seasonal Pointers FREEBIE, please go to MY STORE @ TEACHERSpayTEACHERS.

The Calendar Wall and Seasonal Pointers FREEBIE also includes the “Months of the Year” song for your class to sing along with.

This FREEBIE is an excerpt from my CALENDAR KIT which includes everything you need for your CLASSROOM CALENDAR plus additional materials for

*Weather and Seasons

*Birthday Celebrations

*Multi Cultural Celebrations from Around the World Throughout the Year.

*Calendar Centers Activities

*Calendaring Activity Sheets

The CALENDAR KIT also includes seven calendar songs:

“Months of the Year”

“Days of the Week”

“Four Seasons in the Year”

“Birthday Hooray”

“Birthday Sun Song”

“Let’s Celebrate”

“Continents of the World”

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One of my FAVORITE Teaching Tools – Our COZY Circle Time Rug!

August 28, 2013 |

circle time3

People have asked me what my favorite teaching tool is. I have to say that it’s my alphabet rug!  It’s one of our favorite classroom gathering places!  What do we do there?  We sit criss-cross applesauce, and everyone sits on a letter.  We sing, we sign, we dance, we read, we talk, we count, we calendar, we laugh, we learn, we grow, we giggle, we SMILE!

I’ve had this rug for eight years and I think it still looks as good as the day I bought it.  You’d never know by looking at it that over 300 pairs of little feet have danced upon it over several school years!

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Hi friends! This video is a preview of my FUNetic Farm Early Literacy program.

August 22, 2013 |

FUNetic Farm is a phonics-based, early literacy program.  It’s a multi-sensory ANIMAL ALPHABET that children love to SOUND, SIGN, SIGN and SPELL (and eventually read).  The program includes music, cute animal alphabet flashcards, animal alphabet puppets, printable phonics activity sheets I, and phonics activity sheets II word building, manipulatives, kinesthetic learning, American Sign Language fingerspelling, phonics bingo and card game games.  The FUNetic Farm Phonics Intro Kit includes 26 lively animal alphabet songs as well as 26 demonstration videos.

Through simple daily, circle time lessons, songs and activities, children joyfully learn the sounds of all of the letters in just three months!!!  No pressure, no stress, just FUN!  That’s what the FUNetic Farm is all about!

You can find my FUNetic Farm products at MY STORE on Teachers Pay Teachers.

For a FUNetic Farm FREEBIE, go to my store at TpT.  You can make this Animal Alphabet chart into a poster and use it as part of your daily review of letter sounds.  To help your students develop early phonics skills and prepare them for reading, be sure to use letter sounds (not letter names) and use short vowel sounds (not long vowels).

Click Image Below for FREEBIE!

THE animal alphabet front only

In your daily review, you and your students will say the letter sounds as you point to the letters, “a – ant, b – bat, c – cat, d – dog, e – elephant, etc”  To help your students develop early phonics skills and prepare them for reading, be sure to use letter sounds (not letter names and short vowels not long vowels).  Please remember, for more FUNetic Farm FUN, Animal Alphabet songs, games, activities, puppets, phonics worksheets I, phonics worksheets II,and flashcards are all available at MY Store at TEACHERSpayTEACHERS.

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UT Teacher Blogger Friends

August 3, 2013 |

A pic of the whole group! Utah's got a lot of teaching talent. :) (Missing @[507880961:2048:Krystal Plott])

Fun afternoon with the Utah Teacher Bloggers!  These gals are all PROS!  PRO Teachers and PRO Bloggers and I’m excited to get to know them!  Everyone was so nice!  Instant friends!!!  Thanks to Lindsey (the teacher wife), Rachelle and Natalie (What the Teacher Wants), and Nikki (Melonheadz Illustrating) for putting this together!

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FUNetic Farm Early Literacy Curriculum Launch!

February 26, 2013 |


INTRODUCING:  Animal Alphabet Puppets

by FUNetic Farm!!!

I’m excited to announce that I’m finally publishing my FUNetic Farm (Animal Alphabet). This is a phonics-based Early Literacy Curriculum. You can find it in MY STORE on TeachersPayTeachers. – YAY! It’s been a huge project but it’s finally starting to roll out!

FUNetic Farm is the animal alphabet that children love to sound, sign, sing, spell and eventually read! It is a multi-sensory method that uses fun visuals, lively music, kinesthetic movement, American Sign Language (fingerspelling), manipulatives, activity sheets, word building activities and FUN!

I’ve been developing and tweaking this program for the past seven years.  My preschool students LOVE it and we use it every day in my classroom.  Now, mid-year, my preschoolers know all of the sounds of the letters and are starting to do word building.

I have a few products up now and lots more ready to go.






This 1st letter, Sound Match game “Pin-it.”  The game is “self-correcting” – answers are on the back.








This is a sorting game (called “Sort-It”) also part of the Sound Match games set.  Students sort the phonics pictures under the appropriate letter (according to the first letter sound).


Also available from FUNetic Farm:  Flashcards, Phonics Intro Kit (includes the following: Wall Chart and activities ideas, 26 Animal Alphabet phonics songs, Music demonstration videos), Phonics Activity Sheets, Bingo, Card games, Puppets for Early Literacy , Word Buildingphonetic readers and more!

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Holiday Sounds (Christmas Bingo) with Sound Effects!

December 13, 2012 |

Holiday Bingo Card

Why play Holiday Bingo the old fashioned way when you can play it with SOUND EFFECTS?!  My students love listening to the fun and funny holiday sound effects and finding the corresponding pictures on their bingo cards!  There are 30 unique playing cards and 44 holiday sound effects!  Many people commented on how much they enjoyed playing our Halloween Sound Effects Bingo with their students and with their families so we knew we had to do one for Christmas!  This game is for everyone!  We’ve played Holiday Sounds Bingo (Christmas Bingo with SOUND EFFECTS) with children age 4 up through adults and everyone has had a great time!  Besides being lots of fun, this game also builds skills in auditory and visual processing and memory.  It makes a great game for a class party or a family gathering.

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