How to get students to write their name on their paper EVERY TIME

I used to feel like a broken record. "Put-your-name-on-your-paper. Put-your-name-on-your-paper. Put-your-name-on-your-paper." Yet somehow, I would go through that stack of papers to grade, and find 4 papers that didn't have names on them.
Does anyone else have this problem? I couldn't be the only one! But then I tried something that actually worked. I learned it from this awesome lady named Salonna.

She was my mentor when I started teaching, and I have to admit, at first I was a little scared of her. She was one of those teachers with a really stern face, and when I was interviewing for the job, I thought for sure she hated me. If a student got sent to her office, it was bad news. She was not afraid to tell it like it was. But after working with her for a few weeks, I discovered she was a lot of fun, and she was a very kind, very passionate, very talented teacher. She had so many tricks up her sleeve from years of teaching. 

I had been teaching for a few weeks and was having trouble getting my students to write their names on their papers. Over and over again I would remind them, but it was no use. I asked Salonna, and she had the most simple trick. It was a song, and it was to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know it." She told me to sing the song every time I passed out papers to the class. As they got their paper, we would be singing the song and they would write their names. It goes like this:

The first thing on your paper is your name.
The first thing on your paper is your name.
Mrs. Beckstrand needs to know if you did your work and so,
The first thing on your paper is your name.

Sometimes the simplest things can be the biggest life-savers. My students loved to sing this song with me, and it really helped cut down on no-name papers. 

However, sometimes you have a super stubborn class that just cannot seem to remember. If this sounds like your class, here is another trick you can try:

I thought this was a great idea, too! When students turn in their paper, they have to highlight their name. This is a surefire way to get them to write their name if the song didn't work. 

Try these ideas out in your classroom and let me know how they worked out for you! Hopefully you will now be able to toss out that broken record and get on with class. : )

Valentine's Day Activities for Music Class

This was my twin 3-year-olds’ first year of preschool, and we were all so excited! The second week of school, there was a note sent home saying they needed a new music teacher. My initial thought was that I would love to take that job! Before the twins were born, I taught second grade, and absolutely loved it. I had missed being in the classroom, and this sounded like a great opportunity. But on the other hand, I was so excited to finally have a few hours a week to myself. Did I really want to give up some of those hours? It would only be one day a week for a couple hours, but my time without kids is so precious!

Ultimately, I decided that I would enjoy being back in a classroom for a few hours a week, and it would be a fun way to be involved in my girls’ preschool experience.

Fast forward a few months, and I am really enjoying teaching music. It’s so fun to see those little 3 and 4-year-olds dancing and singing. It’s especially fun when there is a holiday and we get to sing festive songs to go along with the holiday.

Last week we celebrated Valentine’s Day. I found some great activities that I tweaked to fit the needs of my cute little preschoolers.

If you haven’t heard of Jbrary, you need to check them out. I have used a lot of their songs in my music class. Here is a little Valentine rhyme to do:

But I added a tune to it; you can hear it here:

Then we sang Valentine words to the song, Bluebird, Bluebird Through My Window.***** 

Valentine, Valentine, through my window,
Valentine, Valentine, through my window,
Valentine, Valentine, through my window,
Will you be my Valentine?

Find a friend and give them a Valentine,
Find a friend and give them a Valentine,
Find a friend and give them a Valentine,
Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's one of my 3-year-old classes:


I cut out a heart for each child and put tape on the back of it. On each child's turn, they pick up a heart and weave in and out of the windows as the class sings. When the song is done, they put the heart on the shirt of a person they end near. Then trade places with that kid, and it is the new kid's turn.

FOR OLDER CHILDREN: Instead of trading places with the kid they give the Valentine to, they take their hand and lead them through the windows as they sing the next verse. Eventually everyone in the class will be in the train of kids going through windows. If you do this way, you probably want to be the leader; it can get a little crazy:

(credit: Deborah K. Oates)

The last activity we did was a matching game to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb:

Who will be my Valentine, Valentine, Valentine,
Who will be my Valentine, be my Valentine

I cut out enough hearts for each child to have one, so that there were two hearts of every color. The students stood in a big circle with their hands behind their back. I put a heart in each child's hand and told them not to look or let anyone else see their heart. Then they sang the song and showed everyone their hearts. When they saw someone with the same color heart as them they went over to that person, gave them a high five and said, "Happy Valentine's Day!"

FOR OLDER CHILDREN: Instead of cutting the hearts out by color, make the hearts all the same color. Then you can write anything you want to on the hearts. You could write sight words, a number problem with an answer on the matching heart, money (pics of the coins on one heart and the total value on the other heart)

We had a blast with these Valentine's Day songs, and I hope your class will too!

Books and Beyond: Dragons Love Tacos

Have you read this book? I heard about it and just thought it sounded so fun! Here's the summary from Amazon:

Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You're in red-hot trouble.

This is such a great book that your students are sure to love! Here are a few ideas you can use in your classroom to go along with the theme:


You can do this as a class, or even as a center. Just have all the supplies out with an example, and the kids can make their own puppets and then retell the story. Click on the image for directions:

 I found this cute song online called Dragons Love Tacos. It has movements with it, and it's a great way to get your kids up and moving. You can find it here.

After reading the book, let the students try samples of salsa. If they're really brave, they could even try spicy salsa. Discuss which they liked best, and why.

Use soda pop and Mentos to do a fun science experiment. Click the picture below for details.

So many fun hands-on activities! I have also created a book study to go along with the book, that has lots of math and language arts activities. Here is some info about it:

One of my favorite activities for this book is the shapes dragon. Print the shapes on different colored paper, and have your students cut them out. Instructions are included to put the dragon together, so students follow the instructions and then answer questions about the shapes they used. 

I also included 2 mini lessons to introduce persuasive writing to the class, and a graphic organizer to model how to write a persuasive letter. In the first lesson, students give their opinion about a certain topic, and then work as groups to try and persuade other students to agree with them. This helps demonstrate that trying to persuade someone of something is different than just stating your opinion. Then in lesson 2, you work together as a class to write a persuasive letter. The students need to try and persuade the teacher to send them to recess 5 minutes early. 

Students will then write their own persuasive letter. They need to decide what their favorite type of party is, and try and persuade the teacher that their next class party should be that type of party.

There are different math worksheets included, like telling time, graphing, and skip counting. 

Other activities included are: 

Writing about your favorite part
Shades of meaning
Long vowel sounds worksheet
Adjectives worksheet
Asking questions teacher instructions and worksheet

Your students will love this book, and will learn so much with these supplementary activities. This is a great packet to do around Cinco de Mayo, or to keep in your substitute binder for when you have a sub.

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