Friday, September 17, 2021

Kids in Masks? Better Make Clip-Clips!

Well, it has been so long since I've blogged I almost forget how to do this. Life sure has a way of keeping us busy... I'll let that suffice as to why I dropped off the Blogging Planet. I am back today, however, because I have a big tip that is TOO good NOT to share!

When I learned this summer that my kidpeople would need to wear masks in the classroom this year, I spent weeks thinking about HOW they were going to take care of their mask when it wasn't on their face. I couldn't find anything to purchase that I thought was kid friendly, sturdy, safe (as in not around their neck), cleanable, AND affordable– until I discovered THESE clips! 


They open by pulling up on the rear tab near the loop. I only show you on the table so you can clearly see what is happening. The kiddos can easily do it while holding it in their hands. 


Then push the tab down to close the clip, or "close the alligator's mouth" as I say to the kids. 


Well, that was all fine and dandy, but how was the clip going to hold the mask?? Ah-ha! The answer is USE TWO! One to hang onto the shirt and one to hang on to the mask! Now it's a Clip-Clip!

To attach the two clips together, take the rectangular loop off of one of the clips. I did it by prying it off, but you could just clip the loop with toenail clippers and slide it right out of the tube hook holder... duh. 

Then take the loop of the second clip and snap it on where the first clip's loop was. Needle nose pliers help but are not necessary. 

Voila! You have a Clip-Clip all ready to go. 

The Clip-Clips are easy for the kids to manipulate with a little direction and practice. Every single one of my four and five year olds can do it by themselves in seconds now. We say "The alligator is really hungry and wants to eat a lot of your shirt!" Once the kiddos get the hang of grabbing a big fold of their shirt, those clips don't come off until the kids take them off, even during active recess time. They put their Clip-Clip on in the morning so it is there to hold their mask as needed during snack, lunch and recess, and we collect them again before going home. 

That being said, in addition to learning how to use the Clip-Clips, we did have to talk about what happens if we yank them off, instead of lifting the tab. With yanking, the loops might come undone or the clip might break. I told them that if that happened, they would only have one clip to use. I demonstrated and let kids try to put both their shirt AND their mask in one clip... hmmm, that a lot harder to do. That kinda took the fun out of yanking. 

And the best part– each clip costs about a quarter! The set of fifty have been ranging in price between twelve and fourteen bucks! That's right! It comes down to each clip costing about twenty five cents! When you combine two to make each Clip-Clip, they've only cost you fifty cents. I cannot vouch for every kind of plastic pacifier clip out there, as they all are different sizes, degrees of brittleness, exact mechanics, and kinds of loops. But this clip does work. Click on the affiliate paid link below to see them on Amazon. 

And they come in TEN colors!


Because there are 50 clips in ten colors you can make a lot of unique color combinations, which turns out to be really handy in the classroom. My kiddos can pick out their mask from the the egg carton without even needing to read their name any more. I did write their name on the clip with Sharpie at first, and even put a light coat of clear nail polish over it, but the names still rubbed or chipped off. In the end it doesn't matter because they don't need their names to find their Clip-Clip. I made a little color chart with the two color combos and student names so I know whose Clip-Clip is whose just in case.  

You can use a tray, or one of those boxes with the little dividers, but I have found a recycled egg carton does the trick just fine at no cost. I made a couple extra one color Clip-Clips as spares just in case somebody wears theirs home and forgets to bring it back the next day. 

I placed them in the egg carton with the names showing until everyone learned their two colors.

Now the Clip-Clips can just be in the egg carton without names because everyone knows their two color Clip-Clip combination. 

With Clip-Clips costing 50 cents, I don't really worry that eventually some might break. I have some to spare and have spent way more money on other classroom necessities, so this seems like a huge bargain. And when we no longer need to wear masks to school... and YES, that day will come!... I'm sure I'll find some other purpose for any leftover clips. In fact, look for future posts because I already have an idea or two!

I hope you find this post useful. If you do, please share it with your colleagues or Pin it. 

Keep hanging in there. Teaching has never been as complicated as it is these days. I am reading my teacher IG and Twitter friends more than ever because TOGETHER we can, and will, use best practice in spite of it all. Remember, you are not alone. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Top-It Tray Freebie

Hey there. Super fast post just to give you a math freebie. I bet you know the math game Top-It. Top-It has been around for years known as the card game War. I remember my two daughters playing it for hours on long vacation car rides, once playing into the night with the help of traffic headlights as we looped around DC's beltway. snort. Top-It gives students practice with number ID and fluency in number value– namely, which of two numbers between 1-10 is greater. When my kidpeople were first learning the game this year there was just way too much time going into figuring out where the card stacks go. So I came up with a Top-It Tray. I think I'll always teach the game with this now because it makes things so much easier.

Two players share one tray. They each place their cards of 1-10 in a shuffled pile on their corner.

Then on the count of "1-2-turn" (at least that's what we say in our room) they each turn over a card.

The player who turned over the bigger number gathers both cards and puts them in his "winning pile" on top.

When someone runs out of cards to turn over, both players gather their own winning piles, shuffles them, and places them in their own corners again so the play can continue. The rounds continue until someone runs completely out of cards. The one with all the cards is the winner.

This game has become a big hit. In part it is so popular because there actually is a winner– so few of our games in class are competitive that Top-It has a definite novelty factor. Don't get me wrong, winning games have a place in life, but I think that in most instances competition takes away from classroom learning games. Maybe I've followed Alfie Kohn too long. smile.

Click on the pic below to download the simple sheet. I copied a classroom set on colored cardstock and laminated them so they'll last a long time. When playing I usually place the sheet on a plastic tray so the cards don't slide off. We use regular playing cards, with the Ace as the number one card, but you can play with any number cards you have. And you can let kids play with double the number of 1-10 cards, or even with a hand of 1-20 each.

Thanks for stopping by! Pin, please.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Classroom Music Videos that Highlight Black Artists

What started out as me putting together a "quick" video playlist for my classroom has turned into a favorite project to share with you, too! You'll want to know about this...

February is Black History Month and, now, more than ever, I want my kiddos to see the many ways Black talent, inspiration, and leadership have influenced our American history. I consciously aim to represent diversity throughout my teaching, EVERYday, but February gives me a push to do more in new ways. I, like many teachers, bring in diversity through books, images and materials, but I pushed myself to think of more ways... hey! How about the music we play everyday! So I put together a video playlist of all sorts of music, collaborations, and dance featuring Black artists to use for our classroom dance party brain breaks, or just for listening to. I wanted a wide array of Black talent– here's a sample of who's on the list!

I found over 15 videos so far that I think kids will enjoy watching and moving to. I'll update this list as I find new ones. Although Black History Month motivated me to put the list together, I plan on stopping back here myself for dance parties for years to come... I told you this project started out just for me. grin.

Please note these videos were not specifically "made for children" like many video playlists shared on teacher blogs. I reviewed my selections for acceptable language, and with a teacher's eye, hoping the visuals added value for kids. I chose "clean" videos, finding a couple that even included kids, and if I couldn't find an acceptable version, it didn't make the list. Please watch them yourself before choosing the ones to use with your students. I added the length of each video to help you pick a couple on any given day. You might want to give a little background at times and maximize the learning as some of these videos are pretty old– black and white technology was as modern as it got for many years. I want the kiddos to see and hear the wide variety of music and dance that make up our American history and culture, as no matter how old, the music is still great in our ears today. My kiddos were as fascinated by the bit of scat singing and "flash dance" tap dancing in the Cab Calloway video with the Nicholas brothers as they were drawn in to trying the hiphop moves in Watch Me.

Hope this gives you some good choices for this month and WAY beyond. As for me? You know I'm teaching my kiddos the hustle! This summer I went to a high school reunion and still proved myself the Hustle Queen. snort. You'll find lots of variety in the list– jazz, soul, hiphop, R&B, rock n' roll, worldbeat, disco.... Here we go!

 5:34 min




 4:49 min

2:55 min

 6:19 min

 2:21 min

 3:12 min

 4:18 min

 3:00 min

 4:17 min

 4:00 min


 5:15 min

And I end on perhaps an unlikely note. This is the "Trading Taps" segment of Riverdance... you know I like to put a wee bit of Irish in there when I can. wink. We saw Riverdance in Dublin last summer and this number was fun and powerful. I'll use it (and the Hiplet Ballerinas up above) to discuss how many different cultures from all over the world influence music and dance worldwide. It will be fun to contrast the heel kicks and straight arms of the Irish dancers with the looser, more fluid movement of the hip American tap dancers. There is notable difference in music styles in this friendly competition, as well.

 8:11 min

Hope you enjoy this compilation of videos highlighting musical contributions of Black performers over the decades. Let me know in comments if you think I found good variety or if I've missed some great video that would be particularly good for the kiddos. And I hope you and your students can get down and boogie around the room. Whoot Whoot!

And as always, please PIN the post! See you around!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Easy Classroom Chocolate Fondue and a Valentine Freebie!

I could have called this post One Great Valentine Party because I cover the fancy treat, a cute hat that doubles as my teacher Valentine to students, and a crazy way of Valentine exchange, with a little Freebie thrown in for good measure. Here we go!

One of the BEST treats we have all year is "Chocolate Fondue" for our Valentine's Party. Ok. So I use the term "fondue" loosely... no flames are involved. snort It is more like chocolate dip... but it IS warm. And it is easy. And it is nut-free. And it is DELICIOUS!

Simply get a jar of Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl spread.

I tell you this stuff is wonderful in any form on anything you choose. I found out about it from the mom of a nut allergy student who could not have many forms of chocolate, but could have this stuff. What a find!

Put some in a safe container and microwave for ten seconds at a time, stirring in between ten second blasts. It doesn't take long to turn it into smooth, warm, liquid heaven. It mixes the two flavors into the BEST chocolate flavor. I put the fondue in little sauce cups, another reason why the chocolate should only be warm, not hot. If it cools down it is okay because once liquified, this dip won't harden again. Also put out whatever items you are going to let the kids dip– pretzels, bananas, crackers, marshmallows...  it's all good!

Then let the kids have at it! Voila! You will be the most popular teacher in the school. One of my parents gave glowing praise, "It figures you'd figure out a way to do Chocolate Fondue with five year olds! My daughter can't stop talking about it! I think we're going to be having it this weekend." Hee

If you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby, not to worry because I found it on Amazon! Click on the pic below to go there. And if nuts aren't an issue in your classroom, I'm betting good old Nutella would work, too, though I have not actually TRIED warming Nutella, so experiment first!
Click to find on Amazon

Now, take a look below at the kids' Valentine hat close up. I think they are the CUTEST things around and I use them as my Valentine to each kiddo. Here's how you can do it, too, with the help of my FREEBIE download.

Print out the "Happy Valentine's Day, Love Bug!" sheet on pink paper, one for each child, and cut the paper in half lengthwise. This message is printed on the back part of the headband, which you can't see in the photo. And it's printed in bubble letters so the kids can color it in.

Print out eye sheets on white paper– you get six pairs of eyes per sheet and each child needs a pair.

Include a small heart sticker, paper heart punch-out, or those press on foamy hearts for a nose. Do Love Bugs have noses?? Mine do!

Add two pipe cleaners or one pipe cleaner cut in half, or if you don't have pipe cleaners handy, just cut skinny strips of paper. They'll need four more hearts to make the antennae. The kiddos will sandwich the pipe cleaner tips in between two hearts to form antennae that can be taped to the hat's inside edge. As you see, the hearts don't have to be red or pink.

To turn the hat into a Valentine for my kids, I sign my name under the word "Love Bug" on the message at the back of the headband. Then I make little Valentine "kits" by rolling up all the parts into a scroll tied with red curling ribbon. I hand one to each kiddo as our party begins and let them cut, glue, color and tape their hats into place. It makes a lovely, wearable Valentine and a great valentine party activity.

Hat making is followed by the fondue, and then the big valentine opening event. We open Valentines with everybody sitting in a circle on the floor with their lunch bag mailbox of Valentines in front of them. On my signal everyone starts to take out their Valentines, one at a time, and when they figure out who it is from (it takes a while for five year olds to read five year old handwriting!) they then yell, "Thank you, So-and-So" across the circle. Then So-and-So has to yell back "You're welcome!"

You have never seen or heard such chaos!!! So much happy yelling. Warms my heart! I've done it this way for years and won't do it any other way. Then all the Valentines go back in their bag with any candy that came in Valentines, so it can all be taken home.

One heck of a good party, and a level of prep that I can handle. Try it! Bet you like it!

OH! Almost forgot! For the simple freebie hat download, just click on either of the photos with kids in hats! Kuddos to DH Jonathan for putting the hat handout together to my specifications. Life would be SO much harder without him... it's why I keep him around... well, that and a few other reasons. TeeHeeHee

As always, Pin Pin Pin please!!!

See you next time! News Flash– Next time is TODAY. I put together a compilation of dance party brain breaks featuring Black artists performing a wide variety of music over the years to use throughout February. This collection for Black History Month is coming out in a couple hours! You'll want it for easy reference. AND going BACK in time, don't miss my post with the Safe Youtube QR Code cards for students to use to watch Storyline Online! Click HERE for that one.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

ByeBye Google+

Super quick post here. Google is doing away with Google+. It won't change much about Google,  just specifically Google+  If you have a Google+ account you should check into it because they suggest that you delete it. If you do a general search for information, you'll find lots and they will probably send you an email if they haven't already.

I am posting this specifically for the 203 people who chose G+ as their means to follow the blog. If you value knowing what's going on at Kidpeople Classroom, you might want to follow via email or Bloglovin' now. The links to do so are right over there in the righthand sidebar, so just a few clicks and you're set. You can follow via any feed tool you already use, too, of course.

I spent time this afternoon going over my Google+ account and following bloggers I don't want to lose track of via email and Bloglovin'. I also did away with the G+ follow button here on the blog as Google+ accounts will no longer exist as of April 2. It is sad to lose any readers, sniff, but my other means of following show steadily increasing numbers, so that brings some comfort. Yay.

See you around!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Grow Writing Love by Writing Letters... and a Funny!

Here's a quick post to tell you about a resource that is particularly useful now. We all have our official writing units to teach, dictated by Common Core or State Standards– opinion, information and narrative writing. I get the importance of those, but that certainly is not the only kind of writing kids enjoy learning about, so we take little bends in the road to incorporate other kinds of writing. One of those is letter writing. I put together a resource to help you expand letter writing into a mini-unit.

With Valentines coming up it's a great time to write to parents, grandparents, far away friends and friends at school. The pack comes with some anchor charts, stationery, and teaching ideas. Freshen up your writing center with these new materials and penny stamps and see the kids write with new vigor to a specific audience. For only two bucks, you'll get more than your money's worth. 

I'm hoping to launch my own letter writing unit next week, pulling out the classroom mailbox which will stay up for the rest of the year. In addition to leaving materials in my writing center after the mini-unit is done in probably just a week, I'm going to begin Friendly Friday Letter Writing. Friendly Friday letter writing means everyone will pull a name out of a hat, or a popsicle stick out of the name jar, and then "secretly" write to that person... well, as secretly as five year olds can do anything. snort. Then we will do quick delivery of our letters, and let instant fun and warm feelings ensue. 

This little postcard stationery works great for a Friendly Friday quick write! It's part of the pack. 

Friendly Friday letter writing is one of our Hygge Hour activities... pronounced, Hoo-guh, by the way. Don't know about Hygge? Then you should click here to check it out! 

To get to the Let's Write to Someone pack click on either of the pictures above. While you're at my store, check out all the FREEBIES. I have more resources for free than resources for sale. snort. One of my list paper freebies has been downloaded more than 3,800 times! It always cracks me up... and warms my heart... to see my resources downloaded many thousand times over. Love. Also love it when people leave product comments, which they don't do near often enough! hint.

You can see a post with more ways to use the Let's Write to Someone pack by clicking HERE. 

Hope your kiddos enjoy letter writing as much as I know my kidpeople will. Click on the photos above to find the pack. 

And now for a quick grin!

Just today, as I opened my mouth to answer the same question for the fourth time, a pipsqueak piped up, and with a roll of her eyes interjected, "Do not say that to Mrs. Wright AGAIN! She is going to get frus-ter-a-ted!"

It cracked. me. up. Who says five year olds can't get another's perspective, feel empathy, or find themselves just a little bit frus-ter-a-ted with their spacey peers, too! 

Want to catch some more Funny Kid Stories? Click on the Funny Kid Friday tab at the top of the page under my heading. Everybody needs a little funny kid story now and then. It's what keeps teachers going!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Storyline Online and a FREEBIE

Storyline Online is one of the best sites for viewing children's book read alouds. Let me share some details you might not know yet, and I'll throw in a helpful Freebie you'll use again and again.

If you've looked on YouTube for kids books being read aloud you've found thousands of them. Any given children's book title usually has several different uploaded read aloud videos to choose from and there is a wide range in quality. I found Storyline Online this very way, while looking through all the YouTube videos for read alouds.

Storyline Online is made possible by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, SAG-AFTRA. It is absolutely free to use. As I write this they have over fifty children's picture book read aloud videos available. Here's a sample.

Each video starts with the actor, or actors, holding the book and giving a book introduction before beginning to read.

The camera zooms in on the illustrations, where often little parts of the pictures become animated. Throughout the story you go back and forth between seeing the illustrations and the actor reading the book, so kids never forget they are being read to. 

Fully animated video movies of children's books are great, to be sure, but it is easy to forget those cartoons come from books. I think when kids watch books being read by live people there is added value and emphasis on reading.

Because I had always viewed the Storyline Online videos directly on YouTube, I didn't realize that there are activity guides written for each story, which you can only get on the Storyline Online site.


The activity guides, written for teachers mostly, but some with activity guides specifically for parents, are chockfull of ideas– some suggest before, during and after the story discussion points, themes, writing ideas, art, movement, even cooking activities... all sorts of things to choose from. You can find them by going directly to under the All Books tab.

You can watch the Storyline Online read aloud videos on YouTube, but when watching on YouTube it is pretty easy to get to other videos and ads, some of which you wouldn't want your kids to view. You can also watch Storyline Online videos directly on, with options of watching via YouTube or SchoolTube, with SchoolTube being the safer option.

Either way you choose to watch on the Storyline Online site, when you get to the end of the video, other Storyline Online videos will pop up. That isn't a bad thing, unless you want kids to only watch one particular story, or you want other kids to use the same device and watch that one particular story.  So to keep kids on the correct story I created QR codes for the stories through Safe YouTube.

Click to download Safe YouTube QR Code cards for Storyline Online videos

Safe YouTube is better than safe mode on YouTube, and it takes away all those many buttons and videos that cause distractions and allow kids to click and end up anywhere on YouTube. No online connection is completely safe and kids seem to find a way to other things no matter what, so always keep an eye on what they are watching.

I created one for each story on Storyline Online, currently fifty three in total. You can print out the QR Code cards in color, or they come out crisp and clean if you choose to print in black and white. Laminate, cut apart, and you'll have a set of cards for kids to use on any device with a QR Code reader. It will take them to that story and no other. These work great in classrooms as centers, Daily 5 and Readers Workshop stations, and independent reading choices. If you're a parent you'll find them useful at home or on the road with devices.

To get this Freebie just click on the picture of QR code cards above. There are six pages in all. I will update as I see new stories appear on Storyline Online. Be sure to Pin this post so you can get to updated pages.

I suggest you cruise by to see the full list of read aloud titles. I found many good books there, books I hadn't heard of before. I like to have actual copies of the books the kids are going to listen to, and I like to read the book to my students first, so I can make the most out of that read aloud– focusing on vocabulary, story problem, characters, etc.  But if I'm low on cash, Storyline Online is a way to let my kidpeople hear quality books at no cost to me. Many of my favorite Flashlight Press books are there, too, and if you are a regular reader you know how I love Flashlight Press. (News Flash– I'll be giving away another Flashlight Book soon!!) Storyline Online has won lots of awards and that is for very good reason. Good book selections, VERY well read!

Hope you found this post about Storyline Online and the activity guides helpful. And I hope you'll download the QR Code cards and find them useful with your kids. I am not being paid or getting any perk for telling you about Storyline Online. I just wanted to share a great resource.

See you next time!

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