Quick Quote: William Arthur Ward on Gratitude


Gratitude Quote William Arthur Ward

















A Twist on Visual Memory Matching Games for Kids

When I introduced Building Visual Memory Skills with Matching Games in an earlier post I directed you to some alternative uses for all of those illustrated cards.


Just for fun, here’s another.


Visual Memory Matching Game Alternatives

Alternative to the memory matching game as we know it:

If you don’t already have a memory matching game at home that’s okay.  I’ve got you covered with 12 months of matching games you can try this with.


Cut out all 24 cards.  You keep one card from each matching pair.  Your child keeps the other.  Now let’s play!


  • Choose any 2 cards from your deck of 12 and place them face down.
  • Reveal the 2 different images to your child (simultaneously).  Show them face up for 2 seconds, then return the cards face-down.
  • Your child searches through his own deck and finds the matches to your 2 cards, placing them face up next to yours.
  • Flip your 2 cards face up to check for accuracy.
  • If your child finds the correct matches 3-5 times in a row, increase to 3 cards for 3 seconds, then 4 cards for 4 seconds, etc.
  • Kids love to test the grownups so have fun switching roles.


By the way, this alternative does not involve a winner or loser, just the satisfaction of being a visual memory master!


Alternative for the alternative:  Instead of using illustrated cards use matching colored blocks, or toy cars, or Lego combinations.  Simply use a sturdy folder as a wall in front of your secret pattern of objects.  Reveal the objects by lifting the folder for 2, 3, or 4 seconds, then cover them while the child recreates the pattern from memory.


However you decide to play, have fun building up that learning power!


Build Visual Skills on Valentine’s Day with Printable Seek and Find Hearts

Valentine's Day Seek and Find and Color-Me HeartsThis printable activity for kids, designed for Valentine’s Day, is all heart, or should I say, all hearts.


Striped hearts.


Checkered hearts.


Scribbled hearts.


Students search for patterned hearts on this busy page, then color each one the designated color.


Sure, the kids will have fun, but YOU will know a little secret.  The Seek & Find & Color-Me Hearts page also strengthens:


visual discrimination skills

visual figure ground skills

even fine motor and attention skills when you encourage careful coloring.


Tip:  I recommend colored pencils or thin markers for this activity so students can practice focusing on the details.


Tip #2: Older students can assign their own intricate color designs to each of the patterned hearts, a great way to practice even more attention to detail.


For more Valentine’s Day printables the kids will enjoy, try these:

Valentine’s Day Bookmarks for Kids

Printable Mosaic Valentine as Envelope


All are free to newsletter subscribers.  Hint:  Seek and find that sign-up box to the right!



Cognitive Skill Builders for Kids – Teacher Tip #1

How do we help students build strong, supportive cognitive skills throughout their school years and beyond?


Cognitive Skill Builders for KidsTo be clear, I’m not talking about academic skills here. I’m referring to the building blocks of learning, auditory and visual processing, for example, that support a student’s ability to learn.


I believe we do our children an extreme disservice if, once they enter kindergarten, we replace cognitive enrichment activities with a just-the-facts-Jack approach to learning.


Plenty of teachers out there feel the same way, so I invited a few to share their favorite cognitive skill builders with us.  Thank you, Mrs. Dunn, for contributing our first tip in the series.


What is your favorite activity for strengthening students’ cognitive skills?


I am always looking for new ways to reach all of my students when I am teaching. I was searching for a new approach to teaching and learning when I stumbled across Whole Brain Teaching; it was a light bulb moment. When you are teaching basic skills or ideas, you teach in short sentences with actions. The students mirror you. I then have them find a partner, and teach the partner what they just learned. This has worked wonders with my many ELL students as they have a safe place to try out first grade vocabulary through repetition. The hand gestures appeal to the kinesthetic learner, hearing the words and repeating appeals to the auditory learning, and looking at me and the hand gestures appeals to the visual learner.


Check me out Whole Brain teaching:




Mrs. Dunn teaches first grade in Alberta, Canada. She has been teaching for 6 years and loves to use a whole brain approach to learning. Check out more teaching ideas on her blog http://firstgradefunmrsdunn.blogspot.ca/


Gratitude Acrostic Poem

Plenty of research on gratitude nowadays shows us that creating a habit of gratitude has multiple benefits.  I wrote a little about these benefits back when I presented my Printable Gratitude Journal for Kids.


Gratitude Practice

Now here’s an interesting research update for you.  I recently learned from UC Riverside professor and happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky that keeping a daily gratitude journal is not always good for us.


Wait, whaaaaaat?


Here’s the scoop.  College students who named up to five things they were grateful for on a schedule of only once per week actually reported being happier than those who kept a schedule of three times per week.


Gratitude Acrostic PoemThe key, according to Lyubomirsky, is not to make your gratitude practice a chore.  Instead, make it a good fit for you.


Were you met with resistance when you established a daily ritual of gratitude journaling with your children or students?


If not, by all means, keep it up!  If the kids protest with whines and slouched soldiers whenever it’s time to practice gratitude that might be your cue to consider scaling back a bit.


Your kids might also enjoy a little variety in the mix.  To that end I would like to add a new gratitude activity for kids.


Acrostic Poems

Acrostic poems use each letter of a given word to begin the lines of a poem.  In this case the word is GRATITUDE.  All lines of the poem relate to the topic word.


Acrostics can be simple or complex, which make them easily adaptable to all ages and skill levels.  I’ll use a few SUN acrostic poems as examples.


Use single words:





Use phrases:

Shining brightly

Up in the sky

Nurturing the world below


Use complete sentences:

Sunny days inspire me.

Underneath the light above, I smile.

Now I am warm.


Just as with gratitude practice, choose whichever method is most appropriate for your child.


You’ll find this free printable, GRATITUDE Acrostic Poem, available in the store.


Use it to create acrostics or simply let the kids challenge themselves to create a list, to think of as many words per line as they can that describe what they are grateful for.  Hmmm, how many can you think of?


How I Became A Pirate – Quick Review

How I Became A PirateWhile reading children’s picture book How I Became a Pirate, don’t be surprised if you feel a pirate-esque transformation of your own.


Lighthearted and engaging storytelling by Melinda Long combined with the captivating artwork of David Shannon helps readers believe that we have just become pirates, too!


The Story

Young Jeremy joins a pirate crew on their way to bury treasure.  Pirate life appears to be a dream come true.  No vegetables to eat.  No bedtime.  And manners?  Who needs ‘em?


Then Jeremy learns that pirates also don’t believe in some of his favorite comforts of home.  Perhaps being a pirate isn’t that great after all.


What I Love About This Children’s Book

First of all, what’s not to love about David Shannons’ brilliant illustrations?  Enough said about that.


I like to think of the story itself as a subtle ode to parents’ love.  That is, after all, what Jeremy wanted to come home to.


And while the inspirational messages for kids may not be overt, you can find a few bits of wisdom to expand on.  Sometimes we forget to appreciate the good things in life we already have.  Sometimes we might start believing we’d prefer somebody else’s life.  A pirate’s life, perhaps?


Eventually we all learn that the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else. In this case the grass wasn’t greener, but the pirate teeth sure were!


How I Became a Pirate is recommended for pirates ages 3 to 7… and up!


Twelve Months of Visual Memory Matching Games for Kids

Visual Memory Matching Games for Kids

Why do I think that supporting children’s visual memory development is so critical?  For starters, most of my learning center students struggled with this foundational cognitive skill before they arrived at my door.


Visual memory is also one of those skills that, when strengthened, has a profoundly positive impact on student learning, and therefore, student confidence.


Let me squash any idea that traditional visual memory matching games are only fun for kindergarten or pre-K students.  Even the most basic visual memory matching game can be used in multiple ways and adapted to different skill levels.


More on that in a moment.


Just like you and me, kids can tire of playing the same game over and over.  (Ever wish those kids would tire a little faster?)


Because building and reinforcing visual memory is so important, and partly because I believe in sparing us adults our sanity, (you’re welcome) I’ve designed a fresh new visual memory matching game for every month of the year.


Use these memory boosters at home, as classroom supplements, or as fun, easy breezy homework assignments.


While helping students build visual memory you’ll also help them strengthen working memory, visual discrimination, concentration, and even spatial awareness.


Building Visual Memory Skills with Matching Games is a printable download, now available in my store, which includes the following twelve themes:

January – Months of the Year

February – Valentine’s Day

March – Spring

April – Sight Words (K-1)

May – Digraphs (ch, th, etc.)

June – Summer

July – Independence Day (American)

August –Telling Time

September – Fall / Autumn

October – Halloween

November – Thanksgiving

December – Winter

Also included – a blank template to create whatever your heart (or your child’s heart) desires.


Of course, if you’re not interested in all twelve visual memory matching games, choose your favorite 4-pack:

The Seasons

The Holidays

The Essentials


Oh, and the alternative ways to use these illustrated cards I spoke of?  You’ll find a few ideas when you, not-so-subtle hint alert, visit the links above.