PEAK Teacher Newsletter              
December 2013
Featured Articles
Get Connected
Gingerbread Ideas
Playdough for December
More Holiday ideas
Early Education Research
Links from Pinterest
Songs and Fingerplays
Parent Literacy Nights
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Pinterest
Like us on Facebook
Visit our blog
Quick Links
Mary Rieck
Pottstown School District
230 Beech Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
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Joy and Peace

Lights, music, joy and frosty weather all arrive in December. From all of us here at PEAK, we wish you the very best and hope that you, your family and your special school family all have wonderful, restful and joyful holidays.


Get Connected!

Just another reminder to check our Facebook page for more resources.


Do you tweet? If so, you can follow us on Twitter @PEAKPartners.


What about Pinterest? There are a lot of classroom activities on our Pinterest page.

Click the links on the left column of this newsletter to connect with us on social media.

 In addition to this newsletter you can follow the PEAK blog at


Gingerbread Ideas


Decorating Gingerbread People

Cut gingerbread people shapes out of brown construction paper or brown paper bags. Give one to each child. Have the children decorate their shapes with felt pieces, rickrack, sequins, fabric or paper scraps, buttons, etc.


Making Brown Paint

Let the children experiment with mixing together different colors of paint to make the color brown. Then have them use their brown paint to paint giant gingerbread people shapes on pieces of butcher paper. Display their gingerbread people pictures around the room.


Sequencing Language Experience Chart

Reread your favorite version of The Gingerbread Man. Make a language experience chart of who chased the Gingerbread Man first, second, third, and so on. Make simple cards to use in the Pocket Chart to retell the story


Counting Fun

Cut ten small gingerbread people shapes out of felt. Let the children use the shapes on a flannel board to practice counting.


Gingerbread People Match-Ups

Cut four pairs of gingerbread people shapes out of felt or construction paper. Decorate each pair differently. Then mix up the shapes and let the children take turns finding the matching pairs.


Predictable Charts

 Here is an idea for a  predictable book or chart.


"Run, run as fast as you can,

 You can't catch (student name),

 She's (He's) the Gingerbread Girl (Boy!)"


Great Book for the Classroom

 Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett


Visit for ideas and props to use with the book.


Check also the postings on the PEAK December Pinterest page for more gingerbread ideas.



Playdough for December


Gingerbread Play-Dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Spices--Cinnamon, Allspice, Ginger, Nutmeg
*Green and Red food coloring to make brown (optional--the spices usually give the dough a brown color.)

Mix the dry ingredients.  Experiment with the spices until you get
a scent and color that you like.Mix water and oil together first and then add them to the dry ingredients and stir.

In a pot, cook the mixture for three to five minutes on low/medium, stirring constantly. The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pot and  stick together in a large ball. Tak
e it out of the pan when you see a VERY faint brown skin on the dough one each side.

Take the dough out of the pan and knead the dough until it becomes soft and smooth. Allow the dough to cool and then store it in an airtight container.

Total time to make dough:  10 minutes. 


Sparkly Peppermint Playdough

2 cups water
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons peppermint extract

Mix all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan.


Form dough into a ball, sprinkle with glitter, place on waxed paper, and cool completely.  Store in Ziplock bags.



More Holiday Ideas



Santa's Bean Bag Toss

Decorate a large paper bag or cardboard box with Christmas wrap, ribbons, and pictures of toys and candy. Tie ribbons around bean bags and to make "gifts" to toss into Santa's bag.


Ring the Bell Game

Using a large (4 foot x 3 foot) piece of heavy duty cardboard, cut a large bell shape from the center. Add ribbons with jingle bells attached to hang from the open middle area. The children throw bean bags through the bell to "Ring the Bell".


Feely Box

Create a feely box containing Christmas items such as bows, cookie cutters, wrapping paper, non-breakable ornaments, stockings, bells, candles, and place on the science table.


Design Wrapping Paper

The children can design their own wrapping paper using newsprint, ink stampers, felt-tip colored markers, tempera paint, etc. Glitter can also be glued onto the paper.


Pine Branch Painting

Collect short pine boughs to use as painting tools. The tools can be placed at the easel or used with a shallow pan of tempera paint at the tables.


Cookie Cutter Painting

Provide Christmas cookies cutters, paper and shallow pans containing red and green paint. The children can apply the paint to the paper using the cookie cutters as printing tools.


Science Area Ideas

Create interest in the science area by adding pine needles and branches with magnifying glasses; add pine cones with a balance scale; add red, green, and white materials representing different textures.


Christmas Card Puzzles

Collect two sets of identical Christmas cards. Cut the covers off the cards. Cut one of each of the identical sets of cards into puzzle pieces. The matching card can be used as a form for the children to match the pieces on.


Christmas Card Sort

Place a variety of Christmas cards on a table in the math area. During center-time, the children can sort by color, pictures, size, etc.


Candy Cane Marble Painting

Cut red construction paper into candy cane shapes. Marble paint with white tempera paint.



Reports and Research on Early Education

Here are some reports on recent research in the early education field. For more updates in early education, follow PEAK on Twitter.


The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success

Annie E. Casey Foundation


A Governor's Guide to Early Literacy: Getting All Students Reading by Third Grade

National Governors Association


Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education

Society for Research in Child Development


Quick Links for December Theme

Here are some quick links from Pinterest for December theme activities. You can follow PEAK on Pinterest - search for PEAK Pottstown.



December Songs and Fingerplays

The Gingerbread Man

 (Tune: The Muffin Man)

Oh, do you know the Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread Man?

Oh, do you know the Gingerbread Man,

Who ran and ran and ran?


He said, "Catch me if you can, if you can, if you can,

He said, "Catch me if you can,"

Then ran and ran and ran.


I can run like the Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread Man.

I can run like the Gingerbread Man,

Now catch me if you can.


Five Little Gingerbread Men

Five little gingerbread men on the tray,

(place 5 fingers on one hand onto the open palm of the other hand-the tray.)

One jumped up and ran away.

("run" one finger away)

Catch me, oh catch me, oh catch me if you can!

I'm pretty fast, I am the gingerbread man!


Four little gingerbread men on the tray,

(4 fingers on the tray.. etc.)

One jumped up and ran away.

Catch me, oh catch me, oh catch me if you can!

I'm pretty fast, I am the gingerbread man!


[Continue to zero...]

No little gingerbread men on the tray

I will have to bake more on another day!


Gingerbread Bowl

Stir a bowl of gingerbread (stir as in a bowl)

Smooth and spicy brown

Roll it with a rolling pin (roll as if with a rolling pin)

Up and up and down

With a cookie cutter (pretend to cut cookie)

Make some little men.

Put them in the oven (put pan in oven)

Until half past ten.


The Lights on the Tree

Sung to: "The Wheels on the Bus"
The lights on the tree go blink, blink, blink,
Blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink.
The lights on the tree go blink, blink, blink
All Christmas Day.

Other Verses:
The presents at the house go rattle, rattle, rattle, etc.
The mom at the house goes bake, bake, bake, etc.
The dad at the house goes snore, snore, snore, etc.
The grandma at the house goes hug, hug, hug, etc.
The grandpa at the house goes kiss, kiss, kiss, etc.


Christmas Fingerplay

I am a Christmas tree growing up tall, (stretch)

But when I first started, I was this small (crouch).

Then I grew bigger and had branches this wide, (stand slowly, arms out).

And I made pine cones with seeds hiding inside. (fold hand for pine cone)

The wind shakes my branches, (shake arms).

And down those seeds fall, (flutter fingers downward).

To make new little pine trees for tinsel and balls. (point hands together for tree, opening slowly to form ball shape).


Two Little Candy Canes
Way up high on the Christmas tree
Two little candy canes winked at me
So I shook that tree as hard as I could
And down came the candy canes
Hmm, Hmm, Good!


I'm a Little Santa
Sung to: "I'm a Little Teapot"
I'm a little Santa short and fat,
Here is my beard and here is my sack,
On Christmas Eve I hop in my sleigh,
With a "Ho ho ho" I'm on my way.




Parent Literacy Nights                             

Don't forget Pottstown Parent Literacy Nights.

Pottstown Middle School


3 years old through third grade (child care available for older and younger children.

Dates: December 3.


The complete schedule of the evenings can be found on the PEAK web site or by clicking here.



For more resources visit or the PEAK blog at
Happy Teaching!
Mary Rieck
PEAK Coordinator