Zipper Songs, Monkeys & Bees

While I’m driving to lunch my five-year-old granddaughter Khloe says, “Six more days until Kylie comes. What day is that?”

“It’s Thursday. Remember the song I taught you?”

Years ago a Merced College student taught me new words to a familiar song. I begin singing, “There’s Sunday and there’s Monday, ….” I sing the entire song, “Days of the Week” to the tune of “The Addam’s Family.”1 [You Tube link below].2 The song’s fun and catchy, even for little ones who have no idea about “The Addam’s Family.”

My granddaughter and I just sang a zipper song. A week ago, I didn’t know that’s what it’s called. I learned about zipper songs during the Learn 2 Read, Read 2 Learn conference. 3

Learn More with Music. Keynote speaker Alesha Henderson from Lakeshore Learning 4 noted the power of music for young children learning language.

            “We remember three times as much with music than without music.”

My response: I really can’t carry a tune. How can I do this?

Her answer: Zipper songs.

Charlotte Diamond, Canadian children’s singer recommends zipper songs as part of her P.R.I.Z.E. method of teaching songs and chants. Diamond says, “Encourage children to compose their own songs by adapting songs they already know.” 5

Type One

There are two different types of zipper songs. The first type is to make up new words to a familiar song, such as in “The Addam’s Family” example. One group attending the conference wrote new words for a well-known song, “The Wheels on the Bus.”

The monkeys in the trees go swing, swing, swing . . . ,” followed by,

The bees in the trees go buzz, buzz, buzz . . . ”

Type Two

The second type of zipper songs is when a familiar tune is sung traditionally except that one or more key words are substituted for each verse. 6 “This Old Man,” is a perfect example of  the second type. “This old man, he played one /he played knick knack on my thumb/ . . . Then replace the underlined words with “two . . . on my shoe,” “three . . . on my knee,” 7 and so on. Other well-known songs that fit this type are “Old McDonald” and “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.”

Fun with Language

No matter which way you sing a zipper song, children learn new words quickly and have fun with language. “Zipper songs are great sing-along songs because they require little learning time and can be sung for a long time.” 6

What zipper songs can you create with your students, children or grandchildren? I’d love to hear the tune and words they make up.


  1. Jean and Friends. Days of the Week (Tune: “The Addams Family”) Accessed 9/4/ 2015.
  2. Conference sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education.
  3. Days of the Week clap clap! [to the tune of the Addams…] Uploaded by Michelle Lebowe May 12, 2013. [0:31]. Accessed 9/4/ 2015.
  5. ZIPPER SONGS: Let’s make up a new song! The P.R.I.Z.E. Method of Teaching Songs and Chants byCharlotte Diamond. Accessed 11/10/2015.
  6. Accessed 11/10/2015.
  7. Public Domain, “This Old Man.” Accessed 11/10/2015.
  8. Image: Birthday Monkey Clip Art [] (Free to share and use commercially, 11/11/2015).



Sally, Seashells and Same Sounds


Marian with Match-Ups give away from “Read 2 Learn, Learn 2 Read” Conference

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.

Play with language. Be expressive. Use music. Be animated. Bring back nursery rhymes. The endless ideas were presented at the Learn 2 Read, Read 2 Learn seminar on August 29, 2015 in Modesto.

Trainer: Lakeshore Learning’s 1 trainer Alesha Henderson integrated active participation with her enthusiastic and energetic presentation.

Three hundred early childhood educators filled the room with laughter and fun while learning strategies for language, phonological awareness, print awareness, and letter recognition. Today I’ll share a great phonological awareness activity.

“Sally sells…” You probably remember the first line of the poem, “Sally sells seashells by the seashore,” 2 but have you ever written one like this? Some people call these tongue twisters but technically they are called alliteration.


Definition Alliteration: “Noun. The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.” 3


Beginning Sounds are Easier. The reason we focus on the beginning of a word is because it’s easier to discriminate. The ending of the word is the next sounds children learn, followed by sounds in the middle of the world. Here’s the alliteration my friend Barbara, another participant, and I wrote together.


“The big black bear bounces on the bumpy brown bridge to board the big blue bus.”


Create! Not bad if I do say so myself. Trust me; I couldn’t have done this on my own. It was the brainstorming and collective ideas of three educators to create this. But do you know who easily creates alliteration? Children. Ask a child to create a 5-10 word sentence that all start with the same letter or sound.

Fun & Reinforce. To reinforce the concept and make language fun, ask the child to say it fast. Then S – L – O – W. Say it softly. Now in a sad voice. Finally, say it how your mother would say it. Why do all this? It helps children with phonological awareness.

Learn 2 Read, Read 2 Learn

Learn 2 Read, Read 2 Learn Conference, Modesto, CA

I invite you to send me what children said. I’m sure my readers will not only enjoy them, they can use the creative alliterations with their students, children, and grandchildren.

P.S. I need you! If you’re a teacher, follow the link below to read “a letter to my teacher from a kid with difficult behavior.” 4 It will remind you of how important you are to every child.












All sites accessed September 2, 2015.


10 Math Skills Children Can Learn From Laundry Lids, Part 4 of 4

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Top row: ABAB pattern; Middle Row: AABBAABB pattern; Bottom Row: AABAAB pattern

Math Skill 9: Patterns

Creating patterns can be confusing to children but learning patterns is foundational for both math and science. When choosing lids for patterns, select lids that are the same. This helps kids not confuse the lid differences with the patterns.

Simplest Pattern

The top row of the photo depicts the simplest pattern, ABAB (green, orange, green, orange lids). This pattern was frequently practiced in my grandson’s kindergarten class.

Children can arrange the AABBAA pattern (middle row: yellow, yellow, orange, orange, yellow, yellow, orange, orange).

More Complex

Children progress to more complex patterns, such as AABAA (bottom row: purple, purple, green, purple, purple, green). A more advanced pattern is to alternate by size of lids, such as small, medium, large, small, medium, large. How many patterns can your child create?

New Lid AB

Hint: There are more lids in container A than container B

Math Skill 10: Estimation

Kindergarten children can begin making better estimations because they understand more about numbers. Estimation is defined as a rough calculation of the value, number, or size of something that children learn in the primary grades. (1) Ask, “How many lids do you think are in the container labeled A?” Let the children guess.

Add a Hint

After children guess, add a hint. “There are more lids in container A than there are in container B. Container B has 25 lids. Estimate again. Now how many lids do you estimate are in container A?”

Ask How?

After children estimate again, ask, “How did you decide how many lids were in container A?” Finally, count the lids together. An estimate is just that, an estimate. It isn’t really right or wrong. Some estimates are simply better than others. (2)

Teaching math skills using laundry detergent lids and other lids are lots of fun for both parents and children. What new skill can you work on today with your kids?



  2. Developing Estimation Skills in the Primary Grades, Larry P. Leutzinger, Edward C. Rathmell, and Tonya D. Urbatsch.…/mathgoal/Resources/Developing_Estimation.pdf.


10 Math Skills Children Can Learn From Laundry Detergent Lids, Part 3 of 4

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Distinguishing Differences. Left: Similar types of lids but different colors; Right: Lids with ridges

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Sort into small size lids, medium and large

Math Skill #7: Beginning Seriation

Seriation [seer-ee-ey-shuh] (1) describes the way young children organize their world based on differences. Can your preschooler distinguish different characteristic of lids, such as lids with ridges or the same type of lids, no matter what color? Ask children, “What’s another way you can sort the lids?”


An additional part of seriation describes the relationship among objects, such as big, bigger, biggest. Begin by teaching toddlers

concepts like bigger and smaller. Say, “I have a big lid. You have a small lid.” Once they learn this concept, they can compare simple attributes. Ask, “Which lid is bigger, the blue lid or the red lid?”

Sort by Sizes

Next preschoolers can sort by sizes by small, medium, and large lids. Eventually children can refine the sizes and create more size groups, like tiny or very large.

Math Skill 8: Advanced Seriation

Ultimately children become more aware of the properties or qualities of objects. They can compare more specific attributes and order objects on gradual variations, such as by height. Ask, “Can you arrange the lids from shortest to tallest?”

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Top row: Smallest to Largest; Bottom row: Light to Dark


Children can determine a logical progression of contrasting differences for items. More examples include:

  • by color intensity: light to dark, (refer to the photo with orange, purple, and blue lids arranged from the lightest to the darkest);
  • by length: shorter to longer;
  • by weight: heavy to light; or
  • by texture: rough to smooth.





Marian’s 6 Favorite Lids to Teach Math Skills

Here are my favorite lids to collect for teaching children math skills. I’ve posted two of four parts in June and will post the last two skills subsequent to this blog post.

New Lid 1-21. Laundry detergent lids are large, easy to manipulate, come in different sizes, and are bright colors.


New Lid 2-22. Men’s & women’s shaving crème lids come in fairly good sizes, various colors, and many are dome shaped.

New Lid 33. Large juice lids are easy to manipulate, colorful, have ridges, and come in different colors and sizes.


New Lid 4-24. Hair product lids are usually cylinder shaped. Clear lids make it easy for children to see when they put treasures inside the lids.

New Lid 5-25. Unusual lids are hard to find, but a great addition to any lid collection simply because they are different and interesting.

New Lid 6-26. Just the opposite of unusual lids, are common lids. These are great when you need multiple lids the same color and/or size so the math concepts aren’t confusing for children. For example, lids for counting and creating patterns. What are your favorite lids for teaching children math skills?


10 Math Skills Children Can Learn From Laundry Detergent Lids, Part 2 of 4

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Can you sort the blue lids?

Math Skill 4: Classification and Sorting

Have you ever noticed kids sorting their candy, Matchbox™ cars, or Legos®? Sorting and classifying objects are beginning math skills. Classifying is grouping objects by a common attribute, such as lids. (1)

One Characteristic

After toddlers learn colors they can begin to classify objects by one characteristic, usually color. Say, “Let’s sort the lids by color. Can you sort the red lids? . . .  What about the blue lids? . . . Now the yellow lids.”

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More advanced colors: gray, black, white, brown and pink

Several Colors

Gradually preschoolers can sort several colors at one time. Have the child try the secondary colors: orange, purple and green. More advanced colors in my lid collection are black, white, gray, and pink. What color lids did you collect?

Math Skill 5: Order

While children play with objects, they discover ways to order items to meet their needs. For example, a child could stack the lids to create a tower or make stairs. Ask, “What can you make with the lids?”

Adding Items

Tonight my grandchildren used the detergent lids, added glass rocks and served us delicious ice cream. Kids might fit the lids inside one another.

Using the lids, preschoolers can order the lids from smallest to largest. At first, give younger children 3 or 4 lids to sequence. Gradually add more sizes to sequence. Eventually children can sequence the lids on their own.

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Which lid is…?

Math Skill 6: Spatial Relationships

The lids provide a great opportunity for children to learn words and concepts about how objects are related to one another in space. For example: over, under, behind, next to, on, off, beside, in front of, outside, inside, and in the middle. (2)

Dump the lids out and look at the arrangement of the lids. Think of questions you can ask kids about spatial relationships. Based on my photo of lids, I can ask, “Which lid is in front of the red lid? . . . Which lid is behind the brown lid? . . . Which lid is next to the red lid?”



1. When children arrange materials in a graduated …, p. 397.

2. Math and Science for Preschoolers ppt. and Science for…