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SPRING is in the AIR... LINKY PARTY Link up or FIND some Great Spring Resources!!

Check out all these great free and paid resources for SPRING...YOU Won't want to miss out!!!
Spring is in the air...the air is a bit warmer, the days are longer, flowers are in bloom...well I lied only a few are popping up here in PA, but I know you can visualize the new beginnings that SPRING offers...and I also know, if you are a teacher like my daughter, you are looking for ideas to bring the flavor of spring into your classrooms.  

YOU need some fun activities that motivate those young minds to focus on learning and to continue to learn even though there is a constant tug to daydream about running around outside on this beautiful, glorious spring day...well...perhaps you will give in and take them outside to learn, which is a great idea for this time of year...but maybe you can carry a few of these SPRING resources to your outdoor classroom and have some fun!

Here are some SPRING resources that will put that spring back into your step and before you know it everyone will be focusing your lessons and not daydreaming about what they COULD be doing.

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6 Tips to Support English Language Learners in your Classroom

Do you have English Language Learners in your classroom? If you do...you will want to take a look at this post and discover 6 easy and fun tips to support your ELL students. I am sure you will LOVE #1!

I am NOT a certified English Language Learner Teacher, but over the years I have had many ELL students in my first and second grade classrooms. Perhaps because I grew up in a family where my parents spoke 2 languages, I had a keen sense for understanding the difficulties that these children or, more so, parents may experience. I grew up hearing 2 languages but not speaking 2 languages. In fact my paternal grandmother only spoke a few words in English: "Hello Dolly and That's a nice!" So you knew exactly how she would respond to your plea. " Grandmom, I fell and hit my head!" "That's a nice, Dolly!" To say the least it was interesting growing up when grandparents came to visit!

Having taught so many ELL kiddos, I came to realize what works for these learners also support all learners, but there were some special ideas I used to support my English Language Learners in my classroom.  I think my grade partner and I became the targeted teachers for ELL students because we just seemed to be able to collaborate with ELL parents in a way that they felt included and active members of the classroom community. Our ELL teachers would "push in" and "pull out " as needed and we were a fine tuned engine chugging along the road of learning together.

So here are some ideas or tips that I have used throughout my 30 +years of teaching to support English Language Learners in my classroom.

1. Label the Classroom
Every year, a few weeks into the school year, I would read the story The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni. After we read the story, we came up with a list nouns or people, places and things we noticed around the room, i.e, flag, desk, chair, etc. I would write the words on index cards and children would draw pictures to show the word.  Then together we would tape them to the objects around the classroom.  Now, this was something I have done forever with my first graders to support environmental print and emergent reading, but I came to realize how important this was for English Language Learners, not only in school, but also to send home. ELL students need reinforcement through visuals to better understand vocabulary.  This resource, Labeling the Room for English Language Learners for Home and School, was created to support students at home and at school.  Of course we still labeled more than what is included in this resource.

2. Using Synonyms, Gestures and Pictures When Presenting Materials
A simple word like bat seems so easy, yet it has a few meanings. This can be so confusing to a child learning to speak English...in fact...English is one of the hardest languages to learn. So when this word is used, it is important to have the class chat about the word, describe the meanings and if you have pictures to support vocabulary use...even better! Think about some of these words: cut, pen, ring, rose, cold, bark, fly...you get the idea....not only is this important for Language Learners, but also for learning vocabulary in general.  Using multiple words when giving directions so all children can understand what is meant is another important tip.  I am very animated when it comes to speaking so if I say think...I point to my head...when I say listen I pull at my ears...stop...I put my hands up...so these kinds of gestures to support vocabulary understanding came natural to me...YES...I am Italian!! Moving to an area of the classroom or pointing to an object that contains the activities or the book to work with can aid in understanding as well.

Having a Word Wall in the writing station or center that has words that can be represented with pictures to support understanding is ideal. If you do not have the space for a Word Wall, individual sheets with words for writing or Anchor Charts with visuals can also work.

3.  Activities, Demonstrations or Games that Use Movement or Modeling to Support Understanding
Let's face it, all kids enjoy moving and we all know that research shows that children learn best when movement is incorporated into learning or Brain Breaks are used to break up lessons. Movement when used to demonstrate ideas or concepts can support all learners, but most importantly ELL students.  Demonstrating the verb, run, if children see someone running or run themselves, they understand the concept of running. Think how much understanding of language can be accomplished by doing and just how much fun everyone will have. 

Having students model directions, rules, expectations and ways in which to use materials are all visuals that can support understanding.  Telling is not always a good choice for ELL students as they may not know what you mean, but showing, modeling and/or demonstrating is so much better for all learners.

Visual Schedules with pictures as well as words; either individual schedules or class schedules posted in the front of the classroom are great ways to support ELL kiddos and ALL emergent learners. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals lots of Visuals for expectations, rules directions...everything!

4. When Possible, Bring Parents into your Classroom to Show Expectations Rather Than Sending Notes or Making Phone Calls
Back to School Night is a great time to take a few minutes to show your ELL parents classroom expectations. Use visuals for each idea you are presenting. I used a Power Point Presentation and then showed the actual item in the classroom to support understanding of my classroom structure and student expectations...samples, samples, samples..you can never have too many samples. 

If necessary, I actually set a time for ELL parents to stop by and observe the class in action so they had a better understanding of how the class ran...the old saying "Seeing is Believing"...I changed to "Seeing is Understanding!"

Although this is more of a district support, it is well worth mentioning. This program was created by a grant.  When you think of sending homework home, it is easy to forget that many times parents of ELL students may not read English... so homework may not get completed correctly. When assigning homework, it might be best to create adapted homework for these children, which use pictures to support understanding. However, this can be difficult. Teachers have enough on their plates and may find it difficult to create adapted homework assignments for ELL kiddos.  We used to make our homework easy to complete and scripted with repetition in that you did certain things on certain nights. This made the homework easier to complete.  However if you have parents who could not support their children due to language barriers, it still puts a strain on the family and on family time. YES...you could not assign homework and I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding whether or not to have homework at all, but if you district insists on assigning homework...this may be an idea to consider....Homework Club!  

We provided this club for any student who needed homework support, but a majority were ELL kiddos! It was an after school program and ran for 3 days each week.  We connected with our High School's Community Service Club and students came over after school to help our ELL kiddos with their homework and also reviewed concepts if there were any misunderstandings. Data, that was collected, showed that the younger students made social connections with their helpers, progress with academic concepts and their confidence soared. My grade partner and I administered and oversaw the club.  

6. Building Classroom Community where Differences are Celebrated 
"Diversity is the One Thing we have in Common"...one of my favorite quotes! 
Celebrate differences. During Morning Meetings encourage ELL students to teach your class how to say "Good Morning" in their language and use that as the greeting for the day. During math have the children teach others how to count in their language. If the written form is different, let them explain the differences to allow for understanding.  Use good ole' Google to show where each native country is located and maybe have the students or a parent come in to show a bit about their culture and country.  Have an "International Day" or a "Heritage Day" and encourage parents to send in foods from their country (as long as your school allows this),  These activities are not limited to ELL students.....they are open to all students...everyone comes from somewhere and has different traditions and shares different cultures. These activities will enable your students to feel connected by their differences and feel like active members of the classroom community or culture. 

One last comment...One year I had 9 different countries represented in my classroom: Japan, Korea, China, Viet Nam, Pakistan, India, Ireland, Philippines and the United States!!! We had so much fun that year learning about all of these countries, traditions and cultures.  ALL students in my classroom shared their heritage!!!  

Here are a few resources that support English Language Learners from Sunshine and Lollipops...Click through and Check them out!!

Creating and Constructing Sentences        Making Silly Sentences                      Verb Charades

Here is a Free Diversity Poster for you: Free Poster  
What tips or ideas can you share that have worked for you with your ELL students?  Please share your tried and true ideas in the comment section!  Enjoy the rest of your school year!!!

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Let's Start a Positive Mindset Movement

Let's Start a Positive Mindset Movement and take my 10 Day Challenge...Interested? Read MORE...

Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Make it happy by thinking about all the blessings you have in your life.  In recent events that I have witnessed or heard about on the news, I am saddened by all the outrage in our country and I can choose to to upset and think negatively about life, but a negative mind brings negativity into your life so instead I am encouraged to think about the blessings in my life.  There are many that believe if you think one positive thought everyday that you will change your mindset and I truly believe this is true!

After all...
A while back a dear friend gave me a "Blessing Bracelet."
It is a simple silver bracelet with 4 gold pearls. (Well actually since then I have bought many...silver, pearls, white pearls, pink pearls for friends who had baby girls and many more for any one I knew needed to think a little positive or to show the blessings in life)
With the bracelet came a card, which stated:                                      
"Every time you wear this bracelet or think
of this bracelet, think of 4 things you are thankful
for in your life...one for each pearl."
It goes on to say that if you do this everyday, you
will see a change in the way you think and
become more positive in your life.

In other words, you will have a positive mindset and notice that,“Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.” ― Russell H. ConwellAcres of Diamonds
Look for the positive in every situation and you will find it!

I don't think we actually need a bracelet to do this...although I DO love jewelry and I do get many compliments when I wear my bracelet...I think we just need to count our blessings everyday or let the positive light shine through...I have to admit that I HAVE done this and it HAS changed the way I think about life...sour ideas or negative thoughts are magically transformed into positive sweet dazzling affirmations and blessings...well that may be a bit over the top or an exaggeration, but you get the idea!

Try a 10 day challenge and for 10 days, write 4 things that you are thankful for or blessed to have in your life.  Write the ideas down where you can see them and refer to them daily...perhaps a journal.  It can be as simple as I am blessed to be able to have a cup of fresh hot brewed coffee or it is a beautiful day and I am going to take a walk this morning because I can or I feel blessed that I have 2 beautiful healthy children.  Try it, you'll like it... #mikey #lifecerealcommercial #givingawaymyage and see just how your mindset changes!  I bet you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

Here are my 4 positive thoughts, diamonds or blessings for today:

  1. We have a brand new grandchild who has joined our family 2 weeks ago.
  2.  My husband is finally almost finishing painting our living room...he started 2 months ago and our living room is not that big...#oopslettingthecatoutofthebag.
  3. I took #Allegra and my allergies are gone for the next 12 hours.
  4. I had a great conversation with my daughter-in-law this morning.                                              

There are so many others blessings in my life and yours that I could go on and on and on, but that would be soooooo borrrrring.  I hope you realize just how important a positive mindset is in this journey called life.  Has there been negativity in my life?  You BET!  Do I choose to focus on it?  No!  Why? Because I believe that every negative situation can be turned in a positive. For example:  My dad had a stoke many years ago and was pretty much in a wheel chair for 6 years after, but those 6 years were so inspiring because it gave me a chance to get to know him so much better.  It kept him in one spot...(just sayin') and our visits meant so much to both of us.
With that being said...          


If you have read this post all the way to the bottom...Give yourself a pat on the back...and take the first step...share your 4 blessings in the comment section below and let's start a Positive Mindset Movement!!

If you need reminders to stay positive or even some positive mindset posters for your home or office, you are in luck! You might want to check out these  Positive Mindset BUNDLE  posters on my TpT Shop Sunshine and Lollipops...

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Love is in the Air...5 of My all Time Faves for Valentin'e's Day Plus Some Other Ideas

YES...it's February 8th and YES I am late blogging, but I have the BEST excuse and some of you know what it is and others...well...maybe you are not following me enough to know my personal life, but I am going to share some of it right here...right NOW!!! My 4th grandchild was born on Thursday, January 26th...so now I have Brady (9), Marra (almost 7), Aria (4) and Ava (almost 2 weeks old).  YES...I am the proud Mimi of 4 beautiful, talented grandkids that light up my life everyday.  Yes...I was away from my business life a bit in order to hang out with my middle daughter, who BTW was born on Valentine's Day in a snowstorm almost 39 years ago, and help her care for Ava, her second child.  YES...my heart is full...YES... cupid has brought another bundle of love and joy to our family and YES...I am finally ready to share some of my all time favorite Valentine's Day Activities.
Some are freebies that can be found in my TpT shop Sunshine and Lollipops while others are inexpensive paid resources from my shop and yet others are ideas that I have used throughout my many years of teaching pre-k, first and second grade.

1.  Valentine's Day Crown and OptionalCard  
This my all time favorite craft and it can be differentiated as needed in that you can pre-cut the various pieces and set them up so each child can create the crown independently
(I did it this way for my younger granddaughter).  You can have them color the center of the crown and then glue it to a sentence strip or pre-cut paper as there is a black and white copy of the "BEE MINE" that can be cut out or you can give each kiddo what they need to make the crown and have them cut and glue everything (great for OT) or maybe you would even want to use all the images as tracers and go with it in that direction.  Whatever way you choose, there is one thing I am certain about and that is that your kids WILL LOVE MAKING THIS! 



Be sure to check out the Dollar Spot at #Target to pick up some foam heart stickers and Valentine's Day stickers to add some additional fun!


Even a 4 year olds can have some fun creating this crown with stickers while working on fine motor skills to get ready for #Kindergarten!!

Everything you need is included in this Freebie...well...I take that back...you will need glue, scissors, stickers(optional),pipe cleaners (optional) and LOVE!

Optional Card:  The option to make a card is also included. If you take a picture of each child wearing the crown, you can then either glue the picture onto the frame provided, add some stickers and have your kiddos write a message on the inside or add the picture electronically to the frame and add stickers...the choice is yours!
2.  Free Beginning Sound Matching Fun  Here is another Free resource that I created for my daughter's SpEd Kinders.  It is a fun way to reinforce matching letters to beginning sounds that your kinders or pre-schoolers will enjoy completing.  Simply color the hearts that show a match of a beginning sound to the picture that begins with that sound in the same color. For example:  A and apple would be colored the same.                                                                                                                                                                                                        
3.  Valentine's Day Fun Packet or Math and Literacy Activities  Fun packet of Valentine themed activities for first grade that can be used as morning work, quiet time work, for early finishers or any other way you might want to use these sheets!  

 This can be used a s a cover and the packet can be made into a booklet for each student!

Here is a photo with a compilation of the some the activities that are included in this resource!

4.  We are Good Friends  This is a mini unit on friends and friendship that can really be used anytime during the school year.  When I taught first and second grade  I used it during the month of February. It would also be great to use in the beginning of the school year when students are beginning to get to know each other or at the end, when they have established some great friendships. It includes ideas for use and directions on how to implement this into your curriculum as well as a parent/family letter.

Here is a sampling of some of the ideas included with this resource.

6.  I LOVE you More Than...  I love this more than chocolate candy and the beach so sandy...such a fun activity to think about what you love and then make a Valentine for your family or someone special. It contains an original poem for Valentine's Day and lots of other goodies! It can be used for Mother's Day as an original poem for Mother's Day is also included. Check it out...it is a DOLLAR DEAL!
                                                                                This the page for students to use to write their ideas for Valentine's Day! Below is an computerized sample!

7. Two Other Great Ideas to Try  
  • Have a Compliment or Kindness Jar during February or any month, for that matter.  i always placed the "jar" on a counter where it was easily accessible so children were able to write compliments about a classmate.  At the end of the day, I would simply pull a few out and read them to the class. This was also done during our morning meeting.  The jar I used was decorated for Valentine's Day and I simply had a pencil/pen and heart-shaped sticky notes or paper next to the jar for students to write their compliments. If you notice that not everyone is getting a compliment, be sure to add some of your own so there are always smile!
         Here is one I made for Kindergarten that was created from a clear flexible plastic container.
         Easy Peasy!

  • Fun with Candy Conversation Hearts: There are tons of ideas to use conversation hearts. You can measure with them, count them, graph them by color, write sentences using the words on them, put them in a jar to guess how many and....drum roll pleeeeaaaase...my all time favorite for Kindergarten is to give each child or pair of children one box of conversation hearts.  
    Then have each pair guess or predict how many hearts are in the box and write their predictions or guesses on the top of a paper heart that you have created.  After they make predictions and write them down, have them count how many WHOLE hearts are actually in the box to check their predictions and write that number down. Next have them sort the heats by color on their heart. After, discuss the results of their predictions and numbers of colors they have the least or most of in their box.  As numbers will vary, ask the kiddos why they think the numbers are different. You can also do this as a whole group or make a whole class graph of the colors found and then count how many there are of each color and ultimately how many hearts there are all together.  
There you have it...some ideas to bring the LOVE back into teaching.  Happy Valentine's Day and if you have some ideas that you have used, please give them a SHOUT OUT in the comment section. Happy Valentine's Day!  Don't forget to share the love!!

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Fluttering into Spring with Butterflies 3 Great Crafts to Enrich your Butterfly Unit

Are you looking for some fabulous, motivating crafts and activities for butterflies? Spring is almost here and all kiddos LOVE to learn about these beautiful winged insects especially when there is metamorphosis involved! That fuzzy, creepy, crawly caterpillar will morph into a beautiful butterfly! I think it is time you checked out this Mini Butterfly unit and post..so what are you waiting for? width=

 Can, Have, Are Anchor Chart for Kinders. I scribed and they showed their learning and ideas about butterflies!

One of my all time favorite Units to teach is/was my butterfly unit #ilovebutterflies.  I always adored those fun hands on type lessons and when they included crafts...Well even better as I was right there ready to get down and dirty...slip and slid in the mud, get those magnifying glasses out and search high and low for those wiggly creatures...YEP...you guessed it caterpillars.  I love the excitement and curiosity of primary children as they learn about insects or other creepy crawly BUGS!

Years ago, we did a butterfly unit in second grade and raised butterflies...the kiddos LOVED this and we did so many activities to support this science life cycle unit. The class especially LOVED and were so excited when we released the butterflies. We would put out a half of a water melon and watch them go back and forth from the watermelon to the bushes and trees and then fly off into the distance. Creepy, Crawly, Joy, Fuzzy and all the rest, who were given names, were never to be seen again, but once in awhile a student would think they saw "theirs" fluttering away on the playground! 

A few years later it was decided that this unit would be a first grade unit...so, as a looping teacher, who looped with first and second grade....I taught this unit again and again and again in first grade and was able to stretch into second grade to nurture the excitement and curiosity of young minds at work!

Now...I am helping my daughter (I volunteer 2 days /per week in her classroom), who teaches Kinders and we are adapting these lessons, that I created, for Kindergarten. OH and before I forget, my granddaughter also raised and released butterflies in nursery school this year. I guess you can't get enough of butterflies.  

So...because #ilovebutterflies so much....actually all science lessons, just need the time to go through all my files so I can share all of them...that may take more years than I have left on this earth, I have included some great #craftivities using butterflies for your classroom use...the ideas are free.  You will just have to follow the directions, which I am pretty sure you will not have any trouble doing.
So here you go:

1.  Paper plate Butterfly sequencing activity.

  • You will need a white paper plate divided into 4 sections depending on students, you can have them use rulers and draw the lines or pre-draw before the activity.
  • Pre-cut leaves and thin brown strips for branches (only if you are working with younger students).
  • Colored tissue paper cut into small squares(I ordered a box of pre-cut tissue squares from Lakeshore and it has lasted me 5 years!!!)
  • Various pasta shapes. I used Orzo for the egg on the leaf, Rotoni for the caterpillar, Shell pasta for the chrysalis and Bow Tie pasta for the butterfly!
  • Glue
  • Patience

We made sure that this activity with SpEd Kinders was extremely structured. We did the activity step by step together at the table.

The tissue was used for the grass and flowers....Voila! Here are the children's finished products!

2.  3-D Butterflies

  •  For each child you will need:
  • A piece of tinfoil
  • 2 pieces of colored tissue paper
  • Thin Markers
  • Small foam shape stickers
  • Clothespin
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Patience

Give each child the tissue paper and stickers. The students were taught about symmetry and butterflies so they were trying to make their butterflies symmetrical...I am not so sure how symmetrical they were,but hey we are only in kindergarten.

After they have completed the decorating of the tissue paper, They put the tinfoil as the bottom layer and squeezed the paper together as shown.  They decorated the clothespin and made the antennae or a short pipe cleaner.

It was then assembled with a little help from the adults and voila...there is your cute little butterfly!

3. Butterfly Life Cycle Sequencing Crowns, which can be found in my Butterfly resource on TpT Sunshine and Lollipops  It is all ready to print and use!!!

  • For each child you will need:
  • A butterfly template copied on card stock in different colors ( I pre-cut these for the Kinders due to fine motor limitations). However, depending on your class, you can differentiate. 
  • Strips of paper for sequencing and creating the headband.
  • Sequencing pages, which are differentiated in my resource. You can pick individually for each child depending on their needs.
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Glue

Add crumpled tissue paper to cover the dots on the butterfly!

Cut out the sequence sheets provided.
After gluing the strips of paper on the sides to form the headband part on the activity, glue the picture in order 1,2,3,4!  We did need to trim the edges of the headbands a bit before fitting onto the kiddos' heads, but they were sooooooooo cute!!

So here are a few of my favorite activities to use with thisMini Butterfly Unit.. or any butterfly unit for that matter...Oh and there are still a few little secrets in my Butterfly Resource....I mean I can't divulge all my deep dark secrets! Enjoy learning about butterflies and these crafts and ideas!

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