Ring in the New Year with These Ready to Print and Go New Year's Ideas from TpT Teacherpreneurs

Merry Christmas...may the magic of Christmas stay within your heart today and always...count your blessings and remember to be present and stay present...today is a gift...Enjoy it, treasure it and make it a great memory! My wish you is to stay healthy, happy and to have a whole bunch of fun with friends, family and all those special people in your life! Since many of you are still relaxing and enjoying your Winter Break, let the experts at TpT do some work for you! Why not pick up an idea or 2 to use when you go back to your classroom or simply post a New Years idea or 2 and give your ideas a shout out to ring in the New Year?
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Dollar Deals for December and the New year Give Your Dollar Deals a Shout Out or Grab a Few!

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Confessions of a Pinaholic or What I Have Learned the Hard Way!




YES! I am a pinaholic and there is no denying it! Once I discovered Pinterest, a few years back, I began to save and pin like crazy! I pinned morning, noon and night...watching TV, at bedtime and while drinking my morning coffee...there was no stopping me!!! I saved and pinned and pinned and saved and liked. I followed and followed and followed and then I was introduced to Tailwind...it was as if a magnet was pulling me into the abbyss of pinning and I started even more and more pinning...now I was pinning organically, scheduling and pinning and pinning more and scheduling more. There was no stopping me...I was the pinning Queen of all pinning Queens...my sales were increasing so I kept on pinning and pinning and pinning and then it happened. It was devastating...the absolute worst thing that could happen to a pinner...a follower, collaborator and someone I met through pinning BLOCKED ME!!! Oh no...why? Why was I blocked...no warning...no nothing...what did I do? What a shock to my ego...my pinning crown was deflated and I... I was blocked...no warning...no notice....no nothing!. I tried desperately to get unblocked, but my blocker worked very hard to keep me blocked PERMANANTLY! I tried again to get unblocked, but that was in vain... minutes, days and weeks have gone by and well... it is NO use...my pinning tactics sent me right to jail. It was like playing a game of Monopoly..." Go to Jail...go straight to Jail, do NOT pass GO...do not collect $200...just go to jail...you are now a pinning delinquent.  As I sat on my bed, devastated, I thought...what happened...what did I do that was so wrong that someone BLOCKED ME? So, as curiosity would have it... I decided to take a look at the boards that I was blocked from and then it hit me right between the eyes...it dawned on me...I figured it out... I finally realized what had happened! I was so hung up on pinning that I just kept on merrily pinning away without any regard to the rules of the boards to which I was pinning.  Now, with Tailwind...that was pretty easy. I would find a pin, select a board and pin, pin, pin forgetting about the rules of the collaborative boards. That was my mistake...I just pinned for the sake of pinning.  Now, my optimistic attitude said," Forget the mistakes...everyone makes mistakes, but remember the lessons you learned from those mistakes!"

So, in order to help fellow pinners so they don't fall into the same bad habits that I fell into... here is my pinning advice:
  1.  First and foremost, make sure you read the rules of the boards to which you are pinning. If it says pin 2 freebies for every paid product, then be mindful and simply follow the rule. 
  2. Write the names of the boards that have very specific rules and abide by them...keep these notes close at hand when you are pinning. Some boards are more laid back(like mine) and others have very specific rules; so take notes and be aware of where you are pinning. 
  3.  If you are the owner of a collaborative board, give the pinner a warning before you block them. Their tactics could be very innocent and they may not realize (like me!) that they are abusing their right to pin to your board! 
  4.  Be generous and make sure you pin pins from other sellers onto your boards to collaborate and support each other. This will also make your board more appealing to others as well and get your rankings up.  
  5.  If you choose to use Tailwind, be aware of what you are pinning. Although they say you may have pinned to this board before, that is okay, but make sure you KNOW the rules of the board and have not pinned too many onto that board already before you repin!  
  6. To get more viewers, promote your pinterest link through your blog, Facebook page, newsletters or e-mail marketing. This lets others know about your boards. 
  7. Use keywords in the descriptions of your pins so you are attracting the right audience. It is also suggested to use hashtags in your descriptions so your pins can be found more easily. #sightwords #guidedreading #firstgrade #abcorder. Here is an example of one of my pins in which I used these suggestions:  I know My Colors Pin
  8. It is also suggested to use prices in your descriptions so your product can be found on Pinterest Gifts, which categorizes ideas for sale by price.  MORE EXPOSURE...MORE FINDABLE!!
  9. Have conversations with your followers and those you are following. Comment on products that you feel are great!  In order to have a real conversation with followers you have to be following each other, but you can thank a follower for repinning or liking your pin and connect with people who like the same brands as you do to promote each other's products.  So connect with each other to avoid the SPAMMINESS!
  10. If you make a mistake...just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again pinning more wisely!  You will be glad you did!
So these are 10 tips I have learned through my mistakes as a pinaholic. YES,  I am still pinning, scheduling, liking and repinning, but I am always mindful that I HAVE made mistakes and HAVE started all over a few times, but that is OK because I am remembering the lessons I have learned from my mistakes! There is just one small problem...I have discovered Instagram...OH NO, here we go again!

PS Here is a link to my pinterest account. Some of the boards you can simply add yourself to and others you will need to send me a request. Check them out and let me know which ones you might want to join...Happy Pinning!  Sunshine and Lollipops on Pinterest
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5 Facts about ME!

When Niki from Teaching Autism from the UK posted a challenge to write 5 facts about yourself so we could all get to know each other better and put the person with the logo so to speak, I jumped right in with both feet...yep, that is the way I usually do things because if I think too much about it, I will never do it!  With that being said ,here are the 5 Facts about ME, that you may or may not know! Well if you are family or a friend or even a FB friend, you may already know some of these, but reread them anyway or not!

1.  I am retired after 34 years of teaching.  I looped with my class from first to second grade for 14 years of my teaching career! As I pondered retiring I knew that I wanted to retire when I was still perceived as a good teacher, young enough to enjoy my grandchildren as well as the remainder of my journey here on earth and I definitely did not want to overstay my welcome to the point that I might overhear someone say,"When is that old _____ leaving? Her ideas are from the dark ages!!" Everyone said that this would never happen to me, but you never know and I was not about to take a chance! My teaching style was and still is to keep all lessons fun, hands on and whatever each child needs to learn and grow! I LOVE to differentiate instruction as much as I can!  Even though in today’s classrooms standardized testing and strict control over curriculum prevails, I always tried and continue to try to find new ways to make learning fun! I realized after the dust settled from my 5+ retirement parties and a severely sprained ankle, that retirement did not mean sitting around and doing nothing...retirement to me meant to start a new chapter of my life and do what I want to do, when I want to do it at anytime I feel like doing it! No...I realized I am NOT too old or too tired to create and inspire! So...HERE I AM!  Welcome to Sunshine and Lollipops where you will find activities and lessons that can be differentiated and many ideas that encourage joy, sunshine and the love of learning!

2.  I have 3 wonderful grown children, who are all married. Of these 6 children, if you count spouses, 4 are teachers! My grandchildren are as active as can be and I now can watch them whenever anyone needs me to help out! Perk #1 of being retired! Perk #2 is helping my daughter 2 days a week with her Special Ed kindergarten Kiddos! I LOVE IT! 

Grandkids are the best!
3.  Yes...you read it correctly, I have an obsession for shoes of which I have over 120 pairs...it sounds awful, but it is just one of those things that I cannot live without and I HAVE to have shoes for every outfit and occasion. I think I am taking after a dear friend who passed away a few years back..she had more shoes than I do! Oh and the Nutella thing...well that was just recently...I decided to buy a super sized jar of Nutella to try it...and the rest is history....what is that saying a spoonful a day keeps the doctor away?

4.  I never go out of the house without make up...could be vanity, but it more because I live in the town I grew up in, taught in the same classroom that I attended first grade and live in the community in which I taught...so what do you think the chances are of bumping into someone you know? Yep...you got it! I am positive that I will bump into someone the day I run to the store to pick up allergy medicine and look like ______. You can fill in the blank!  So rain or shine, deathly sick or healthy, the make up goes on.

5. As soon as my husband retires, we WILL use up all of his frequent flyer miles! He has over 2 million miles and I am not about to let them go to waste. We do use them and have given them to our children for honeymoons and other important trips, but I don't want to leave this world without using every single one!  I LOVE to travel and have always loved traveling since the day I was born!  I have had many great vacations, but I am going to be greedy...I WANT MORE...the sooner the better!

Thanks for listening and reading...Have a day filled with sunshine and sweetness and don't forget to check out all the other posts to learn 5 facts about your favorite teacher authors!



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Let's Revisit Fun and The Common Core or How Can I Put the Fun Back into Teaching and Still Meet the Standards?



Hi there...it's me again with an important message that I think ALL teachers need to think about as they get back into the school year.  It is now October and if you are like me, you can hardly believe that it is already here...where did September go?  It seems as we get older the days fly by faster and faster.  If you don't pay attention you will wake up and find out that Halloween and Thanksgiving have passed and it is already Christmas!  I mean really can you believe that Hallmark already has holiday decprations up and I am not talking Halloween decorations (they were up on fourth of July)! I am talking Christmas and Hannukah...yes those green, red and blue colors are already in the Hallmark stores in the Mall. I guess Halloween and Thanksgiving don't count!  If we continue at this pace, we won't even be celebrating those holidays...It will just be Christmas all year long! So as I thought about how rushed our socirty is becoming, I decided to bring back a post I wrote about a year ago just to remind everyone that we NEED to enjoy everything we do...EVERYTHING, family, each holiday, school, learning EVERYTHING.  Everything does not have to be rush here, rush there, rush everywhere and we CAN have fun in the process....dont stuff that Kit Kat or Choco Taco in your mouth and eat it so fast that you don't have any recollection of ever eating it! TAKE YOUR TIME AND SAVOR EVERY BITE!
So here is that post that I think is worth tweaking and bringing back:

As I sat on the beach last summer and watched all the pre-school and school aged children romp around the beach screaming, giggling and having some old fashioned fun building sand castles, grabbing for sand crabs and shrieking as the water tickled their feet, I began to think how hard it must for these kiddos to come back from the freedom of playing to sitting in classrooms and learning.

I know, as a retired teacher, that sometimes it is hard to teach all the hard core skills and concepts without pencil and paper drills, but there is one thing we must all remember instead of children merely day dreaming about the good old summer days of June through August, let's bring that FUN back into the classroom and savor every minute!

One thing to remember is that most of the FUN stuff can be aligned with the common core standards or any standards for that matter. So, with that being said, I decided to journey into the cyber world and search for some special days that people have created to bring some fun back into their day and life...days that children will remember for a long time, days to celebrate that encourage fun and learning simultaneouly.   Now, I have to admit that some of the days some individuals have chosen to celebrate are a bit...well let's just say a bit different, but then again everyone has something that they are passionate about and may want to celebrate it! ( I am not going to mention the days that I found a bit unique. I mean Diversity is the one thing we all have in common...right?)

As a result of this search, I found some really interesting days to celebrate to have fun teaching, align to Common Core and that will definitely encourage your kiddos to have fun in the classroom while learning and this IS NOT just taking skills and creating the theme. This is taking the standards and encouraging learning, critical thinking along with teaching skills and strategies that all students need to learn in order to be successful life long learners and to become active members of their community and society.

So here is just a few ideas that I found for fall ( September-December) and you can be sure that I will be creating lessons and activities to go along with these special days that will bring back the FUN in learning.

SEPTEMBER
September 19th: Talk Like a Pirate Day  ( Bring Your inner Pirate out and dress like a pirate while reading some pirate books)                 

September 22nd: National Elephant Day: Elephants Never Forget So Let's Not forget the Elephants.
September 26th:  Johnny Appleseed
(I know Septmebr is gone so just save these ideas for next year!)


OCTOBER
October 9th: Fire Prevention: Stay Safe!
October 12th: Columbus Day: Who really discovered America?
October 21st: Count Your Buttons Day:  Sounds like a great way to integrate Corduroy and the Lost Button, pete the Cat and His Four Groovey Buttons and some great math activities!
October 31st: Halloween: Fun with graphing Halloween costumes, tons of math activities, writing , reading and teaching nouns all with a Halloween Theme


NOVEMBER
November 13th: World Kindness Day: Lets be aware of our acts of kindness now...don't wait until February 14th!
November 16th:  Button Day: If you did not get to it on October 21st. Add the lessons and ideas here!!
Let's Not forget Thanksgiving!

DECEMBER
December 7th: Letter Writing Day: Get a head start on those holiday cards and letters.
December 13th: National Ice Cream Day: The sky is the limit with this idea! Tons of lessons and activities can be found and will be shared!
December 21st: National Flashlight Day: Anyone Up for reading with flashlights today?  Flip off the lights and let's get started! Just think of the possibilities!

So, all these themes can be integrated with Common Core and if we slow down, our kiddos can have some fun in the classroom and not be rushed through the learning and the year!  I hope this has brought a little brightness to your day and some fun things to look forward to this year!  Remember teaching is the best job. You have the ability to make a lifelong impression on the minds you touch! Have a great year!

Look for ideas on TpT and Teacher's Notebook to bring the Fun back into learning!


 

 


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6 Tried and True Ideas that YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT...Trust ME!

Hi there...I am back again with my first segment of Tried and True Activities and Ideas that I KNOW you cannot live without!! If you are a teacher or have been a teacher, which I am pretty sure you fit that mold if you are reading this, then you all know the challenges we face with classroom management. A long, long, long time ago when I first set foot in my very first classroom after subbing for 9 years(...yes...you DID read that correctly), I learned and researched how to improve focus with kiddos and keep them on task. Five very important concepts I learned and remember are:

 1. Give your students choice activities first thing in the morning, which is why one of my first activities in the morning was a soft landing time for students to chat, wind down, get ready for learning, take care of the business kinds of things that they need to do with calm classical music playing.( If you have read any of my other posts, you know ow much I am a believer in this SOFT LANDING TIME!!)

 2. Morning Meeting, which I cannot and will not ever say to stop doing as it builds community and again makes everyone feel welcome and supports the idea that each child has something good to offer our classroom family...diversity is the one thing we have in common! Check out this Responsive Classroom website for Morning Meeting Ideas, Games and Activities

3. Having Choice stations, Daily 5 or whatever you choose to call it first thing in the morning, if possible right after your morning meeting as choice allows your kiddos to take ownership of their academic work and feel like an active part of the classroom community since you are allowing them teacher directed choices during center, stations etc.

4. Giving Brain Breaks as much as your class needs...repeat, giving Brain Breaks as many times as your class needs, not just when you need them...on that topic I used to use snack time as a brain break where students can get up and eat and chat for a few minutes...guiltily I remember only giving those breaks when I WAS hungry...how selfish!!! I moved this snack time to Station/Daily 5 time..."Grab as you need" idea on an honor system and it really worked fabulously...only a few nibblers nibbled too much and you can be sure the tattle tale squad reported and turned them in or intimidated them to plead guilty!

5. Getting the kiddos up and moving as much as possible through academic type activities such as, Read and Write the Room. These are great ways to get your kiddos up and moving during Daily 5 or Station Word Work. They are like worksheets,but your class walks around the room to jot down the answers and such. These activities teach, reinforce or remediate in a fun and active way!

6.  Having a Quiet Time or a Down Time everyday. The best times are right after Lunch or where there is a natural break in your day. You will be surprised as to how many children share during our End of Day Meeting that "Quiet Time" was their favorite part of the day! They choose what they want to do quietly and some actually choose to catch up on work!!!

 Okay so that being said...check out the Read the Room activities that I have in my shops or any of these types of activities that you find on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter yadda yadda yadda...do yourself and your class a favor and use some of these types of "worksheets"to reinforce those Common Core Standards and such!!! YOU will see a difference in behaviors, too...but remember to share those expectations and role model first or you might have a disaster on your hands!

Thanks for tuning in and see you next time!
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Freebies, Freebies and More Freebies!

As I was sitting out on my porch this beautiful evening, I decided I would share all the freebies that I have available in my Sunshine and Lollipops Shops on TpT and Teacher's Notebook.
I believe that as teachers you should NOT have to put out your hard earned money for supplies, but we ALL know that this concept is virtually impossible. We LOVE to teach and want to meet the needs of all the kiddos we have in our classrooms. or we would not be teaching!  We love to see those smiles and giggles and love to provide a safe place for our kiddos to be or become their best selves.  We also know that one size does NOT fit all.  It is my belief to keep my prices as low as I can because I enjoy helping, solving problems and mentoring others...especially when it comes to teaching!
Editable End of Year Student Letters  TN TpT
So...here are a few of the freebies I have, as of today, for you to use and enjoy.  Please check them out at my stores. You won't be disappointed!!! MORE WILL BE COMING SOON! ENJOY!

Bunny Hop Number Line Slide  TN  TpT




Editable ABC Letter of Our Year Together!TN  TpT

This Poster is a great reminder with visuals
as to how your kiddos should sit when listening!
TN      TpT


Children LOVE playing this Game which reinforces Math Facts. It is a differentiated activity in that the children fill in the train and make up the problems that they can solve. Challenges emerge depending on who they play. TN  TpT
Fun Management Charts to encourage Classroom Management!
TN   TpT
Great Poetry Frames for Grades 2-4!
TN  TpT


Fall Writing Frames Great for K-1
TN  TpT
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A Back to School Gift for Your Kiddos

If you consider yourself a "Pinterest Teacher" then this is a gift you may want to consider for your kiddos at the end of the first full week of school. Dollar Store Bubbles and a sign that says: "I am bubbling with excitement that you are in my class!" What a great way to make your class feel welcome and loved. Also a confidence booster!
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Kid Spelling Right or Wrong?

Here is a link to a freebie you may be interested in...ENJOY!

Many parents have a hard time when their kiddos come home with writing that they cannot read or that has many misspelled words.  I had an interesting situation in my grandson's class on Grandparent's Day.  Grandparents were supporting their grandchildren with writing. I was supporting my grandson.  Every time he asked me to spell a word I said, as a teacher, let's listen to the sounds that you hear in the word and write them down. he asked me if the spelling was correct and I said,"Can you read it?"  He said, "YES!"  " then that is great spelling. I can read it too!"  I said it may not be exactly what an adult speller would write but look you have all the sounds!" I continued to say, "When you are not sure, sound out the word, or look around the room for the spelling if you know it is around here somewhere or maybe it is a sight word you can find on your word wall."  "You are doing an awesome job! Keep on writing and reading and before you know it you will be zooming with spelling!" He smiled and felt extremely proud and his confidence blasted off into a galaxy of spelling and writing!

However, as I listened in to other grandparents helping their grandchildren, I heard things like, That's not the way you spell that word, here let me show you," OR "change that d to a b now the word is spelled correctly!"  Even, "Don't you know how to spell that word?  That word is easy here: p-l-a-y?"
I started to ponder about how many parents are struggling with kid spelling, inventive spelling creative spelling or whatever you may call it.  So, I created this letter with the idea of writing it in Kid writing and then gradually improving as I wrote to end with standard adult spelling to demonstrate to parents that we are not ignoring spelling but in K-1 and maybe into second grade Kid Writing is developmentally appropriate and as your child reads, writes and practices spelling sight words, their writing and spelling will improve!

In my opinion Kid Writing is the way to go. It gets kids writing and using bigger more difficult words because they know that if they try and they can read it, then it works. As children progress and read and write more, their spelling will also improve. Put this altogether with sight words and eventually standard spelling ideas and/or programs and you develop a great writer and speller! If children are constantly worried about how to spell a word or if a word is spelled correctly, then this interfere with their writing and vocabulary and they will only write using words they know how to spell...how boring is that, but more importantly children's spelling progresses through stages that lead to conventional or standard spelling and it is NOT simply rote memory of spelling words!
What are your feelings or thoughts about spelling?
Spelling: Kids Writing Parent Letter Freebie

Here is a link to a great book that speaks to this topic:  How Children Learn to Spell
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Let's Get Inspired Before We Start the Year!






I love, love, love this quote...it exemplifies why differentiation is so important as we journey into a new school year! When I taught I tried to keep this first and foremost in my mind as my kiddos walked through my classroom door and I learned about each little mind and how it worked. I grew up with a dad who could not read and learned everything by listening to the talk show radio stations that were available. It was because of my dad that I became a teacher. One of my most treasured pictures is my dad "reading" a book to me when I was about 3 years old. I did not know then that he was reading the pictures, but later in life I realized this was how he read to me all those years ago!






An InLinkz Link-up
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Be positive...Think Positive...Stay Positive...You Have Nothing to Lose!


As I was walking around town today, many acquaintances asked,"Oh, are you off today?" That just goes to show you that if you live in a smallish town like I do, everyone seems to know where you are supposed to be at certain times of the day. Yes...usually I would be teaching at 11:00 in the morning. So I answered with a perky upbeat tempo, "I am retired now!" "Oh, really?" The next question is usually always the same. "So, how do you like being retired?" My answer..."I LOVE it...it is fantastic, marvelous, I can get up and do whatever I want or don't want to do every minute of the day...no plans just bliss and happiness! I don't even wear a watch anymore!" They say, "REALLY?" "I mean you are such an active person, don't you get bored or upset that you are not teaching?" Jealous? Perhaps...but why should I feel guilty that I am happy with what I am doing with my life...now that I am retired? I was happy teaching and now I am happy retired.


So, as I strolled around town stopping at various places: the Post Office, a local health food store, a grocery store, the high school to drop of a letter of recommendation and a few other local spots, I began to look at people's expressions...no smiles, no upbeat prancing, no laughing, giggling, singing, humming or happiness or if they were happy no one was showing it except for one man who smiled and said,"Hi, how are you doin' today?" I thought to myself; Where's that happy to be alive attitude, time to smell the flowers wisdom, dance like no one is watching attitude..where was it? It was buried deep down in the hecticness of life.


I am a firm believe that the diamonds you look for are usually right in your own backyard (Russell Conwell Acres of Diamonds) Everything you need to be positive and happy is in your own mind or right in your own life (backyard). So let me share with you what I call Mimi's Mini List of Ways to Stay Positive Everyday.

1. Count your blessings and there are many. Everyday before you go to work or get your day going, think of 4 things you are happy about. It can be a small as I woke up this morning and am able to enjoy this beautiful day!

2. Look for the positive in everyone you encounter and give them a smile and a kind word. A smile and a kind word can go a long way and you never know just how important that smile may have been to the person who noticed it...show those pearly whites!

3. Find something positive in what life's journey brings everyday. Even a negative situation can have a positive twist.

My dad was an extremely fast paced type "A" personality kind of guy. He never stayed in the same spot for more than 5 minutes and in fact, if he had something to deliver to my house, he would beep the horn and toss it on the lawn...no joke! At age 66 he had a stroke, this negative situation was turned quickly into a positive. He was not able to pick up and move around too much after this unfortunate situation, but I got to know him better than ever because he could only sit in his wheelchair and talk. Sitting and chatting in his living room created some the fondest memories I have of him. He expressed his feelings and I really began to develop a friendship with my dad that may not have happened if it were not for this illness.

4. Don't take anything personal. If someone snaps at you and you respond in a negative way then you will feel that negativity long after the incident, but if you respond with a smile and kind words...you will spread positiveness and maybe even make a friend.

I know these ideas seem simplistic, but....why not give it a try? You may just change the way you think and...According to Aristotle: Happiness depends upon ourselves.


Be positive...think positive...stay positive...you have nothing to lose!








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Back to School Getting to Know You Activity We are Alike and We are Different...OOPS! Almost Forgot about This One!

Another fabulous idea for Back to School that I forgot about when I was racking my brain for what ideas I have used in the past...see what did I tell you...those shoes (great ideas) need to be organized so you can pick and choose as needed. So, even if you don't use this idea this year. File it in "Back to School" and use it next year!

I am all about building community and making our classroom like a "school family" where we can feel safe, learn about each other, take care of each other and do our best together as a "family". The classroom is a place where we can solve problems, feel comfortable and make our environment one in which all students have the opportunity to learn, grow and do their best!
So this activity that I have created is just what you need to promote classroom community!



Back to School…We are Alike and We are Different

 This back to school ready to use printable activity can be used the first day of school, first week, as a getting to know you activity or as an anytime activity. It also includes a first day activity of “Find Someone Who…” to get your students up and and moving around to meet other classmates. Here is what is included in this packet:

  • A first day getting to know you activity sheets for students to find other students with various attributes. 
  • An I like and I can sheet for the students to fill in about themselves to use for the Venn Diagram. 
  • A Venn diagram to compare and contrast with a partner. 
  • Differentiated sheets to use to write about their findings. 
  • Small frames for self-portraits. 
  • An idea for activity use. 
  • A sample of what the project might look like when completed. 
  • An Original poem to hang or copy to display with the finished projects in color and black and white. 
ENJOY!!!
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You are Appreciated!

Love this quote. What else can YOU add? With the school year approaching...I thought all my teacher friends need to know how much you ARE appreciated and loved! No one really understands how much you do and how much you inspire and influence those around you! I know you are rested and ready to create the magic of learning! Have a great school year!
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First Day Am I Ready? Tried and True Ideas, Activities and Tips

You've relaxed all summer...well...NOT REALLY because after all you are a teacher and everyone thinks you get to relax ALL summer, but let's face it...you HAVE NOT been relaxing all summer stuffing your face with Choco Tacos, Hershey Kisses, Tootsie Rolls or, my favorite, Kit Kats!
YOU HAVE NOT been burying your feet in the sand with a glass of your favorite beverage by your side leisurely watching your kids surf the waves.  Instead you have been planning for this day all summer...since the doors of the school have closed last school year and the halls have emptied...you have been planning for...Yes, you guessed it... THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!  

It is the night before your first day and you can't sleep worrying over what the year will be like...what will the kiddos be like this year, what will the new teachers, new superintendent, new principal, new curriculum and there is ALWAYS new curriculum or new something to worry about, what will the new something be this year!!!?  You feel that churning in your stomach...YES THE NIGHT BEFORE JITTERS! ( I mean I am retired and I STILL feel this in the beginning of September...it only stops when I remember that I don't HAVE to go back this September or any September!) 


Never fear...Here's my MOTTO:  Be Organized and have lots of choices in your toolbox to use that first day...Just like shoes: If one pair doesn't work, try another and another until the shoe fits and the idea works...choices, choices, choices and organization, those piles of ideas that are cluttering your brain like shoes cluttering your closet...organize the ideas and get them ready to pull from the shelf and try on for size. 

So many ideas cluttering my brain...HELP!












Now that's better...you have all your ideas stacked, filed, prepared and ready to go!

AHHHHH heaven...ready to choose 
which pair will work best for each outfit!

You are calm, cool and collected and have a list compiled of what to do on the first day of school.











Here are some tried and true ideas I have used over the years, but remember even the best ideas need a "little help from your friends." First off I always try to only plan the first day ( always made me feel a bit anxious,but I forced myself to do it) and forget the rest of the week...you have no idea what surprises await you and it is better to plan more than less and see where it goes. Then you can plan for the rest of the week after this important day!


Tip #1:  Being a teacher = getting parents on your side.  So, before school even starts maybe a few days before those little cherubs walk through the door of your classroom or even the night before(yes, you read that correctly) give each family a call to welcome their child to your classroom...just a simple "Hi, this is _________________I am looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.  Don't forget to bring your smile!"  You will be surprised how many kiddos walk through the door on the first day and say "You called my house," and they DO bring their smile...well first graders sometimes bring a jittery smile! It also implants a great impression with the families of the students you will be teaching!


Tip #2:  Great each child at the door with a smile and compliment. As I was told 30+ years ago from a college professor: Find something you like everyday about each child and give them that compliment even if is as little as, "I love the polka dots on your shirt!"


Tip #3:  Have each child's name written on a name plate by a seat or if you have an "Open House," let each child place their Name Plate at a seat. This way they will know where to go on the first day. You can always change it and let's face it you will because most likely they have choose a seat next to their BFF.  This way as each child walks into your classroom they can be directed to find their name and sit down with everything they have with them.


Tip #4:  Have a blank paper by each child's seat so as you greet them, you can say, within your greeting,"Find your seat, keep everything with you on the floor beside your seat and draw a picture of something you enjoyed doing this summer!"  Then once everyone is in the classroom, you can grab their attention and unload those backpacks to see what surprises await you!


Tip #5: Build Community from the very first day with a Morning Meeting: Some tried and true ideas for a Morning Meeting Greeting might be: 

2 ideas for Sharing Time for the first day for Morning Meeting might be:




4 ideas for an activity or game during your first day Morning Meeting might be:



 

An idea for  2 first day Morning Meeting Messages that you might want to use is:

Tip #6:  Get them up and moving:  Partner Classroom Scavenger Hunt Fun:


 

Tip #7:  Share a book:  A great book to share the first day or week of school is First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg and here is a response page to go with it:





Tip#8:   Send home a First Day Newsletter: Here is a link to and editable First Day News that I have used: 

Editable First Day Newsletter







Tip #9:  Be prepared for surprises!  They always seem to happen on the first day. So, if you are organized...you will be able to handle whatever comes your way and it WILL!!!


This Freebie packet can be found on my 

TpT Sunshine and Lollipops shop.

You may also like these First Day Activities in my TPT shop to add to the ideas mentioned!

Let's Make Some Memories

Back to School An activity for the First Day of School


Good Luck and I would LOVE to hear how these ideas worked or some of you own special First Day of School Ideas!

Kathy




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Thumbs Up to the TpT Conference

I am back from Vegas and survived the fast paced whirlwind of a this amazing town...I left the dings and dongs of slot machines and the crooners singing in lounges to come home to the stillness, heat and humidity of PA...overwhelmed, but ready to create, create, create and create more...I am exhausted thinking about it!!  




But, as the saying goes "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."  But, what I say is "What happens in Vegas needs to be shared!"  I have not been to Las Vegas in over 26 years and it has really changed. Over 42 million tourists came through this hoppin' town last year! 



This year my friend Kimberly (Kimberly's Kindergarten) and I hopped on an airplane and flew to Las Vegas to become 2 of those 40+ million people visiting! We attended the Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) Conference for the first time!  

We met fellow shop owners, saw some incredible teacherpreneurs and of course teacher celebs, learned about marketing, blogging, Pinterest and Instagram, which I cannot figure out if my life depended on it...HELP!  Anyone interested in teaching an old dog new tricks????



From left to right...Stephanie, Cheryl, Me, Stacie, Kimberly...Miss you!
BUT...the highlight of our amazing journey was meeting up with Stacie from Teacher Life is GoodStephanie from First Grade Bangs  and Cheryl who is a newbie of our newfound friends. It is rare to meet people and hit it off so quickly, but these incredible women became our partners in crime and it seemed as though we had been friends forever!  We ate, drank,laughed,were merry and were ALL excited to make our first million, which seems a little off in the distance,but we were told that we needed to look in the mirror and say," I want to be a millionaire" and it might just happen. Believe me if it does, you will be the first to know and maybe you'll be coming to Vegas with us next year all expenses paid...well, don't hold your breath...wait that is a negative thought...THINK POSITIVE...You never know!!!

What was the highlight of your trip this year? 




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8 Tips and a Few Thoughts about Organizing Any Classroom



I have decided to write a short...very short blog about organization and then show some photos of ways to organize that are pretty much self explanatory. So here goes...my advice...is to be ORGANIZED BEFORE THE KIDDOS STEP INTO THE CLASSROOM and ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, LABEL, LABEL LABEL!!! You can never be too organized if you are    a primary teacher!  If you start at the beginning you will feel less stressed all year long.

Writing Station!
A few tips:

  1. Put all game pieces and boards in file folders or if they don't fit in folders, put them in a shelving unit with drawers and make each drawer for each game and label the front of each drawer.
  2. Use a basket to store class books and label the basket.        
    Class books, suggested reading, 
    chair to read, whisper phones 
    all labeled and ready to use!

  3. Use a basket for kiddos to turn in finished work and homework and label it.
  4. Use folders with pockets for Daily 5 and stations labeled with YES and NO for completed or not completed work and have a basket for these labeled.
  5. Use can holders rubber or plastic as shown below in the picture for scissors, pencils, markers 
    Organizational ideas from cup holders 
    for pencils to baskets for station, Daily 5 
    and center activities and games.
    etc and label. I usually color coordinate by table by colors and all materials are coordinated for each table.
  6. Use bins and storage for ALL materials and label.
  7. Use shoe boxes or small index card files for sight words or rubber band each set and place in a shoebox and label. this is easy access for your word wall etc.
  8. Use dish drains with slots for storing materials at station with files for differentiation.
Reading Center with reading buddies,
labeled book bins and more!
Color coordinated tables! 











I know you get the idea.  I cannot emphasize enough how important getting your room organized before the first day of school is...so think about it now and be ready for the fall...you won't regret it! It will make you feel so much better as the year progresses.  Check out more images for Classroom Organization on My Pinterest Board. I have organizational tips and images from  all over the place...LOL!
Game organization...doesn't have to be
Pinterest fancy...just labeled for identification!

Another game!

Bookmarks so everyone knows just 
where the book they picked belongs! 
A name is on the back of each wand 
and the kiddos place it in the 
basket where they chose the book 
and take it out when they are finished 
reading!




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