8 Fun and Easy Ideas for Keeping Skills Sharp During the Summer

here it is...what you have all been looking for....8+Funs and Easy Ways for Keeping SkillsSharp During those Summer Monthe...Bet you will LOVE them ALL...My fave is # 7

We all know that it can be difficult to keep kids working through the summer.  On one hand, we want our children to have fun and enjoy the summer and on the other hand, we don't want everything they have learned to simply rent space in their brains soon to take a hike once the school year is over...we want those skills and strategies to make a permanent home in their brains and stay as long as they can!

We also know how we wish our students would work during the summer to keep all the skills and strategies that they have learned all year long sharp without gaps and ready to go when school begins the next school year. You always have some students who never stop working over the summer and others who never work at all over the summer. There are so many ways to keep the kiddos that leave your classroom ready to "jump" back into learning come fall and bridge the gap between summer and fall.

Here are a few tried and true ideas to share with parents and colleagues:  Fun and Easy Ideas for Keeping Skills Sharp During the Summer Months:

1.  Have each student make a "Summer Journal" to jot down daily activities that they did over the summer. This is a great way to keep students writing over the summer and they can add pictures and captions somewhat like a scrapbook filled with summer memories. This can be a great way for children to document memories. How much fun will they have looking back on this as a young adult? These journals can be brought form home and decorated, run off on paper or even purchased at a dollar store. Here is one I made especially for this purpose. It is a print, assemble and go product and can be found on my shop Sunshine and Lollipops  Oh and did I tell you that it is only $1.50?

2.  Use a blank calendar and brainstorm ideas with your class that they can do over the summer to keep skills sharp. Ideas such as counting how many shoes your mom has in the closet to how many steps it is around the neighborhood to measuring the perimeter or area of a room in their house. Your students can then jot these ideas down on different dates on their calendar and complete them through the summer.

3.  You can copy ideas from the class and type them into a calendar frame for each student to take home through the summer to work with when they are faced with a rainy summer day at the shore or traveling to a vacation destination...remember if a car travels 60 miles per hour and it takes 2 1/2 hours to get to Orlando, how many miles have we traveled? Oh how many of you remember those questions?? Oh, before I forget, if you teach first grade...I have one already made up for all you my "fun"tastic first grade BFF's...Oops! I am just assuming that I AM your BEST FRIEND right about now...Am I right? I did all the work for YOU!!! Yep here it is Summer Calendar for First Grade

4.  Make up a packet of review math skills that were taught throughout the school year for children to bring home over the summer. Sorry guys...don't have this one pre-made...but I bet someone else does...get over to that TpT search engine and start typing!!!

5.  Summer educational field trips are another easy way to keep kids thinking over the summer. Depending where you live, scope out some ideas, jot these ideas in a newsletter and send it home with children. Around where I live, we have a zoo, arboretums, the Crayola Crayon Factory, Please Touch Museum, lots of history and much more! I KNOW parents will love to have the ideas right at their fingertips!!!

6.  Make up a Summer Reading List of Books that are geared toward your student's grade level and interests and send it home with students. You might want to include some generic frames or book craft ideas for students to use to respond to their reading.

7.  Many times while students are sitting on the beach, they can, at times become...you know that infamous word that begins with a B and we dislike it when a child says it, but in today's world, I hear it ALL the time...even from my 4 year old granddaughter...how can you possibly be B-O-R-E-D at 4...so actually they might have this B-word happen on the beach. Check this out...yep pages to work on while your sitting at the beach or pool. Are you lovin' it?   Now, I know I will definitely be your BBF "Bestie Blogger Friend"when you see this...

8.  Here are some fun ideas to add a little math and ELA fun to your summer. You are sitting at the pool or beach or driving in the car and...OH NO the B-word again...so what do you do? Jot these down and you will be covered.
  • How many steps do you think it will take you to get to the snack bar? Estimate and check...where you right? How many more or less steps did it take you? See how many steps it takes your friend, sister anyone sitting near you. 
  •  In the car...do you remember the alphabet game? Give each child a piece of paper and you if you are so inclined to play and see how many items you can find that begin with each letter of the alphabet or look for signs and just jot down words you see that begin with each letter of the alphabet. You can do this for shapes (3-D shapes as well)...remember finding license plates from various states...list those as well and see who can find the most...then put them in alphabetical order! 
  • On the beach, find some seashells and categorize them according to color, shape, texture etc. Oh and did I mention recording how many times you can jump, hop, blink your eyes, do jumping jacks, jump rope in a minute...they can guess or estimate and see if they are right...I think you get the idea...put those little brains in action and tire them out!! What am I kidding...you will never tire a child. They have more energy than you and I put together! Maybe jot down these ideas in an End of School Year Summer Fun Idea Newsletter...who knows I might just create it as a freebie before the school year ends... and HERE IT IS: it includes a few of the ideas listed above compiled into a Summer Vacation Companion!  Free Summer Vacation Companion Activities and Worksheets Not Grade Specific  

I know what you are thinking: " Okay, this all sounds great on paper, but where is the accountability and are the students really going to do this over the summer?" Here is what I did with my first and second graders: I created a packet for my students to use so they could keep their skills sharp and move right on into second or third grade without missing a beat. Then I would have the children visit me in the fall during the first couple weeks of school and show me the work they completed. I then gave them a Summer Award and a special “second grade” or "third grade" school supply. I usually got a pencil that said,” Second Graders are Great”, "Third grade is Terrific" or something like that!! My school also gave summer assignments, but I still sent ideas, packets or Summer Calendars home because it was a super way to support our summer program and gave more specific ideas of activities to complete. I would staple a Summer Calendar into one packet and then a journal with response pages into another packet and send this home for summer work in a Beach pail. It worked with about 90-95% of the students I taught.

 PS- It might be fun to keep a Summer Journal or scrapbook to share with your incoming students next year! I hope this brings a little sunshine your way! Have fun you deserve it! Soak up a little sun for me while you are at it!!

Oh...and here is another fun summer idea...so...I guess I really have 9 ideas...Oh Well...Summer Charades Game 

This is fun for everyone...children and adults!!!

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Lazy Hazy Days of Summer: I Hope Your Summer is Filled with Many SUNNY Days...BUT...Here are 5 Activities Just Incase for Home and School

Just a few ideas that you may want to check out...just in case you have a rainy summer day!

Although school is still in session in many Northeastern States and it is hard to think about a rainy day in summer...(say what??? It's rainy Oh no..we can't go to the pool, the beach is out and everyone will be at the museums...I need some activities that we can do at home!!!) there will definitely be a day when in rains, I mean pours, I mean thunderstorm and hail...Summer Storms...Ya gotta love them or hate them. If this weather approaches, you DO need something for the kiddos to do while you are stuck inside the house. Well...Sunshine and Lollipops is here to save the DAY...that means that ideas are on the WAY!

So...before I give you my BIG FUN Sea Creature IDEA, I am going to list some easy fun ideas that can be done on a rainy day or any day! These are tried and true ideas that I have used with my own kiddos in years past! I do think they are a bit better than being tethered to an electronic device all day!!!

1. My kids and I loved making popsicles out of various juices...actually sometimes we used various sodas or pops, but in today's world that is a no...no...so here is a pin I found that gives you many ideas to chose from...Oh BTW if you have small paper cups and popsicle sticks from the craft store on hand,you will not have to use or use fancy molds and the kids can partially freeze and layer the pops.
2.  Now this one is daring, but I did it with my younger kiddos, but you do need to be present and watching...well...I guess you need to present and watching for most of these ideas!! I used to have the kids get into their bathing suits and play in the bathtub with water toys.  They LOVED it and it was almost as good as being in a pool...perhaps not quite as fun, but none the less a fun time in a pinch!!!
Of course I would be right there watching and splashing with them!!!

3. Finger painting with food or make your own editable pretty good tasting finger paint...
                          Finger Paint to Eat??
I have also "painted" with pudding, peanut butter, raspberries, blackberries and yogurt...Oh and if you want to add a little learning...give the kiddos sight words to write or sentences!!

4.  Fruit and Veggie Prints:  Cut some old fruit in half and dip it in paint. Then stamp it onto white paper, tee shirts, white napkins or pillowcases for some fun creating!! Apples, pears, oranges, peppers, celery,lemons, limes, orange sections,carrots and potatoes work great!!  I am sure you can think of a few more!! i would suggest putting a fork through the top as a handle for stamping.  There are so many examples on Pinterest that I decided to give you a link to all of them...WOW! 

5.  I have a zillion ideas, but this post would be way to long.  So...Now..it is time for the Sea Creature Idea...actually Jellyfish fun idea!!!
First: You will need plain white paper plates cut in half with 4 holes punched across the bottom. I used pipe cleaners and had the kiddos connect them to the paper plate by threading and twisting the pipe cleaners. You will also need an assortment of beads, macaroni/pasta, cut up straws and anything that you can find that has a whole through...buttons might work as well.  We also used google eyes, but beads or buttons work too!  To add a sensory piece for Kinders I used the large fuzzy pipe cleaners, which you will see as the kids are working.
Then they decorated the front of the paper plate (names on the back) and began to thread the beads and pasta onto each pipe cleaner. Everyone was able to do this...some with a tiny bit of help!

BTW...you could have heard a pin drop during this activity...if you try this at home it MAY be a little different! Ha ha!
Next we added eyes!!
This is what we had...some VERY Cute Stingy Swirly Moveable Fun Jellyfish!!
Add a little phrase, some cute fish with names and it becomes...
A BULLETIN BOARD!!!  or for home add another pipe cleaner and it can...
Hang from a light or the ceiling and decorated your child's Room or playroom!!

I hope you have many sunny days this summer, but if you need a filler...Why not try one of these fun ideas??? Don't forget to comment with some of your favorite ideas!

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Happy Mother's Day to My First Teacher...My Mom

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 14th...a time to set the day aside to remember all that our Moms have done for us whether they are still with us on this Earth or watching over us from above. Although I do believe that everyday should be Mother's Day...I mean, think about it, where would you be without your Mom? She was your first teacher. She taught you how to talk, walk and eat. She fed you and took care of you as much as her life would allow. Yes, she was your first educator and she did not, in most cases, have a degree in education, yet she taught you everything she knew... the best she knew how! So, on this day that we set aside to honor our Mothers. I would like to take a few minutes and share with you what I have learned from my Mom. The pages of my memories and lessons go on and on and it is hard to put a lifetime of lessons in one post...so i will give you the abridged Reader's Digest version!

Let me ponder a bit and chat a bit with my Mom who now looks down on me with loving eyes...did I mention that I never heard you raise your voice?  Hmmmm...did I have a chance to thank you for everything you have taught me? I'm really not sure, but I am hoping that I did.
I remember sitting in that hospital room thinking about all that you have taught me and wondering if I had thanked you for all you have taught me, but at that point you were not really aware that I was even there sitting at he bottom of your bed...except one time as I decided to refreshen my make-up( something you always told me to do...you said it was important for my husband to see me looking my best...where did those days go?...any way you looked up and said, "You're putting your make-up on."

Every so often I discover a note from me to you that you tucked away in a small corner of a box or folded neatly in an envelope all torn and brown around the edges...and I can tell through these clippings and saved treasures that you were a gatherer of memories... you saved everything and I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g from cards I wrote to you in elementary school to newspaper articles that had a slight mention of my name, report cards...some of which I would rather forget, awards and even a thank you note I wrote to you and dad for my wedding not to mention all the clippings, photos, drawings and treasures from your grandkids. OOPS! There was also the recording of dad singing to you when he was in the service that he sent you in 1940's...see...Mom, these discoveries show me that you loved your family and family was important to you.  This was the number one lesson you taught me. I didn't need to find these momentos or trinkets to recognize and feel your love for family...

You showed us, through your example and our life's experiences that family was and should be a number one priority! You were selfless through all those years and always, always put your family FIRST!!

There are so many values you taught me from your example. You showed me the importance of being kind and loving, to help others...I can't even list all the people you helped in so many ways from relatives, friends, employees to strangers..... but you also remembered to take time for yourself to recharge your batteries...not the car batteries, but your mind and body.

"One day, as I recall, you told me,"Kathy, it does not mean your a bad mom if you leave the kids with a babysitter and take some time for yourself. Get a good book and go have lunch by yourself. It will recharge your batteries!"  GREAT ADVICE!

You LOVED to dance and you always danced like no one was watching and everyone knows how much I love to dance. That showed me that it is also important to have FUN ! You were classy, funny, sophisticated, a creative thinker and loved to dress up!  You were a trend setter...I have fond memories of riding in our 1959 powder blue caddie with the top down, you with your new hair color (blonde) and a french twist that was the newest trend back then. I thought I was riding with Barbie!

You demonstrated the importance of commitment, understanding, empathy, perseverance, working hard to reach your goals. to never give up, do your best, replace curse words with phrases like "hells bells and Christmas trees (lol)" and the list goes on and on and on.

"You were ahead of your time, extremely independent and an entrepreneur with the restaurant business..."

You were the backbone of "Marras" taking care of E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G...if someone did not come in,  you became, a waitress or a hostess or a cook...oh and did I mention what a creative and fabulous cook you were?  You always wanted to write a cookbook, but that was something that never quite happened....I did find all the recipes that you saved in the cigar boxes...yep that's where you always put your treasures... in the flip-top cigar boxes from the days you sold cigars in the restaurant!

It has been over 20 years since you left us but I feel your presence everyday sometimes, I go to the phone and think about calling you...wouldn't that be awesome if we had a direct line to call our loved ones up in heaven?

So on this Mother's Day if I could chat with you for just a minute, I would say...thank you for all you taught me and for being YOU!  Happy Mother's Day...and as you would say...I love you too much, Kitten!


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Join the Spinning Craze and Make it a Learning Experience: 10 Ways to Use Spinners as a Teaching Tool!

Let's turn the Spinning Craze into a learning experience with these 10 easy ways to use spinners as a teaching tool. I am sure you will LOVE #7!

Are you as tired, but as intrigued as I am with all the different types of spinners there are everywhere you go and the fact that they get hundreds upon hundreds of new shipments practically everyday? I have seen sports themed spinners, USA spinners, Light Up spinners, black, tie-dyed and rainbow spinners to name a few! I have to admit...they are mesmerizing!

Mention the s-word and right before your eyes someone says, "Oh, I have one right here!" They do have a purpose, but they are also the 2017 craze like Pokemon cards, Cabbage Patch Dolls and all the other toys you HAD TO HAVE when you were younger.  They have been banned from schools and I am sure many teachers are a bit crazed, for lack of a better word,  at how many of their students own a spinner. They can be purchased everywhere: AMAZON, 5 Below, Learning Express, Hallmark, Wawa, 7-Eleven and I might just set up a stand in my front yard!

Today my grandson was off from school and we went to Learning Express to spend a gift card he received for his birthday and what did he pick out?  You guessed it a Tri-Spinner and a Bi-Spinner with cases to hold the various spinners one has...now mind you as of today, May 5, 2017...he has about 5 different spinners and has even made a few with coins and bearings, but this is what he wanted and it was HIS money!!!

Interestingly enough while we were in the shop, they allowed him to come behind the counter because a shipment of brand new spinners had just arrived. So...Brady went behind the counter and took a few hours to pick out the precise one he wanted...that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  I can now tell you where every toy, book, game and trinket is located in the store because I walked around so many times waiting.  A few parents walked in looking for...YES...spinners and Brady began to share his knowledge as when they were first created and where(A bit of history) to which one was better and which one should be selected...the phones rang and the sales lady declared that Brady could answer the phones and give the info needed because 90% of the calls were about...YES...spinners! He was offered a job after school as we left, but he really is too young to work.

So as all he-- breaks lose in schools and the craze that is supposed to calm the soul has been deemed as a distraction to many, there is a solution to the craziness especially at the end of the year...USE IT AS A TEACHING TOOL...yes you read that correctly and here are 10 ways you can do this with your kiddos...I guess what I am saying is to have a Fidget Spinning Day.


1. Have a contest using a timer to see whose spinner can spin the longest.  Start out with pairs and then the winners will proceed to the next round. Keep it going until their is one winner.

2.  Graph the results of the time it took for the spinners to spin and stop and then find the mean, mode median and range of the times.

3.  Make predictions based on what they know about spinners and see who can come closest to the amount of time the spinner will spin.  So the students, predict, then write the actual time and last, find the difference.

4.  Calculate which surfaces( floor, blacktop, wood, desk, metal surface etc.) support faster or slower spins. Which surface made the spinner spin faster, explain your thinking? Does the spinner spin longer on a surface or in your hand? Explain your thinking.  On one finger or between your fingers? Explain your thinking.  Which kinds of spinners spin the fastest, slowest and graph and compare the results.

5.  How many spinners can you spin on top of each other? Graph the results.

6. Have your students spin their spinners and see who can focus using their spinners while reading to self, listening to a read aloud or doing math( try your best not to get distracted by their spinners spinning). Evaluate the experiment by having them answer questions about the lesson taught.   Then have them write an opinion piece on spinners about help or hinder students' concentrate.

7. Write to persuade by having students write you a letter convincing you or the principal that students should or should not be allowed to bring spinners to school.

8.  Write a piece on how to spin a spinner correctly.

9. Write an opinion piece on which spinner is better or is the Bi-spinner or Tri-Spinner  better and why they feel that way.

10.  Create a game that can use spinners in some way.  Have each team or partnership write about their idea, make it and present it to the class and play it!

I hope you find these ideas helpful...you know the old saying: "When in Rome do as the Romans" and "If you can't beat them, join them." Well...my new saying is: "When the spinner spins, spin along with it!

And I have  freebie for you that you can print and use and GUESS WHAT? It contains some of the ideas above...what more could you ask for!!  

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day and have a little fun with spinners the last few weeks of school!  Keep spinning and smiling!


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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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