Merry Christmas...may the magic of Christmas stay within your heart today and always...count your blessings and remember to be present and stay 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?

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 was as if a magnet was pulling me into the abbyss of pinning and I started even more and more 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 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 nothing...what did I do? What a shock to my pinning crown was deflated and I... I was 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 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 not collect $200...just go to 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 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
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. read it correctly, I have an obsession for shoes of which I have over 120 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 what do you think the chances are of bumping into someone you know? 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!

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( 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 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 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!
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 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!

Fall Writing Frames Great for K-1
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!
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 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

I love, love, love this 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

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 is fantastic, marvelous, I can get up and do whatever I want or don't want to do every minute of the 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 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 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 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 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 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 have nothing to lose!

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. 
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!
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? 

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 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 think about it now and be ready for the 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 

I am a firm believer that students cannot practice addition and subtraction facts too much. These math facts need to be reinforced on a daily basis so students can be successful with math in the upper grades and throughout life.   

Fact sheets are great, but it is also important for primary grade children to play games to reinforce math addition and subtraction facts.  For this reason, some of my colleagues and I always had “Math Stations or Rotations” every Friday for about an hour in the afternoon. Students rotated through 4  15 minute stations with a flexible differentiated group of students to work on skills with which they needed to reinforce.
Math facts were always included because you can’t stress them enough.  However, other skills were determined through observation of students while working on math activities or results of math assessments.  We made note of which students needed reinforcement of various skills and used the games, worksheets, created activities, activities from the math program and some that we found on websites etc. to use during math rotations or stations.   

The Friday Rotation games were then placed in baskets on the “Math Shelf” for use during Quiet Time, Free Choice Time or anytime a student was finished all their "have to" work during math. 

These rotations were a great way to reinforce math skills with which students needed to work. It was also a great way to enrich those students who were beyond a first grade math level.