Happy New Year!  Let's Take a Look at my Top 5 Resources for 2016...I think you will like #1 or maybe you can use them all!

I have been on TpT since 2014 when I retired after a wonderful 30+ years teaching in my sweet primary classroom. I LOVE creating resources and did so before retirement, but NEVER sold them on TpT! Now I offer Dazzling resources, Sweet lessons and Sparkling teaching ideas for your Primary Classroom! Drum roll please! Here are my TOP 5 Best Selling Resources for 2016!  Check them out!!

#5:  Sight Word Activities for the First 100 Fry Sight Words:  Tried and True this resource will help you differentiate your kiddos' sight words to focus on what each child or your own child might needs.  Check it out HERE and let me know what you think!

#4: Sight Word Activities for the First 200 Fry Sight Words:  A continuation of great worksheets to be sure your kiddos know their sight words, but this includes all 200 words at a better price because it is a bundle! Check it out HERE and let me know what you think of this 200 word BUNDLE  

#3:  One of my Faves:  Non-Fiction Writing Response Sheets for 1st and 2nd Grade Lesson Plan included:  A fun way to introduce non-fiction text features and more. This was used in my first grade classroom for many years and the kids loved this resource.  The kiddos were engaged and enjoyed all the great ideas included to encourage thinking and working together to learn an important skill!  Here it is!  Check it out and teach your students about Non-Fiction Text Features and more!

#2:  Another Favorite:  Informational Writing Prompts: How to Writing for First and Second Grade:  This resource has 70   writing prompts to choose from to encourage fun, interesting and motivating ideas to show How to writing! Lots of fun ideas to write about and a blank sheet to write your own idea!  You will not want to miss this one! Here you go! 

And the #1 Selling resource for 2016 and actually my ALL TIME FAVORITE is...close your eyes and count to 3....1.....2....3.... Earth Day: Be a Superhero and Save the Earth...LOVE...LOVE...LOVE this.  Simply a fun writing and craft idea for Earth Day and i am adding a Power Point to learn a little about ways to save the earth this year, which you should be able to download if you already own this resource...so this is it...ENJOY and make sure you get it while it is 20% off! 

So...get over to Sunshine and Lollipops and check out the top 5 resources for 2016! 
Happy New Year...May your Year be filled with good health and happiness!

 Raising or dealing with a child who has anger issues can be a difficult job, to say the least, but these 5 effective tips will help you stay calm and give your child life long strategies to deal with the emotion of anger.
Dealing with a child who has anger issues can be a tough job, but if you are proactive, consistent, set a clear understanding and provide anger management strategies, your life will be much calmer. Believe me...it is not an easy job parenting a child...let alone a child with anger issues.  You never seem to know exactly when a meltdown might present itself, but if you follow these 5 parenting tips and give your child a "toolbox" of strategies to deal with anger, your child will become his/her best self and you will also see and feel the difference in your life. Remember the most important job you have is to raise your children to be a respectful member of society.  It is essential to provide your child with life-long strategies to deal with their emotions. So check out my most recent post from December 19th on this topic at Educents.com and see just how you can help your child deal with anger!

The most important job you have is raising your kids. Slowing down can be a difficult task in today's world, but if you try these 5 ideas, your life will begin to slow down just enough to enjoy those around you.  You will LOVE #5.
In this fast-paced world we live in, it can be so difficult to simply slow down...let alone slow down and enjoy our family.  Think about it...many of us are working (sometimes more than one job), parenting, chauffuering kids back and forth to after school activities, cooking dinner, food shopping and more. Sleep? When do we have time for that?  If you are wondering how you might slow down your pace to have more family time, then check out my latest blogpost on Educents.com and find 5 ways to do just that: Slow Down and Enjoy your Kids!
Have a child home sick and need some ideas so you can take care of your little one,but still be productive at home? Here are some ideas for YOU!  You will especially like #1!

You know it is inevitable that some time in your life, as a parent, you WILL have a child home sick just when you have a million things to do whether you work from home or not.  So now the day has come and you are sitting there with your sick little one and of course you would love to spend the afternoon relaxing alongside your child, but you need to catch-up on a ton of things. Your child is sick enough to stay home, but still seems to be raring to go like that little "Energizer Bunny"...get the picture?  So now what?  Ahhhh...well...read my complete post from December 9th on Educents.com to find out!

You know how the kiddos in your classroom are before their upcoming winter break..well..here are some learning activities that will encourage fun and sneak in a bit of learning...ENJOY!

Being a teacher during the holidays is...let's just say.... tough...think about it all the kiddos are doing is thinking about the upcoming winter break.  So...to make your life a bit easier, here are some ready to print, cut, laminate or just print and use activities, ideas and lessons that you can simply have fun with while learning. You know the old saying..."when in Rome do as the Romans." Let's just say "when in a classroom full of excited students anticipating the holidays...well.... do as they do and just get excited about the holidays and sneak in a little learning!"

These resources are created for 1st grade, but they can be used as stations, breaks or review for other grades or maybe just plain FUN!!!  Happy Holidays!

Find my Holiday and Winter  resources  Here

Check out the top 3 Wishlisted resources on SUnshine and Lollipops...the Cyber Sale has started so run over to the blog and check them out and then scoop them up...Don't be left out in the cold...baby it is cold out there...warm up with thei great sale!!

I am so excited about the TpT Cyber Sale. I mean isn't it the sale y'all have been waiting for?  I know I have! It seems like ages since we have had a sale like this...and YES I can't wait and it is starting in 29 minutes from right now!!! YOU can get 28% off your purchases by using CYBER2016 at check out.  In order to help you make some selections, I have teamed up with a few of my colleagues to showcase some of our top 3 wishlisted resources...So ready, set, go...here they are...Happy shopping and don't forget to use that promo code!

  • First 100 Sight Words (FRY):  this resource was created to be used in a booklet or individually. It is great for differentiation in that you can pull the pages that each child needs to work on and staple then to be used as reinforcement for Homework or differentiated Word Work Stations or even as an intervention. It can even be used as Morning Work or for fluency reading sight word sentences. However you decide to use this fabulous resource...you kiddos will enjoy it.  Each word is written in a form to encourage coloring the word, tracing and then writing free hand by the student. Then the student colors the boxes that contain the designated word, reads, traces and copies a sentence using best handwriting, draws a picture that shows understanding of the sentence, which will show understanding. it seems like a lot, but i can sure tell you ONE thing, your students will know the word after completing this page...ENJOY!  Oh and did I mention this is top seller? Check it out here!

  • Stop that Blurting and Calling Out:  I LOVE this resource... you could say it is one of my all time favorites. Many of my colleagues have used it and found it very successful for their classrooms. It can be used alone or with any book that discusses calling out. Included are role playing cards, strategy cards and differentiated response sheets.  This is also a top seller and all that have used this resource have been extremely pleased.  Take a look.
  • Kindergarten Readiness Skill: These are print and go resources aligned with Common Core Kindergarten skills, which includes matching pictures to beginning consonant sounds, sorting pictures according to beginning sounds, matching and sorting pictures to beginning L,R and S blends and matching and sorting pictures to beginning digraphs including words ending in ck. These sheets can be used as an informal assessment, reinforcement of a particular skill, as a center, for homework or as an intervention and let's not forget about RTI and ELL. YES...this is another top seller and is ready to print and use as mentioned above!!Here you go!
These are just 3 of the 200+ resources I have on my TpT's shop Sunshine and Lollipops!

You can check out all the other TpTers Top 3 wishlisted resources HERE

In today's fast paced world of quick meals before practices and quick breakfasts before the bus comes and quick...lets get up and get moving before we're late, there is not much room for children to ease into their day and notice the beauty around them.

If they are running late Mom or Dad is dressing them in their practice uniform while they are eating or while they are eating an adult might be helping them tie their shoes or get their socks on so they will not be late for whatever the activity for the morning, afternoon or evening is that day!

Believe me...I was right there with this when my 3, now adult children, were little and involved in so many activities...so many, in fact, that I look back on those days and wonder how I did all of it with a traveling husband and really not much support to get them back and forth to cheerleading, football, dance, play rehearsals, violin, viola and piano lessons, field hockey practice, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, Brownies, singing lessons and who knows what else!!

Although "our world" was not as "techie" as today, we did have Pac-Man, Froggy and some other types of "computer"games to beg our kids to STOP playing them!

So where am I going with this?  Well, as teachers, we must realize what our families and little ones are up against in this fast-paced world so that when they come to school, they feel safe, calm and can feel like they are in a world that is nurturing and relaxed. A world were they do not have to feel stressed or overwhelmed, but can be their best selves.

So here are a few tips that you can put into place immediately that will give your kiddos a relaxed haven.

As teachers teaching during holiday seasons, you might want to incorporate some of these ideas on Monday or right after Winter Break when the students have been away from school for a week plus and now...well...let's just say many of your students may have forgotten many or ALL of the classroom routines and have been away from the classroom structure.

So, try some of these tips...oh and did I mention that these are tried and true...I have used these for over 20+ years in my classroom and now that I am retired and volunteer in my daughter's SpEd Kindergarten classroom, we use these ideas in her classroom, too!

1.  As Students come into the classroom, greet them at the door to make them feel special and 
     relaxed. If children feel good about themselves, they will be calmer and ready to learn.

2.  Play soft classical music.  You will be surprised at the calmness it brings and how parents
     notice this calming music, which they always had a positive comment to share about the music
     playing as the children entered the classroom. I always enjoyed hearing children humming the
     music as they unpacked and got ready for the day! They were relaxed and learning about music
     and what feelings it evoked.Some classical musicians who have calming genres are:
     Brahms, Wagner, Pachelbel, Handel, Chopin and Bach to name a few, but I would suggest
     listening to the works before just hitting "play." Here is a site that has some calming classical
     pieces you can check out!  Relaxing Music for your Classroom This is a sample of music that
     promotes calm. It plays a medley of different classical composers and can be set on your

3.  Many teachers give their students morning work to complete, which is fine.  However what I have
     done over the years is given students a "soft landing" time. During this time, the kiddos can chat
     calmly, buddy read, read to self, work on an activity that needs to be finished, pick a morning
     work sheet to complete, buddy write or complete their classroom job, which are jobs that helped
     our classroom be organized (attendance, calendar, lunch count etc.).

4.  Our schedule was not very conducive to calmness as within 15 minutes of arrival time,
     our special teachers were in our classrooms ready to start their lesson.
     As a result, we had to have our Morning Meeting after special time. In order to address this issue      and create a calmness before the kiddos jumped into working with the special teachers, we would        gather on the rug and "Pass a Smile." This only took a few minutes and supported a calm feeling
     before the children got to work.

5.  Add a daily "Quiet Time" to your schedule. Schedule 5-10 minutes after your recess or at a time
     you notice your class seems to need a break. During this time the children listen to calm music
     and can do any activity within your rule expectations independently and alone.  Some ideas are:          Relax and listen to the music, read, color, draw, write, catch up on work, anything that is quiet
      and can be completed alone.  This time is a time to relax and refocus for the rest of the day

6.  Add brain breaks into your day to support children to refocus and be relaxed and ready to move        on with their day. Some ideas for Brain Breaks can be found at:
     Brain Breaks TpT .  The ideas in this resource are ones I        have used through the years before the buzzword Brain
     Breaks was popular!

Just had to add one more... Kids Yoga: ABC's of Yoga with Theresa Power This video is great because Theresa introduces yoga through easy standing poses which can easily be completed at home or school. She has a soothing voice and it is only a 5 minute video!

I hope you find these ideas helpful They are ALL tried and true and have helped hundreds of children stay calm in our hectic world.

I will leave you with this one thought: During those calm and quiet moments we give ourselves time to think and understand; come up with ideas to inspire others; become our best selves and are ready to learn what the world has to offer.

Enjoy the rest of your year!

As I watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning...rising at the crack of dawn, which I have not done since I was retired...I am reminded of how many years my family has attended this parade and how it has become and important family tradition. We have made it there for many years and the first parade we ever attended was with an old friend Jackie. I can still see my son, Sean, at 20 months old, with his red, blue and yellow jacket and a big bird hat on his head.  He was ecstatic as Santa and Santa's reindeer came ...so excited as the postal carriers walked among the crowd with their bags and children tossed their letters to Santa into the bags.

This year I am reminded of all the blessings I have in my life and so thankful to be able to experience this parade with my children and grandchildren who are so enthusiastic as each blow-up, marching band, Eagles Cheerleaders with the drum brigade pass by....but my most favorite part is and will always be when Santa rides by in his sleigh with Mrs. Claus.  Just watching as the eyes of those who believe light up with the wonderment and magic of the season makes my heart full of joy and love.  Seeing them jump up and down with excitement reminds me of the innocence of children and I say to myself, "We must never stop believing and perhaps we should live life through the eyes of a child...with that being said....May you always believe in the magic of the season. May you always know that you are blessed in many ways and may you be thankful for all you have. I am thankful for all of YOU! Happy Thanksgiving!!!  Remember:

What? You ask...how are my students like cake-pops or a box of chocolates...REALLY? Well I think they are and if you choose to read this post, I think you might agree!

I am a chocolate lover...well...I take that back I am a lover of sweets any kind of sweets; chocolate candy, any kind of chocolate including triple fudge layer cake, cake-pops especially chocolate iced, Tootsie Pops (orange is my favorite); Milky Ways, Snickers, chocolate brownie sundaes, cupcakes and Tootsie Rolls....I guess I need to come clean: I am a sugarholic, chocoholic and maybe even a sweetaholic...Can you relate?

I learned a LOOOOOng time ago that a little sweetness goes a long way whether using sweet, kind words to those in need or giving out candy at Halloween...a little sweetness is hard to turn down.
Who doesn’t want to visit their Mimi (that's me) and experience a reality “Candyland” game with all kinds of forbidden pleasures like lollipops, Hershey Hugs and Kisses, cupcakes, brownies and all the sugary treats you can imagine...I mean I have a 7pound bag of Tootsie Rolls in my pantry right now...(yes...you read that correctly)...wait...be right back ....Ahhh better chewing a Tootsie Roll while blogging ...can't get any better than that!

My teaching style was and still is to keep all lessons dazzling, fun, hands on and whatever each child needs to learn and grow! I LOVE to differentiate instruction as much as I can! So...I am thinking that you may be wondering...OK.. how does all this relate to teaching and what do you mean by "Students are like a box of Cake-Pops or a Box Of Chocolates." Let's think about this...

Child Number 1:  Looks put together in every way...that beautifully decorated chocolate petite four...(or choose whichever one  you like) has hair perfect, outfit trendy and color coordinated with matching shoes, accessories and even the book bag matches and is monogrammed, but when you take a bite or see past the exterior, you may find something that is not quite the way you expected. Perhaps this student has some difficulties with reading, social issues, lacks confidence or might have some home issues. From the outside everything looks fabulous, but on the inside, this sweet kiddo is crying for support in some way! This is a child you want to help in any way you can.

Child Number 2:  Comes to school a little disheveled, hair needs to be brushed, backpack is a mess and unorganized somewhat like that piece of candy that your are not sure about...should I try it or not?  Kind of like the cake you tried to make, but just did not quite look the way you expected....but when you learn more about this child,  or take a bite out of your disastrous cake, you realize it still tastes awesome and like this child, it is sweet, caring and empathetic toward others or your your taste buds with the cake!  This child is much better that you thought or assumed.  So...on the outside things don't look quite right, but on the inside the cake or candy is as sweet and tasty as can be.

Child Number 3: This child has strong verbal skills and this piece of candy is calling your name...the candy is saying," Please taste me...I am delicious, I am scrumptious and am the one piece of candy you will love forever. You will think of me night and day..Yes that's me!"  This child can talk for hours about anything or any topic you bring up even if the chatting is not on topic at all.  This little one is screaming for attention.."Is my work good? Mrs. Simpson...Mrs. Simpson I am pulling on your shirt. Do you here me?Am I doing it correctly? Do you like this? I know that answer...call on me!"  This child is the one with whom you are trying to have willpower and support with the idea that we need to take turns, we need to wait our turn, we need to raise our hand when we have something to say....we need...we need...you fill in the blank__________! There are other pieces of candy that are just as good and I need to relax and have patience...that piece of candy or child is not the only piece in the box or classroom, but it is there...Can you see it or should I say, hear it calling your name? Yes that piece of candy keeps nagging at you and no matter where you are you hear it or see it or taste it!

Child Number 4:  This little one is the one that can't sit still.  This child runs from front to back and back to front. This one has difficulty staying in one spot...you see this little one in the reading center and then you turn around and he or she is not there.  The playground is difficult and many times there are issues because hands and feet wind up places they should not be.  This one goes in all directions and is never there when you want him or her for whatever you are doing. This is the candy that is gone before you open the box.  This piece of candy or cake pop is gone and cannot ever stay in its little confined spot in the box or in the cake pop stand.  This is the one that you need to have, but can never get it because some one else eats it first...you are determined to get that piece where it belongs in your mouth, but you are just not quick enough and the saga goes on!

All four of these children I have described need different things to help them become their best selves and it is our job to give them what they need.  I could go on and on about all the different pieces of chocolate that are in the box and the kiddos that we teach everyday, but I KNOW you get it and understand the comparison.

Let’s face it, each year we get a classroom full of kiddos as different as a box of chocolates...Each piece might look pretty much the same on the outside, but when you take a bite, you can see and taste the difference...all sugary and sweet, but oh so different in many ways!  You go home thinking and worrying about each of these children because you care and then you sit down to relax with a real box of chocolates and eat the entire box worrying about all the little cherubs who happily scamper into your classroom every morning and it starts all over again the next day...you try your best to figure out what will work with each of your students to make the progress and gains he or she needs and to make sure they all get exactly what they need.

I know it is hard to do what each child needs because you are only one person with a whole box of chocolates in front of you...AHHHH you could just eat the whole box at one shot, but you WILL probably be sorry in the end and get sick as well not to mention stressed at the outcome.  So my advice is just plan it out. Differentiate your lessons and start out slowly taking one idea at a time. Sometimes how you differentiate for one works with another and remember by the end of the year the box of chocolates is gone and you can say that you did your best because you took your time and continued to move in the right direction one at a time!  I remember about 28 years ago I had a student who wanted to know where we were going and when...so I made a schedule for him, but posted it across the front board so everyone could see it and use it..and guess what?  You know the answer...it was beneficial for everyone including ME!

Our job is not easy!  You have to take care of yourself as well as those kiddos not to mention your own children, if you have them...so with that being said...sit down and relax with a box of chocolates, or a few cake pops!

 Are you looking for a great fall activity to go along with the changing seasons? If you are, then you will LOVE this craft!  It is my absolute favorite activity for learning about the seasons. Oh and if you are wondering where I got this great Leaf photo, check out Arts n' Pix on TpT!

The activity I am going to share with you is absolutely one of my favorite activities to do when learning about fall, trees or apples. It is quick and easy, hands on and great for fine motor skills as well as learning about the seasons changing! I have done it with Kindergarten, First and Second Grade and Kindergarten-First Special Education...so I would venture to say that this wonderful...did I tell you that it is one of my favorite crafts to do and has been for probably over 20 years...yes you read that correctly...OVER 20 YEARS..back to what I was saying...this wonderful craft is great for ALL ages and Primary grades!

So here it is:  After reading a story about Apples; such as "The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree", discuss the changes an apple tree experiences all year long. Then have your students make the apple tress below and use one of the free writing frames in the freebie provided below and display the craft with the writing.    


Here is a free resource that you can use to for the writing piece:  

If you would like it, here is the link in my TpT Shop Sunshine and Lollipops Freebie for Fall!  ENJOY!!!

By the Way the great leaf photo came from one of my favorite TpT shops for Stock Photos. Check it out here: Arts n"Pix

What Can you do with a Pile of Leaves? 

There are so many things that YOU can do with a pile of leaves whether teaching from home or school. I have listed 11 of my all time favorites,but #6 and 9 are definitely on the top of the list! Let's bring Science to life!!

Hello there!  Ahhhh the school year is in full swing and now you can enjoy your surroundings...NOT... if you are a teacher, you really won't be able to fully enjoy anything until June, but that being said, I am retired so for me:  It's that time of year when you feel a cool breeze sweep against your face as you walk in the early morning hours amidst the beautiful orange, yellow and brown hues that are all around you. You can hear the leaves rustle against the sidewalk as you meander along. You feel energized by this beautiful morning...YES...It's FALL, one of my most favorite seasons!  

The beautiful leaves are all around and the colors are magnificent here on the east coast.  If you live somewhere that does experience the changing of seasons, then YOU are missing a beautiful scene.(Just sayin') 

We are so lucky here to be able to see the seasons change although I have to admit if we could just have fall and spring I would be fine. I cannot tolerate extreme cold or heat!

Well... there is one major downfall of fall... there are A LOT of leaves, leaves everywhere...on the lawn, in the streets, on the sidewalks, in my hair, in the house, on the porch and some are still in the trees! So if you are like me...you walk by these beautiful, crunchy, vibrant leaves and say..."Oh, the possibilities...Oh My, there are so many educational activities that can be done with a pile of leaves!!! isn't that what all teachers do or is it just me...NO...I KNOW for a fact that...YES...that IS what you do!
So here goes...What Can You Do With a Pile of Leaves?

1.  Count the leaves.

2.  After discussing attributes or a math lesson that teaches attributes with blocks etc. Give partners or small groups a small pile of different kinds of leaves and encourage critical thinking by asking them to graph the leaves by whatever attribute they would like.  Then glue the leaves down in a graphing pattern. Some ways they might graph are color, shape, size and whatever they can think of!
     3.  Trace a larger  leaf on some inch or cm graph paper and determine the estimated area of the leaf. Then discuss the ways in which the students decided to count the graph paper squares to determine the area.

  4.  Read the story Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  Give each child a batch of leaves or have each child pick a bunch of leaves and then create a  leaf __________. In the past some of my first graders made Leaf Men, Leaf Fish, Leaf Insects, Leaf Cars...Leaf whatever they can imagine, Glue the creations onto construction paper and use the frames in this packet to write about the creation. The sheets are differentiated so you can decide which sheet works best for each child.

Leaves,leaves falling down...leaves,leaves all around... Gently swaying up and down!If you live in an area where the leaves change colors, then these activities are for you...so many activities and projects to do with leaves. My favorite is #8.

5.  Give each child one leaf, but as many different leaves as you can find on your school property and have them try to find the tree that matches their leaf.  

6.  Read the book Red Leaf Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert and then go on a leaf hunt to find all the leaves that are mentioned in the booklet that is  included in this packet that I created to go along with the text. My kiddos LOVE doing this!

7.  Pick two leaves and use the Venn diagram to compare and contrast the attributes of each.

8.  Adopt and tree and watch it change. Go out each season and draw the tree as the ear progresses. Each time you draw I partner share and compare and contrast the changes. Use the paper provided to observe the changes and write about them.

9.  Plant and acorn and see what happens.

10.  Trim the stem of a yellow leaf and put it in green food coloring and predict what will happen.

11. Let a pile of leaves sit in your room and predict what will happen.

12.  Add you own ideas!!!

13.  Oh and let's not forget: Jumping in the leaves and of course playing Hide and Seek!

What Can You do with a Pile of Leaves was created years ago when I attended a summer/science workshop at an Environmental Center.  

I have always loved nature, the beauty of it and the vibrant colors that surface each fall are amazing. 

With that being said, here are a few of my favorite leaf activities...updated of course and ready to print and use. 

They are aligned with Common Core that goes without saying as really almost anything you do can be found in the Common Core standards. As you become an old girl like me, you will realize that really everything is aligned it is the assessments, testing, more testing and MORE testing that has really changed!

This is a Great mini-unit to get your kiddos outside and moving, which we all know is so important in today’s world.

Check out the entire activity:  What Can You Do with a Pile of Leaves? TpT
                                                 What Can You Do with a Pile of Leaves? TN

Bring Science to life...your kiddos will love it!!

Feeling included is so important in today's society. There are so many ways teachers can achieve this. I have chosen to focus on 3 ways to help students become active members of of your classroom community and feel included.  I KNOW you WILL LOVE #3...well actually all 3!

When Robin Williams played Lance Clayton in "World's Greatest Dad" in 2009, one of his lines read:

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone."

This quote made me think of some of the children we teach daily in our classrooms. Children who are there with everyone around them, but may not feel included or may feel all alone and self conscious around others.

So with that in mind, here are a few ideas to help encourage children to feel included and not disconnected from their peers.

1. Morning Meetings:  Having a Morning Meeting or Circle Time everyday encourages children to feel included in the classroom community and that they are important and valued.

A Morning Meeting or Circle Time can consist of a greeting where children greet each other with a smile, wink, handshake, elbow shake, silly voice etc.; a sharing time where children share a special moment or news; an activity or quick game that encourages working together; such as, Charades, One different, Pass the Football and any game that promotes building community, which really is most whole class games.

Last, include a class message to which can be used as a mini lesson to introduce language arts and math skills and strategies.

2.  Mailbox:  I have a mailbox in my classroom and I encourage children to write notes to me or draw pictures.

As they finish their work they put it in my mailbox and close the door so I know there is mail in it. (You can also use a basket, decorated shoebox or any container you might have.)

After opening the letters and or pictures, I post the pictures on my "Photo Wall" and put the letters in a basket on my desk.

Of course I make sure to tell how much I love the picture or letter! 

Children love to write letters and draw pictures.  Let's face it, the letter writing is a great way to encourage children to write.

One day when I opened my mailbox I found a letter in the mailbox. It read:

"Dear Mis Simson, Iam having trubl macking frends.  Can you halp me? luv,_______" 

The letter broke my heart!  I chatted with her privately and together we came up with a plan for her to have a recess buddy to make her feel included and we also had some role playing during Morning Meeting on how to make friends.

Soon after I received another letter that read:  "Thank you for halping me. I hav lots of frends and fell happe!"

This tiny gesture of having a place where children can express their feelings through writing made a difference.  It gave children a safe place to express their feelings in a private way!

I used an outdoor metal mailbox and decorated it!

3. Strengths:
Sometimes children, who walk through your doors, may display some behavioral or social issues.  However, you CAN make a difference!

Find something that is positive about each child that enters your classroom and focus on it.

If you teach first or second grade, these children have only been on this earth 6-8 years! That is not very long. They are just learning how to cope with and make sense of the world around them.  

One year I had a child who had difficulty with socialization. She would exclude herself from all group activities. However, this same child was an extraordinary artist. Her pictures were amazing. I encouraged her to draw pictures for me and then I would hang them on my wall.  The other children began to notice them and compliment her on her drawings.  She became known as the class artist and everyone wanted her to draw pictures for them. A boost of confidence? Absolutely! Did she feel included? Of course!

One more short story. I also had a child who always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time...sound familiar? '

He got into fights on the playground, was loud, pushed, and eventually became a child that I received many notes and phone calls about from parents.

One day I had a thought...which happens now and then....I was reading with him in Guided Reading and I asked him if he might want to be our guest reader on Friday.

Usually this spot was reserved for parents, but no one was scheduled on this Friday. I asked him to pick his favorite book and he could read it to the class.  When Friday came, he was so excited! I Prayed that he would not have a bad day and wind up suspended, which he had been in the past...not a usual occurrence for first grade!

The afternoon came and he was still in my class...PHEW...so far so good.   He made it through specials, lunch and recess without a problem. It was time for guest reader and everyone was so surprised and a bit excited when I told them who it was!

There they were staring at our friend wide-eyed and ready to listen! They sat as quiet as mice listening to him read and read he did...expression, inflection, and even asked questions as he read. ( Oh my! I guess he really did pay attention when I read aloud!) After he read, his classmates raised their hands and asked questions about the story, but they also asked questions like, "How did you learn to read so good? "Can we partner read a story together sometime?"

Yes, he was now viewed as a great reader and children began to ask him to read things they could not or to help with spelling a word and to work together. 

I wish I could say that this solved all his problems, but it did do something...it made him feel included and I did see a difference in his behavior...actually a HUGE difference. We still had behavioral chats and he and I became "best buds"...he knew I cared and he really did try his best and really what else could a teacher ask for?

I bump into him once in a while and he gives me a huge smile and hug...actually he is almost as tall as I am now!!

So as your students walk through your classroom door,  I am asking you to find something positive about each child, dwell on the strengths they have, make them feel good about who they are and make them active members of your classroom community!  It will make a difference!

It is here...what you have all been waiting for...YES that is right...without further ado...here is the classroom reveal of Room 102...Whoo Hoo
If you ask me, that is a silly question because this is what YOU have been waiting for...at least I hope it is what you are waiting for...I know, I know, it took a bit longer than you expected, but really you will not be sorry you waited. You will Love what we have done with Room 102.

Now, do you remember what it looked a few weeks back?  Let me refresh your memory:

Now, you remember, right?  A move to a "new" room, a "new" school and over 100 boxes later, this is what Katie walked into...now you can only imagine the stress and the washing machine feeling in her stomach,(and mine) not to mention, that overwhelmed feeling...are you following me here?  Remembering the Motto: " baby steps!" Also "inch by inch is a cinch, mile by mile won't make you smile," my daughter and I dug into this classroom and turned it into THIS:
Are you READY?  Close your eyes and count to 5...no peeking now...scroll down and VOILA! Well actually there are tons of pictures so voila does not really work because it wasn't magic, it WAS hard work, blood, sweat and tears...wait...I am exaggerating...it was a challenge...So without further ado 
(just looked this up to make sure it was the correct spelling and use PHEW!).  Here is ROOM 102!

Room 102's REST STOP...the fan has been turned in for an air conditioner!! WHOOO HOOO!
Relax...take a break on this tropical Beach complete with sensory fidgets and Sunshine Bear to hug..(He is not in the photo).

Happy Birthday to me....complete with birthday certificates and will be finished by the kiddos when they add their own cupcakes under the month of their birthday that they will create!!

Behavior Management Board to encourage good choices!! 

I am here! What do I do NOW?  Some visual directions to support classroom routines!!
Let's Take Off and Learn New Words:  Surfboard letters with beginning sound pictures to support learning!
Is your voice too loud?  Check the Sufin' voice meter written with Surfin' Language...if you are cranking your voice is right where it should be, but sometimes activities require a 'Flat" voice or quiet!
Some classroom rules that will be created and discuss ed with the class and then they will sign their name on a sheet that looks like these, but is  BLANK!
Can't have Kindergarten classroom without a place to read.  Here is the classroom reading spot complete with Boomer, the class dog to read with and some other fun characters: Horton, Curious George and a fave giraffe!  You may notice some blank bulletin boards...well these will be decorated with the class with Hopes and Dreams, great work and favorite books...it is important to have some boards that the class can decorate so they feel a part of your classroom community and will then take ownership of their "space!"
Morning routines such as calendar, day of school and Morning Meeting will take place right up front...check out the rug!

 Responsive Language cards so we all remember the best words to use when supporting students in the classroom.
Let's not forget to be organized with our supplies...visible, organized and ready!!!

We can't forget our Beanie Baby Strategies...right beside the Guided Reading Table...convenient and ready to be pulled down and used when needed to reinforce or teach a reading strategy!

Taking care of ourselves is so important. So, right beside and behind Katie's desk are some inspirational/motivational quotes to make everyone who enters the room leave with a smile. At the end of the day, they can be read to realize that it really was a great day and leave the classroom with a smile!

We can't forget to make each student welcome as they enter Room 102 so there are some wonderful reminders that start with: "When you Surf into this classroom you are"...
And last,but not least here is the artwork on the right side of the door: "Let's surf into Kindergarten!" Sometime during the first week of school, Katie will place pictures of her students decked out like surfers and place them in the windows and of course...the teachers will be driving the VAN!
 And a few extra pictures to add to the plethora we have that we decided NOT to add to this POST!

So there you have it...Katie is ready to "surf into the year" and crank the waves with her kiddos in Room 102.  We would LOVE to hear your comments or maybe share an idea you are using for your classroom that relates to setting up and decor...we hope you have a sufin' good year!

OOPS! before I forget if you are interested in any of the ideas that we have used to decorate check them out here:
Classroom Routines: We are Here. What NOW?

Classroom Supply Labels

Inspirational Quote BUNDLE

Kindergarten Word Wall Surf theme

Classroom management Sit Smart Posters

All about Feelings Used for Rest Stop Lessons

Name Plates

Classroom Decor: Surf into Learning!

Happy Birthday to ME!

I Can Make Good Choices

Sunshine and Lollipops Resources