Let's Get Inspired Before We Start the Year!

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

An InLinkz Link-up

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Be positive...Think Positive...Stay Positive...You Have Nothing to Lose!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Back to School…We are Alike and We are Different

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

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

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You are Appreciated!

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

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First Day Am I Ready? Tried and True Ideas, Activities and Tips

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

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

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

So many ideas cluttering my brain...HELP!

Now that's better...you have all your ideas stacked, 

filed, prepared and ready to go!
AHHHHH heaven...ready to choose 
which pair will work best for each outfit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Editable First Day Newsletter

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

This Freebie packet can be found on my 

TpT Sunshine and Lollipops shop.

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

Let's Make Some Memories

Back to School An activity for the First Day of School

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



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