Happy New Year! Let's Take a Look at my Top 5 Resources for 2016

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!


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Are you Wondering if Your Child is Ready for Kindergarten?

A question that many parents of almost kindergarten aged child ask is: How do I know if my child is ready for Kindergarten? Take a look at this Checklist and see if your little one is ready for the Kindergarten journey!

A question that many parents of almost kindergarten aged child ask is: How do I know if my child is ready for Kindergarten?  In fact my own daughter and her friends have asked me this question many times as their children approach the big 5.  It can be a tough call especially because today's Kindergarten is more like first grade was when my kiddos were in school.

As you know, Kindergarten in the year 2016 is definitely more work and less play even though some research has shown that it might be better to have less work and more play.  As a former primary teacher, I have created a checklist to encourage you to think about Kindergarten readiness and to ponder the ever present question:  Is my child ready for the Kindergarten Journey?  Check out my latest post and the full checklist on Educents Guidance .  Now you can start the decision making process and use this checklist to see is your child has the readiness skills in place to begin the Kindergarten Journey.

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It Can be a Tough Situation: 5 Effective Tips for Dealing with a Child with Anger Issues

 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!

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5 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy Your Kids

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!

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Oh...No...You Have a Child Home Sick...Try These 5 Lifesaving Sick Day Activities for Kids to Save the Day

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!

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#8daysofchristmas Dollar Deals...Happy Holidays

 Just search #8daysofchristmas in the TpT search bar and take a look at all the Frosty Dollar Deals offered by so many great TpT authors.  If you want to see the deals i have picked especially for you, then click here...you will love the variety and the savings.  Have a great winter break and a Happy 2017!
As a thank you for all your support and love this year, many of my colleagues want to say Happy Holidays and celebrate the JOY you have given us by always walking with us and beside us...I know that my shop would not be where it is today without all of YOU.  So here is the line up of great dollar deals that you can find on Sunshine and Lollipops  just search #8daysofchristmas and you will find all these joyful deals for $1.00.
Day 1, December 12th :  Winter Fun Roll and Cover Dice Games :  This fun Math game is a variety of Fact Dice Games with a Holiday and Winter theme for addition and subtraction created for first grade, but can be used as reinforcement of enrichment for other grades.

What’s Included:
Fun Addition and Subtraction Dice Games.Dice AdditionDice SubtractionAdding DoublesAdding Doubles +1Adding Doubles +2Adding 3 NumbersAdding 10Subtracting Doubles -1Subtracting 10

Day 2, December 13th:  Holidays Around the World with a Power Point Companion :  This packet of Winter Holidays Around the World can be used as an addition to an existing unit or simply by itself.  

Here’s What is Included:
  • A cover for a folder or booklet if you choose to use this in that way.
  • A summary sheet written in easier language about the following holidays: Christmas. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, St. Lucia Day, La Befana, Diwali and Las Posadas and a craft idea for each holiday.
  • Writing response sheets for each holiday.
  • A passport and information sheets that can be used.
  • A response writing activity for children to choose a holiday that they don’t celebrate that might be fun for them.
  • A Compare and Contrast partner activity to chat about how they are alike and different in how they celebrate a holiday here in the US.
  • A newly added Power Point Companion to support the pages.
  • Fun for everyone!!!
Day 3, December 14th: First 100 Fry Words Practice:  Sight Word Practice Fun was created for Kindergarten and first grade but can easily be used as an intervention or reinforcement for sight word recognition. It contains the first 100 Sight Words. It can be used as a packet or you can run off pages by word to reinforce a particular word with which a student needs to work. It is easy to differentiate with this sight word packet! It can also be used as a homework packet.

Here's What's Included:
  • Each word is written on the top of the page and the student is asked to color the word.
  • Then the student colors the boxes that contain the designated letters to make up the word
  • Reads traces and writes the word.
  • Reads a sentence that contains the word and then circles the word in the sentence. 
  • There is also a picture to color that supports the written sentence
Day 4, December 15th:  Social Emotional Growth: All about Feelings:  This packet was created to help students express their feelings and to support or think of strategies to help children understand their feelings and why they might feel a certain way in a certain situation.

What's Included:
  • Covers if you decide to make the pages into a booklet or class book.
  • 12 pages about feelings with a blank page to add any feeling desired
  • Feelings included are: grumpy, sad, mad, frustrated,too excited, tired, embarrassed, happy, surprised and jealous.
  • Pages to go into the “Cool Down” Spot with selections of what they can do to help themselves feel better and get rid of those “muddy feelings”.
  • An original poster/poem for the “Cool Down” Spot.
  • An original poem entitled: Feelings Come and Feelings Go.
  • Various ways to present “Feeling Strips” for students to show you how they feel each day with frames and ideas as well as larger icons to use and an            example of how it might be used in the classroom.
  • Cards with ideas to calm down that can be laminated and placed into the Cool Down Area.
  • FYI... any book about feelings can be used with this resource.
Expressing feeling is such an important life skill. Let’s not forget to support this in the midst of all the academic requirements!  Enjoy!

Day 5, December 16th:  Writing Prompts and Frames...Daily Writing Activities for Journals and MORE!  These writing activities are Common Core Aligned and fun for your first graders.
What’s Included:
  • An anchor Chart On How to Spell a Word.
  • 5 small posters with words to help young writers. I can… I like…When I Grow Up I want to be…My Favorite thing to do…My Favorite Color…
  • 64 writing prompts with starter ideas with room for a picture and writing Some examples are: My favorite season, feelings: I feel sad when, A time I felt proud, My favorite day, week, month, I can, I like, What I know about________, When I grow up, How to make a ____________ and much, much, more
  • One complete page with writing lines to run off 2-sided with prompts. This way if students want to write more they can.
  • 30 cards with writing ideas, pictures and words to assist young writers. These I put in a basket or “Treasure Chest” to choose.
  • Ideas to last a LONG Time that aligned with Common Core!!  Enjoy!  Remember all these resources are $1.00 on the designated days!

These Writing frames were originally created for a student with special needs who used assistive technology. We needed to find a way for him to participate more fully in the writing program. With these frames, he was able to point to a picture to answer a question and then color it. If he was reluctant to point, we could ask him the answer by the teacher pointing and him nodding or using his computer responding yes or no. We actually used these frames for other students who were reluctant to write or had difficulty writing. It really made a difference and seemed to support each writer as needed. It solved the communication problem in the classroom and made it easier for some of these students to write.

Each page has a writing response starter and pictures to choose to answer the question or fill in the response. The child circles the picture that responds to his/her answer and then colors it. There is also a word box with words to partially represent the pictures. The students can use the word box to help them with their writing and if needed, they can circle words they might want to use in their writing.  Enjoy!!

We all know how many times a child needs to see a sight word before it is completely memorized and fluent. These practice pages will make sight word recognition fun and repetition easy as children color, cut and glue words form the bottom of each sheet to create complete sentences to read. Each sentence has the same words repeated in the same sentence 4 times, but each time the child supplies a different picture with word label to construct the sentence. This will become a growing bundle starting in 2017...so if you pick it up for a dollar, you will receive all the updates without paying any additional cost even when the price is higher as I add more activities!!  This is a goody!!!

This Classroom Behavior Management Social Stories and Skills Bundle includes 5 Social Skill stories that are sold separately in my shop. There are actually 6 resources, but one includes 2 social stories. One story is about outdoor recess and the other is about indoor recess. These resources wee especially created for a Kindergarten Special Education classroom, but can be used in any classroom from Pre-K to 2nd grade as you can discuss these stores as you read them with your entire class as a Power Point or individually on the computer and ask questions according to the needs of your class or individual students. That is the beauty of this resource. It can be used in many ways...your choice! Each of these resources have been used in classrooms with great results!!! Teachers will sometimes reread the recess stories right before going out to recess as a reminder or after a child has a meltdown due to some specific social situation.

Here are some ideas for use:

As a counseling session 
School psychology session
For English Language learners
For specific social situations
For class Meetings about a particular situation
For discussion points on behaviors
To help parents understand the behavioral expectations
For ELL parents to understand the behavioral expectations as the picture give a clear understanding.

I hope you find some resources that you can use in your classroom. Wishing you a Joyous Holiday Season and a year filled with happiness and good fortune!!!  Happy Holidays and THANK YOU!!

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Looking for some Holiday and Winter Resources? Here you GO..

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!

video   video
Find my Holiday and Winter  resources  Here


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Teachers Pay Teachers Wishlist LINKY...Top Wishlisted Resources Cyber Sale

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


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6 Tips to Promote Calm in your Classroom ...We Can ALL Use a Bit of Calmness in Our Lives

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!


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Happy Thanksgiving!

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:


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A Cute Paper Bag Turkey with a Recipe...Cute or What?

Here is a cute turkey craft that you can make at school before Wednesday or at home with your own kiddos...Enjoy!

Well...I have to admit I am a little late with this cute craft, but if you are still in school until Tuesday or Wednesday, you still have time to make this centerpiece. ( I am making it with my daughter's Kinders tomorrow!)  If you really want to make it special, type up the recipe for Leftover Turkey here or here is another recipe to use. To make it even easier, just type up the URL link and don't forget to add this one...my favorite!!! BUT...the turkey centerpiece is fine alone and is so cute!!
Oh...if you are not in school or a homeschooler, have your kids make it at home as a Thanksgiving fun craft. i have created this with my grandkids and they LOVED it!!!

I hear you...you just looked at this cute craft and said out loud, " I LOVE this Turkey Craft and I want to make it tomorrow...so how do I do that?"  Never fear...the directions are right here.

  • Brown Paper Lunch-sized bags
  • Google Eyes
  • Red, Yellow, Brown and Yellow Construction Paper

  • Markers and Crayons
  • A Wooden Spoon to use as a tracer to make the turkey head tracers for kids to use.
  • Copies of recipes or note with URL's for Leftover Turkey Recipe(optional).
  1. Use a Wooden Spoon to trace as many turkey heads as you want to have for your class to share.
  2. Make or find a Diamond shape to make tracers for the beak and quickly draw a turkey foot, which can be made by tracing your pointer, middle and ring finger at the tips and add a curve at the bottom. Your tracers might look something like this:
  3. Using a paper cutter cut strips of various colors of construction paper about 1"x 9 to use for legs and 1/2" x 9" from red paper for the gobblers.
  4. Give each child a paper bag and have them decorate the outside of the bag.
5.  Children trace 1 head, 1 beak and 2 feet on red, yellow, 
     orange or brown construction paper cut smaller for each 
     part of the turkey.
6.  Children trace their hands on a choice color construction 
     paper and put aside. These will be feathers. 
7.  Give each child a red gobbler and 2 legs. Now they have 
     all the parts they need to create their turkey.
8.  Have children fold the top of their bag down so it does not
     cover their design and glue the head on top; fold the beak 
     in half and glue onto head.  
9.  Roll the gobbler around a pencil to "curl" it and glue it on
     top of the beak.

10.  Glue 2 google eyes on the head above the beak, glue traced hands on each side of the turkey's 
       body for wings, glue feet on the strips for legs. Children can fold or curl legs as desired. 
       AND....drum roll please....here is the end result (hopefully).

 Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your family and remember to be thankful for all the blessings you have in your life and there are many!!!


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Parent Conferences, Data, Report Cards...OH NO! OH YES! 8 SWEET Tips to have the BEST Conferences Yet!!

Parent Conferences, Data, Report Cards...OH NO!  OH YES!  8 SWEET Tips to have the BEST Conferences Yet!! If you follow these SWEET tips, your conferences will so as smooth as icing a cake...well even icing a cake can be a little lumpy...let's just say these tips will help your parent/teacher conferences go as smooth as possible. i KNOW you will love #4 and you are probably already doing #2! Here's to some fabulous conference this year!

Well...it is that time of year again...you know the time when eager parents want to see how their children are progressing in school.  Now..I have over 30 years experience with parent conferences as a teacher not to mention the ones I have attended as a parent and I would be lying if I said," Oh all my conferences were as sweet as sugar...no sour spots here! You just tell the parents how their little cherubs are doing and that's that...WRONG!"  Having a great Teacher/Parent conference takes a little more than that, but if you follow a few of these easy sweet steps, which I am sure some of you are already doing or at least thinking about, your conferences will go down in the books as the BEST EVER...well maybe I am exaggerating a little bit...let's just say you won't go home crying your eyes out like I did my first year even though I was told I did a fabulous job with a very difficult parent...the stress was so high before, during and after this conference...at least it was my last one for the night....that I got home, ran upstairs and literally cried my eyes out and then picked myself up, wiped my tears and started all over the next day. That's the teacher spirit! (I may have to write a blog abut my most memorable conferences sometime soon...30 years encourages many, many interesting conference stories to say the least!)

So here are a few tips that can be easily incorporated into your already fabulous conference ideas:

1. Be Prepared and remember parents are onlyconcerned about their child.  You may have
15-30 or more students in your class, but the only child who is the most important to them is THEIR child.  So make sure you take a few minutes to jot down some positives and some areas with which the child needs to work. You can certainly make up your own frame, but here is one I have used to help me have some notes on hand to glance at as needed. Have all data ready to go to show baselines, progress, reading levels and whatever else is important to you as a teacher and your district guidelines.  I also send a reflection sheet home prior to conferences so parents can jot down what they may want to chat about. They return it to school and then you can use this as a guide and be proactive during your conference.

PS.  Have as conference schedule hanging outside your door, chairs for waiting, class books to browse as parents wait, lots of KID work displayed outside your classroom. Inside the classroom, have a BIG bowl of candy, some Sticky Notes for you and anyone else who might need to take notes, a duplicate schedule with phone numbers and times as well as a file with everything in conference order.        

2. Always start the conversation with an enthusiastic handshake and "It is so great to see you again!" or "Oh my Johnny looks just like you!"  Something positive to encourage light conversation. Eye contact and a welcoming phrase will make everyone feel more comfortable and add a little SUNSHINE to the opening greeting.

3.  Start the conference on a positive note.  A compliment about their child, a cute story jotted down the other day in your notes as it was happening....anything you can think of....."Mia was so helpful the other day when Julia fell on the playground......."

4.  Another Tip for adding a bit of positivity:  For about 25 years or so, I have always started my
conferences with a self-reflection sheet either written or in Kindergarten dictated depending on the student's level along with a self-portrait. This has been extremely successful over the years.  First, parent LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see their children's portraits and when they read the self-evaluation about what their best
work is in school and what they think they might need to do better, they are right on and funny to boot. I have the students use kid writing and then edit on a sticky as needed so we can read them together...we always have a blast with this!

5. Have a portfolio of student work ready to show as you are going through strengths and weaknesses so parents can see first hand and understand what you mean.  I always had these ready to share right under the self-evaluation sheet so I was able to pull them out and then "show and tell" starting with the strengths so when you get to some "areas of concern," the parents know you are positive, like their child and are working to support and help them.  I will never forget a conference I attended as a support for a parent and when I asked, "Can you tell us something positive about Lilly...we know she is social and has a great imagination, but what about her academic strengths?" and the teacher replied...and I kid you not..."What do you mean?" So, then I began to chat about the positives and strengths I noticed in her work...."  I wasn't even the teacher...I was along for the ride.  You can imagine the conversation in the car on the way home...this goes back to the old Girl Scout Rule:  BE PREPARED!

6.  Think of positive ways to say something that might be a bit negative...this does not mean to SUGAR COAT!!  You need to be honest with parents. They deserve the truth about their child even if the truth is difficult to express. Just think of a positive way to say it!  For example:  Instead of saying Johnny is running all over the classroom, interrupting his classmates and will not stop.  He is always in motion...you might say:  Johnny enjoys movement in and around the classroom.  He loves to visit and chat with his classmates. We are working with Johnny to understand when is the best time or appropriate time in our schedule to socialize with his classmates. You are basically saying the same thing, but in a more positive way.

7.  Ask what the parents are seeing at home so you can understand their situation a bit more. Sometimes parents will share something that is going on at home that may explain some of the actions or behaviors you are seeing at school. Parents are busy, too and sometimes their own personal lives are filled with ups and downs that they may have simply forgot to mention!  I am sure that if you see behaviors that are unusual from a child, you will call the parent, but perhaps this just started to surface a day ago and your antennae are posed and ready to zoom in.  You can learn so much from giving a listening ear to a parent or guardian.

8.  Send parents home with a list or checklist of what they can do to support their child at home.  You can have a generic form or a checklist where you simply think of each child and check off what parents might need to do at home to support their child.

End on a positive 
note:  "I am so glad that we were able to chat about Johnny's progress today! I am thrilled he is in my class this year! He makes me smile everyday!  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns OR I will contact you in a few days to let you know the results of ...OR to share how things are going..." SMILE, SMILE, SMILE...NEXT PLEASE! Here's to some SWEET, Fabulous Parent Conferences...Let's Go!!!

Free Sample of Some of the Conference Sheets mentioned above. ENJOY!

A  complete parent teacher communication resource for your convenience with forms that you can use all year long.    

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