Happy New year 2019

I thought this would be a great quote to start the NEW YEAR!

A teacher is a blessing to all those she/he teaches...sometimes you have to retire like I did to realize just how much of an impact you have had on the children you have taught.

It seems that retirement allows you the opportunity to stop, slow down, unplug and remember all the little faces of the past and just how blessed you are... to be a teacher!!

( I used the present tense because one thing I have found out is... once a teacher...always a teacher!) 

I hope you all have a Happy Healthy New Year and a fabulous 2019 with all your students!!!

Remember...you DO make Difference!





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Fun Educational Days to Celebrate in November



Wow! I blinked and it was November....where did October go annnnnnddddd everyone is forgetting November because Michael's had Thanksgiving items for 50 % off and the entire store was decorated for December Holidays on October 31st same for Home Goods!!!

I can't even think about December yet...November just started...this is cray cray!!

With that being said, I want to quickly give you some fun days in November you can celebrate at home or with your students. I am not including Thanksgiving because that is a well know holiday!

So...Here we go!  4 Fun Days to  Celebrate in November!

1.  Did you Know that November 8th is STEM/STEAM DAY?

Here are a few ideas from a post I created for Educents a few years back that gives y'all some great ideas to use with Music and general questions to support STEM/STEAM learning!  






Everyday activities at home or in school can be fun and transformed into STEM challenges with the right questions to motivate STEM thinking!

Use of the correct questioning technique can encourage your kiddos to think outside the box!



Most children love music and when they are encouraged to create their own musical instruments STEAM learning is ignited and your little ones or older ones will be take off and create their own beats and songs that will make everyone want to get up and dance!




2.  I am pretty sure that most of your classrooms have a set or 2 of Dominoes.  Guess what?  November 10th is Domino Day!

AND......I am willing to guess that you might have more than 2 sets depending on the Math program your district uses...am I right?

I am sure your brain is bursting with ideas for Domino Day, but just incase your brain is fried from teaching all week, here are a few ideas:

I thought this was a bit different in that the sums are provided and the kiddos have to find the part/part that equals the sum to complete the puzzle or game.


This Domino resource is exactly one of the ways that I used Dominoes in my classroom to learn math facts. The Kiddos loved it and it became a popular choice activity after our "Have to" math was completed!  



Another fun idea might be to play dominoes exactly the way the kids love to play them and we all know what that is...simply line them up and knock them down. You might even want to time them and see if they can arrange the dominoes in a different way to beat the clock or who has the longest run of dominoes knock down. Here is a fun one I found that is just fun to watch!

Any way you decide to celebrate Domino Day will be fun for everyone...oh and before I forget, here is a Wikipedia about dominoes. You can pick out a few ideas to share with your kiddos: Dominoes


3.  Veteran's Day is celebrated on November 11th!  Why not teach your students about the meaning of Veteran's Day? 

Here is a great video that explains Veterans Day


Here is a cute and easy idea for your little learners or not so little learners:
Tissue paper crumbled flag and a cute poem you can copy to use.

For the flags simply use white
8 1/2 x 11 cardstock.  If you are doing these with an older class, you can create the flag with the correct amount of stripes, but with 5 or 6 year olds, I would just worry about making sure there are red stripes with white between them.

The blue tissue won't really matter as long as it looks proportional. Older children can try to fit 50 stars, which are simply small silver sticky stars.
The poem is an easy one that is written in kid friendly language.  You might want to use it as a morning message and look for rhyming words, 1-2 or 3 syllable words and any skill you are working on with your class.

This is a great anchor chart for Veteran's Day that really summarizes the day!




Here are a few Great books about Veterans Day:



4.  We can't forget World Kindness Day!

Teaching kids kindness is so important for building community and character education.
I firmly believe that we should celebrate kindness every single day of our lives.  
Here is a post that I wrote last year that I thought would be perfect to share with you here:  

5 ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Primary Classroom That Will Make you Smile

5. OOPS! I almost forgot about Button Day! 

Yes in 1938 November 16th was set aside as National Button Day to celebrate those who collected buttons. Here is a cute craft with some math and ELA ideas to have a little fun with buttons!
So there you have it...a few awesome days with educational ideas to integrate into your daily learning to bring a little fun back into education while still teaching Common Core Standards.

What other days do you celebrate in November?

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3 Special Days to Celebrate in October

We all know a few days in October that are fun to celebrate in our classrooms. Obviously, if you are a primary teacher, you can find lots of days to celebrate in many ways. With Common Core coming our way, it is a bit more difficult to bring fun activities in to our classrooms. BUT...I think and I am sure you will agree that there are a plethora of ways to have fun with Common Core and there are definitely some Special Days to celebrate in October besides Halloween.


Sooooooo what days can be celebrated in school during October? 


Here are some ideas and activities for Special days to celebrate in October and still have a bit of fun learning in your classroom:

🎃 Did you know that October 4th is Taco Day?  

Here is a cute book and craft to celebrate this tasty taco treat.


  • Before reading the story, you can access prior knowledge to find out what your students know about tacos, what their favorite taco is and maybe where they like to buy or eat their tacos.
  • During reading stop every so often to have your students think, pair, share as you ask questions, have students make predictions or inferences as well as answer some questions about the text. Here is a fun interactive Reading Resource with ideas for use that you might want to use for shared reading for this text or any text!

  •  

🎃 We all know that this year(2019) Columbus Day or Indigenous People Day, as it is referred to now, is celebrated October 14th.

Here are a few Ideas to Celebrate Christopher Columbus that focus on Exploration:

Here is a way to bring out the Explorer in your students.

What would you explore and why?  Then...turn them into explorers.  

Be an Explorer

christopher Columbus was an explorer and most children LOVE to explore anything and everything.  This craft is super fun to talk about explorers














🎃 Another Fun Day to celebrate is PUMPKIN DAY.


Did you know that National Pumpkin Day is October 26th? 


Let's take a look at a few ideas for Pumpkin Day which is celebrated right before Halloween...perfect Timing!

This pumpkin resource includes everything you need to celebrate pumpkins from facts to opinions, measuring, graphing and more.  check it out Right here

Need some Great Books to go along with Pumpkins? 

here are 4 of my faves:  

1.  How Many Seeds in a Pumpkins works fabulous with Pumpkin "Fun"tivities. Read it before you do the measuring activities. it is super for making predictions and works great with the interavtive props and ideas!

2.  Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie is great text to use to learn about how pumpkins grow and for facts and opinions about pumpkins.

 
3.  The Biggest Pumpkin Ever is another great story that is fun to use as a shared reading and the kiddos LOVE it!

4. My all time favorite book is the The Little Woman who wasn't Afraid of Anything.


I used this as an interactive shared reading with props and you could hear a pin drop as we shared the story and acted out the parts with  real items! 












Here is a link for Ideas to go along with this book!
Let's Get Interactive!

Well...there you have it! 3 Special Days to Celebrate in October...NEXt uP Some fun days to celebrate in November!

Have a great October!

Make this October the BEST EVER!


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Special Days to Celebrate in September!

So...Most teachers are back to school and are even in the middle of a Fall break! where did the days go? I know around these parts, teachers have had their Back to School Night and are pretty much ready to dig a little deeper whether it be 6 weeks of modeling and practicing expected behaviors for Daily routines or digging deep into teaching, introducing homework or whatever your district is expecting you to do!

Well...I though I might just give you a few ideas for September that are tried and true by the enthusiasm of my past students or ones I have found searching around! (being retired, I have tons of time to search and find!)  Who am I kidding?...I have less time now than I did when I was teaching full time!  But that is a story for another time!😍

So...some September Ideas that are NOT Back to School Ideas...

🍎 Let's start with a few ideas for Johnny Appleseed!  

Let's face it Fall would not be fall without talking about those red delicious apples and Johnny Appleseed. This is a great blog for all book related resources and this blogger is offering some free ideas...Check her out and scoop up some ideas especially this one!  




🍎  Here is another comprehensive Johnny Appleseed Resource that includes some tasty delights:
Have fun tasting apples and apple treats, reading a math themed book about Johnny Appleseed and MORE...OH and your kiddos will be making a Johnny Appleseed paper bag puppet, too!
 


🍎  My colleagues and I always LOVED to Dress up for the occasion even if it wasn't Halloween.

This fun idea shows a costume idea to become Johnny Appleseed while teaching about apples.  Now this is something I LOVED about teaching!


🍎  Did you Know September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day?


Let's bring out the inner pirate in all of your kiddos with some Pirate Jargon and more with these ideas:



You Might also like this cute Parrot Craft. Add some pirate hats and a few accessories and then take a picture fora school memory!


It is always fun to have a story that your kiddos can relate to when celebrating "Talk like a Pirate Day". If you need a few ideas for books to read aloud on this special day, here you go...


Oh and we absolutely need a costume to add a little "Shiver me Timbers" to our read aloud and Shared reading!



🍎  Elephants Never Forget..so...Let's not Forget the Elephants. 

September 22nd is National Elephant Appreciation Day! 

I have resource that was especially created for this day!
If it is too late to celebrate in next week or so...just celebrate it any time.  

Many children find elephants extremely interesting and this packet will definitely spark an interest and love for Elephants!

Even if you simply read a few books about Elephants, have the kiddos write some facts they have learned about this mighty animal and make this easy Elephant craft that is included in the Elephant resource above, they will be sure to have a bit of fun and definitely appreciate elephants!                         



🍎  And Now for our last September special day to celebrate...drum roll please.......September 24th is Punctuation DAY!

How much fun would it be to write your morning message with different types of ending punctuation to spice it up a bit? Or...maybe write the alphabet using periods, questions Marks, exclamation marks at different spot throughout your alphabet chart!  So it might look like this:

ABC! DEFGH? IJKL. M. N. OP? QRST! UV? WX. Y? Z!

OR REALLY ANYWHERE YOU CHOOSE TO PUT YOUR PUNCTUATION!
Here are a few Punctuation resources that might be fun to use and reuse to celebrate Punctuation Day.
You might also want to read a book or two about punctuation.  Here are a few of my favorites:




Why not try some Punctuation Phrase Fluency Bowling? Each sight word phrase is attached to a plastic bowling pin and whichever pins are knocked down, have to be read showing the correct inflection according to the end marks on each of the phrases.  This is a sample of Spring Themed Sight Word Phrases, but there are also "Frozen Phrases" that can be used as well!  Spring Fluency Phrases for Bowling

So there you have it some fun ideas to celebrate some special days in September. If you found these after the dates, simply save these ideas for next year.

There are always unusual fun Days to celebrate each month other than the most common days that everyone already knows about!  So check back each month for some "FUN"tastic" Ideas!

PS.  I promise I will get them out earlier for OCTOBER!

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7 Fun Ways to Encourage Reading in School or at Home!




AHHHHH! it feels good to be back at blogging again. I have been sooooo busy with my personal life that I have NOT posted for 5 months...yep...you read that right...5 months! I am sure you can relate to this as well! It has been a great 5 months ...all good stuff, so to speak, but no time for the weary as they say! So that being said...


I'M BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So, I am sure that if you are a teacher you are already back at it or almost Back to school.

All summer long I thought about how so many kids are simply tethered to their i-phones, I-pads, computers and what not...many don't pick up a book too much during the summer and may even have to be coaxed a bit during the school year to read in school or at home!

I wondered how we, as teachers and parents, can encourage our kids to read more and have a bit of fun reading in school and at home.


So here are a few tried and true ideas on how to make reading more fun and engaging for your kiddos!


Give an allotted time to read...perhaps 15-20 minutes or whatever works for your students.

Then ring a chime and have your students go back to their seats or gather on the rug and have a few share out about their book in relation to the focus you gave. Fun and learning...right?  It works and the kids love it!!! TRUST ME!!!!


1.  Flashlight Reading:

Provide enough flashlights so each of your students or all have a flashlight to use.  You can also ask for parents to send in flashlights or even pick them up at your local dollar spot.

Everyone chooses a book they would like to read.

Let everyone find the perfect spot around the room to read. i would let them read anywhere they felt comfortable: chairs, pillows, rugs, whatever flexible
seating you have in your classroom.

Give a reading focus: Our reading Focus today is main idea, Is your book fiction or nonfiction and how do you know? Let's think about the character traits of the main character, what is the problem in your story and ho is it solved? Use any reading skill, strategy or concept you are working on or teaching in your classroom.

Give an allotted time to read...perhaps 15-20 minutes or whatever works for your students.

Then ring a chime and have your students go back to their seats or gather on the rug and have a few share out about their book in relation to the focus you gave. Fun and learning...right?  It works and the kids love it!!! TRUST ME!!!!



2.  Big Books with Pointers:

This will obviously work if you have big books and enough big books for every child to partner up to read around the room.

I would first either randomly pick partners using my "partner sticks" or select partners ahead of time according to their abilities or strategically by partners I think will work well together etc. 

Then give out or have partners choose a big book to share.  

Next hand out pointers. (of course you have modeled
These are just a few of the pointers
that came from Target Dollar Spot
and practiced how to use pointers to read...that is soooooo important!) You can also use unsharpened pencil that have fun erasers on top!

then have them find spots to read. Give them a reading focus.

Ring your chime or use some other cute attention getter to show that the time is up.

Walk back to the rug or designated area and share out!!!  


  

3.  Use a Reading Phones: 

If you are a DIY type of person, then simply go yo Home Depot or Lowe's and pick up some PVC white plastic piping and replicate this design...Voila! you have a fun way for kids to read independently!

Hand out the pipes, give a reading focus, set the timer, ring the chime and share out!  EASY PEASY!





4.  Read like your on T.V.: 


This is a fun way to work on fluency!
Set your reading focus on fluency and tell your students they will have a chance to read like they are on T.V. or even you-tube, which is more popular now!

When it is time to share out, give your students a pretend microphone that you can purchase at 5 Below or perhaps a dollar store or if you have a real mic or one you use in your classroom, just simply give them a chance to be on stage. i have even seen teachers who have made small stages to use.

5.  Have a Shared Reading Picnic outside:

Our school is situated near out Middle School and behind the school, there are woods.  

When our school was constructed, they added some really unique spaces. One was a "tree house" which was built so you were "up in the  trees' when you walked onto it.  

We also had an outdoor space to read back by the woods. So after a hike learning about organisms, we would grab our snacks and have a reading picnic. Questions were asked during shared reading and we chatted more about the book after we went back into the classroom!  


6.  Have a pajama reading day:

Have a day where everyone wears their pj's to school or sweats. Ask them to bring their favorite story to school that day and even a favorite stuffed animal.

Then have them partner up and read their stories to each other with a focus. After a designated amount of time, have them share out about their book. It is always fun to have the partners share out about the book they were listening to as their partner read...if that makes sense! 
  

7.  Have you ever Tried Reading Glasses:



As we get older, we cringe to think about having to use reading glasses, but give your first graders a change to use "READING GLASSES" and they will read and read and read with glasses of course!  

Years ago I found fashion glasses with clear plastic lens at the dollar spot at Target and literally bought 25 pairs to have in my classroom. I kept them in a basket and my kiddos were able to use them any time they wanted, but on certain days we had "reading with Glasses" and they all grabbed a pair to use and read.

Sometimes they would ask if they could wear them all day!it was so cute to see the kids with their glasses on and it made those who actually had glasses feel proud that they had REAL ONES!  PS I did this with first and second graders, but I have a feeling upper grades and Kinders might like them TOO!

Well there you have it...7 Ways to Have Fun Reading in your Classroom or at Home to Start Off the Year!  Look for more fun reading ideas to come soon. I have about 100 ideas listed..so....Look out here they come! Don't want to overwhelm you at the beginning of the year with all 100!

Try these ideas out and let me know how they worked for you!



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9 Tips for Teachers to Have a "SUN"sational First Day Back to School


The summer has been so relaxing and now it is time to go back to school...well maybe you are still relaxing, but before you know it, the time will be here and the first day will also be here...so why not check out these 9 Tips to have a

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! The floors are sparkling clean, your classroom is ready and 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. ( Just for the record...my closet is a mess again and I need to clear the clutter...it is kinda like when you unpack your classroom for the first day..yep, needs to be organized once again!).



Here are some tried and true ideas and tips that 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 that first day, but it is still 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 last night or you left a message for me last night" and they DO bring their smiles...well first graders sometimes bring a jittery smile, but none the less, it is a 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!" I know there is sometimes some controversy about compliments, but I still think a little positive remark means the world to a little one and sometimes a big one, too! I mean let's face it...I love compliments, it makes me work harder and feel GRRRRRRReaT!


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 or perhaps they have a nickname you did not know about....so have plenty of name plates and be ready to think of a positive way to change a seat sometime after the first day.  Something like, "I am thinking this might be a better place for you to sit. You can see better here!"
If you are prepared, then as the children walk into your classroom and it WILL be hectic especially if you teach kindergarten or first grade, the children 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: 


2 ideas for an greeting during Morning Meeting:





2 ideas for sharing during Morning Meeting:









2 ideas for an Activity during Morning Meeting:













2 ideas for first day Morning Meeting Messages:











                     




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 Check my shop for some great resources. Here are some editable newsletters you might want to use: 

Editable Newsletters for the Entire Year
Editable September Tidbits
Free Back to School Getting to Know you activity


This complete 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!

Back to School an Activity for the First Day of School or Any day
Back to School Happy Birthday Differentiated Math & Writing Common Core
Back to School: I Can Make Good Choices
Desk Name Plates
Home and School Communication
Back to School Brochure
Getting to Know You: Let's Make Some Memories
A Few Quick Communication Checklists

I hope your first day back, whenever it is, is motivating, filled with sweetness and sunshine...one that you will remember forever!

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





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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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



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

8.  Here are some fun ideas to add a little math and ELA fun to your summer. You are sitting at the pool or beach or driving in the car and...OH NO the B-word again...so what do you do? Jot these down and you will be covered.

  • How many steps do you think it will take you to get to the snack bar? 

Estimate and check...where you right? How many more or less steps did it take you? See how many steps it takes your friend, sister anyone sitting near you. 

  •  In the car...do you remember the alphabet game? 


Give each child a piece of paper and you if you are so inclined to play and see how many items you can find that begin with each letter of the alphabet or look for signs and just jot down words you see that begin with each letter of the alphabet. You can do this for shapes (3-D shapes as well)...remember finding license plates from various states...list those as well and see who can find the most...then put them in alphabetical order!

  • On the beach, find some seashells and categorize them according to color, shape, texture etc. 


Oh and did I mention recording how many times you can jump, hop, blink your eyes, do jumping jacks, jump rope in a minute...they can guess or estimate and see if they are right...I think you get the idea...put those little brains in action and tire them out!! What am I kidding...you will never tire a child. They have more energy than you and I put together! Maybe jot down these ideas in an End of School Year Summer Fun Idea Newsletter...who knows I might just create it as a freebie before the school year ends... and HERE IT IS: it includes a few of the ideas listed above compiled into a Summer Vacation Companion!  Free Summer Vacation Companion Activities and Worksheets Not Grade Specific

9.  How about putting on a play or Readers' Theater for your family or neighbors. 


I remember doing this many years ago when I was 6 or 7 years old.  We made flyers announcing the play, tickets, refreshments and made the scenery for the play. This is a sure way to get the technology away and have some fun like the "old days." You can even video tape it and share it on the internet!!!   Here is a fun differentiated version of The Tortoise and the Hare     


I know what you are thinking: " Okay, this all sounds great on paper, but where is the accountability and are the students really going to do this over the summer?" 


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



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

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

This is fun for everyone...children and adults!!!
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Happy Mother's Day to My First Teacher...My Mom



Mother's Day is Sunday, May 14th...a time to set the day aside to remember all that our Moms have done for us whether they are still with us on this Earth or watching over us from above. Although I do believe that everyday should be Mother's Day...I mean, think about it, where would you be without your Mom? She was your first teacher. She taught you how to talk, walk and eat. She fed you and took care of you as much as her life would allow. Yes, she was your first educator and she did not, in most cases, have a degree in education, yet she taught you everything she knew... the best she knew how! So, on this day that we set aside to honor our Mothers. I would like to take a few minutes and share with you what I have learned from my Mom. The pages of my memories and lessons go on and on and it is hard to put a lifetime of lessons in one post...so I will give you the abridged Reader's Digest version! BUT...before I do...remember that you have had an impact on someone's life even if you are not a mom...we probably do not even know how our kindness has touched someone: a stranger passing by, a student we have taught, a child, or a someone special in our life...you never really know who you may have touched in some way or form!  Remember that!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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7 Fun and Easy Ideas to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with your Class!

Hola!  Me llamo Señora Simpson.



Cuando enseñé primer grado, me encantó añadir un poco de español a mi reunión de la mañana! Aprendimos palabras de color, contando y frases comunes y a mis estudiantes les encantó!

So....since Spanish is the one of the world's most commonly spoken languages, you might also enjoy adding a bit of Spanish to your day!
As I said above or hope I said above:  "When I taught first grade, I enjoyed adding a bit of Spanish to my morning meeting. We would learn color words, counting and common phrases...my students loved it!  In fact when some of my former students came back to visit, they always remembered learning Spanish!

Now I am not claiming to know the language perfectly and there may be a few errors above, but I did minor in FLES or Foreign Languages in the Elementary School. At that time (45 years ago) it was simply something I wanted to do and I am glad I did it as it added a bit of fun to my classroom and teaching ideas.  We played Simón dice, with easy commands like; Pon tu mano sobre tu cabeza, which was a huge hit. 

I also read the Spanish versions of favorite books and the class LOVED listening to familiar books in a different language


So, where am I going with this you ask?
Cinco De Mayo is celebrated on May 5th and I thought why not share a few ideas that are easy and fun...ideas that are right at your finger tips or will be! So let's get started and celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

But first a little history...

Cinco de Mayo or May 5th is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867).  i believe that the Mexican Army was not expected to win, but they did...so....time to celebrate!


🌟 How about dancing to the beat with Maracas?  


You can easily make these spoon and egg maracas and perhaps you might want to make it a STEAM activity.  Simply give each partner 4 spoons, masking tape and egg and some beads and tell them that they will be creating a musical instrument to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  

🌟  Perhaps you want to have a little fun with some STEAM Musical activities:

  • Plastic spoons
  • Beads
  • Yarn or string
  • Sturdy plastic or China Made paper plates
  • Plastic eggs 
  • Another materials that you can think of that when combined might make noise.
  1. Set up partners.
  2. Tell the class that the challenge will be to create a musical instrument to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
  3. Give each partnership a planning sheet to draw and decide what they might use to create the instrument.
  4. Instruct your class to choose some materials to create their musical instrument to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
  5. As you circulate or observe children experimenting with the materials provided to create their musical instruments, use the following questions to encourage learning:

  • Why did you choose those materials to create your instrument?
  • What kind of instrument are you creating?
  • How did you decide what instrument to make?
  • Did you choose any additional materials? Why?
  • Did you put back any materials that you originally selected? Why?
  • Show me how your instrument works.
  • What changes did you make when creating your instrument?
  • How did these changes affect the sound of your instrument?
  • Did the changes work? Why or why not?
  • Do you like the sound that your instrument produces? Why or why not?
  • Was this hard or easy for you? Why?
  • What have you learned about making a musical instrument?
  • If you had the opportunity to do this again what would you change and why?

🌟 Did I hear you say you want more like this?


You might want to check out this blogpost I wrote for Educents and add other components to this motivating and fun idea!  You can find the article right here:   How to Introduce Music into Everyday Lessons







🌟  Why not try a recipe that you can make with your kids at home or in school?

Have you ever tried Walking Tacos? They are easy and fun to make!



🌟  Here are some "Fun"tastic pretend tacos to make:

I think your class would love making these tacos with or without reading the book....they look so yummy...almost good enough to eat!








🌟  How about this cute paper bag poncho?
Just imagine all those kiddos walking out the door wearing their decorated sarapes?




🌟  Your class might enjoy making their own piñatas!
Fill them up with some sweets and let the party begin!




🌟  All that is left now is to share some great books about this fun holiday:



So there you have it...some fun ideas to get this holiday party started....Pick a book, add a little history, food, music and crafts and you have got yourself a great holiday celebration!

What ideas to you use to celebrate this holiday?

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