End of the Year Photo Collage

With the end of the year comes that sudden rush of things to do like print pictures, make scrapbooks, and put every single memory into a neat little package so we won't forget any of it.  Sound familiar? 

I've taught Kinder for a long time.  I have spent my May evenings at the dining room table making ADORABLE (yes, they were adorable) scrap books for every single one of my children.  They loved them, their families loved them, I loved them. 
There comes a time when we have to make a choice and this year I made a choice, and that was not to do scrapbooks. 
I had 46 Kinders this year.  The task was just too large.  However, I did not lose my love for memories.  I just had to change it up a bit! 

This came by design (and a little by accident too!).  I created this chalk painted "K" for the first day of kinder and took pictures the first day of school.  

During the last week of school I took pictures again with the "K".  The differences in my students made my heart leap! 
(the glasses were added to keep us anonymous!) 
Parents loved them too so next year I plan on making them, printing them, and maybe putting them in a little frame.  I think it will be a nice keepsake from Kindergarten or any grade level for that matter! 

Here is how I made them: 
  • Get your grade level letter or number (or just print out a sign!)  Paint with chalkboard paint.
  • Take pictures the first day and the last week.  
  •   I used the app A Beautiful Mess to create the picture collage. 
It's super simple to use and the app is only 99 cents.  All I had to do was tap the picture from my gallery and add it to the frame.  I sent each collage to myself so I would have them on my computer at school.  
So that's that!  Even with printing and frames I think I will spend less on these keepsakes that I used to on scrapbooks.  It only took me part of an evening to make 46 collages too.  
Time Saver = Sanity Saver

Still want to record the memories?  I put together a mini memory book to use during Writer's Workshop the last week of school. (I had already sent their journals home!) You can get a free copy of it HERE or by clicking on the picture. 
 Thanks for visiting!  I hope your end of the year is filled with sweet reflection of happy memories! 


And that's a wrap!

End of the school year? Already? Wow. This one really snuck up on me! It just doesn't feel like it could already be over to me! Sweetest. Class. Ever. They stole my heart in so many ways! Nonetheless, as I tell them - "I am a kindergarten teacher! NOT a first grade teacher, and you are getting far too big and too smart for kindergarten!". So as all good things do, it must come to and end, and new beginnings await. :o)

We wrapped up this week with many walks down memory lane. I love hearing them recall all of the
things they remember about what we learned and did! We read the big book "In Kindergarten" that we read the first week of school to take us back to the beginning and connect the content. Then we charted some of the things we remembered, to help us when we worked on our memory books.

Every year when I am doing all of the work to assemble memory books, and spending the time and money to print and organize the pictures I am reminded of why I always do it. They. LOVE. It. 
All of my kids always have, but I think even more so now because having actual printed pictures is so novel to many of them now. Pictures are on phones and computers, but rarely in their hands to hold, look at, cherish, and most of all, keep.
So many sweet smiles, heartfelt thank you's and hugs. Bless. They melt my heart.

Our last day I had written a message for them (which they read), and we talked all about how people can feel so many different feelings all at the same time. They picked the feeling that was the strongest for them and jotted about it on a sticky note to add to our chart. Precious.
Then we sang, read our favorite books, played our favorite games (Sparkle and The Telephone Game), handed out awards, goodies, and DANCED!! 

I hope you had (or have) a great last week with your kiddos!
Wishing you a happy & restful summer :o)

What's the Buzz?

Hi Everyone!

Today is my last full day with my little first graders. Its been a crazy year but I will miss these little ones. They have grown up so much since they first walked through my door back in August. I am excited and thankful that I will get to see them next year and watch as they continue to grow.

During the last week of school we do a lot of special projects and writing activities to close out the year. We visit both second grade classrooms so that our kids can see what their rooms will be like next year and to get to know the teachers better. We do a lot of craft/lessons so that I can still teach a few things without them realizing they are still working and learning.

 One of these projects is our gift to the kindergarten students when they come to visit our rooms. We make a book for them. We call it, What's the Buzz in First Grade. They have to write about all their favorite activities or parts of first grade. We then turn it into a cute mini book and they read it to the kindergarten kids when they visit. It allows our kids to show off their reading and writing skills a little which makes them feel awesome and it gets the kindergarteners excited about coming to first grade.

As a teacher these are fun to read to see what activities or events had the most impact on their little memories. Reading through mine I can see that our pioneer day had a huge impact. I think all but a few mentioned that in their writing. It helps us as we plan activities for next year.

It is a really quick and fun project. The kids love making the bee for the front cover. The template that we made to go along with the project is simple and quick and does not require a lot of paper. The writing paper was created with some clip art from Krista Wallden. It only takes us about two hours from start to finish.

Hope you all have a wonderful end to your school year!!

Mystery Week

Mystery Week Title

A few years ago one of my team members came to us with the idea to do a mystery day as one of our theme days during the last week of school.  That has slowly evolved into an entire week of mystery themed activities.

This is how we decorated our doors to greet our classes on the first mystery day….

Mystery Door
We started each morning with the Mystery Box, a classic from Babbling Abby.  It was one of my very first TpT purchases and it is still a hit every year.

For reading, we started Encyclopedia Brown Cracks the Case.  Each day we work through 2 cases.  I read a case aloud and each kiddo has a “detective notebook,” to record clues in.  We bought small envelopes at Dollar Tree for each detective to keep their case files in.


For math we worked with Hands on Equations, because algebra is about finding the mystery number….see how I worked that in!

One of the afternoons we used science to solve a mystery with this amazing pack from TpT.  It was a huge hit and a definite keeper for next year’s Mystery Week!


Click HERE to check out this awesome product!

The culmination to our week is a Science Fair Mystery.  It’s like one of those dinner party mysteries.  The kids each get a part to act out and all the while you are trying to figure out who committed the crime!  We purchased ours from Dramatic Fanatic and it was worth every penny!  The kids love it every year!

We will wrap up our 2nd Annual Mystery Week tomorrow.  Each year it gets bigger and better and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring.

Have a great last few days or weeks!

This Hand I Hold

As I wrap up the year with my students, I want them to know how much I love them.  The hugs and "I love yous" melt my heart.  Sometimes, I feel like they are just getting out of line to give me a hug in order to play the "end of the line game".  You know that game... they just want to be the caboose.

One of the things I do for my students at the end of the year is give them a poem called "This Hand I Hold".  One of my coworkers gave me the paper when I first started teaching kindergarten.  I have done it every year because I think it is so sweet.

I print the poem on cardstock, and then stamp my hand in red and my student's hand in blue on top of mine.  Things have been a bit busy at school and I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.

Click on the pictures to download your freebie.

I hope you have a great last few days with your kiddos!

Wrapping it Up!

Welcome to our fun blog everyone!!  I hope that you enjoy our blog, as much as I have enjoyed getting to know the ladies behind this amazing blog!  These ladies have gone from teachers I stalked followed on IG, TPT and blogs, to now being some of my favorite blogging ladies!!  I have already learned so much from this group, and I am so excited to be part of it!!

I'm even more excited because this weekend I will get to spend the weekend with some of these amazing ladies!!

Today I am excited to share with you some of my favorite ways to Wrap Up the School Year!!

In third grade I love keeping my kids busy until the very end, because if you don't, you will loose them!!  To do this I give them an incentive every day.  Some of these incentives cost me money, some of them cost me nothing!!  I love doing our Fun Days in May calendar because they look forward to it just as much as I do!

I have a great, fantastic, wonderful set of parents who are more than willing to help us out!  They have provided so much for us to do during these sixteen days!!

To help display these fun ideas I post them on our back bulletin board!  I have every day in an envelope and then at the end of the day I open the next day's envelope.  My kids do a drum roll, and then go silent as they await to see what the next envelope will say!

Another way I helped to get into the end of the school year mood this year was to work on some awesome end of the school year lap books and bucket lists!

These lap books come from another talented Hello Sunshine Teacher, Ashlyn over at The Creative Classroom!  I LOVE them!!  My kids have had a lot of fun putting them together, and it is amazing how different each one looks!

I also started working on my end of the year gifts for my kiddos!  I found these awesome cups from Walmart, in my colors of course, and knew that I wanted to use them for something!!  I went to the Dollar Tree and got the crazy straws, ran to Fry's to get the koolaid and I was in business!!

$15 for 24 presents!  Score!!

I hope that you have found some fun ways to celebrate the end of your school year!  If you're looking for more great ideas feel free to check out our link up, and share your ideas too!!  Plus come back all month as we share more ideas with you!!

Summer Pen Pals


This simple idea will encourage your students to keep reading and writing through the summer!  

Before the end of the year have each student bring in two stamped envelopes.  (Or just two stamps if you already have envelopes.) Show them how to write their address on the front of each. Then collect the envelopes.  Of course, they'll all be curious about these envelopes, but don't tell them anything yet. Let the excitement and curiosity build a little!

Later, or the next day explain to the students they are to read a book this summer.  After they read the book they'll write a letter to a friend to convince them they need to read this book. They will place the persuasive letter in one of the envelopes and mail it to a classmate.  They will also put in the second envelope that has their own address on it.  The second envelope will be used by the receiver to write a return letter!

I've written more detailed directions you can download here.
Summer Pen Pals--Crockett's Classroom

Do you have a favorite activity for the last few days of the school year?  Link up your blog post about that idea. (Blog posts only, please.)

Here's Your Backstage Pass to a ROCKIN' Year!

As the end of the year approaches teachers are looking for ways to keep students entertained, engaged, and focused until those last days of the year. This year I have chosen to do a rock-n-roll theme to end the year. It's a fun theme and I use the phrase, "You are all rockstars now!" 

One thing that I have noticed is that the month of May can be the most exhausting month for teachers. With to-do lists that are miles long, students with a ton of energy, and teachers who are just plain worn out! I have created a fun behavior management activity that will help with the behavior so that you can focus on getting things done faster so you can get rest easier!

Rockin' Behavior is a classroom management activity where you first print and prepare all parts of the Rockin’ Behavior Memory Game provided as a freebie in my TPT Store. Think of 8 different classroom prizes that the class would love to earn. Write each prize on the back of two different numbers. Now the class works on earning the letters R-O-C-K for making great choices, helping their classmates and following he classroom rules. Once they earn the 4 letters then randomly choose a student to pick two numbers and see if they are matching prizes. If they match I reward the class the following day and if not they start over spelling ROCK again. After beginning this last Monday, we have already earned the prize, PEN DAY. My 2nd graders were in heaven on Thursday when they each got a color pen and got to use it all day instead of pencil. 
Isn't it the little things that make them happy?

In addition, later this month I will be having my kids make the Rockstar Memory Lapbook. These lap books will be wonderful ways to keep those memories of 2nd grade and reflect on the past. Please watch the short video to watch how the lapbook is assembled and visit my TPT store to pick up the lapbook for your end of the year memory making!

Later this month I will also be showing my ROCKSTAR theme bulletin board showcasing our 2nd 
grade memories. I can't wait!!!

End-of-the-Year Class Books and Keepsakes

As many of you know, one of my favorite mentor texts to use in my classroom is

There are so many ways to use it in the classroom!

One of my favorite ways is to use it for these fun
End-of-the-Year projects.

The Important Thing About XXX Grade

Have students thin about the most important things about being in this grade, as if giving advice to incoming students.  Next, have them complete the frame and illustrate.  Bind into a class book and share on the last day of school, AND save it to read to your new students the first week of school next year.  It will become a favorite in your classroom library, especially if you do it over several years.  It is so fun to compare them!

The Important Things About US!

For this one, have students think about how they want their classmates to remember them.  Then they complete the frame and illustrate.  I always make copies of the completed pages, along with the autograph pages, into keepsake booklets for each student.  They can have their friends autograph their books.

I have also used their text and added photos of each child to make a slideshow, and copied to DVD's for the kids.  See Caitlin's post here about how to create slideshows using SmileBox.

You can grab either one of these files for free, this week only, by clicking on the images above.  If you miss them as freebies, you can find them in my TPT Store.

For more End-of-the-Year ideas, visit our Pinterest board.

Follow Hello's board Hello Sunshine - End of the Year Ideas on Pinterest.

Summer Break Count Down

The end of the year is coming too soon!  I only have 12 days left with my sweet kiddos.  Luckily, I am looping up to 3rd grade with them next year and I couldn't be more excited!

Do you need a fun and motivational activity to get you your kiddos to the end of the school year? I made a banner to help us count down the days to Summer Break!  On the back of each pennant is an activity for us to do that starts with each letter.  

Last year, I used my Silhouette to cut out the banner and the letters.  Then, I printed the activities on labels and stuck them on the back.  I used an arrow to help keep track of what day we were on.

This year, I made a digital banner and added a behavior management piece.  

Each day leading up to Summer Break, they have the opportunity to earn a letter and the special activity that is written on the back.  Every morning they start with four suns on the board.  Depending on how they behave, they can either lose or earn suns.  At the end of the day, if they have all four suns, they will earn their letter.  Of course you can modify this in order to meet the needs of your class.  I've done variations of this behavior management activity, and when I have a really difficult class, they only need to have one sun on the board to earn their reward.  Whatever works for you!

These are the activities I came up with.  Feel free to use or adjust any of these activities.  Some letters took a little extra thought and creativity to make work.  :)   

S - Sidewalk chalk {I bring a bucket of chalk from the Dollar Tree and let them go to town on the playground.}  
U - U need a brain break {enter GoNoodle!}
M - Mind games {hangman, memory, and other random games}
M - Mystery Box {I bring a special treat in a box and have them guess what it is using only yes/no questions.  It is usually something tasty!}
E - Extra Recess
R - Read outside {I let them bring their library books and my books, then we read around the courtyard.}

B - Bubbles {I bring them bottles of bubbles from the Dollar Tree and let them play.  One year I made homemade bubbles with dish soap and used pipe cleaners as the wand.  It was cheap, easy, and fun.}
R - Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament
E - Eat a treat {again, I bring in something special and delicious!}
A - Airplane contest {I provide the paper, they design their own paper airplanes.}
K - Krazy dance party {Blast some Kidz Bop and let them dance away!  Freeze dance is one of our favorites.}
! - Ice Cream Party! {I bring the ice cream, they bring the toppings!  If I'm adventurous, we make ice cream in a bag and use some of Cara's fun activities.}

You can download yours for free here!

Wrapping Up the Year With Hello Sunshine

As you may have already guessed from the title of this post, our theme this month is wrapping things up for the end-of-the-year.

To join in the fun, just grab this button to include in your post:

...and nab this handy template to organize your end-of-the-year
 ideas, activities, links, and books:

(To use this template, save it as an image to your computer.  Use it as the background for a power point page, use text boxes to add your info, and then save your whole new creation as a PDF and/or as an image to include in your blog post.)

Next step:
Link up with us!
(Please link directly to your Sharin' a Little Sunshine post url to keep things easy to find.)  Product links within a post are fine, but please no direct product links.

And the optional-but-awesome final step is to visit other linked-up blogs... and leave some love!

Hang in there!
The end is in sight!

Creating an End of the Year Slideshow for Your Students and Families

Happy Sunday, everyone! It's Caitlin, from The Kinder Garden, here to kick off the month of May here at Hello Sunshine! Our theme this month is "Wrap it Up!" and we will be sharing ideas and resources for the end of the school year.

All year long, I take photos of my students in the classroom, at school events, on field trips, spirit days, and everything in between. My team always makes an end of the year slideshow to show to our students' families at our kindergarten promotion ceremony; and it never fails that after every show we always have multiple parents asking how they can get their hands on a copy. Now, it would cost a fortune to provide DVDs of the slideshow to every parent, not to mention hours spent burning and creating all of the discs - and ain't nobody got time for that!

The solution to this problem came to me two years ago when an e-mail crossed my inbox from a company called Smilebox!

Smilebox is an online program you can download to your computer and use to create photo slideshows, invitations, greetings, collages, and more! Their basic program is free to download and use for anyone who wants to use it - but did you know that they give a FREE Premium subscription (normally a $48 value) to teachers? All you have to do is click HERE and submit your application for the Smilebox Teacher's Toolbox by filling out the information box on the right hand side of the page.

In a few days, you'll get an e-mail from them letting you know that you're in! They'll send you a link and a password to download your free subscription, and then you can start creating! They have tons of adorable school-themed templates to create a photo slideshow. I just drag and drop my photos into the sidebar and you choose what order you want your pictures to appear in the slideshow. You can add music, text, captions, and more to make it personalized for your class!

It's so easy to create! Once I finish creating it, I e-mail it out to all of my parents. I can't tell you how many e-mails I have gotten back from them thanking me for sharing photos from the year so that they can look back at them any time they want to see all of their memories from the school year. Just the other day, I got a notification that someone had viewed their slideshow... from 2013! It's the gift that keeps on giving for years to come!