Make the most of back to school time with these teacher-tested and recommended ideas. They set the stage for behavior management and classroom management techniques that will create a successful classroom environment all year long. From using your class list to creating anticipation for the first day of school, these back to school ideas are sure to be a hit this fall!
Teacher-Tested Back to School Ideas
Get Students Excited About School
In Jeffersonville, Indiana, new First Graders in Patricia’s class start getting excited about school six weeks before it starts. Find out how she builds their enthusiasm during the weeks leading up to the start of school. “This idea can be used to help students make the transition into and out of your class. Before school opens, I take pictures of items in my room, such as my SpongeBob doll, my desk with an open book on top, my whiteboard, our Author’s Chair, the swing set on the playground, the cafeteria table, etc. I print these pics on postcards.
About six weeks prior to school starting, I mail a postcard to each of my incoming students. Over the course of the next six weeks, I continue to send postcards to each student at a rate of one card per week. On the back of the postcard I print a message related to that card’s picture. For example, after taking a picture of SpongeBob, I write, “I cannot wait for you to come to school and read to me.” For the swing set I write, “There is no one to play with me. Hurry up to school.”
The feedback I received from these cards was well worth my time, effort, and small financial investment. Many parents told me their children were reluctant about entering first grade, but once they started getting the postcards they were eager for school to begin.
Conversely, as the year begins to draw to a close, I begin sending the same postcards with messages designed to help them transition out of my class. For example, on the SpongeBob card I write, “I will miss you next year, but I will visit you in 2nd Grade!” and for the swing set I write, “See you after the summer break! I’ll be here waiting when you get back!” I time it so that a couple of the cards reach my students after school has closed. This way the children understand that summer is just a break and that all the familiar touchstones from school will be there to greet them when they return.”
Keep Kids Hydrated
Keep kids hydrated with this idea by Tanya, a 3rd Grade Teacher, from Punta Gorda, FL. “Every summer, I make it my mission to find inexpensive, reusable water bottles for my students. I put the bottles in the “Welcome Back Bags” and place the bags on students’ desks, the night of Open House. Students love their bottles; they cut back on excessive trips to the water fountain and I never again have to listen to the crinkling noise of a student squeezing one of those grocery store plastic water bottles.”
Start the Year Off Right
This idea by Nancy, a 2nd Grade Teacher, in Ashville, AL helps students and parents get ready for school together. “As an exceptional education teacher, I encourage my students and parents to designate a special basket or container at home just for school things. I also suggest parents help their children lay their clothes out the night before school. Another idea that really seems to help parents is having a chalkboard or dry erase board posted by the door. I suggest parents use this board to write down things the child needs to have as he or she leaves for school: projects, lunch, homework, etc. In addition, I suggest parents post another identical board in the family study area so they can create a daily list of things to do before and after the school day.”
Take Charge of Student Lists
Looking for a way to stay organized from the very start of the school year? Try this great idea by Lisa, a 2nd Grade Teacher from Central City, Kentucky! “As soon as I have my list of students for the new school year, I make a beeline for my computer so I can create a Master Organization Sheet. I design the sheet so it has the children’s names listed down the left-hand side of the page and then several columns moving across the page. I use these columns for checking off items related to attendance, lunch count, homework, permission slips, money collected, etc. I label each column head, and change them when needed.
I always keep a folder full of checklists with blank headings that I can label on the spot, when necessary. The advantage to this system is that I no longer have to write students’ names down all year long. In addition, I easily add new students or remove names of students who have left our class.”
Write a Letter
This idea by Lucinda, a 5th Grade Teacher in Littleton, CO, helps students put their hopes and concerns about the new school year down on paper!
“On the first day of school, I have my kids write a friendly letter to themselves. I invite them to include information such as their goals, expectations, fears, and hopes regarding the upcoming year we will spend together. I also encourage them to add some artwork or photos to their letters. I provide envelopes so the kids can seal their letters inside and label the outside with their names. I then collect the envelopes and tuck them away until the last day of school.
As school winds to a close, I have my students compose a second letter to themselves. In this letter I invite them to recall all they’ve learned and accomplished during the year, as well as all the fun times they’ve shared. Again, I encourage them to add artwork or photos to personalize their writing.
On the last day of school, we open the envelopes and compare the two letters. Children are usually surprised to read what they wrote at the year’s start compared to how the year unfolded in actuality. They love seeing their artwork as well. This activity sets the stage for a great year and provides positive closure at year’s end.”