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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

6 Back to School Resources for a Smooth Start to the Year!

Ahhhh, back-to-school time. If you're headed back to school or in session already, you know what an important time of year this is. Back to school season marks the beginning of a new year and offers an opportunity to set the tone for the months ahead. Make sure to pay attention to classroom procedures and expectations! You can make this back to school season your best with just a few simple techniques and resources! 

Use these fun back to school activities to set the tone for the first few months of school.

Setting the Tone for a Fantastic Year 

If you've been teaching for a while, you already know that how you start the year will dictate how the rest of it goes. And if this is your first year teaching, it won't take long to discover this fact! The beginning of the year is that important!  

Set the tone for a fun and stress-free school year with these back to school activities aimed at helping your students learn the expectations for classroom behaviors.
Setting our students up to know the class and school expectations right off the bat will not only make classroom management easier on us, but it will also help them be successful too! 

When we take the time to help our students learn the ropes in a new classroom, it helps them feel safe and secure, and supported in learning. Students thrive in environments with predictable schedules and clearly outlined rules. 

Over the years, I have tried so many different tools and methods for managing my classroom. There were some clear winners and some flops too. 

Today, I'm going to save you the trouble of trying all the things and instead share my top 6 resources for a successful, smooth year!

6 Back to School Resources that Will Make Your Life Easier!

1. Classroom Behavior Activities Game

This game is one of my absolute favorites to use during back to school season. It's a great ice-breaker game for the first week of school and helps students think about what types of choices are acceptable for the classroom and which are not.

Use a fun game like back to school activity like this to help your students understand the difference between good and bad choices in the classroom.
To introduce the topic of choices, there is a picture sorting game that can be played as a whole group. You can sort the pictures out on the floor during your morning meeting or use a pocket chart while your kiddos are seated at their desks. There are three different vocabulary choices to choose from based on the language you'd like to use in your classroom. The options include:
  • Good Choice vs. Bad Choice
  • Appropriate vs. Inappropriate Choice
  • I Will vs. I Will Not
Once you've practiced sorting out behaviors as a class, your kiddos can play the spinner game with a partner or independently. They will take turns spinning, name the behavior, and mark a tally down to show if it's a positive or negative behavior. I love the community-building aspect of this activity and the gentle nudge it gives students toward making smart choices. 

2. Transportation Headbands

One of the biggest headaches for any teacher in the classroom at the start of the year is transportation. With a handful of students getting picked up, others taking the bus, and some walking home, it can take a lot of work to keep it all straight. If you teach young children, this can be a big source of stress for them as well! Take the pressure off with transportation headbands for the first week of school! 

Use this transportation signs like these to help you and your students remember how they are getting home each day and are a great addition to your back to school activities.
This system is designed to keep transportation methods organized and simple to remember. Each child will get their own headband showing their transportation method for the day. If children go home in different ways, they can make a new headband each day as a reminder. Students will love wearing their headbands, which will help calm the chaos when it's time to head home for the day too! The options included are:
  • bus
  • walking
  • car rider
  • van to after-school care
  • bike rider
  • subway
  • taxi 
  • blank for you to add your own option 
Also included in this resource is a large classroom bulletin board display that can be changed by the day. Use clothespins for each student and move them as needed to each category. There is also a class list that you can quickly glance at before dismissal for a final double-check. This system is a great way to reduce stress during the first week of school and would also be helpful for a substitute! 

3. Book Care Activities 

If you're a teacher in the primary classroom, I'm willing to bet you've shelled out much of your money on supplies like books for your classroom library.  We want to be able to use those books for many years.  

Use this back to school book care activity to help teach your students how to care for all of the books in your classroom and school library this year.
Sometimes, our young students come to us without a lot of experience with books.  It's up to us to help them learn the expectations for using books, both in the classroom and at home. One of the best ways to do this is by teaching children proper care procedures for books. 

At the beginning of the year, I love using a read-aloud that helps students understand the proper way to take care of our classroom library books. 

This story, Book Care, is split into sections that cover topics like how we take care of books, the reading environment, preparing to read, after reading, and more. It's a great way to make the expectations of the reading area crystal clear during back to school time!

After we've read the story, I always placed it on a shelf in the reading area as a reminder. Another great reminder are these posters that display the same info and can be posted in the library as a visual aid. 

4. Teach Students to Use Scissors Safely 

One of my favorite ways to ensure we were set up for a successful school year was by teaching students how to use classroom supplies and materials. In the primary classroom, scissors are used just about every day. If not used properly, this can get stressful and scary! Help your students learn to use them correctly with another fun read-aloud.

This back to school activity helps your students understand how to safely use scissors at the beginning of the year.
This book, Scissor Safety Story, is a great way to chat with kiddos about the seriousness of using scissors. It discusses proper grip and the rules for using them in the classroom. Some of the points (no pun intended) include the following:

  • Being seated while cutting 
  • Appropriate items to cut and inappropriate items to cut 
  • Transporting scissors with the blades in a closed fist and more!

This is a great book to laminate and bind together. Then you can read it several times and make it available to students in the classroom library. Anytime you have a kiddo that seems to have forgotten the rules, direct them toward this book for a refresher! 

5. Read Aloud for Using Glue and Gluesticks 

Speaking of school supplies, remember to teach your students how to use glue and gluesticks too! 

This back to school book will help your students use glue appropriately in your classroom this year.
I don't know about you, but one of my pet peeves is finding gluesticks that dried up because someone left the cap off.  

Helping students learn how to use glue and put it away is essential! 

This fun read-aloud will help students learn all the do's and don't of using glue. This is an excellent book for back to school time, but it also comes in handy before a big art project! 

If you teach in the primary grades, your students likely haven't had much practice with using glue. 

Having a way to remind them of the expectations before you start any arts or crafts projects will help make the process so much smoother! 

6. Personal Dictionary 

This last resource is SO great for young readers and writers. If you've ever taught in a primary classroom, I'm sure you've experienced having multiple students come up to you asking how to spell a specific word over and over and over. 
Creating personal dictionaries like these is a great back to school activity you can start at the beginning of the year and keep adding to throughout the school year.

As teachers, we want to support our students and help them learn proper spellings of common words, but we also want to teach them how to use tools so they can work independently! 

This is where the personal dictionary comes in handy! This personal dictionary is a growing word bank. Each month students get a list of words that are perfect for that month.  With a picture above each word, even pre-readers can use this personal picture dictionary. As the school year goes on, more pages are added. 

There are pages for each month and seasonal and thematic pages to offer various options for your students.  

These personal dictionaries are a valuable resource tool for students. Not only do they help with spelling and building vocabulary, but they cut down on the number of times you will hear "How do you spell. . ." Help foster independence and encourage growth in writing skills with these personal dictionaries! 

Easing Into a Great School Year 

Each of these resources have been classroom tested and approved by students and teachers alike.  They are all valuable tools to helping you put in place a solid foundation for the year.

If you're interested in checking out some more back to school resources to support learning in other ways, be sure to check out my TPT shop! It's filled with even more fun activities that will help you have your best year yet! 

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This post is filled with all my favorite classroom management resources for returning to school. Pin it on Pinterest to keep these activities at your fingertips!

Use these 6 back to school resources to get your students prepared for an amazing school year this year. From incredibly helpful books on how to use common school supplies like scissors and glue to a game-like behavior expectation activity, your students will love making and using these activities as they get into the swing of the new year. #tarynsuniquelearning #backtoschoolresources #backtoschoolactivity #classroomexpectations

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