Friday, July 10, 2015

Teachers have class and school is cool! Or How to Get Back to School Ready.

Ah. This may be you right now at this very moment. Or if you are on a year-round schedule, you may have started back today. I’m sorry.

I am here today to help you with some back-to-school ideas. Yes, it is coming. So kitty, jump outta that bed!

First, I am mentally preparing you by showing you this picture. This will happenespecially if you teach PreK or Kindergarten. I remember. The tears. The kicking. The screaming. There is always one and sometimes it becomes contagious because the previously calm students will follow the leader. If you are a first year teacher just know this is why chocolate was invented. And it will be okay.

That child will end up looking forward to coming to your classroom because you will do an awesome job at making learning fun. That child will cry againon the last day of school because that child will NOT want to leave your side.

So let’s get this party started

I know it seems cliche but after the chaos of “Who is riding the bus?” and “Johnny has a deadly allergy to grass”, and the tears have dried, and helicopter parents (like myself) fly away, I begin with an ice breaker. 
I usually have my students sit in a circle, and we roll a ball (maybe I am crazy) and say our names. Then we do favorite food, colors, etc. Then I transition into a story. I usually read "The Kissing Hand" by Aubrey Penn. I give each child a heart sticker or heart stamp on their hand and tell them if they feel sad or scared to hold it to their cheek.

Sometimes I read The Gingerbread Man story instead and we do the little tour the school thing by following clues our “Gingerbread Man” (aka me, earlier) left around the school. We make sure to visit the cafeteria, hall, library, bathroom (and take a bathroom break), and the office. During this time, I am introducing and demonstrating procedures. Then we go back to the room and eat a snack--usually cookies that the Gingerbread Man left us. I make sugar cookies using a Gingerbread Man cut out because I found kids hate real gingerbread.

I actually read-aloud quite often the first few weeks, and spend time on rules and procedures. I have students demonstrate the right way/wrong way to do something. The kids love it. And never assume they "got it." Trust me, throughout the school year you need to review those procedures. 


So the pic above shows an album a Kindergarten teacher collected from each student's artwork. I like how the first page has the Kissing Hand raccoon.
Oh, and here are other first day/week read-alouds I really love to use:

 Here are some good ideas I have seen online:

Make a Google Board for your class! Have it be a place they can post questions. If you teach primary, often students want to go "off topic" so have them put it on the board. You may not be able to read it, but you can always ask the student later to decipher it. It would lower distractions.

On Simply Kinder, Kim made over her cubby. I never thought about doing this. My cubbies were ugly and usually had old sticker stuff left behind. Sometimes I had no cubby, and had to use a shoe rack made from MDF board from Target. Teachers are great at repurposing!!! 

She laminated construction paper and cut to fit. Genius! You can read about the cubby makeover HERE.

The person made this by cutting cardboard triangles. This would be a cool reading spot. You could leave windows, too, so you can see in. I like this because it seems easier than making an igloo from milk jugs.

So speaking of re-purposing, I often see "junk" on the side of the road. When I was teaching I would drive my family crazy because I would usually pick it up to transform it into something for my classroom. I love this re-purposed entertainment center made into a dramatic play area.

Oh, and as a teacher I often used locally to find items I could use for my classroom like 30 Gerber baby jars or a Little Tikes kitchen. 

What a neat way to organize folders for groups. I like this because I always had to hunt and stalk Target because I was short five red folders or something. This is so simplejust use the fun type of duct tape! 

 If you have no dry eraser boards for students (been there, done that), laminate a white piece of paper or use page protectors. I often had baby socks for students to use to wipe boards. I have now heard of teachers just cutting little squares of felt to make erasers. Smart!!

Maybe you cannot paint your classroom walls, but you can add color by painting a file cabinet/shelf. Want something less permanent? Decorate it with scrapbook paper or fun duct tape.

This idea goes back to what I wrote above about an icebreaker with a ball. Find a beach ball inflatable (like at Dollar Tree) and use a Sharpie to write getting to know you questions on it. 

Don’t have a water table? Make your own. You can very cheaply get a dishwashing tub at a dollar store. Find (on the curb lol) or use an old end table to make your own.

 This is just my planner. Currently I homeschool my now 5th grader. I just wanted to share it because like a true teacher nerd I was so happy to get it in my hands. Many teachers order those fancy $100 planners online...and that is great if you have the funds, but just know you don't have to spend a lot on a planner. This was $8 at WalMart. I have seen some in the dollar section at Target. The planner does not matter, the content does. What you teach your students matters. So think about this before you spend a large amount because I would personally rather spend that $100 on something else.

How wonderful is this welcoming bulletin board?!?!

My hubs is an art teacher and I am so making these for his hall passes. Some teachers have students leave the hall pass on the student’s desk so they know who is out of the room and then you don’t have to worry about germy hall passes!

I love love this pencil decoration. I think it is great when you make something yourself as opposed to giving your money to a teacher store. DIY! This pencil was made from a postal shipping tube (could use an empty butcher paper tube) and butcher paper. Cool!

I saw this idea and thought it was very neat. It can be a small reward like an extra five minutes at recess or something.

Save yourself some stress and put paint into old soap dispensers. It will be so much easier for you to dispense!

Do you feel left out because you have no horseshoe-shaped reading table? Make your own using three trapezoid desks/tables.

This toilet paper games seems like a great first day ice breaker!!

Looking for some door décor or a bulletin board for back to school? Put these tents up and then you can add student pics you take from the first day.

Just sharing this because it can go with the same theme, too! Maybe you can go on a Gingerbread Man hunt!

I always used a similar chant as a time filler on the first day. We also sang it to learn colors.

One cool Kindergarten teacher from the Simply Kinder Facebook page made this with A-Z scrapbook stickers as a book her students can peruse to see that letters come in different shapes and forms. It helps with letter identification!

Check out these cool bulletin boards! Parents would love to have their children pose in front of these and you can also use them for those first day pics. The bulletin board signs are from Simply Kinder's TPT Store.

I adore this re-do. Make a coffee table into a chalkboard table for your classroom.

Another stressor saver! Glue sponges. You can make one using an Ocelo sponge and a plastic container or sandwich container from Dollar Tree. They last forever and cut down on mess. Best of all, no dried out glue sticks or clogged Elmer's lids to deal with. Of course, I would still encourage you to have students use glue sticks and squeeze glue because that is something they need to know, but you can use a glue sponge at centers.

Dry erase contact paper. Cover tables with it!

This is a great way to store math counters.

Pool noodles, tape and tissue paper make trees from The Lorax.

This is a genius hack way of having students practice how to tie shoes. Just put shoes on the legs of a table. 

 I love the set-up of this reading areaso cozy and inviting! I want to read there!!!

Make seasonal pointers using foam stickers and popsicle sticks. 

This is a great re-do of a table top organizer. I love the stripes on the ends of the slats. Creative!

This cutie can be found in the Target dollar spot! This would be great for those first day pics!!

Here is a re-purposed rocking chair. This would look super in my hub’s art room! 
When doing a DIY you should ask yourself...
So you really should outweigh the costs of a re-do/diy versus buying it already done. lol

Whew! All finished for now. And here is the mantra I always told myself when preparing my classroom for students~

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