Welcome Back to School Bulletin Boards - Setting Up the Classroom Series

Andy Warhol? Is that you?

These self-portraits are so fun. I'm a big fan of mounting on black to make them pop. I love the backgrounds that they colored.
To view more pictures of this teacher's classroom click here.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.


We have a list of spelling words that accompany our reading curriculum (Treasures). I use that as a guide, but differentiate my lists to meet the needs of my learners. This meant I needed to create activities that were open-ended in the sense that the students could be doing the same activity, but with their own personal word lists.

I use these with spelling lists, word study lists, vocabulary, and content area words. I also use them as homework pages. And they are great to leave when you have a sub. Oh, and if you are a "Daily 5er" then these rock for Word Work.

I finally organized them all into one packet. The packet includes:
  • TEN CENTER SIGNS - These are optional to use, but are great for letting the kids know what to do. Each sign prints as a 8.5 x 11 ince page and can be displayed in acrylic frames or just placed at the center.
  • MATCHING ACTIVITY PAGES-There are activity pages to go with each of the center signs, but can be used on their own as well as each has directions stated on them.
  • ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY PAGES-There are also 6 blacklined reproducible pages with additional activities.
  • HANDS-ON IDEA LIST-Includes a list of 10 hands-on activities that you can implement in your classroom or supply to the parents to use as homework.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

FREE Clip Chart Behavior Plan

I had posted about my behavior management system a little while ago and have received a few messages asking how I made it. I designed it in photoshop using the template that Vistaprint has available for banners and then saved it as a jpg.
I uploaded it to VP and had it printed as a vertical banner. You'll notice there are 3 columns. I did this so I could cut the banner and get 3 charts out of it. I was able to share them with coworkers to use. It lasted all year and is still in great shape.

I just added the jpg file I designed to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can download it there for free. I'm assuming you can then upload it to Vistaprint, snag a good deal and get your own free clip chart.


Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

How to Improve Classroom Behavior by Using Clip Charts

Teachers are often wondering how to manage classroom behavior and how to handle behavior problems.

Like most teachers, I experimented with different behavior management systems. This post will share not only my experiences using clip charts to improve classroom behavior, but how to use it as a positive behavior intervention system (PBIS).


Do Y'all Know Jodi?

Not me sillies.

The other Jodi.

I know. Cool name, right?

I'm talking about Jodi from Fun in First. She's hosting a What's Your Favorite Back to School Activity linky.

I was going to wait until August to post this, but since she asked...

I always start the year by making playdough the day before school starts. It's really easy and cheap to make and kids LOVE it regardless of how old they are. I leave it white when I make it.

I roll it into balls (one for each student), poke a small hole in each with my finger, add a few drops of food color and then cover the hole. I then place each ball into a ziploc bag and put a bag at each child's seat for their arrival.

After they arrive I instruct them to squish up the bag to see what happens. They oooh and ahhh over the "magic" (even in 3rd grade). Having them mush it in the bag prevents them from getting the food coloring all over their hands. After the color is well-blended I have them take it out of the bag. I give them about 5 minutes of "free play" with it and then instruct them to make certain things:
  • their initials
  • their favorite animal
  • their favorite food
  • something to represent their favorite subject in school
After they create each we share them. It's a great get to know you activity, but also gives them something to do to release any nervous energy they have. Also if something unexpected occurs (student added to roster, parent that stops by, crying child who won't come in) it gives the class something quiet to do at their seats until you can focus your attention on them. This is key since you will not have any guidelines, rules or expectations in place at that point.

You could also have large sheets of paper and crayons available to have the children illustrate a self-portrait. Not only do these make an easy, colorful and appropriate display, but I love having them repeat this activity at the end of the year. They always grow so much as artists.

Another favorite activity of mine is to create a "Who's in Our Class" word search. There are some great free online sources for generating them. All you need to do is type in the first names, print and copy. Just be sure to check the word search and make sure everyone is included.

I've also done crossword puzzles with their names, but find that some children need help. The goal is to have some fun, independent activities available so that you are free to tend to unexpected first day issues that may arise.
I've compiled some of my favorite activities for the 1st week of school to create a collection of "Back To School Printables" for grades 2-5. There are elements that could be used for grades K-1 as well (illustrating, self-portraits, handwriting samples, handprints) and you could scribe for the little ones if you wanted, but these are designed for 2-5 to do independently. They are also great to use as part of your emergency sub plans.

The unit includes:.

1. Teacher Guide

2. All About Me
This is a 2 page set. It includes a lined paper titled, “All About Me” and a drawing page titled, “This is Me.” Students use these pages to write about themselves and/or illustrate a self-portrait. These activities are great to do at the beginning, middle and end of each school year as they really show the progress the child has made as a writer and artist. They also make a quick and easy bulletin board display.

3. Bio Poem
The students complete the cloze activity to create a bio poem about themselves. The pages can be kept as is or they can be used as a rough draft. These are beautiful keepsakes when they are typed and illustrated by the children.

4. Classmate Bingo
Each student begins by completing the sentences at the bottom to tell about themself. The student then cuts that part of the page off and gives it to the teacher. The teacher provides the class with a list of student names (either reproduced individually or written on the board to be copied) and the children write one name in each box. If there are more boxes than names you may consider asking specialists, the nurse, the custodian, or the principal to fill out a paper as well. To play: pick one info page from the collection and read the sentences out loud. See if anyone can guess who it is before reading the name at the end. Students then mark that space on their bingo board (pasta makes a cheap and easy marker if you do not have bingo markers).

5. Getting to Know Me Gazette
Students use words and/or pictures to complete this personal newspaper about themselves. You can use the completed pages to make a bulletin board display or bind them into a class book that is sure to be a favorite throughout the year.

6. How I Spent My Summer Vacation
This is a 2 page set. It includes a lined paper and a drawing page that are both titled, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Students use these pages to write about and/or illustrate the highlights of their summer. ou can use the completed pages to make a bulletin board display or bind them into a class book that is sure to be a favorite throughout the year.

7. I Am Poem
This is a 2 page set. It includes a graphic organizer for branstorming ideas and a cloze activity to create the poem. The cloze activity can be the finished product or it can be edited for spelling and then published as a final draft. These look beautiful when you add a photo of the child and create a display. They are also cherished keepsakes and make wonderful holiday gifts for the families.

8. K-W-L About My New Grade
This is a 2 page set. It includes two KWL charts. The first is formatted in narrow columns and the second has been created with wider columns. This is a great way to introduce or review what a K-W-L chart is. Start by having the students brainstorm a list of things they already know about their new grade level (or classroom or teachers). Then have them generate a list of questions about their new grade level. Bring the class together to share their lists. You may want to compile them into a master list on poster paper or using an overhead projector. At the end of the 1st week of school have the sudents complete the last column by recording some things they have learned about their new grade.

9. Math About Me
The students begin by completing the sentences using the numbers that apply to them personally. Next, they create a collage of those numbers. To create the collage you can either have them write the numbers using markers, crayons or colored pencils or you could have them cut those numbers out of magazines and newspapers and glue them to the page.

10 My Picture is Worth Many Words
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. To complete this activity attach a photo of each child to the center of the page (or have each student draw a
self-portrait). Next, have each child brainstorm a list of words that tell about themself. This is a nice opportunity to discuss nouns and adjectives or even introduce a thesaurus. Have the children count the number of words they wrote and write that number on the line in the title. Cut out the box, mount onto colored paper and either display the finished products individually or create a class book.

11. New Classroom Scavenger Hunt
This activity can be done individually or in pairs. The students explore their new classroom and record something that fits into each category onto the chart. They can either use words, pictures or labeled illustrations to document their findings.

12. Squiggle Art
This activity shows that everyone is unique and that people often see things differently. The black squiggle is the start of a picture. Encourage the children to use their imaginations and incorporate that black squiggle into their own drawing. There are lines below the drawing box to write about what they drew. This makes a fun display or a class book. It is also a nice activity to do at the start and end of a school year to show personal growth in each student.

13. Time Capsule
This is a 5 page set. You may elect to do any or all of the activities. The idea is for the students to complete the activities at the start of the year and then revisit them at the end of the year. This set includes:
-a self-portrait
-a handprint (either painted and stamped or simply t
-a handwriting sample (perhaps the alphabet or a
dictated sentence)
-a list of things the student hopes to learn about that
-a collection of favorite things

After the students complete the pages you may want to seal them all into one box or else create individual time capsules using Pringles can. If you keep portfolios for your students then you could also use these as the first pages.

14. Who Am I?
Have the students complete each sentence starter to tell about themselves. Staple the top of the finished paper to construction paper so that the page can be lifted from the bottom. Attach a photo of the student underneath so that people can guess who it is and lift the page to check. These are especially fun for open house nights as parents love “finding” their litle darling.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Happy New Year

Here is a Happy New Year board that would work well with school.

I had each friend create a paper-pieced self-portrait and hot glued blowers onto them. I also attached the hat which had been cut in half. I love when things pop off a board.

I usually do a variation of this where I take pictures of the kids blowing blowers wearing a "Happy New Year" hat and display them on the board the first week of school.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

FREE GENRE LABELS for your classroom library

As promised, I have uploaded my Genre Labels to my TPT store for free as a thank you for helping me reach 700 followers. These are the same labels I use in my classroom library.
Speaking of which...

Today's feature in the setting up your classroom series is Classroom Libraries.

It will post later today.

AND..as an added "thanks a bunch," I am having a 20% off sale on my newly added GENRE KIT for today and tomorrow to keep with the classroom library theme du jour.

Happy Sunday!

free printables labels for the library classroom library labels inspired by beth newingham teaching genre how to teach genre how to set up a classroom library Thistlegirl Designs clipart clip are Thistle girl classroom organization setting up a classroom

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Oh, the Supplies!

Tips for Collecting Supplies on the First Day of School

Despite having a slightly unhealthy love affair with shiny new school supplies (just typing those words makes me float off to a happy daydream involving pointy crayons that reek of Crayola newness and unsharpened pencils with perfect little erasers), I despise the chaos that they can evoke on the first day of school.

If you have been teaching awhile you know what I mean.

If you are new to the classroom this year, you will thank me for sparring you the headache.

Here’s how it plays out: A classroom of kids enters wearing their spiffy new duds, modeling their stylish new haircut and sporting their brand-spanking new backpack full of the bounty you enlisted them to acquire via your annual “supply letter.”

They are excited and they can’t wait to force upon you said backpack. Those who elected not to adhere to the list that specifically said 24 yellow, #2 pencils are especially excited to show off their collection of Mario Kart pencils with (gasp) scented erasers.

Yeah, I get it. I’m not so far removed from my own brand-spanking new Trapper Keeper excitement days to have forgotten the glee it brings. But, as ring master of this circus it is important to have a plan.

A good plan. A damn good plan.

The first day sets the tone and it is doubtful that you want that tone to be “crazed lunatic who breaks down on day one when the Rosearts, Sharpies and glue sticks start coming out. So I have a few options for you.

I’ll start with the best one. Because it is the most efficient and organized way I know.

Start by schmoozing with the teenage bagger at your local grocery store. If you can’t butter him up then just go straight to the head Honcho and play the teacher card with the store manager. However you go about it, you need to get a large paper grocery sack for each child in your class. If you aren’t in the business of begging for free goodies then just answer “paper” to the “paper or plastic” question for the next few weeks and you should be all set when school starts.
Write the children’s names in big, bold letters on the front of the bags and then place them on their desks.

Make a copy of your supply list for each child and staple it to the back of the bag. Write their name on that as well.

When the students arrive, instruct them to put all of their supplies into the bag on their desk quickly and silently, hang their bag onto their chair and sit quietly.

Collect the bags and put them out of the way. Go about your first day plans. Then after the kiddos are on their way home (or if you are lucky enough to have an aide or a student teacher she can do this), sort through the supplies. Use the checklist on the bag to make sure that everything is accounted for.
If you are going to use community supplies then put them where you want them.

If you are going to have them be responsible for their own supplies then print out a sheet of labels with each child’s name on it and stick them on.

I suggest recruiting a parent volunteer or a former student to help with this task.

I also print out a list of the supplies w/ each child's # and check off each item as I organize.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

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