This is subtitled, "The Post That Almost Wasn't."

I literally started this at 6:00 a.m. and many distractions and technical difficulties later we "may" be good to go.

The first week of school is about establishing procedures and routines, outlining your expectations, and building a community. It's a time to get to know the little people who will become your extended family for the next ten months.

I had recently suggested sending home parent surveys to get the families' to share their insight with you, but it's also important to learn about the kids from the kids. This is a project I do each year as a "get to know you" activity.
{click here to access and print this product}

I send it home as homework on the first night. They need to decorate the bag and put one object into it that represent them. I suggest things like a batting glove if they play baseball, a paint brush if they enjoy crafts, etc. The next day we sit in a circle with our bags, remove the object and talk about why it was selected.

This is important because it not only tells the class a bit about each other, but it jump starts the brainstorming process for writing. After we share (I bring in an object too), I pass out a graphic organizer to plan a descriptive writing piece.  I model how to fill it in using my object and they do the same. Next, they use their webs to compose their paragraph. This is a VERY guided writing activity, but really gives me some immediate insight into their ability levels without throwing an assessment at them from the start.

There is a space to the left of the writing area. I've used that in two different ways. Some years I let them illustrate their object. Other years I have snapped pictures of them holding their object and attach those. I like the latter because I'm always amazed to see how they grow at the end of the year.

This year I plan to combine those two. I am going to take a photo of each child holding out his hand with his palm up. I will then have them illustrate their object on white copy paper and cut it out. After I get the pictures printed and attached I will add the illustrated objects to their hands (sort of like those pics they take in Disney and superimpose Tinkerbelle into your palm).

These make a great (read easy) bulletin board that you can hang up immediately. I then take the individual writing pages and slide them into sheet protectors and make a class book. At the end of the year they will go home with their owner as part of a writing portfolio.

I decided I needed to spruce up my usual note home and writing paper. While doing so I created an entire packet complete with differentiated writing pages for grades K-5 or to use with the varied ability levels in any classroom in that range. The packet also includes various graphic organizers and the note home. I staple that right onto a bag. All of the pages are color, but I printed them in greyscale and copied them that way and they look great if you want to save on ink.

For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide. This post is part of:

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