Simplifying the First Week of School {Back to School Activities & Ideas, Easy, No Prep, Lesson Planning}

In addition to getting my classroom decorated for the new school year, my teaching partner and I (along with my new student teacher) had a chance to sit together and fill in our curriculum map for the year and plan our first week of school. We have almost everything prepped and I'm excited to add a brand new activity booklet to my Back-To-School Teacher Organization Binder which will make my teaching life easier and allow me to enjoy summer vacation all the more.

I’ve been teaching third grade for awhile now so I do many of the sameactivities (plus playdough, Judy Moody, First Day Jitters, All About Me Bags, Pete the Cat New Shoes, A Bad Case of Stripes, self-portraits, 2nd Grade Math Review Task Cards, etc), but I also wanted to have an activity that they could work on independently throughout the first few days of school.

From experience I know that there are always some odd minutes to fill before procedures and routines are established and often times your attention is needed to handle an immediate, unexpected matter (i.e. new student at the door who hadn’t registered prior to that day, crying child who is struggling with the transition). During those times it is important to have an activity on hand that the students can work on by themselves.

For that reason I created a 10-page booklet that not only meets the purpose stated above, but also serves as a wonderful keepsake for the students and their families. I love how the third grade version turned out so much that I have also made booklets for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, fourth grade and fifth grade (which include differentiated pages to make modifications easier for classroom teachers).

Prepping it could not be any easier! I just printed out all 10 pages and copied them back to back. The copier even has a staple option so within minutes I had a set of booklets for my entire class. I know they will be a tremendous help throughout that first week of school.

This booklet is ideal because many components involve illustrating or coloring which are activities that are accessible to almost every school-aged child regardless of his/her academic level. The booklet is also a wonderful tool for getting to know each other. In my classroom I complete a booklet of my own to use as an example. Sharing my sample with the class not only gives them a visual resource for completing their own pages, but also allows them to get to know more about me. I have them share components of their book with their tablemates and the class as a whole. 

My recommendation is to print the packet in its entirety and copy and staple a class set of booklets. By giving the students an entire booklet they can work at their own pace and learn independence right from day one. Alternatively you could print select pages and use them individually.

I plan to hold onto mine, add a student photo using the first day of school photo frame prop and save it until the end of the year. At that time I’ll bind it together with their end of the year memory books as a sweet keepsake from our year together.

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