Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher
It’s back to school time and you have to start thinking about all the things you want to try to fit into your busy schedule for the first couple weeks of school. My number one priority is building relationships and routines within the first few days so we can get focused on the standards afterwards.
A great way to integrate some basic story elements while collecting work samples from students to help gauge their learning is to complete a back to school read aloud and activity each day. Each book can guide questions to help build student relationships and team building skills. You can integrate writing components to take work samples and help plan your instruction for the upcoming weeks.
I have created a FREE Back to School Ideas for the First 10 Days Guide! You can get an inside look into my classroom from over the years. I have everything from ELA read alouds, lessons, math activities, STEAM and SEL lessons and back to school Produces and set up. This 10 day guide helps me map out certain things I want to make sure I touch on while also working around the required items that my school will ask for me to complete.
During my teacher prep week (usually the week before the students start), my school will let us know of new initiatives and standards we must hit on those few first weeks. They will also give out the required and optional assessments we must fit into our schedule. The things I have listed on this guide is not a hard pressed schedule, but more of a flexible guide to the things I will fit into my days.
And then of course, there are the times I need to unpack their school supplies, practice walking down the hallways and give them a fun tour around our school. All important things to do when you are onboarding a new class, I wanted to take some of the planning off your plate and give you a leg up on heading back into the classroom.
Let’s start with some of my favorite Back to School books to read:
- First Day Jitters by: Julie Danneberg
- The Invisible Boy by: Trudy Lugwig
- Do Unto Otters by: Laurie Keller
- Chrysanthemum by: Kevin Henkes
- We’re All Wonders by: R. J. Palacio
- The Word Collector by: Peter H. Reynolds
- How I Spent My Summer Vacation by: Mark Teague
- I am Enough by: Grace Byers
- A Bad Case of Stripes by: David Shannon
- Our Class is a Family By: Shannon Olsen
More Favs of Mine:
David Goes to School by: David Shannon
Miss Nelson is Missing by: Harry G. Allard Jr.
A Base Case of the Tattle Tongue by: Julia Cook
I understand that every classroom has a different schedule, teaches different subjects and has time blocks of time to start the school year. With that in mind, I created the First 10 Days of Plans – Idea board. The simple and easy to read board lays out most of the activities and lesson plans I do each year with my K-3rd grade students. The board consists of lesson plans connected to read alouds, Social and Emotional Learning lessons to help the students build relationships, introduction lessons to Math and STEAM standards. Lastly, I focus a lot on team building and school and classroom producers. The Back to School BINGO is my all time favorite product!
You can download the FREE Google Docs now that has everything you need linked to get started this week! In the first two weeks of plans, I have included 4 freebies and some fun activities that any grade level can do.
Want a sneak peak into some of the activities and plans outlined in the guide:
Time Capsule: Have your students fill out their first day of school questionnaire! Then have them come back to this time capsule on the last day of school! Check out the video here!
Free Write Fun Slides: Use these slides all year long! 15+ fun writing prompts per month to use. Start with August & September. Each slide helps guide the students with a writing prompt.
Procedures BINGO: Teaching students the school and classroom procedures are so important (this will last all week!) Maybe even into a second and third week. This is editable so you can add your own procedures too!
This Week Went Swimmingly: Grab a fun writing sample to wrap up the first week of school! Of course, it is mermaid themed. I use this as a writing sample to help group and guide my writing block the following week.
Two Truths, One Lie – (Flip) Formally FlipGrid Template: Use this organizer to introduce Flip (Formally Flipgrid) to your students. It’s a great getting to know you and tech activity. I love watching their videos and picking their lie!
Tiny Target: Wrapping up the first couple weeks can be difficult, reward the amazing work by opening your classroom store! These labels help make your own little Dollar Spot come alive.
Who Has the Number?: Use this fun get to know you activity that focuses on numbers in math. I love watching the students walk around and ask each other questions to get to know each other.
Exclusive Back to School Read Aloud Lessons: Want to have it all? Grab the Back to School Ultimate Bundle now. It includes 23 products and an exclusive freebie with THREE read aloud lessons for the books, First Day Jitters, The Invisible Boy, and Do Unto Otters.
Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.
Like this article? Then you may also enjoy Casey’s post about Classroom Transformations!