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Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade TeacherAre you ready to kickstart the new school year? As you prepare for the first couple of weeks, it’s essential to prioritize building relationships and establishing routines. These early days set the foundation for focused learning and achieving standards later on. One fantastic way to achieve this is by incorporating basic story elements and collecting work samples from students through a daily back-to-school read-aloud and accompanying activity. Each book becomes a guiding tool to foster student relationships and develop teamwork skills. By integrating writing components, you can also gather valuable work samples and plan your instruction for the upcoming weeks. To support your back-to-school journey, I’ve created a FREE Back to School Ideas for the First 10 Days Guide! Inside, you’ll gain insight into my classroom over the years. The guide covers ELA read-alouds, lessons, math activities, STEAM and SEL lessons, as well as back-to-school essentials and setup. This 10-day guide helps me map out important topics while accommodating the required items that my school mandates.
During the teacher prep week, usually just before students arrive, schools often introduce new initiatives and standards for the first few weeks. They also distribute required and optional assessments that need to be incorporated into our schedules. The guide I’ve provided is not a rigid schedule but a flexible resource to help you fit essential activities into your days. Of course, there are additional tasks, such as unpacking school supplies, practicing hallway procedures, and giving students a fun tour of the school. These are all crucial steps when welcoming a new class. My goal is to alleviate some of your planning burdens and provide you with a head start as you step back into the classroom.
Let’s begin with some of my favorite Back to School books that I love reading aloud:
- 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 each classroom operates on a unique schedule, teaches different subjects, and has varying time blocks to begin the school year. With that in mind, I’ve created the First 10 Days of Plans – Idea board. This simple and easy-to-read board outlines most of the activities and lesson plans I’ve used with my K-3rd grade students each year. It includes lesson plans connected to read-alouds, Social and Emotional Learning lessons, math and STEAM introductions, as well as a strong emphasis on team building and school/classroom procedures. My personal favorite from this resource is the Back to School BINGO! To access the FREE Google Docs containing everything you need to get started this week, simply download it now. In the first two weeks of plans, I’ve included 4 freebies and some enjoyable activities suitable for any grade level.
Want a sneak peak into some of the activities and plans outlined in the guide:Time Capsule: Have your students fill out a first-day-of-school questionnaire and revisit it on the last day of school. Watch the video here to see how it’s done!
Free Write Fun Slides:Utilize these slides throughout the year, with 15+ engaging writing prompts per month. Start with August and September prompts to guide your students’ writing journey. Procedures BINGO:Teach your students school and classroom procedures using this editable BINGO resource. It’s an interactive way to introduce and reinforce essential guidelines (this can even extend into the second and third week!).
This Week Went Swimmingly:Wrap up the first week of school with a fun mermaid-themed writing sample. Use it to assess and guide your writing block in 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:Celebrate the fantastic work your students have done in the first couple of weeks by opening your classroom store. These labels will help you create your own little Dollar Spot and bring it to life. Who Has the Number?:Engage your students with this fun math-related get-to-know-you activity. Encourage them to ask each other questions focused on numbers. It’s an enjoyable way for everyone to get better acquainted.
Exclusive Back to School Read Aloud Lessons: If you want to have it all, consider grabbing the Back to School Ultimate Bundle now. This comprehensive bundle 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.
More on FWT! Check out my post on Why I Do STEAM Activities in my Classroom! Get a free $25 Amazon Gift Card! – Visit Fair Winds Teaching on California Casualty to complete your no-obligation auto quote for your complimentary gift card! California Casualty has been insuring and providing exclusive benefits to educators for over 100 years!