The first weeks of school can be exhausting and overwhelming both for students and for teachers. It is important to make sure that these days are a mix of activities that help with the transition back into work mode, are fun and engaging, and also slowly reintroduce academic skills and concepts.
One of the most important goals is to create a positive and engaging learning environment where your students feel safe and the classroom community is one of respect and caring for each other. Here are 10 activities to consider:
1. Icebreaker Activities: Plan icebreaker activities to help your students get to know one another and build a sense of community. These can include "All About Me" presentations, "Find Someone Who", sharing circles, or partner interviews. Encourage students to share their interests, hobbies, and goals for the school year.
2. Establish Classroom Rules: Collaboratively develop classroom rules with your students. Discuss the importance of respect, responsibility, and cooperation. Create visual reminders of the rules and involve your students in creating a classroom rules display.
3. Name Games and All About Me Activities: Use name games and activities to help your students learn and remember each other's names. Play name games, create name tags, or use interactive name charts. Do activities that help them to share information about themselves. Create "All About Me" posters, collages, or shields. Try combining name acrostics with interests.
4. Daily Routines: Teach and practice daily routines and procedures, such as entering the classroom, morning routines, transitions, lining up, and using materials. Model and practice these routines to ensure a smooth flow of the school day.
5. Team Building Activities: Include team-building activities to encourage cooperation and collaboration. Assign the students group tasks or problem-solving activities that require them to work together and share ideas. This helps build relationships, create a supportive classroom community, and develop important social skills.
6. Classroom Jobs or Responsibilities: Introduce classroom jobs and allow your students to take on responsibilities within the classroom. Assign age-appropriate tasks such as line leader, librarian, or materials organizer. This encourages a sense of responsibility, promotes leadership skills, and helps them feel valued and involved in the classroom community.
7. Growth Mindset Activities: Teach and reinforce the concept of a growth mindset through activities and discussions. Help your students understand that their abilities can be developed through effort, perseverance, and a positive attitude. Engage in discussions about challenges, mistakes, and the power of "yet" (e.g., "I can't do it yet, but I will keep trying").
8. Math and Literacy Centers: Set up math and literacy centers with hands-on activities that review or reinforce skills previously taught. These centers can include puzzles, manipulatives, sorting activities, or small-group games that focus on essential concepts.
9. Arts and Craft Projects: Plan arts and craft projects that allow your students to express their creativity and personalize their learning environment. This can include creating classroom banners, designing name tags, or decorating bulletin boards with collaborative artwork.
10. Brain Breaks: It is important to include energizing brain breaks throughout the day to help your students stay focused and engaged. These can include quick physical activities, stretches, or movement-based games that allow them to recharge their energy.
Remember to create a balanced schedule that includes a mix of academic, social emotional, and community building activities during the first weeks of school.
These activities will help your students feel connected, engaged, and excited about the learning journey ahead. They may also help lessen your teacher overwhelm and stress as you make connections and develop relationships with your students.
It's that time of year again. Summer break is ending for some and nearing the halfway mark for others. Teachers are starting to gear up again and think about the new school year. School supplies are everywhere, back to school ads are appearing on the television and the teacher brain is going into overdrive.
As hard as it is, it's important to try and keep relaxing and recharging so that you don't burn out before the year even gets going.
Does this sound like you?
• can't turn off teacher brain
• wondering how you are going to do assessments
• not finding enough time for planning
• juggling setting up routines while keeping kids engaged
• differentiating for range of ability levels
• trying to make lessons fresh and engaging
So many questions and worries
How can I go on when I am so exhausted?
How will I manage to assess everyone while keeping others engaged?
What if the range in my class is too wide?
I've been there. It is exhausting and at times overwhelming. That's why I have collected some of the different resources and activities that have been successful with my students and I've created The Ultimate Primary Teachers Ready To Go Kit.
These resources and activities can make the beginning of the year enjoyable and less stressful for both you and your students.
Returning to school after summer break isn't always fun for kids. They've been free to do different things without the structure of the classroom routines. Now they have to fit into set schedules, rules, and routines of a new grade and a new teacher.
Engage your students from the very first day with dynamic activities and icebreakers. This kit features interactive games, team-building exercises, and activities that foster a positive classroom community. With the colorful posters and educational activities, you can set up an inspiring learning space that encourages curiosity and exploration.
This comprehensive kit is designed specifically for primary teachers. Packed with a wide range of resources and activities, this kit is your go-to solution for start-of-the-year preparation, emergency sub plans, and engaging substitute teacher activities. From day one to those unexpected absences, it's got you covered!
Check out what it includes
Classroom management resources and ice breakers and some active games
Posters and task cards as well as ice breaker tools and active games that will help you with your classroom routines and management to create a positive classroom environment.
Back To School resources full of activities for the first weeks back
These resources will give your students many different activities to do while you are trying to do assessments or trying to get to know your kids.
Literacy activities for reading, writing, language development
Reading for evidence, working with vocabulary and sounds, task cards for parts of speech and idioms, writing prompts are just a few of the activities here.
Math review for basic operations, graphing, and measurement
Basic math operations review, working with glyphs, and measurement games to get kids ready for more skills as they move on to more abstract concepts.
Science posters, graphic organizers, and experiments to get the year started off right
Positive self esteem activities and resources to create positive mindsets
Get ready to kick off the school year with confidence and ease and ensure a successful academic year for both you and your students. Get The Ultimate Primary Teachers Ready To Go Kit today and experience the peace of mind that comes with being well-prepared!
Not sure if you need the full kit? There are individual kits available as well. There is even a sampler kit for those who want to try just a few of the activities from each area. Check out my TPT store to find out more about the individual kits. If you are ready for a less stressful start to the year grab your ultimate kit now.
A new school year is fast approaching. As you plan for your best year yet, here are 10 things you might want to consider.
1. Classroom Setup and Organization
Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment will support student engagement and collaboration. Planning the physical layout of your classroom, considering the arrangement of desks, bulletin boards, and learning centers, and organizing materials, supplies, and resources in an accessible manner will help.
2. Curriculum and Instructional Planning
It is important to make sure you are familiar with the curriculum requirements for your grade level or subject area. This will help you to develop a scope and sequence, outlining the major topics, skills, and assessments for the year. Consider ideas for differentiating instruction to meet the diverse needs of your students and prepare a variety of engaging instructional strategies, resources, and materials aligned with the curriculum.
3. Establishing Classroom Procedures and Expectations
Know what your classroom procedures, rules, and expectations are and communicate these guidelines to students. Try to involve them in the process whenever possible. Set behavior expectations, rules for participation, and consequences for misbehavior. Developing routines for daily activities, transitions, and classroom management will help create a structured and positive learning environment.
4. Getting to Know Your Students
Gather information about your students' interests, strengths, learning styles, and individual needs. Consider using student interest surveys or icebreaker activities to learn about them and build positive relationships. You could also review student records, previous assessments, or reports from previous teachers. (Note: I try not to do this immediately as I want to form my own impressions first.)
5. Differentiation and Individualized Support
Identify students who may require additional support or accommodations based on their learning needs, abilities, or backgrounds. Develop strategies to differentiate instruction and create individualized learning plans when necessary. Collaborate with other professionals, such as special education teachers or English language support staff, to ensure appropriate support for all students.
6. Parent and Guardian Communication
It is important to establish effective communication channels with parents and guardians. Introduce yourself, share your contact information, and explain your preferred methods of communication. Plan parent-teacher conferences or open house events to foster collaboration and provide opportunities for parents to share their insights about their child's strengths and needs.
I find that parents can sometimes be your best background source of information on their child. They can give some insight into their life outside of school. I send home a "getting acquainted" form at the beginning of the year. You can get a copy for yourself by clicking the button below.
7. Assessment and Data Collection
Decide what assessment methods and tools you will use throughout the year to monitor student progress. Consider formative assessments, such as pre-tests, observations, or checklists, to gather baseline data and inform your instructional planning. Set up a system for organizing and analyzing student data to guide your instruction and identify areas for growth.
8. Social-Emotional Learning
The social and emotional well-being of your students is key to promoting a positive classroom culture, empathy, respect, and a sense of belonging. Plan activities or discussions and explore strategies to address potential challenges or issues that may arise, such as implementing morning meetings or incorporating social-emotional learning into your curriculum.
9. Professional Development and Growth
Remember to continue your own personal and professional growth. Reflect on your professional development needs and identify areas where you can further enhance your teaching practice. Seek out relevant workshops, conferences, or online resources to stay updated on the latest research and best practices in education. Consider collaborating with colleagues to share ideas, resources, and support.
10. Flexibility and Adaptability
Recognize that each school year brings unique challenges and opportunities. Be prepared to adjust your plans and strategies based on the evolving needs of your students and the classroom dynamics. Embrace a growth mindset, remain open to feedback and collaboration, and be willing to adapt your teaching practices as necessary.
By considering these aspects, you can effectively prepare for the new school year, set a positive tone in the classroom, and create a supportive learning environment for your students.
Teaching Outdoors In The Fall
It's back to school time again, but that doesn't mean you need to stay inside the classroom. Get outside and enjoy nature, exercise, and fresh air before it is too wet or cold and inside recess becomes the norm.
Science topics and ideas for outdoor study
Fall is the perfect time for science lessons for outdoors. There are many science topics that can be covered including plant life cycles, the water cycle, and the effects of weather.
Think of all the amazing questions you can investigate and discuss. Here are a few examples:
Why is it called Fall?
What causes the leaves to change color and fall off the trees?
What are seasons? Why are there four?
Why do we set the clocks back an hour in the fall?
Fun Science Activities To Do
1. Take a nature walk and collect leaves of different colors. Talk about the different shapes, sizes, and textures of the leaves.
2. Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard. Talk about how pumpkins and apples grow.
Compare the different types of apples: some are good for eating, some for baking, and some for cider.
3. Rake leaves into a big pile and jump in! Then, use leaf blowers to blow the leaves into the air.
Kids will love playing in the pile of leaves and learning about wind power.
4. Go on a scavenger hunt. Look for acorns, pine cones, rocks, and other objects.
Talk about the different colors, sizes, and shapes of the objects you find.
These are just a few ideas – there are endless possibilities for learning about science outdoors in the fall! So put on your jacket and get outside – it's time to learn!
Take Math Lessons Outdoors
Math is another area that can be adapted to outdoor study. Think of all the data collection activities you can do. Comparing, contrasting, and classifying activities can be endless depending on what you choose to collect.
You can even create glyphs for data collected. These could be follow up activities for outside lessons.
You could create a tree with leaves falling. The colors of the leaves, number of leaves left on the tree, shape of the leaves and number of branches could all represent different attributes of data collection.
If creating a glyph is something you would like to try, grab my free glyph templates.
Sign up for Diamond Mom's Treasury email list and get your free copy.
More ideas and activities
Geometry and measurement activities can also be done outdoors. There are many different shapes in our environment. A scavenger hunt or neighborhood walk would be a great way to find examples of the various 2D and 3D shapes. Area and perimeter are effective measurement activities to try outdoors. It could be fun to measure the school field, playground area, or the school building and then graph them.
Many other subject areas could work well outside. Geography and mapping skills are some of my favorite. Check out this post for a few ideas for social studies outdoors.
Many lessons can be tailored to any grade level and can be adapted to fit the needs of any class size. With a little creativity, lessons outdoors can be an enjoyable and educational experience for all.
So hurry up, beat the inside recess rush, and get outside to learn.
The Power Of Self Esteem
Positive self esteem and a positive attitude is very important for success in life. I believe it can be a game changer for kids if they learn to value their self worth and uniqueness.
Kids that struggle with their own worthiness, find it hard to care about others. Helping them feel good about themselves will build self confidence and set the tone for a more successful year.
Lessons From Tigger And Eeyore
Attitude has the power to change the way the day goes. Just look at Tigger and Eeyore.
Although Eeyore is a lovable character, he see everything through dark clouds. It takes his friends to encourage him to try things out and find good in his world.
Tigger is very happy go lucky and almost too bouncy and positive at times for his friends, but he sees the fun and excitement in everything and wants them to see it too.
Imagine how it must feel for children to always see themselves as an Eeyore. “I can’t do anything right, I might as well not try because I am going to mess up. I’ve misplaced my tail again!” This won’t give them much incentive to try to do things or even imagine that life could work out well.
“Tigger” children are game to try anything and don’t worry about the outcome. Excitement and fun is the focus Because of this, they keep going and trying even when it doesn’t work out the first time.
We don’t have to be bouncing off the walls to have a positive outlook on the world, but it's important to see joy and not just negatives.
Optimism lesson suggestions
Do a lesson on optimism and pessimism using the example of Tigger and Eeyore. Expand it to share a couple of scenarios with kids in different situations that show how a positive or negative attitude affects the outcome of the situations. Discuss ways to change the situations.
Example 1: At the beach: One boy wants to swim to the dock. He talks about diving off the edge, playing water tag, doing flips and having fun. The other complains, "The water is too cold, I can't swim very well, it's too far, I'd rather stay on the beach and watch."
Example 2: The teacher introduces a new game. Sally is excited and ready to play. She gathers all the necessary equipment and asks her friend Nancy to join her. Nancy is hesitant. She worries that she won't be any good at it. She can't remember all the rules. She creates roadblocks that prevent her from trying.
Add in more activities and lessons about self worth, self confidence, and power words. This can make a huge difference to how students respond to each other and situations that arise in the classroom.
The sooner we can help kids to see that they are unique and special, the sooner they will strive to be the best they can be. Their goal should be to improve themselves and not try to be someone else.
A positive attitude is key. One of the sayings in my class was “Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?” This was a reminder for both the kids and myself that we need to check our attitudes and see if they are helping us to be successful.
In a world where we are surrounded by negative, a positive attitude is even more necessary. It is our job as teachers, to help kids see that they are valued and important and that they have much contribute to the world around them.
We also need to help them develop good team skills and support them if they slip up. If we provide them with the tools to be good team players they will soar in a competitive world, pick themselves up when they fall, dust themselves off, and continue on. They will accept the minor setbacks are part of growing, not failures and they will be able to move forward.
Some Activities And Resources
Success and Power words
Bucket filling activities
Acts of Kindness
Optimist or Pessimist Task Cards
I Am posters
Last time, I wrote about a strong classroom management plan. If you add a self esteem component to your plan, you will have a positive classroom environment and a more successful year. Remember attitude is everything. Focus on what is going right and build a caring and respectful class community with these two things. You've got this!
Positive Classroom Management Strategies and Self Esteem Go Hand In Hand
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Changing behavior in the classroom - Meet "Johnny"
As I walk down the hallways of the school, my heart breaks when I see kids sitting out in the hall almost daily because they are being disruptive in the classroom. It brings back memories of a child I had a few years ago.
It was the end of the first week of school and I met up with the mother of my new student "Johnny". I was surprised when I heard what she had to say.
"This is the longest he has ever remained in the classroom."
Red flags seemed to jump up all around me. What did she mean? What was I missing?
I pondered this statement and decided I might want to investigate why she said that. I checked on his file to learn more.
Start with a clean slate
It turned out that he had many behavior issues that made it difficult for him to remain in the classroom for the full day in his previous school.
Because I don't read the files of new students right away, I was unaware of this. I just took any movement toward misbehavior and redirected it as I would with any other child.
This is not to say that the behaviors weren't there, but they were not my focus. Since I didn't know his history, I hadn't formed an expectation of negative behavior and he was able to start with a clean slate.
Does this mean that the behaviors had disappeared? No, but we found ways to lessen the frequency and degree of negative behaviors and increase the positive behaviors.
The weeks and months progressed, and "Johnny" and I developed an understanding so we were able to interrupt potential behavior issues and make things work. This took some creative effort, but with the help of his classmates we were successful.
Every day was a new day, so he learned that he could start fresh the next day if he messed up or needed time to self regulate and regain control.
How did we make this work?
I remembered a keynote speech from a couple of years earlier that promoted thinking about what is going right in a negatively charged world. It hit me that this could be a game changer.
I began to focus on developing positive self-esteem and creating a class community based on celebrating successes. We zeroed in on what was going right and learned not to feed into the negative stuff. (More on this next time.)
When "Johnny" didn't get attention for his negative behavior, it became less and less.
Many of his behaviors were ways to distract others from seeing that he struggled with reading and writing or he didn't understand a concept or lesson. I suspect that some of this was because he missed key instructions and practice during the times when he was not in the classroom.
He loved to share what he did know and this often meant that he would blurt out answers and interrupt others who were sharing if he made a connection to something they said. Instead of getting upset with him for this, I quietly reminded him that it was their turn and he could share when they were finished. Little things like this helped him to be able to participate in class activities and have moments to share his ideas.
Differentiation and focusing on learning styles made a huge difference. Here are some of the notes from his report card.
- creative thinker
- enjoys nonfiction topics
- enjoys sharing ideas
- enjoys active lessons
- very knowledgeable about his world
- learns best orally
- works best one on one
One of the key ways we were able to help "Johnny" was to focus on what he could do and be his cheerleaders. His classmates were awesome cheerleaders for him and helped him to feel he was valuable and part of a special team.
When he learned that he wouldn't be teased for his struggles with reading and writing and that he could have support with these areas, he was more willing to do the work. Scribing stories and writing words in an idea book helped to share his thoughts. He loved to share stories and adventures and the kids enjoyed hearing them.
Because he felt accepted by his classmates, he worked harder to fit in and become a team player. His self esteem and confidence grew, he made friends, and he ended up having a successful year. The transformation was heartwarming to see.
Ignoring negative behaviors and focusing on positive behaviors wasn't easy, and I had to intentionally control my emotions, bite my tongue, and not freak out at actions that had the potential to explode into very negative behaviors. But it paid off in dividends. So much so, he told his younger brother that he needed to be in my class because "Mrs. Sequeira gets us."
(Little did I know at that time that his brother also had many behavior challenges.)
I wish I could say that "Johnny" continued to build on this success and have a positive school experience, but it wasn't so. After all the work that was done during the year to work on being a positive, responsible member of the class, it seemed to unravel in the next couple of years.
My heart sank as I saw him spending many days slumped on a chair in the hallway because he was too "disruptive" in class. I could see in his face as he looked down at the floor that he felt uncomfortable when I saw him out there.
I guess other teaching styles didn't work well for him and he was unable to adjust to them and continue to be successful, so he reverted to his old behaviors.
Changing my focus
Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened, and it won't be the last. I have seen several students over the years struggle to adjust to the different classroom situations.
I have to admit, there were times earlier in my career when I had difficulty with some students and found it very hard to manage their behaviors in the classroom. As I did some soul searching, I discovered that it was my own classroom management skills and my understanding of kids and why they might be acting out or behaving in negative ways that needed changing.
When I figured this out, my approach in the classroom became intentionally focused on nurturing positive self esteem, promoting optimism and a positive attitude, and developing self confidence during my first few weeks of school.
Changing my focus to what was going right was a big shift that helped to create a more cooperative and caring class situation.
Focusing on SEL (social emotional learning) and mindful behavior is key to developing a caring and respectful community which can work even for kids with challenging behaviors like "Johnny".
Next time, I will give some specific tips and activities that help develop positive, confident kids and a cooperative and caring community.
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Engaging students to learn
When students arrive back to school from summer break, the room echoes with excitement as kids reconnect with classmates. But that quickly fizzles when it is time to actually do some work. Groans can be heard and the grumbling starts. Some are happy to do the activities planned and others want to get outside and play or take out electronics and zone out. And so it begins.
Kids are not always excited to return to school and start studying again. What can you do to engage your students and get them excited to learn after a summer break from learning?
The answer to that question will be different for each person depending on their personality, experience, and classroom situation, but there are some things that could work for most teachers. Here are a few suggestions to get your kids motivated and wanting to learn the first weeks back at school.
Take learning outside
Kids have been enjoying the summer break and hopefully they have been spending time having fun outdoors. If you wish to keep them interested when they return to school, try to incorporate some outside activities during the day. These could be review activities, exploration, science activities, or maybe even body breaks and daily PE. I know that my students were eager to get outside and do hands on activities and it helped to make the transition back into school easier for them.
Check out my blog post about taking learning outdoors for the fall for some specific types of activities.
Have you ever had a group of kids that were a challenge? Did you wonder if you would be able to get them to sit still, listen and cooperate? Building community is especially important with these types of situations. It is important to build respect and caring in the classroom. This can be encouraged by doing partner activities and group activities that help kids to meet their classmates and learn more about them. You may even need to add some specific classroom management systems. As you are figuring out where they fit in academically, you can start doing games and activities that foster teamwork and respect. Activities that foster positive self esteem and help to develop self confidence could also be a focus.
Focus on developing positive self esteem
Beginning the year with activities that focus on positive self esteem and classroom management will ensure that children have the tools for a successful year. There are many different ways of creating a caring and positive classroom. It is important that you choose what works best for you.
I always start out with teaching about optimism and a positive attitude. I also use bucket filling activities and acts of kindness as a focus.
Here is more about what I tried in my classroom to develop positive self esteem and help kids blossom and display increased self confidence about themselves.
Move, move, move
Just like teachers, kids are tired at the beginning of the year as they start up new routines and stay in class for several hours. Incorporating movement and organizing classroom activities for transitions will help keep kids energized so that they stay focused and alert.
Games and body breaks work well to keep kids active. Doing hands on activities and partner games also work well.
Rules and routines
Kids are creatures of habit as well as adults although they may not be aware of this yet. When you give students routines and schedules to follow, you can help them regulate and focus on daily and weekly expectations. With pre-planning and teaching for when unexpected events and situations happen, we can help them avoid meltdowns.
Create classroom rules and establish routines that work for your students. Depending on the age of your students, you can take their ideas into consideration and create the rules together. This is a great community building activity as well.
Here is a set of routine and schedule cards that I created that may be useful for the classroom. I have made them in both English and French. You can get a free copy by clicking on the image.
First week back activities
When selecting activities for the first week of school choose a mix of fun activities that review concepts and skills from the year before to ensure that they are not lost somewhere in distant memory after a summer of no school and that they will be able to use them to build on for new concepts and skills to be taught. We have all probably experienced the situations where kids stare blankly at us as if they had never heard of the subject before.
If you get your previous students back for the first few days, you will want to ensure that they are doing something that is not a direct repeat of the previous year. It can be similar, but they will respond better if it is varied and approached from a different angle this year.
You may have new students in your class as well. They will need to be able to handle the material given as well. They won't be familiar with your teaching style yet, and they may or may not have covered the same material last year, so there will need to some differentiation and extra support in certain cases.
If you are looking for some back to school activities, check out my back to school category. These activities are geared to primary and cover some basic math and language skills.
I hope these ideas help to make your school year start up successful. Have a wonderful year.
Tips For Planning Ahead To A New School Year
It may seem crazy for some teachers to be talking about preparing for the new school year so soon, but for other teachers, your summer break is already half over. If you are anything like me, your mind is already thinking about how the new year might look, what you want to do in your classroom to make it fresh for your students and yourself, and what resources and materials you might want to start gathering. You may even be thinking about ways you will build classroom community and set up the rules and routines.
Here are 6 tips and ideas that can help you prepare for a successful year.
1. Give your classroom a fresh look
Changing up your classroom arrangement and giving it a fresh look can help you to feel refreshed and ready to begin a new year.
In our district, we get our former students for the first week of school as the numbers are tallied and the classes are formed. Even though we try to organize things before school ends for the year, there are always changes in the fall. New students come, some students move away, some go to online instruction, etc. These all affect the numbers and how they are distributed throughout the grades.
Once the classes are organized, kids are moved into their new classrooms. Usually, some remain because of all the split grades. Changing up the room and giving them special roles help them to feel like they are important and not missing out.
Do you change up how the room looks or add a new decor to your room?
If you are looking at adding some color to your room, you might want to check out my rainbow set. It has many different elements in it to make your classroom look cheerful and ready for a new year. I have created an English and a French version so that it will work in French Immersion or core French classrooms as well.
2. Use ice breakers to build classroom community
Building a classroom community will help with gaining trust and respect in the group. This is an important part of creating a caring and successful learning climate for the students. There are many different ways to build community. We will look more at this another time, but for now, here are a couple of ice breaker type ideas that might help with getting started.
Getting to know each other is an important part of developing class community, so I like to do many different group activities and partner games to mix up the kids and help them to learn to work together with others. Here are a couple of the activities I have used in the past along with a twist to make it a bit different.
Find Someone Who
Find Someone Who is a well-known icebreaker that is used in various forms. This is my newest version. It is more extensive and can be used for getting to know classmates better. There are interview questions for the 5W and there is also a game component where teams can work together to guess who the person interviewed was. Check it out by clicking the image.
If you would prefer a simplified version that is a fast icebreaker, I have made another version that just asks a couple of questions. Click the image to get your free copy.
Choose a topic and have the one circle share with the person they are facing. Then switch roles. This is a great way to learn information about several others as you can continue to have one circle move so that the partners keep changing. You can ask the same question multiple times or you can change up the questions to find out more information. Choose questions that will guide the conversations to learning more about the class members.
Here is a great way to combine getting to know each other and math. Each glyph has different information on it depending on the likes and interests of the person creating it. After the glyphs are completed, many different questions can be asked for analyzing the data.
3. Have some classroom management strategies planned
Classroom management is an important part of teaching. There needs to be some sort of classroom routine, structure, or rules that are agreed upon in order for good learning to happen. These can be given, mutually developed, or a combination of the two, but they should be established during the first few days so that they can be practiced and followed as soon as possible.
I found that using a t-chart for creating some of these routines worked well. Here are some that I used.
Classroom rules and manners posters can also help to remind the kids of expectations. Here are some that I created for the primary classroom. There are a couple of different patterns available as well as a black and white version if you prefer.
4. Have some quick and easy activities ready
There are often times during the first few days when you are trying to adjust to getting back into the school routine that you may be scrambling to fill in a few minutes here and there. If you have some quick and easy activities or brain break games ready, you can just grab one of them to use. This will also help to avoid confusion, management situations, and it will help to keep the kids engaged.
5. Remember to have some fun
The temptation may be to get started on academics right away, but remember that both you and the kids need to get back into a routine. It is important to make sure that you keep the fun in the activities and interject the academics in a way that isn't too intense as you do review or introduce new topics. Taking some time at the beginning to review and engage with your students will pay off later on.
6. Make sure to take care of yourself
This is actually one of the most important tips I want to share with you. If you want to be able to get through the next year without burnout and stress, it is important to focus on self care.
Every year we seem to forget how tiring it is to start a new school year. Teacher tired the first few weeks of school is real. Make sure that you are getting lots of rest. Take some time for you. Don't just focus on your job. Even if it is only a few minutes a day, do something for you that will help you to de-stress and relax.
These are just a few ideas to think about as you leave school for your summer break or as you continue to enjoy your summer holiday.
Next week I will talk more about back to school ideas and setting your year up for success. Until then, continue to enjoy your summer break. You deserve it.
Marathon Of Hope
Terry Fox's Marathon Of Hope has been happening for over 40 years now. I still remember when we were shown a movie of his journey. He wanted to go across Canada to raise money. His goal was to raise $1.00 for every Canadian. He ran the equivalent of one marathon each day. It is hard to imagine running a marathon every day with two good legs, let alone with one good leg and an artificial leg. Most people would train for months to do one marathon.
That movie really made an impact on me. Terry Fox was around my age and he had his life cut short because of cancer. He didn't feel sorry for himself, but instead put his effort into making a difference. He started the Marathon Of Hope in 1980 and Canadians have been continuing this marathon every year. I remember when it became a yearly event here in our city and our family participated in either the community run or the run with our schools. It is hard to believe that it has been 41 years since he first dipped his foot in the Atlantic Ocean and started his marathon of hope.
Terry Fox: A Canadian Hero
Terry Fox is a Canadian hero because he didn't think about himself and feel sorry for himself when he lost his leg. Instead, he decided to help others by raising money for cancer research. He endured pain and suffering for 143 days as he ran across Eastern Canada striving to make a difference. Some days were better than others, but no matter how difficult it got, he didn't give up. He had days when he saw very few people and raised very little money, and he had days where crowds came out to run alongside him and volunteers were needed to help gather up the donations.
When Terry had to stop due to cancer in his lungs, he still wanted to make a difference. He said, "Even though I'm not running anymore, we still have to try to find a cure for cancer. Other people should go ahead and try to do their own thing now."
His Legacy Continues
The Terry Fox Run was established in 1981 to continue Terry's Marathon of Hope. September 13th was designated as Terry Fox Marathon of Hope Day. Every September different communities held a Terry Fox run. Schools would choose a day in late September to do a school run for Terry Fox.
Whenever we did a Terry Fox run at the school, time was spent telling Terry's story and sharing stories about how cancer has affected many people that we know. It is frightening to think that almost every family has been affected by cancer in some way.
After sharing the stories, we chose people to run on behalf of. Posters were made and feet were posted along the hallways to show how we were in this together, even if it was only for one day a year.
I created some activities and posters for my students. They are available here. Hopefully they will inspire kids to do something that makes a difference just as Terry did.
I hope that you will be inspired to participate in the Terry Fox Run in your area and that you will help others to continue to share Terry's dream and keep it alive. Let's all work together to help stop cancer.
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Getting back into the swing of things
Summer break is over. School is back in session! For some, you have already been in session for a few weeks. For others, this is your last weekend of break. The question on many teachers' minds is "What will this year bring?"
Some kids are excited, some are anxious, some are disinterested, and some are unhappy. There are so many emotions during the regular return to school, but with the uncertainty and constant changes last year as we navigated through the unknowns of the pandemic, some emotions escalated. Many kids experienced more anxiety, confusion, and frustration as they tried to learn in new environments and situations, many parents experienced anxiety and frustration as they navigated online and at home instruction, and teachers experienced anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, and burnout as they tried to balance in person, online, and hybrid teaching situations.
There was hope that we would be closer to a more normal school year, but things are still changing and we need to be ready to change gears at any moment. This uncertainty is causing teachers stress even before school begins. Many of my teacher friends are still waiting to find out what grade level they are teaching, how many students they will have, and even where they will be teaching.
Primary teachers ready to go kit
It is important to have some things ready for any situation to help get through the transitions of the first weeks. You might call it a survival kit. This kit would need activities for various grades, subjects, and configurations of students. The question is, what should be in this kit? Here are some ideas for primary grades. (Some could be modified for intermediate classes, but since most of my teaching was in primary, I have decided to focus on that level for this sample.)
Literacy ideas that are ready to go
Here are some literacy activities that will engage and provide reading and writing practice for your students.
Selections are from various free and paid products. The full products are listed below.
Refreshing Idioms Task Cards (sample from the full product)
5 Senses Stories
Story Board Fun (activity from Back To School Math And Literacy Ideas)
Summer Parts Of Speech (one set of cards from the package)
Fall/Autumn Parts Of Speech (one set of cards from the package)
Find The Evidence (sample pages)
Soundo (part of Alphabet Game Boards)
Vocabulary Mandalas (one mandala)
Basic Vocabulary Activities ( activities from the product)
Quick and fun math activities
Here are some fun math activities to help your students work on basic math skills.
Selections are from various free and paid products. The full products are listed below.
Ipad Glyphs (sample from the full product)
Pumpkin Glyphs (sample from the full product)
Measure Up! (activity from Welcome Back To School)
Summer Sports Activity Bundle (activity from the bundle)
Measurement Games Team Events ( one event from the games)
Number Mandalas Addition and Subtraction ( one of the mandalas)
Literacy and Math Game Cards (2 game cards)
Science fun and experiments
These science activities will keep kids entertained while learning about science facts. Selections are from various free and paid products. The full products are listed below.
Amazing Weather Facts Posters (freebie)
Are You A Rectangle Or A Square (freebie)
The Clink-Clunk Test
Team building activities
Team building is important at the beginning of the year, but also throughout the year. Here are some activities that can be done in groups or with partners.
Back to School Ice Breaker (freebie)
Escape Room What Am I? Vocabulary activity (one activity from the set)
Find Someone Who (activity from Back To School First Week Activities)
Stumpers (activity from Back To School First Week Activities)
What Am I? (sample pages from What Am I?)
Self esteem activities
Making sure that children understand that they are valuable and important will help to develop positive self esteem. Here are some activities that will help with this.
Paying It Forward (freebie)
Optimist or Pessimist Task Cards (one set of cards)
Goal Setting And Reflections (freebie)
Brain breaks and active games
Here are some active classroom games that can be played as brain breaks or in the gym or outside to provide movement and stimulation between other subject activities.
Each of these areas is available as a separate package, or you can get the whole bundle to keep on hand for activities to use throughout the year. It will be helpful when you need to prepare for substitute teacher on short notice or if you just need a quick activity to use.
You can find the kit here.
As I indicated, this is just a sample of some of the things that could be done. It will be up to you to add your own creativity, experience, and preference to your ready to go kit.
For more ideas and resources, you can check out the various categories in my TeachersPayTeachers store.
If you are looking for back to school resources, you can check out my recent blog post for resources and tips. I wish you all the best as you venture into a new school year.
Note: This resource has been updated and more resources have been added to it.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.