Best of Back To School

I have been blogging a lot about back to school. I simply love the feeling of excited anticipation I get when filling out my plan book with all of the fun activities I will do to help my students become familiar with their new classroom!

In a recent post I shared a couple of back to school freebies. Since that time I have gathered a few more. Today I will share five that are sure not to miss with students. All are free and easy to use. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Do A Little Detective Work is one of my tried and true favorites. I have used this for many years as a way to get my students up and moving around the classroom, and it never disappoints. As students work through the activity, they learn where everything is located in our classroom and interact with one another. I find it to be great icebreaker in that way too. It is also informative to see what strategies students use to count books (Who actually tries to count them all? Who comes up with a way to estimate?) and problem solve when they become stuck. The link above gives you an editable version to tailor to your own classroom, but mine may work for you as it is. Click below the image for the pdf version.

Do A Little Detective Work

2. Another long time favorite of mine is called “Like the Teacher Test”. I make a list of statements about myself. Along with the basic “Stand up if you have a pet…, get up before dawn, like to watch NFL football”, I roll in some that are sure to get my students laughing, such as, “Stand up if you think candy should be one of the major food groups…., every day should be Saturday…, or younger siblings should always be kind to their older siblings.” You get the idea. Students enjoy seeing that they have things in common with their teacher and that she has a sense of humor.

3. I am very excited to try this new activity. Students trace their forearms and hands onto an 11″by 17″ sheet of paper. Then they decorate the inside with drawings and words that tell about them. To help them generate ideas, here are some questions you might ask:What are your hobbies? Do you have pets? What sports do you enjoy? Do you play a musical instrument or enjoy dancing or singing? What do you like to do in your free time? What are your favorite foods? What are some of your favorite places? What is something you are really good at?

When students are finished, put them in small groups to share their “hands”. They will get to know a lot about each other! Glue the hands to a black background for a stunning display sure to be a crowd-pleaser at Open House.

4. Complete the Sayings – This one is great not only for getting students up and moving, it also requires them to analyze language. There are fifteen sayings on the sheet, enough for up to thirty students (I hope you don’t have that many!). Each saying has been separated into two parts. Cut them apart, fold them so no one sees what they say until everyone has one, and place them in a container. Walk around the room and give each student one, or have them reach into the container to get one themselves. On your cue, each student opens their strip, reads it and then finds the classmate with the strip that completes their saying. For example, the student who has “Every cloud” matches with “has a silver lining.”

After students have found their matches, they should discuss what the saying means and then come and tell you its meaning. Sometimes I take this activity one step further and give my students a large sheet of drawing paper. They work together to write their saying at the top, its meaning in their own words at the bottom, and then make an illustration of it in the middle.

In my class, I randomly pair students up a lot as a way to encourage working with a variety of people rather than only their preferred classmates. This activity is a good introduction to that.

5. I am excited to try this idea, new to me! Take a small inflatable beach ball and write questions on it. Have students sit in a circle and gently toss the ball to one another. When caught the student lifts one of their thumbs and reads and answers the question closest to it. I plan to do this a few times during the first week, and will ask some “digging deeper” questions that will go beyond the information we will learn about each other from the activities above. Tell us about the best thing you did this summer. Here are my questions:

If you could be any animal in the world, which would you be and why? What is something you hope to do when you grow up? What are you most looking forward to this year? If you could spend a whole day with someone from the past or present, who would you choose and why?

It’s a little over a week from the start of classes at my school. I’m ready to go (well almost, I have lots of name labels to get made and placed!). There’s always lots to do, and it’s so helpful when teachers put their heads together and share ideas and resources. Visit me on Teachers Pay Teachers where I have lots of ready-to-go lessons and freebies for busy teachers. When you visit, be sure to click the ‘Follow Me’ to hear when I post new products, like the informational text and activity package I offer for Constitution Day on September 17. Happy “Back to School”, I wish you a wonderful learning-filled year ahead!

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