Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Back to School - Tips for a Great Day!

I'm joining in with a fun linky hosted by  Oz Curriculum HQ to share some tips for a fantastic first day of school. Be sure to head on over so you can see lots of other great ideas.
Set the scene for the first day
As a parent myself, it goes without saying that I expect my son's classrooms to be tidy on that first day. I personally don't think it gives a good impression when there's piles of paper everywhere, resources messily shoved into shelves, piles almost tottering over etc. No, I don't expect them to be as beautiful as all of the wonderful classrooms on pinterest, but it always gives a good impression when things appear tidy - even if the classroom is just 'kid ready' - it's ready for the kids to come in and start learning, but there might still be some boards to create, drawers to clean out, things to hang up etc. 

For me, this first impression happens the week before school starts. We have a supplies drop-off day - a 3-hour window where parents and their children can come in and meet the teacher, check out the classroom and drop of stationery.  I have to say that it is a wonderful idea. Because kids and parents meet you the week before school starts, it makes the first day so much easier. There's less supplies to organise and parents aren't as anxious dropping their kids off. Even in grade 1, parents would just walk their kids in, give a kiss and cuddle goodbye and leave instead of hover until you ask them to- this is so much less stressful for them and their child.

The supply drop off day also has an added benefit - I can put the parents and kids to work! I display a powerpoint that how they can organise their supplies. This saves me so much time! I usually chat with the parents while their child reads and follows the instructions - or not, which is also very telling! And don't you hate it when NOTHING is named - I have plenty of markers ready for mum or dad to label their children's supplies :)

You can show you're organised by having labelled tubs ready for the supplies to be placed into and spread out throughout the room so the kids get to look around the room while they sorting!

It is also a good idea to have clipboards ready with volunteer sign-on sheets, contact details etc. to save you time later.

Activities on the first day

My favourite thing to do on the first day of school is play an 'All about my teacher' game. I take the kids outside and line them up along a line in our undercover area. I have 20 or so true or false facts ready to go. I read each statement and if the student thinks it's true they take a step forward. If they are correct, they stay there. If the answer is actually false and they had stepped forward then they have to go back to the starting line. If they didn't move (so they thought the answer was false), they stay where they are. It's a lot of fun, and you can see the kids trying to work out whether the statement sounds like their teacher! My kids are always surprised to find out I love jumping in mud pits and carrying heavy loads up hills on my weekends (I love obstacle course races)! It sets a good tone for the rest of the day and you'll be able to share lots of things about yourself so the kids can get to know you.

Another thing I like to do is team challenges. I'm going to try these ones from Funky in Fourth this year: can read the post with more instructions and photos about these challenges on the iTeach Fourth blog.  

I think we will also Help Harry with this design challenge from The Teacher Studio. My school is starting STEM this year, so I'm hoping this will be a great introduction to engineering challenges. Meg also has a pack of STEM challenges in her TpT store.

TpT is having a site wide sale today and tomorrow. Most sellers (including myself) have placed their stores on sale at 20% off. Use the code START16 to receive an additional 10% off the sale price.

What's your favourite activity to do during the first few days of school?


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