Hooray! Let’s celebrate back-to-school. If you feel prepared, it can be enjoyable instead of a drag. TpT is tickled about all of the amazing resources folks are offering for the very first week(s) back. But don’t just take our word for it!

Primarily Speaking — The Early Grades

Theresa's Teaching TidbitsTheresa’s Teaching Tidbits says, “To make sure character instruction becomes a regular part of our day, I created a set of poems that I’ll use during the first few weeks of school and revisit throughout the year. The poems target some of the everyday issues found in primary classrooms including showing respect, taking responsibility, making friends, name-calling, and telling vs. tattling.”

Grade One Snapshots says, “For back to school, I’m usually in information-gathering mode. I want to get to know my new little students as soon as I can so that we can hit the ground running!” See her First Week of School Activity Packet for First Grade.

“Getting to know each other and evaluating likes and personal traits as we begin a new school year can be fun and rewarding for students. I will be using my ‘All About Me‘ packet as a fun way for students to ‘find a friend,’ hunt for things in the classroom, share likes and personal traits, and set personal goals,” says Can’t Stop Smiling.

KTP on TPT suggests, “My ‘All About Me Math‘ resource is a really fun activity to do at the beginning of the year. It’s a great way to get my students excited about math!”

If you’re in an immersion school, Sra Casado says, “I love back to school as everyone starts with a clean slate. I try to have several activities for students to use Spanish and get to know their classmates (and me!).” Here’s her Back to School All About Me OK For Spanish immersion Dual Language activity.

Growing Smart ReadersFor character building, Growing Smart Readers suggests, “Making new friends that first week is exciting for most kids, but it can also be a little scary. I use my ‘Friendship & Kindness‘ booklet and bookmark set. It gives me a way to get them talking and thinking about being kind to each other and what it means to be a friend.”

“Even teachers get nervous about the first day back,” says Irene Hines. “First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg has always been one of my favorite books. I was a kid who was ALWAYS nervous on the first day of school… so guess what? I grew up to be a teacher who ALWAYS gets nervous on the first day of school. This book (along with my First Day Jitters ~ Back To School Activity Unit For The First Month Of School) helps the children see that they aren’t alone with their jitters.”

Of course we can’t forget the importance of establishing classroom rules, says Green Apple Lessons, “The start of a new school year is a key time to establish classroom routines and procedures. This is especially important for Kindergarten teachers, as many students are coming to school for the very first time.”

Primarily Speaking — The Older Grades

thedabblingspeechieJumping right in, thedabblingspeechie says she’ll be “using my ‘Back To School Grammar Card Set‘ to get some information about how my students are functioning with grammar.”

And, from Hello Mrs Sykes: “I love to start the year off teaching routines, which always pays off in the long run. I’ll be using the ‘Mystery Word of the Week‘ as part of our routine.”

Another great way to get everyone comfortable? Icebreakers! Positively Passionate About Teaching says, “To learn more about who we’ll be spending the next nine months with, I’ll use a few of my back-to-school products such as my ‘FREE First Day of School Icebreaker.'”

Sandra Naufal suggests, “I always start with a survey to see what my students’ likes and dislikes are. Math always wins for the most disliked subject. I love math and I set a strong foundation from the beginning to instill a love of math in my students. I begin the year with my ‘Math Icebreakers‘ activity.”

Mrs Ds CornerEstablishing rapport among your class is important. Mrs Ds Corner uses her Back to School Lapbook and says, “It will be a great conversation piece during Open House, too!”

Carol’s Garden will informally assess her kids using her Lap Book. Her thoughts: “I’ve always spent the first week of school setting classroom expectations, practicing procedures, getting to know my students, and doing some informal assessments. Since the students are writing about themselves, they don’t realize that they’re also being assessed.”

Also try Created by MrHughes’ “Getting to Know You” Cooperative Learning Dodecahedron Project. He says, “I start it day one, right near the beginning of the day. I want students to see that we will be working as teams for the entire year. Teamwork is an important concept!”

Primarily Speaking — Activities That Span The Grades

Jessica TobinGetting excited about back-to-school, Jessica Tobin says, “Two things I love doing: hallway artwork displays all about the students and “find-someone-who” activities. Both of these allow students to showcase their personal information and get to know each other!”

Or victoria moore’s Back to School Craftivity. She says, “A back to school craftivity is a perfect way to get to know my students and let them be involved in a fun art project as well. It takes a while so it gives me time to walk around the room and ask questions and get to know each child.”

Build community using the2teachers Community Building Activities of which they suggest, “These help build a bond within the classroom that sets the tone for the academic rigors to come.”

Continue to bask in the summer glow with Simply Skilled in Second’s (free) Flip Flap Book. She says, “In this flip flap book, my students will write about their summer happenings in a fun and interactive way! It gives each of my little ones the opportunity to share something about their summer with their new friends and classmates. It also gives me a little glimpse into their lives and things that they like.”

Monumental Middle School

Literary SherriSet the tone, suggests Literary Sherri. “I like to set the tone from the first day that high academic and behavior expectations can go hand-in-hand with a positive, nurturing classroom environment! More than any tangible rewards we can give them, adolescents crave meaningful and positive recognition.”

“Effective classroom management is one of the biggest challenges for many middle and high school teachers,” says Presto Plans. “Starting the year with a specific plan for classroom routines and record keeping is essential in setting up a positive classroom atmosphere.” Her Classroom Management Resource Bundle: Middle & High School is a good place to start.

Group work is important in middle school, and Lifelong Learning’s approach is this: “Always start by building community! Get to know one another through getting-to-know-you games and activities. Try to dispel previous friend groups from only working with one another by switching up groups for partner work as much as possible.” Check out her (free) Student Groups & Pairs Organization Using Playing Cards resource.

Let’s not forget icebreakers — “After reviewing the classroom rules and policies, it’s time to introduce my 6th graders to the concept of collaboration! I love using my ‘6th Grade Back to School Activities and Icebreakers‘ because it helps students get acquainted with their new lives as 6th graders, meet new friends, and build bonds that will last throughout the year!” says The Teacher’s Prep.

Social Media starts early so incorporate it early, proposes Chalk Box Tales. Of her Back to School With Social Media “Getting to Know You” Activities she says, “The packet includes nine get-to-know-you survey sheets which are designed around popular social media platforms (blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc.) and it also has an iPad cover page to use when putting the survey sheets together in a booklet form.”

Math in the MiddleDon’t be afraid to jump into curriculum! “As a middle school teacher in a small school where I often teach the same students two to three years in a row, I like to jump right into math, since there’s no need to spend a lot of time going over procedures and introductions,” says Math in the Middle who uses these Back to School Math Activities for Middle School.

That Rocks Math Science and ELA agrees and suggests, “I like to do these five science activities that serve the dual purpose of reinforcing the expectations and helping the kids to get to know each other. They’re always excited to work in groups, do real hands-on experiments, and show off what they’ve made. Plus some finished products are great to display for Open House or Parents’ Night.” Here’s the link to Back to School Science Activities for Middle School.

Huzzah for High School

Room 213Sarah Anne knows that for high school, like in other grades, building community is HUGE. “I always start my first class with the students building rapport and learning about each other. Once the connection between teacher and student is formed, the sky is the limit with learning and classroom management… and most importantly, the role of the teacher becomes real, rewarding, and enjoyable.” She offers her Back To School Activities for Middle School & High School (Mustache Theme).

Young adults want to know their opinion matters so Room 213 says, “The first curriculum-based activity I do with my students is my ‘Back to School Freebie: The Ideal School Project.'” She says, “We discuss what’s working and not working in the school system, and then they design their ideal school. It’s a great activity to get them focused on what real learning is, and how they can take an active role in the process.”

High school teacher Biology Roots says, “The first week of school is used to set the classroom tone, but we get right into the basics of life science and the scientific method using beginning-of-the-year activities for life science” such as her Beginning of the Year Bundle for Life Science. She suggests, “I like to use these before getting into the specifics of biology because in secondary classes there are quite a few add/drops that first week of school.”

Science Stuff offers her Biology Scavenger Hunt for Back to School and proposes, “I want the students in my high school biology classes to be immersed in biology on the first day. I want them to know that we are going to learn a LOT, but that we’re going to have a lot of fun at the same time.” 

If you teach high school English, consider checking out this Introduction to Narrative Writing: a CCSS aligned mini-unit (grades 7-12). It’s from The Daring English Teacher who says, “With roughly 150 students, sometimes it’s difficult to get to know your students immediately. I find that teaching and assigning a personal narrative helps me really see my new students.”

Activities by JillOr from OCBeachTeacher, this Back to School Activity: Choosing Novels for Silent Sustained Reading. Her thoughts: “Since I’m a secondary English teacher, I get students to the media center to select novels as soon as possible. I’ve even been known to take them there on the first day of school!”

Activities by Jill knows high school students get restless, too! “I use this activity with my Algebra 1 students to get them out of their seats and moving around the room. It allows me to quickly recognize strengths and weaknesses of individual students as well as the class as a whole.” Here’s her Problem Trail Back To School Algebra 1 resource.

High school math teacher, 4 the Love of Math says, “I think when it comes to secondary, students should be introduced to classroom routines from day one. If students are going to be expected to complete a warm-up when they come to class, have a simple warm-up prepared that first day of school for them. If you plan on doing a lot of stations, have stations set up that first week of school. The sooner students learn your routines and expectations, the better!” Here’s her Algebra Beginning of The Year Review Stations resource.

Spectacular SLP & Special Education

Natalie SnydersSpeech Language Pathologist Natalie Snyders says, “As an SLP, I spend my first couple of weeks trying to figure out where to start with my students — what progress they have made or retained if they’re students I had last year, or to figure out where to start therapy with them if they’re new.” She has both a Language Progress Monitoring Tool for Early Elementary and Upper Elementary/Middle School.

Jenna Rayburn says, “I’m moving grade levels this year, so learning more about my student will be the first thing I tackle! Speech therapists work on individual goals rather than school curriculum, so getting to know our students abilities is the basis for treatment.” Check out her Get To Know You Worksheets: Speech Therapy PreK-High School and Kindergarten Screening Packet: Speech and Language Screener.

And here’s Speech Therapy Games who says, “I’ll be kicking off the year by getting to know my new students, and assessing and setting expectations to hopefully make behavior management easier throughout the year. I have a free superhero-themed ‘All About Me‘ for the first day of school. I’ll also be introducing the behavior management clip chart that’s included as part of my (free) ‘Superhero Theme‘ packet.”

And for the older students, Teach Speech says, “I plan to start off the year by reminding my students why they come to speech therapy. It’s important for them to understand why they’re here and what they’re working on. It gives them responsibility for their progress!” Try her Why Do I Come To Speech Therapy? Middle/High School Mini-Books.

Adaptive TasksAnd Miss Speechie says: “The first few weeks, I’m always busy as a school SLP viewing IEPs, making a schedule, reviewing goals, and assessing baseline levels.” See Receptive & Expressive Language Baseline Data!

“Being in a life/vocational/functional curriculum SPED classroom, we focus on routine and structure beginning day one,” says Adaptive Tasks. “We also like to see what the students’ abilities and interests are, so task stations help us with this. We have shelving units full of life skill and vocational tasks that we use to help the students. Our students love these tasks, which have helped many of them meet some of their IEP goals.” Here’s Life Skill and Vocational Skill Task Bundle #1.

Special Ed Pro says, “I make a big effort to communicate in a positive manner with parents right from the beginning of the year. I just finished my ‘Positive Behavior Chart Collection‘, which includes several positive behavior charts that go back and forth from school to home, good news notes, and student to-do lists for kids.”

 Miscellaneous Must-Haves for Teachers

Trillium MontessoriOrganization is the answer, says Trillium Montessori. “As a teacher, I have to be on my toes and ready with a plan. In order to deal with all the things coming at me at this time, I make sure I have all my ducks in a row in advance. My ‘EDITABLE Teacher Binder Organizer‘ helps me stay organized and prepared for all the data being thrown at me!”

Glitter Meets Glue Designs will help you spruce up your classroom. She says, “I’ll be using my ‘Primary Artist Painting Supplies‘ clipart in both SMARTboard files and on my bulletin board to review the primary and secondary colors with my 1st and 2nd graders. I love having the glitz of glitter without the mess!”

Speaking of SMARTboards, Forever First Grade by Lindsey Brooks says, “September is such a busy time that the one thing I’ve always scrambled for is morning work. I want something my kids can do independently but which is also relevant and a wise use of students’ time. A useful tool for beginning the school year in 1st grade is ‘SMARTboard Attendance.’ Because it matches our classroom theme, it helps us bond more quickly as a class, and since it’s their first experience with a SMARTboard, it gives students a quick, daily hands-on experience utilizing SMART technology each day.”

Angelica's ResourcesTry adding rhythm to your day, says Sally Utley: “My school has a very mobile population and even though I’ve been there for many years, there will be students in every class that I don’t know. I always include a name game in the music lesson for the first several weeks. I’ll be using my ‘Back To School Rhythms & Composition‘ activity, which includes many back-to-school phrases that are presented rhythmically, with my 4th and 5th grade students. They can arrange the phrases into a pleasing arrangement (to them!) and add body percussion and/or motions for a performance on the first day of music class.”

And you know you’re going to have to send kids to drop off the attendance or use the restroom, so why not try these Back to School Hall Passes from Angelica’s Resources? She says, “The first week of school is a very exciting time of year filled with establishing classroom routines, fun activities, and getting to know your students.”

Parent Participation Is Powerful

Shining and Sparkling in FirstTake it from Shining and Sparkling in First who says, “Parent communication is essential to a successful school year. Getting started on the right foot can be a little tricky, but I’ve come up with some tricks, tips, forms, and printables that help me to keep communication open, track communication, and track student behavior to share with parents.” Here’s a link to her Talk to Me {Parent Communication Resource Pack}.

Teacher to the Core agrees: “A great year starts and ends with great communication! Parents want to know that we are available and that we will love their child. They also want to know about how to help with homework in that first week. After that, it’s so important to keep them in the loop and keep them involved with lots of notes and words of encouragement.” Try her Hey You! What’s New? {Parent Reminders}.

First Grade Shashay: Teachers Pay TeachersLaura Martin raves, “I LOVE back to school! It’s filled with hope and so much energy in the air. I couldn’t live without my black-line ‘Editable Newsletters.’ No more weekly newsletter hassle, and it saves on ink!”

SunnyDaze suggests, “At the start of the school year, communication with parents is key. I begin with a ‘Parent Flip Book‘ at Open House. It contains all the information a parent might need such as contact information, scheduling, and supplies required. I print the foldable on colored paper and encourage parents to use a magnet to keep it handy on the refrigerator at home.”

You might try this suggestion from First Grade Shashay who says, “Organization is so important at the beginning of the year, and it starts right at Meet-the-Teacher Night. This ‘Meet-the-Teacher Night Packet‘ includes everything teachers need to introduce themselves to their new students and their families. You’ll also find volunteer sign-up sheets, cubby tags, sign-in sheets, a scavenger hunt, and so much more! In addition, it’s EDITABLE. With so many things on a teacher’s to-do list at the beginning of the year, this packet definitely makes starting the new school year much easier and more fun!”

And Mrs Brosseau’s Binder will tell you parent participation is just as important in the upper grades. “Once students are in secondary school, it seems like the amount of parent involvement drops dramatically. A great way to keep parents involved and interested from day one is to ask them about their child. I use these ‘Student and Parent Information Sheets‘ in my secondary classes and ask the parents to tell me about their child — strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, accomplishments, and more. The parents love writing about their child, and I learn so much more about these teens.”

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Here are more resources to help you ease your entry (or reentry) with key resources that  establish a firm foundation. We hope you’ve found some great ideas and inspiration for your back-to-school plans.

We’ve only just scratched the surface on all of the amazing resources available, so if you didn’t find it here, be sure to check out more resources at Teachers Pay Teachers. We hope you have a wonderful back-to-school and 2014/15 school year!

Cover image Apples thanks to The Hazel Owl – Chalk Board thanks to Lovin Lit – Tree Crack font for Welcome thanks to The Learning Tree – Lulu font for Back to School thanks to The Newsletter Store.