Getting ready for that first week of school is never easy. Like so many teachers, I wasted hours and ran into problems in my first years in the classroom. It took me a while to have a better beginning of the school year, but I figured how to make things run smoothly, and I’d love to share my best tips with you!
1. Word Walls on a Budget
If, like me, you don’t have a large budget to decorate your classroom, you might want to try this approach when making your Word Wall.
I bought the Letter Border at the Dollar Store for… you guessed… $1.00! Then, I got Painter’s Tape at the hardware store to create the borders and spaces for each letter.
Besides being really inexpensive, it looks clean and uncluttered. Just the way I like it!
2. You’ll Thank me Later – Bulletin Board Technique
Have you ever had to scrape dried out hot glue from your walls on the last day of school? Fun, huh? All of my hot glue comes off the walls in seconds. LITERALLY! As in 1, 2, DONE!
The technique I’m going to show you only takes one extra step in the beginning of the year, and it saves you LOADS of time and broken nails at the end.
You can thank me later – ha.
- Use packing tape to create a border in the dimensions of the paper you are going to use. Just eyeball it.
- Using a glue gun, attach the edge of the paper to the edge of the tape border you just made, and little by little continue to glue the paper to the tape. Avoid trying to cover too much of the tape so the glue doesn’t dry before you have a chance to attach the paper.
- That’s it. No step 3.
Now watch what happens!
When you want to take the paper down, just rip it off. Then peel the tape off the wall! No hot glue mess for you!
3. Do This, Not That – Bulletin Board Paper Technique
Here’s another dreadful mistake I made when getting bulletin boards ready.
I think most of us will naturally start by covering the top of the board, then finishing the bottom, right?
BAD MISTAKE, my fellow teachers! If you do that, that UGLY paper line will be right on the top where it is SO noticeable!
Cover the BOTTOM FIRST, then put the top layer on. The ugly paper line is now in the bottom where it is less visible.
Also, don’t forget to get all of those staples out! There’s nothing more annoying that feeling all the bumps that they make under the newly laid bulletin board paper!
4. first week of school Community Building Activity
I do this activity on the first week of school, and I leave it up the WHOLE YEAR. Each student makes a puzzle piece with their face and name, and I create a big classroom puzzle with all of us. This back to school activity is one that the kids cherish, and on that, if used correctly, can in fact help build a strong classroom community.
I use it to reinforce the concept that we are like a family in our classroom: “When someone is absent, our puzzle isn’t complete, when someone misbehaves, the whole class is affected. But, when we make good choices, the good feelings spread around the room, and when we work together as a team, we bring the whole class up to the next level!”
The kids buy into that idea. All I have to say is “Are your choices helping or hurting or classroom family?” or “Thank you for helping everyone in our classroom family feel good.” It helps me maintain a loving atmosphere in my room all year long.
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5. Keypad Practice For Younger Students
Do your students need to learn their Student ID number to get lunch in the cafeteria or to get a book at the Media Center?
I get these laminated before school starts, then tape them to my students’ desks using packing tape.
Make sure to write their names and numbers with a SHARPIE because the dry erase markers will… well… erase.
You won’t need to make new copies for next year because you wrote over the tape, not over the keypad itself! Just remember to take those down as soon as your kids don’t need them or they will be destroyed by the end of the year.
During transition times (between ending a lesson and starting another or even during dismissal time), I ask my kids to type their numbers on their keypads. They LOVE it, and they learn it quickly!
Those pads are part of my 1st Grade All Set for Back to School packet if you are interested.
6. Do it Now, Do it Later – back to school Bulletin Board Idea
My first Bulletin Board that goes on the hallway is this one. I have kids draw and write about why they love coming to school. Parent love reading what their kids have to say.
At the end of the year, before the Big End of The Year Party, I give the kids the same prompt. This time, I hang the beginning of the year and the end of the year prompts side by side. It’s so rewarding to see how much growth happened in only a year! And of course, the parents love seeing that too!
I hope an idea from this post saved you some time and made things a bit easier for you this year!
For more back to school tips go to:
- Back to School Tips and Activities – Vol. 2
- Control Pencil Chaos Once and For All!
- A 3-Step Plan for Collecting Supplies
- 20 Questions to Ask Yourself When Preparing for the 1st Day of School
For these first week of school Resources click on the links: