1-2-3 Come Make A Class Family Tree With Me!
Going to school can sometimes cause separation anxiety in young children; this doesn’t just happen to “first timers” who have never been to school. No matter what the grade, students often miss their families at some point during the day. Sometimes all it takes to comfort a lonely child, is to look at a photograph of their loved ones.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to decorate a class family tree, where children could go to catch a glimpse of mom, dad, siblings and even pets.
You can include the instructions and leaf in your summer letter, or open house packet, or you can wait, and allow students a color choice and then send the leaf and note home on their first day of school.
Run off the maple leaf template, on a large variety of colors of construction paper. Make only 2 of every color, to avoid a mostly pink and purple tree, due to the fact that little girls are very likely to choose only those 2 colors. By offering weird color choices for leaves, you will get a whimsical and very colorful tree, that won't look out of place when fall is over.
Run off copies of the instruction letter asking parents to please take a picture of their family, including pets. They will also glue the photo to their leaf and cut it out. Children fill in the blank with their name. i.e. Kelli's family.
Write in a due date for the leaves, as students will be showing and sharing them with their classmates, and then putting their leaf on your big family tree. A good place to put your tree is on a wall in the hallway.
Use brown bulletin board paper, or butcher block paper to make your tree. I liked to make my trees flat, but I've also seen teachers make trees by twisting paper, for a 3D effect. Cut out a large red paper heart and glue the "Our Class Family Tree" sign on it. You could also diecut letters to spell: "Come and see, our class family tree!"
I hope you and your students enjoy this back to school activity and that it helps alleviate those first-day blues. Click on the link to view/download the Class Family Tree packet.
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Sign on a high school bulletin board in Dallas: "FREE knowlege every Monday through Friday; bring your own container."
1-2-3 Come Make A Back To School Bulletin Board With Me!
I like using cute little fish to make a Welcome To Our School bulletin board, as the word "school" has that double meaning. I designed a back to school fish packet incorporating interesting "fish talk" that I think you'll enjoy, starting with this bulletin board idea:
Here's what to do: Run off the fish printable on a variety of colors of construction paper. You can pre-cut these and write your students’ names on them and have your b. board all done, so children can look for their name, as part of a classroom treasure hunt; or you can allow students to pick their fish, trim it and write their name on it. It would probably be fun for them to also choose a spot to place it on the bulletin board.
Use blue paper for the background. If you want to add a bit of dimension, lay blue plastic wrap over the top. You can buy a pack of small seashells at The Dollar store or Hobby Lobby. Hot glue a few, so they look scattered, on strips of sandpaper, then staple the “sand” to the bottom of your board.
Twist green crepe paper into “seaweed” and staple to the bottom. Sprinkle on the fish, add some aluminum foil- bubbles and you’re set. To make the board even more personal, take a group photo on the first day of school, print and cut faces into ovals and glue on top of their fish fin.
I can't take credit for the adorable play-on-words for "o-fish-ally" as I latched on to that, after viewing quite a few ideas on Pinterest. There's everything from o-fish-ally on summer vacation, o-fish-ally survived 1st, o-fish-ally in school, to an 0-fish-al graduate. I did come up with "fin-tastic" though, and decided to incorporate these sweet sayings with treat ideas, in a back to school fish packet.
So...if you want to carry the bulletin board theme a bit farther, with a little "welcome" surprise, print off the "Wishing you a cool school year" template on a variety of colors of construction paper. Using an Exacto knife, cut slits on the lines and insert a liquid Popsicle. I've also made a matching bookmark, as I tend to be a little "over the top" when it comes to the first day.
If you'd rather not mess with Popsicles, you can use the bookmark as a header for a Snack Baggie filled with Fishy Crackers. I've also made a fish template as well, that you can run off on construction paper.
Click on the link to view/download the Welcome to our School fish packet.
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"Some students drink at the fountain of knowledge. Others just gargle." -E.C. McKenzie
1-2-3 Come Rave On With Me!
Are you looking for some quick and easy back to school things? I love doing activities that can be made into a student-generated bulletin board, which helps check one more thing off my long "to do" list. If you need help with that too, you'll enjoy my Quoth The Raven packet filled with fun.
I don't know of any teacher who does not cover rules and regulations on the 1st day of school; seems like that takes up the better part of the day and can be a bit boring for the average kiddo. Why not let your students have a say in the rules? With a little teacher guidance, you can pretty much steer your students into thinking up everything you'd have put on a list anyway.
I thought a cool way to do this was with Edgar Allan Poe's "nevermore raven". If your school mascot is a raven, you'll find this even more appropriate. Choose one of my "Nevermore" headers and then ask students what they think should NOT happen in their class. Examples for older students would be texting, put-downs, having cell phones ring, and checking Facebook on their laptops. Younger children will think of name calling, kicking, biting, spitting, pinching, pushing, hitting etc.
Jot down things as they come up with them. Have a discussion of why they think avoiding this kind of behavior will be helpful to the class. After you have made and voted upon things that need to be on your classes' Nevermore List, type it up, laminate and post it. Employing student participation, makes children feel important and part of the process. You may want them to sign the document, as further reinforcement of your class's rule commitment. Red ink anyone?
To expand on the "Nevermore" theme, discuss why it's important to try and do your best and improve throughout the year. Discuss your students' goals and what they want to accomplish. Afterwards, discuss any behavior that might get in the way of reaching those goals. i.e. missing assignments, not doing homework, not studying, not reading, procrastinating, etc.
Have students reflect on their own personal goals and things they'd like NOT to do anymore. Have them write their thoughts down on the template. Make a copy of their 1st day photo and have them glue it to their paper to make it extra special.
Another interesting writing prompt for the 1st few days of school is done with word art.
I absolutely LOVE Tagxedo. It's a FREE, and an extremely easy word-art program. I have a multitude of ideas of how to use this site that is never ending. With the help of an adult, even a young 5 or kindergartner can make a word picture. Since most of us have a computer in the classroom to use as a center, this offers relevant technology time. I call this writing "craftivity" Quoth the Student Forever More. Run off the raven holding a sign so each of your students has one.
If you'd like to cut and paste your students' photo and type in their name, as I've done on the sample, visit the very creative and generous Tidbits and Trinkets for the raven graphic. If you like the font I used, it's called Kelly Ann Gothic. You can find it for free by clicking on the link. Otherwise, simply use my template and have students glue their photo in the frame and write their name.
Play around with Tagxedo before you demonstrate it to your class. I suggest making your own sample. Students always enjoy learning things about their teacher. For your convenience, I've included my raven silhouette so that you can import it. I didn't want to make this blog too long, so I've included a Tagxedo "how to" with the packet. There's also a word art "Nevermore" raven poster.
Have students think of adjectives that describe themselves. These are qualities that are worth "raving" about, and the words that they will type into the "load" section of Tagxedo.
Explain to students that quoth is an old English way of saying "said." This is why they'll be attaching their raven with the sign to their word art. i.e. Kelli is raving about the wonderful qualities she possesses, that make her special.
I've also designed a hanging tag to help make your bulletin board pop. Explain to your students that they "earn" one of these when they have given their best effort and completed the activity. The portrait of Poe is from a real US postage stamp. I got the free digital clipart tag over at Granny Enchanted. I stumbled upon her wonderful site late last night and am thrilled to be using some digital clip art now. My wheels are turning of all sorts of things I want to create!
Students print out their word art ravens, attach them to a sheet of black construction paper, along with their photo-name. Punch a hole somewhere and tie on their tag. After students share their work, scatter them over a b. board covered with aluminum foil, newsprint, or wrapping paper with a vintage look. I've provided a header that says: "Writing worth raving about." as well as one that says: "Here's something to rave about: ___________'s new students!" Insert your name.
If this is too crafty for you, I've also made a 5-point "rave on" writing extension. Students could also comment or write about Poe's quote that I used in a mini poster, that you can throw up on the bulletin board There are bookmarks to match as well.
If you have older students, (8th -12th) have them listen to a rendition of The Raven poem on YouTube. I've given you a list of 4 of my all-time favorites, complete with spooky sound affects. I've also included a writing prompt for this activity + 2 awesome raven photographs, that students can also ponder about.
Click on the link to view/download the Quoth The Raven packet.
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"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things, which escape those who dream only by night." -Edgar Allan Poe
1-2-3 Come Learn Some Hand Signals With Me and Take Control of Interruptions!
Ask any teacher what their students' most frequently asked question is and "Can I go to the bathroom?" will be in the top 3. "Can I get a drink?" and "Can I sharpen my pencil?" Will be right up there as well.
If their question was grammatically incorrect, as with the above use of "can", to help teach appropriate grammar, I'd often reply: "Yes you CAN, but NO, you MAY not." I'd explain this from the beginning and pretty soon all of my students were learning the proper use of the word "may".
Young children, simply being kids, are often interrupting. An obvious remedy to this problem is enforcing the raising of hands. Because this is easily understood, I thought I'd take it a step farther.
If you want to go to the bathroom you make a fist and stick out your thumb. Displaying a specific number of fingers, to signal a need, has been around since I was a child, however, instead of putting up 1 finger, I found it especially helpful, to do the "fist and thumb" for a bathroom request, simply because my Y5's were often raising and waving their hands, but never with a fist. I could then see at a glance, who needed immediate attention.
This technique is so simple, yet really works. Start out by teaching the concept on the 1st day of school. Choose one of the posters, print several copies, laminate, and hang up in several "sure to be seen" places in your room, and then practice a bit.
The hand signals are especially helpful when you are explaining something. No need for a child to raise their hand and state their need out loud. They just put up a hand signal; you make eye contact with that student and nod yes or no. This also avoids children getting out of their seats to ask you, and lessens "copy cats." Have you ever noticed how many kiddo's all of a sudden need to do something, just because one child got the ball rolling?
Some teachers add "Get a tissue" as another signal, but I feel if you need a Kleenex, because you just sneezed and snot is running down your face, no need to hesitate, just go get one and take care of business. I let students know from day one, that they could get a tissue whenever the need arose, and then follow up with a squirt of hand sanitizer shortly after. In all of my years of teaching, no one ever abused the privilege.
Click on the link to view/download the Signal Me anchor chart-poster, and let the training begin! I've also designed a few more classroom posters for back-to-school week. To view the 2nd article I wrote for today, simply scroll down.
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"In the garden of my loneliness, trespassers will never be prosecuted." -Ashleigh Brilliant
1-2-3 Come Celebrate Birthdays With Me
Since I just turned the big 60, I experienced first hand, how even the smallest acts of kindness, can make one feel special, and are wonderfully appreciated.
Birthdays truly are a "big deal" to a child. I enjoyed thinking up new ways to help make my Y5's feel extra special. One of their favorites, was simply getting to sit in the birthday chair (old piano stool that I decorated), while everyone sang to them. When we got to the part: "Are ya 1 are ya 2 etc." I'd spin them around once, when we stopped at their new age. They absolutely LOVED this and it didn't cost a dime.
I like designing student-made bulletin boards, and thought it would be fun to make one centered around birthdays. It's a wonderful way to get to know your new students and review or introduce the months of the year.
Having a little "craftivity" the 1st day of school is nice, because a teacher has so much mandatory office trivia to get accomplished for each child. If they can independently work on something, you have a few moments of sanity to figure out who's getting what for lunch, and how everyone is getting home etc.
Getting to color and decorate a paper cupcake is perfect for little ones. Older students can complete their cupcake via glyph questions. I LOVE glyphs. They are terrific for assessing listening and following directions, and completed glyphs make adorable bulletin boards. In this case, your birthday one. To make the cupcakes even cuter, take a group shot of your students and cut their faces into a circle that they can glue to the middle of their cherry.
Print off the Birthday Graph Glyph header, laminate and put it at the top of your board. Choose whatever monthly cards are appropriate for your classroom (There are 27 to choose from.) and then hang them up, starting with the beginning of your school year (August or September).
Children complete their cupcake, and wait their turn for their month to be called. Students show and share their creation, or if you did the glyph, the teacher asks: "What's Kelli's favorite color?" "Does she have a brother?" etc. This works as a nice icebreaker and fun way to get to know your students.
The completed bulletin board will be a graph, and provides a perfect teachable moment to explain or review what graphing is all about.
Click on the link to view/download the Birthday Graph Glyph packet.
If you're looking for more birthday ideas, click on the link to zip on over to that section of my site. I have quite a few more birthday ideas coming up, so be sure and check back. I also try to blog daily, writing about my newest FREEBIES. Be sure and stop by tomorrow for some more back to school ideas.
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"Sometimes you never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory." -Dr. Seuss