Must-Haves for Back to School
It’s time! Back to school season is upon us. Maybe you have already begun, or you could be one of the lucky ones with a few weeks left of summer! Either way, as teachers we are always on the lookout for ways to make our classroom the best it can possibly be.
-This is a guest post by Heidi’s daughter, Kim Giron, who teaches TK (Transitional Kindergarten) in Southern California.
The beginning of the school year is such a unique time in the sector of early childhood education. You may walk into a TK or Pre-K classroom in May or June and see wildly different activities and skills being worked on than if you were in a kindergarten or first grade classroom across the hall. But at the beginning of the year, that’s not the case at all. Everywhere you turn you find routines and procedures being taught, relationship building, music, early assessments and activities aimed at getting to know your students. The buzz, the fun, and the EXHAUSTION is real. There is no tired quite like beginning of the year teacher tired, And then… you have to go back again for day two. 😉
So, we are all in this together. I love learning from other teachers and seeing them pull out all the stops for the first month of school, so I thought I might share with you some of my favorites for the most wonderful time of the school year.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it time and time again. Music is one of the most powerful tools in my teaching arsenal. I mentioned last month that I love to start off the year, even the first day with the Colors and Shapes collection. It is a classic, a power punch and a crowd pleaser every time. At the start of the year our focus is routine building, so while colors and shapes may not necessarily be on your report card, this collection acts as a fabulous vessel in which to teach some of those very, very basic skills like attending and large group focus. Of course, if you really want to hit hard on classroom management, check out the Classroom Management collection. I love the Line Up song, When the Bell Rings, FREEZE!, and of course, Criss Cross Applesauce is an absolute staple in my room all year long.
Another way I love to start the year is to use the portfolio assessment packet. I love to use this throughout each trimester and keep a record of growth from that very first week on. I don’t typically do a ton of paper to pencil work in my class, but this is an exception I make because I do think it is important. If you have never used this before, keep in mind that some kids (even older ones) can feel frustrated by this if they are still working hard to master those fine motor planning skills. What a great opportunity to practice endurance and frustration tolerance.
Time for a brain break? I am so excited about having an all-access pass to Koo Koo Kangaroo this year for our brain breaks in class! An essential for the back to school wiggles.
Speaking of Wiggles… Do you read Wiggles at the beginning of the year? We read Wiggles Learns the Rules at School every single day for at least the first two weeks! Read more about him here.
Last but not least, one of my absolute favorite activities of all time: the self portrait! I use these as part of my yearlong scrapbook. (A keepsake gift for parents at the end of the year, which is a blog post for another day). You can read about how Heidi has done this project in years past here. I love to see how creative students are in portraying themselves and this could be adapted for really any grade level! I have also recently added a counterpart, the May self portrait! One each at the beginning and end of the keepsake scrapbook to see some really incredible growth.
I could go on and on for days, right? There are just so many incredible ideas to start off your year whether you are in preschool, Pre-K, TK, kindergarten or even first and second grade! Tell me, what are your favorite places to find back to school inspiration?
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