Throwback Thursday: Abundance of Back To School Ideas!

For today's edition of Throwback Thursday I'm going to share one of my favorite posts. This doesn't date back too far, but having come from my first official back to school meeting of the year I thought the topic was perfect. I also love that all of the ideas I'm going to share come from wonderful readers like all of you!

Speaking of back to school... COME BACK TOMORROW... something BIG is coming that you won't want to miss!

From July 11th. In my 300 follower giveaway, I asked that back to school suggestions be left in the comments. I was blown away by the response!

I want to share some of the awesome back to school suggestions you gave during this giveaway. I really wish that I had the opportunity to have about 20 back to school days to incorporate all of the greatness that you have shared! However, since I can't do that, I thought I'd share some of the ideas in hopes that you may be able to incorporate an idea or two!

In no particular order or grade grouping {most of these are copy and pasted suggestions left in the comments}:
  •  "First Day Jitters" was highly suggested, including making Jitter Juice as seen on the Inspired Apple blog
  • "Chrysanthemum"
  • I love to play the human knot with my students at the beginning of the year. Such a cooperative activity :)
  •  "Thank You, Mr. Falker"
  • "Apple Island or the Truth About Teachers." I use this with my fifth grade Language Arts class. Besides being funny, this book contains great examples of figurative language (alliteration, similes, metaphors, personification) and it is terrific to use to teach plot development (rising action, climax, falling action). We refer back to it all year.
  • "How to Be Cool in Third Grade"
  • "The Best School Year Ever"
  • "What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation"
  • My favorite picture book that I like to read is "Miss Nelson is Missing". Then, during Halloween, I dress up as Ms. Viola Swamp
  • "A Fine, Fine School" by Sharon Creech
  • My favorite BOY read is "Michael's Golden Rules"
  • One of my favorite stories to read at the beginning of the school year is "Beware of Boys". It is a book about a little boy who outsmarts a wolf who wants to eat him. As a class, we talk about how smart the boy is and turn that into a discussion of just how clever each student in the class is. When working with special education students, I think it is extremely important to make them realize just how smart they really are.
  • "The Golden Rule". Great book about treating others the way you want to be treated- good to set up expectations. :)
  • Since we start on a Thursday I spend the 1st couple of days doing a lot of "Getting to Know You" activities. The kids love them and so do I and it eases us into the school routine. I am also going to try starting to use the "Bucket Filler" system in my room.
  • "The Kissing Hand" is always a good one
  • I really love "Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge"
  • I take pictures of my second graders in a cap and gown to create a "future college grads" bulletin board.
  • I want the students to come up with a goal they want to try to accomplish that year
  • In kinder we must read Miss Bindergarten and The Kissing Hand and First Day Jitters
  • I think one of my favorite back to school books is "This Is The Teacher..." I read it at the end of the week because the last page is all about how the teacher is EXHAUSTED!
  • One of my favorite things to do the first couple days is to take them outside and do some trust activities. One I love is to have them join hands in a circle and number off. The evens lean in, and the odds lean out. They are amazed that they can do it, and it emphasizes that if a good year takes everyone working together. They realize that they work together and be strong, or they all fall.
  • One thing that I have done for Back-to-School, that I feel, has worked really well is to give each of my students an index card. They are to write down 5 questions they have about 5th grade. I collect the cards, shuffle them, and then start going through the questions. It is a great way to get a little insight into my new students...what they are nervous about, what they have heard about 5th grade (and me!), what things in the room have drawn their interest, etc. :) Many of the questions are things that I plan to cover in going over areas of the room and procedures that I want them to follow. I think it gives them a sense of ownership in the process and they pay attention a bit more. Throughout that first week, I pull out a few cards at a time and answer their questions. I really think it set a positive tone for our relationship for the whole year. :) 
  • On the first day of school, I place a half sheet of paper with the first letter of there name written, largely, in black sharpie. There job is to turn it into a picture! These are so neat!
  • I start every year with a stack of books about friendship, respecting our names, how we dress, etc. it sets the expected tone for respect and friendship in our classroom.
  • We had a getting to know you snowball fight (I found this on Pinterest.). The kids loved it so much that they wanted to have one each time we got a new student. 
  • I love to send home a bag with directions at Meet the Teacher night. It is an All About Me bag and the kids put things inside to share about themselves on the first day of school.
  • Spork is a great read aloud book to promote inclusion!
  • My favorite back to school activity is: POP QUIZ!
    I pass our paper and pencils to my students and tell them it's time to get back into the "school mode" with a pop quiz! They all groan and look a little sick :) I show them how to set up their paper and have them number 1-10. Then I ask them ridiculously hard questions about myself. There is almost no way they could know these answers - they just have to guess. It's a really fun activity that lets them get to know random things about me, models for them how I want them to set-up their papers, and the student who gets the most correct wins a prize! I also tell them that this is the hardest quiz they'll take all year because there was no way for them to prepare for it. Then I promise to be their partners for the year and that if they put in the work, I will make sure that they are prepped and ready for each quiz and test they take. The kids LOVE it!
  • I love the book 'We Share Everything" It is entertaining but has a great message to go with it.
  • My favorite read aloud the first week of kindergarten is A Place Called Kindergarten. It is such a cute book about school not being a scary place but a fun place :)  
  • I LOVE to read "Ramona Quimby, Age 8" to my 3rd graders the first few weeks of school. It is the book where Ramona enter 3rd grade and has all sorts of issues at school. The kids always enjoy it. :c)  {I found out that she was inspired to do this after remembering her third grade teacher reading this same book. Love the tradition!!}
  • One of my favorite books to share with my kiddos is "The Hundred Penny Box". My students use that book to create a penny book-one penny for every year of their life. It's a great way for me to get to know my kiddos at the start of the year.
  •  My favorite read aloud in 4th grade is "The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles" by Julie Andrews Edwards, aka Mary Poppins. It has great description and a lot of teachable moments.
  • I am a special education teacher, working in a full inclusion program with 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. My first few days of school are spent in the students' homeroom classes listening in on what is going on, learning names/faces, and sharing tidbits about myself. I always try to be in each classroom when the teacher is doing their back-to-school activities, so I can participate, too!
  • This year I am using the book "You're Finally Here" by Melanie Watt on the first day!
  • My favorite book to read in the beginning of the year is "Mr. Peabody's Apples" by Madonna. It's a great book to teach kids that things aren't always the way they seem and not to judge a book by it's cover. The kids love the story and enjoy the discussion.
  • For the beginning of the year, creating classroom rules together is a must! I feel that it makes the students more responsible and accountable for their actions. I also do a lot of Kagan team building and class building. 
  • I like to show a PowerPoint with information about me and personal photos of my family and pets. I think it really helps to start building a relationship with them when they know I am a "real" person! Then, I do a writing activity and they can tell me a little about themselves (they all have SO much to share after seeing pictures from my life!). It helps build that connection early and when there is a connection, students will want to work for you even more :)
  • I love Leo the Late Bloomer and they cut out flowers and write on each petal something they want to learn this year.
  • I think the best is teaching the students sign language from the first day on. I teach them the alphabet, and certain words, and then we get started on the learning the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language. It is highly engaging and I use the sign language a lot for classroom management.
  • I send home a "Getting to Know You" bag as homework on the first day of school. I model my own bag and that usually gets the kids excited to go home and create their own bag.
  • One back to school thing that I am going to do this year is read Wonder. What a fabulous book and it fits in great with our character ed. program.
  • I tried something I found in someone's blog...'saving' a gummy worm by getting it into a gummy ring. Great teamwork activity & lets you see who likes to take charge!
  • I love to read "A Bad Case of Stripes" near the beginning of each year to remind kids it's important to be yourself.
  • I always just like to sit in a circle and listen to all sorts of things about my new students. It makes them excited to learn about me and their peers but also keeps them interested because they can share about themselves.
  • I love doing activities related to literature on the first few days of school. Some of my favorites are "The Kissing Hand", "CHRYSANTHEMUM", and "A My Name is Alice".  
  • Some of my favorites are "The Kissing Hand", "First Day Jitters", "Officer Buckle" and "Gloria", "Chrysanthemum", "The Recess Queen", "A Bad Case of Stripes", "Enemy Pie", and "Scaredy Squirrel". I also love to do get-to-know-you activities like Find Someone Who and Kagan's Swap Talk.
  • My favorite back to school read aloud is "A Fine, Fine School" by Sharon Creech. I also read "Amelia Bedelia Goes to School".  
  • My favorite read is "The Best School Year Ever". The students really get a good laugh with what goes on with the Herdman kids. We are also going to create a "Facebook" lapbook which the students will then share with their table group and eventually with the class. 
  • At the beginning of the year I read Dear Mr. Henshaw, great book that leads to character discussions and helps you get to know the kids really quickly, especially empathetic kids and those who have been through divorce or had to move to a new school. While completing 1:1 BOY reading assessments the kids answer the 10 Questions that Mr. Henshaw sends to Leigh Botts. We turn the questions in to an about me booklet that their parents can peruse at open house. The booklets also give you a neat glimpse in to the kids' lives.
  • I think establishing positive relationships with parents is one of the most important things to do at back to school time. I try to send home a positive note or write a positive email or even pick up the phone and call home for each student with something positive to share in the first three weeks of school. It goes a long way toward having successful parent relationships when your first experience with them is a positive one. 
Can you see why I want at least 20 first days... so many great ideas! With school coming ever so soon you, have really got my wheels spinning! Thank you so much and I hope you've all gained an idea or two.


  1. Great list! I still have three and a half weeks before I go back but school has been on my mind a lot this week.

    The Math Maniac

  2. I just pinned this- awesome list! Thank you!!
    Enjoy the rest of your summer days!
    Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

  3. Whoa what a great list! I am pinning this right now :)

    Mindful Rambles

  4. What a fantastic list! I am going to have to keep coming back to this one as I start my planning for the first weeks of school. I have 2 1/2 weeks so this came at the perfect time! Thanks soooo much for sharing!
    On the Trail of Learning


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