Of course I read The Kissing Hand. I usually do this as one of the first activities in the morning. Since I'm at a VERY small private school, most of us already know each other. However, it's still reassuring for those who are a little timid about having a new teacher. Then we trace our hands and form them into the sign language "I love you." We draw a heart and glue it in the middle. Sorry for the poor quality photo!
This is a picture I took of the memory books I make each year. I save this hand and glue it to the cover so they can remember their first day of school.
One of my other favorite back to school activity is making this...
The kids and I get together and talk about what we want to learn this year. This is one of my first opportunities to see what they're interested in, which is always useful information!! As they participate in our discussion, I pass out some paper and a cloud template. I try to keep this conversation very informal. I REALLY want everyone to be honest and not just repeat what their friends have said. Once everyone has had a chance to share (remember, my class size is teeny) I ask the students to trace the cloud. I did try having the kids draw their own clouds one year, but I found they would tend to draw too small. Then they would have a difficult time fitting everything inside. After they trace, they are asked to finish the sentence frame "This year I want to..." and draw a picture. There's absolutely nothing fancy about this activity. All you need to do is make some cloud templates on cardstock and cut some construction paper. I love it because I'm learning about each student in so many ways: how they write, draw, color, trace and cut; what things they're interested in; if they're able to stay on task; who is sharing and who isn't; and if they're comfortable participating in class conversations. And in case you're interested, I use this as a segway into talking about rules and why they're important... We need them so we can accomplish the things we want to do. Otherwise, there would be chaos!
This year, I'm going to be trying something NEW! I've spent the summer creating center after center to use in my class. Again, being in a private school presents a unique set of challenges. Our students tend to be VERY DEPENDENT. One way I try to promote independence is by integrating centers into our routine. Believe it or not, last year was the first year I did this. The result was well worth the time and effort it took me to put them together. Now that I have a small clue as to what I'm doing and how I want it to help, I'm really working on creating! So, if you're interested in a few back to school centers, you should check these out.
As I mentioned in a previous post, these centers are almost identical. The main difference is, of course, the graphics. Other than that, the owl pack includes one additional math center. As a reward for you patient readers who stuck with me and made all the way to the bottom, I'll (again) be emailing the first 5 commenters a free copy of their choice. Please don't forget to leave me your email and tell me which pack you prefer.
So, what are some of your favorite back to school activities? Link up and share!