Sunday, July 10, 2016

4 Things You Need to Help the 1st Day Go Smoothly

Twenty pairs of strangers' eyes are staring at you. There is complete and utter silence, which is a strange thing to experience in an elementary school classroom.  It's the first day of school. The kids are a little freaked out, because they don't know you yet. It all feels a little unnatural and uncomfortable. You find yourself MISSING those kids who call out more than they should. At least it keeps things lively! First days can be like that. I'm sure all of you know what I'm talking about!

This August will be the start of my 19th year of teaching. I've picked up a few tricks over the years (some of them very,very recently) and thought I'd share! Here are four things that will make the first day go more smoothly. 

Name Tags 
There was a time that I could learn students' names SO quickly. Now, a little help is nice! I started handing out name tags to students on the first day of school. This has helped me learn names more quickly. And, it helps students learn their classmates' names as well. Less stress for everyone!

Play Doh

My friend Lisa at Second Grade Stories taught me about the power of Play Doh last year! She makes play dough for her students and has it waiting for them at their seats on day one.

I don't make Play Doh. I purchase it. It's considerably more expensive, but it works out just fine. Having the kids be busy at their seats as soon as they walk in is so helpful. Then, I can show one group at a time how to sign up for lunch and put away their things. I chat, collect notes, and start to get to know my students as I circulate.  

An added bonus is that the kids chat with one another and start to form relationships. 

A Low Stress Activity to Get Kids Busy
Along with the Play Doh, I place a nonthreatening packet of first day "work" on students' desks. I tell them that they can work on the packet and/or use their Play Doh. They need to be seated and doing one of those two things. They may talk quietly with their classmates. There are lots of fantastic materials out there. You can grab a free copy of something I created by clicking here. I've included lots of "about me" types of prompts. This gets students talking about themselves as they work.

My 7-year-old daughter gave one of the pages a test run for me.
Toothpaste, Toothpicks, & Plates
On the first day, I like to read Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna.  Unfortunately, it isn't very easy to get  anymore. You can find used copies on Amazon.

In this book, a student assumes that his teacher has stolen and tells his friends. It doesn't take long for the gossip to spread around town. It's a story that teaches the harm that is caused when we spread false information about others. It also teaches that once words leave your mouth and cause damage, undoing that damage is nearly impossible. 

Then, we get into small groups and do the "toothpaste activity". Students squeeze an entire travel-sized tube of toothpaste out onto a plate. Then, they are told to put ALL of the toothpaste back into the tube using toothpicks. Of course, it's impossible. 

We connect the activity to the text. Once unkind or untrue words are spoken (squeezed out like toothpaste), taking them back is really not possible. You can apologize and try to make it right, but damage has been done.

Hopefully, these activities will work as well for you as they have for me! Thanks for stopping by.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous ideas! Thanks so much for linking up with us!