Sunday, August 2, 2015

First Day Tried and True Linky Party

I have mixed feelings about back to school time. On one hand, I'm refreshed and energized and ready to GO! On the other hand, I really did enjoy my lazy mornings on the back patio with a cup of coffee and my doggie. Sigh. Summer is never long enough!

Well, I'm linking up with Chrissie from Undercover Classroom and Sarah from Education Electrification for First Day Tried and True: A Back to School Linky Party. There will be tons of tips from teachers who have survived their first day (some of us over and over and over) and came out tired but smiling! Read through to the end of my post for a freebie and a giveaway!

The first day of school is 100% crazy. You have 20-something little angels looking at you with a wide range of expressions on their faces. You also have just as many parents looking at you the same way. The first day of school is always a whirlwind of supplies, rules, getting to know you activities and hopefully, lots of smiles and fun.

You have to set the tone for the entire year and it happens in the first 10 minutes! No pressure, right? I used to start with sorting school supplies and many anxious and lingering parents trying to "help". It wasn't how I wanted to start the year, but I didn't know what else to do. A couple years ago, I did something just a little radical...I kissed the parents goodbye!

Let me explain just a bit. My students are instructed to line up in a prearranged spot each morning. Of course, there are parents wanting to come into the classroom instead to talk to you and drop off supplies and make sure you know about their peanut allergy, etc. It was so stressful for me and I started the day frazzled. What I do now is to lock my door and put a sign on it that says I'll meet them in the lining up area at a certain time. I actually leave my classroom and hide out until the designated time, about 5 minutes before the bell rings. This gives me time to talk to parents and make sure the kiddos know where to go.

When the bell rings, the kiddos line up and I go down the line to talk to each one. I give a high five or fist bump to each one and tell them how excited I am that they're in my class. Then I tell all the kids to turn and look at the parents and blow them a big, fat, juicy kiss and say goodbye. This usually solves the problem of parents hanging around.

Now is my favorite part. I tell all the kids to hang up their backpacks and bags and DO NOT UNPACK them. They are to meet me on the carpet while I play a fun song such as The Happy Song. Once everyone is sitting down, I spend about 10-15 minutes just talking with them and telling them a little about myself. I also like to show pictures of my family and my dog so they see me as a real person. Then I ask them to give me thumbs up if they're excited, scared, nervous, happy, etc. and I let them know I feel all those feelings too.

Then, I pass out a few pages from my Back to School Memory Book that are very easy for them to work on while I do attendance, lunch count, etc. I also play some classical music quietly to set the tone. This is the perfect time to start sorting supplies. While they are coloring and drawing in their books, I will call a few children at a time to sort out their supplies into buckets on my small group table. This takes the chaos out of supply sorting and allows me to take note if anyone is missing any supplies, while all students are engaged in a fun activity. I always have a few buckets of crayons and colored pencils at each table at the beginning since all their supplies are still packed.

My Back to School Memory Book and First Week Activities pack (on sale for $4!!) is full of fun pages that you can mix and match to keep kids meaningfully engaged and you less stressed the first week of school. There is a student created bulletin board, get to know you surveys and graphs, and lots of pages for a memory book that makes a really sweet keepsake that I save for the end of the school year. The kids love to see how much their spelling and drawing has improved!

If this looks interesting to you, you can download a free sample here. Also, if you leave a comment about your First Day Tried and True Tips and your email, I'll randomly choose a few people to win my Back to School Memory Book and First Week Activities!

Check out other teachers' First Day Tried and True Tips:


  1. What a great way to start your first day. Marking a clean line for saying goodbye to parents is not only wise for you, but sets the tone for your kids and their parents. Smart thinking and cleverly done!

  2. I love how you have all the kids come and meet you on the carpet first. I remember I felt a little miffed last year when all the kids in my class sort of ignored me the first hour of school starting. (It was my 3rd year, not like I was a total newbie). I will defintely try this out this year! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and wisdom!!!

    The Whimsical Teacher

  3. Love! I love the elementary teachers and how creative they are! Keep up the fabulous work.

  4. Love your "Get to Know Me Graphs". Great idea!
    Tricia from "Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets"

  5. Great ideas! I love the Memory Book. In the past I have done memory books at the end of the year, but the beginning is just as important. Thanks for sharing!

    Education Electrification

  6. I love the "kiss the parents goodbye" expression! So funny and true. I also have the kids keep all supplies in their bags until later in the morning. It really makes a huge difference. :-) Thanks for linking up!
    Undercover Classroom