Back to School Must Haves to Kick Off the Year Smoothly

upper elementary back to school ideas


The beginning of the year is an exciting time. The newness of everything, the excitement of new students, anticipation for the year ahead, and the reunion of friends and colleagues make those first few days of school the best of the year.

The only problem is the exhaustion that comes along with it!


Back to School Must Haves to Kick Off the Year Smoothly


That is why I like to work smarter not harder during the back to school season. And you can, too!

Here are a few of my favorite ways to kick off the year smoothly and effortlessly so that I can spend more time getting to know my new students and get myself back into the school swing of things.


Back to School Activity That Serve Double Duty

Nothing says welcome back to school then a fun and engaging getting to know you activities. There are so many fun ice breakers and community building activities to get to know your new crop of students, but I like to do activities that serve double, or triple duty.

My favorite back to school activity are these Acrostic Apples Activity. I love this project because it ties together a getting to know you activity with poetry writing. The best part is that it makes an adorable bulletin board to leave up as long as you like! It makes a great display for Open House and Meet the Teacher Night and helps the students to get to know each other.

Teacher bonus:This activity is a great informal assessment of students brainstorming, writing, and fine and gross motor skills.


Back to School Must Haves to Kick Off the Year Smoothly


One and Done!

Another way that I like to work smarter, not harder, is to create bulletin boards that I can leave up all year long. One way I do this is by creating bulletin boards with meaningful information and anchor charts that will help the students succeed, especially at the start of the year when everything is new. Another great bulletin board that you can leave up all year long, is one with positive messages and motivational quotes.

My favorite academic bulletin board to leave up all year long is focused on the Writing Process and the different writing genres. This helps the students stay on track during writing workshop and by including a writing process clip chart to the bulletin board it helps me get a pulse of where students are in the writing process. Grab this FREE back to school writing activity to kick off your year that your kids will love!

Teacher bonus: This writing process reference bulletin board will help students stay on track even when a substitute is in charge!


Back to School Must Haves to Kick Off the Year Smoothly


Meet the Teacher Night Forms

As soon as the school calendar is released, I immediately look for the date of Meet the Teacher Night. Even after so many years, I get so nervous to speak in front of parents. That is why I love having student information forms for parents to fill out during Meet the Teacher Night. Since so many of them complete the forms that I give them that night during my presentation it takes some pressure, and eyes, off of me. I also add fun pages like this one for parents to fill out so that students get a surprise letter on their desk the next morning. Keep the communication going with your parents with this FREE communication log.

Teacher bonus: The forms that parents complete give me valuable insight into each student as an individual and help me to build meaningful relationships with parents right from the start of the year. It is the perfect piece to add to your student files.


open house parent forms


Classroom Wish List and Meet the Teacher Letter

Speaking of Meet the Teacher Night, there is no better #teacherwin than enlisting the help of your parents in the form of classroom donations. I love displaying my wish list on our "Classroom Walk Through Day" which is the day before school AND on Meet the Teacher Night. It is is simple:

  • Create an eye-catching display.
  • Create cards with items you want and need to be donated to your classroom.
  • Ask parents to take a card and donate that item to the classroom.
  • Follow up by sending thank you cards from the class.

Teacher bonus: Reuse this classroom wish list display during parent-teacher conferences in the spring when you need to restock your supply closet.


Back to School Must Haves to Kick Off the Year Smoothly



Print, Copy, Keep a Stash

Printing thank you cards ahead of time at the beginning of the year is a great way to always be ready to show gratitude for every small gift a student or teacher surprises you with and especially for the holidays as they always seem to sneak up on you! I print different styles at the start of the year and keep them in a large baggie with colorful pens. That way when I need them, I just pull them out and write or take the bag with me to write out thank you cards at home.

Teacher bonus: Digital thank you cards allow you to have an endless stash of thank you cards that you can print at any time, year after year!

Back to School Must Haves to Kick Off the Year Smoothly





Teacher friends work harder not smarter this back to school season! Remember these easy to implement tips:



Have a great back to school season!


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back to school to do list




Looking to get organized and prepared for open house or meet the teacher night in a snap? Grab this completely editable in PPT or Google Slides™ presentation! This set comes in many different designs to match your classroom decor! 

meet the teacher presentation
















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