3 Things to Do to Start the Year Stress Free That You Can Prep Over the Summer

3 Things to Do to Start the Year Stress Free That You Can Prep Over the Summer


When it comes to the back-to-school season I always get so excited! Even after teaching for 18 years, the excitement is real!


I love the back-to-school commercials, shopping for school supplies, planning out new bulletin boards, and creating getting to know you lessons to welcome my new bunch of students!


Buuuut, that excitement does dwindle a bit when the thought of back to school night creeps in. Even after so many years of teaching, back-to-school night and meet-the-teacher days still make me nervous! In fact, just the thought of them ruins my excitement a bit. It is probably because I always want to put my best foot forward and make an amazing first impression on my new students and families.


To combat that nervous feeling and still be able to enjoy the last few weeks of summer and the back to school season I always prep three things that will help me feel prepared and organized for meeting my new class and families. If you like to be organized and ready for the new school year, you will definitely want to try them out! Once you complete these activities and check them off of your to-do list, you too will be able to enjoy the summertime and back-to-school seasons!




Must Do #1: Write Your Meet the Teacher Letter

I love giving students a special personalize note from me personally to say hello, introduce myself and welcome them to my classroom community! 


I have used teacher postcards like these, to send my new students a quick hello note over the summer and I have also used a more detailed Meet the Teacher Letter like these, to give students a bit more information about myself.


The information that I include is divided into these sections:

  • All About Me: I like to include a bit about my family and pets, allergies that I have, and something that they can relate to, like playing outside or going on nature walks
  • Experience: Here I tell the kids a bit about my teacher life! I include what grade levels I have taught, other districts or schools that I have taught in, and what subjects I enjoy teaching.
  • My Favorites: This section I try to change each year to include popular shows and songs that the students may also like. This is important to do because it helps you make connections before the year even begins! I also love to talk up how much I love reading and working as a team!
  • Contact Information: I love to include my email and school phone number so that the kids can reach out to me right away! There are always a few students who love to get in touch with me before the year begins, and this is a great way to show them that you are ready to hear from them!

You can grab these editable teacher letters to create your own sections or use the ones that I always use! These letters are welcoming, professional, and include a photo of you so that your students get a peek at what you look like before the big meeting day! These letters truly help you to make connections with your students even before that first week of school.



meet the teacher editable welcome letter




Must Do #2: Create a Classroom Wish List

My classroom wish list is used throughout the year, but it is most enjoyed during the first week of school during Meet the Teacher Day and Night and Open House. The concept is simple. I create a bulletin board with cards labeled with a classroom supply that is needed that parents pull down to donate.


The wishlist display includes with the following items:

  • Bulletin Board Header
  • Welcome Letter 
  • Donation Item Cards


Classroom items that I include on this display often include:

  • pencils
  • highlighters
  • papertowels
  • wipes
  • hand sanitzer 
  • glue sticks
  • sticky notes
  • crayons
  • markers
  • lined paper

 

You can put any item that you need for your classroom. I try to include items that are easily available for parents to find in stores and that are not too expensive. I also include items that go fast on more than one card for parents to take. Handwipes and glue sticks are examples of ones that I include multiple times.


I pull this wishlist display back out during Parent Teacher Conference Week in the fall and spring so that parents can once again donate to our classroom so that we can collect new items we now need or to refresh dwindling supplies. Parents know what to do the second (and third) time around, so be ready to get a lot of donations!


classroom wish list display bulletin board idea





Must Do #3: Sketch Out a Meet the Teacher Slide Show 

While you may not be able to finalize your Meet the Teacher Slideshow just yet, you can certainly sketch out what important information you want to include and what you want to say.


I like to prep the slides with information that is specific to me and my classroom. This includes a bit about me, class rules and expectations, a little about the content or curriculum, books that students will read, what makes the grade level so special, how students submit assignments, and other classroom specific information.


Information that I usually have to wait until the first week of school to add include:

  • specific daily schedule
  • special area class schedule
  • information that our team agrees to include
  • information from the front office


When creating your slide show do not forget to include a welcome slide, a thank you slide, a slide with contact information and a final slide that reminds you to ask parents if they have any questions! 


This set includes 40 editable slides and a blank slide to create your own back to school slide show in a snap!



meet the teacher night editable slide show



Love these ideas to get organized? Then let's find your style! 



Bonus Organizational Tip...try this!

Don't forget to start a file of all of your informational materials for students who enroll late or join your class mid-year. I keep a large folder like this one to hold any information about our classroom that I would want to share with new students. Class supply list, class rules, school information, contact information, and student interest inventories (grab a free student inventory at the bottom of this post) are all examples of what I save for new arrivals. 


You deserve to enjoy the summer and not worry about the first few events of the new school year! Take time at the end of the year or during the summer to set up these three things and take back your summertime off and the excitement of the new school year! 



You might be interested in reading:







Check out my favorite back-to-school activities HERE. Like this Growth Mindset Bundle




growth mindset alphabet and vocabulary




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3 Things to Do to Start the Year Stress Free That You Can Prep Over the Summer





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    3 Simple Ways to Engage Students By Teaching With Seasonal and Holiday Activities

    3 Simple Ways to Engage Students By Teaching With Seasonal and Holiday Activities


    Teaching with holidays and seasons is totally my thing!


    When it comes to the changing month, season, or upcoming holiday I literally get giddy with excitement! I love to display new seasonal picture books, read aloud some of my favorites, change the bulletin board, and all-out decorate! There is something about bringing outside events like changing seasons and holidays into your classroom that truly excites students. Choosing to use holiday and seasonal activities in your classroom does NOT mean that you have to sacrifice rigor, critical thinking, or your curriculum standards

    In fact, it is quite the opposite!

    When you use the seasons and holidays to enhance the activities and standards you already have to teach you will immediately see:

    • an increase in student interest and motivation
    • an increase in student participation and discourse 
    • students applying skills and strategies you have taught them
    • students making connections 

    No matter how old students get, they still love to celebrate the changing seasons and holidays. Kids love learning about what is happening in real life outside of the four walls of the classroom. By using high-quality, standards-aligned, holiday and seasonal activities you will find that student attention, motivation, and critical thinking increase greatly.

    Want to bring the seasons and holidays into your classroom and lesson plans simply? Try these ideas!


    Read a Picture Book


    There really is no better way to bring in the holidays and seasons than with beautiful picture books. I love gathering up all the holiday and seasonal titles and displaying them at the start of the new month or new season to get students excited about reading! The best part about sharing some extra read alouds with your students to celebrate the holidays and seasons is that when you pick the right picture book you can bring in all of your reading and writing standards to squeeze in a little extra practice! 


    Need some suggestions? Boy, do I have some for you! Get started HERE.



    seasonal picture books for upper elementary




    Bring in the Nonfiction


    While I love all things holidays and seasons, there are some holidays that we do not celebrate in my classroom. My district has a policy about celebrating Christmas and other religious holidays in the classroom during the month of December. I also know some school districts stay away from celebrating Halloween. Just because you may not be able to celebrate a specific holiday, it does not mean that you can not bring topics related to the holidays into your classroom. And the best way that I have found to do that is through the use of nonfiction reading!


    Want to plan nonfiction activities to use each month that correlate to the current holiday and seasons? It is easy! Try these ideas to get you started:

    • Brainstorm a list of related topics to the season or holiday. When it is Halloween time we study how candy is made. It is a related and equally engaging topic, but does not scream Halloween! During December you can study the winter solstice, and during November you can celebrate Friendsgiving and gratitude!
    • Ask students what comes to their mind when they hear about a holiday or season. Then record all of their ideas and use those topics to inspire learning. If you ask students to share topics that come to mind for winter, you will probably get responses that include penguins, polar bears, blizzards, and snow. All super engaging topics that are perfect for holiday and Christmas alternative learning.
    • Grab high interest and interactive print and interactive digital nonfiction reading activities like these and these to keep students engaged and learning through the year AND practice reading skills! 



    seasonal close reading activities for kids




    Do a Monthly Project


    Once you see the spark that seasonal activities create in students you will want to do monthly seasonal activities all year long! I love to use seasonal writing activities to practice all of the skills we have learning during writing workshop. These projects give students a chance to see their writing skills in action in a fun and engaging way and bonus, they make a great seasonal classroom display, too! By completing seasonal writing activities students also get a taste of real-world writing tasks, showing them that the writing skills they learn in class are so important!



    seasonal procedural writing activities: how to catch a leprechaun





    Monthly seasonal activities do not need to just be for writing! Bring the seasonal into your math lessons and watch your students' engagement skyrocket! Try some of these ideas to get started!




    seasonal math activities and problems: Planning a fall festival





    Ready to take the leap and lean into students' excitement over all things holidays? This one big set will last all year long and challenge students to critical think as they celebrate a variety of holidays! Each set includes close reading, writing, math and so much more! See the year long holiday bundle HERE.




    seasonal and holiday activities for upper elementary Easter and spring




    Want to try some free seasonal activities to see just how engaged students get? Try these!


    I love using all things holiday and seasons in the classroom to keep lessons fresh, current, and engagement high and I know you will, too! It is a simple way to mix things up each month and engage students in learning. Grab this exclusive free print and digital summer reading set to see just how rigorous and engaging seasonal learning can be!





    Grab FREE seasonal activities
    to engage your students! 



    free summer print and digital activities for kids







    Check out my favorite seasonal activities HERE

    Like these monthly seasonal poetry writing activities










    LOVE these ideas? Pin to save!






    3 Simple Ways to Engage Students By Teaching With Seasonal and Holiday Activities








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    Grab the free seasonal activities mentioned in this post!

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      *affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)





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