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Back to School Tips and Activities - Vol. 1

Getting ready for the beginning of the school year is never easy. Like so many teachers, I wasted hours and ran into problems in my first years in the classroom. It took me a while, but I figured lots of things out. Today, things run smoothly for me.

I'd love to share my best tricks with you!
Hopefully, the things I've learned will help you avoid making some of the mistakes I made, and make it easier for you to get Back to School!

1. Word Walls on a Budget

If, like me, you don't have a large budget to decorate your classroom, you might want to try this approach when making your Word Wall.

I bought the Letter Border at the Dollar Store for... you guessed... $1.00! Then I got Painter's Tape at the hardware store to create the borders and spaces for each letter.

Besides being really inexpensive, it looks clean and uncluttered. Just the way I like it!

2. You'll Thank me Later -  Bulletin Board Technique

Have you ever had to scrape dried out hot glue from your walls on the last day of school? Fun, huh? All of my hot glue comes off the walls in seconds. LITERALLY! As in 1, 2, DONE!

The technique I'm going to show you only takes one extra step in the beginning of the year, and it saves you LOADS of time and broken nails at the end.

You can thank me later - ha.

  1. Use packing tape to create a border in the dimensions of the paper you are going to use. Just eyeball it.
  2. Using a glue gun, attach the edge of the paper to the edge of the tape border you just made, and little by little continue to glue the paper to the tape. Avoid trying to cover too much of the tape so the glue doesn't dry before you have a chance to attach the paper.
  3. That's it. No step 3. 

Now watch what happens!

When you want to take the paper down, just rip it off. Then peel the tape off the wall! No hot glue mess for you!

3. Do This, Not That - Bulletin Board Paper Technique

Here's another dreadful mistake I made when getting bulletin boards ready.

I think most of us will naturally start by covering the top of the board, then finishing the bottom, right? 

BAD MISTAKE my fellow teachers! If you do that, that UGLY paper line will be right on the top where it is SO noticeable!

Cover the BOTTOM FIRST, then put the top layer on. The ugly paper line is now in the bottom where it is less visible.

And don't forget to get all of those staples out! There's nothing more annoying that feeling all the bumps that they make under the newly laid bulletin board paper!

4. Community Building Activity

This is not a waste of time. I do this activity on the first week of school, and I leave it up the WHOLE YEAR. 

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I use this activity to reinforce the concept that we are like a family in our classroom. 

When someone is absent, our puzzle isn't complete, when someone misbehaves, the whole class is affected. 

But when we make good choices, the good feelings spread around the room, and when we work together as a team, we bring the whole class up to the next level!

The kids buy into that idea. All I have to say is "Are your choices helping or hurting or classroom family?" or "Thank you for helping everyone in our classroom family feel good." It helps me maintain a loving atmosphere in my room all year long.

You can grab the whole thing for free here.

5. Keypad Practice For Younger Students

Do your students need to learn their Student ID number to get lunch in the cafeteria or to get a book at the Media Center? 

I get these laminated before school starts, and I tape them to my students' desks using packing tape. 
I write their names and numbers with a SHARPIE because the dry erase markers will... well... erase.

I don't need to make new copies for next year because I wrote over the tape, not over the keypad itself! Just remember to take those down as soon as your kids don't need them or they will be destroyed by the end of the year. 

During transition times (between ending a lesson and starting another or even during dismissal time), I ask my kids to type their numbers on their keypads. They LOVE it, and they learn it quickly! 

Those pads are part of my 1st Grade All Set for Back to School packet if you are interested. 

You can find them here.

6. Do it Now, Do it Later - Bulletin Board Idea

My first Bulletin Board that goes on the hallway is this one. I have kids draw and write about why they love coming to school. Parent love reading what their kids have to say. 

At the end of the year, before the Big End of The Year Party, I give the kids the same prompt. I hang the beginning of the year and the end of the year prompts side by side. It's so rewarding to see how much growth happened in only a year! And of course, the parents love seeing that too!

I hope an idea from this post saved you some time and made things a bit easier for you this year!

🙋Want more tips?

Here is another Back to School Post filled with tips, tricks, and FREEBIES!

Back To School Tips and Activities - Vol. 2

For more classroom management tips check out these posts:

For Back to School Resources click on these thumbnails:

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