3 Ways to Start the New School Year Strong

Choosing books for the first weeks of school can be tricky!

You don't want to use up all of your favorite books, or choose books that are too fluffy, and you need to choose books that will bring your new class out of their shells. Here are the back to school books I love to use each year!

Back to School Books

Two of my favorite first week read alouds are by Ryan Higgins.

We Don't Eat Our Classmates - first day read aloud

We Don't Eat Our Classmates is an excellent ice breaker because of how silly it is! From the 300 tuna sandwiches with just one juice box, down to a vicious goldfish - Penelope will have your class laughing and talking in no time!

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We Will Rock Our Classmates - back to school read aloud

The sequel, We Will Rock Our Classmates, Penelope is too afraid to try doing the thing she loves the most. This book is a great conversation starter too. I prefer to wait a day or two to read it, so my class is feeling a bit more comfortable sharing with each other.

Next up is Jory John!

The Bad Seed by Jory John

The Bad Seed is another book that will really get your class sharing their thoughts and feelings. Is the seed really bad? What does being bad mean? I have used this book in Kindergarten for years and they have had some really thoughtful conversations about it!

The Good Egg by Jory John

The Good Egg is the second in the series and another book that gets kids thinking. Is he happier when he is good? What is making him be "good?" 

The Cool Bean is the most recent book in Jory John's series. I love this one because it is about friendship and how things can change. Even though you don't call someone your best friend, it doesn't mean they don't care about you! This is a great first week book when K-1 students are making new friends each day and learning how to deal with those new relationships. 

This trio is one that we revisit throughout the year and always stay displayed in the bins in the front of our room!

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Getting to know your class

would you rather daily voting in K-1

I always start using Would you rather questions on the first day of school. I choose with silliest ones that I know they will all have an opinion on in the beginning. 

Each morning my students have to find their own name from the table in the back of the room (a great skill for early readers) and then only choose one of the two options. This is always a hard part at first and requires some training.

would you rather daily voting

Then in morning meeting we count up how many for each choice and compare the numbers. It's a fast and fun way to review counting up to 25, as well as the greater, less than and equal to symbols each day!

I have a digital version of the Word of the Day too, same questions but in Google Forms, click here for a closer look.

I use our Writers Workshop to make All About Me books for the first week.

                                           All about me book for K-1

It gives them a chance to talk about all the things that interest them - birthdays, favorite holidays and foods and more! It helps to get even my most introspective students sharing out their feelings more.

All About Me book

During the first week, I have my students complete the September page form their Monthly hundreds chart. This can be a struggle for some students if they haven't worked with numbers a lot. However, we start by setting a small goal - writing the numbers to five or ten. 

                               monthly hundreds charts practice 

Each month we look at their old page, then set a new goal! It really helps my students to focus and begin to understand goal setting. 

                                        practice numbers to 100

They also write their first page from their Monthly handwriting book. This one is a bit easier since they can see the letters on the page in front of them. Instead, we focus on letter formation and pencil grip. 

                                           monthly handwriting book

Each month they compare this month to the previous to see what has changed! 

                                       monthly handwriting book

Then at the end of the year we make a book to send home to their families.

monthly handwriting book

Staying organized

We all know organization is key to a successful year, so here are some resources I always use to keep things on track in my class.

monthly calendars

First, are the monthly calendars, I send these home at the beginning of each month so families know what events are happening that month. They are editable so you can type right in before printing!

monthly reading logs

Next, is our reading logs. Our school has kept track of how many books our students read, and these logs make checking in easy each month!

monthly data tracking sheets

Then, we have our data tracking sheets to help with goal setting in K-1 classes. I use these for spelling and math scores mostly, and they really do help my students understand this concept as the year progresses.

Lastly, is newsletters for parent communication.

digital monthly newsletters

These newsletters make communicating with parents are a big time saver! The consistent format helps you know just wha to share and it allows families to know what information to expect each month. 

I include any important dates and sight words that we have learned that month, as well as a summary of what we did in math, reading and writing that month.

What are some of your must do's for each new school year?

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