Disclosure: Links to the books mentioned in this post are Amazon affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase on Amazon after clicking on a link/photo, I get a reimbursement.
The first few days and weeks of the school year are filled with rules, procedures, schedules, more rules and a lot of “hanatizer”. At the elementary age it is good idea to spend a good chunk of time on all this, as well as letting your students how you imagine your classroom to be. While going over rules and procedures is uber important those first few weeks, letting your kiddos know what type of “atmosphere” you want in the classroom is also crucial.
Do you want the kids to feel comfortable talking to you, but also want to make it clear you aren’t the tattle police? How about dealing with bullying? How you envision your classroom is a good indicator of what lessons you may want to do those first few weeks.
One of the fun things about being a teacher is your creativity! Use it! Pick up a book. Any children’s book. Chances are, your creative mind can conjure up a lesson to go along with that book. Yes, kids LOVE to hear rules and procedures as much as you love hearing “Tutti Ta” over and over….and over again, but switch it up and include FUN into those first week lessons. By fun I mean BOOKS!
Over the course of teaching, I have come to love many different books to read the first few weeks. These 6 children’s books for the first week of school are great because they can be tailored for any grade and have a variety of lessons to be learned
Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.
This book can also be used to help your kiddos find their creative side. Depending on the grade level, this can be a great first week art and/or writing activity. This will take little prep! To see your kids creativity, simply draw a small dot or squiggle on a piece of paper. Tell them to turn into something else. Add some crayons, colored pencils, etc. and watch what a little dot or squiggle can turn into.
If your students are writing, include writing paper to see what stories they can come up with to pair with their drawing! If you are looking for even more no prep ways to use this book, check out my FREEBIE! This comes with everything you need to get you started with this book.
Click here to download this freebie! Find Your Creativity Writing and Art Pack
Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom by Kelly DiPucchio
This book is perfect for the neat freak teacher who wants their students to take care of the classroom. I always explain that a classroom is like a second home, because in truth, you are there sometimes more than your own home! That being said, it should be treated as such. I like to read this book and then go over clean up procedures.
Over the years I have tried multiple ways to get students to clean the classroom. Eventually I came up with the Quick and Quiet Clean Up. I then combined it with Trash Lottery which is a great way to get the room cleans up lickety split! The rules are simple: set a timer (a digital one on a Smartboard or Mimio works very well). I normally set it for five minutes. The object of the game is to clean the room…and I mean CLEAN the room. This means pencils picked up, trash picked up, desks cleaned off, chairs stacked, etc. The rules are this….no talking! Before I set the timer, I mentally pick out one piece of trash/item/etc. on the floor. I then casually watch it from the corner of my eye. If the student who picks it up doesn’t talk the whole time, they get a prize, or a coupon from my FREE Trash Lottery Pack for a bigger prize! I always make it so that after the clean up, they all had to either be sitting in the front of the room with their backpacks on, or lined up ready to go! This makes dismissal A BREEZE!
Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
This a great book to read to your students that first week of school to show that you care for them. I then like to do an activity where the kids write what they want in a teacher and what they want to learn. You would be surprised at some of the things you read. It just goes to show you that a teacher can make a difference!
Imogene’s Antlers by David Small
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
The biggest lesson is how much words can affect someone. Before reading this book, I give each student a paper heart and have them write their name on it. Throughout the story we discuss how Chrysanthemum is feeling. When she feels sad, I have the kids wrinkle or fold the heart a little. When she is happy, I have them flatten the heart back out. After we finish reading, I tell the students to try and flatten the heart completely and get rid of all the wrinkles. We then discuss how that even though apologies may be said, and happy times are more frequent, that the wrinkles never completely fade. Just like words of a bully.
This helps students know that what they say can truly affect another person. After talking about using kind words, a compliment flower is made. The kids write their name or draw a picture in the middle of the flower. Then they write compliments on each other’s petals. This is not only a great lesson on kindness, but a great way to incorporate learning about adjectives.
Another great way to have kids get in touch with their feelings is to have them write! Writing about what makes them “wilt” and what makes their heart happy is a lesson they will love and also will allow YOU to get to know them even better.
Everything you have seen for Chrysanthemum is available in my Chrysanthemum Mini Unit which also includes no prep math and language arts pages.