Back To School Ideas

back to school ideas and tips, live bindersJust when I think I’ve reached my “wow” capacity about what the Internet can do, I’m blown away yet again by something some very creative person came up with!

The new “wow” in my life is Live Binders, and here are the top 4 reasons why:

  1. It’s FREE
  2. It’s EASY
  3. The potential is MIND BLOWING, and finally...
  4. they give you access to a huge number of other people’s wonderful binders!  A virtual library listing fabulous resources that we parents and teachers have wasted an entire day searching for.

I know I have.  I sit down early in the morning with great expectations of getting a zillion things done, start my research, and get lost in cyber space only to come up short at trying to find what I was looking for, with little accomplished except a feeling of frustration + a headache. 

Sound familiar?  And how many times have I heard this frantic complaint on one of my mail rings:   “Does anyone know this site… it’s one of my favorites but my computer has a virus/crashed, or the school deleted everyone’s files over the summer!”

LiveBinders solves it all.

back to school ideas, live bindersYou can keep it private and allow only a select few to view your binder,  (giving access via a password) or allow the public access.  Besides having a library listing of all your favorite sites this is a great tool to use for educating your students!

Your students can find homework assignments, complete research, review articles, view YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, or whatever else you can dream up within the scope of the tools of LiveBinder, as additional design features allow teachers to upload resources in the form of PDF’s, images, presentations, documents etc.

back to school ideas and tips, live binders 


So what are the benefits?

  • It’s free
  • It’s easy
  • They have a bookmark icon that sits on your toolbar to instantly add sites to your binder, and you can add your binder icon to your desktop.
  • It’s fun
  • It’s something different that your students will enjoy.

  • It makes you look wonderfully computer savvy and up-to-date.
  • Material and resources are up loadable from any computer, anytime, and anywhere with Internet access.
  • Use your own blog to provide students’ access to your binder.
  • This is a "new" kind of library for you to use other people’s binders to gather more cool website info.
  • Use a binder to create a library of resources for yourself, students, and fellow teachers.
  • Use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to share your binders and enjoy the power of networking.
  • Total storage per account is 100MB, so you can create multiple binders!

back to school ideas and tips, live binderThese are just a few of the reasons LiveBinders was selected as one of the Top 25 Websites for teaching and learning in 2010!  Click on the link to start one today.


Great Binders:

One of the featured binders for this blog is an awesome summer reading binder made by a mom.  She has reading lists, online reading, literacy activities, reading programs &  parent tips!  Click on the link to check it out.

Many teachers in my mail ring have been asking about "cool apps" for their i Pods and i Pads for the classroom.  I even found a binder for that! Click on the link and then click on the "Apps Review" tab.     iPod/iPad binder. 

User "Sparkley" has also made a binder for Apps. Sparkley has 60 (!) other interesting binders as well as several on  Best Blogs! Click on that link.

Finally, I know how many of you love bulletin board ideas. I found an education binder designed by "KB Konnected" who has 73 binders (!) that I think many teachers  would be interested in.  Click on the link to check out her awesome bulletin board one.

I know you will have a blast checking out the many fun binders on this site as well as making your own.

My binder is entitled Great Sites for Elementary Teachers.  It’s private right now, as I’m in the process of building it, for now you can check my LINKS above on the menu bar.

Happy Binder-Building!

back to school ideas and tips, live binders


helpful things for back to school

Don't Forget!

These helpful "remember" items can be found in the 123-page Back-To-School Packet 


Click on the link to view/download it.

I had 4 timers at school.  I used them to REMIND me of a variety of things.  One of the most important was when I put a child in the Time Out Chair. 

Sometimes they were so good about thinking about a better behavior, they forgot how long they had been sitting there.

So that I wouldn't, because of the zillions of other things going on, a timer was a must-have for me! 

The timers were also very helpful to signal when it was time to clean up after centers, free play, etc.

I'd get busy working one-on-one with students, or assessing and you know how that time flies.  It's easy to forget about the time, and one does not want to be late for recess, lunch and specials.

I also had other things that I developed to help my parents and students remember things... from posters to magnets to assignment books and calendars. 

I think teaching organization to your students is an important life skill.  My parents have told me they appreciate the reminders and it makes for happier and smarter students; a win-win situation all around.

Here are some fun and easy things that you can do to help yourself, students and parents REMEMBER!


  • Set timers to go off.
  • Post times and clocks on the board.

back to school ideas, tips on remembering thingsEven tho’ my Y5’s can’t tell time, they can compare and match.

I have 3 times of the day that they are most interested in: When is recess; when is it lunch time and when do we get to go home?

I make 3 paper clocks and laminate them and post them on my white board.  Each one is labeled: Recess, Lunch, Done for the day! They can look at the hands of those clocks and can compare them to the hands of our class clock.

It's stopped children from asking me these same 3 questions all day long.  If they do; I tell them to look at the clocks and become a detective and see if they can figure it out.  I use it as a teachable moment to do some math.  i.e., How much longer is it before…

    • Notes:
  • Send reminder notes home. Sometimes these are half notes or just a strip of paper the size of a bookmark; sometimes they are a slap bracelet.
  • I put notes on children at the end of the day and pin them in the middle of their backs.  I find that some parents do not check backpacks.
  • Sometimes I run off labels with things that I need to remind parents of on a monthly basis.
  • I simply put the sticker on their child’s shirt at the end of the day.  Parents have given me wonderful feedback about this form of FYI-reminder. 
  • Labels save me time and paper and the hassle of having to pin things on children or put things in cubbies, folders or backpacks. 
  • Parents tell me they take the sticker off and put it on the mirror, door jamb or car window to help them remember.
Calendars & Other "Paper" Reminders:
  • Send a monthly calendar home.
  • Give students a weekly calendar for them to fill out.
  • Send a weekly newsletter home.
  • Make "to do" lists and encourage your students to do the same.

Assignment Booklet, back to school ideasassignment booklet, back to school ideas


Assignment Booklet:

  • Empower your students and teach them responsibility by having them keep track of their assignments. 
  • Write them on the board and then have students copy them down.  If they complete them, they check them off.  Train parents to ask to see this assignment booklet.
  • I’ve made one up for you to run off.  Have students glue the cover on a folded sheet of colored construction paper of their choice. 
  • Glue the cover on AFTER  you have stapled pages on the inside of both sides.  This way the staples won’t show.

  • back to school ideas, tie a string on your finger to remember art activityArt Project:
  • Tying a string on your finger has been a symbol of remembering. For a fun art project, run off my drawing on a variety of flesh-toned construction paper; laminate the paper and have students cut the hand out and tie a piece of yarn or ribbon on the finger. 
  • Staple the yarn/ribbon or tape it on the back.
  • Students can write themselves notes with a dry erase marker, or a permanent marker and use a Mr. Clean eraser to rub their note off, or they can add sticky notes to the back of the paper hand.
  • You can make these ahead of time and give them as a gift, or have students make their own.
  • reminder magnet, back to school ideasReminder Magnet:
  • Make a “Don’t Forget” Happy Face magnet and hot glue it to a clothespin.  Students can help with these, or you can make them ahead of time and give them as a gift.  
  • Send home the magnet letter with the magnet for parents to jot themselves notes to remember important things.
       remember poster, back to school ideas, remember ideas Posters and Anchor Charts:
  • Print the reminder posters and have a wall area where you post important things to REMEMBER, everything from rules like “i before e except after c .” “When 2 vowels go walking the first one does the talking.” or your class rules,  or spelling words. 
  • In this “Remember” section I post who has the Secret Sack (my version of Show & Tell), who has the Snack Sack (Who is bringing in snack, My snack calendar) My “Where Am I?” poster for students who are pull outs and have to be somewhere on certain days.  
  • There is also a hook hung with two-way tape that holds a set of laminated rainbow cards. (You can pick any kind of die cut card at a teacher’s store and laminate and then number them. ) Above it a sign says: How Many Students Are Here Today? This helps me remember at a glance how many children are in my room at any given time should there be an emergency and my brain leaves my head when bells, sirens, and screaming is taking place.
  • I use this as a math extension every morning.  We count students together, find that number card, show the card and identify that number, compare it to yesterday’s number and see if it is lesser, greater or equal to? 
  • If a child leaves with another teacher, the card is changed and then changed again when they come back.  If a child goes to the bathroom a bathroom tag is put on top of the number so I know at all times how many children I have and who is where.
  • Click on the link to view/print all of these ideas and patterns that will help you remember!  Back To School Packet. 

I hope you REMEMBER  to RELAX for the rest of the summer and take time for yourself!

back to school ideas, decorating your classroom, anchor charts, posters for your classroom, back to school ideas, classroom management tips, help remembering things,Thanks for visiting today.  I hope you can stop back tomorrow for more back to school ideas.  Feel free to PIN anything that you think others will find worthwhile.

"Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand." -Unknown

back to school ideas, tips on how to remember things

Back To School Ideas

Seeing little ones all dressed up in their brand new clothes, wearing their brand new backpacks, all excited and filled with the anticipation of the first day of school, don't ya just LOVE it?  I do!  I catch the bug about August 1st when the stores are decorated to the hilt with their displays of supplies. Some people are groaning.

I'm in the ready-get-set-GO! mode. I have to be. I teach Y5's and there's a zillion things I HAVE to do, and ya know what? If you do a few a day, it's FUN, at least it is for me.back to school ideas, teacher tips


In this blog article I'll give you a few tips that I hope will help you have some fun while you get ready to go back.. Next year I'll  start earlier, for I know some of you have already started, and I wish you all the best!



Name Tags:


 Little Giraffes is another of my favorite teaching sites. She has an entire theme for back-to-school. I especially love her "Magic Playdough" idea and plan to do this activity with my Y5's. I also want to try melting a red Solo cup to make an adorable apple name tag! Check out these cute ideas by clicking on the link.

     Teaching The 5 Senses Teddy Bear:

If you teach the 5 sesnses as we do at the kindergarten and Y5 level, you'll want to make this adorable tactile bear. Click on the teddy bear link to check him out. What a wonderful idea!

I plan to make him with these changes: Cut a pair of bib overhauls out of an old pair of blue jeans. and glue him to your sandpaper bear. Hot glue the pocket of the jeans to the middle of the bear. Hot glue two brightly colored big buttons to each strap.


Hobby Lobby and most craft stores sell those mini ziplock bags that are only 3 inches tall.  You'll need 3.



Soak a cotton ball in tangerine oil, or another fragrance you think your students will like, and zip it up in the little baggie, put a medium size jingle bell with a yarn string on it, so that you can jingle it, in the 2nd baggie, put a gummi bear in the 3rd. Place them in the big pocket.



I'm also going to hot glue another pocket on the back of my bear where I'll keep a medium size baggie filled with enough gummi's for all of my students to have a taste. 



I plan to read the story Will I Have A Friend? by Miriam Cohen and then introduce them to one of my stuffed bears and tell them: "Here is one of your very 1st kindergarten friends." Then  I'll say: "Give Me 5!"  and choose a child who is modeling that. (EYES looking at me, EARS listening, MOUTH shut, HANDS folded in lap, FEET on the floor, or criss-cross applesauce.) I'll hand them the bear and a gummi. I've just reviewed the 5 senses!



She'll say: "Hi I'm Kelli and I'm your new friend." She'll give the bear a hug and pass him to the child next to her, and I'll give them a gummi and away we go!5 senses teddy bear, 5 senses lesson idea



At the conclusion we can review where the bear's 5 senses are, and everyone can take a turn touching the sandpaper.



If this is one of your science units having each one of your students make their own bear would be an easy and inexpensive thing to do!



I'd pre-cut the bears for them using a Dollar Store scissors, because it will be dull by the time you get done cutting out 30 bears!


Want to make a few cute gifts for your teacher friends or the secretary? I could never do her job! I so appreciate our Sandy! Click here.

My favorite is the Orange. I say that to my students during October when we have that as the color of the month. I make it a knock-knock joke and then give them each an orange slice. "Knock-Knock...Who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad you're in my class?"

 Writing Prompts:

Do you need some writing prompts click here for a months worth?  I have an entire year of fun FREE writing prompts for you too.

 Back-To School Check List:

Do you feel a bit frantic when August rolls around, and a little worried if you'll have enough time to get everything done? Or that nagging feeling of "I know I'm forgetting something!" I did after my first year and I said I HATE feeling like this! It robs me of the joy and excitement that I so enjoy.

So I decided to sit down and make a back-to-school check list of everything I needed to do. Click here for a copy of mine. Then cross off things and add some to make it your own, and you'll have one that's perfect for you to use year after year. It truly will bring you peace of mind. Then, stick it on a clipboard, do things a few at a time-daily and have FUN doing them.

I've learned the JOY should not come at getting the list DONE, but in DOING the list! Life is so much better that way!  I try to finish EVERTHING at least 3 to 4 days before school starts so I don’t feel like I just ran a marathon.

It’s nice if you can treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure or simply a bubble bath and do those things for yourself. I also like to go through my wardrobe and figure out what I’m going to wear for the 1st week of school and put those outfits in one section of my closet.

I like to cut some flowers from my garden or pick up a few plants from the store and put them in my room. It just perks me up. Whatever your list, you need to enjoy the journey through it. The more time you allow yourself the more fun you’ll have.

 Have last year's kids help you get ready for next year's students!

Try to accomplish a few things BEFORE you leave school and enlist the help of  your students.

I let mine have one last fling with playing with shaving cream to get the “gunk” off the desks. If you haven't tried shaving cream for "instant writing boards" you need to hop aboard! Simply squirt a blob in front of a student on their desk/table. Let them flatten it out to make a "white board". They then write on it with their index finger making shapes, letters, numbers etc. The shaving cream softens their hands, makes the room smell great, and gets ink, crayon marks, and glue gunk off the surface. Plus kids LOVE it!

Anyway... Afterwards my kids wash down all of the tables and chairs. They enjoy splashing away with a rag.   I don’t clean anything else, because over the summer it just gets dusty all over again and was a waste of time.

Instead the children help SORT all of the tubbies so that everything is neat and organized for the children in the fall. This would have been a huge job for me alone, and with a team of 20 kids it’s a breeze and reviews a report card standard for them.     

      They make my "Welcome Back To School" bulletin boards!

I also have them create the two in-class bulletin boards. I then have “Kid-Art” up and I didn’t have to do anything. My current Y5’s think it''s “way cool” that they were getting to make a b. board for the in-coming kids,  and the new kids think it's exciting to look around the cafeteria to see if they can find a kindergarten friend! And…I didn’t have to dream up and make 2 in-class b. boards. What a wonderful win-win! apple bulletin board, bulletin board ideas

 During the first week of school they get to make an apple that replaces this bulletin board. As soon as they finish their apple project they go pick an apple off the board and that is their new kindergarten friend that they look for in the cafeteria.

 I have parent helpers help me with this activity and I make sure that these children are still here and that everyone will have a new buddy. This works out perfect because the K's and the Y5's have the same lunch and recess.

The K's feel proud because they "know the ropes" and can show them around and share their experiences with them that they had as a Y5.

My other bulletin board is"We Wish You A Dino-mite Year!" I have searched hi & lo for this pix and could only find my sample. They have to find the matching photo to their apple. They enjoy taking two friend "cards" home.

Should it ever happen that I don't have enough K's for my kids, I'd make some apples/dinosaurs and use pix from our year book from K's that I knew from last year, then call them and ask if they'd like to be a friend to a new Y5.  I'm sure they'd be thrilled.dinosaur bulletin board, bulletin board ideas

Great site for templates:

If you're looking for some templates to make everything from name tags and newsletters to assessments and certificates look no further. Click here for one of my favorite teacher sites.

 Do you have an Info Sheet?

I have an Emergency Contact Information Sheet that I like to have my parents fill out for me. I explain to them that I know they've already filled out all sorts of forms for the office, but I like to have my own forms handy. They are kind enough to oblige. Click here for a copy.

If you'd like a copy of my "Getting to Know Your Child" handout  click on the link. I like a "head's up" about my students. This sheet gives me valuable information so that I can engage my Y5's in conversation and show them that I'm interested in their world and care about them.

 More Helpful Stuff:

Click here for a Back-To-School WORD SEARCH  If you're look for decorating tips click tips and here.

I've also got some cute ideas in SEPTEMBER I, and there's 89 pages of ideas where I post all of my handbooks at SEPTEMBER II stuff. Just click on the links and read or print away.

To wish you a HAPPY back-to-school year, I designed a little door knobber that you can print off and laminate. Hang it on your doorknob. Take a minute to  have your Helper of the Day move a large paperclip down the side to where you're going,. It's my way of saying "Thanks much for stopping! I appreciate you, and I wish you a WONDERFUL year!" Click on the link to print one. :

I run my Open House as a Treasure Hunt which I mentioned in the Welcome Blog, but if you need an invitation, I've made you one here. Just click on the link. Well that's it. I hope this helped.

I will see you in September with lots more EXCITING things for you to do with your students! It's going to be a supercalafragalisticexpialadocious year for all of us! Gotta run, I'm still not done with my list, but....

Let the adventure begin!

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