1-2-3 Come Make A Name Map With Me!
I teach “mapping” as a writing strategy to my college comp students. It’s a fun visual way for them to get their thoughts organized on paper, before they begin to write their essay.
A name map is a terrific way to introduce "mapping" to elementary students. This is also an interesting icebreaker for the first week of school and a great way to get to know your new students.
Children think of a symbol that represents them and draw that in the middle. I chose an apple as it’s sort of universal for school or teaching.
Branching out from the center symbol is a variety of things about the person such as hobbies, their favorite season, birthday, what they want to be when they grow up etc.
By having students use their two favorite colors to write their first and last names in the center of their object, everyone gets to know another “tidbit” about that person.
The completed activities make a wonderful back to school bulletin board too! Make sure you do a personal one of yourself, so that you have a sample to show your students as a way to explain things, as well as a means for them to get to know their new teacher. Includes an explanatory note home to families.
Sharing name maps is a nice activity to do after reading the story Chrysanthemum, a wonderful back to school tale, whose main character is a little mouse named Chrysanthemum. She loved her unusual name until she started school and everyone began making fun of her. It's one of my all-time favorite back-to-school books and especially great if you need some stories to go with "bucket-filling."
My inspiration to do name maps, came from an art teacher’s “heart maps” that he did with his 4th graders at Riverside Elementary. Click on the link to check out their awesome endeavors. I hope you and yours have as much fun making these as I did.
Click on the link to view/download Name Maps. This packet is a special FREEBIE in my TpT shop. Thanks for visiting today. Feel free to PIN away! For your convenience, my "Pin it" button is at the top on the menu bar.
“There’s few things as uncommon as common sense.” –Frank McKinney Hubbard
123 Come Color With Me!
One of the ways I counted up to 100 Day was with a cute gumball poster by Really Good Stuff. Each day I’d choose a quiet child to X off a gumball.
Because of this poster, I designed the “Wel-gum To our really sweet class” find your name skill sheet.
Learning how to recognize their name was one of my Y5’s report card standards, so we worked on this every day.
I made this worksheet a bit more special by including my last year’s school picture inside one of the gumballs.
When they found their name, I had them color the gumball their favorite FLAVOR, and then we graphed the results.
We discussed the difference between favorite flavor and favorite color, for many, this was their first introduction to graphing.
Everyone enjoyed learning something about their new friends.
This packet also includes 2 class books. One the children trace and write the sentence about their favorite color.
To make the book more special, include their school photo as well.
I also made a class color book, by including pictures cut out from magazines of things of the various colors.
Each child brought a color picture in on that particular color day, as well as wore the appropriate color.
I took a class picture each Friday and also included that in our color book.
This packet includes the letter home, a calendar + a poster for your parent-teacher conferences.
Click on the link to view/download Wel-gum packet.
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“Never be too big to ask questions. Never know too much to learn something new.” – Og Mandino
"They may not be easy to see, but these are 5 things I want you to know about me!"
That's what the sentence says at the top of the paper.
It's a quick and easy icebreaker for the first day or first week of school, that’s also a terrific writing prompt for September, and fun way to get to know your students.
When completed, they make a cute back to school bulletin board too! Make sure you do one yourself, so you have an example to share with your students, so they know how to do the assignment, as well as get to know their new teacher a little better too.
Older students can draw their own self-portraits in the blank oval. So that they don't feel overwhelmed drawing themselves, remind them that this is just a section of their face from the nose up, or even just their eyes. You can also give students a choice of the other 17 facial tops to fill in and color.
They should color their hair and eyes to represent themselves. I find that younger students are less overwhelmed if they have this sort of template to follow and have a bit more fun with the activity, if they don’t have to start from scratch. You also won’t have to listen to whining: “I can’t draw a face; or “I don’t know how to draw.”
Little ones also tend to draw a tiny circle instead of a big one, or they draw an entire stick body. You can include the template in your “Welcome to school summer letter” or Open House packet, and have students return them on the first day of school, so they can share with their new classmates right away.
Another plus of doing it this way, is that parents can help little ones write down the 5 things. Some teachers like to have an Open House activity that students can do with their families. This would be perfect.
Another option, if you don’t do a summer letter or Open House, is to hand them out the first day of class and have students put them in their backpack or "Take Home" folder, for a home-school connection, to be returned in the next few days.
Make sure you provide time to share their completed projects, so everyone gets to know each other. No matter what my students’ ages, I always had them applaud each child’s sharing. This is a big deal for many “shy” kiddos. Writing in different colored markers also jazzes things up.
If you have the time, turn this into even more of a keepsake, by having a room helper or students trace eachother's handprint on flesh-colored construction paper. Fold it over and cut once for 2 handprints.
Have students glue their paper hands “holding” their writing prompt, in such a way that they can fold the wrist portion over and have them "flop" open to reveal their writing.
You can punch a hole in the top and hang them back-to-back and suspend from the ceiling or line them up as a cute border, just below the ceiling in the hallway.
Click on the link to view/download 5 Things Icebreaker Portraits Thanks for visiting today. Feel free to PIN away!
"By learning, you will teach; by teaching, you will learn." -Latin Proverb
If You Take A Mouse To School and If You Give A Mouse A Cookie: Fun Back To School Books
Whenever I can, I like to make up lessons that go with favorite books. It’s a plus to have an activity that reinforces standards, for students to transition to, after reading a story.
Students read the sentence, then trace and write the letters. When everyone is done, read the booklet as a whole group to review concepts of print as well as upper and lowercase letters.
Run off a set of the 52 upper and lowercase mouse letter cards, laminate and cut them apart. Pass them out to your students. As you read the story, whomever has those letter cards drops them into the mouse pail.
To make a mouse to "feed", run off my template, cut him out, glue him to brown construction paper and slit the line above the letter box. Staple a Quaker oat box or Baggie behind the slit.
Besides the easy reader, this 32-page packet includes:
The packet will help with Common Core State Standards: RF.K1d & L.1.1a. Click on the link to view/download If You Give A Mouse A Letter Packet
Shapes are another standard that my Y5's have to master, so I also did an If You Give A Mouse A Shape packet.
Here you'll find two easy readers, two graphing extensions + several worksheets.
One easy reader is entitled: If You Give A Mouse A Shape (These are 2D shapes.)
The other is: If You Give A Mouse a 3D Shape.
Along these same lines, is the If You Take A _________ To School class-made book, where students think up another animal they'd like to take to school and then write and illustrate their page.
I've also included the Mary Had A Little Lamb nursery rhyme in this packet.
Thanks for visiting today. I'm onto yet another project. So many fun things to do, so little time... I bet you can relate.
“Little by little does the trick!” –Abraham Lincoln
An Apple (Activity) A Day Keeps Boredom Away!
One of my favorite units that I did with my Y5’s was APPLES.
I think they really enjoyed it too, as visiting an apple orchard and picking 3 different kinds of apples was our first fieldtrip.
I feel it’s important to have lots of hands-on centers for little ones, to help them increase fine motor skills through cutting and gluing.
Doing centers helps with a variety of life skills and forces them to listen in order to follow directions.
As they become independent, they are empowered and their self-esteem soars.
Seeing their creations hung on our “Wall of Fame” in the hallway, also helped give them a sense of pride.
Knowing I was going to display their work, was a good incentive, to give their best effort.
Through art, I could also incorporate reading, writing, math, and science; sometimes all of them in one quick project, which covered a variety of report card standards.
The 92 – page Apple Art Projects Book has a large variety of activities in it and includes directions, patterns and pictures.
These make terrific center activities, something for students to do when they have completed other work, a nice home-school connection project to be given as homework, or something to tuck in your substitute folder.
The results are wonderful back to school bulletin boards, or hallway and door displays. Some can be suspended from the ceiling.
The crayon-melt apple poem was one of my favorites.
The poem introduced my students to rhyme; the rhyme taught them the science fact they needed to learn about apples; twisting the 3 color crayons through a sharpener was a terrific fine motor skill, and the result after I put a sheet of wax paper over their shavings and applied a warm iron was awesome!
I also reinforced the 3 colors with this rip and tear apple, which strengthened finger muscles as well.
Students enjoyed making the Life Cycle of an Apple on a paper plate, which was a quick and easy way to get some science in.
Click on the link to view/download the Apple Art Projects Packet.
Thanks for visiting today. I hope you can stop by tomorrow for more back to school ideas.
Do you have an apple activity that you could share with us? I’d enjoy hearing from you! firstname.lastname@example.org or take a moment and post a comment here.
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“We should say to each [child]: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique -- you may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.
You have the capacity for anything!” –Pablo Casals
Be True To The Red White And Blue
A big part of going back to school is teaching a variety of routines.
One of the things that my Y5’s were learning for the first time was The Pledge Of Allegiance.
Like many schools through out the US, we started our day with announcements.
Our principal’s voice would boom over the PA system and lead us in the Pledge.
My Y5’s were doing a wonderful job with memorization, but when I asked my little ones what they were saying, they were clueless, or had a very different interpretation of what some of the words meant.
For example, many of them thought indivisible meant being invisible.
I told them that it was important to understand what they were pledging, and asked them if they wanted to know what the words really meant?
Their curiosity was peaked and most of them raised their hands in agreement.
I designed My Pledge Definition Dictionary with kid-friendly synonyms they could understand.
As long as teachers are required to increase students’ vocabularies, why not start with these very important words!
This packet also includes a certificate of praise as well as a copy of The Pledge of Allegiance for students to practice tracing, as a means of memorization, so that they become familiar with the words.
Click on the link to view/download My Pledge Of Allegiance Definition Dictionary Packet
I feel that knowing about our flag is very important.
The Easy Reader booklet My Flag is a wonderful way to learn important facts about the flag, as students trace and then write key words, cutting and gluing matching pictures to the appropriate sentences.
The booklet can be used as an introduction to The Pledge of Allegiance or a review and has 3 different endings, which makes it very versatile.
Click on the link to view/download My Flag.
The 49-page Flag Activities Packet, covers the history of our flag, information about the flag, and includes links, articles, art projects, skill sheets and writing activities.
It’s a wonderful resource for something patriotic to do with your students.
One of my students' favorite activities was making their own personal flag. These are a great way to learn about your new students and make a terrific back to school bulletin board too.
Click on the link to view download the Flag Activities Packet.
Finally, the I’m Proud To Be An American Writing Prompt fits well at the beginning of the year when you’re teaching the Pledge, or looking for an activity for Constitution Day.
Use students’ finished pages as an easy bulletin board, or collate them into a class book.
Click on the link to view/download Proud to be an American Writing Prompt
Thanks for visiting today. I hope you can also stop by tomorrow for more back to school ideas.
Do you have one to share? I’d enjoy hearing from you! email@example.com or take a moment and post a comment here.
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“I find that a great part of the information I have acquired was by looking up something and finding something else on the way.” –Franklin P. Adams
Send Them Off With A Kiss!
I LOVE the book The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. The gist of it is that a baby raccoon wants nothing to do with going to night school. He’d just as soon stay home with his mom and continue to play in the forest.
Mama raccoon wisely explains that he’ll make all sorts of new friends, naming several other nocturnal animals and that he’ll really like his new teacher (an owl of course) and doing all sorts of fun school activities.
She places a kiss on his hand that travels up his arm and straight into his heart, warming him instantly. Something he can look at all evening long reminding him that “Mama loves you.”
As he excitedly scampers off to school, he pauses to kiss his mommy’s hand, letting her know that “Chester” loves her too.
My Y5’s really enjoyed this story, especially petting my soft pet raccoon puppet that would not come out of his garbage can at first because he was frightened. It’s a wonderful way to introduce feelings and graph how children felt on this first day.
I found if they got to put on a mask and pretend they were raccoons that even my shyest children could talk and tell me how they really felt. Anyone holding the raccoon was the one who got to speak and share.
Because this story is extremely popular I decided to dream up some activities your students would enjoy doing during the first week of school. Perhaps even on the first day, if it isn’t too hectic and packed with other “must get done” rules and regulations activities.
The 24-page Kissing Hand Packet includes two keepsake “craftivities” involving tracing students hands. These make wonderful and easy back to school bulletin boards.
To expedite this with little ones, have a room helper trace and cut them out in the morning, so they are ready in the afternoon.
If you don’t have anyone helping you, think about including a piece of flesh-toned construction paper in your summer note, or open house packet with an explanation to have parents trace and cut their child’s hand and return it for the first day of school.
You could also set this up as a quick “Please do!” station at your open house, if you have one before school starts.. Parents stop at the station, “get it done” and then leave it in the basket.
Click on the link to view/download The Kissing Hand Activities The Raccoon upper and lowercase letter activity packet helps with Common Core State Standard RF.K1d and RF.1.1a
Use them as flashcards, Memory Match Concentration games, or play ‘I Have, Who Has?” later in the year. I include a tip list of what else you can do with the cards.
If you want to use them on the first day, you can sprinkle them around the room, and have students find them. See how many students can identify any of the letters.
A really fun thing to do, would be to pass out the raccoon masks from the first packet. (Make ahead of time out of foam and hot glue to paint sticks.)
Tell your little ones that they are going to be Raccoon ABCDe-tectives and look for Chester's ABC card clues he’s hidden around the school. Tape them to places you want the children to learn about.
Put the Bb cards by the bathroom and then check it out. Find the Ll cards by the library, and then have the children meet the librarian.
Give the Pp and Ss cards to the principal and secretary and make a stop at the office.
Gg is for gym, Mm is for music, Cc is for computers or cafeteria. Your students will have fun spying the cards, while they tour the school and learn where things are.
Rr can land them back to your room where you can have a note from Chester and a Hershey kiss waiting on their desk.
Click on the link to view/download Raccoon Upper and Lowercase Letter Kissing Hand Activities
I hope you enjoy these activities and your first week of school is simply fantastic!
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“A good teacher is like a candle, which consumes itself to light the way for others.” -Unknown
Time To Try A Little Tenderness
Teaching students to be kind is a nice activity for the beginning of the school year when you are explaining your rules and implementing student behavior programs and contracts.
The Kindness Packet includes:
Click on the link to view/download the kindness packet.
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"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." -Franklin D. Roosevelt
It's All In A Name...
Part of the excitement of the first day of school for teachers, as well as the children, is meeting all of the new students! I try to make learning everyone’s name fun. So I do several activities that involve names. There are several report card standards that the Y5’s have that revolve around their name: being able to recognize it as well as write it, so they’re not only learning each other’s names, they are practicing standards. Woo-hoo for a first day win-win!
Have students sit in a circle.
Decide on a fun “movement pattern” like clap twice, pat knees twice.
For older students you can add snap fingers twice too.
Say the following after the movement:
_______________(child's name) ______________ (child's name)
How do you do?
Who's that sitting next to you?
Child says name of person sitting beside them.
Count to 3 slowly and if they don’t know then that child says their name.
This is also a fun and easy “busy activity” while you’re doing those crazy little “have-to-get-done’s”, or assessing to see where children are at.
I hope you got some name ideas to use for back-to-school.
Do you have a name tip that you’d like to share?
I’d enjoy hearing from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting-To-Know-You Via A Glyph! A Fun Icebreaker For Back-To-School!
During the first few weeks of school, I always tried to plug in quick, easy and fun little ways for my students to get to know their classmates. I felt it helped build community and a caring classroom. It's amazing the diversity we have in our schools today!
Even if you homeschool, this is an interesting activity to do with your kiddos. I'm always surprised at the answers my own children come up with when we're playing games or chatting. Just when I think I really know their tastes and what not, they toss me a curve.
A really fun way to get to know your students is via a Bio-glyph.
This is simply a glyph about oneself, and a great way to learn all sorts of information.
Completed projects make an awesome bulletin board or hallway display.
Here's how: Run off a copy of my masters. The girls will need an oval head, the boys a circle.
I've found that by providing a template for students to follow, things are easier. Little ones tend to draw small and write big ( Go figure...)
When everyone has the appropriate template, read each direction slowly, and then repeat once. Remind your students to listen carefully. Because this is a listening and following directions activity, glyphs provide "proof" that a child is or isn't doing that.
Draw the “kinds” of hair, noses, eyebrows, mouths, ears, and cheeks, on your white board as you read the directions for each one. This will help students know what the various shapes look like, or how curly hair can be drawn.
If you are doing this with older students who can read, simply run off a copy of my master glyph (it provides samples) and pass it out to them. You can also revamp my glyph to make this easier and simpler to fit the age of your students or the time that you have allowed.
Make sure you do one for yourself so that you have an example. I did one for me and one for my husband. He's a wonderful guinnea pig and good sport, who is great for bouncing ideas off of.
As a fun extension, you can number and post the completed bio-glyphs, along with the key, in the hallway so that they flip up. Have students write their names on the BACK of their glyph in such a way, so that when a person flips them up, they can read their name.
Later, for added fun, put a real photograph (1st day of school picture) of the student on the wall, under the glyph. You could also have children become detectives and turn this into a "solve the bio-glyph mystery game."
Set a timer. Give students a certain amount of time to ask questions of their new friends, to help them try and figure out which bio-glyph belongs to whom. They can write down their answers on the "Whose Glyph?" sheet provided.
Which person got the most correct? ( I've included a super-sleuth certificate you can give them.) How did you do? This is a fun way for students to learn about each other and a great ice breaker for back to school.
Or… you can simply have each child come up and share their bio-glyph with the class by explaining it. Click on the link to view/download the Bio-Glyph Packet.
Thanks for visiting. If you're looking for more glyphs, click on the link to pop over to that section of my site. I tried to dream up one for all of the seasons. The Cookie Glyph and Apple Glyph are great for September.
"The sure way to teach easily and successfully, is to awaken interest and kindle enthusiasm." -Tyron Edwards