I created this back to school lesson plan theme with the first week of school in mind. It’s a lesson on getting to know your peers and school week. It will help the children understand the rules that are implied both in the school room and outdoors. Helping children to get to know their fellow peers as well as tell others about their interests.
Back To School Lesson Plan Theme
Preparation Before First Day of School…
Understandably, teachers are overwhelmed getting prepared for the entire year of school let alone the first week. I’ve made your first weeks prep time a little easier by including ideas and patterns to get you started. Listed below are items that you might want to prepare before the first day of school.
Name Card Necklaces…
Using my free pencil pattern listed (click here), print and cut out one pencil for each child that will be attending your class and a few extra, just for unexpected late enrollments.
On the back of each individual name card write:
1.) Child’s full name
2.) Home address
3.) Label the bus route number, walker or car rider
4.) School name and telephone number
5.) Classroom teacher’s name
6.) A note to the parents to return the tag each day with their child
You can print off the information using address labels and then stick them to the back as a time saver.
The front of the tag will just be labeled with the child’s first name in bold black marker so you will be able to spot it and have a visual the first week. You may want to color and laminate the pencil name card for durability. Cut a piece of yarn large enough to fit around the child’s neck to form a necklace. Attach one alligator clip to one side and again to opposite side using the second clip.
After the first week you will pretty much have an idea of names and faces, however name card necklaces have a multiple purposes. Substitutes love to have name cards so they can be familiar with children’s names and system for departure and you can use them as a transition to different activities throughout the school year by picking a name necklace out of a box.
Calendar and Weather Pocket Chart
This vinyl pocket wall chart is a great way to introduce weather and days of the week. It has 136 pre-printed colored cards. The perfect way to gather your children each morning to start circle time.
Time Tracker Programmable Electronic Timer
Once you get this little gem set up you will be able to keep your children on track throughout the day. The timer shows GREEN, then turns to YELLOW when time is almost up; then turns RED when the time is up. You can customize the sound effects for each color; and the amount of time to allow during each color. Children responded fabulously to the timer — they can see and hear how much time is left.
Daily time Schedule Chart…
Make a time-table chart depicted with pictures of the average school day activities…we all have some sort of schedule.
To make up a classroom charts cut the picture out of old school supply books and paste them with a written explanation and time in a vertical line.
A timetable will give the children direction during the day. At the beginning of the year, it’s a great time to assure children with the question, “When is mommy coming?” Pointing out on the timetable what activity you are currently doing and then pick up time it could easily solve your answer to that question.
A classroom book is a wonderful way for classmates to get to know another. Parents will also enjoy seeing and reading about the children their child attends school with.
I’ll give you a few ideas that you may wish to include, but the end product is really up to you. Ideas that you might include are the following: name of the child, birth date, mom and dad’s names, sibling’s names, pets they have, favorite toys they enjoy playing with, magazine cutouts of interests, space for a photo and a personal drawing. Front cover pattern (Here).
You can take a photograph of each child to place on their own page and let the children decide what information they would like to add.
One additional item you might wish to include would be a space in the back of the book for comments from the parents after they have viewed the book with their child.
Get a binder that has a spot to slip the front cover page into the front. Place each child’s profile picture page into a plastic sleeve. I find this works best so that the pages do not get torn.
Allow one child to take the book home on Monday and have to return it to class by Friday the same week. Share any personal comments that your parents have written in the book with the class when the book is returned.
Don’t forget you are part of your classroom book as well; you must have a page like everyone else.
Every child must have their own personal space to call their own. Since young children cannot read yet, create a matching desk tag and cubby tag for each student unique to themselves only. Find a pattern of an animal, toy, color etc., label it with their name and this becomes the symbol of their space.
Classroom Helper Chart…
How will your helpers be chosen? What tasks would you like to select for the children? , to do things like lead the flag salute, take the attendance and lunch count folders to the office, help pass out papers, etc.? Make your own classroom helper chart and get a system down before the first day of school. Children feel a sense of pride fulfilling daily tasks incorporate them into your and save yourself some time.
Songs, Fingerplays and Group Time Fun
Who Feels Happy At School Today?…
Talk about feelings. You may show pictures of the different emotions happy, sad, mad etc. Have the children tell you which emotion is depicted in the picture. Ask if the have ever felt this way why? If you do not have time for pictures, an easy way to do this would be just by verbal sentences. Ask if someone took a toy away from you how would you feel?
Practice happy and sad classroom behaviors / rules. If a child does this it makes the teacher sad. If the child does this, it makes the teacher happy. Use the happy and sad face patterns HERE. After this explanation, you should be able to hold up the faces to prompt the group for the remainder of the year when they need to change their actions to achieve a happy face.
We say, “Thank you.”
We say, “Please.”
We don’t interrupt or tease.
We don’t argue. We don’t fuss.
We listen when folks talk to us.
We share our toys and take our turn.
Good manners aren’t too hard to learn.
It’s really easy, when you find.
Good manners mean
JUST BEING KIND!
Please stand on tiptoes. (Caregiver)
I will stand on tiptoes. (Child)
Wiggle your nose. I will wiggle my nose.
Please reach up high. I will reach up high.
Point to the sky. I will point to the sky.
Wave your right hand. I will wave my right hand.
Stand and look grand. I will stand and look grand.
Please jump in one place. I will jump in one place.
Please cover your face. I will cover my face.
Feelings Felt Board…
Make a very simple large felt body without a ‘face’. The body will look similar to that of the gingerbread man. Make several ‘faces’ that fit the body. The face is only a circle shape. Each ‘face’ should portray a different feeling. Put the body & all the ‘faces’ on the felt board. Have a child come up & choose one of the ‘faces’. Holding it so everyone can see let the child name the feeling & tell when s/he felt that same way. Then have the entire group of children make their real faces look like the feeling being discussed.
EXTENSION: Using the same felt board pieces described above, play this game. Have a child stand up & portray an emotion that matches one on the felt board. Have the remaining children guess which feeling it is & then put the appropriate ‘face’ on the body.
Talk about the process that each student does in the morning to get ready to come to school. Discuss many similarities as well as differences that each child does. Examples we all get out of bed, brush our teeth, eat breakfast. Differences are how we get to school such as bike, walk, bus etc. You can also make a graph on how each gets to school using the different ways of transportation.
Stop At the Whistle…
Choose a signal in which you’d wish the children to start out walking when you blow a whistle the children are to stop. If you find a child still moving after the whistle that child is to sit down in the selected area. You can give other directions such as hop, jump, run etc. This activity primes the children up for stopping and listening when the whistle is blown on the playground.
Today I pledge to be kind,
to use the nicest words I can find.
Today I pledge to try to share,
to wait my turn and to be fair.
Name Card Activity…
Using the cards that you make up for centers (See “Beans on Name” under centers on this page) Hold up a selected card and ask the child who names this is to hop, jump, clap, make a funny face or any other activity you’d like them to do. You can do this activity throughout the year until children can recognize their name.
Tape two pieces of large easel paper together. Talk about what a “buddy” is…(a friend). The children go to the table in groups of 3 to paint cooperatively on the easel paper. Call them “buddy paintings” because they paint them with their friends.
Fitting Together Bulletin Board…
Use a large floor puzzle for this bulletin board. Put together a large floor puzzle and then trace each piece and put a number in the corner so you can put it back together easy. Have each child draw a picture of themselves on their piece and decorated it any way that they want. Put the pieces together with the heading “We All Fit Together.”
Following and Understanding Directions…
This is a great activity to do your first week at school. First, you will need a master list of a drawing activity that you’d like to have the children complete by you giving them directions. Examples would be 1.) Draw a sun in the sky on your paper. 2.) Draw clouds around your sun. 3.) Color Grass on the bottom of your paper. 4.) Draw a house on your paper on top of the grass. 5.) Place two windows in your house. 6. Under your windows draw a bush. These are only some ideas….they all depend on your children’s ages you can make them as simple or as complex as you’d like. After the activity is finished do not comment on any of the drawings, simply pick them up and file them away until you do the activity again. You could do this activity three times a year. Once in the first week of school, once before your first parent conference and again at the end of the year. It’s great to see the changes that the children go through…you notice a huge difference at the end of the year in drawings.
All About Me Page…
Sometime during the first week have the children each bring a picture from home of them. Give children a piece of white paper and glue their picture to the page. Have the children draw or cut out pictures from magazines of things they like to do, family pets, and foods they like or anything else that they want to include on their special page. Once everyone has completed their special page…it’s your turn to add your special page a front cover and a few pages in the back for comments from the parents. You could write-up a cover page telling the parents that this is a getting to know you book compiled of all the children in the class and the things that are important to them. Send the book home each night with one child. Have the parents write a comment in one of the back pages so that you may read it to the children every morning. One last thing that I have done is write for the children each one of their family members names…let your imagination run wild. They turn out great and the parents like to know whom their children are friends with in class.
Along with block in the block area add a toy bus and people to allow children to role play with their newfound transportation method.
Place items such as pencils, paper, chalkboards, desks or tables set up and encourage the children to play “School”.
At the beginning of the week ask each child to bring in a slightly oversized T-shirt. Set up a table for decorating their art shirts by placing assorted paints and markers out. During the week have a few children a day during center time decorate the art shirt anyway they want. Have a special place to place the shirts during the day until art time; you may want them to use their cubbies as the special place. Then when it’s art time have each child use their shirt to keep their clothes cleaner.
Beans on Name…
Before school starts purchase a few packages of those thick black alphabet letters. Make up a card for each child’s name using the letters and tag board don’t forget to laminate for durability. Have each child place beans on the outline of their names. You can use these tags for other purposes such as of course placing other items on the name for other themes as well as tie a piece of yarn on two alligator clips and have the children wear them for substitute teachers.
Set up a station that has a total of four dividers, that way each child cannot see one another papers. Have each child draw a picture of themselves using all characteristics of themselves. A teacher labels the back of each picture with the child’s name and keeps them until the next day at group time. Have the children guess who the picture is of…ask them why it may be the child they are stating it is. Have them give a reason as a color of hair, eyes, etc.
Set up a bus stop in the house corner using props such as chairs for seats, lunch boxes, driver’s wheel and driver’s hat. Have the child role play the correct way to get on the bus and behavior when riding the bus.
It’s the first day of school, and Curious George has been invited to Mr. Apple’s class to be a special helper! George is just the right monkey for the job—until he starts to wreak his usual havoc, that is. Red and yellow paint makes orange, yellow and blue make green . . . and a mixture of all the paint colors makes a big mess!
Pete the Cat is back—and this time he’s rocking in his school shoes. Pete discovers the library, the lunchroom, the playground, and lots of other cool places at school. And no matter where he goes, Pete never stops moving and grooving and singing his song . . . because it’s all good.
#3. Splat the Cat: Back to School, Splat!
Good for beginning readers. 20-page book featuring a humorous story of Splat the Cat. Splat has a homework assignment on his first day back from summer vacation. He has a hard time with it, but once he thinks about it, he figures it out. And in the process, he discovers a lesson about valuing his sibling.
#4 David Goes To School
The book is geared towards first-time school-goers who are
just learning the ropes of good behavior in a school setting. Make no mistake David is active. I think the message is clear: You will be scolded for bad behavior, praised for good. If your child is acting up in class, I think this book might be helpful in demonstrating what is and is not acceptable at school. David learns he is rewarded with praise for good behavior. I think this is a positive lesson!
Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition.
Little Critter is a bit nervous about starting school today. There’s a lot to be done before he can even get on the bus—he has to pick out his clothes, find his backpack, pack the perfect lunch, and say goodbye to Mom. Join Little Critter as he gets ready for this exciting day. Lift the flaps and find out what surprises are in store for Little Critter on his first day of school!
Little Critter is a bit nervous about starting school today. There’s a lot to be done before he can even get on the bus—he has to pick out his clothes, find his backpack, pack the perfect lunch, and say goodbye to Mom. Join Little Critter as he gets ready for this exciting day.
#8 The Night Before Preschool
It’s the night before preschool, and a little boy named Billy is so nervous he can’t fall asleep. The friends he makes the next day at school give him a reason not to sleep the next night, either: he’s too excited about going back! The book’s simple rhyming text and sweet illustrations will soothe any child’s fears about the first day of school.
It’s Llama Llama’s first day of preschool! And Llama Llama’s mama makes sure he’s ready. They meet the teachers. See the other children. Look at all the books and games. But then it’s time for Mama to leave. And suddenly Llama Llama isn’t so excited anymore. Will Mama Llama come back?
#10 The Kissing Hand
The Kissing Hand, used by millions of parents and children starting school or facing separation, is now brought to life in audio form. Excellent resources for parents and for teachers.