Back to School Activities Part 1

Here are some Back to School ideas I have used in the past.

Descriptive Name Tags
Before the first day of school, I prepared a series of cut-out block letters, a black construction paper strip to mount the letters on, glue sticks, and thesauruses. I made sure I had enough letters so that each student in my class would be able to spell out their first name. Students glued their letters onto the black construction paper strip and then used the thesaurus to come up with adjectives that described them starting with each letter in their first name. They wrote their adjectives inside each letter and then presented their descriptive name tags to the rest of the class. This turned out to be a great get to know you activity. At the end of the activity, I collected all their name tags and posted them around the room.

Name Alliterations
This is another great get to know you activity for the beginning of the school year. I distributed sentence strips (one per student) and gave the class a brief introduction to alliterations. I used well-known tongue twisters like “Peter Piper” or “Sally Sells Seashells.” I then asked the students to write an alliteration sentence using their first names. The alliterations didn’t have to be real, but they had to be creative and they had to make sense. Here’s an example of my alliteration: “Mariely makes magical moments.” I had the students present their alliterations to the class and we ended up having a great time. The alliterations where then posted around the classroom.

Autobiographical Poems
I introduce the basic format for an autobiographical poem to my students and ask them to complete an autobiographical poem about themselves. Once students finish their poems they are allowed to share it with the class. I have attached a copy of the Autobio Poem Handout for your use.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Another great activity to do the first week of school is to share this book with your class. If you’ve never read it, check it out and see why this is a great story. The first time I read it I cried. When I shared it with my students last year and was chocking up at the end. It’s a wonderful story to share with your students as they begin a new school year. This is how I used the book:

  1. I created a Learning Log for the students to complete as I read the story. I have attached a copy of the Learning Log below. I passed this Log out first and had the students write their names on it.
  2. I then instruct students to turn to page 1 and do a Quick Write on everything they know or think they know about the word “Journey.”
  3. I then pass out one graham cookie on a plate for each student. I tell them not to do anything to it until I tell them what to do. I also have a bottle of honey ready. See, the story starts out with the little girl’s grandfather taking a book and drizzling the book’s cover with honey. He then asks the little girl to taste it. She says its sweet and the grandfather responds, “Yes, and so it’s knowledge. But just like you have to chase a bee for the honey, you have to chase knowledge through the pages of a book.” This is the introductory page of the story. As I’m reading it, I am acting out grandfather’s actions. When he drizzles the honey on the book, I drizzle it on their cookies. When he asks the little girl how it tastes, I have my students mimic the little girl’s actions by having them taste it and tell me how it tastes. I really love this activity and the students have fun doing it.
  4. Students are then told to go to page 2 in their Learning Logs are write about their reaction to the first page (the one we just read about the book and the honey).
  5. Then students write down their prediction for the rest of the story in Page 3 of their Learning Log.
  6. Then I proceed to read the story, a little bit each day of the week. I make sure I stop at different intervals to have students write down their reactions on page 4. You can choose various events from the story that might trigger various reactions from your students. These events can be your stopping points so students can share their reactions. I only chose three places to stop in the story.
  7. When we finish reading the story, I have students complete the “Somebody, Wanted, But, So” graphic organizer on page 5.
  8. Then I have students go back and look at their original prediction and then readjust their prediction on Page 6.
  9. We complete our Learning Logs with a Visualize activity on page 7.

File Download:
“Thank You, Mr. Falker” by Patricia Polacco – Learning Log
Autobiographical Poem Handout