Time To Go Back Tuesday (Back to School Favorites)

It's "Time To Go Back" Tuesday!

Let's celebrate!

Today I'm talking all about my back to school favorites.  Tried and true ideas and activities that have helped me start my year off on the right foot.  If you're anything like me, you love to mix it up and try new things from year to year.  Maybe not everything, but some new things can be fun :)  I'm hoping this little list of favorites gives you some new ideas to try out this year or tuck in your pocket for the future!

I think one of my most favorite back to school events is Meet the Teacher night.  There's SO much anticipation going into a new school year and that night is always such a great ice breaker for both myself and the kids.  SO much preparation goes into making that night a smooth one for me, but I always want to make sure my families have fun and leave excited for the new school year.  One idea I incorporated a few years ago came from my dear friend, Sarah Cooley (First Grader, At Last!).  READY CONFETTI!!! My most FAVORITE back to school tradition :)

I don't have a printable to share with you right now, but if you can wait 'til next week I will.  We'll be talking all about Meet the Teacher next week and I'll be sharing lots of free printables and ideas for you to incorporate into your first night with the kids!!!

My most favorite back to school keepsake is our first day of school self portrait.  Of course, anything with a handprint always ranks right up there on top, but there's just something about a hand-drawn picture that makes my heart flutter.  I have both of my boys saved from each year they've been in school.  As a mom, it's amazing to compare their growth and attention to detail over the years.  As a teacher, I LOVE being able to show my kids a side-by-side comparison of their first day/last week pictures.  I love to hear them say, "I DIDN'T DRAW THAT!!!" (referring to their first day self portrait).  It's so much fun to watch them beam with pride at how far they've come through the year.

Back in 2011, my ridiculously creative friend, Abby, posted all about her Jitter Juice activity and after reading about it I rushed out to get my own copy.  It has since become my most FAVORITE back to school activity....for both me and my kids!!!  My very own two boys LOVE this activity, too!  In fact, they BEG for me to make it for them at home because "we're just SO nervous!"  They don't know I have them figured out...they will seize any opportunity to drink something other than water and milk!!!  Ha!!!

I strongly believe in the importance of establishing a risk free environment in your classroom as soon as the school year starts.  So many times we have kids in our classroom who just don't feel comfortable taking risks.  I was always...and still am...that kid.  And I absolutely hate that my oldest is the same way!  He just doesn't want to be wrong...he's a tiny little perfectionist.  Gah!  But he comes by it honest.  Bless.  Keeping all that in mind, I really want to give ALL of my kids the support they need to take risks.  Even if it means making mistakes myself...just to show them we ALL err from time to time and it's A-OK to make mistakes!!  
I introduce my kids to "Miss Take" at the beginning of the year and this is my most favorite back to school lesson.  It's so powerful!  

Last year I asked my Facebook readers for their favorite back to school ideas/tips/tricks.  These are my favorite!!!  Such GREAT and practical ideas.  Makes me wonder why I went so long without thinking about this on my own, lol!!  
And I think these ideas are proof that the best resources we have are right in our own backyard...the teachers on our campus!!!!   Utilize those resources and don't be too shy to ask your fellow teachers for ideas.  Brainstorming with your colleagues can lead to some really AMAZING ideas...two heads are always better than one!  Sometimes I think we hesitate to ask for help or admit we don't have good ideas because we don't want to seem incompetent or incapable.  Y'all...that couldn't be farther from the truth.  We're not idea machines!!!  I personally think team/staff collaboration makes us better teachers.  But that's just my two cents ;) 

When it comes to back to school resources, here are a few of my favorites.  
This printable packet for Kindergarten is played on repeat for a good portion of the first month and a half of school.  They're very basic activities that ease my new-to-school learners into our daily routine.  I can often identify my kids who struggle with fine motor skills right off the bat, so I'll even take several of these activities and use them for one-on-one intervention (tracing/cutting/etc.) and reinforcement.  

This printable packet for 1st Grade is great for the first few weeks back to school.  Morning work, centers...great or independent practice and review and gives me another opportunity to assess their skills.  I even use some of these activities as a B.O.Y portfolio piece.  

Here are the literacy & math anchor charts and printables that help me start my year.  The anchor charts will be displayed all year and the kids LOVE using them as a resource!  The printables in the ABC packet are a lifesaver at the beginning of the year for my Kinder kids or struggling first graders.  They really help me to assess understanding and provide intervention if needed.

Of course, I talked a little bit about these number anchor charts yesterday, but I need to mention them today too because they're a huge part of my back to school planning.  Not only are the number charts handy, but the printables and activities included really help guide my planning for those first few weeks of the school year.

These back to school math & literacy centers {with I Can cards} were the perfect way to start the year last year!  My kids loved them and I love that they're already prepped & ready to go for another year.  These were perfect for my Kinder kids and we used them for quite a while during the first couple months of school, but they were also an excellent resource for my 1st graders.  I loved adding these activities to their literacy & math tubs for the first couple weeks of school because they were easy enough for my kids to do independently while learning the expectations and routine of my center rotations.  Plus, they were a great way for me to observe and assess understanding and mastery so I could better plan my instruction.

Of course, the first few weeks are nothing short of crazy.  I'm always need a little something "extra", so I have a little survival stash of activities to help with that! 

My first graders LOVED doing these at the beginning of the year!  I even included a few in my little survival stash of goodies!  They were a HIT!

I know our fine motor skills will need some practice, so these letter booklets are usually introduced during the 2nd week of school with my Kindergartners and the first week of school with my first graders.

Our alphabet notebooks are one of my favorites and these swing into action the 2nd week of school.  Perfect for back to school learning and reinforcement!!

These are my two most favorite units to start off the new school year....

Say My Name!  Lots of hands-on, engaging name activities!!  I LOVE working with names!!! After all, their names are the most important word in their vocabulary :)  If you take a look back at my Yearlong Planning and Pacing Calendars for both K & 1, you'll see that NAMES take up two weeks of my theme planning.  I use all of the activities from this resource to plan those two weeks of instruction.  

Right after we learn about names, we learn about colors!  You'll see the COLOR theme in my Yearlong Planning and Pacing Calendars, too.  In Kindergarten, color words are my theme for 2 straight weeks.  In 1st grade, I only reserve one week for a color theme and do a "color of the day" type planning instead.  All of my activities for this theme come from this resource and they guide my instruction for those 2 weeks (in K) and color days (in 1st).  Sounds a little crazy, but there's a definite method to the madness!!

You can find these back to school resources...and more!!..in my store and they're all 20% OFF today ONLY!  

Stay tuned in because tomorrow we're talking all about writing and you don't want to miss the fun! I'll be sharing several fun ideas, printables, tools of the trade, and intervention ideas!!  


  1. Love all of your stuff!!! I had a quick question about the ABC notebook. How do you this in your classroom? Do you do one letter a day? I read in a previous post that you introduce 3 letter/sounds per week. Do you use it with that, or do you slowly make your way through it throughout the year? Hope that makes sense. Thanks for such amazing resources!!!!

  2. I wish I didn't have to wait for your meet the teacher ideas! My first day is next Monday and our Meet the teacher is Sunday afternoon!

  3. I just Love all of your stuff!
    Thank you!