The countdown is really on now! The first week of school is an exhausting and daunting prospect to plan and organize for.
Your room may or may not be ready at this point, but keep going full speed ahead because very shortly you’ll have to stop organizing and begin to plan for that first day and for the rest of that very, very long first week of school.
Funny how the organizing of your room is so fun, easy and stress free, but the planning for the first day and week is kind of like going to the dentist. You know you need to, but you hate to and you try your best to put it off. Unfortunately planning for the first week cannot get put off, so get planning!.
When planning that first day, keep everything low key. This day will be your one and only true honeymoon day for the whole year so try to enjoy it.
You will probably naively think you have a great class right up to the final ring of day one’s bell. If this day was not a honeymoon, then fasten your seat belt because you are going to be in for a very rough ride. This only happened once in my career and luckily it all worked out. No, the non honeymoon student did not move away, he just needed some good teacher loving!
For that first day, plan simple things they can do at their desks that will take them some time to complete. Seriously! Give very detailed instructions for what you expect and provide a good model for them to follow.
A great first day activity is providing them with an 11 x 17 model of a non gender person to colour with what they are wearing the first day of school.
A great second day activity is providing them with a card stock weight paper of their name in bubble letters traced in black marker to colour in rainbow letters.
These are two activities they can work on throughout the week during free moments. These can be displayed in the classroom together for whole year.
For the week, have 2 or 3 really good read aloud books choosen that are kind of light and fun, but engaging. One that I have enjoyed reading on the first day of school is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. It’s heartwarming story about a young Raccoon’s first day of school and he is really afraid to leave his mom. I’ve included a storylineonline link with Barbara Bain reading the story for another fun way to enjoy the book again later in the week.
I would also suggest having a chapter book ready to go. After lunch break, to help everyone decompress, is the perfect time to read a chapter book. A few I have started the school year with are Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones from the Bailey School Kids Series or James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.
Lastly, have a few basic numeration math lessons ready to go, a few fun spelling games or activities, plan to have students write in their journals daily for this week and establish some classroom rules with the students as a group that are posted.
The pace of the first day and week will be critical to your survival. You will want to think snail’s pace. If the pace of your lesson, instructions, transitions etc. seem exceptionally slow, painfully slow, you are probably going at a perfect pace. If you find yourself wanting to speed things up, DON’T. There will lots of time later for a faster paced day.
Good luck with your planning and remember to keep it simple and low key for that first week.