Back to school routines/traditions

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by abcme, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. abcme

    abcme Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2011

    I'm so glad to be a part of a program that operates on a school year calendar again! (versus year round childcare/preschool). I started mid year last year though so I am just now getting things ready for "Back to School". What routines do you usually do with your class? What themes do you begin with and what activities do you have that accompany them? What are some good getting to know you activities, or activities for learning rules and routines of the classroom?
     
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  3. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Jul 11, 2011

    I was hired right before school started last year and didn't feel I got a really good start on things, so I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I started planning my first day and there isn't time for much content after all the procedures I want to get in place! (And that is OK - because we'll have time for that later.) We go full day, 2 or 3 days a week and each class has 18-20 kids, two adults.

    I want to start the first day with two centers open - blocks and housekeeping. We'll divide the class in two groups to visit these centers. The teacher will do a little modified plan-do-review. She'll do a little I-Spy "I see cardboard blocks, wooden blocks, animals...what do you see?" Then she'll model picking something to play with. "I'm going to play with the colored blocks today." The children will each pick something and play for about 10-15 minutes. Then I'll play the clean-up song and she will speak aloud as she models clean up. We'll repeat this procedure each time we introduce a new center.

    We'll also do follow-the-leader around the classroom to practice walking in a line. I'm thinking of tying this to Mary Had a Little Lamb, but I don't know yet.

    We'll do a school tour. I think I'll give each child a picture (music note, sports ball, food, etc.) to hang up as we find each area of the school.

    Bathroom procedures will be a biggie for the first day. How to wait your turn, one child in a stall, wash your hands, etc.

    We'll also model and practice rest time procedures. This will all be interspersed with plenty of outdoor time and free choice time, because, after all, they're only four!

    So much to do and that doesn't even begin to cover everything! So I think I will add in other things gradually - teeth brushing, work boxes, small group procedures, etc.

    Oooh - also, getting to know you stuff. I am trying The Peaceful Classroom activities this year, so we'll do one of those each day. Hickety Pickety Bumblebee is fun for the first day too - so many new names to learn, for me too!

    I could keep going on, but that's probably enough for now. I'm eager to read what others are doing.
     
  4. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jul 11, 2011

    I usually start with "The 4-week Fix" which emphasizes establishing expectations and classroom routines. School routines are a BIG deal so I spend a lot of time doing things consistently and setting the stage for the rest of the year.

    Themes
    *School Routines
    *All About Me
    *Family
    *Friends

    I use the children's names for a lot of teaching ideas at the beginning of the school year. One of the classroom favorites for getting to know each other is the getting to know you suitcase. Pick up 3-4 child size suitcases or purchase the 99 cent shopping bag totes you get at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. I send them home and each day 3-4 children share items from their tote with the class. The items have to be about them and their family. I've found that even the quietest children will be eager to share by the end of the activity. I do it as well for my family and so does my assistant.

    To welcome kids to school, I send home a personal postcard/letter to each child in my class. Each parents gets a letter introducing the classroom teachers and giving them a little background about us.

    We also have a parents only night at school where the parents are invited in and learn about the classroom expectations. I have lots of sign up forms available for parents with projects all ready for them to take home and work on for the class. I include due dates. I have them make playdough, cut out magazine pictures, collect items for art projects, etc. It's important to include due dates and collect e-mail and phone numbers during sign up. I ALWAYS send home thank you notes when items are returned. This really helps to build classroom community right away.

    I take a picture of every parent on this night and I make a book for the kids and make a picture wall with pics of their parents up for their first day. I take pictures of the parents using the materials in the class and putting them away! This goes a LONG way in the kids cleaning up and keeping the classroom neat!

    I ask parents to send me pics of their child so that I can have that up as well in the class by the first day of school. I have an interactive classroom community board with each family represented. They are free to add pics of family activities during the year. I snap pictures as well whenever they visit the classroom to add to this board.

    I make it a point to call each family during the first week of school to let them know how things are going specifically with their child. I snap tons of first week pics and send them in a newsletter the first week as well.

    I am very clear about communication expectations with parents. I have found that giving them specifics at the beginning of the year helps. I make sure I stick to it! I've found that some parents can be very needy and establishing boundaries helps with allocating my time to home and school.

    My main goal during the first weeks of school are to build classroom community with the children and the parents.
     
  5. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Jul 11, 2011

    Wow! One of my goals for the upcoming year is to establish better communication with parents. You've given me tons of ideas! I love the tote bag idea and I love that you take pictures of parents - what great ideas!
     
  6. abcme

    abcme Rookie

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    Jul 11, 2011

    Wow- you guys have given some great ideas! Thanks! I want to look into the Peaceful Classroom!
     
  7. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Jul 12, 2011

    Okay, call me crazy but I have parents bring me one of their children's favorite books and, starting the second week, we read one of these every day and do activities related to the book. That child is my helper that day. It helps me get to know individual children better and gauge the interests of the class as a whole to create a more child-centered, emergent curriculum. Even shy kids then want to be my helper because it is their book and I get to discover books new to me. I do have guidelines for the parents to bring quality books so I'm not reading Ninja Turtle books or whatever. Anyway, it is a good start to the year.

    I have the kids help me create rules for the classroom and decorate the room since it is their room. I only have the very basics up at the beginning. I have a family wall where everyone brings in a picture of their family. I have a parent info. board which has my bio with pictures so parents get to know me better and our syllabus, parent handbook, calendars, etc.
     
  8. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Jul 12, 2011

    Scmom, I think your family photo wall sounds great. I also love your idea of having the children bring in their favorite books - I do this as a show and tell activity later in the year, but it's a really good idea to do it right away...might have to change things up!

    I don't have a lot of wall space and I have 36 kiddos, so I'm trying something new with getting to know families. Each family will be asked to send in a couple pictures and fill out a little sheet about who is in the family and what they like to do together. Then each child (with a teacher's help) will put together a scrapbook page. They will each get to share their scrapbook page when they are the leader, and they will all go in a big book in our library corner. I'm sure I will have to tweak my plans on this a bit, but I'll let everybody know how it goes!
     
  9. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jul 21, 2011

    Your scrapbook idea reminds me of a workshop presentation I did a while back. I forgot about the Classroom Scrapbook!

    My assistant and I did the first couple pages then we sent the book home with a child every few days and they added a page as well. It didn't have to be elaborate. We included glue sticks, stickers and scraps of construction paper. They could include what they wanted. It really went a long way to connect the families in the classroom. I would read the pages at circle and put the book over in the quiet/library area and then send it home again. It was neat to see the parents use the scrapbook information whenever we had an all class meeting.
     
  10. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Jul 21, 2011

    These ideas are excellent for preK and all the way to upper Elementary as well!
     
  11. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Jul 21, 2011

    I love the idea of the scrapbook page then putting it together into one big book for the classroom!

    I'm definetly going to have to do that during the all about me theme! I made a scrapbook page for my kindergarteners who moved up last year, but love doing it at the beginning of the school year and having a book for visitors who come to the classroom!

    I want to have a visitor information table at the front entrace for visitors who come to the room and the scrapbook would be a great addition.
     
  12. abcme

    abcme Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2011

    Found a great idea in a copy of THe Mailbox recently. If your children bring in snack for the class like mine do, get a bag for them to bring it in. My families often forget so this is another reminder to bring snack the next time they come to school! Send it home with the child the dy before they are to bring snack with a little note attached reminding them!
     

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