Back to School First Week Fun!

Well friends, I made it!  I just got through my 23rd First Week of School!  I know, I know, you are saying, WWWHHHHHAAAT!! There is no way she is THAT old, LOL.. It's all in the Ponds Moisturizing creme my friends!  Take care of your skin!
But seriously, I'm so excited to be starting a new adventure in a new state, new school, and new grade level.  I've been teaching sixth grade for about 18 years, and in my new school, I'm teaching fourth.  I love that I know right where those middle school teachers want my Smarties to be, and I'm going to do my part to get them ready!!

We had a great first week of school, and I wanted to share a few activities that I did with my class this week that I love.  I hope you can use some of them too!

I have to admit, I don't start the year with one of those Pinterest perfect classrooms.  I LOVE to look at them. I pine over their beauty when I'm wasting time on my phone, but honestly, I can't do it.  My walls are my kids walls, and I want them to create their beauty.  One thing that I do like to put up is a Salutations greeting.  I used Powerpoint, a fun font, and colored paper to print this sign.

My purpose was to give students a word they may be familiar with if they have read Charlotte's Web (our second graders do), but may not know quite the meaning of the word.  I use it as a spring board to discuss 1) Not everyone knows every thing on the first day of school  2) Vocabulary has several deeper shades of meaning.   Vocabulary is a big push for our students this year.  You can go {HERE} and read a blog post I've written about strategies I'm going to implement in my classroom.
I plan to add words to this wall during the year to get my point across about the deeper shades of meaning.

On the first day of school I read a fabulous book called First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
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 Have you read it?  I told my students there is a twist in the book, something unexpected happens, and good readers need to be on the look out for it.  They ate it up!  They were so excited to learn that Sarah Jane was the TEACHER and not the STUDENT!  After I read the book I introduced the bottle tree that I have in my reading corner.

 I plan to add a bottle to the tree every time we read and discuss a book in class.  On the back of the bottle we have to add three things:
1) Something important that happened in the book
2) A lesson that was learned or the theme of the book
3) A connection to the book.

At first I expect them to make a personal connection, but as the year progresses, I will be expecting text to text and text to world connections.  My Smarties did such a great job!  I was really impressed with the thoughtful answers they gave me on the first day of school!

Along with reading First Day Jitters, I also used the book to teach my grammar lessons in my writer's block.  I'm using my BBB, Jessica's, Mentor Sentences with my students.  Mentor texts are the way to go my friends, and Jivey made it easy to incorporate grammar skills right into good books.  Reading and discussing good books translates into good writers!  You can go {HERE} and see what Jivey has. If you haven't used mentor sentences before, she has several free lessons that you can download and check out.
Look at what my students accomplished with our mentor sentences this week! They could tell me parts of speech, diagram sentences, revise a sentence, and imitate it.  I chose several of the best sentences to hang on the wall for everyone to read.

We started science with a great idea from one of my teammates.  Since our first reading text is all about a scientist who studies tarantulas, we started our notebooks with drawings of what type of scientist we would like to be.

I had students put up privacy folders while they worked, so that each one would be unique.  They drew themselves in a labcoat, and then decorated the lab coat with what they would want to be a scientist of.  We discuss how scientists ask questions about the world around them, and then complete investigations and make observations to answer those questions.  Everyone was so excited to see all of the different types of scientist we have in our room.

A few other fun activities that you could use to start science or practice problem solving skills include Saving Fred.  You can read about this activity {HERE}.  I'm doing it with my class next week.  I also sometimes do the Index Card Challenge.  You can go {HERE} to find out about this activity (There is a link to a freebie where I wrote down the directions, and a youtube video if you need to see this in action). My class LOVED this once they figured it out.  I think I'll be saving it for a fun Friday activity a in a few weeks.

I am also planning to create a Back to School Dodecagon Ball with my students for Open House.  I don't normally start this project until the second week of school if I can help it.  We have to start to establish some routines first.  Basically my students will be getting 2-3 sections a day throughout the second week of school to complete.  Some I ask them to draw, others I ask for more of a writing component.  I'll use my writing time for this, as I'm still leveling students and trying to see where I have to start my basics at.  When we finish this project I'll have them up for Open House.  I know my parents are going to Love the way they look.  It is a great way to incorporate writing, math and art all in one area.  If you are interested, you can go {HERE} to check them out.

Of course, the first week wouldn't be complete without a guest coming in.. right?
Here is our little Nagini that decided she needed a little extra learning.  This racer snake was in the hallway one morning, and I just about had a heart attack.  I AM NOT A SNAKE PERSON!  Good thing one of my teammates is!  I hope the momma isn't lurking somewhere!

I'd love to know what you are doing for the First Week of School!  Let me know how it went for you! I'm all about gathering a community of teachers to support each other!

Have a great day!

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