Usually I ask my moms to say their goodbyes at the door and let their sweet darlings come into the room by themselves. Promoting independence! Hopefully allowing them to come into my room for a photo-op will not start a precedent hard to break. But how could I not have a photo booth when this one turned out so cute!! I can't wait to take pics tomorrow morning!

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Cute furry tactile bear to welcome all my little bears! Their names are printed on each blue paw print.


My class just loves to play these graphing games. As a whole group we can play this game several times with everyone waiting their turn and staying engaged. Consequently I try to make several of them to fit our theme.

Notice the spinner? I attended a conference where Kathy Griffin was speaking and she showed her spinner for all children of all abilities. I adapted it a little by putting Velcro on the bottom so I could move the spinner from one game to another.

This spinner works great! I took two small foam circles, glued them together, and before the glue dried I stuck a pin in them.

When dried I put some Velcro on the bottom, added a large paper clip and ta-da done. Thank you, Kathy Griffin for such a great idea.


I feel bad taking the free paint samples from Lowe's. I'm sure they never meant for me to take as many as I do. OK guilt trip over. Paint strips are great for scissor practice. They are heavier than paper and easier for little hands to hold. Colorful patterns make them desirable. I am doing something new this year and adding illustrated anchor charts to my centers. Above is my work basket ready to go. Below is the anchor chart.


I'm so excited to use these this year. I got the idea and instructions to make these (super easy) from Tips From a Typical Mom Blog.

I decided to make an anchor chart with pics to help the children know what to do with the center. Above is my work basket with the anchor chart ready to go. And here is a close up of the anchor chart.


I have Karen, who has Sammy? This game is perfect for back to school helping the kids to learn each other's name. Download your editable set here.

Shape Bus

After reading the Wheels on the Bus we made a geometric bus


  • yellow bus shape
  • 2 blue squares
  • 1 green rectangle
  • 1 orange triangle
  • 2 black circles.

Worked at alphabet magnetic board

I saw this idea on Fairy Dust Teaching and since I have hundreds of these stones (left over from centerpiece decorations at my daughter's wedding) I made some as a cute simple gift for my students on their birthday. On the back of each stone I wrote "Love, Mrs. Drake". Go here to see directions and other cute ideas:


I have a bunch of small cereal boxes (individual ones) that my students will decorate on the outside and fill with index cards with things that tell about them. I'll give them starter sentences like "My favorite sport is..." "My favorite book is..." etc.

I'm also doing this "guess the covered word" thing with about 5 sentences about me. That way, they can learn about me and make it a reading strategy activity as well.

I also have several fish (bees, apples, stars, whatever is your theme) with questions like:

Who is new to the school?
Who is 6 yrs old?
Who can ride a bike without training wheels?
Who has a brother or sister here at this school?
Who can speak another language?
Who rode in an airplane before?

When we pull each fish, those that can answer "yes" to the question stands up. It gives me a quick assessment and a time to ask things like "oh, who is your sister? what grade?" and it also gives me an opportunity to tell my class that we are all learning things at different levels, some of us speak another language, etc. Great ice breaker! I guess you can extend it by making a graph out of it.

I also read "First Day Jitters" (excellent book!) and "Chrysanthemum" --with that book, we make a class list, count the letters, etc.

In the first couple of days of school, I had my kids make cut-out heads and hands of themselves and then glued them onto a piece of construction the head was peeking over the paper and the hands were in the holding up the piece of paper. I put paper clips through under the hands so that throughout the year the kids could put their writing on their own peek-overs. They were really cute! At Christmas, we made little Santa hats or reindeer antlers! This was perfect to stay up all year because I have two full walls of bulletin boards and no time to keep changing all of them!
The only thing I am going to change this year is that I am going to staple a clear page protector on the paper to just slip papers in and out!

Here's a picture of me,
So you can see,
I'm a (insert grade level),
As happy as can be!

Final product looks like this:

Here's a picture of me,
So you can see,
I'm a kindergartner,
As happy as can be!

On the first day of school prepare a large Gingerbread man (I use boxed GB mix that I bring mixed and already rolled in a ball). We roll it out and cut the cookie, then we take it to the oven to bake. When we return to class, I read them the traditional version of the Gingerbread Man.

Note in Oven
Dear Boys and Girls,
Tomorrow look for me around______ __.
And inside of books,
I'm famous for running away
And for my delicious looks!

School Office
The office is a busy place.
The secretary has a friendly face.
She types with her left,
Writes notes with her right.
When the phone rings,
She takes the call
Without using any hands at all!

Principal's Office
This is the Principal's office.
___________ is nice you know.
She told me not to run anymore,
But to walk wherever I go!

Nurse's Office
The nurse is our friend
And I'll tell you why.
She'll check your ears
And she'll check your eyes.
She'll fix the hurt that makes you cry.
I have to run now -- can't say good-bye!

This is ________'s room.
Do you see the mop and broom?
He empties the basket
And locks the door.
________ is kind and good.
Can we help him?

This is the lunch room.
_______ likes us a bunch!
She always makes sure
We have a good lunch.
If we're very polite and
help keep it clean,
And use soft voices
Our school will be keen

Here's the poem/note that is with the GB man when he 'returns' to the classroom and it also goes home on the last day
with the note to Mom and Dad:

Dear Boys and Girls,
I've run and run
I need some rest
I think this room is the best!
Love, The Gingerbread Man

Dear Mom and Dad,
The Gingerbread Man found me today, but I couldn't bring him home because I ate him! Instead I brought this little
paper one home to remind me in later years how hard I hunted for him this week in Kindergarten at
____________ _______school, Date.

Leave a trail of white flour footprints for the children to follow around the school. They can be sponged on with thinned white tempera paint that will wash or wipe off easily afterwards.

Submitted by Lori
At the beginning of the year , I bring in two big boxes(big enough for children to stand up in) . I use these boxes all year long to introduce themes and to use during dramatic play.
September - a house
October- a farm( paint, stuffed animals - blocks as pens
November- a log home
December- a Christmas house( decorate with twinkle lights, fake snow, artificial tree etc.
January- an ice house ( paint white)
February - restaurant
March- Spring home
April - spring  home ( add flowers , stuffed animals etc)
May - a beach house

The kids get so excited when you change the box -- it is their own creation, enjoy !

Submitted by Jenni
 I kept forgetting to send home certain notes until after the due date was already up! So I grabbed a large bulletin board, and put the calendar for the month (which I got on on the board. I marked on 4 quart size Ziploc bags (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) with the corresponding day of the week for mid-week reminders of permission slip due dates or special class things. For Friday, I used a gallon-size bag that was perfect for holding full-page notes home and next week's permission slips. I just stapled the bags to the board (of course, only through one layer of bag) and now I can just glance and see that I have notes to go home.            
 Another Variation would be to use all gallon-size bags and write the child's name on each one, so they can grab their notes each day on the way out.

Containers for Books in Each Center
Submitted by Bernice
  I work with 3yr olds. and wanted containers to put books in each of my centers.  I went to office world and they had some empty containers that folders came in. Free!In the language arts center I took a box and covered the bottom half with ABC border and painted the top half a bright color.  In math/manipulatives I covered the bottom half with number border and painted top half another color.   I continue to do this until all the centers I have, have a holder for books in that center.

I read "Make Way For Ducklings"  and every page that shows the little
ducklings pictured in a line, walking, swimming etc. - I comment - see how
nicely they stay one behind the other, no one trying to pass - we should see
if we can be like those little ducks, I bet we can do it even better.

We try it in class a few times and then I take them out into the yard and
weave the line all around. First I walk in a long straight line, then we go
to the edge of the hopscotch games and walk the outside edge of the asphalt
square and finally I snake them all over the yard. Has worked for me for 29
years.  Have a great year.

I made these into bookmarks.  I put my name and the year at the 
bottom, laminated them, punched a hole in the top and put a blue or 
pink ribbon through them.

The First Day 
I gave you a little wink and smile
As you entered my room today.
For I know how hard it is to leave
And know your child must stay.
You've been with him for many years now
And have been a loving guide.
But now, alas, the time has come
To leave him at my side.
Just know that as you drive away
And tears down your cheeks may flow.
I'll love him as I would my own
And help him learn and grow.
For as a parent, I too know
How quickly the years do pass.
And that one day, it was my turn
To take my child to class.
So please put your mind at ease
And cry those tears no more.
For I will love him and take him in
When you leave him at my door.

You can have the children color a SIMPLE picture first day.   Collect them and then 2nd day do your coloring lesson.   I use a 
big beach ball segmented, with a "button" on top.   I demo coloring each section a different color, stressing coloring lightly, in same direction, staying 
in lines etc. Then children color it just the same.   Now you know who can follow directions.   I leave the sample up for them to see.   then we look   at 
"before" and "after".   Being careful not to be critical and finding something good to say about each, the children are amazed to see the difference and there 
will be a big difference.   Some will find it hard to believe they did the first one at all.   This is step one in beginning work habits, following 
directions etc, the most important thing you will do in the first few weeks.

I have two copies of the book 'Children, Children, Who Do You See?' that I 
made with my digital camera and pictures of my students in our class library. 
 This book goes home with a new student on their first day (or a day they 
'visit' prior to joining the class) so they can become familiar with the other 
students.  This is tremendously helpful in breaking the ice!

Submitted by Linda
To help the children who can't identify their name or the names of their classmates I used a clip art picture of something that started with the same sound as their name on all name tags.  The children can find their name using the picture as a clue plus it helps them identify classmates names.

Submitted by Mary
Use a camera or digital camera to take a picture of each of your students. Using a large piece of tagboard, divide it into three sections.(If you use poster board, it will take two posters). Make seven rows on each tagboard piece about 6 inches in width. Place your student snapshot in the upper left corner of each row. Then print their first name by the picture. Laminate your posters. Using washable markers have you students sign in every morning by printing their names in the space provided. This is a great way to help develop beginning writing skills and take the attendance for the morning.

Back to School Poem/Art Activity
Submitted by Melanie
Blue Sky.
Round Sun.
School has started,
Let's have fun!

This is an easy and colourful activity for the 1st week of school. Read through the poem as a shared reading activity--i have the words copied out again on card so that the children can come up to the pocket chart and match the words up. For the art activity I have blue squares (the "blue sky") cut out for each child.  The children must then cut out a pre-traced orange or yellow circle (for the "round sun") as well as cut either rectangles and/or triangles (which i model on the carpet)  from little yellow/orange squares to make the rays for the round sun.  The circle and rays are glued onto the blue square...lots of shape talk.  Later in the week i record the children reading the poem and leave the recording at the listening centre with the written poem--they LOVE this.

Getting to know each other - September Theme
Submitted by Julia
 One way that I have helped children have fun getting to know each other in September is to have favorite days for one week.  Each day they bring a specific favorite to share, i.e., Monday may be stuffed animal day or bring a picture of your favorite animal (pet), Tuesday, favorite book day, Wednesday wear your favorite color, Thursday bring a picture cut out of a magazine of your favorite food.  On Friday we make a huge collage cutting out pictures of the different things everyone likes and display it on our bulletin board.

Submitted by Janet
When working with two' and three in a large class it often takes alot of time writing names on Art papers ,I often use Computer Labels which makes it a lot easier. You can type or write the childrens name ahead of time and when you are ready to do a project you simply remove the label and place it on the child's work. It is alot easier then trying to write each child's names on paper.
I also used the labels for putting names on cots at Naptime
I find that the labels stay on and the children cannot remove them , because they are forever removing their names fom their cots.

Submitted by Mary
Take pictures of your students through out the classroom day
doing different activities. Put the pictures in order according to your daily routine.
Discuss each picture with the class. Then have your class come up with a short description
each picture. You can create a power point presentation for parents(Open House) or a
classroom book that each child gets to take home with them.

Submitted by Shirley
Have children make happy faces from circles and/or paper plates--label a bulletin board "Happy Faces and Happy Places" using the plate and circle faces.  Welcome mats with happy faces can also be made to share with families.

Teach your little ones this quick song and dance to use to congratulate a classmate for any reason, from learning his
birthday to using glue without assistance. (sung to the tune of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”)
Na na na na, (Twist.)
Na na na na, (Twist.)
Hey hey-ey, (Wave arms overhead from side to side.)
Good job! (Clap.)

Here is another thing I have been trying a la Responsive Classroom: Sharing Time used to mean a show and tell type thing - I HATED IT!  I could never get it right - always knowing that the value of it was the language/conversation/vocabulary parts of it, but always getting kids bringing in a backpack full of toys, remote control cars, dolls that do flips, etc, etc.  No matter how I talked to parents, suggested, etc, it was always a problem.  Well, NOW we are really sharing!  Right now, during
sharing time, we face each other in pairs in the circle, and have "partner chats" on a certain topic - you have to find something out about your partner that is stated in advance - like favorite color, favorite dessert, what you are for halloween, etc.  Then we "report" - like so "This is my friend Gracey, and she likes ice cream"  This is my friend Aiden, and he likes gummy bears".  We are really TALKing to each other, learning something new, practicing great things like eye contact, !

Before school starts, draw a LARGE shape such as an apple.  Cut up the shape into pieces like a puzzle.  Send each child a piece of the puzzle.  Include a note to the child asking them to decorate the puzzle piece anyway they want
and bring it with them on the first day of school.  When all the puzzle pieces come in, reassemble the shape on your bulletin board.

Create a caterpillar made of many circles, one of which is a smiling face. On the "body" circles write each separate part of your classroom schedule, ex. group time, free play, cleanup... As you complete each part of your day,
cover the corresponding circle. Children who are worried that mom isn't coming back will know visually how many circles are left until mom will be here. We use this for the first month until the children are used to class routine and separation is no longer an issue.

Pringles cans with lids are great for getting important notes home to parents. Clean them out well, let the child color a picture, glue or tape the picture on to the can, making sure the child's name is visible, cover with clear contact. Viola, a good sturdy device for getting those papers to the parents.

Try this welcome warm-up on the first day of school! Cut pictures from magazines, glue them onto construction paper, and then cut each picture into two irregular shapes. As you greet each child, ask him to choose a shape.
After everyone has arrived, have each child find the person with the shape that completes his picture. Then let the new friends get acquainted for a few minutes. If desired, have each student exchange shapes with someone other than his partner and repeat the activity.

Gather your students round for a musical way to meet one another. Divide your class into two equal groups. Have one group form a circle with the students facing outward. Instruct the other group to form an outer circle around the first group, with the students facing the center of the circle. Play a short musical selection while the inner circle walks clockwise and the outer circle walks counterclockwise. When the music stops, the students halt and introduce themselves to the student they are now facing. Continue playing until students have had a chance to learn the names of several classmates. What a way to get things started on the right note!

Submitted by Susan
at the beginning of the year I take a roll of fax paper (any roll that is about 12-18 inches wide) and start cataloging our year.  (For Jewish schools I begin with the picture of a train engine using Shabbat Symbols - challah, wine cup and candles - use your imagination).  After that I draw train cars and in each one I put a picture of some holiday or event
that happens during the year.  Often the children put in samples of projects they have worked on.  What you wind up with is a chronological memory of the entire year, w/ pictures and words.

The nice thing about a roll like this is that it doesn't take up any room or it can be hung in such a way on a wall so that the kids can see our year unfolding.  (this is very Regio Emilia).

At the end of the year I help the children finish it up and put it out for the parents to see.  The parents absolutely loved it.  In my school (Jewish preschool) we call it the Gan Megillah (the children's story).

Tune:"Sing a Song of Sixpence."
Sing a song of gladness;
Another year's begun!
We'll be busy learning
Till the year is done.

Sing a song of good times,
For all my friends and me!
New discov'ries every day.
Yes, school's the place to be!

Taking attendance and lunch count are a snap with student snapshots! Take a picture of each child. Photocopy each picture and then laminate each child's photocopy. On a large piece of poster board, make a graph with a picture of a lunchbox at the top of one column and a picture of a lunch tray at the top of another column. As each child enters the room, he places his photocopied picture in the appropriate column. You can tell at a glance who is absent, how many are buying lunch, and how many have packed. In addition to hastening these duties, the graph is great for counting and comparisons.

We are having fun learning the days of the week using a ball.  The children sit in a circle with their legs spread open.  I give the ball to one person.  That  person rolls the ball to another person as they say "Sunday."  The next person has to say, "Monday" as he rolls the ball to someone else.  That person says, "Tuesday" as he rolls it, and so on.  The children like this game.
 We have tried standing half the class facing the other half and bouncing the ball to someone opposite as they say the names of the days in order, but this doesn't work as well.  The ball gets away too often.

Submitted by Daniel
After you've gone over your classroom rules, have a bulletin board with one "fishbowl" for each student.  Explain that when you see them following the classroom rules, they will get a fish. (Have individual paper fish laminated)  On Friday afternoon, count the fish congratulating them for doing such a great job and allow them to trade in their fish for prizes....5 fish for some stickers, 10 fish for a poster...etc...
It's also a great way to introduce the concept of money

Submitted by Patio
I do a very simple song with my 3's and 4's.
Here we are together, together, together
Here we are together, all here on the floor.
There's ________ and ________ (go around the room letting the children say
their names)
Here we are together, all here on the floor.
It also is a good way for the children to get to know one another's  names.

Submitted by Adrienne
 An easy way of getting nursery and preschoolers to line up in a single file is to cut out footprints from bright colored contact paper. I used removable adhesive book covers. The footprints were applied to the floor and children were told to stand on the footprints to line up.  We always got one straight line no pushing because everyone had their own set of footprints to stand on.

Classmate Memory
Submitted by Karen
You will need orange juice can lids (twice the number of children you have in your class) and doubles of photos of each child.
Cut the photos to fit onto the lids (one per lid), and glue them on.
The kids play "memory" by trying to match their friends' faces.
This is a good "traveling" game to send home those first few weeks of the school year.  Just place lids in a plastic shoe box container for easy transporting.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Submitted by Karen
We use this popular book as our model to make our own version for our new class each year.  Take a picture of each child, along with a picture of each teacher.  Place photos individually on pages (the teachers' pictures will be on the last pages) and bind with rings to form your book.  Begin with the first page, and add the words of that child's name, followed with the next page's child's name.
ex. "Christopher, Christopher, who do you see?  I see Jonathan looking at me!"
On the next page you would continue, "Jonathan, Jonathan, who do you see?  I see Melissa looking at me."
Your last page will be that of the teacher and will read, "Ms. Karen, Ms. Karen, who do you see?  I see beautiful children looking at me!"
I recommend that you laminate the pages because this book will get a lot of use!  (Kids love looking at themselves!  o) )  In our class, we take turns sending it home with each child.  Not only do they begin to recognize their own name, they start to recognize their friends' names as well, and the parents get to know the classmates.

Back To School Show & Tell
Submitted by Kay
Here is what I wrote on the laminated sheet which is in the "Talk, Talk, Talk" folder.
"Please send from 1 to 3 objects about the topic below. Please return this laminated sheet each time too. I will be adding other concepts at other times, so I will need the laminated paper back every time  in the "Talk, Talk, Talk" folder.
Thank you for your assistance!"

Submitted by Barbara
I had a problem with the kids sitting in one spot at circle time, SO, I got carpet squares figuring it would help.  It worked fine when we first sat, but if we got up to dance, or do any movement, they would fight if someone else sat on "their" square.  I finally figured out a great (and fairly inexpensive) way to remedy the problem.  I went to the dollar store and bought place mats..they were 2 @ $1.00 I think.  I got whatever patterns, colors, shapes they had since I wanted them all different.  THEN I printed off all of the kids names - using my computer - very large and very dark on neon paper.  I used very wide thin tape to tape the names onto the place mat - I think it's tape meant to fix the pages of books as it's VERY thin (ask at your local office supply store and see what they have) and that was more problem.  They love to sit on their OWN mats, they have to find their own names, and they can't hurt the mats when they try to roll up the sides while sitting on them.   I tell them they have to stay seated on their names to keep them warm.

Back To School
Submitted by Marilyn
My friend's son will be starting kindergarten in September and she shared with me this cute idea.  I thought those of you who teach kindergarten may find it useful. In June, her son had his kindergarten orientation.  After meeting his teacher, classmates and having a tour of the school and his classroom, the teacher handed each child a baggie with sunflower seeds inside.  She then explained to them that when they got home they should plant the seeds and by the time the plant flowers, it would be time to come to kindergarten in the fall.  She sent home a note asking the parent to possible take pictures of the plant as it grew and to discuss with the child what was happening.  Keeping track of the plant's growth and changes, served as a visual calendar countdown until kindergarten started. Reading any books on sunflowers or plants would be an added plus.  - On the first day of class, the children can bring in their sunflowers if they choose to.  Each child's flower would be contribution to a "classroom bouquet

Sept.. Project
Submitted by Diane
Hi everyone, one of the first things I do in my class of three year olds is to measure them with a piece of string.  I then put their string into a labeled envelope and put them away till June.  At that time I re-measure them, put the second string into the envelope, seal it and add this poem on the front of the envelope.
Am I short?
Or am I tall?
This piece of string
Will tell it all!
Measure me
So I will know
Just how much
In June I'll grow.
I add this envelope to a folder I keep for each child about their year in our class.  It is a highlight with the parents.  Good luck to all as we begin our new school year.

Submitted by Betty
With getting ready for school, some of you may use bought materials to label your room, but here's a fun idea to do yourself!!
You know all those school supply catalogs we get in the mail?  Don't throw them away!  Use them to make your center signs and visual for your labels.  I just redid mine today after the 8 yr. old ones looked pretty ragged.  It was fun and easy to find children standing at an easel or holding a painting or reading a book. etc., etc.  I even used the titles in the catalogs for the words.......Dramatic Play, Block Play, Water and Sand, etc.  One catalog had titled their pages even more specifically with "pencils", "crayons",  "scissors", etc.  I cut those words out, too. They turned out great......only thing is.....I think I got carried away and put too many pictures on the signs!!!
I then found really cute stickers of multi-cultural children.....the set even has a child in a wheel chair!!  I put them on the bottom next to the number indicating how many children can be in the center.  Laminate and viola!

Submitted by Marilyn of   Loop
In the beginning of the year we have a shared activity with all the children.  We all contribute to a "friendship salad".  Each child is responsible for bringing in two pieces of fruit.  I write on a piece of paper ten different types of fruit and each child selects a piece of paper.  Then they bring in two pears, or two oranges, apples, peach, etc.  Each child has a plastic knife and paper plate and attempts to chop up their fruit to be placed in a large fruit bowl.  We discuss how all of us are different, just at different pieces of fruit are different.  Although we are different, we are all wonderful and special.  We add all the different fruits together to make our fruit salad and enjoy it at snack.  We also use this activity to begin collecting seeds to make a seed chart for our classroom.
This has been a popular activity - the children are very excited to carry in and then  cut up their fruit.  We encourage the parents to allow the child to select the fruit from the grocery store to really get them involved in the entire process.  It works well!  :)

Submitted by Marilyn
I use food coloring to color trays of ice cubes.  For example, I may make all green cubes for the next day.  When the reluctant "first timers" come to the door they hang onto mom's neck and don't want to let go.  Sooooooo....I play a little game with them.  I have them try to guess what color the ice cubes will be today.  We then go to the freezer and they help "plop" them out of the ice trays.  We put them into a large bowl and carry them out to our tiny kiddy pools and water tables.  The children have a grand time plopping them into the water of the pools and water table and watching as they shrink and color the water at the same time.  This has worked every day....many of the other campers gather around and predict which will melt first, how colored the water will get, etc.  By the time the ice cubes have totally melted, they are over their separation anxiety and go off to play with friends.

Helper Chart
Submitted by Eileen
This came up on another list I am a member of, and I thought I'd pass it on here.  The teacher that subbed for me when I was on maternity leave started this then I continued it.  She took spring clothespins and wrote each child's name on one.  Then she got a seasonal bucket (I get them at the dollar store) and clipped all the pins around the edge.  Every time I needed a helper I picked a pin (closed my eyes and picked) and that person got to do whatever I needed a helper for.  The pin then went in the bucket.  When all the pins were in the bucket (everyone had a turn) I started taking them out of the bucket and then clipping them back onto it.  It worked out very well.

Bear Theme/Back to School
Submitted by Betty
With my back to school bear theme, we have a class bear that just "happened" to get lost the first week of school!!!  We looked ALL over the school (our tour!!).  Well, no one seemed to have seen our bear.  When we got to the principal's office....guess what?  There was our bear!!!  We then decided to start his (they named him Morgan) journal with the first entry being the events of the search.  From that day on, the children took turns taking Morgan home and dictating to a family member to record his adventures.  I have to add that over the year he got pretty worn.  Once his eye fell off and we all decided that it didn't matter, we still loved him. The eye was lost for about a month when a child found it at home!  We glued it, but it fell off
and got lost again!  Another mishap was when a child decided to dry with a hair melted his fur in one spot.....we bandaged him!!!  It made for a wonderful year of stories and experiences!  I definitely plan to do it again!

Take Home Bear
Submitted by Jeannette
I have a Nicholas the bear for my preschool kids to encourage at home reading.  The kids really do enjoy this concept.  Nicholas has his own book bag  with 4 books, a floor puzzle of Winnie the Pooh, and a milk cap matching game.  We have used him for 3 years and even parents ask when is their kids turn.

Take Home Bear
Submitted by Margie
I just had a cool idea.....I like the idea some of you have on having the children take the bear home...experiencing life at the child's house and sharing that with their friends.
I also liked the idea of having the bear go home w/books, puzzles, etc.
How about sending the bear home with a project that enhances a particular objective !!!!!!!  Teach the parents something too!!!
For example:  Johnny is working on the objective of SERIATING in the Cognitive domain.  Mr. Bear goes home to Johnny's house in the backpack w/the "colored math bears"...w/an objective card for the parents to play games in seriating the bears w/Johnny !!!!!
Another:  Sarah takes home the backpack and Mr. Bear the following week w/Lacing cards and laces.  Your objective card may read that this project is to enhance her PERSEVERANCE in the Affective Domain of development.  AND since you know Sarah's interest is finger work...this is why you chose the cards to promote this objective.  You can also note that you are also enhancing HANDS AND FINGERS in the Physical domain, etc.......
More examples:
Mr. Bear goes home w/puzzles...PARTS TO WHOLE, cognitive development;
Mr. Bear goes home w/books...TECHNICAL PROCESS OF READING, Language development;
Mr. Bear goes home w/ the sound lotto game...AUDITORY in the Physical development domain.
This would sure pull the parents in on not only participating in their
child's development......but...HOW WE LEARN THROUGH PLAY!!!

Taking Turns at Circle
Submitted by Betty
 Here's an idea that really has worked for me at the beginning of the year with my 4's.......At circle time, I use a ball to roll to the person who is to speak.  It quickly becomes a rule that you do not speak until you have the ball in your hands.  It helps with those that call's a physical, tangible reminder (not to mention the eye hand coordination and rolling skills being practiced!).  When I want to speak and have their attention, I put the ball right in front of me.  It also helps at Secret Bag Time, our method of "Show and Tell". They love to put the ball at their feet when they are describing what is in their bag!!!  Even as the year goes on, and I use it less, they often ask for it!

Beg. Of Yr. Home Visits
Submitted by Susi
This is something I do for the beginning of the school year: In Head Start we are required to make first home visits to all children in the class before school starts. On these home visits I bring my special home visit box that contains the child's file and other info, plus activities for the child to do while I am talking to the parents. These include board books, lacing spools and shoe strings, a wooden matching game, and of course paper, markers and crayons, scissors and glue. It's basically a mini preschool classroom in a traveling file case! I so encourage the children to make a drawing so that they have a picture already up on the art board when they come to school, this gives them a sense of ownership right away! Another thing I do is buy several packages of inexpensive refrigerator magnets for the parents to choose two so they can hang up the monthly calendar and newsletter each month. It's like a welcome gift from me to them!  We put the calendar and newsletter up right away so that they will know what  is happening at school.
This first home visit is also a great time to get some first observations of the child, so remember to take mental notes and write them down in the child's portfolio later.
I hope these ideas are helpful!

Helper Bucket
Submitted by Shelly
Trace the child's hand on construction or foam.  Either teacher or child cut it out.  Glue a clothespin on the back of hand with a magnet on it.  Mom and dad can put on refrigerator to hang all the child's notes and crafts from it.

Friendship Bag
Submitted by Kathy
Here's a cute idea to give to the children on the first day.
You can change some of the thoughts add or delete whichever is most appealing to you
MINT: To remind you that you are worth a MINT to me!
COTTON BALL: For the rough roads, seek the cushioned support of your family
and friends.
RUBBER BAND: A reminder to stay flexible.
TOOTHPICK:  To remind you to "pick out" the good qualities of everyone -
including YOU!
CANDY HUG: To remind you that everyone needs hugs.
ERASER: To remind you that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and it's okay!
HAPPY FACE: Smiling not only increases your face value, it's contagious.
CANDLE: To remind you to share your light with others.
BAND AID: For healing hurt feelings, yours and someone else's.
PAPER CLIP: to help keep things together when they seem to be slipping out of
TISSUE: to wipe away a tear; your own or someone else's
SMALL SMOOTH STONE: to remind you that rough times help refine and polishes
for smoother tomorrow

Back To School ideas
Submitted by Marilyn
Each August I make home visits to my entire class of children.  When I phone to schedule a mutually convenient date for my home visit, I tell the parent to please have the child select a baby picture of themselves and some family pictures.  At the home visit, I get acquainted with the child.  I bring along a few stories, a small amount of playdoh, and some white paper squares and markers.  I ask the child what is their favorite food(s) and what is their favorite color.  Then I let them select a colored marker and draw anything they like on a white square of paper.  After visiting each child I them make a "All About Me Book" to be used throughout the entire year.
I use one large size piece of white construction for each child.  Whatever the child chose as their favorite color is the color of paper I use to frame the baby and family pictures.  For example: If the child likes blue, I mount the baby and family picture on blue construction paper.  Then I cut out pictures of the foods the child liked and paste them onto a small piece of blue paper, then I take the colored drawing they did for me and mount that on a blue piece of paper.  I take all these mounted items and glue them onto the large sheet of white construction paper.  At the very bottom i write their names in big, black letters.  I then use clear contact to cover each page.  I add 3 large rings at the top (you can get the rings at a hardware store) and this then becomes our "flip" book at circle time.  The cover reads, "All About Me"
The first weeks of school I use this every day to show all the children who is in the class.  If I turn to a child's page, they may come up to talk about their pictures to the rest of the group.  THEY LOVE THIS!!!!!  This is also a wonderful way to take attendance.  I turn the pages and the children love to say who is not in class for the day.  Some days I leave the "book" out on a table for the children to enjoy.  It is also very comforting to a child who is sad or upset (or missing their parent).  I go right into a unit on All About Me, senses, height and weight charts, families.  It serves as a great ice breaker and the children begin to recognize and "read' one anther's names.  About 3 weeks into school, I have the children use finger-paint and make hand prints on large, white construction paper.  Here again, I place a picture of them on the page.   I also write their names in large, bold, black letters.   I again use clear contact the paper.  This is now their place mat for snack time.  It is wonderful tool for them to recognize their names (and their classmates) it helps with seat placement, and it also serves the purpose of splitting up children that get into conflicts.  I simply place the place mat at opposite ends of the tables.  Initially, the children love to "search" for their pictures, but then they find their place mats by letter recognition.  They also learn how to read all the names in the class.

Submitted by Peg
Two little houses all closed up tight (make fists)
Open up the window and let in the light (open fist)
Ten little finger people tall and straight (ten fingers)
Ready for school at half past eight (walk with fingers)

Title: Sing Your Way to Good Behavior
Submitted by Thai
If you have a difficult time getting your little ones to follow class rules at the beginning of the year, try singing your way to good behavior.

Song: Walk at School
(to Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
Walk, walk, walk at school
Like your teacher says.
If you run you will fall
And bump your little head.

Song: Stop, Look, and Listen
(to The Farmer in the Dell)
Stop, look, and listen.
Stop, look, and listen.
When it's time to do your work,
Stop, look, and listen.


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