The students at my school are allowed to visit a few days before the school year starts. This "Sneak Preview" gives them a chance to see where their room is located and take a peek through the windows of the classroom door! I make sure to leave a letter introducing myself outside of the classroom as well as an introduction to our class website!

Sneak Preview Letter

Sneak Preview Sign - Website Address

On the first day of school, I give each of my students a "Welcome Bag". Since my classroom theme is Hollywood, I use popcorn bags to hold everything. I include the following items in the bag:



Life Saver


Laffy Taffy

Van Dyke Dollar

On the outside of the bag, I attach a poem that says:

Welcome to my third grade class!

I am so glad you are here!

I have made you a bag of goodies,

to help describe our year.

The eraser is to let you know

it is okay to make mistakes.

We will correct them and learn from them

No matter what it takes!

The "Smarties" say I know you are smart,

and really special too.

The "Lifesaver" is to remind you

that I am here for you.

The pencil represents the learning

that we will do.

Third grade can be pretty tough,

But it is a ton of fun too!

The "Laffy Taffy" says we will laugh a lot,

While traveling through grade 3.

The "dollar" is to let you know

How valuable you are to me!

Here's a similar idea, using Lucky Charms!

On the first day of school, I give my students their very first homework assignment. I give them each a brown paper bag and tell them that they must fill the bag with 5 items that will best describe themselves. When the students bring in their bag, they share the significance of each item with the rest of their classmates.

Me Bag assignment

On the first day of school, I have the students decorate a blank t-shirt to describe themselves. They can include pictures that represent what they like to do after school, their favorite foods, etc. Everyone gets a chance to explain why they decorated their shirt the way that they did. After everyone is done, I hang the t-shirts up on a clothesline in the room. "Look Who's Hangin' Out in Room 28!"

"Look Who's Hangin' Out in Room 28!" Banner

T-Shirt Pattern

Another your own star!

Each student creates a glyph during the first week of school. They draw the face by following the directions on the Glyph Key. Then, they fill out the information on the t-shirt, like "Favorite Food", "Favorite Subject", etc. Finally, the students write about something that they did over the summer on an index card, which is attached to a pair of shorts.



Glyph Key


I got this idea from Beth Newingham's blog. The students each receive a blank clock. They have to find one partner for each of the times on their clock. For example, if Jimmy and Billy wanted to be partners, they would both agree on a time on their clock and write each other's names on the line next to that time. When everyone has filled out their clock, I laminate them and tape them onto the top of their desks. When the students need to work with a partner, I simply have to call out a time..."Find your three o'clock partner" or "Find your ten o'clock partner"...and, voila! The students get right to work without worrying about who they are going to be with.

Partner Clock


~Asking students to articulate their hopes for the year is a powerful way to build community, foster ownership, and set the stage for creating classroom rules.

"What are your hopes for this school year?"

Many teachers using the Responsive Classroom approach ask students this question at the start of every school year.

While the question may seem simple, posing it to students and asking them to share their responses can have a profound effect on the classroom. Just think about the messages inherent in the question: what you care about matters at school; your hopes and goals are taken seriously; you have a say in what we'll learn.

Taking the time to help children articulate their hopes for school—or their "hopes and dreams," as they’re often called—sets a tone of collaboration and mutual respect. It fosters reflection and self-knowledge by prompting children to ask themselves questions such as "What’s important to me at school? What do I want to learn more about? What’s easy for me? What’s hard for me? What do I want to get better at?"

Sharing hopes and dreams also creates a meaningful context for establishing classroom rules. Once hopes have been articulated, discussions can begin about what rules will be needed to help everyone’s hopes and dreams come true.

In older grades, the teacher might ask, "If these are our hopes, what rules will we need in order to make these hopes come true?" In younger grades, "How can we take care of ourselves and each other so that we can all do what we hope to do in school?" In this way, rules become logical outgrowths of the students’ and teachers’ goals rather than directives handed down from above.~

On the first day of school, the students fill out a worksheet that asks questions about themselves. They also write a poem in cursive and I take a picture of them. All of these things get put into our class time capsule, which cannot be opened until the end of the school year! It is so much fun to look at how the students change throughout the year! At the end of the year, the students write the same poem in cursive so that they can compare how much their handwriting has improved throughout the year!

Time Capsule worksheet

See Anyone You Know?

Students will need a current photo and baby photo of themselves for this interactive bulletin board idea. Each student folds a piece of construction paper in half and then writes a riddle to describe himself on the front. He mounts a current photo inside to provide the answer. He mounts the folder and a baby photo on a sheet of paper. Students try to guess who each baby picture belongs to! This is a cute bulletin board for Curriculum Night.

Hand Sanitizer Bathroom Pass

I originally got this idea from the Really Good Stuff catalog. Label two bottles of hand sanitizer "Girls" and "Boys" and then cover with contact paper. When a student needs to use the bathroom, they take the bottle of hand sanitizer and put it on top of their desk. You get a visual reminder of who is in the bathroom, other students know when the bathroom is occupied, and the student gets a reminder to get rid of those germs when they get back to the classroom!

Our classroom's theme is Hollywood! Check it out!

Star Book (Denise Huebner) - Great for the first week of school
Pop Quiz - I have the students take a quiz about their new teacher after I have told them about myself. :o) It is a good way to introduce why it is important to be a good listener!

Class Cheers - To build class community, I teach the kids class cheers. I put a copy of the list of cheers on the students' desks. Whenever someone does something that we would like to celebrate, that student gets to choose a cheer from the list and the rest of the class cheers them on!

Assignments Chart - This sheet can be used for students to copy down their assignments every day.

Bus Call List

(Thank you, Mrs. Lipczynski!)

Class List Checkoff - I use these checkoff lists for everything...from checking off who has their homework to who has turned in their field trip money. I keep these on a clipboard at my desk, so that they are always easy to find.
Lunch Choice Slips - These get sent up to the office each morning with our lunch cards.

My Favorite Part of Our Classroom

The students write about their favorite part of the classroom and then take a picture of it with a digital camera. These are hung up for Curriculum Night!

I'm Telling!

For your friends who just LOVE to tattle!


Notes for Parents

Extra School Supplies Request - Our school's supply list for third grade doesn't include a few items that I use in class, so I send this note home the first day of school.
Book Checkout Letter - This letter explains my classroom library book checkout procedure. I usually don't begin letting the students checkout books until after a few weeks. I want to make sure they understand the rules and can take responsibility before opening the library up.
Cereal Box Portfolio - The students make two portfolios to store their extra work packets. These portfolios are kept on the windowsill of the classroom. Whenever the students finish their work, they choose a packet from their portfolio to work on during their free time.
Website - Letter Home - I send this letter home during the first week of school to introduce my students and their families to our class website.
Missing School Supplies - Letter Home - I send this letter home to students if they have not brought in all of their school supplies.


Parent Response Letter - This letter gets sent home to the parents to fill out. This is a good way to find out about the parents' hopes for the year. It also gives them a chance to share more information about their child.

Parent Signature on Test - Letter - When my students take a test or are graded on an assignment, I cut the corner off of the paper and send it home. This lets the students and their parents know that this paper needs to be signed by a parent and sent back to school the next day. I expect that the students get all graded assignments signed and bring them back to school. If the student does not bring in the signed paper, they are not allowed to participate in Homeworkopoly at the end of the week.
Tattoo Permission - Since I have a Hollywood theme in my classroom, I take pictures of the students as "movie stars" at the beginning of the year. This is the form that I use to get permission to put a temporary tattoo on the students.
Website Release Form - Before placing any students' work or pictures on the internet, I make sure to get permission from the parents.
Class List Permission Form - I put together a class list which includes the students' addresses and phone numbers. Many parents use this list in case they are sending out birthday party invitations or arranging playdates. I make sure to ask for permission from each of the parents before including their personal information.
Homework Policy - This letter explains the homework policy that I have in my classroom.

Supply Notice


 Teacher Control Journal

Pizza Portfolios - I use pizza boxes to store my students' portfolios. That way, the students can keep things that would not fit in a file folder. I get mine online and they were only 20 cents for each one! You could also try asking around at local pizza restaurants to see if they will donate some boxes for your classroom.

The New and Improved "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" Lesson Plan

*I especially like "The Relatives Came: A Family Read-Along"!

Vicki Blackwell - Back to School

A to Z Teacher Stuff - Back to School

September Ideas

Mrs. Gold - Back to School Ideas

Friendship Fruit Salad

Student Acrostic Poems - Have students interview each other and write an acrostic poem for their partner.

Brain Pop Movie - Back to School

This site created and maintained by Kirsten Van Dyke.

Last updated on August 14, 2012

Background and Graphics by: