Showing posts with label Fall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fall. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Wow, August is here! And that means it's time to start thinking about back to school! As a teacher and now as a homeschool mom, I always love back to school time. Something about starting fresh with a new school year inspires me to do new things and improve old things. The possibilities seem endless, and I look forward to all of the fun learning that will take place over the next year.

For me, establishing a community of respect and encouragement in my classroom is always the most important thing. We spend the first few weeks doing activities that bring the students together. I want every student to feel safe, valued, and respected. By focusing on these things at the beginning of the year, we build a strong community in our classroom, and it prevents a lot of problems that may arise throughout the year. While we can't create a perfect atmosphere where nobody ever gets hurt feelings, we can teach our children how to show respect and how to resolve conflict when it does arise.

These books are great to read aloud at the beginning of the year. They teach students about the importance of looking at others as valuable individuals. Students see how their words and actions affect others. We use the scenarios in these books as a tool for establishing the type of atmosphere we want to achieve.

Have you Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
How Full is your Bucket (For Kids)? by Tom Rath

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to the "bucket filler" books. She sent these 2 books to my kids, and we just love them! If you haven't heard about the bucket filler books, you'll definitely want to check these out! The bucket filler concept, in a nutshell, is that everything we do and say to others either "fills their buckets" or "empties their buckets." We can choose to be kind or we can choose to be unkind, and whatever we choose affects both the other people and ourselves. After reading these books, we talk about several examples of filling and emptying buckets. Some things that you can do after reading are: list examples on the white board, have students act out scenarios, and draw pictures of bucket filling and emptying actions.

(Sorry, I don't have a picture of Have you Filled a Bucket is currently in a box in my garage!)

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

I recently discovered this book at our local library, and I thought it was a great book to add to our back to school read alouds. The concept of this book is that everyone is different in many ways, but at the heart of it all, we are all the same. We look different, we act different, we enjoy different things, but we all laugh the same, we all cry the same, etc. It is also a great introduction to geography and culture, as each page travels to a different part of our world. 

The Berenstain Bears Go Back to School by Stan & Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain

I love the Berenstain Bears books! I grew up reading them, and now my children are growing up with them. They are fun and hold your attention, and they always have a good lesson. This one is all about adjusting to going back to school. It's a lighthearted story about new students, old students, meeting new teachers, and just being back in school after summer vacation. This one doesn't have any big character lessons, but it's one of our favorites for just getting in the back to school mode.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

I first read this book when I was in college, and I knew that it was going to be a staple in my classroom. The story is about a student's experience with bullies and the teacher who helps her. It is definitely more of an emotional, "heavy" book. It doesn't have the light, fun feel about it that the others do. However, it is very powerful and always ignites conversation and gets the kids thinking.  Since this is one of my favorite books, I created a mini unit to go along with it. I wanted to do some activities with my students that would allow them to dig deeper in this book and help them to set the tone of our classroom.

If you are interested in this mini unit, you can find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Just click the picture below to check it out.

I hope you and your students enjoy reading these books and that they help create a positive classroom environment. Here's to a fabulous back to school season and a great year! Be sure to follow my blog by entering your email in the sidebar area. You'll be notified about new ideas, resources, sales, and freebies!

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I hope you and your kiddos enjoy the freebie! After you do these activities, please come back and tell me how it went :)

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This is what the September game looks like :)