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Kindergarten Cafe

Welcome to Kindergarten Cafe - your home for teaching ideas, activities, and strategies across all content areas! I am Zeba McGibbon and I love creating resources for teachers and sharing my teaching experience with others. Kindergarten Cafe is aimed for kindergarten, but teachers of Preschool-First grade can find resources here for their students! I love to connect with other teachers so please reach out and say hello!

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When thinking about that welcome to back to school, there are two types of teachers out there. Let me know in the comments which type of teacher you are! There’s the teacher who leaves her classroom when summer starts and doesn’t come back to the classroom until a week before school starts. On the other side there’s the teacher that sets up her room as soon as it is available and doesn’t come back to the classroom until a day or so before school starts.

Personally, I like to get my room set up as soon as possible so that I don’t have to think about school for the rest of summer. Of course, there are a few things that I need to wait until a few days leading up to school. I need to wait on my class lists and our schedule (we have an idea, but of course these things always change). But no matter what type of teacher you are, these 5 tips will help make an easy back to school season! (If you’re a new teacher, check out this post on my best tips for new teachers!)

1. Have your welcome to back to school copies ready to go

Have you welcome to back to school copies ready to go to make for an easy back to school!

Even before summer starts, I make my copies for the first week of school. I have them sorted by day. I love having my copies prepped and ready to go. I make some extras in case I gain new students over the summer. Of course, if I get ideas for more activities over the summer, I can always add activities and copies, but it feels so good that if for some reason I can’t show up until the first day of school, I have activities ready to go.

These back to school activities come with my first 7 days of kindergarten lesson plans and editable parent letters! Everything you need to welcome to back to school in one helpful place! Not teaching kindergarten? No worries! I now have lesson plans, activities, and editable parent letters for the first week of first grade and second grade!

I always love having a place to organize my copies by day of the week. Can you tell I like to plan ahead?! I used these magazine holders and covered them with a more appealing paper (thank you Modge Podge!)

I also have all of my kindergarten assessments for the year copied and put into my data binder. I separate the binder by student number so I can reuse it every year. I love having these assessments ready to go, because within the first couple of weeks I love to get a sense of where my students are academically. I can then use these assessments throughout the year to track their progress. Students and parents love seeing the progress graph over time!

Kindergarten assessments help track students' progress.

2.  Keep a list going of supplies to order

Throughout the year, I keep a little document on my computer for supplies I wish to order for the following year. Any ideas I have I jot them down! Any materials that worked really well that I want to order again, I write down. Any materials I definitely don’t need more of, I write down. And let me tell you – my summer brain thanks me every year! This also helps to prevent me from going to the Target Dollar Spot and buying everything in sight… although I do still frequent the Target Dollar Spot from time to time….

3.  Make New Student Bags

New student bags help save so much time and stress and are a must do for welcome to back to school!

This is probably the best welcome to back to school tip I ever saw on social media, and I am now sharing it with you! Trust me, you WILL thank me later!  When I am putting together the nametags, the folders, the lunch ordering cards, the locker tags, the introductory notices, etc., I make three extra sets with spots for a blank name to write on later. I put these extra sets into their own plastic bag, and I write “New Student 1” “New student 2” and “New Student 3” on the outside.

This saves me a huge amount of trouble when I inevitably get a new student, often on the day before school and at least one other time throughout the year. Never again do I have to scramble to get together all the supplies I’ll need for the new student. Nor do I have to try and remember what I sent home to families or made for my new class. Never again do my new students have to have whatever folder I could find lying around the school. Trust me – this is a must do! And the great thing is, if I don’t get new students, most of that stuff stays in the bag from year to year because I use the same folders/stickers/nametags every year. I just update a few of the notices the coming summer.

4. Have templates to use every year

Welcome to back to school is easy when using the same templates from year to year!

Once you have a system that works for you, keep it! This saves me soooo much time every year. I reuse the same folder stickers, class contact sheet (it’s a freebie!), class list and nametag formats. Every summer, about one or two days before school (I like to wait for the very last minute because I always get a few students added or taken away from my list, and I hate when the list isn’t alphabetical… Type A teacher problems I know!), I simply look at my class lists and update all the templates with the new list of students.

5. Have a welcome to back to school checklist to keep track of the jobs you have to get done every year!

My final tip is to have a checklist to keep track of all the little things we have to do at the start of each school year. It definitely helps me to remember everything. I just pull it out a few days before school starts and start checking away at my to-do list. But what goes on the checklist? Don’t worry! I’ve got you covered! I am giving you this FREE back to school checklist that I use every year to keep track of all the little jobs I have to do before school starts!

Free back to school checklist to help with remember all the jobs to do before school starts!

Conclusion

Welcome to back to school has never been easier with these five tips! Back to school time is always stressful, but these tips help me every year and now they can help you! Let me know which tip was the most helpful for you!

Setting up a new classroom? Check out these 6 tips!

Wow, these are such great first day activity ideas from Love Grows Learning!

Love this idea of Goal Setting with Kids from Andrea Knight!

Fantastic inquiry activities for kindergarten from Innovate Global Teaching!

Thanks to Kayse Morris for help making this blog post even better! Check out 7 Helpful Tips on How to Blog if you are interested!

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Emma Hayes

There I was in a hot yoga studio with plenty of bright natural light and bending myself into pretzel like positions for the very first time.

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