This post explains how Oriental Trading helps organize back to school for teachers prepare a successful school year prior to the first day of class. You hear teachers say, “It is all in the set up!” as they work in buildings to set up classes before school even begins. It is so true, and organization helps so much those first weeks when teachers are spending long hours the first weeks of school and there is so much to accomplish. I have ordered from this company year after year and found the materials to be reliable and consistent. *Note: As a brand ambassador, Oriental Trading gave me $75 worth of materials to aid in the preparation of the school year and this blog post. The links are non-affiliate. All opinions are mine alone. All of the resources and printables I prepared for my readers to download. The box arrived with the items I requested!
One thing Oriental Trading helps me with is making fun birthday bags for all the students before I even meet them. It will probably be someone’s birthday the first day or week of school. Be proactive to avoid having to admit you aren’t ready for birthdays yet. I like to be prepared for these events, don’t you? The smiles on the student’s faces are the reward. I used the following items from the box for my first organizational triumph. It is an anchor in my school year to have these ready and in the cupboard.
Separated out, each child will receive the following items. The reason I like the birthday awards is that they have detachable bookmarks. I put the bookmarks in the bag along with the sticker and pencil. I tied each bag with a ribbon. After all, it is more the idea the child will get something and be noticed rather than the value of the items.
Now to organize the bags for the school year! I prepared some monthly dividers that teachers might use for this or other bins that are used in sequential order. I started the dividers with August as that is the first month I will see this year’s children. Behind each month’s tab, I placed the birthday bags and awards for students with birthdays in those months. This bin will go in a closet so it can be easily accessed. Whew! Oh, of course, there will be new students and students who move away. When a child moves away, it is nice to give them their birthday bag if the timing makes sense. When there is a new child, use the extra bags and awards stored in the back of the bin, fill out the award, and move them to the correct month. Even if you forget, it isn’t that difficult to just grab and extra and fill out the award at the last minute if everything else is organized. The printable file dividers with tabs are part of the free printable I made for you for this post. Click the next link for the printable with the dividers and the entire PDF which has some editable pages.
Birthdays are essential preparation, and welcome kits could be also be made if there is time.
I like to have an acronym and a few items to inspire students with a few positive thoughts before or on the first day. From Oriental Trading, I selected welcome back pencils and owl erasers. Our Open House is prior to the first day and is when I pass these out, but you may have a different time to use them. Keep extras in the bin and have them on hand for new students, as well.
Owls are always a theme in my class and of course, my students are all wise owls. To finish the bags, I added a few items I had on hand or found at the arboretum. Here is this year’s acronym: ROCKS. R is for the rock, we will rock this school year. O is for Owls, wise owls. C is for Candy as we will be sweet to each other. K is for key as the key to our great year is hard work. Finally, S is for smiles, we want a year of smiles. The printable for this post includes some of the items for your welcome kits, as well.
Ask a locksmith for a bunch of old keys as kids love them and they are also fun for writing class. Ask for more than you need for the welcome kits. I have done that or bought a bunch at a junk store. Children really like the very grown up item, have ideas for stories about what lock the key fit, and the person who owned the key. Keys make an engaging anticipatory set.
Organize back to school and be ready for Consitution Day
Constitution Day sneaks up on me each year and it is difficult to find time to be ready as well as explain to first and second graders. Fall is such a busy time of year at school. It is required by law and is on September 17th each year. The products from my Oriental Trading that will help me are the bingo game and erasers. The bingo game will also come in handy on President’s Day and Memorial Day, perhaps. It will be a special game as we won’t be using it that often, plus it can be used in future years. I also prepared a free activity for the day included in the printable I made for this post.
Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is observed each year on September 17 each year. In 1940, this day was in May and designated as “I Am An American Day.” In 1952 Congress moved the date to September 17 and retained its original purpose of recognizing all those who had attained American citizenship. In 2004 under Senator Byrd’s urging, Congress changed the designation of this day to Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Part of the law is that each educational institution which receives Federal funds should hold a program for students every September 17th. I actually do not remember seeing a program for this day and was simply told to teach about the day in class. I did but found few K-2 resources for teachers to use. So, I made my own.
Lastly, I had a brainstorm, at least in my opinion. Instead of the fake birthday cake which just makes everyone hungry and is difficult to clean after years in the closet, how about something special? There are toys we would love to have in class that would cause such fighting about whose turn it was to play with them we just don’t bother. Yet, unique toys help make the school year memorable for children. My thought was to have a special toy, in this case a Melissa and Doug Doorbell house available on the OTC Learn 365 site, only on birthdays. Maybe it is taken in the hallway to play with a few friends, or an indoor recess could be given on birthdays, if possible. That way the child gets noticed which is difficult to do on some very busy school days, such as testing or being observed. Help the child have something positive to say about having to spend a birthday in class. You know parents will ask what they did at school that day!
The doorbell house chime sounds are soft enough for use in the classroom. It is engaging and certain to bring joy on special days.
The next video show some of the pages in the free printable.
Carolyn Wilhelm is the author of The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has an MS in Gifted Education, an MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12, and has completed the KHT Montessori 12 month program. She makes mostly free resources for teachers and parents. Her children's books are available on Amazon. She was a public school teacher for 28 years, three of those in a desegregation school, five in schools with the Minneapolis Choice is Yours program as a Wayzata teacher. She has been trained in numerous areas such as CGI Math, the National Urban Alliance, reading strategies, writing workshop, and others listed on her about page.