Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book of the Day Activities: The First Day of School

Going to school for the first time can be a stressful time for children, their families, and the teachers! Here are a few books, and some related activities, that can help ease the pains of the first day of school:

Will I Have A Friend? by Miriam Cohen

  • It would be great if teachers contact families before school starts and ask parents to email you a photo of their child. Create a little newsletter that includes the names and photos of the children and mail them to each family so that the children can see names and faces of their friends before the first day of school!
  • On the first day of school, send home a note asking parents to send in one piece (or can) of fruit with their child the next day. Make a Friendship Fruit Salad: Have the children wash hands, wash the fruit, and make a fruit salad! (Note: Check for food allergies before doing this activity!). Of course, the teacher may have to cut some of the fruit, but most fruit can be cut with plastic knives. Pampered Chef used to make a knife that was safer for young children.
  • Have each child draw a picture of something that they did on the first day of school. Laminate and bind the pictures together in a book for the classroom library. Save a copy of the book and make a similar book at the end of the school year. Allow students to reminisce and compare the beginning and end of the school year!
  • Re-read this book if you have new students join the class in the middle of the school year!

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten by Joseph Slate

  • Allow the students to introduce themselves by name and tell how they got ready for school (as the characters do in the book). You can also introduce the letters of the alphabet and/or rhyming words with this book!
  • Ahead of time, make a chart that has the letter/animal picture that corresponds to the the first letters of the students in the class... Example: "Emily the Elephant," "Lenny the Lion," etc. Give each student a sentence strip with their name on it and allow them to place their pictures under the correct first letter. In other words, a student named "Lisa" would put her name card under Lenny the Lion's picture. You can use magnets, Velcro, or tape to attach the name cards. This activity can be expanded into a graphing/math activity!
  • Visit the illustrator's website to find out about the characters in the book: http://www.ashleywolff.com/whois.html
  • Don't forget to read other books in the Miss Bindergarten series: Miss Bindergarten Takes a Field Trip, Miss Bindergarten Stays Home from Kindergarten, Miss Bindergarten Has a Wild Day in Kindergarten, Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten, and Miss Bindergarten Plans a Circus With Kindergarten.

My Teacher Sleeps in School by Leatie Weiss
  • Often students don't ever think of the teacher as a person with a home and a family! Think about it, you are there when the children leave each evening, and when they come to school the next day, you are "still" there! Bring in family photographs to show the children. Show them pictures of your pets, your children, your wedding photos, vacation photos, etc.
  • Show the students some photographs of you when you were a child. And don't forget to tell your students your first name! Seems like a no-brainer, but many students have no idea that your first name isn't Miss!!
  • Have children illustrate what would happen if a teacher really slept in school: Where would she cook? How would she brush her teeth? Where would she sleep?
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Record yourself reading the story and put it on CDs. Give each family the CD as a "first day of school" present.
  • If you have a Back to School Night or Parent Orientation, this is a good story to read to the Moms and Dads!
  • Have students make sugar cookies (the prepared dough is fine) using heart shaped and hand shaped cookie cutters.
  • Variation: If Back to School Night is held on or shortly after the first day of school, have children make the cookies described above. Save some for snack time so the children can eat them, but make enough for each set of parents too. Have children decorate a heart shaped piece of paper that illustrates something that they did in school that day. At the Back to School Night read the story and then give each family the cookies and illustrations that their child made along with the CD of you reading the story. Those parents will love you for the rest of the school year!

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen
  • Let children choose other animals to write stories about, like How Do Giraffes Go to School?
  • In Block Area, provide school related props (small desks, chairs, tables, can be found in the dollhouse section of your local craft store), and toy dinosaurs. The children will enjoy reenacting this story!
  • Read the other "How Do Dinosaurs...?" books.
  • This is a good time to make your classroom rules. I always had 3 simple rules: Listen to the teacher. Be kind to your classmates. Take care of our toys and classroom. Almost everything else falls under one of these three rules. But having your students come up with the classroom rules, especially after reading this story, will be fun!
If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  • Create flannel pictures of each key element in the story (the mouse, lunchbox, backpack, etc) and make a flannel board story. The class will enjoy retelling it. This will also make a good sequencing activity.
  • Cut stacks of paper into a mouse shaped pattern. Here is one example pattern, but many are available on the web. Staple pages into a book. Place these blank books in your writing area to encourage children to create their own mouse stories!
  • Invest in a mouse puppet. I like the puppets at Folkmanis but there are many others available. The mouse puppet can be used to act out all of the Mouse stories (If You Give a Mouse A Cookie, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, The Best Mouse Cookie, etc). I suggest creating prop boxes for each of the stories that include the puppet and various other objects/props from the stories.
  • Visit the author's "Teacher Links" for many more ideas and story starters.

I Am Absolutely Too Small To Go to School by Lauren Child

  • Have the children make a list of other things they think they are too small to do.
  • On chart paper have the class list things that they can already do and make a list of things that they want to learn how to do. Keep this list in the classroom throughout the year and check off things as they are learned!
  • Visit Charlie and Lola on the Web!

  • Check out the other books in the Charlie and Lola series. This brother and sister duo are adorable and funny.

Some Twitter Favs:
@katejewave likes The Kissing Hand, Miss Bindgergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, and If You Take a Mouse to School
@PaBast recommends Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois and Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes


  1. Here's a read you need! David A. Carter just added "School Bugs" to his pop-up bug books. My kindergarten classes love them and so do I. They're funny and entertaining.

  2. Another classroom favorite is "Froggy Goes to School" by Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz. They've got several stories about Froggy's adventures.

  3. I was in my local Barnes & Nobel perusing the
    'school' titles. I have an extensive classroom library, but there's always room for one more.
    I think I found a great new addition called "It's You First Day of School, Annie Claire" by Nancy White Carlstrom and Margie Moore.
    Annie has so many "what if"s about going to school and her moms addresses each one.
    The illustrations are lovely and addresses each of them. I'm looking forward to sharing it with my as a teacher, I really like the size of them (sometimes I find great books with illustrations that are just too small to share with a classroom).
    Happy Reading!

  4. Kate - Thanks for always adding great books to the blog!



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