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Back-to-School Classroom Ideas for Teachers

Susie McGee
School girl writing in the classroom

Preparing your classroom for the first week of school takes lots of planning and creativity, and we're here to help with some great back to school ideas for teachers.

Elementary Back to School Ideas for Teachers

If you're an elementary teacher, you know the meaning of thriftiness. You may be a pro at recycling toilet paper tubes, tissue boxes, and milk jugs. After all, supplies are usually limited, and your state fee money may be tight. Most teachers go above and beyond when it comes to getting their classrooms ready, and we salute you. We also want to help. The following back to school ideas for teachers can be used for the first few days or any time. You can also modify them to fit your classroom and your students.

Rules and Regulations

Elementary schools are typically very structured. Kids learn to wait their turn, stand in line, and talk quietly. For some, this comes easily. For others, following the rules can be a bit more difficult. Spend the first few days reading and practicing the rules with your students. Since elementary kids can go into overload, try dividing up the rules and regulations into categories. Place visuals around the room to emphasize your expectations.

  • Behavior-Talk to the kids about expected behaviors. Use positive reinforcement. Reward them with praise when they behave in a good way.
  • Schedules-Staying organized will help your students stay on task. Let them know what to expect as far as their schedules go each day.
  • Manners-Work with your students on manners. Let them role play certain situations.
  • Character-Add character training to the beginning of each day. Study a particular character trait for the week.

Name Games

Place the kids' names on cards along with one identifying feature, such as the color of their hair, eyes, or shirt. Hand each kid a card, and let him or her crisscross the room searching for the owner of the name card.

Summer Fun Bulletin Board

Get your kids involved in creating a bulletin board that everyone can be proud of. Give each child a cut-out t-shirt made of construction paper. Let him write about something fun that he did over the summer. If he is too young to write, let him draw and color a picture. Then, string yarn in several rows across a bulletin board, and pin the shirts on the yarn with clothespin. You now have a summer fun clothesline!

Middle School Ideas

Middle school students are a challenge! They aren't little kids, and they aren't young adults. Their hormones are racing, and they're hyper, sulky, happy, and angry all in the space of a few moments. The key to success in a classroom is maintaining control. It's doubly important to set the tone in those first few days. We've got some great back to school ideas for teachers to help you get started.

Symbolic Introductions

Tap into your kids' creativity with this great back to school idea! Gather some common objects, such as Monopoly game pieces, small toys, figurines, etc. Each student will choose an object that will represent him or her. Students must then write why they associate themselves with that object. Kids can read their essays out loud or pass them around the room.

Character Collaboration

Put kids into groups. (Don't let them choose their own groups!) Hand out several character traits written on construction paper. Let the group work together to brainstorm ideas on how to exhibit these character traits, then let them share the ideas with the class.

High School School Ideas

High school kids are typically excited to see each other and often eager to see what teachers they have and who is in their classes. For new students, however, high school can be intimidating. Help your kids get to know each other with the following activities.

Things to Know Booklet

This works great for older kids who've already been at the school for a year or so. Let kids work together in groups to compile a handbook that focuses on important information that freshmen and new kids might find useful, such as information on clubs and organizations, tips for when to buy lunch, advice on how to study for certain teachers' tests, etc.

Introduction Essays

Find out something about your kids. Give them an essay assignment. While they might groan at first, I promise they'll throw their hearts into it! The topic should be "What People Might Not Know About Me". If the kids want to share their essays, then let them!

Additional Sites

The following sites will give you some additional ideas:

Back-to-School Classroom Ideas for Teachers