In our school, the first day is a half-day to meet teachers, find classrooms, and get orientated. That doesn't mean I don't have to be prepared. It's surprising how much needs to be done in four short hours, so making a plan is key.
Here are my most important tips for the First Day of Third Grade:
First Day of Third Grade Tip One: Have a plan for school supplies.
Every school and district manages school supplies differently. Sometimes teachers purchase and organize all supplies, other times students purchase supplies from a set list. Our school does a combination of the two. While I purchase some supplies and am able to organize them ahead of time, students arrive on Day One with backpacks full of pencils, paper, scissors, and all sorts of other personal supplies.
So what do we do with them? Here is how I organize school supplies in my third grade classroom.
On the first day of school, I have empty dollar store washing buckets set out on my bookshelves. During the year, these will be labeled for each subject. However, on the first day of the year, I label each bucket with the name of a school supply.
- lined paper
- blank notebooks
- glue sticks
- liquid glue
These supplies will become communal. I put them in my back cupboard and ration them to be used for the whole year. Students have access to my back cupboard (I try not to make most of my classroom 'off limits') but it helps to make our school supplies last all ear.
On the whiteboard, beside a greeting to my new class, I write a clear list of the supplies that can go inside of their cubby and/or desk (depending on the year). These are supplies that are not communal. When students come in on the first day, they take a look on the board, and begin to sort their supplies before meeting me on the carpet for our very first morning meeting!
First Day of Third Grade Tip Two: Plan a fun get to know you game!
Every year, a good portion of my new students will inevitably walk in awkward and shy. Even if I have invested time into getting to know the second graders before they left for the summer they will be nervous on the first day of school. This is where a fun, non-threatening get-to-know-you game is key. In my classroom, I love to use a beach ball to ask students fun facts about themselves. Using a beach ball is a great way to get students moving, and to break away any first day jitters. Make sure that your questions don't provoke any awkward answers. The point is to allow your students to open up, not to embarrass them!
On her blog, Teaching in Paradise has great suggestions for how to set this activity up, and sample questions to use on your beach ball. Check it out here!