Tag Archives: first day

Summertime Favorites

Lemon Shake-Ups.

Caramel Apples.

Cotton Candy.



Funnel Cakes.

Banana  Splits.

Strawberry Milkshakes.

Which is your favorite summertime favorite?

Hopefully you’ve had a great summer and done plenty of your favorite things and eaten plenty of your favorite goodies. (Lemon Shake-Up for me!)

August arrived almost 72 hours ago. Along with it, band practice, golf practice, back-to-school posts, and an earlier wake-up time (probably the most shocking of all.)

As I get back into the routine, I feel mixed emotions. My daughter is a junior and a squad leader in the marching band this year.  On the first day of practice, I heard her come downstairs.  I hopped out of bed, quickly got dressed, and started my coffee as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. She looked at me – water bottle, trumpet, music, and keys in hand – and I realized she doesn’t need a ride this year.  She has her own car.  (Imagine both our faces – and my heart – at this moment.)

My son, finally a teenager, is an 8th grader and is on the golf team.  He’s worked hard all summer on his swinging, chipping, and putting.  My parents bought him a giant net that he can set up in the yard. It’s been nice because I don’t have to pay for the driving range, or make his sister drive him to the golf course.   But when I look at my hacked-up lawn…. I think I should put up a sign that says, “A spoiled rotten golfer lives here.”

I’ve started a little of my back-to-school work, but considering this is Year 21, I feel pretty comfortable and have learned to use every second of this precious time for relaxing, refreshing, and re-energizing.

However, during a quick stop at the store this morning, I found the perfect ice breaker activity for my students.

Limited Edition Dum-Dums!

Limited Edition Dum-Dums!  How fun!  I bought two 10.4 oz bags for $4.00 at Discount Drugmart.

After brief introductions of myself and my student teacher, I will bring out the basket.


This is a good time for me to remind them of the rule of saying “Thank You” immediately after receiving a treat, and a warning that candy wrappers left anywhere but the trash can will not work in my classroom.

Now comes the fun:

Screenshot 2016-08-03 at 6.40.59 PM

I’m excited to have my first day activity planned and ready to go. I had most of these students last year in 7th grade, so I have to get creative each year. Plus, this lets us hold onto sweet summer just a little bit longer….

What is your go-to ice breaker?

Do you have something new planned for this year? 

I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments!

Back to Business: “Dear Parent” Letter

After a much-needed break, I’m almost ready to dive back in. I have eight precious days of summer vacation left. So between all the last-minute appointments for things I’ve put off all summer and the final fun days with my kids, I thought I’d get myself back into the groove by posting one Back-to-School idea a day.

We shall see how this goes….

At the beginning of the year, we all want to know more about our students, gather important phone numbers, e-mails, and information.  There are many ways to gather such information: a Google form, a paper questionnaire, office files….

For years, I spent a lot of time perfecting my letter to parents about myself. It always ended up sounding like a mash-up of a resume and a letter in a Christmas card.  Who was I trying to impress?

After about 10 years I education, I learned to keep my letter short and sweet.


This will be easy enough for you to type up in less than 5 minutes. If you are really pressed for time, I will attach a word document at the bottom that you can customize in a matter of minutes.

This will be easy enough for you to type up in less than 5 minutes. If you are really pressed for time, I will attach a word document at the bottom that you can customize in a matter of minutes.


As a parent, I feel overwhelmed by all the paperwork that comes home in the first few days.  So, I only ask for the things I really need to know!

Short and sweet and non-threatening - kind of like me!

Short and sweet and non-threatening – kind of like me!


This system works well for me for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s easy to prepare, explain, and send home. (Just be sure you round-up some pink cards early in the shopping season!)
  • I learn valuable, pertinent information on each specific child. (How many times do you mark “n/a” on a form?)
  • It gives parents a chance to say what they need to say. (Parents can fit a lot on a 3×5 card!)
  • I get a glimpse into the home-life and background of each student. (I still read their cumulative files, but this is the most current, up-to-date info I need to know right now.)
  • It’s easy easier for students to keep track of this card. (I am not against offering candy as a bribe.)


ParentPinkIndexBlank (This should be the word document you can customize. Please let me know if it doesn’t work! It’s hard to test out on my MacBook.)

ParentPinkIndexBeginningoftheYear (Here is a PDF if you just want to cut and paste the index card directions to your own letter.)



How do you communicate with parents at the beginning of the year?

What information do you most want to know?

Share what works for you in the comments!



Last night I spent 30 minutes getting my classroom set up.

Yep, just 30 minutes.

I always get excited about working in my room, but this year is different.

Not that I am not excited. It’s just that the next two weeks are super busy and we haven’t had the greatest weather at all this summer. So instead of spending the last sunny moments indoors, I decided to go on a cloudy, blah evening.

30 minutes. No kids, no co-workers, no distractions.

I set up my furniture exactly like last year.

I hooked up my computer and printer in record time.

I put the supplies on the shelf exactly like last year.


I hung up the curtain, moved the fans to their usual positions, and tore the paper off the bulletin boards to expose last year’s motivational display.


I am sure many of you do the same thing – keep things the same every year out of habit and ease.

I actually like change and try to mix things up from year to year.

But this year, I am finding comfort in the familiar.  20120816-140055.jpg

I will be teaching almost the same students as last year (minus 4 8th graders) and I am finding comfort in that as well.

I feel like changing too much on them will take away from our consistent routine and the connection we established. I want to start where we left off. I want them to fall into the place we were in May. They know my expectations. I know their personalities and skills. My room is a safe and comfortable place.


There will be a lot of changes in our building this year (new administration, new faces, a new schedule for me). I will not get to work with my favorite math teacher and I will not get to work with Dee’s grade level.

However, some change can be good and I am anticipating a great year.

I’m off to a good start…

I can breathe easy the next eight days and enjoy this time in a way I never have before.


This post was written in its entirety on the hill at the lake.

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