Setting Up a Theme for the School Year
Kick off the school year as a team
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
At the end of summer, I always look for a great back-to-school theme to kick off a new school year with my students. In the past few years, I've tried to choose themes that mean even more than just a great looking bulletin board and actually give me an idea to build on throughout the entire year.
Last year, I chose the idea of teamwork. While this is probably a common theme for teachers to pick, I tried to be especially creative and weave the idea into important events and classroom activities throughout the year. Here are some examples:
- We named ourselves "Team Newingham." The students were the players, and I was the coach.
- On the first day of school, I gave each student a hat with felt self-adhesive numbers stuck to the front indicating our room number. I also bought sports-themed decorations for the room and colored pompoms.
- As a first week activity, students created pennants to hang in the classroom and the hallway with slogans like "Go Team," "Work Together," "Be a Good Sport," and "Room 13 Winners."
- Another first week activity was creating individual baseball cards. I made a simple template that resembled an oversized baseball card and students filled in personal information including their height, their birthday and city of birth, favorite hobbies, number of people in their families, etc. This was a great way to get to know my new "team." We hung the completed cards in the hallway.
- During the first few weeks of school, I read books aloud at the beginning of our daily "Team Meeting" that demonstrated the importance of teamwork and working together. * Our weekly newsletter was entitled the Team Newingham Tribune.
- During our computer time, we created Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine covers for a hallway display. Each magazine included a picture of the student who made the cover and a self-selected headline.
- Instead of having a "Star of the Week," our special student was called the "MVP."
- Our spring open house also followed the team theme. We decorated our room like a sports stadium. Students wrote and produced a SportsCenter-type news show for their parents to enjoy. I made copies of the baseball cards students created earlier in the year and students autographed the cards for their "fans."
- I made "Varsity Letters" for each student out of colored cardstock. Each student was awarded a red and white "N" for being a valuable member of Team Newingham.
- At the end of the year, I named the entire class the "All-Star Team" and students were given certificates to reflect this honor.