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October 31, 2016 Book Buzz: Successfully Welcome New Students By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    We’ve been in school for several months now and while routines and procedures have been tested, refined, and practiced, there is still one event that every teacher must be prepared for every day. It’s an event that has the potential to cause havoc to every routine, schedule, and procedure that you have worked so hard to put into place. Question: what event can ripple through a classroom like a tsunami? Answer: a new student. Check out these tips, books, and activities for making a new student feel welcome.

    If your school is anything like schools that I’ve worked in through the years, there may be one morning that you are getting ready to start teaching when there is a knock on your door. You open the door and find a new student standing there. You had no warning, but this moment isn’t about you, it’s about that little stranger depending on you to seamlessly make her a part of your classroom community.

    New Friends BasketIf the parent is with the child (I’ve had the parents walk the child to my door but I’ve also had an office worker walk them down as well), that is when you will be glad that you have a New Friends basket. In my basket I have file folders that I can easily grab to give the parents as I welcome them to my room. In the folder is a welcome letter, my classroom handbook, and a quick form that I ask the parent to fill out on the spot that lets me know how the student is going home that day and gives me the parent contact information (name, phone number, and email address).

    After the welcome folder my attention turns to my new student. What I don’t want to do is to ask the new child immediately to stand up and talk about themselves, so I have four great books on hand that I can quickly pull one or more of to read as the new class comes together.

    Several of these books address the same issues. Chamelia, Goat (from the Unicorn book), and Pug all are happy individuals who are not happy with a change in their routine. Pug doesn’t want to share his yard or his doggy dog with Pig who just suddenly shows up. Chamelia and Goat don’t want to share attention with their new counterparts. Scaredy Squirrel is included because I love his ideas on how to make new friends.

    Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great CoverScaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

    Chamelia and the New Kid in Class CoverPug Meets Pig Cover

    Books

    Pug Meets Pig is a quieter book with quick language that inspired Joyce Wan’s simple, but perfect illustrations. Your class will love when Pig gets stuck in the doggy door. And when Pig and Pug become friends, your class will easily see the correlation to their new classmate.

    Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great is my favorite of my new friend books. Goat is a wonderful character who is totally jealous of Unicorn and all his great tricks, such as turning things into gold. It turns out that Unicorn actually wishes he was more like Goat, down to his cloven hooves. These two characters have two distinctive voices and they are both hilarious. This book really addresses the jealously that can sneak in as a new child enters your classroom.

    That theme is also ever-present in the book Chamelia and the New Kid in Class. Chamelia likes getting all the attention but so does the new kid, Cooper. When Chamelia’s jealously gets the best of her, she creates a hard experience for Cooper. The question is, can she fix the situation or will she and Cooper be at odds for the rest of the year?

    Finally, Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend makes me laugh every time I read it. His lists of things that you need to make new friends and when he screams at the sight of the dog in the story are hilarious. I’m so thankful that Watt is creative enough to bring Scaredy Squirrel into the world.

     

    Activities

    Name Tags

    I keep a package of name tags in my classroom but not for the typical reasons. When a new student comes to my room, we all help to welcome him by wearing name tags that includes one of our favorite things to do. It can be anything from playing with American Girls dolls to liking Legos or Minecraft. My kids wear the name tags during a time of socializing (recess, centers, lunch) so the new kid will be able to find someone who shares her interests. This is a just a fun way for the new kid to get to know the students who already make up the classroom community.

    Welcome Banner

    If you have any advance notice that a new child is coming to your classroom, posting a welcome banner and having the kids in your class write a friendly message is a nice sight for the new student (and their parent) on their first day. It doesn’t have to be cutesy or super artistic but the simple word Welcome with signatures around it can go a long way at making the new kid smile.

    Welcome Banner

     

    Additional Tips

    • No matter how much you have going on or how far you are behind, realize that the child walking into your classroom needs to be reassured that they are wanted and welcomed into your community.

    • The very first opportunity that you have (preferably before the student arrives but you don’t always know they are coming), get the student’s name on as many things as you can in the classroom. Labeling a cubby, art clip, and adding them to a student work bulletin board goes a long way to showing the child that they are part of your school family.

    Find me, dad2ella, on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

    We’ve been in school for several months now and while routines and procedures have been tested, refined, and practiced, there is still one event that every teacher must be prepared for every day. It’s an event that has the potential to cause havoc to every routine, schedule, and procedure that you have worked so hard to put into place. Question: what event can ripple through a classroom like a tsunami? Answer: a new student. Check out these tips, books, and activities for making a new student feel welcome.

    If your school is anything like schools that I’ve worked in through the years, there may be one morning that you are getting ready to start teaching when there is a knock on your door. You open the door and find a new student standing there. You had no warning, but this moment isn’t about you, it’s about that little stranger depending on you to seamlessly make her a part of your classroom community.

    New Friends BasketIf the parent is with the child (I’ve had the parents walk the child to my door but I’ve also had an office worker walk them down as well), that is when you will be glad that you have a New Friends basket. In my basket I have file folders that I can easily grab to give the parents as I welcome them to my room. In the folder is a welcome letter, my classroom handbook, and a quick form that I ask the parent to fill out on the spot that lets me know how the student is going home that day and gives me the parent contact information (name, phone number, and email address).

    After the welcome folder my attention turns to my new student. What I don’t want to do is to ask the new child immediately to stand up and talk about themselves, so I have four great books on hand that I can quickly pull one or more of to read as the new class comes together.

    Several of these books address the same issues. Chamelia, Goat (from the Unicorn book), and Pug all are happy individuals who are not happy with a change in their routine. Pug doesn’t want to share his yard or his doggy dog with Pig who just suddenly shows up. Chamelia and Goat don’t want to share attention with their new counterparts. Scaredy Squirrel is included because I love his ideas on how to make new friends.

    Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great CoverScaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

    Chamelia and the New Kid in Class CoverPug Meets Pig Cover

    Books

    Pug Meets Pig is a quieter book with quick language that inspired Joyce Wan’s simple, but perfect illustrations. Your class will love when Pig gets stuck in the doggy door. And when Pig and Pug become friends, your class will easily see the correlation to their new classmate.

    Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great is my favorite of my new friend books. Goat is a wonderful character who is totally jealous of Unicorn and all his great tricks, such as turning things into gold. It turns out that Unicorn actually wishes he was more like Goat, down to his cloven hooves. These two characters have two distinctive voices and they are both hilarious. This book really addresses the jealously that can sneak in as a new child enters your classroom.

    That theme is also ever-present in the book Chamelia and the New Kid in Class. Chamelia likes getting all the attention but so does the new kid, Cooper. When Chamelia’s jealously gets the best of her, she creates a hard experience for Cooper. The question is, can she fix the situation or will she and Cooper be at odds for the rest of the year?

    Finally, Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend makes me laugh every time I read it. His lists of things that you need to make new friends and when he screams at the sight of the dog in the story are hilarious. I’m so thankful that Watt is creative enough to bring Scaredy Squirrel into the world.

     

    Activities

    Name Tags

    I keep a package of name tags in my classroom but not for the typical reasons. When a new student comes to my room, we all help to welcome him by wearing name tags that includes one of our favorite things to do. It can be anything from playing with American Girls dolls to liking Legos or Minecraft. My kids wear the name tags during a time of socializing (recess, centers, lunch) so the new kid will be able to find someone who shares her interests. This is a just a fun way for the new kid to get to know the students who already make up the classroom community.

    Welcome Banner

    If you have any advance notice that a new child is coming to your classroom, posting a welcome banner and having the kids in your class write a friendly message is a nice sight for the new student (and their parent) on their first day. It doesn’t have to be cutesy or super artistic but the simple word Welcome with signatures around it can go a long way at making the new kid smile.

    Welcome Banner

     

    Additional Tips

    • No matter how much you have going on or how far you are behind, realize that the child walking into your classroom needs to be reassured that they are wanted and welcomed into your community.

    • The very first opportunity that you have (preferably before the student arrives but you don’t always know they are coming), get the student’s name on as many things as you can in the classroom. Labeling a cubby, art clip, and adding them to a student work bulletin board goes a long way to showing the child that they are part of your school family.

    Find me, dad2ella, on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

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