Back To School Resources

I can't believe it's crunch time! Where has this summer gone?! Oh went to having a new baby, leaving an old job, moving twice, adapting to being a mother of two and starting a new job! Yep, that's where it went! Anyway...I've been working on back to school team building activities and am starting to build some lessons. I wanted to share some books that I think are great for doing just that. I would love to have some of you share with me what you do for back to school and team building. I am new to fourth grade this year and am looking for some upper grade material.'s what I've got so far!

This is a great book to use at the beginning of the school year. It is about a little girl who is “just taller than her dog”, has buckteeth and sounds like a bullfrog when she talks. Her grandmother teaches her to be proud of who she is and to stand tall.  So…she does! I love this book because it hits a bit on bullying as well. It’s great to use not only at the beginning of the year but at any point if your students are struggling with bullying.  For this book I plan to use an activity I found here at Step Into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons It involves having the students create a flower with their name in the middle. Each petal tells something about them selves that they are proud of. I will then have students mix to music to share what they wrote on their flowers. I will create a bulletin board as shown on the link. 

One of my FAVORITES!!!
This book is amazing because it shows a girl who doesn’t want to get up to go to school! The whole book it doesn’t show the girls face. At the end of the story you find out that the “girl” that is so nervous about the first day of school happens to be…THE TEACHER! How perfect is this to help us relate to our students. I love for my students to know that I am a real person just like them.  This is a great conversation starter for having students express what they were nervous about coming to school the first day.  This may be a great time to pull out some Whole Brain Teaching and let the kids talk using gestures. Not only do they enjoy the activity more but it also kind of breaks the tension of having to talk to someone about being nervous. J  You can then turn this into a journal entry.

This book is perfect for the beginning of the year or for trouble with bullying.  Chrysanthemum is a little mouse that adores her name; it is after all, “absolutely perfect!” That is until she starts school. Once school starts the other students’ start teasing her about how long her name is and that she is named after a flower, which makes Chrysanthemum “wilt”.  L Then she meets the most amazing art teacher who happens to be named…Delphinium! The students then realize that they too want to have flower names and Chrysanthemum realizes her name truly is “absolutely perfect”! This book is a fun read. I am planning to have my students write a new name for themselves on a name tag, as long as it’s appropriate. J We will then mix, pair and share our new names and why we would pick it. I may even have them chose a name that stands for something about themselves.  We will wear the name tags for the rest of the day just for fun so this will happen a little further into the “back to school thing” just so specials teachers already know their real names. LOL! I also think we will play the name game this day. You know...the one where you sit in a circle and have to say your own name and all the people that came before you in the circle? I also have a friend (Mrs. Heather Asbell) who likes to make them use acronyms to describe themselves. Such as Energetic Emalie! 

Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover

We will first use this book as a discussion piece on what it means to judge a book by it’s cover. I think I might have students take 2 minutes to jot down on a post-it note what they think this means. Then we will mix to music and share our thoughts. When we return to our seats we will share out loud. We will then write in our journals what we think people might think about us just by looking at us. This will be totally private so the students don’t need to worry about anyone else reading their thoughts. We will then read Big Al and again discuss what it means to judge someone by their appearance. We will discuss the book at our tables. Students will then have time to finish their writing by adding a piece about what they are each really like once people get to know them.  We will also complete the smart notebook activity I found at Cheryl’s Classroom Tips.

 This is a fantastic back to school book! It focuses on peer pressure and wanting to fit in. In this story Camilla loves lima beans. She is afraid of what the other kids might think if they find out. In fact, she constantly worries about what others think about her so she tries to just fit in instead of be herself. One morning she wakes up covered in stripes. From that point on she continues to change colors based on what others want her to be. I love to use this book for back to school to emphasize the importance of being proud of who you are and not who others want you to be! I couple this with some sort of activity where the students get to write about/illustrate/share something that makes them unique that they are proud of!

This fabulous book addresses bullying and is great for teaching students to respect each other for our differences. In this story, Wodney (Rodney) is a rodent (wodent) who can’t say his R’s properly. All of Rodney’s classmates tease and make fun of his speech to the point that Rodney has no self-esteem and hides from the others. Then a new girl comes to town, Camilla Capybara. She begins bullying all of them right from the start. This helps the other students understand how they’ve been making Rodney feel. Everyday at recess the students like to play Simon Says. One day Rodney’s name gets drawn as the leader and he is terrified. In the end, his game of Simon Says saves everyone and his classmates all learn just how amazing Rodney really is! This book is great for teaching students to “treat others the way you want to be treated” I plan to use this within the first couple of days of school. I want my students to be involved in creating our classroom expectations and this is the perfect lead into it. After we read the book we will discuss why it is important to treat others the way we want to be treated and ultimately our discussion will lead to what that looks like in our classroom.  Students will work in cooperative learning groups to come up with the expectations for our classroom, hallway, bathroom, specials, playground etc. We will then share these with the class and make adjustments as needed and discussed as a whole class. I believe this makes them "own" the expectations more. 

I hope you find these books as enjoyable and useful as I do. Please share books and activities you like to do for the beginning of school as well!!! I can't wait to "Brain Borrow" some more ideas! 


  1. I teach 4th and my students can relate to the Bucket Filler books. We do bucket filling in my classroom so we read this the first day. I also read G is for Golden - its an ABC book of California since our year is filled with CA history. I also took my pictures from the year before and made up a snapfish book of the different activities. This helps to get the kids looking forward to what our year will be like.

  2. I love all your ideas. I have seen the Bucket Filler done before but my old counselor always liked to use it so I haven't actually taught it myself. I just might have to use that this year! Thanks!!!