Back to School Activities
In need of some new ideas for get-to-know-you back to school activities? This book companion for A Letter From Your Teacher: On the First Day of School will give you some immediate insight about each of your students. It has a literacy connection too…score!
Picture yourself in your classroom on the first day of school. You just finished reading aloud this book to your students. You and the kids are feeling all the feels, and ready to start building new connections with each other. Now the big question is, what are you going to do next?
A Letter From Your Teacher Extension Activity
One of my intentions for this book is for you to be able to use it as a starting point for further discussion. It can help kick off all of those wonderful back to school activities that you do to foster relationships.
This book companion falls right into the sweet spot of those types of get-to-know-you activities! It is called, “A Letter to My Teacher.” The activity serves three main purposes:
- It gives students a chance to personally respond to the letter in the book.
- Right off the bat, it gives you a TON of insight and information about each of your students.
- It sends kids the message that their new teacher cares a lot about getting to know them.
When you receive a letter from someone, the natural response is to reply and write a letter back. After listening to their teacher read aloud the letter from the book, students can give their own version of a reply.
On the very first day of school though, having primary students write a traditional letter could possibly be a tall order. For this reason, I created a resource with writing prompts to help. Instead of giving each student a blank piece of paper and saying, “Write me a letter back!” you could give each of them their own little book to create. In that way, their letter is similar to yours because it is also in the form of a book.
Sample of Student Book
Here is the cover for their book. You can copy each of the versions for the number of boys/girls in your class.
You could keep it real simple and just staple the rest of the pages in a packet behind the cover, or if you want to get fancy, you could also bind them into actual books using something like a plastic spiral binding machine.
Personally, I like the idea of a “middle ground” version between the two. You could get a large piece of 18×24 construction paper and fold it in half. Have kids glue the cover of the book on the front, and stick the pages inside. If you’re worried about the pages falling out, you could staple them inside the construction paper (stapling from the top, and the pages lift up). Another option could be to hole punch the right hand side, and use yarn or binder rings to fasten the book together.
If you’ve already had a chance to read A Letter From Your Teacher, you will notice that these title headings and writing prompts are cohesive with several of the parts from the book. This allows students to make those connections with the text.
Adapted Version for Beginning Writers
I have also created a modified version of this same book companion with sentence frames and simplified writing prompts. This may be more well suited for kindergarten, other primary grades, or any students who would benefit from the differentiation.
This version comes with full pages, like the original book companion above, and also in half sheets. These can be cut in half, and used to create mini booklets if you wanted to save paper.
Here is just a little suggestion. Instead of having students finish this entire activity in one sitting, I would just have them get it started on the first day of school. I imagine in the days that follow, you might have individual reading assessments or other pre-assessments that you need to do. This is an ideal activity to have the rest of the class continue working on independently when you need to sit down to assess students one-on-one. Alternatively, it’s something you can have early finishers work on in the days/weeks to follow if needed. Teacher win!
Also, if you like the idea of having students write a more traditional letter to you, the resource includes four versions of writing paper. Even if you plan to forego these on the first day, they could always be utilized for a writing center later in the year.
There are two options for types of writing lines, and it also comes with full pages without illustration boxes.
Where can I get it?
If you’d like to add this to your list of back to school activities, the book companion is in my website shop and on TPT. The modified version for beginning writers is available in my shop and on TPT also.
I anticipated that some teachers might want a set of both versions (to differentiate for the diverse levels of writers in your class, or in case you might change grade levels in the future). You can get a discount when you get both versions of the book companion in my shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers. And if you don’t yet have the book companion for Our Class is a Family, you may want to check that out as well!
I hope your class enjoys the book! And if you choose to use this book companion, I hope you enjoy reading what students “write back” to you!