At the beginning of the school year, we know it’s all about herding cats and teaching procedures. Those back-to-school procedures include how to use our school supplies. Those school supply procedures are the idea behind our School Supply Research Project! Since our TKS research projects are a vital part of our curriculum, I love that we jump right into research projects at the beginning of the year to set the expectations for school supplies and how our research projects will work.
School Supplies Anchor Charts
For each of our school supplies, we create an anchor chart. Before our first time using each school supply, we create an anchor about what the supply can and cannot do!
The students share the do’s and don’ts of each of the supplies so they have ownership o the procedures! This is key to a successful classroom: students must be allowed to take ownership of their classroom! They must have a voice in setting procedures and expectations. I tell my students that it is not MY classroom but OUR classroom. And it’s not MY stuff but OUR stuff! This ownership means we have more respect for our stuff! And we have less damage to our supplies!
Note: we’ve had people ask why we don’t use “should” and “should not” on the anchor charts. Here’s why: can and can not set very explicit definite boundaries. Setting these boundaries is key to success. We don’t want to suggest our students do a procedure or routine, we want them to know that is an expectation. So we use can and can not to set high expectations.
As students are sharing their rules for the supplies, I am writing them on the chart. And these become the rules for using the supplies. If students miss a major idea, I will act it out and see if they can figure out what I’m doing.
Cutting, Pasting And Number Practice
After we make our anchor chart, our next back-to-school activity is designed to meet several objectives: fine motor skills, cutting, gluing, coloring, number recognition, and number order! And they’re fun! These are our school supply puzzles! We do the first few of these together so I can model how to do them. After we have done the first few, students do these independently which means I can have some time in the first weeks of school to pull small groups or pull kids one-on-one for assessment!
Not only are we learning how to safely use our supplies, but fine motor practice, coloring, cutting, and gluing practice are a must. These next two pictures show you how much students grow. The top picture was taken during the first two days of school. The bottom picture was the next week. Both pictures are from the same student. The improvement in these necessary skills happened because we spent time each day working on these puzzles.
Math And Literacy Centers
And of course, we have back-to-school supply math and literacy centers for letters, sounds, numbers, and counting!
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For more back-to-school ideas, check out these posts: