Create a First Day of School Keepsake Book with your students!
The first few days of school are always SO exciting – both as a teacher and as a student. One great way to commemorate those first day feelings is by having students complete this FREE First Day of School Keepsake book!
The great part about this book is that it’s not just a keepsake! It also:
- helps teach routines
- fills time in a meaningful way before you start teaching curriculum
- provides a quick snapshot of students’ ability to write, draw, and follow directions
How to teach routines with a First Day of School Keepsake Book
You can teach many different rules and routines as you have students complete this First Day of School book.
Next, they’ll need to know where they are and are not allowed to work. Whether you use assigned table spots or flexible seating, you’ll need to teach them your expectations.
They’ll also need to know where to put their work when they’re finished with it. Do you have them stack their work in the middle of the table? Put it in a bin or basket? Hand it to you so you can check it?
And what should students do when they’re finished? For the first few days, why not have tubs of Play-Doh handy for each student! It’s a great way to keep them busy when they’re finished with their work. Because let’s be honest – those first few weeks, there’s ALWAYS that one kid who spends 7 seconds on the work and says, “I’m done!” Play-Doh is open-ended, so it’s a great early finisher activity to start the year with.
Looking for more great activities and routines to teach the first days of school? Check out my blog post The First Week of Kindergarten: Lesson Plans.
Meaningful learning that comes from creating First Day of School Keepsake Books
Think of it as the very first Writer’s Workshop. As students fill out the book, they’ll practice writing their names (check out the Name Practice Daily Sign-In System!) and drawing pictures to illustrate their thoughts. The idea that they can use words AND pictures to tell a story or answer a question is an important concept.
Since it may be difficult 9 months from now to remember what each student’s response was, every page of the First Day of School Keepsake book includes a line at the bottom. This is so you can jot down what they tell you about the picture.
Or, for older and/or more advanced students, you can have them write their own words on the lines.
The thing that’s great about more open-ended activities like this is that it sets all students up for success. If you’re going to have your Little Learners complete a paper-based task those first few days, you want it to be something that doesn’t require them to know how to read or write.
Even if they don’t think they can draw pictures or write their names, you can encourage them by saying, “It’s ok if you don’t know – that’s why you’re here! You’re going to learn how! Just do your best now so we can look at it at the end of the year and see how much you’ve learned.”
There are always a couple kids who seem to have a really tough time with this concept. But no matter what they put on the paper, praise the heck out of their attempts so that they know it’s ok not to be perfect!
The First Day of School Keepsake Book as an informal assessment
One bonus of the Keepsake Book is that it allows you to gather some great information about your new Little Learners. You can find out if each student is able to:
- Hold a pencil/crayon/marker
- Write his/her name
- Use drawings and/or words to show their thoughts
- Follow directions
- Stay focused on a task until it’s complete
I’ve also found that tasks like these give valuable insight into whether or not students have the confidence to try a task even if they might not get it right. I’m a huge fan of teaching a growth mindset in the classroom, and this is one starting point (for more on teaching growth mindset, I recommend the book The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher’s Month-by-Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley).
Add some ambience to your classroom with music
I always loved having music playing in my classroom, but songs with lyrics can be distracting for students while they’re trying to work. That’s why I created this 1-hour ambient background music video with upbeat, instrumental songs. It also includes fun back-to-school images (though you can just play the sound and not show the video too!).
It’s a great way to set the stage for a positive, inviting learning environment! Check it out here:
Download your First Day of School Keepsake Book now!
Click on the image below to instantly download the Keepsake book. And if you love this resource and want more, make sure to join the Little Playful Learners All-Access Club! For a one-time payment of $49, you can access every resource I’ve ever created!
Hundreds of printables, centers, and digital activities for Seesaw and Google Slides are just WAITING for you to use in your classroom! Plus, I’m adding new content every week. Learn more about the membership!
Now…here’s that Keepsake Book I’ve been talking about…Click here or on the image below to instantly download it: