5 Things to Tell Your Students the First Week of School

Picture This

It’s the first day of school and you are standing at the front of the classroom, staring into the faces of a brand new bunch of kids. They are waiting patiently for you to begin the day, to impart knowledge, to encourage and challenge them. You open your mouth and say…what?
The first week of school is crucial for setting the tone in your classroom. You have a new group of students to get to know, to inspire, to invest in. What you say and do in those first few days will leave a lasting impact on those students – so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Here are 5 things that every student needs to hear the first week of school:
1. You are important.
Every student needs to know that they have been planned for and anticipated when they walk in your classroom. They were placed in your class on purpose – they need you and you need them. The first week of school, make sure you greet each student by name as they walk in the door. Put forth the effort to get to know them – memorize details about their families, their hobbies, their preferences. Keep a list if you need to. The students will feel valued – and that will go a long way towards giving them a successful school year.
2. You are listened to.
Make time in every day to give each student the opportunity to speak with you individually – it will take time, but it will be well worth the effort. Students today are searching for a safe place where they can find trusted adults that care enough about them to listen to them. To listen to their hopes, their fears, their commentary on daily life. You could be that person they are looking for.
3. You are responsible for your actions.
While students often clamor for freedom, they need consistent expectations and follow-through from their teachers. We need to set the bar high and hold our students accountable for their behavior. They need to learn now that choices have consequences. We do them no favors by “letting them slide” or “turning a blind eye” when they’ve done wrong. The successful teacher shows her students that she cares for them too much to let them slide. Each student can be a role model – we just need to give them the chance to own their actions.
4. Anything worth doing takes effort.
Laziness is a growing epidemic in our culture. We want shortcuts. We want immediate results. But in education (and honestly, in all of life), students need to learn that anything worth doing is worth doing well – and that requires effort. Give students the opportunity to work hard and then reward them for a job well-done. 
In my classroom, I had a huge sign above the whiteboard that said, “YET.” Whenever a student would feel defeated and say, “I don’t get it” or “I don’t know” I would point to the sign and say, “You don’t get it…YET.” It spoke volumes to them – It showed them that I believed in their potential to learn and master any topic. By the end of the second week, all I had to do was point to the sign and they would nod their head, understanding my point that they would come to grasp the concept if they put forth the effort.
5. We all make mistakes. Each day is fresh.
With all of the talk of responsibility and accountability, there also needs to be a discussion of grace. Truth: we all make mistakes. We need to own up to our mistakes and apologize, if necessary. But we also must remember that each day is a fresh start. Our students need to feel that they’re given the option of having a great day every time they enter your classroom door. As the teacher, you need to communicate the fact that the mistakes of yesterday may have consequences; it doesn’t mean that they can’t make better choices today. 


  • Your students were placed in your classroom for a reason.
  • They aren’t there by accident.
  • You have a job to do.
  • Communicating these 5 things will help to set the tone for a successful year.
  • Tell them to your class the first week of school.
  • And every week after that too.
If you’d like a copy of these graphics (plus a printer-friendly copy) to hang in your classroom, you can download them for FREE from my TPT store.

Thanks for joining me, friends! I hope this post has been helpful for you as you prepare to greet your new group of students. 

Do you have anything else you'd add? What are some of the core values you want to communicate to your students each year? Leave a comment - I'd LOVE to hear them!


Christian Subway Art Classroom Posters

Hello friends!
Can you believe it's already July? Summer - slow downnnn!
Now that August is on the horizon many teachers are turning their brains towards the oh-so-busy, exciting, and challenging season: back-to-school!

Throughout each summer, I always planned certain things I would change in my classroom - elements I wanted to add, things I wanted to do away with, etc. So this weekend I created a fun new product with the busy Christian school teacher in mind - although these will work for Sunday School classrooms, Youth Groups, or homeschool classrooms as well - or even your son or daughter's bedroom!

Christian Subway Art Posters
Looking for something fun, decorative, and meaningful to display in your Christian school or Sunday school classroom? Well, look no further - these Christian Subway Art posters are the just-right thing for you! Packet includes 10 color and black and white posters to display and/or color. Created by Jessica Lawler.
This packet includes 10 different posters:
*Names of Jesus
*Men of the Bible
*Women of the Bible
*The Twelve Disciples
*Fruit of the Spirit
*Love is… (1 Cor. 13)
*The Parables of Jesus
*Important Places in the Bible
Looking for something fun, decorative, and meaningful to display in your Christian school or Sunday school classroom? Well, look no further - these Christian Subway Art posters are the just-right thing for you! Packet includes 10 color and black and white posters to display and/or color. Created by Jessica Lawler.
These posters come in color (red-yellow-blue-green color scheme) for you to display around your classroom (or on a bulletin board) and in black and white for your students to color. (or for you to color since we all know that adult coloring is all the rage right now!)

This packet is not editable. Looking for a different color scheme? Purchase this packet AND the Custom Color-Scheme Add-on and I will send you the posters in any colors to fit your classroom theme/color scheme. Check out this listing for more details: Christian Subway Art Posters Custom Colors Add-On

Looking for something fun, decorative, and meaningful to display in your Christian school or Sunday school classroom? Well, look no further - these Christian Subway Art posters are the just-right thing for you! Packet includes 10 color and black and white posters to display and/or color. Created by Jessica Lawler.

Where would you use these posters? Leave a comment below and I'll choose someone to win a FREE packet!

Click here if you'd like to PIN this packet for later:
Looking for something fun, decorative, and meaningful to display in your Christian school or Sunday school classroom? Well, look no further - these Christian Subway Art posters are the just-right thing for you! Packet includes 10 color and black and white posters to display and/or color. Created by Jessica Lawler.


Planning and Introducing Class Procedures

With the beginning of school looming in the not-so-distant future, I wanted to share two things I've used for the ever-important task of planning for and teaching my classroom procedures.

Each year, the first week is comprised of get-to-know-you activities, simple lessons to ease the students back into the learning zone, and classroom procedures.

Each day we review them, practice them, and talk about them.

The first week is crucial for setting the tone in your room. As the teacher, you want to appear confident, organized, and firm-but-friendly. 

I have created this handy-dandy procedure list to keep myself straight:
The best part? It's FREE!
You can download this FREEBIE from my TpT store and use it to plan out how you want your students to do almost anything in the classroom.

Once you've decided on your procedures, you can keep your classroom running smoothly by using these Interactive Notebook Foldables to teach your students the routines and procedures in your classroom: 
This is a FUN & ENGAGING way to go over how things run in your classroom - plus the students can refer back to them throughout the year if needed.
Snag this packet for only $5:


The Children Who Loved Books

Have you read this book?
If not - you must run - yes RUN - to your nearest bookstore or library and get it.

The Children Who Loved Books is a heart-warming story about children who do not have a lot of material things, but they learn that if they have books and family, they have all that they need. It's a cute story with a wonderful message - and I love it so much that I've created some supplemental resources to help you incorporate this story in your classroom:

This 10-page print-and-go packet includes:
Reading Comprehension Quiz
This quiz includes a combination of short answer, true/false, and multiple choice questions. An answer key is included.
 Story Details Graphic Organizer 
Suggested answer key provided
An interactive notebook foldable for the students to use to record the books that they read:
Because you could use this foldable without the book - but why would you when the book is so wonderful?!? :) - I am making this a special FREEBIE for my faithful blog readers. Click here to download the foldable for FREE: 

Imagine If... Visualizing/Writing Activity
Family Reading Project
This optional take-home project asks families to read four books (or more!) together over the span of one moth. The student records the books he reads, the family members he reads with, and his favorite.

All of these activities are included in my fun, engaging, print-and-go packet:
You can purchase the book on Amazon - it's definitely one you'll want to add to your home or classroom library:

Tackling the Toy Box Chaos

If you were to walk into my living room unannounced this is most likely what you would see:
You see, my son loves to dump his toy box out on the floor. 
Over and over.
And over again.

Anyone else relate?

And who do you think picks up all of the toys?
The 13-month-old?
I wish.
Nope - it all falls on this little mama.
I know the day will soon come when he can pick up after himself - and believe me, we're practicing - but that day is not today.

So one day I decided enough was enough.
It was time to 

Enter the main characters:
Plastic shoe box containers
I got a pack of 12 on Amazon for less than $2 each:
{can someone say bargain?!?)

I divided the toys into five different containers:
Then I used Avery address labels to put labels for each day of the work week:
Now, when we wake up in the morning, Hudson and I find today's box of toys on the shelf and pull it down. He loves flinging off the lid and digging into today's treasures. This way, he has fewer options and the toys seem more special since he only sees them once a week or so.
Plus it means that I'm only cleaning up about 1/5 of the toys that I usually do :)
Have you met Mr. Pig?
He's kind of the best! :)

But wait, you might be thinking - what about the weekends?
Weekends are special family time, so I didn't make separate bins for Saturday and Sunday - usually we're busy playing outside, spending time with friends, and going out to explore our beautiful city.
Plus Hudson has this special bin (fully approved by his hockey-loving Dad) filled with special Dad toys. This bin gets used a lot on the weekends:

So there you have it - a simple but effective way to organize the toys and cut down on the toy box chaos. Don't they look so neat and organized on Hudson's shelf:
I used the rest of my leftover plastic shoeboxes to organize other things:

  • Cups & containers
  • Outside toys
  • Summer sandals & hats
  • Bath toys
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Etc.

Another tip that one of my friends suggested was having a "Toy Time Out" bin - this is for toys that are being fought over during playdates (or with siblings). If the kids can't agree to share or compromise, then the toy gets put away for a little while. Now my son is too young to understand this, but I figured while I was printing labels, I'd make this one too :)

Do you have any other tips for organizing toys (and keeping them organized!)? I'd love to hear them - leave a comment below!

Print-and-Go Activities for Father's Day

Father's Day is one week from today...ARE YOU READY?!?
One of my favorite funny stories about my dad is from when I was 11 or 12 years old. My mom was going out of town on a women's retreat with our church for the weekend and so my Dad was left in charge. He stopped by the grocery store on Friday afternoon to stock up on essentials we would need. He came in the door, arms full of grocery bags and a wide grin on his face:
"Guys! There was a sale!" he exclaims as he dumps out an entire grocery bag full of cans of tuna fish. We had the best time that night imaging all of the zany ways we could cook and consume all of that tuna. The best was when he looked at my brother and I very seriously and said,
"I've got it! We'll start the newest fad...PB&T sandwiches!" We both groaned and vowed never ever to eat a peanut butter and tuna sandwich :)

Dads are silly, strong, brave, hard-working, self-sacrificing, role models - and they deserve to be honored!

Looking for a fun and memorable craft to complete for Father's Day? Well, look no further - This packet includes a cute and meaningful PRINT-AND-GO craftivity for your students to complete. This fun booklet is intended to show appreciation for your students’ hard-working dads.
This booklet includes 4 pages:
1. "Happy Father's Day, Dad" Cover page (coloring)
2. "I think my dad is": 8 adjectives or phrases that describe your dad (writing)
3. My favorite thing to do with my dad is...": (writing)
4. A picture of me and my dad (drawing)
**I have also included an additional blank tie emplate if you would like your students to complete an additional customizable page.

Materials needed: Each student will need a copy of the four booklet pages, crayons and/or markers, scissors and a metal brad/brass fastener.

Full teacher and student directions are included:

This packet also includes full templates for Grandpas, Grandfathers, Papas, and Uncles.

p.s. If you need additional wording options (i.e. your kids call their father or grandfather something different than the options listed), please e-mail me and I'd be happy to customize the packet to fit your needs!

Make your lesson-planning a breeze this week and grab a copy of this cute craftivity for only $3!
Or you can plan ahead for next year and buy the Mother's Day/Father's Day craftivity bundle and save 20% :)

Looking for additional ideas for Father's Day?
Here are some of my favorite Father's Day books - perfect for your kiddos to read with their special Dads and Grandpas. Order today to be sure they arrive before Father's Day! :)

Here are some fun and easy Father's Day ideas by awesome bloggers:

Do you have a favorite story about your Dad? Or a fun craft or activity that you've done to celebrate Father's Day, either with your students or personal kiddos? I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment below.

Happy (almost!) Father's Day!