At the beginning of the year we ask the parents of the children to bring in some of the children’s favorite things (i.e. crayons, mini cars). Then the teacher can hot glue these items on a wreath…you can get these at any craft store or at Wal-Mart. Then we used felt letters to spell the child’s name. We hung these up around the classroom. The families enjoyed looking at all of them!
I work with 4 and 5 year olds. They love to talk about themselves, so I make “Bio Poems”, which are like little informational write ups on them. I ask them about where they live, who they love, what scares them, what they wish to be one day, what makes them so special and one very important thing they want to say to the world. They love this and it makes them feel very important to see it hanging on our “bio board”. They draw a picture of themselves to be hung next to this. Parents love this. I tend to keep these and show them at the first parent conference, do another before the second conference and give both the parents then. It’s always a keeper!
We send home a blank book that we call “All About Me.” Inside it, we paste a question or statement on the bottom of each of the pages. You can decide what you want to know about them. e.g. my name is _______. This is what I looked like when I was a baby. This is what I look like now. These are my favorite books. These are some of my favorite books. These are some of the most important people I have been thinking about. Over the summer I ________. I am curious about _________. The kids work on these books at home, decorate them, fill them in, add photos. Then the books live in the classroom. We talk about how to take care of the books because they are special. Then the teachers can use them for curriculum ideas. It is a great community building project and a great way to make a first connection between family and school. (The teacher can make one too.)
Children are often unsure the first few days of school. At circle time, I have a stuffed soft dog puppet that comes out to say hello. He is shy too. He does not speak and likes to come to each child for a paw shake. The children tell the dog puppet their name…it eases their nervousness. I move the puppet slowly and whisper. This also helps with English Language Learners, as the child pronounces his/her name.
During the first week of school I ask the children to bring in a picture of themselves and a picture of their families. I then create a tree and place it on a wall near my sign in/out sheet. Once the pictures come in, I place the family pictures in the branches of the tree and it becomes a unique family tree. It also helps those children who are missing their mommies and daddies because they can go and look at their picture whenever they are feeling blue. The student pictures I use on a class board. I have the children write their name and then I place their picture next to it. Throughout the week, we add information about ourselves (our favorite color, favorite food, etc.) to this student board. It helps the children express ideas about themselves and it helps the other children get to know one another. I also include a picture of myself and my family because I’m apart of the class too!