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A year in the books: time to reflect (and freebies for the first week of school!)
26 May, 2013. 43 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Back to School, First Grade, Free. Posted By: Kristen Smith

I can’t believe that this year is over already. It seems like just yesterday we were reading Pete the Cat on the first day of school and making our magic play dough.

It’s crazy how quickly time seems to fly! 
I honestly think one of the greatest gifts teachers have is the ability to reflect on their years and tweak the things that didn’t quite go as well as we had envisioned. Summer is a great time to take a deep breath and to reevaluate why and what we do in our classrooms. 
Today I am reflecting on the beginning of the year– specifically the first day of school. I can now look back on how far these first graders have come and look to see what I could do better next year. (This is how we all grow, right?) If we always do things the exact same, we will never improve and our students won’t be getting our BEST.
Looking back, I look for things that I like and things that I want to tweak. I look for things that I did that really helped my kids and things that I could have done better. 
Last year, I started the year with Pete the Cat. My class LOVED it. I mean they were head over heels in love with it. We read a different Pete the Cat book each day and then did activities to go along with the books. We even created these really cute Petes to decorate our classroom. 
(Note: I really love doing a craft activity on the first day of school because you can quickly assess fine motor skills and your students’ ability to follow directions. ) 
If you would like the craft, just click on the shoes! I printed the body and the arms and legs onto black cardstock and had my first graders color and cut out the shoes and the head. 

I always start with a “getting to know you” activity, too. I use this time to introduce a Kagan structure called Mix and Mingle. I give all of my students a clipboard and they each have a survey. I turn on some fun music (usually a Disney song or a song by Joe Scruggs) and while the music is on, my students can dance around the room, but once the music stops, they must find a friend. Once they find a friend, they must both answer one of the questions on their survey.

(click on the picture to download this for free!)
This is a really great way to get your students mingling, releasing the nervous jitters, and building classroom community. I will definitely do this again. 
I also use the first day to quickly assess our CVC skills. We use play dough to create a few different CVC words and I walk around the room to see if my students start forming their words from the left to right, if they can read the words, and if they can follow directions. 
We also play a few “line up” games on the first day of school. This encourages students to talk to one another and work towards completing a goal. The picture below shows my students working together to put the alphabet in order. 
I really liked how all of these lessons began to build such a sweet community in my classroom. I will definitely use them again next year. 
Now, what will I tweak on the first day and week? 
This year I noticed that my students came to me not knowing how to read and spell their color words. I have been working hard to create some new center activities to help my first graders master their color words during the first two weeks of school. 
I created this “I know my color words” packet to help with this area of weakness I saw in my first graders.
(If you click on the cover it will take you to the product in my TpT store! You can also go to download the preview to see more of what is included in the packet.) 
The packet includes color posters, letter tile work mats, play dough works mats, worksheets, and each color has its own mini book for you to create with your students. It has 112 pages of color fun that I am sure will help my students in this area of weakness I noticed this year! 

Here is a sneak peak! (The colors included in the pack are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, gray, black, and brown.)
If you would like this packet, leave me a comment (including your email address!) and I will use a random number generator to select TWO of you who get it for free!!!!!
Congratulations to Jen and Karen!! I hope you enjoy the pack!:)
I also noticed that even though our friend’s names were our first spelling words, my students did not master the spelling until much too late in the year. I will really focus on us knowing how to read, write, and spell our friends names during the first two weeks of school next year. 
I hope that you are all enjoying a relaxing weekend and that those of you on summer vacation are resting! Those of you who are still in school, you can do it! Finish strong!! 

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43 Comments
  1. Oh my gosh! I am moving to 1st next year, and it is so great to get these ideas! I hope I win this packet! :)

    Meg
    meagan.newbold@gmail.com

  2. The packet looks great!! Thanks for the freebie.
    Marcy
    marcy_sundling@hotmail.com

  3. Super cute! Love color words. :)

  4. I also like to reflect and plan some changes for the next year while it is all still fresh in my mind. Your color unit looks great!
    Jennifer
    loularkin@comcast.net

  5. So much fun packed into the first day! I’m excited to hear about the new changes you make. I am looking forward to my first every first day in September! It’s going to be crazy fun!

    thepolishedteacher@gmail.com
    The Polished Teacher

  6. Such a wonderful idea to start the year off with and so well made!
    schewkinder@gmail.com

  7. Love the color words – we always start the year off with them!
    Julene Hoffman
    jhoffman143@yahoo.com

  8. Thanks for sharing with us! I love your ideas. Your color word packet is really cute! I would love to have it!

    Karen
    Anappleadayinfirstgrade@gmail.com

  9. Thank you for the freebies and great ideas. I love the mix and mingle idea!
    Ruthanne rarace81@gmail.com

  10. I would love this color packet. My students typically struggle with color words (& some with colors). Thank you. dbednarsk@yahoo.com

  11. Awesome ideas! I was a first year teacher this year and I spent so much time getting my room together, etc. that I neglected to get a good plan for my first day! Definitely learned my lesson! This would be a great start to my first day next year! cynthia.arki@gmail.com

  12. Cute crafts!

    cheriemae@gmail.com

  13. I completely agree with you when you say summer is a great time to reflect and tweak how you teach. I will be doing that this summer!! :) Thank you for the freebies and I would lover to use your colors packet in my classroom. Have a great summer!!
    laurengibbs327@yahoo.com

  14. I completely agree with you when you say summer is a great time to reflect and tweak how you teach. I will be doing that this summer!! :) Thank you for the freebies and I would lover to use your colors packet in my classroom. Have a great summer!!
    laurengibbs327@yahoo.com

  15. Love this packet!! Heres hoping for a win. :-) repete_21@yahoo.com

  16. This looks awesome. I know the kids will enjoy the playdough building activity. I am moving to Second Grade next year but I’ll be a dual language teacher and I will be teaching native Spanish speakers to read and write in English. I think this will be perfect for them :).

    stephanie.bell.06@gmail.com

  17. I love Pete the Cat! It was a big hit in my classroom too :-) Thanks for the freebies! Color unit looks awesome. chappellteach@gmail.com

  18. This will be my color lesson this new year…I can’t wait. Great job!! :)
    teachreason@gmail.com

  19. I would love this, especially since I will be teaching a k/1 next year! It would be perfect. Jennlz53@aol.com

  20. We loved Pete, too! This color unit would be a great review!

    MissGilbert01@gmail.com
    Sunshine, Sand and Scissors

  21. Lori -

    Thank you for the cute ideas! Your color packet looks great!
    lraines78@gmail.com

  22. Isn’t it cool that as teachers we can’t help but look to the next year and try to make it better. Thanks for the great ideas and chance to win. cbartram@kitcarsonschool.com

  23. Love your first day activities! Sounds fun :) I would love this packet!!
    oldnavychick4@yahoo.com

  24. This looks fab!! Glad to see another first grade teacher in a Christian school. How many students do you have? Maybe we could be pen pals! :) ashleybowlesreed@hotmail.com

  25. I would love this!!
    Maria
    meemsickle@gmail.com

  26. I looped with my kiddos to 2nd and am returning to first grade this upcoming school year. I was trying to reflect on all I did 2 “first week”s ago. I love your ideas and think I will challenge my new students with your Find a Friend activity. I am also going to tweak your Pete the Cat to a pirate one to match my theme. I hope I win your packet. Color words are difficult for so many!!
    Melanie
    melaniemorgan.edd@gmail.com

  27. My summer will also be reassessing and tweaking what is taught, especially since we will have a new evaluation tool this coming school year.

    I would love to win the packet.

    Jeanne
    J28ber@gmail.com

  28. I would love a copy. Thanks so much!
    Yvonneeyrg@gmail.com

  29. I am moving from k to first and would love this packet!!!

    smithmaryellen0@gmail.com

  30. You have so many wonderful ideas!

    Debbie
    deb81992@gmail.com

  31. Ali -

    This would be great for the beginning of the year!! We love Pete too!!! I have 17 more days of school and I am already thinking about the new school year too!!

    Ali
    alischepis(at)gmail.com

  32. Looks awesome! Would love to get it!
    Angela
    peters_ac@hotmail.com

  33. I love your ideas and thanks for sharing,
    Michele
    glassyglen@morrisbb.net

  34. I love your ideas and thanks for sharing,
    Michele
    glassyglen@morrisbb.net

  35. I love that you are thinking ahead to next year already! Me too!!!

    angie@toddrush.com

  36. Such a good post! I am about to finish my first year and have been reflecting like crazy! Love your back to school ideas… I teach first grade too so they are helpful! Love your color pack… added it to my wishlist! rmitchell@asheboro.k12.nc.us

  37. What cute ideas for the first day of school! I would love to get that color pack.
    krisspradlin4@yahoo.com
    Teachin’ First

  38. Lisa -

    In my kindergarten class the students need to know color words by the end of the year so this pack would be GREAT to help them achieve that!
    Lisa
    rlelr@verizon.net

  39. What great Ideas!! I would LOVE a copy of your color packet- it’s too cute!!

    nlwright52111@gmail.com

  40. Love Pete stuff…super cute. That packet is just precious! Glad I popped in today. :o)
    Vicky
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  41. I’m always on the hunt for some great ideas in the classroom, and you gave several! Thanks for sharing. :)
    Megan
    strunk_megan@yahoo.com

  42. Lori -

    A great idea for the beginning of the year!
    Lori
    Lvanhove@comcast.net

43 Comments

  • Oh my gosh! I am moving to 1st next year, and it is so great to get these ideas! I hope I win this packet! :)

    Meg
    meagan.newbold@gmail.com

  • The packet looks great!! Thanks for the freebie.
    Marcy
    marcy_sundling@hotmail.com

  • Super cute! Love color words. :)

  • I also like to reflect and plan some changes for the next year while it is all still fresh in my mind. Your color unit looks great!
    Jennifer
    loularkin@comcast.net

  • So much fun packed into the first day! I’m excited to hear about the new changes you make. I am looking forward to my first every first day in September! It’s going to be crazy fun!

    thepolishedteacher@gmail.com
    The Polished Teacher

  • Such a wonderful idea to start the year off with and so well made!
    schewkinder@gmail.com

  • Love the color words – we always start the year off with them!
    Julene Hoffman
    jhoffman143@yahoo.com

  • Thanks for sharing with us! I love your ideas. Your color word packet is really cute! I would love to have it!

    Karen
    Anappleadayinfirstgrade@gmail.com

  • Thank you for the freebies and great ideas. I love the mix and mingle idea!
    Ruthanne rarace81@gmail.com

  • I would love this color packet. My students typically struggle with color words (& some with colors). Thank you. dbednarsk@yahoo.com

  • Awesome ideas! I was a first year teacher this year and I spent so much time getting my room together, etc. that I neglected to get a good plan for my first day! Definitely learned my lesson! This would be a great start to my first day next year! cynthia.arki@gmail.com

  • Cute crafts!

    cheriemae@gmail.com

  • I completely agree with you when you say summer is a great time to reflect and tweak how you teach. I will be doing that this summer!! :) Thank you for the freebies and I would lover to use your colors packet in my classroom. Have a great summer!!
    laurengibbs327@yahoo.com

  • I completely agree with you when you say summer is a great time to reflect and tweak how you teach. I will be doing that this summer!! :) Thank you for the freebies and I would lover to use your colors packet in my classroom. Have a great summer!!
    laurengibbs327@yahoo.com

  • Love this packet!! Heres hoping for a win. :-) repete_21@yahoo.com

  • This looks awesome. I know the kids will enjoy the playdough building activity. I am moving to Second Grade next year but I’ll be a dual language teacher and I will be teaching native Spanish speakers to read and write in English. I think this will be perfect for them :).

    stephanie.bell.06@gmail.com

  • I love Pete the Cat! It was a big hit in my classroom too :-) Thanks for the freebies! Color unit looks awesome. chappellteach@gmail.com

  • This will be my color lesson this new year…I can’t wait. Great job!! :)
    teachreason@gmail.com

  • I would love this, especially since I will be teaching a k/1 next year! It would be perfect. Jennlz53@aol.com

  • We loved Pete, too! This color unit would be a great review!

    MissGilbert01@gmail.com
    Sunshine, Sand and Scissors

  • Lori -

    Thank you for the cute ideas! Your color packet looks great!
    lraines78@gmail.com

  • Isn’t it cool that as teachers we can’t help but look to the next year and try to make it better. Thanks for the great ideas and chance to win. cbartram@kitcarsonschool.com

  • Love your first day activities! Sounds fun :) I would love this packet!!
    oldnavychick4@yahoo.com

  • This looks fab!! Glad to see another first grade teacher in a Christian school. How many students do you have? Maybe we could be pen pals! :) ashleybowlesreed@hotmail.com

  • I would love this!!
    Maria
    meemsickle@gmail.com

  • I looped with my kiddos to 2nd and am returning to first grade this upcoming school year. I was trying to reflect on all I did 2 “first week”s ago. I love your ideas and think I will challenge my new students with your Find a Friend activity. I am also going to tweak your Pete the Cat to a pirate one to match my theme. I hope I win your packet. Color words are difficult for so many!!
    Melanie
    melaniemorgan.edd@gmail.com

  • My summer will also be reassessing and tweaking what is taught, especially since we will have a new evaluation tool this coming school year.

    I would love to win the packet.

    Jeanne
    J28ber@gmail.com

  • I would love a copy. Thanks so much!
    Yvonneeyrg@gmail.com

  • I am moving from k to first and would love this packet!!!

    smithmaryellen0@gmail.com

  • You have so many wonderful ideas!

    Debbie
    deb81992@gmail.com

  • Ali -

    This would be great for the beginning of the year!! We love Pete too!!! I have 17 more days of school and I am already thinking about the new school year too!!

    Ali
    alischepis(at)gmail.com

  • Looks awesome! Would love to get it!
    Angela
    peters_ac@hotmail.com

  • I love your ideas and thanks for sharing,
    Michele
    glassyglen@morrisbb.net

  • I love your ideas and thanks for sharing,
    Michele
    glassyglen@morrisbb.net

  • I love that you are thinking ahead to next year already! Me too!!!

    angie@toddrush.com

  • Such a good post! I am about to finish my first year and have been reflecting like crazy! Love your back to school ideas… I teach first grade too so they are helpful! Love your color pack… added it to my wishlist! rmitchell@asheboro.k12.nc.us

  • What cute ideas for the first day of school! I would love to get that color pack.
    krisspradlin4@yahoo.com
    Teachin’ First

  • Lisa -

    In my kindergarten class the students need to know color words by the end of the year so this pack would be GREAT to help them achieve that!
    Lisa
    rlelr@verizon.net

  • What great Ideas!! I would LOVE a copy of your color packet- it’s too cute!!

    nlwright52111@gmail.com

  • Love Pete stuff…super cute. That packet is just precious! Glad I popped in today. :o)
    Vicky
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  • I’m always on the hunt for some great ideas in the classroom, and you gave several! Thanks for sharing. :)
    Megan
    strunk_megan@yahoo.com

  • Lori -

    A great idea for the beginning of the year!
    Lori
    Lvanhove@comcast.net

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