Getting kids writing can be difficult in any grade level, so I set my kids up with back to school writing activities on the first day. The most important lesson I’ve learned from 27 years in the classroom is that students will rise to your expectations. When you expect students to leave your classroom as improved writers, you set the intention for them to write often. When students have plenty of opportunities to practice a skill, they generally get better.
Elementary writing activities don’t have to be complex narratives or involved research papers to count as quality practice. Personally, I’ve always been obsessed with class books. When I was in the classroom before I moved to an intervention/coaching position, I loved to give each child the chance to make a page. I would bind them together with a cute cover and put them in my reading area. The following affiliate links will give you an idea of the supplies I used. You won’t pay more if you buy through my link, but I may make a small commission.
Children loved to look at the books they had created throughout the year. Even the most reluctant writers began to see themselves as authors. Class book creation helped me create a strong classroom community of writers. Bonus: the kids loved them! Here are three free class book pages you can share with your students from the first day of school.
All About Me
Elementary students love to talk about themselves. They’re at the developmental age when the world revolves around them. Some people never outgrow this, do they? Ha! Anyway, this little activity is straightforward and could be used as a group lesson in younger grades. In the upper elementary grades, you could use this as your “morning work” on the first day when students come in. Lord knows, there is paperwork galore that has to be collected, checked off, and turned in that first day. Supplies have to be organized, and life gets chaotic quickly. While you want to spend as much time as possible getting to know students and interacting with them, it helps to have a minute to deal with the influx of money and forms before you drown in paper. This was always my go-to of all my back to school writing activities when I needed a twenty-to-thirty-minute stretch to get my classroom together. Hopefully, this page will help.
Math About Me
I’m going to tell you up front that math has never been my favorite subject to teach. I’m a language arts teacher through-and-through. That’s why I never waste the opportunity to bring writing into math. This class book page will require students to measure each other and do some simple counting activities to see how math applies to them. Older students could do this independently if you put out the tools. Younger students will need support. With younger elementary grades, you could use this page during your measuring unit. Voila! Instant math and writing activity! Free!
Interview a Friend—the Most Involved of the Back to School Writing Activities
We know kids love to talk about themselves, so let’s expand that and allow them to get to know another child and talk about them for a bit. This little project has the potential to last for a couple of days during that first week and could be the most complex of the back to school writing activities that I’ve shared. There are two pages included here: one with more complex questions, and one with simpler queries. You could use this to differentiate writing instruction in an upper elementary inclusion class or you could use one or the other depending on the age of your students. Younger students could work with a partner to fill in the actual page. You could collect the pages and bind them into a book. You could do the same for older students, but you could add another element. Ask them to use the page as a writing graphic organizer. Give them a second day to create a paragraph or two about their partner. You could bind the planning pages into the class book and display their final paragraphs in the hallway by your room. In my district, pre-Covid, we always had an Open House before school, a “Back to School Night” in mid-September after school started, and a conference night at the end of the quarter. These types of back to school writing activities helped me keep our bulletin boards and grade level hallways up to date with student work from the first week for parent visits.
Before You Go
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