Back to School Fun With Interactive Notebooks

I know it’s summer, so don’t hate me for thinking about back to school already. But thinking months ahead is – ahem – not my strong suit, so whenever I get an idea that I like this far in advance, I have to roll with it. If you read my blog or follow my TpT store, you know that I am an interactive notebook enthusiast. (You can click {here} for a link to all of my posts about the wonderful world of the INB.) So, I am super pumped to share my latest creation with you today.

Back to School Interactive Notebooks

One thing that can be scary to teachers who are considering using interactive notebooks for the first time is the idea of establishing routines and procedures for getting them done efficiently during class time. They are SUCH a valuable tool in the classroom, but yes – they do require cutting, pasting, and time. As is true of ANY routines and procedures you spend time teaching, kids pick it up quickly with consistent practice.

I wanted to create a resource that would accomplish a few different things:

1. Introduce interactive notebooks right at the beginning of the school year

Get those little hands used to cutting and pasting quickly and efficiently by starting from day 1 – that way, they are old pros who are ready to create meaningful and engaging INBs in other subjects throughout the year. Plus, if you are anything like me, your patience with Slow Cuttin’ Kiddos is at an all-time high the first few weeks of school and will only go down from here, so it makes sense to capitalize on that patience. 😉

2. Engage kiddos from Day 1

Get them EXCITED about learning, EXCITED about all the cool stuff they’ll get to do this year, EXCITED about their new classroom. One of the main reasons I puffy-heart love INBs so much is that kids are so excited about them. Without fail. They puffy-heart love them as much as I do. So I figured, what better way to foster that excited from the get-go than with an INB?!

3. Build a strong classroom community.

We all know that this is of immeasurable importance – a strong classroom community provides the foundation for an amazing year where students feels empowered to succeed. I am a huge fan of using icebreaker activities and tons of getting to know you activities during those critical first weeks to help accomplish this.

So with all of these goals in mind, the Back to School Interactive Notebook was born! AND I AM PUMPED ABOUT IT. (Have I mentioned that yet?) It’s got 15 fun and engaging activities that will help students get to know one another, feel comfortable in their classroom, and learn more about the structure and routines surrounding interactive notebooks.

Here’s a look at all of the different activities included:

 

In my years as a classroom teacher, my plans for the first 2 weeks always looked roughly the same – on paper. But every group of kiddos is just so, so different. One year, we’d get through 20 different activities on the first day of school – the next year, I’d take the exact same plan in and we’d just barely tick off item #5 by the time the final bell rang. So I learned that one can nevereverever have too many activities on hand for those first few weeks. One thing I love about this resource is that it is full of goodies to keep in your back pocket for the first few weeks of school.

I think a lot of these activities could also be valuable tools to pull out throughout the year. Community building isn’t something you can pencil into your schedule and put a neat little checkmark by – it’s never “done”. It has to happen ALL time time. It’s happens every time you treat your students with respect and fairness, it happens each day you set a positive mood and tone in your classroom. It happens every time a student stands up for a friend, every time a student asks “that kid” if he wants to play with him at recess.  It happens when the shy student has the courage to read her poem to the class, and when students respectfully and productively disagree with one another.

But I’ve found that many of my groups have really benefitted from – and really needed – these types of explicit community building exercises periodically throughout the year. I can honestly say that even during the craziest times of the year when testing pressure is at a boiling point, time spent explicitly building community has never been time wasted. Rather, it helps gives every student that extra boost they need to have the confidence to tackle whatever challenges comes their way.

Back to School INBs

 

I can also think of a bunch of ways these activities could be used for individual students throughout the year. Two students who have been bickering all week might eat lunch together and do the “classmate interviews” activity to find common ground. The student who is frustrated because she is having so much trouble learning to read might create a “toolkit for success” to motivate her to keep working at it. The student who needs a behavior plan might use the “my feelings” flaps to help communicate to his teacher what types of things trigger different emotions.

Ok, I’m rambling now. I have a tendency to do that. But like I said (twice already, I know. #brokenrecord), I am pumped about these activities. I think they have endless uses in the classroom during those critical first few weeks and beyond. To read more about the Back to School Interactive Notebook pack, click {HERE} to find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

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I have tons of other ideas and resources both here on my blog, as well as in my TpT store, to build classroom community and start the school year off right. The links below go to blog posts, freebies, and priced items that may be helpful as you prepare for the beginning of a new year.


Comments

  1. says

    Hey Blair,
    Thank you again for these! I’m so excited to start the year with them and get my kids used to the INB routine!

    Question-when you use these in the classroom, where do you plan on putting them? Do they actually have a separate notebook for these? I was considering that idea, but then I don’t know what I’d do with the notebooks after those first few weeks.

    Thank you! 🙂
    Valerie

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