Updated: Oct 22, 2021
It certainly has been an unusual time in the world’s history. The fact that schools have been closed, reopened, and closed again really goes against anything we have ever known.
With some Aussie States returning to school (with others hopefully very close behind), we wanted to share 8 ways to make the return to school special and memorable for the little people in your class.
Here are some different and creative ideas to help you!
1. Balloon Arch
These are all the rage at parties these days, and they aren’t as complicated as they look. Balloon arch packs can be picked up reasonably cheap from places like Kmart (we love their rainbow one). Put the arch up as a special entrance onto the school grounds or building as the students arrive back.
We recommend getting a few teacher friends on board to put your arch together (because many hands make light work). If you wanted to take it to the next level, you could also add messages on the balloons.
Also note: From experience, it is best to put it together at school (avoid trying to transport it).
If you want to take this idea further, turn on an automatic bubble machine at the school gate. The kids will love walking into the school 'bubble'.
2. Personalised Pencils
One thing our students will have really missed is the positive affirmations teachers give out each school day. Consider creating a personalised pencil as a back to school gift. They are cheap, take no time to develop, and the students will get a kick out of reading a special message from you to them (it is also a sure way to ensure all students have a pencil ready to use on the first day).
3. 10 reasons why I love being your teacher
Continuing with the theme of sharing positivity, this idea reminds students just how much they are loved and were missed. You could create a generic list for the whole class, a few generic ideas plus some personalised ones, or a personalised list for everyone if you have a little more time on your hands. All options are going to make an impact.
Side note: We just discovered magnetic tape from Kmart. Add that to the back of your cards so your students can take them home and place them up on their fridge (if you are still distance learning, this is a special something you could send to your students in the mail).
Grab your free 10 Reasons Why I Love Being Your Teacher template here.
4. Bucket Filler lesson
Lessons focusing on individuals and their well-being to help students feel comfortable will be a high priority when returning to the classroom. We love the bucket filler lesson because it is all about promoting friendship and kindness.
5. Themed days
Consider implementing a few themed days to add a little fun into the school week as a class or even a whole school. We know of a small school in Sydney that has planned a simple theme each Friday and is calling it ‘Fun Friday’. Some easy themes include:
Crazy sock day
Non-school hat day
Wear zinc to school day
Add something with polka dots to your uniform
Summer shoes (e.g. thongs)
Wear only blue (a colour of any choice)
6. Staff TikTok
Why not celebrate the return to school by putting together a teacher TikTok to send out to get students excited about returning or to celebrate the return once you are back. It doesn’t need to be a choreographed dance. The best thing about TikToks is that they are short and don’t need to be polished.
7. School Where’s Wally
We created these in our local communities during lockdown, and they were a massive hit. We had teachers from all over asking for the images to make their own ‘Where’s Wally’ hunt in their community, school or backyard. Hiding Wally around your schoolyard, in the hallways, library or with the secretaries is super fun for all age groups. Find our very scrappy Where’s Wally download for free here.
8. Class picnic
On the first day of school, why not connect with your students over a meal together. It might be lunch or a circle time session where you provide a treat for them to enjoy. Time to settle in, talk and begin to feel safe and comfortable again will be very important for some students.
You could take this idea one step further and sit with a smaller group of students at lunchtime each day during the first week to try and connect on a more individual level.
Bonus Idea: Teach a lesson about Compliments
One thing we have missed in lockdown is connection with others. Teach your students the art of giving compliments and make something beautiful, like these compliment jars, to hang in your classroom.
If you love these ideas, please share the love and send them to a teacher friend.
We know it isn’t just the students that will need some extra lovin’ on the return to school. Find our super popular list of ways to boost staff morale here.