Friday, July 17, 2015

The First Day Jitters

The first day jitters. No matter how long we have been teaching, we all have them.  In fact, if you are like me, you start worrying and obsessing about that first day weeks before.  If you are a brand new teacher or are in a new school, then you know exactly how Mrs. Hartwell feels in Julie Danneberg's classic picture book, The First Day Jitters.    

We as teachers know that our students, no matter their age or grade, are nervous and jittery that first day of school.  What our students may not know, is that we are just as anxious (if not more!) than they are!

This must-read book is a favorite first day read-aloud for many of us! In fact, the story may be included in your basal or anthology! Whether you teach kindergarten or fifth grade, this book is worth sharing the first day of school as an ice-breaker and as a humorous way to put yourself and your little learners at ease.

If you are looking for something new or are planning to use the book for the first time, you may want to check out my First Day Jitters literacy packet that I just completely revised and updated.   You can make those jitters productive and have students dive right into thinking!  You can see the listing in my TpT store by clicking on the picture below.

Included in this forty page packet are before, during, and after reading activities that you can use whether you read the book aloud or have small groups or the entire class read the story.  If you don't have enough copies for all students, you can use one of these digital books and project on a white board and then have available on a laptop or desk top for students to access in a small group or computer center. 

Digital- video of read-aloud - click here
On YouTube-  Click here

I have designed many of the literacy activities to be completed independently, or you can have partners or small groups work together.  I like to allow students time to collaborate on activities like the one below (a visualizing and writing task) which allows me time to observe and assess students' collaborative skills at the beginning of the year.

There are lots of word work pages from vocabulary to adjectives to compound words.  These activities could be placed in a literacy center.

To assess how well students think during reading, I included this "Stop and Jot" organizer.  Depending on the ages and abilities of your students, you could complete this together as you are reading or listening to the story.  

There are several after reading activities to have students dig a little deeper into the text such as inferencing, analyzing the main character, compare/contrast, and more.  The final after reading activity is a flip flap booklet (you could also use in an interactive reading notebook) that has the students summarizing and reflecting on the story and on their own first day of school.

Also included are open-ended writing prompts to have students write about their reading and to foster comprehension.  There are enough literacy activities for the first week of school!

Extension Activities

If you just can't get enough of this book and want to include some active and fun learning, check out these ideas for extending students' learning!

  • Visit Julie Danneberg's  website- Readers can get a peek into the author's life and what it's like to be a writer.  The FAQ link at the top of the page has more interesting information about the author.  Be sure to check this out!

Depending on your students' ability and grade levels, you can visit the site together by projecting the page on a white board.  Or, you can have students visit the site at a computer center where they are working together to read and explore the site.  If you do the latter, an idea is to have students write interesting facts they learn about the author on sticky notes and place on a piece of chart paper when finished.  Then, once all groups have had a chance to visit the center, you can discuss with the whole class the interesting facts that were learned.

  • Another site with biographical information is here

  • Make Jitter Juice!  Click here for a recipe. There are many recipes for "Jitter Juice", but you can make it however you want.  Use your favorite punch recipe!  Some teachers also include a small bag of snacks like pretzels, small piece of chocolate, raisins, etc. for students to eat with their juice to ensure that the jitters do really disappear!

  • At some point during the year be sure to read the sequel- First Year Letters. In this book, readers find out how the rest of the year went for Mrs. Hartwell and her students!  Click the picture below to read more about the book on Amazon.

Hopefully, you have found something useful to help ease those first day jitters for you and your class!  In the comments below, let me know how you ease the back to school jitters and/or how you use this picture book in the classroom.


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