Read Alouds for the First Week of School
My number one goal for the first week back to school is building a community with my students. I believe that community is created through shared experiences. One of the ways I create shared experiences for my students during the first week of school is through read alouds. I love how a read aloud has the power to put all my students on the same page (pun intended). It gives them opportunities to think deeper and connect on that deeper level through discussion.
I know everyone has their own “go-to” list for back to school reads, here is mine:
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In this story a boy is giving an oral report about his summer. He tells a fantastical tale about being kidnapped and spending the summer with cowboys. Throughout the story, my students come to the conclusion that he is lying and making the whole thing up. At the end of the story, one of the cows is in the illustration. I love this because my students will debate whether or not that means he was telling the truth.
After reading, I transition them into a writing activity where they write to tell about their summer. They have the option to write a fiction or nonfiction story. Afterwards, students will share aloud and the class will decide whether or not it is a true story.
If you are interested in this activity, you can find it for FREE here.
Lilly gets a fabulous purple plastic purse, two quarters, and shiny sunglasses from her grandma and can not wait to share them in class. Her teacher asks her to wait until share time but she ends up disrupting the class with it and has it taken away. She writes a nasty note and sticks it in her teacher’s bag and then gets home to find her teacher put a sweet note in her bag. She feels guilty and decides to make it up to her teacher.
I use this book to introduce the concept of quality student and quality teacher. We discuss Lilly’s poor behavior and the things that she did at the end to turn that around. We also discuss the teacher and how he reacted to Lilly. Students work in pairs to complete their quality student and teacher pages in their data notebooks and then we share as a class.
If you are interested, you can read more about it here.
A girl moves from Korea to the United States and has a hard time adjusting until she makes a friend and realizes the teacher likes her. Until the end, she refuses to write her name in English because she likes the characters and meaning in her language better.
We use this book to discuss characters, setting, and plot. We discuss how the events in the story contribute to the outcome and track that for this story and others on an anchor chart. Students also have homework to go home and find out either what their name means or how their parents chose it. Students will share their responses orally during morning meeting throughout the week.
A girl spends a lot of time with the brothers who live next door and their grandma. Every Sunday after church, the grandma makes chicken and they all share a meal. The kids want to buy her a fancy Easter hat but end up in trouble and come up with a way to get out of trouble and get the grandma her hat by working together and honoring the girl’s culture.
Before diving into the lesson, we discuss community and belonging. The girl is the story is white, the boys and their grandmother are black, and the shopkeeper is Russian. Each of the character’s traditions and culture play a role in the story. I also use this text to introduce the concept of empathy. More than one time a character in this book shows empathy to another. We hang this word on our wall and challenge ourselves to find examples all week.
The narrator is upset when a new boy moves to town and starts hanging out with his friends. His dad tells him to invite the boy over so they can trick him into eating “enemy pie”. It takes the dad all day to make the pie, during which the boys play together and the narrator actually starts to like the new child.
First of all, who doesn’t love Storyline Online?! I love a good read aloud and when it’s read by an actual actor, it’s even better! This read loud can be found on their site. After we watch the video, we discuss how the main character’s feelings toward the new boy changed throughout the story and why. Students work with a buddy to fill out their Enemy Pie “Recipe” card, where they track the fiction elements, make a connection to the text, and find the theme/lesson.
This recipe card is available FREE on my site in the Freebie Library. Members can access the freebie library with the password at the bottom of my emails. To receive a email with the password and unlock all the freebies, you can register with your email at the bottom of this post!
This story is about a girl who moves away from her best friend and grandma and then starts getting teased at her new school. Because her grandma instilled such confidence in her, she doesn’t see the teasing as an insult, but rather an opportunity to display how she is unique.
This read aloud lends itself to many different lessons. I like to discuss the bully and the bystanders in the text and have my students come up with ways they could have helped in situations like those presented in the story. We also discuss being proud of who you are and in the fact that you are unique. I have students write a couple sentences about what makes them unique and then we share out to the class.
There you have it! Those are my top first week read alouds! It is really hard to pair down my favorite read alouds to the five I think are best for the first week of school, and every year most of these titles change for me. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas or introduced you to new ways to use the texts you already love. I would love to hear what you are reading during the first week!
Talk to you soon,