January 2009


Building Bridges with Children and Their Families

It’s often been said that, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” That is particularly true with children and their parents! Here are some great ideas to help your children get to know you and for your children to build relationships with each other.

Brochure – Make a brochure about yourself, your school, and fun activities you have planned for the year and mail it to the children before school begins (or just give it to them the first day). To make a brochure, fold a sheet of paper into thirds. On the front section write “Welcome to your name’s Classroom!” On the left section place a picture of yourself and write some personal information about your family, pets, experience, etc. On the inside write “We’ll have a great year together…learning to read, experimenting in science, learning math, working on the computer, cooking, taking field trips, singing, creating in art,” and so forth.


All About Me - Make a book about yourself to read to the children the first day of school. Include a photograph of yourself as a child, family photos, pictures of pets, favorite foods, hobbies, why you enjoy teaching, etc. Let one child take the book home each evening to share with their families. (What a simple way to build a partnership with your parents!)

You can click here to see an example and find out, "Who is Dr. Jean?"

Hint! You might even ask each parent to make a similar book about his child to place in your classroom library.

Paper Doll Teacher – Here’s something fun to make for your door to welcome the students. Lay on a large sheet of butcher paper and ask a friend to trace around your body. (You’ve probably done this to your children before.) Color yourself and cut yourself out. (Go ahead and take off a few inches if you want to!) Tape this on the door, then make the following labels and attach them to the different body parts. “A head full of great ideas,” “a mouth to sing you songs and read you stories,” “arms for hugging,” “hands to help your learn new things,” “pockets to hold surprises,” “play shoes for outdoor fun,” and “a heart full of love for you!”

Paper Doll

Family Bottle – Collect clear, plastic bottles (from water or soda) and give one to each child when they come to register or on the first day of school. Ask them to fill the bottle with cut out photographs of family members and other small trinkets and mementos. Have children bring their bottles to school the first day and use them for “show and tell.” Store the bottles in a basket and when children are a little sad or homesick, tell them to get their family bottle and it will make them feel better.

Family Bottle

Business Cards – Use your computer to help children design personal business cards. Include the child’s name, school, teacher’s name, and a graphic of their choice. Print on cardstock, cut apart, and have children distribute them to family members, neighbors, and friends. They will be so impressed!

Business Card

Daily Schedule – Write your daily schedule on a language experience chart. (You can also write routines on sentence strips and use with a pocket chart.) Take photographs of children during the day to illustrate the different activities. Review the schedule frequently during the first weeks of school to help children learn the schedule and routine.


Welcome to Our Room BookClick to download the attached sheet and send home with each child to complete with his parents. (Older children can write their own responses and younger children can dictate sentences to their parents.) Use photographs of the children or self-portraits to illustrate their page. Put their pages together, make a cover, and you’ll have a wonderful book about your class they can take home and share with their families.


Hello Book – Here’s a simple version of a class book for younger children. Take a photograph of each child or let children draw their pictures. At the top of each page write “Hello child’s name!” Make a cover for the book that says, “Hello teacher’s name Friends!” Children will enjoy reading this book all year long.

Kiss Your Brain! You could make a similar book called “Kiss Your Brain.” Take a photo of each child and then write “Kiss your brain child’s name.” at the top of the page.

Got Milk? Enlarge a black and white photo of each child and use white out to paint a milk mustache above their lips. Write “Got milk, child’s name ?” at the top of each page.

What Do You See Book? - Use the “Brown Bear” chant to introduce different school helpers to the children. Take photographs of the principal, secretary, dietician, custodian, bus drivers, librarian, special teachers, etc. Start with a picture of your school with the saying, “School, school, what do you see? I see principal’s name looking at me.” On each page introduce another school helper. End with your photograph saying, “I see all my new friends ready to learn with me!”

Class Yellow Pages – Tear off the front and back of your “Yellow Pages” to use for the outside of this book. Make inside pages for the book that say, “We are good readers.” “We can help you with the computer.” “We can tie shoes.” “We are good spellers.” “We like to draw.” “We are mathematicians.” “We like to clean.” (Include pages that represent the different multiple intelligences, as well as common tasks in the classroom.) Encourage children to sign up on the pages where they can help others. When someone comes to you for help, remind them to look in the “Class Yellow Pages.”

Yellow Pages

Say, “Yes!” – Go to your principal before school starts and ask her to say, “Yes!” when you ask her a question. Then ask your principal to give you the best and brightest children in your room this year. (To which the principal will reply, “Yes!”) On the first day say, “I asked the principal to give me the best and brightest children this year. And here you are!” Throughout the school year remind them that they are the best and the brightest and they will live up to your expectations! *One teacher told me that she tells, “You are lucky to be in my room because I’m the best teacher in the school. But don’t let the other kids know or they’ll be jealous!” LOL

What’s Your Bag? Give each child a lunch sack at registration or the first day of school and ask them to put the wrapper from their favorite candy, something their favorite color, a picture of their family, the title of their favorite book, etc. in the bag. After sharing these objects with classmates, they can use them to decorate journals, make banners about themselves, etc.

Mystery Back Pack – Purchase a back pack, or simply find an old one in lost and found and use it for this activity. Put a direction card in the back pack that says, “Today your child is bringing home the mystery back pack. Please help your child find one object that is special to them to put in the bag. Write three clues about the object on the enclosed card. Tomorrow we’ll read the clues to the class and see if they can guess what is in the back pack.” The next day read the clues, then encourage the children to ask questions about the contents of the back pack. The anticipation will build until they “solve” the mystery. This activity gives children a turn to feel special, and it encourages thinking skills and language development.

Graphs –Graphs are a “mathematical” way to get to know each other. Let children graph personal characteristics (eye color, number of siblings, number of letters in their name), likes and dislikes (favorite sports team, favorite pizza, pet, author, cartoon), how they travel to school, etc.

Class Quilt – Use group art to create a visual representation of the “community” in your classroom. Give each child a 9” square and have them decorate it with pictures of themselves, drawings of their families or favorite things, collage materials, etc. Punch holes in the corner of each square and tie together with yarn to make a quilt to display in the classroom or hallway.


Friendship Chain – Give each child a strip of construction paper to decorate with their name, symbols of favorite things, or designs. Staple the strips together to make a chain. Remind the children that your classroom is just like that chain. Everyone must work together to keep it connected and strong. Drape the chain over the doorway.

Fit Like a Puzzle – Take a large sheet of poster board and cut it into puzzle shapes. (You will need one puzzle piece for each child in the room. Mark the back of the piece with an “X” so they will know which side to decorate.) After the children have decorated their piece, challenge them to put their pieces together to make a puzzle. Glue pieces to another sheet of poster board to create a picture puzzle for your classroom.

Through This Door - Make a banner to go over your door that says: “Through this door walk the world’s greatest students!”

Through This Door

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