Back to school signifies the unofficial end of summer. Schedules change, homework begins, and stress may start to creep in for students and adults alike. This can make kids worry, sad, and nervous about the unknown in the school year ahead. It is a great time to use ice breakers to bond as a group together. Get to know each other, learn about who you are, and talk about what you will be doing in the upcoming academic year.
Whether working with children in occupational therapy, counseling, speech, or something else, books can help to ease into the start of a new school year. When reading a book together, you are able to talk about parts which are similar with your life, check in with their understanding of a topic, and brainstorm additional ways to learn more about something. In addition to this, books are a great springboard for future sessions together. Stories are able to inspire crafts. Crafts are a wonderful way for therapists to help students work on fine motor skills, sequencing, following direction, team work, and repeating steps as models to an activity. You can also use books to make up games which get kids moving for gross motor goals and social skill building. The key is to look at the possibilities with each book that you pick up and read.
Some story ideas for a variety of age levels to read at the start of the new school year include:
- The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
- How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen
- It’s Back to School We Go! – First Day Stories from Around the World by Ellen Jackson
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- Decibella and Her 6-inch Voice by Julia Cook
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
- The Girl Who Never Mad Mistakes by Mark Pett
- A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook
- My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil: And Other Funny Classroom Portraits by Hanoch Piven
- Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London
Once you read a story with your students, take time to chat about it. From here, you can go into a variety of other possibilities. Another fun and creative option would be for students to work together to write their own back to school tale. Perhaps it could be for their families or younger students in school. Think about ways to include children and families who are multilingual.