New Students?

Today I thought I would share how I handle paperwork and welcoming new students at the beginning of the year or throughout the year.  How many times have you printed your class roster on pretty paper, assigned student numbers, or wrote your roster in your grade book (if you keep a paper one, that is) and then all of a sudden, a new student arrives and he/she has a last name that starts with "B" or a letter at the beginning of the alphabet and it messes everything up?!  I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me!  Do you put them in the correct order and change every other students number, cubby, etc?  Or do you stick them at the end?  Here's a couple ways I handle getting new students.

1.  Wait a week after school starts to write student names in your grade book.  While we have an online grade book, I still keep a paper one as well.  Just call me old school!  Usually if a new student is coming to your school at the beginning of the year, they've registered and are attending by the first week of school.

2.  Keep an editable version of your class roster.  I do plan on printing mine before school starts, I can easily edit it and re-print.  

3.  Determine if it's worth it to put the new student in the correct order. Last year I had a student come mid-year and her name ended with a "J", right in the middle of the alphabet.  I chose not to mess up student numbers, cubbies, etc at that point and I assigned her the next number, which was 21.  

4.  Keep an extra desk in your room or know where extra's are. One year I had a student come on the first day of school and I didn't even have an extra desk!  Now, I have extra desks that are my supply desks at each group.  In a pinch, I could use one of these, if needed.

5.  Assign buddies to show around room and play with at recess. Students love this!  If I know a new student is coming soon, I will talk to my class and see if anyone would agree to be his/her buddy to share with them how our class is set up, help them at lunch, recess, etc.

6.  Talk to your guidance counselor about setting up a tour of school.  Our guidance counselor does this with our new students and I really like it.  He takes them on a tour around the school (usually before they ever come to the classroom) and shows them where things are located in comparison to their classroom.  If your guidance counselor doesn't do this, you could assign students in your room to.

7.  Keep a New Student bag to give to the new child's parents/guardians.  This is what my post is really about!  Every year we send home packets of information at Open House and/or registration (depending upon which occurs first).  In the packet, parents will find: Welcome pamphlet, class party letter, class t-shirt letter, field trip letter, and a form for parents to fill out to let me know about their child.  You can click here to read my original post about these packets.  These are critical papers that I want all students to have, regardless of when they come to school.  

After Open House, I keep the extra packets and place them into New Student bags.  I typically keep 2-3 New Student bags, which are gallon size ziploc bags.  Inside I keep the following:
  • Open House packet 
  • Popsicle stick (for calling on students)
  • Name tag
  • Clothespin (for clip chart)
  • Door decor for name
  • Student handbook
  • Gold form (school-wide form parents fill out and where we keep documentation of contacts)

Anytime I make something with student names or send home an important letter, I try to put one in the New Student bag as well. Here is a glance at two bags I made this year with materials I had at home.  I still need to add a few things once I get in my classroom again.  These bags have really been helpful when a new student arrives!  I simply pull out information that the parents will need and send those home immediately and put student names on the rest.  

Today, I also want to link up with The Teacher's Chair for a fun linky!  I am going to back up a bit to Tuesday's topic and discuss some of my favorite read alouds for the beginning of the year. Then, I'll show you some games my students enjoy!

Have You Filled A Bucket Today? & How Full is Your Bucket? - These books are definite reads for the beginning of the year to teach about bucket filling! 

Black Lagoon series - These are cute and funny books to break the ice on the first day!

First Day Jitters - This is one of my favorite books to read on the first day!  LOVE it!  

Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing - This was my first chapter read aloud when I taught 4th grade.  My students always loved it!  

Nothing's Fair in 5th Grade - This will be my first chapter read aloud this year in 5th grade.  I've never read it before as a class, but it was a quick, easy read when I read it myself.

Humphrey series - Tara (4th Grade Frolics) introduced me to the Humphrey series and I LOVE them!  Sadly, since I am looping up with my class this year, we've already read them so I won't be using them this year.

Last year I was able to purchase 4 games (2 are shown above). They are all Edupress, Learning Well games. My students really enjoyed them and they all targeted standards!  It's a win-win!


  1. I covered a maternity leave once for a teacher who had spare desks in the back of her room with everything a new student would need already inside. I thought that was really smart of her. I have never had those kinds of desks so I never did anything like that. But I can definitely handle putting some new student stuff into gallon-size bags and having them ready to go!

  2. Hi Lana! These are great tips for managing the addition of new students to the classroom. It's just a given that they WILL come! :) I look forward to following your blog, too!
    Crafting Connections

  3. I like the idea of a new student bag.
    I love the Edupress Learning Well games. Two years ago, Marc's (a discount store) had them for $3 each. I ran from one Marc's store to another until I purchased one of each available title.

  4. These are great ideas. I also usually just put a new student at the end if numbers and items have already been established.


  5. Great system for new kids, Lana!
    I am pinning this post to remind me to do these things when the school year gets underway.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  6. I like what you said about new students. Having a packet of supplies ready to go "just in case" is a great idea.

    Thank you!

  7. I've never heard of Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade but I'm always on the look out for great beginning of the year read alouds or books that relate to fifth grade! Thanks so much for sharing your titles :)

    I've used The Top Ten Ways to Ruin the First Day of School (Previous The First Day of Fifth Grade) by Ken Derby before... it's really funny and the kids seem to like easing into book about a fellow fifth grader!

    Thanks again,
    My Shoe String Life
    Follow me on Bloglovin'


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