Weekend Warriors: Back to School Ideas and a Freebie Pick Sticks Pot

Back to school time can be so stressful as all of us busy teachers know! Back to school COOL for me means CALM, COOL and COLLECTED so I can be my best self for my students when they walk through the door for the first time. My Weekend Warrior friends and I are here to share some back to school tips, tricks and ideas to help make your first days in the classroom a little less hectic and a lot more enjoyable.

This time of year, we have a chance to make things better, easier or more organized and to set some goals for ourselves as teachers. I have decided to make some changes and want you to be the first to know! 
I'm making the switch from names to numbers.

 Coming from teaching at the middle school level, I always considered assigning student numbers a "big kid" thing. I just like using names for classroom items I personalize for my little ones. It seems more warm and fuzzy or something. Well, guess what? I'm over it and I'll tell you why. 

First of all, purchasing address labels to use for adding names to things like cubby tags and folders every year gets expensive. But writing them by hand is just not a good use of the precious little time I have to get set up. 

Another big reason is that there are many things that actually do not belong to or go home with the student that I remake every year and that takes time away from other things I should be doing instead.

This year, I decided to start making the transition in my room to a numbered system. It will be a work in progress but in the end it will save both time and money. 

Initially, my fear is that the kiddos will have a hard time remembering their number. Notice the 28 in the corner of the desk plate? I have 29 second graders this year (moan, groan, sigh) and quite frankly, I will not remember their numbers either, so I need a visual too. I took the plunge and created this digitally, but it would be simple to add a garage sale sticker and write in a number.

What will I do with this magic number? Well, I don't keep a grade book with student numbers yet, but later on down the road, it will make recording grades and passing back papers a breeze. The students can write their name and number at the top of their work. Then we can collect the papers in numeric order, record them quickly and pass them back in cubbies that are also labeled with numbers.

This year, my pick sticks are also numbered. I first saw this idea for a PICK ME! pot from A Cupcake for the Teacher. I thought it would be cute to add some flower toppers to my polka dot pot. I used all of the green craft sticks for stems from a multi-colored packet I got from Lakeshore. Hopefully they will hold up and I will be able to use them next year too.

 I think it turned out super cute so I thought I would share it with you!
You can grab this freebie here if you like it too! 

I created the labels with a pink and purple border too. The flowers are black and white, so you can copy them on colored cardstock or scrapbook papers.

There's lots more to do still in the great switcharoo. See my brag tags board? The students hang their award necklaces on the stars I just made for them, with names of course. 

Next year, the stars will be numbered and will stay put for use the following year. 

So...the biq question is...

If you're not a numbering teacher either, consider how many things in your classroom you label with student names and maybe give this a try! 

Thanks for stopping by today! Hope you were able to take away a few COOL ideas for back to school! 
Stop by to see what my friends have in store for you as well!


  1. I love the idea of using numbers instead of names...I'll be keeping up with you to see how it goes. I had just put up my class names when I got the phone call that student had been removed from my class : /. Have a great year.
    The Tutu Teacher

  2. I love using numbers! It's easy to spot when a kid in line is missing :) Haha

    Lucky to Be in First

  3. I use numbers too! I also combine it with their names. Sometimes I have them only write their numbers on papers, sometimes their name, sometimes both. I have a pot with number sticks to call on students also. I love how it holds everyone accountable.
    Bright Concepts 4 Teachers

  4. I use student numbers! I am still trying to learn my kiddos numbers, but they know their numbers already!! I have switched from putting their names on the student display area, to their numbers! Now next year I won't have to change anything!! I also have their cubbies numbered so that won't have to change either!! Good luck on making the switch, it will make next year much easier!!

    Mrs. 3rd Grade 

  5. I have used student numbers for years in kinder and now in first grade. Not only does it save time and money in classroom organization but helps with management. I have a set of numbers on craft sticks. The calendar helper pulls a number when asking a question instead of just picking their friend. This speeds up calendar time and I don't have to keep reminding them who was already picked! Plus I never have to worry about forgetting my class list- I learn the numbers pretty quick as we are practicing in the class and can list my kids in alphabetical order no problem! This can be very helpful for those tricky fire drills that catch you away from your room.


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