“Ooooooh!” It’s Giveaway Time!

If Mo Willems’ pigeon character were to introduce this month’s First Friday Giveaway, I feel certain he would exclaim, “Oooooh!” just as he did when he found that yummy hot dog! I’m hoping your reaction is similar—and here’s why!  

When you answer this month’s question you’ll be entered to win a plush version of Mo Willems’ pigeon, a copy The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!, a 12-pack of Crayola Silly Scents Washable Markers, and a bottle of Elmer’s “goes on purple and dries clear” liquid glue. “Oooooh,” indeed!

Here’s the question:  

Besides having a new group of students, what’s something that is different

about this school year than last school year?

Leave your answer right here on the blog before midnight, Sunday, September 10, 2017, and you’ll be entered to win!

Happy September!


PS: We’ll announce the winner on the blog and we’ll also notify the winner at the email address used to submit the comment. In the event that the winner does not respond before November 1, an alternate winner will be selected.

PPS: Get FREE lesson plans for all of the Pigeon and Elephant & Piggie books here.


Congrats to Laura L., the winner of September’s First Friday Giveaway!

243 thoughts on ““Ooooooh!” It’s Giveaway Time!

  1. We bought some topical books instead of just borrowing everything from the library for our home school. This allows us to focus on each topic as soon as we are ready to start it instead of waiting for the books to come in, and let’s us look ahead to build topics for the older kids OFF of the topical book, because they give suggestions for novels for older kids.

  2. I know what I am doing this year. This is my second year as the reading specialist. I feel I really know what I am doing, not learning as I did last year. I am more confident, I know the studnets and love the fact that the students are excited to be in Title One and are willing to learn so they can return to the regular classroom.

  3. I have the honor of putting my granddaughter on the bus and getting her and my 3 grandsons after school. My granddaughter has been getting books from grandma’s Library to read to do her homework every night. She said grandma has cool books. I told her that’s thanks to the Mailbox blog that’s awarded me some wonderful books and ordering books from Scholastic.

  4. Every year, we get students from other countries for our ESOL program. It’s exciting to see how hard they work to learn English and keep up with their content area courses.

  5. I’m teaching completely on my own this year; no student teacher, no partner teacher. First time in a long time. Also only 23 students this year compared to the last few years of 29-30! I don’t know what to do with all the extra space.

    • I am so sorry you are hurt! I hope you heal fast. Maybe you can use your arm as a way to teach your students about how it feels to have a disability/ different ability. Learning to do things in a new way is hard. You can model how it is to learn in a different way which will help your students be empathetic toward each other.
      Best wishes for a great new year!

  6. We are not having a Christmas program this year at our school (which I’ve always been of) but I am starting an after school art club. Two big changes for our school and for me personally. Change is good….right?! Gah!! A little anxious here.

  7. We added additional staff, so I have smaller class sizes this year. I am excited to give more individual attention to these kiddos!

  8. This is the first year I didn’t go “back to school”. I am currently home with my newborn son. It’s bittersweet. Enjoying/loving my time home but missing the classroom. Planning and teaching is a habit you just can’t kick.

  9. New laptop for my Pre-K students and a bunch of new literary stuffed animals (Froggy, the Pigeon and the Duckling, to name a few) to cuddle with in our Literacy area!

  10. We have had a complete building remodel. This is being done in stages, so we will be moving into new classrooms just to be moving again in December. Going to be a fun year in kindergarten.

  11. What is different this school year is that this will be my first time teaching and teaching a multi- grade classroom that includes my kids! I am so nervous, yet excited and happy at the same time. I hope that the school year will go great with everyone: meeting the children and their families for orientation and that I am not a nervous wreck!…????????

  12. I’m a special ed preschool teacher and for the first time I have the same kids that I had last year. It’s great because I don’t have to assess as much and can pick up where I left off in June.

  13. The students are edgy this year. I don’t know if it the news of Harvey, or Donald Trump, etc. But it seems like the students have picked up on the pressures of current events.

  14. Our district has reassigned buildings for grade K-6, students will be relocated to not only a new classroom but an entire building. Teachers and students will all become familiar with their new environment together. Should make for an interesting start!

  15. We have less children interested in English and I find this to be quite alarming. I and a college worked this summer making up new teaching skills for our new class of this year and the turn out wasn’t what I expected, so I am hoping to be able to grab the student’s interests with the wonders of learning and reading and how it can help round out a young person’s mind.

  16. I teach inclusion and there has always been a cap of 20 students–10 general education students and 10 IEP students. This year the cap has been raised to 24 students–12 general education students and 12 IEP students.

  17. I have a brand new classroom in a brand new building that is still being finished. While it is fantastic to have a beautiful new classroom, it will take some adjustments to learn all of the new technology!

  18. After 36 years as a public school teacher, I am now working part-time in a Preschool with a Montessori curriculum! Still learning and growing as I bring my love for teaching and children to a whole new audience! ❤️

  19. Lots of new teachers! Many either retired or moved to other towns over the summer. I think this is the biggest group of new teachers we’ve ever had.

  20. New building! Same group of kids, but we are moving districts. We have a much better special education classroom at the new school. So excited for the kids to see it!

  21. New district! This is the first permanent position I’ve had since I moved to a different state five years ago. Years of subbing and two temporary year-long positions, and I finally got hired in a totally different district. Exciting but I feel like a first-year teacher again!

  22. This year I made a “Look what I can do” bulletin board. It has the skills the children need to master to move up to the next room. Everyone is excited about watching the children grow

  23. We have a multi-level Emotional Support class. This year we have a new para-educator who is a male, we have a new classroom setup, and our class is predominately kindergarten and first graders. In previous years, our class has been mainly 2nd through 4th graders. It’s always an adventure.

  24. I expanded my autistic support curriculum to focus more on vocational skills. I feel like sometimes we don’t focus enough on the skills our special needs kids will need until they are older, so I want to get in some basic skills. Plus, I finally will have the support staff I need to make all of this possible!

  25. This year we have two new systems in our school. Brightwheel for communication, and Teaching Strategies for assessment.

  26. My school is being renovated while we are still occupying the building. Workman everywhere and you never know if you have electricity or water. Going with the flow and having a back up plan more than usual is so important

  27. This year is completely different for my family. We are homeschooling!! We’re in our second week and love it. I have a 2nd grader and a kindergartener.

  28. This year in our Library, I will be introducing some amazing new technology to our students. Lego WeDo and Dash and Dot. I think it is going to be amazing to see the kids grow–most likely faster than me–in this new domain.

  29. This year I have two new teammates so everything in terms of the work is the same, but we are figuring how to work together, what are our individual strengthes, and what weill we need to work on to allow are team to opperate efficently.

  30. One of the new things I am attempting this year is a new reading time – personalized book basket and alternative seating for my class starting the first day! Fingers crossed!

  31. In addition to my regular 4 year old class. I have the opportunity to be teaching a class of 2 year olds , two days a week I am excited for this new adventure.

  32. I have changed from a Grade 1 and 2 combined classroom with 37 kids, to a straight Grade 1. I am excited about what this year will bring with as it’s the first straight grade I have taught in over 10 years.

  33. 5th grade is back in our elementary schools this year, our school lost classrooms and staff, and I moved from mobile unit back to main building – lots of changes in my school world but looking forward to a great year

  34. New schedule, new room, 5 special needs students, learning and teaching The Barton Program, teaching 6 minute solution, new revised standards and kindergarten portfolio which has to be videoed! Wow… I am scared now seeing all the new things written !!!!

  35. One of my assistants retired last year, so a new assistant has starting in my room. Teaching routines and procedures to new kiddos and a new adult in the room is a big undertaking!

  36. We started our school year with the solar eclipse on the first day of school, and the next Monday of school was called off due to the flooding in our area of Texas. So the start to this school year has been very, very, different!!!

  37. We are now teaching math in the morning instead of after lunch. It has made a world of difference! Also, our SpEd teacher is pushing in to help students instead of pulling out. We’ve had an exciting start to our school year! ❤

  38. We are starting school two weeks earlier. Usually we start after Labor day. We have many new staff in the building including a new director. My new year also begins with me as a mentor teacher to new teachers as well as university students.

  39. We are amping up our science center which we are very excited about. We have never made science a prior before and the kids seem to be loving it. Not all of our new science things are in yet but the center looks great so far!

  40. This year our preschool has a playground structure. We fund raised for six years for this structure so I am excited for the kids to play on it. Also I am introducing a new class pet, Lucy the lop eared bunny. The kids are excited to meet her and welcome her to our class.

  41. Last year, I had 7 students in a k,1,2 classroom. This year, I have 7 students in a kindergarten classroom. It has been a change, but a good one.

  42. I have been teacher elementary school for 30 years and this will be my first year in Third Grade, after this year I will have taught grades k through 6 maybe I will get to pre k before I retire.


  43. This year I am teaching kindergarten instead of Library/Computer skills! I’m so excited! I know my students would love having The Pigeon in our classroom!

  44. We got new desks in my classroom that are trapezoidal shapes and a little challenging in grouping. The storage part is very small, so I asked for a local store to donate carpenters aprons to tie onto desk legs to hold markers and pencils, etc. Not sure yet if it is working, LOL.
    The other new thing is that I now have my own cart of Chromebooks. YAY! No more trying to figure out when to do testing, and can now use them on a whim, if needed.

  45. Last year I had 9 girls and 1 boy (and a lot of drama). This year I have more of a mix and I’m hoping for less of the drama.

  46. Our entire School district was blessed to receive major building upgrades among the changes was a new configuration in the 3 schools in the elementary department. instead of Pre K/KDG; 1st and 2nd and 3-6 campuses we are now K- 5 campuses. The 6th grade moved to a new expanded building at the Middle School. What a wonderful change! I teach one of the self contained classes. We have been designated the AU campus for the district and have about 30 students in mainstream and self contained. I started my career in Kindergarten and am now back teaching K-2nd. I forgot how little they are. My staff is wonderful and we are definitely tired at the end of the day!

  47. This year I have an amazing class. They are awesome at working independently. Last year we started 3 new curriculums and this year I feel like I know what I am doing. I also went to different trainings over the summer which I am incorporating into my class this year. Between the students and the new training I feel like we are going to have an amazing year!

  48. My confidence in myself is restored and my teaching assistants are all working together! I teach in a self contained preschool special education classroom with 4 teaching assistants and personalities don’t always mesh. I also had some really tough students last year who have moved onto Kindergarten so we’re all getting a little breather right now before new kiddos start!

  49. My second grade class is now the oldest group in our hallway – a 3/4 Montessori class has been added to our school- we are beginning guided math this year, daily Spanish, and so much more!

  50. This year I have 8 boys and only 1 girl! I have one student who wasn’t able to be in a regular classroom last year due to behavior issues and teacher conflict. I am working very well so far with him and am going to strive to give him a successful year! That’s my goal for the new year. So far , so good.

  51. I have started off this school year with a smaller class size. I usually have 22 homeroom students at the beginning. I only had 16 kindergarteners yesterday. I am sure I will gain more sweet kindergarteners in my class soon though to even out the other classes. ????

  52. My students will be returning in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Although my school was not flooded, many of our students’ families were impacted. I can’t wait to hold my PK students in my arms!

  53. Our school is using a new reading series, math series, and science program this year. It is definitely going to be an adjustment with the new materials. Have a great year, everyone!

  54. Aside from new students, some of whom have never been in school before, my classroom is in a different building. After 4 years in a room with my own sink, I am in a room without one. However, I have huge closets, which makes up for it. I am also instituting a “Poem of the Week” for the children to recite, illustrate, sequence, etc. I am re-instituting “Taste Testing,” where we try a new food every week. Last week the children learned how to peel their own tangerines, and eat them. The week before, we made lemonade, and each child got to squeeze a lemon and mix the juice with water and sugar. They are very motivated, and we get to review the 5 senses when we try each food. 🙂

  55. We have expanded our school. We went from 5 teachers on a team to 7. Another difference is that I have taken on team lead position.

  56. This year for me is a first because after two years of co- teaching with 36+ students, I am teaching on my own at my new school. It feels like I have something to prove which I haven’t really felt in my 14 years of teaching before this. I also feel overwhelmed with the idea that technology is such a must when all I want kids to do is love reading as much as I do. I know this will be a great year, challenging but great, even with Hurricane Irma scaring us lots.

  57. I teach kindergarten in a small private school. This is my second year teaching, and I’m loving it! I feel like I know more what I’m doing this year, but I’m also doing more…in addition to teaching Kindergarten, I’m also teaching 1-3rd science, and 7-9th geography, and jr sr high PE!

  58. We have gone down to only 2 kindergarten classes but up to 2 Pre-K classes, which affects me as I’m the leader for the Early Childhood Area.

  59. I have a new theme in my classroom decoration and I am more confident teaching preschool then what I did last year, my first year. I also have more kidos with IEPs.

  60. I am teaching a completely different grade level this year. Last year I taught 3rd grade and this year I am teaching 1st grade. It has been quite a adjustment. This giveaway is perfect for my 1st graders.

  61. This is my third year as a kindergarten teacher. This year I took some pressure off myself, and I took extra time to build our classroom community and explicitly teach school and classroom expectations instead of jumping right into the academics. We have built such a strong classroom foundation that now that we’ve started getting into more academics the transition has been so smooth. It’s so exciting and we are learning so much!!

  62. We are getting a brand new school and they are getting started on it this year. They are building it right behind our existing school. We are so excited!

  63. Rather than following the crowd and curriculum, I am teaching in what I know to be a better way for my students’ needs – and we’re all loving it!

  64. This year has a “stop and smell the flowers” feel to it. The past few years I was new and spent so much time gathering resources and stressing over lesson plans. This year I feel like I know what works and what doesn’t. I am truly enjoying the process and really loving all the little moments.

  65. I have a student that is Autistic in my class and a set of twins. I also have to teach PE for 30 minutes a day. These are all new experiences for me !

  66. This school year will be different for me because this is the first year starting from the beginning of the school year at the school I am currently working at. It is also the first year in a long time that I will be in a classroom that is full (20 AM kiddos & 20 PM kiddos) looking forward to a great year!

  67. We have limited copies this year, so I am attempting to do more play based learning. Excited to try and see the outcome!

  68. Last year I was an assistant in a class of three year olds. My lead teacher took another job and I was promoted to her position! I am so excited to start this new journey!

  69. We have new staff in grades 3rd through 5th and a new reading interventionist. New ideas will be introduced and new traditions started.

  70. Well, I got moved out of a classroom and into a portable. I didn’t have enough room in there for all the desks I needed, plus a small group table (a NEED for the intensive reading group), and my teacher station/corner. So I decided to implement flexible seating!!! So far it has been working out great! We also have a new schedule this year. And I’m a new mom (baby boy is almost 4mo old) so I’m figuring out how to juggle it all.

  71. This year, our entire school had to move to a temporary site as our school is going through renovations. I had a week to prepare my classroom before the students started school and many of my resources are still packed in various boxes.

  72. The difference from last school year to this school year are threefold. My students, though far removed from natural disasters of late are aware of and have empathy for our country’s hurricane victims. Second, for me personally, I am more organized than last year which leaves me able to help other teachers more. I like that. Third, my school staff are more cohesive which makes all the difference to everyone who works, visits or attends there. It’s going to be a good year.

  73. Instead of one big class of PreK students, we
    Have 2 classrooms of 11. More one on one
    Time. Much more enjoyable!????????

  74. I have more first graders and less space in my room to do activities. I have also started guided math and have changed the way I do centers for reading time.

  75. I was a Central Office administrator in a large school system last year. I retired and this year I am an assistant teacher in a 3 year old program. Best decision I ever made-returning to the classroom.

  76. I moved into a brand new school that opened just 2 weeks before school started. Everything looks and smells new which gets you excited for a new year. I also have a new teacher on our team so trying to mentor her in what we do/expect in preschool since she has taught K-1.

  77. This year we have went to an integrated classroom and I am learning to adjust to having children from ages 3-5 where before I was strickly 5. The whole dynamics of the classroom has changed.

  78. I am at a new school with a new grade level. Lots of changes but so far administration is great, co-workers are nice, and kids and parents are terrific! Just hoping Irma doesn’t mess up our school!

  79. I got married over the summer so now all the kids call me by a brand new name! It’s confusing and exciting at the same time!

  80. Guided Reading using Fountas and Pinnell and a brand-new book room, Lots of resources, but always looking for more to help all learners. As well as new design “Share Reading” program.

  81. A new team. We now have 11 sections of first grade – 6 of the teachers are new! It’s been a big change but it’s been great so far!

  82. Lots of new students at my school. Also, all elementary classroom got a smart TV which can run youtube, pandora, Netflix, etc. my students love learning with the tv.

  83. We are down from 4 fourth grade teachers to 3. Unfortunately we have had three parents die in the last week and a half, so this year classroom visits by counselors has been new.

  84. There was a mass exodus of retirees last year, so my teacher bff is not with me everyday AND my mentor retired , so I am not longer a mentee, but very much a mentor for other new librarians in the district! It is exciting and a little scary.

  85. I’m teaching at a new school this year so everything is new for me! New classroom, new coworkers, and new children. Plus I’m the new girl ????

  86. This school year I am at a new sschool in my district. Instead of teaching a self-contained special education class, I will be teaching resource.

  87. I will be doing portfolio assessments and child directed, play based uncurriculum with my preschool class rather than themes and traditional assessments.

  88. My school was built is 1934 and was completely renovated. So excited to begin the school year in a building that has joined the modern era????

  89. I have a first grade classroom by myself. The past two years when I was in fourth and third grade I had a Co teacher because the classes were Co teach.

  90. I have implemented flexible seating in my classroom this year. This is new for me and my school. So far, it is going well.

  91. I have a new lead teacher and a new classroom assistant. So my teaching team is all new to me and the classroom and program.

  92. We are no using the Reggio Emellia approach. Everything we are doing is different. From the lesson plans up to the toys and experiences we have available for the children.

  93. In our county we have a totally revamped curriculum. And are now required to have daily common boards AND notebooks for reading, math, and science.

  94. New writing, reading and phonics programs at school on top of my son and his family relocating to our area…and moving in with us.????

  95. My room : ) I decided to switch things up a bit and move everything around/re-decorate. Love that the room finally feels like “mine.”

  96. A few things are different for me. This is my second year teaching and I am feeling much more confident in my skills as a first grade teacher. With 7 people on our team and half of them being new, I feel like I can be a valued and helpful resource instead of the one always asking for help. This year we also have a new principal, new secretary, new nurse, and office staff. I also have an Achieve classroom which means we partner with CREC to help our SPED students succeed. There have been a lot of changes, now that I’m reflecting on it, but I am super excited for a wonderful year! 🙂

  97. We have a new specials schedule, art in now in the classroom, and I am missing the beginning of the year to be home with my first child. It’s bittersweet missing all of the fun back to school things, but it’s amazing being a mom! Can’t wait to meet my students!

  98. I have ten less students this year. It is wonderful! We only had two teachers in first grade until this year. Our new principal saw right off we needed three. I am so excited for this year!

  99. I went from a double session part day classroom to a 6 hour day year round! I have been with head start for 15 years and this is the ideal day! Perfect for the kids and the teachers!!

  100. I am in a brand new classroom. I took over for a young lady who moved into a new career path. Now I am a lead teacher instead of coteacher and have taken on much more responsibility. I am breaking out of my teacher shell and trying to be more hands on. I am trying to really embrace and follow an emergent curriculum like we are supposed to at my center, but most don’t. Yay for change!

  101. This year I’m at a different preschool. After a few years working with babies, I’m back with 3 year olds! I’m so excited for the endless teachable moments!

  102. My outlook on how to help my sped students due to lack of academic knowledge from previous school they went to. It is like they did nothing for them and now I have to build their confidence up.

  103. This year, I braved a new grade. I moved from a reading only classroom to the all inclusive 4th grade. It has been a BIG transition. But I definitely love being able to teach all the subjects again. ❤️❤️

  104. Last year I had four preschool classes and this year I only have three, meaning that my five year old kiddos prepping for kindergarten are with me four days per week for three hours per day. It’s been good!

  105. Our kinder grade level will be changing the way we set up ceters and rotation style when working on our Daily 5. We also mentioned that kinder would like to use the science lab, so we will share 1st grade’s day when needed!

  106. This year we have been blessed to have 7 languages in our room. We have so much to learn from one another! Literature is such a wonderful way to reach all students.

  107. Besides having double the number of students that I had last year, I get to mentor a teacher new to the classroom. There’s so much that I want to share with her but I really don’t want to overwhelm her – yet!

  108. Coding! We have had training in teaching coding so I will be incorporating it in my class, along with starting an after school club.

  109. This year we have a 3 teacher team in 4th grade. I am sharing reading, science and social studies classes with one teacher while the 3rd teacher is teaching all math. We had 4 teachers last year and had 2 teacher teams where I taught reading and social studies. I taught 51 students last year with the 2 teacher team. This year I am teaching every student in the grade level throughout the day.
    This year we are also required to submit lessons plans with a new online program.

  110. whats different about this year is how young all my students are most of their Birthdays are February or later so really have to work hard on meeting all their needs. Half of them it’s their first school experience.

  111. We are incorporating Orton Gillingham into our classroom this year. It’s a multi sensory approach – we can’t wait to see the progress with our students:)

  112. This group of children are very polite and excited to learn. They are excited to come to school and work hard! I love that so much!

  113. I am a K-12 library media specialist for my district. This year not only will I be bouncing between the three libraries, but my high school library will be closed part of the day as they had moved my aide to part time library and part time special education. I am trying to work my schedule to cover the closed time at the high school library to help keep it open.

  114. This will be my first full day class with my head start kiddos. So I’m going from having to remember 30 kids to 16. I’m looking forward to all the teaching moments that will happen in a more relaxed manner.

  115. I lost one hundred pounds!!!! I am a much calmer and happier person. What a difference that makes in my whole outlook. Going to school each day with a positive attitude can make a world of a difference in how we teach ,

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