I send out postcards the beginning of August to my students! I usually tell them about some of the fun things we will be doing this year! The students really look forward to our postcards every year! All of our 3 - 6 grade teachers send them out!
and I send out postcards to everyone on my class list just as soon as they register (usually a week prior to pre-planning). I purchase the cards at the local teacher store and they are already pre-printed. You just fill in the student name, date school begins, and sign your name. The kids love them and usually bring them with on the first day of school.
I just finished writing all of my postcards for my class for next year. I always try to send them from somewhere I went on vacation. This year I went to San Fransisco. I love doing it, and my students are always excited on the first day of school to tell me where they went on vacation, and what they did. It does freak the kids out a little that I know their address.
I've sent them out the past few years and I always get at least one parent (and several kids!) who tells me how much it meant to their child.
I don't get my list ahead of time, so I just write the same thing on every postcard, but I keep the pen with it and leave a space at the top to write their name (and address to the right, of course) later when I get the list.
I write something like:
Hi __________, I hope you're having a wonderful summer. I'm looking forward to having you in our class this year! We'll see you Thursday - bring your supplies and a smile!
At my school, the welcome back letters must be turned in by this Friday (made, copied, put in envelopes, and labeled- the office puts on stamps). That is exactly one month BEFORE our first contract day! WHY?? So annoying. Well, I am going to a new school, so I am exempt- yeah! I'll bet I'll be required to write a letter at my new school, which is fine, as long as I don't have to think about it for another week or two. I haven't even met my teammates yet!
Because we are required to send a letter anyway, I usually make a tri-fold brochure on the computer (I know how it sounds, but it really is easier for me to compartmentalize!) I write a few paragraphs- introducing myself, welcoming them to my class, etc. I also have a blurb about what we learn in this grade. I try to include info on Back to School night, supplies, donations, etc. I use PrintMaster or Printshop, but I'm sure other programs would work.
My sixth grade teaching partner and I send out a bochure I made on Printmaster. It has a little welcome message, a list of supplies, a reminder about summer reading, and an "All About the Teachers" trivia list. On that list, we share our favorite foods, books, TV shows, hobbies, etc. We leave space for the student to fill out his/her faves and tell students to bring the brochure on the first day of school.
I think it's a nice ice breaker to share favorites in the first weeks of school. Since we do Responsive Classroom, we also use the info we collect in our morning messages or during "getting to know you" activities.
I'd love to attach the brochure, but I'm not sure you could read it since it was done in Printmaster.
We don't get our list until the Friday before school starts so it's pretty impossible. This year I sent my kids a postcard after school got out. I wrote something I found special about them and told them I missed them.
The school provides them for us, and gives us address labels for our students. It is to let them know who their teacher is and when orientation is going to be. I got a great return address label to put on it from Vistaprint with my name school address, and website.