The start of the school year has arrived! I wanted to share with you my favorite back to school activities that can be done on the first day or any day that first week.
That first day/week can be tiring just because you are prepping for the new school year, learning all about your new students, and setting and explaining your classroom expectations and procedures. The beginning of the school year is the start of a wonderful opportunity to know your students and form a trusting relationship. What better way to start your school year than with some fun and engaging activities that allow you to know and learn more about your students and set expectations!
Activity #1: All About Me
When students enter the room that first day I always have an All About Me worksheet that students work on. I normally use a pennant so I am able to hang in my classroom. This simple activity allows students to express who they are and allows me to get an insight into what they like. Students are encouraged to make their pennant colorful, unique, and do their best work. After students have finished, I have each student stand up and introduce themselves by saying their name and one interesting fact about them that they have written on their pennant or something that they would like to share. This is a great opportunity to get over the initial stage fright by saying their name and one fact that they choose to share. After a student presents, I teach the class that we clap and cheer for the student for standing up and stating their fact. After presentations for projects later in the year, the students know how to encourage and congratulate other students.
Activity #2: First Day Task Cards
I started doing this activity two years ago in my fourth grade classroom. I am in LOVE with Miss 5th’s TPT resource! This activity allows me to get to know how my students are feeling about school, what are they curious about, their goals, and more. I use this activity to teach my students the voice levels we use, how to independently work, and clipboard use expectations. Students are given time to visit each task card which are hung around the room. Once students are finished, we hold a whole group discussion about each card. Students volunteer to share their answers which allows me to explain anything they have questions about. Students will turn their completed paper in and I will look over each student’s answers.
Activity #3: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
Miss 5th shared this activity on her Instagram story a year ago and I have had my students complete this activity the past two years. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is a cute picture book written by Ryan T. Higgins. Can you imagine fourth grader’s reaction when they hear the title of the book? There is laughter and confusion from everyone! The beauty of this book is that it can be used with any age group and be incorporated in a variety of ways in the classroom. I read the story to my students and then break them off into groups of 4 or 5 and create a poster explaining what great classmates look like, sound like, makes them feel like, and examples. They work together to create a poster about the qualities of a great classmate and share when they are finished. This activity not only allows students to learn how to work collaboratively but also allows students to practice voice levels when working in a group setting.
Activity #4: Art
I moved to a new school this year and its the first school I’ve worked in that has its own Art class. At my old school we were in charge of incorporating art within our classroom. I have always done some type of name art activity at the beginning of the year to decorate the hallways in the school and this year is no different. It makes the hallways more colorful and kids get to show off their work. Since my classroom is under the sea/nautical themed I have students create a fish that has their name “hidden” within the body of the fish. I provide a sample for the students and tell them that they are to use capital letters only. They will first write their letters in pencil and then go over their letters in a black marker. I encourage the students to make thick letters so it stands out when they color their fish. Students color their fish with crayons or colored pencils, cut it out along the edge, and I laminate it for a finished look. Here are some student samples. They turned out great!
Activity #5: Whole Group Activities
The following activities that I am about to explain are short and can be done anytime throughout the day.
The first activity is This or That. Students stand in the middle of the room and the teacher provides two options. Students have to choose one of the options. For example: Are you a cat person or a dog person? Cat people stand on one side of the room while dog people stand on the other side of the room. The teacher can call on students to share their opinions and decide how many This or That questions to ask.
Another short activity I like to do is Cross the Room If activity. Every students will start on the same side of the room. The teacher will say a statement and if the statement pertains to the student they will cross the room. For example: “Cross the room if your favorite subject is math.” Students whose favorite subject is math will cross the room and stay on the opposite side. The teacher will continue to say statements until there is only one students remaining.
The final short whole group activity is Blobs and Lines. Students are to stand next to one another. The teacher will ask the students to get in a blob or line for specific criteria. For example: “Get in a blob with the same people born in the same month as you.” Students scramble to find others who were born in their birth month. Another example is, “Get in ABC order.” Students rush to get in alphabetical order and form a line. For more of a challenge, tell the students that they are not allowed to talk.
Hope you enjoyed reading all about my favorite back to school activities! Happy New School Year 🙂