The start of the school year is overwhelming yet so exciting for students and teachers.
While you may want to start right into teaching the expectations and curriculum, the first few days of school are essential to setting the climate of the classroom.
This is the time for students to get out first-day jitters, meet new friends, and become comfortable around you and their classmates.
To help students ease into the year and learning, engaging activities are key.
Here are 5 engaging activities for the first days of school that your students will love!
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Find a Friend
In this activity, you can design a board with a variety of options. Some may be general, such as:
- Find a friend with the same favorite color.
- Find a friend who loves the same ice cream.
- Find a friend who takes the bus to school.
Some may also be specific to your community, such as going to an amusement park, beach, or skiing.
This is an opportunity for students to move around the classroom, get to know each other, and form new friendships based on similarities. Trust me, the smiles you will see when students find a match makes this activity well worth it!
I created a free Find a Friend Scavenger Hunt you can find here.
All About Me
Since the majority of students are going to be nervous on the first few days, it is important to help them become comfortable.
One way to do this is to provide activities where students get to talk about themselves. This usually helps because they know themselves so well and quickly start to open up.
Before you know it, students are giggling and getting to know their classmates. To help structure this, you can set up an “All About Me” book or template.
Begin by sharing your own “All About Me” book or slides. This will help your students get to know you and show them a model for how to create their own “All About Me”.
The questions asked will depend on your age group, but they may include some of the following favorites:
- Summer Activity
Your students may also share a bit about their family and other interesting facts.
If possible, this would be a great opportunity to take a picture of the student as well. Parents/guardians will love having this memory from the first day!
This is also a great activity to come back to on the last few days of school because it allows parents/guardians to see how much their precious child grew in the year.
My Teacher is. . .
Teachers spend so much time getting to know students and helping students get to know each other. However, students also need to feel comfortable around their teacher.
A fun way to do this is by sharing information about you. Try to show some pictures on your board of your family, pets, fun summer activities, and anything that makes you relatable to your students, such as going to a popular tourist attraction around you.
Students are excited to get to know you and see if they have any common interests. You may be surprised how much you can have in common with your primary student! Every year, I find a child that loves cooking, one that creates DIY crafts, and even some budding photographers.
Plus, you may be amazed to see how many students talk about what you shared on that first day! Before you know it, students will be asking you about the dog you showed them or how your family is.
Before you dive into pre-assessment to gauge where to start or what your learners retained from the previous year and summer, students need to get into the right mindset for learning.
Logic puzzles are a great tool to use on the first few days of school because they help students recall critical thinking skills by working on brain teasers. Students will be thinking while having fun!
Check out a few of my favorite Brain Teaser Puzzles to start the school year!
With these puzzles, your students will receive a logic problem. Next, they’ll use the clues and included organizer grid to solve the puzzle.
These puzzles can also help teachers gain some insight into their students, such as who needs to draw visual clues and who uses the process of elimination.
I love using logic puzzles with my learners all year long, but introducing them at the start of the year is definitely one of my favorite ways to use them!
Learn more about logic puzzles.
There is so much excitement during the first days of school, and it is important to provide time for students to sit down and relax. Read-alouds are a great way to do this.
There are also so many books out there that relate to the first day of school, such as First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. While reading, teachers can also stop and have students compare themselves to how the characters in the book are feeling, which is a great way to tie in literacy activities.
The first days of school are essential to set a positive classroom climate. This is the time for students to get to know each other and for teachers to show students how they will be learning in a loving, respectful classroom.
By incorporating engaging get-to-know-each-other activities in the first few days, students will be ready to dive into the content for the rest of the year.