I hate to be the messenger of bad news- but for some of us- back to school is right around the corner! In fact, my kids already started!
The first week of the school year is so important. It is the time when you set the tone for the rest of the year. It is the time when the class starts to become a community. It is a time for learning rules and expectations and for having fun with new friends. Planning for the first week can be tough because routines have not been taught and often curriculum is not being implemented. We need quite a few activities and we need them to be fun and innovative but easy to prep! Here are some of my very favorite ideas for that first week back to school.
Trust me! Play Doh is not just for little kids! When my students enter the room on the first day of school, they will find a container of Play Doh on their desk.
The directions are simple- Make anything that makes you happy. This activity is awesome for several reasons. First, the students are busy with a task right away. This gives me a chance to deal with supplies that were dropped off and papers that students have for me. There is always a lot of housekeeping issues that first week! Another reason I love this activity is because once students create for a bit, they start talking to one another. "Look! It looks like emoji poop!"
I think the Play Doh helps to break the ice and get students more comfortable. Finally, I like this activity because I can walk around and start to get a look at student personalities. Play Doh creations can tell you quite a bit about a person! Even upper elementary kids will play with Play Doh!
Saving Fred is a super fun challenge that gets students talking and working as a team. Since we will be working in groups all year, it is an important skill to begin working on from day one!
Start by splitting your class into small groups. I like to have 3-4 students in each group. You will need plastic cups, 4 paper clips per group, gummy worms and gummy lifesavers.
Fred, the worm, was riding in his boat, the cup, when it tipped over. Fred is on top of the boat and he doesn't know how to swim. Lucky for him, he brought a life preserver, the lifesaver. The problem? The life preserver is stuck under the boat. Students will work in groups to plan a way to get Fred inside the life preserver. They cannot touch the worm, the boat or the life preserver with their fingers. The only tools they can use to help are the four paperclips.
First, they talked together about how they wanted to approach the task. When the group had a plan, they could begin their work. Throughout the task they were laughing, strategizing and working together. It warms my teacher heart to see all of this happening on the first day of school!
You can grab the FREE printable I use for this activity by clicking HERE.
On the first day of school I announce, "It's time for our first quiz!" I get a giggle every time over their groans. I think that it is very important to learn about my students but it is equally important for my students to learn more about me. I think it helps to ease some nerves and is the beginning of creating a meaningful relationship.
Students receive this fun quiz about me. It asks about all my favorites. They really don't have any true way to know the answers and I don't give clues. I just let them take a guess. After they have a some time to fill out the quiz, I tell them my answers one by one. We have a friendly competition to see who got the most answers correct. They love that. Lots of giggling and fist pumping!
This activity can be used to help parents get to know you as well! Give students a second copy of the quiz and encourage them to give it to their parents. Then the kids can tell their parents the correct answers. Parents will have a mini biography of you! (A bonus- Since their is a question about your favorite drink, you may even receive random sodas or coffee during the year.)
You can grab this FREE quiz by clicking HERE.
Another way that I get to know my students is through the creation of this adorable paper bag book. I love that the books are simple to prep. You just need the paper lunch bags. Fold them in half and add a few staples. Done!
Students are writing about themselves and their summer and illustrating pictures to go along with it. I walk around and chat with students about what they are writing about. It is helpful to have a clipboard and take notes. Write down things like, "Jimmy loves to read books about animals." "Sammy went to Disney for summer vacation." These will give you little topics to talk about with them later in the week. They will be amazed that you remembered. The books are also a great way to start getting a feel for their writing level and share stories of the first days with parents!
If you are looking for even more fun back to school activities, check out this post: