First Week of School Lesson Plans


Lesson planning is always a bit tricky, but planning for that first week back to school is extra challenging! How much time should we spend teaching procedures? How can we get to know our new students? How can we make the first week fun? When should we start with the curriculum?

Every year, I notice multiple posts in my teacher Facebook groups asking others to share their first week of school lesson plans.

So, I thought, I will show you my ideal first week of school plans.

Keep in mind that every classroom will be different! It might take your kids twice as long to complete an activity as it took mine. It might take my kids twice as long to master a particular procedure than it does for your class. Heck, we all have a different list of procedures that we must teach!

This is just a suggestion. You can start with my ideas and adjust to make it work with your time and student needs.

Deal?

Let's jump in...

Monday


8:00-8:30: Enter the Classroom and Make Play Doh Creations
Walk students into the classroom and greet each student as they walk into the classroom. Allow students to choose their own desk. 

Have a small container of Play Doh on each desk. Tell students that they can create anything that they want with the Play Doh. It can represent a favorite hobby, animal, vacation or something completely different!

While students are creating, take attendance and do any administrative tasks that pop up on the first day.

Give students 2-3 minutes to share what they created with their neighbors.

8:30-8:45: Put Supplies Away
Put labeled containers around the room and have students put their supplies in the correct bin. If you want them to keep certain supplies in their desk, put a list on the board. This is a great time to give students labels for their folders and/or notebooks too.

8:45-9:15: Morning Procedure
Pull students to the carpet and discuss the procedures for coming in the classroom and unpacking in the morning. Make sure they know where you want their backpacks, binder and homework. Give the class a couple opportunities to practice the procedure.

9:15-9:30: Read Aloud



9:30-10:15: Saving Fred Collaborative Activity
Have students work in groups to complete the Saving Fred activity. 

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. 



You can grab the FREE printable I use for this activity by clicking HERE.

10:15-10:30: Specials Procedures
Pull students to the carpet and discuss the procedures for lining up for specials. 

10:30-11:15: Specials
The teacher lays her head on her table and takes a nap because back to school is hard! Just kidding! Teachers don't have time for naps.

11:15-11:40: Lunch Procedures
Pull students to the carpet and discuss the procedures for going to lunch, eating, lunch recess and returning from lunch.

11:40-12:20: Lunch and Recess

12:20-12:35: Read Aloud


12:35-1:05: Back to School Paper Bag Book
Students will start making their paper bag book by cutting out the pages and glueing them into their paper bag book. This project will be completed later in the week. 

You can find this activity HERE.



1:05-1:30: Classroom Library Procedures and Choosing Books
Pull students to the carpet and discuss the procedures for borrowing books from the classroom library. Make sure students know where to keep their books, how many books they can borrow at a time and when they can get a book from the library.

Give students time to choose any book that interests them. They can use these books during the week when they finish something early.

1:30-1:50: Fire Drill & Emergency Procedures
Pull students to the carpet and discuss the procedures for fire drills. Take students outside for a practice fire drill.

1:50-2:05 Recess

2:05-2:30: End of Day Procedures
Pull students to the carpet and discuss the procedures for packing up and going home at the end of the day.

2:30-2:45: Release Students
Have students pack up and release them to carpool, buses, etc.

Tuesday

8:00-8:20: Enter the Classroom and Morning Procedures
Before entering the classroom, remind students how to complete your morning procedures. Have reminders written on the board for morning procedures as well. Walk students into the classroom and greet each student as they walk into the classroom. Students will be practicing the procedures you taught yesterday; such as, turning in forms/homework, hanging up backpacks, where to place water bottles, and  take out their self-selected reading book to their seat for silent reading warm-up. 

While students are reading, take attendance and do any administrative tasks that pop up on the second day. 

8:20-8:50: Pipe Cleaner Challenge
Hand each student a closed paper bag with 2 pipe cleaners, a piece of foil, and a popsicle stick inside. Instruct students to create anything that they want with only the items inside the bag. It can represent a favorite hobby, animal, vacation or something completely different! 

Give students 2-3 minutes to share their creations. They may then place the creation inside the paper bag to take home.

8:50-9:15: Classroom Supply and Bathroom Procedures
Pull students to the carpet and discuss procedures for classroom supplies. Discuss procedures for pencils and sharpening and where to find extra supplies. Also discuss bathroom procedures at this time.

9:15-9:30: Teacher's Quiz
Send students back to their desk and announce, "It's time for our first quiz!" You are learning a lot about your students, but it is important for them to know a lot about you as well. 


Pass out the Teacher's Quiz and allow students to guess the answers for each question. After students have had some time to guess, go over the correct answers. You can find this free activity HERE.

9:30-10:15: Read Aloud and Activity
One of my favorite books is called Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal. 

After reading the story, place students into groups at their desks. Give each group a small tube of toothpaste (grab these at the Dollar Store), one toothpick per student, and a paper plate. Tell your students to squeeze out all of the toothpaste onto the plate. Then, have your students try using toothpicks to put the toothpaste back into the tube. 

Pull your students back together and have a conversation about how the toothpaste is like our words. Discuss your policy in the classroom with unkind words, behaviors, and bullying. You can find a free recording page for this activity HERE

10:15-10:30: Beach Ball Introductions
Write several sentence stems on a beach ball that will help students tell more about themselves. Suggestions include, "This summer I...," "My favorite pizza topping is...," "I'm really good at...," etc. Make enough to have one ball per group of students. As students throw the ball to each other, they can either answer the question that their right hand touches, or their left hand touches. 

10:30-11:15: Specials

11:15-11:40: Binder Organization
Take this time to discuss how you would like students to organize their binder. You can also hand out any reference papers that you'd like students to keep inside. Pass out a binder cover, have students color it, and place on the front. 

11:40-12:20: Lunch and Recess

12:20-12:35: Read Aloud



12:35-1:20: Back to School Paper Bag Book
Students will continue making their paper bag book by recording their answers and drawing their pictures on each page of the book. You may want to pull individual students during this time to complete individual baseline assessments. 


1:20-1:50: Classroom Behavior Policy
Pull students to the floor and explain your class rules and rewards. 

1:50-2:05: Recess

2:05-2:20: Find Someone Who
Every student will need a Find Someone Who board. Students will walk around the room and find someone who can accurately explain the procedure. That student will write their name in the box. The catch is that students must find a different person for each box. 


You can find this free activity HERE.

2:20-2:30: Review End of Day Procedures
Pull students to the carpet and remind them of the procedures for packing up and going home at the end of the day.

2:30-2:45: Release Students
Have students pack up and release them to carpool, buses, etc.

Wednesday

8:00-8:20: Enter the Classroom and Morning Procedures
Before entering the classroom, remind students how to complete your morning procedures. Walk students into the classroom and greet each student as they walk into the classroom. Students will be practicing the procedures you taught Monday; such as, turning in forms/homework, hanging up backpacks, where to place water bottles, and  take out their self-selected reading book to their seat for silent reading warm-up. 

8:20-9:15: Beginning of the Year Assessments
Take this time to administer any beginning of the year assessments that your school may require. You may consider having students color notebook covers when they complete their assessment. You may also consider pulling individual students for assessments as they complete other assessments given.  

9:15-9:30: Read Aloud



9:30-10:00: Spaghetti Tower Collaboration Activity
Place students in groups of 3-4. Give each group 1 box of spaghetti noodles and 1 bag of marshmallows. Students will work together to build the tallest tower out of these materials. You can grab a recording for this activity HERE



10:00-10:30: Class Discussion on Collaboration
Pull your students to the carpet and discuss what it looks like to work together. Discuss your expectations for collaboration. What will group work sound like? How will students participate? What should you do if students disagree? Have students model correct and incorrect behaviors for the class. Make an anchor chart about what group collaboration will look like and sound like.

10:30-11:15: Specials

11:15-11:40: Independent Reading Stamina
Bring your students to the floor and discuss how marathon runners must train in order to run long distances. They do not just go out one day and run 26 miles! Instead, they have to train to build up their stamina. Discuss that readers are the same way. They need to practice building their stamina for reading independently for long periods of time without getting distracted. Start a graph to show how long your class can read without getting distracted. 

Students should grab their independent reading books, find a comfortable spot to read, and begin reading as you time them. You should do the same, model how to read independently without getting distracted as well! For the first day, I suggest giving your students about 5-10 minutes to practice independent reading. 

Stop timing students and discuss what you noticed students doing when they were focused on reading, and what they were doing when they started getting distracted. Challenge your class to beat that time by 3-5 minutes the next day. 

11:40-12:20: Lunch and Recess

12:20-12:35 Read Aloud

12:35-1:15: Third Day of Third Grade Scoot
Explain to your students how a Scoot will work in your classroom. Students will be given a recording page for this activity. Lay out cards around the room on student desks. Students will make their way around the room, moving from one desk to another. They will answer the questions on the cards and write the answers in the corresponding box of their recording page. Click HERE to grab this activity.



1:15-1:50: Writer's Workshop Day One
Bring your students to the floor and explain the three parts of each of your writing workshops: mini lesson, student work time/conferences, and share time. Discuss what students will be doing during each of these times and what the teacher will be doing. Together, make an anchor chart about what it will look and sound like during writing time. 

To keep kids engaged during this lesson, I suggest doing lots of "turn and tell your partner...." and have them create their own anchor chart in their writing notebook.

Click HERE to learn more about how I introduce writing workshop.

1:50-2:05: Recess

2:05-2:30: Back to School Paper Bag Book
Use this time to complete the paper bag books. Students may take the final 5 minutes of the day sharing with their classmates what they wrote in their books. 


2:30-2:45: Release Students
Have students pack up and release them to carpool, buses, etc.

Thursday

8:00-8:20: Enter the Classroom and Morning Procedures

Walk students into the classroom and greet each student as they walk into the classroom. Students will be practicing the procedures you taught Monday; such as, turning in forms/homework, hanging up backpacks, where to place water bottles, and  take out their self-selected reading book to their seat for silent reading warm-up. 

8:20-9:15: Beginning of the Year Assessments
Take this time to administer any beginning of the year assessments that your school may require. You may consider having students color notebook covers when they complete their assessment. You may also consider pulling individual students for assessments at this time.  

9:15-9:30: Read Aloud
Gooney Bird Greene (This is our first chapter book read aloud!)



9:30-10:00: Responding to Reading- Day One (I Do- Whole Group)
Pull your students to the carpet and model the process of responding to reading using the class read aloud of your choice that you just read (Gooney Bird Greene). This should be the book that you just read. Model the entire process while thinking out loud. Students will listen as you talk about finding text evidence. Model how you start writing your answer by using part of the question. Talk about how you extend your response with some of your own thinking/examples. Finally, model how to edit and make corrections to improve your work. When you are done, ask students to share what they noticed. Create a class list of things that you did to make your writing the best possible response. 



You can find my Reading Menus and more information about this process by clicking HERE.

10:00-10:30: Writing Workshop Day Two
Send students back to their desks and discuss the different types of materials that they will be allowed to use during writer's workshop. Show students where they can find these materials. Place several different types of writing utensils at each group, along with scratch paper, and allow students to write their name with different writing utensils to discover what they enjoy using. Students will find writing time more enjoyable if they are allowed to use pens! Next, teach and practice your procedures for putting writing materials away.

Click HERE to learn more about how I introduce writing workshop.

10:30-11:15: Specials

11:15-11:40: Independent Reading Stamina
Remind students how long they were able to complete independent reading yesterday and pick a goal for today to increase that stamina. Remind your class what it should look and sound like. Have your students grab their independent reading book, find a comfortable spot in the room, and begin reading while you time them. 

Stop the clock a few minutes after yesterday's time and graph it on your chart. 

11:40-12:20: Lunch and Recess

12:20-12:35 Read Aloud



12:35-1:10: Read Aloud Connection
After reading Mae Among the Stars, discuss a growth mindset, believing in yourself, and working hard for your goals. Hand out blank pendants to every student. Have students draw a picture of what they'd like to be when they grow up and write their name across the top. These can be displayed in your classroom.  

1:10-1:30: Math Center Instruction
You will want to take your time teaching and practicing math centers. You will want 8-10 days to practice and explain math centers. You may begin day one today. Pull your students to the rug and explain what math centers are. Don't worry about teaching them how to complete each center today. Instead, help them to understand that they will be divided into small groups and how many centers they will be completing each day. 

Explain that the reason you are doing these centers is so that you can meet with small groups of students and help them practice new math skills. Make an anchor chart with students that shows how center time will look and sound. You can find more information about starting math centers HERE.

1:30-1:50: Math Game Review
Teach students how to play Addition War with a deck of cards. I suggest having several deck of cards to use throughout the year. You can find two-packs for $1 at the Dollar Tree. Divide students up into pairs and students will play Addition War. Students will shuffle the cards and divide the cards in half. They will then turn over the top cards at the same time from their deck and add the numbers shown. the first person to say the correct sum will take the both cards. The person with the most cards at the end of playing-time is the winner. You will want to inform your students that an Ace card is 1 and all face-cards are worth 10. 

1:50-2:05: Recess

2:05-2:25: Read Aloud
Gooney Bird Greene

2:30-2:45: Release Students
Have students pack up and release them to carpool, buses, etc.

Friday

8:00-8:20: Enter the Classroom and Morning Procedures

Walk students into the classroom and greet each student as they walk into the classroom. Students will be practicing the procedures you taught Monday; such as, turning in forms/homework, hanging up backpacks, where to place water bottles, and  take out their self-selected reading book to their seat for silent reading warm-up.

8:20-8:45: Class Meeting/Reward Tag Procedures
Pull your students to the carpet and discuss what Friday class meetings will look like in your classroom. Discuss how students can earn reward tags in your classroom and that you will have meetings every Friday to hand these out. Give each student a reward tag chain and a Back to School Reward Tag to start their collection.

I model how we cheer and clap for each student as they receive a reward tag during these meetings. I allow my students to wear their reward tag chains all day if they'd like, and I collect these at the end of the day. I suggest having a spot in your classroom to hang or store the chains, so that they do not get lost.

You can read more about my reward tags by clicking HERE.

8:45-9:15: Writing Workshop Day Three
Pull students to the floor and discuss places where they will be allowed to write during independent writing time. Discuss how they will move to these locations and what it should look and sound like. Give students a few minutes to walk around the room and sit at the different places that they will be allowed to write at.

Bring students back to the floor and record on an anchor chart your transition rules. Ask a student to show the class how NOT to go to their writing spot. As a class, discuss what that child did wrong. Then, ask the same student to go to their writing spot the correct way. Do this a couple of times with different students, many students love modeling the what not to do and what to do!   

9:15-9:30: Read Aloud

9:30-10:30: Procedure Board Game
Place students in groups of 3-4. Use any game, such as Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, or Connect Four for this activity. Use classroom procedure cards as the play cards. You can find editable procedure cards and more information about procedures by clicking HERE. Students will review classroom procedures as they play the game in their groups.



10:30-11:15: Specials

11:15-11:40: Independent Reading Stamina
Remind students how long they were able to complete independent reading yesterday and pick a goal for today to increase that stamina. Remind your class what it should look and sound like. Have your students grab their independent reading book, find a comfortable spot in the room, and begin reading while you time them. 

Stop the clock a few minutes after yesterday's time and graph it on your chart. 

11:40-12:20: Lunch and Recess

12:20-12:35 Read Aloud
Gooney Bird Greene

12:35-1:00: Responding to Reading Day Two
Model the procedures again that you taught yesterday for responding to reading. You can find out more information about teaching these procedures by clicking HERE.

1:00-1:50: Math Center Instruction
Today is the day that you will be teaching students how to complete the independent center activities. I always start with the back to school set of centers because they are a review of the skills from the previous grade level. This takes the pressure off of learning a new math skill and allows students to focus on learning the routines and procedures. It is also a great way to get a feel of your students' math level.



Gather your students in a circle on the floor where everyone will be able to see you. Start by modeling the first center. Read the directions and talk through how you would complete the work. You don't have to tell them every answer, but give them enough of a model to know what you expect of them. Do this for each of the ten centers. I would do lots of "turn and tell your neighbor..." during this time to keep students engaged and to demonstrate that they understood your directions.

You can find the rest of my first 8 days of starting math centers by clicking HERE

You can find my back to school centers and centers for the entire year by clicking HERE.

1:50-2:05: Recess

2:05-2:25: Back to School Four Corners
You can end the week with a class game of four corners. You will want to label each corner with a different number, 1-4. You will want to prepare cards or slides on Power Point ahead of time with getting to know you questions and 4 possible answers. For example: "If you could travel to any of these places, which would you choose? 1- Hawaii 2- New York City 3- Disney World 4- Yellowstone National Park" One person stands in the middle of the room with their eyes closed, while the other students pick an answer and move to the corresponding number corner. The person that is "it" calls out a number. Everyone at that corner has to sit and are out of the game. Continue playing with other question stems until there is only one player left. 

2:30-2:45: Release Students
Have students pack up and release them to carpool, buses, etc.


I hope this post is helpful and sparks some ideas for you as you begin planning for you first week of school. Remember to be flexible! Your students may take longer to complete an activity, or they may be quicker! I always found my first week lesson plans scribbled on with time changes as we went along. 

You can click HERE to grab a cheat sheet of my first week lesson plans.


Most importantly, DON'T RUSH teaching procedures and building a community. You can read more about practicing procedure by clicking HERE

These first few weeks will set the tone for the rest of your year. Do you need a pep talk about this first week? Check out this POST to read some words of encouragement. 

Have a Not So Wimpy day,