As the weather slowly starts to cool and summer activities wind down, it is time to think about an exciting time of the year: back to school! While it is sad to see summer go, it is nice to start the year as a relaxed, refreshed teacher! One of the critical parts of this preparation involves back-to-school activities. As a new set of students prepare to enter the classroom, they are getting ready for the first day of their school year. In students’ eyes, these activities set the tone for the entire year. It is time to show students how they are going to have a great year in a fun, exciting, interactive classroom!
8 Favorite First Week of School Activities for Elementary Teachers
1. Back to School Word Search
Everyone loves a fun word search! Here is a FREE word search that involves back-to-school words, such as friends and crayons. Even better, there are differentiated versions. Therefore, some students may have a shorter list to find if they are just learning how amazing word searches are or need a bit of help.
2. All About Me Activities
Each year, students begin in a classroom with a new teacher and many new faces. Even if they have classes with many of the same students as last year, everyone changes over the summer. Additionally, there may be new students in the classroom. Hence, have students complete All About Me activities. This may be by placing items to describe them in a bag or filling out sheets about themselves. It may also mean completing activities where they find classmates with common interests, such as favorite colors. As the teacher, make sure to participate! They need to get to know you just like they need to get to know each other!
3. Student Expectations of the Teacher
You know what you expect out of your students. Every teacher has a series of classroom management routines and procedures. But, do you know what they expect of you? One of my first day of school activities is to ask students what they would like to see in a teacher. What kind of teacher do they want? What do they NEED me for this school year? For this activity, I give each student a sticky note and ask them to write one thing that they want me to do for them this school year.
I really wish I’d have taken a picture of my students’ responses, but I did not. However, I LOVED the responses given by students in the photo above! This is a pic that I found posted by Mrs. Rosario on Pinterest.
4. Back to School Color by Code: Addition and Subtraction Facts
As a way to incorporate coloring and academics, try a FREE Color by Number. Here, students are practicing facts in order to create a beautiful picture. As a way to build relationships, students may even be able to work together. Since your students will love these, you can also grab the whole Back to School Color by Number Bundle. These resources are also differentiated in order to ensure everyone is learning at his/her appropriate level.
5. Bucket List
Oftentimes, students have a list of things they hope for to start the year. For some, they want to make a new friend. For others, they want to buy lunch for the first time. Therefore, allow students to make a bucket list for the year. Then, collect them to review. This is a great way to find out the hopes your students have! If you are a new teacher, or new to the grade-level you’re in, this is a great way to learn to identify more with your kids.
6. Back to School Beach Ball
As a way to transition students to the end of summer and provide a fun welcome back to school activity, bring in a beach ball. On it, write several questions that are appropriate for your students. For instance, it may be about the best part of summer or a favorite hobby. Then, students can all stand up and toss around the ball. Whenever they catch it, they answer a question a finger lands on.
7. Transportation Tags
While not exactly a Back to School Activity, these Back to School transportation tags are a must! This is especially true if you teach younger elementary students. Using these easy-prep transportation tags is a breeze. Simply print, laminate, and write student’s names on the back. With a hole punch and a piece of yarn or a break-away lanyard, your afternoon transportation routine will be a breeze. Couple it with this FREE transportation list, and you’ll have everything you need to make sure your little sweeties know exactly how they’re supposed to get home. You could even make it into a fun hands-on graphing activity!
8. Back to School Read Aloud
Back to school is an overwhelming time for students. While many are excited, many are also nervous. Therefore, reading a book to your students about the first day of school can settle nervous emotions. By doing this, they will see they are not alone! One of my ALL-TIME favorites is “You’re Finally Here!” by Melanie Watt. In this A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E picture book, the main character expresses his excitement that the reader has finally arrived. It’s been such an agonizing wait, but the reader (students) have finally made it!
First day of school activities help set the tone for the year. They help get students excited for a great year while providing a heartfelt welcome to the classroom. When getting ready to plan, be sure to check out the above activities as ways to ensure students are going to have an incredible year.
What are some of your favorite Back to School activities? Connect with me on Facebook or Instagram to join in on the discussion!