One of the best things you can do on the first day of school is help your students feel comfortable in the classroom – and enthusiastic about the year to come. These activities are designed to help you get to know one another, boost confidence and plan a memorable first day of school:
Read a Book
Choose one of several books that convey a positive message to get your school year started right. Depending on the age of your kids or the grade you teach, there are some excellent options that allow you to plan an activity as well. You may already have a book on your shelf that will work, or consider these classic picks:
- The Kissing Hand (great for kids who are nervous about returning to school)
- Llama Llama Misses Mama (for kids missing Mom)
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today (Daily happiness and kindness reminders)
Have each child draw a self-portrait, create a fun time capsule (to open at the end of the year) or flip book starring themselves. Not only will you ease first day jitters by letting kids focus on a topic they know extremely well, you’ll get some insight into how your class thinks, too. If you plan on having your students keep journals or notebooks for writing, “about me” activities are great story starters, too.
Make Welcome Bags
Create a bag for each student with small tokens and items with special meanings; explain the meaning of each item as you show it to the class. Some things to include:
- Smarties candy (to highlight how much thinking you’ll all do together)
- A plastic cabochon or gem (to show that each one of us is valuable)
- An eraser (to show that it is ok to make mistakes sometimes)
- A stick of gum (showing how we all stick together)
- A heart (for your safe and caring classroom)
- A star (to show we all shine when we do our best)
Create an oversized puzzle with a piece for each student in the class. As students arrive, hand out the blank pieces and have students decorate the pieces to represent themselves. Offer magazine pages, craft supplies, drawing supplies and fun extras then ask each student to share their completed piece with the group as they add it to the puzzle. Display the finished puzzle on a board to show how well you all fit together and work together as a team.
Hats Off to Our Class
Offer premade party hats along with a variety of craft supplies so each student can create a hat featuring their favorite things. Pages from magazines, stickers, foam shapes and more allow each student to create their own hat. Once made, the hats can be worn in the classroom to help with name recognition and as conversation starters, too.
The most meaningful activities allow the class to come together and bond as a group. The things you do on the first day help set the tone for the rest of the year; choosing meaningful activities that matter make it easy for everyone to get to know one another and get a positive feeling about the new year.