Favorite Back to School Activities

Ready to "cook up" a great first day of school? Check out this easy recipe filled with ideas and activities for back to school!

Ready to "cook up" a great first day of school? It's easy with this recipe for a successful start to the school year!

➤ Think about how you will set the tone for your classroom on the first day of school.
➤ Plan to keep students engaged and active.
➤ Prepare to build a positive rapport with students from the first instant that they become a part of the classroom community.

➤ Warm-Up Activity
➤ Get-to-Know-You Activity
➤ Game that gets students out of their seats
➤ Get-to-Know-the-Teacher Activity
➤ Writing Prompt
➤ Extension Activity

Once you've gathered your ingredients, you can get "cooking!" 


STEP 1: Begin with a warm-up activity. Place an activity on students' desks that they can complete independently. 

You might try a simple survey or poster. An All About Me poster is a quick way to learn about students. You can even gather them together for an awesome classroom display. 

Or, a survey is a wonderful way to collect information about students. You might include questions about where students like to sit, their favorite way to learn, and activities that they enjoy so that you can start connecting with students.

Back to school warm up activity that you can place on students' desks. The All About Me Poster is great for getting to know students. The student survey is perfect for back to school.

Another awesome warm-up activity is an "All About You" name tag. Students answer questions about themselves while coloring in a name tag based on their responses. Then, students can place the name tag on their desks to help you learn your students' names. This activity is particularly awesome if you have multiple sets of students. You can collect the name tags and re-distribute them each day during each class while you learn names. 

Oh, and as a bonus, you can gather them together and leave them with substitute teachers throughout the year!

If you'd like to check out ready-made Back to School Warm-Ups, just click here for the poster, here for the survey, and here for the name tags.

STEP 2: Mix in a get-to-know-you activity. Give students a chance to share about themselves and learn about their classmates with an engaging get-to-know-you activity. 

One of my favorites is a doodle-inspired mini-book. Students transform a single sheet of paper into a doodley mini-book all about themselves. After students make the mini-book it's fun to hang them on a clothesline. Then, as students finish their work during the first days of school, you can encourage fast-finishers to grab a classmate's mini-book and learn about him or her.  

Students love this hands-on and doodle mini-book. They answer questions about themselves and then they create a doodle mini-book. It's a great first day of school activity!

Check out the doodle mini-book HERE.

Or, you could have students create this 3-D About Me Activity. Students create an infographic-style book about themselves.

After answering some simple questions, they do a little cutting and gluing to create a 3-D "About Me" display. These are especially fun because students can set them on their desks and then everyone can tour around the classroom and learn about their peers. (These are awesome for Open House too!) Learn more HERE.

STEP 3: Scatter in an activity that gets students moving. Since students crave opportunities to get up and out of their seats, plan to get your class moving on the first day of school. You might have students complete a scavenger hunt or even play a learning game that requires students to move around.

I'm a huge fan of this simple get-to-know-you activity that gets students moving (and you can download it for FREE here.) 

First, students make paper airplanes. They write their name and 3 interview questions on the wings. Then, students line up shoulder-to-shoulder and launch the planes. Next, they pick up a classmate's plane, find him or her, and ask the interview questions. You can repeat the airplane launch as often as you'd like! 

Find everything you need to do this activity in this FREEBIE. 

If you'd like to combine movement and learning on the first day of school, then you and your students will love this Back to School Doodle Infographic. 

First students fill in the infographic with facts about school. There are 21 facts and you can hide them around the room to get students moving. Then, they put together the infographic to make a fun and doodle-y poster! Check it out HERE.

 STEP 4: Sprinkle in a chance for students to get-to-know-you (their teacher). On the first day of school, students are very curious about you. They want to learn about you, so you'll want to be sure to share about yourself. You can give a simple biography of yourself, or you might try these easy and engaging activities:

Create a teacher interview question along with 4 or 5 prize cards for each student in your class. Then, tape the questions and the prize cards under students' seats before class begins. During class, explain to students that they all have something under their chairs. It might be a question and it might be a prize. If they get a prize card, have students keep it quiet. Then, call on students. They can either read a question for you to answer or reveal that they won a prize. If they won, you might give them a pencil, piece of candy, or a homework pass. You can find all my favorite questions HERE.

Great for any classroom, this back to school activity helps students learn about their teacher. Fun and engaging!

Or, you might have students complete a "Teacher Guess" about you. First, they predict the answers to questions about you. Then, as you reveal the answers, they earn points for every correct prediction. It's a fun activity that students truly enjoy! You can check it out HERE.

Help students get to know their teacher with this fun back to school activity!

 STEP 5: Add a fun writing prompt to your back to school activities. A writing prompt is a great way to gather a baseline for students' writing on the first day of school. You might give students a simple prompt about their summer or goals for the new school year. However, I love to add a fun creative writing prompt into the mix. 

For example, with this writing prompt students select a setting, character, problem, and 3 random objects. Then, they need to work them all into a story. It's fun, engaging, and a great way to see where your students are starting the school year. 

Here's a great writing prompt for the first day of school. Students love this fun creative writing task!

Find this writing prompt HERE or check out this collection 

STEP 6: Top it off with a review of tomorrow's warm-up. Set students up for success during your next day of school by quickly reviewing what they will need to do when they arrive to class. If you're planning to have students work through warm-ups like these This or That ELA warm-ups where students choose to do the "this" or the "that" activity, then you might quickly review what will be waiting on their desks when they arrive. 

Taking the time to preview tomorrow's warm-up is a great way to set expectations for students! If you're looking for some daily warm-ups, you might want to check out these This or That ELA warm-ups or these This or That Writing warm-ups!

STEP 7: Don't forget to have an extension activity just in case your lesson ends early. I love playing games like "Move If You..." which you can find for FREE HERE. While you may never get to the extension activity, it's a lifesaver if you need it!

When you're following this recipe for a great first day of school, you might want to:

➤ Greet students at the door and answer these questions for students right away:
       ➨ Where do I sit?
       ➨ Am I in the right classroom?
       ➨ What should I be doing right now?

➤ Also, be prepared to manage students' behavior on the first day of school. Ensure that you have a positive classroom management system in place and ready to use if you need it!

Well, there you have it, my recipe for a great first day of school. Be sure to download all the ideas with links AND the FREE airplane activity HERE!

Thanks so much for stopping by,
Mary Beth

P.S. If you'd like MORE free resources for your classroom, be sure to join the Brain Waves Instruction club!


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