OH MY GOODNESS! Is it really already back to school time???
Trying to figure out what to do during those first few days of school seems to always be the most challenging. Do you read aloud a bunch of books? Have some community-building activities? Maybe a couple of coloring sheets? All of the above?
The first day of school sets the tone and will determine the rest of the school year with your new class. Here are 8 fabulously-fun first day of school activities you should do with your students!
Before I jump right into the top 8 first day of school activities, I wanted to make sure you have my Free Guide to Making Social Emotional Learning at the heart of your classroom. I totally understand what it’s like thinking about yet another thing to do in your already busy classroom… that’s why I created this free guide so that I could share my secrets to easily prioritising social emotional learning in your classroom. Click on the image below to download it today!
8 First Day Of School Activities
These first day of school activities are perfect for getting to know your students and making sure they understand classroom expectations.
Activity #1: First Day of School Photo
Believe me. You are gonna want to do this activity first. Get those first day pictures right when students walk in the door. The parents take a lot of time to pick out the perfect first day of school outfit, and by the end of the day, it is covered in dirt, whatever they had for lunch, and paint, markers, or other craft items.
Grab a cute school bus balloon or cut-out and have the students pose with it. This would make the cutest bulletin board for back to school night or just as decoration in the hallway. You could also get one of those popular first day of school signs. Don’t worry. You don’t have to make it super complicated… just grab a small whiteboard or chalkboard and write “First Day of Preschool ” with the year. Simple but effective!
Activity #2: Teach Procedures and Routines
Every teacher knows procedures and routines are very important for classroom management. Going over different routines like circle time, free play, playground, lunch, etc., is crucial. When students know the expectations and routines, there will be fewer behavioral problems and distractions. Using classroom signals and signs can help students remember behavior and school routines.
Activity #3: Read Books About Back To School
This first day of activity goes perfectly with activity #1. There are so many back-to-school books your students will love, and many will help teach students how to behave appropriately in the classroom. Easily teach friendship, self-regulation, behavior expectations, and more through books.
Activity #4: Tour The School
The first day is probably the first time in a new school or any school for most of your students. If your preschool classroom is part of a larger school, it is always a good idea to show your students where all the important places are.
Teaching students exactly where the bathroom (if not in the room), nurse’s office, lunch room, and gymnasium are will help calm many of your student’s nerves because they will be more familiar with their surroundings. Turning it into a fun scavenger hunt is a great way to take a tour and get students thinking using the clues to find the following location within the school.
Activity #5: Connect With Your New Students
This activity is where you pull out all the fun getting to know you activities. There are always so many activities on the first day of school. But make sure to take the time to connect with your students! Whether you play games, read books about friendship, ask your students getting to know you questions during circle time, or bring in a first week challenge board. Use these first couple of days to get to know your students and let them get to know each other. I love this time of year and have created easy first-week activities and challenges.
Connecting with your new students is also a great time to start some curriculum! No, I don’t mean the ABCs or number recognition. I mean social-emotional learning! Little learners need some help identifying and understanding their emotions and what an opportunity coming back to school is to start talking about our first day feelings!
Starting from day one, it’s a good idea to help your students identify their emotions, normalize them, and learn to cope. I use this first day feelings resource to help my youngsters understand their feelings during the first day of preschool! The aim here is to help your young learners identify their feelings, to label them, to know they are normal and to provide strategies for dealing with those first day feelings.
Activity #6: Plan Independent Work
There will always be some time when students need to work independently, which will often come at the beginning or end of the school day. Although you’ll have so many first day of school activities planned, giving students some time to work independently is always a good idea. It will provide you with an opportunity to get organized. Collect forms, organize important papers, get supplies out and ready, etc. It will also allow you to observe how the students work by themselves or while at a table with shared supplies. Simple first day of school activities are play-doh, mindfulness coloring, and puzzles.
Activity #7: Introduce Classroom Mottos
Classroom mottos are a great way to build classroom community. They help set the tone for the year and help with teaching values and beliefs of our classroom community.
Why not create some classroom mottos together and display them in the classroom. Looking for ideas? Check out this blog post 9 Important Class Mottos for the Start of the Preschool Year.
Activity #8: Have Fun
Obviously, you want to have some fun on that first day. School isn’t all work for students or teachers! Play games, try and solve riddles, play Would You Rather Questions , get outside, and enjoy some fun centers. I always love playing Who Took The Cookie From The Cookie Jar or A Great Wind Blows. Any activity that will break the ice between you and the students is a YES!
One fun activity I have seen some teachers do is create a classroom time capsule. Have each student color in a picture, or trace their name. Put it in the time capsule and keep it somewhere in your room. On the last day of school, have the students repeat the same activity they did on the first day. Open the time capsule and let them compare their before and after pieces of work. It’s so funny to see their reaction to the first day of work compared to the last day of school work.
Fun First Day Of School Activities For Preschoolers
No matter what first day of school activity you choose to start with, all of these will get you moving in the right direction. Keeping things short, sweet, and special will also help you with classroom management and keep each student engaged enough not to miss their parents!
You want to spend the first day of school getting to know your students, building a relationship with them, and helping them learn the routines, procedures, and expectations in your classroom.
These 8 first day of school activities are just a couple of suggestions. I know there are probably a ton more out there, but these are my go-to during the first few days of school.
If you found this first day of school activities blog post useful, keep on reading ….