As summer comes to an end and the beginning of the school year draws near, teachers and students start thinking about the upcoming year and what it will hold. This time of year is filled with excitement, anticipation, nervousness, sadness, and many other emotions as we transition into the new school year. As a teacher, the very first week of school can set the tone for the rest of the year. Ideally, we want to use this new beginning to form positive relationships with our kiddos, establish an atmosphere of growth and learning, and start forming the routines and procedures for our classroom. To help accomplish those aims for your class, take a look at these six activities to use during the first week of school!
6 Fabulous Activities for the First Week of School
1. Hopes and Dreams
The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to set goals. To get my students thinking about what they want out of this year and for the future, we always discuss their “hopes and dreams” some time during the first week of school. Now, this is not my original idea. It is actually part of the Responsive Classroom program (which we used in my first school) and their website has TONS of ideas about how to introduce “hopes and dreams” to your kiddos.
So, this is what I do with my students:
- Discuss what it means to set goals and why they are important. (You could also do a relevant read aloud here, if you want.)
- Share my hopes and dreams for this school year and show them my completed hopes and dreams sheet.
- Have students share their ideas for hopes and dreams, then write some on a class anchor chart.
- Hand out the hopes and dreams sheet for students to complete.
- Take a picture of each of my students and get wallet size prints (you can order online from CVS or other drug stores) made to put on their completed hopes and dreams sheet.
- Hang up our hopes and dreams in the classroom!
One of the most important things to do in the first week is to get to know your students and for your students to get to know each other. This helps build strong relationships in your classroom and sets the stage for a positive, productive school year. To start the process, this get to know you board game is perfect (and lots of fun)! Here’s how to use it:
- Print out boards (preferably on card stock and then laminated) for each group of students.
- Give each group a board, game pieces, and a die.
- To play, students take turns rolling the die, moving that number of spaces, and answering the question they land on.
- Whoever gets to the end first wins!
3. Guess Who? Game
This Guess Who? game is another great way for your class to start getting to know each other and building positive relationships. It is fun for students and requires very little prep, which makes it perfect for the first week of school! Just follow these easy steps:
- Give every student a paper bag with this instruction sheet attached.
- Students go home and gather 5 items that represent themselves, but that can fit in the bag. (For example: a favorite book, a picture of their pet, sports items, something in their favorite color, a souvenir from their favorite place, something they collect, etc.)
- Students bring the bags back to school with their name written on the paper INSIDE of the bag.
- The teacher chooses a bag and reveals the items inside, then the class tries to guess who the bag belongs to.
- After guessing is over, that student can have a few minutes to explain the items in the bag and why they are important.
**Note: This game works best if you have students bring in their bags sometime during the first week, then do a few bags each day until you get through the whole class. It usually takes waaaaay too long if you try to do them all at once!**
4. One Thing I Want My Teacher To Know Is…
If you pay attention to what goes on over the Internet, I’m sure you have seen this idea before. However, I am adding it to my list of first week activities because I think it is very useful (especially at the beginning of the year)! The purpose of the activity is this: sometimes our students want us teachers to know something, but they struggle to find the time or the courage to say it. By providing them the opportunity to write down what they want us to know, we may find out things about our students that we wouldn’t otherwise.
Although you could do this activity many different ways, here is a simple method:
- Hand out this sheet (or just a blank sheet of paper) and tell students to write down one thing they want you, as their teacher, to know.
- Then, give your students some time to write or draw!
This activity is quick and to-the-point. Plus, you may be surprised (or shocked!) by what you learn from such a simple exercise.
5. Tell Me About Your Summer!
Most kids LOVE to share their experiences, especially if they have done something new or exciting or fun. Giving students a chance to share about their summer makes them feel valued and helps you get to know them better. Your students can share orally or with a more structured written activity – whatever works best for you room! Here are some ideas for having your kids share about their summer:
- Oral round robin
- Pair and share
- Write you a letter about their summers
- Complete this summer memory book (pictured to the right)
- Write the best thing about their summers on post-it notes and collect on the front board
- Share one at a time in front of the class
6. Read Books About Behavior
Many children love to listen to a good read aloud, so reading a picture book is a great way to introduce behavior expectations at the start of the year. Books can prompt productive first week discussions about rules and behavior. You can find books about pretty much any topic you want: responsibility, calling out, perseverance, kindness, listening, gratitude, taking turns, being a bucket filler, tattling, and many more.
The first week of school is such a crucial time of year. I hope these activities for the first week of school help you make the most it in your classroom!
Did you use some of the first week activities in this post? If so, let me know how it went by leaving a comment below or sending me an email!