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First Days of School Activities

Compiled By: maj

A collection of great Proteacher ideas to help everyone get through those first days of school with a smile.

First Couple of Weeks of School
Posted by: Becky

Here are some things that I do the first couple of weeks as beginning of the school year activities:

***We make time capsules (a paper towel tube). We stuff is with a self-portrait, a writing sample and a writing prompt ("My favorite thing to do is....."). We attach a note that says "Do not open until June 22, 2002, or whatever the last day of school is. One the last day, they had so much fun looking at their handwriting from the first week of school.
***I used a large piece of oaktag to make a blank puzzle. The amount of puzzle pieces should be equal to how many kids there are in your class plus yourself. Give each child a piece and have them write their name on it and draw a few things that represent them. Once this is done, get together in a circle and put the puzzle back together as a class. Once it is complete, tell the children that you are like a puzzle, every piece (person) is different, but you all fit together perfectly. You can even hang it on a bulletin board with a title "Ms. Smith's Class.....A Perfect Fit!"
*** Read The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. Do a writing prompt "I am important because....."
*** Read Ten Black Dots. Give them a dot tracer. Trace 10 black dots and have them create their own picture. Give them a strip that says "With my ten black dots I made..........."
***Do a Kevin Henkes author study.
For Chrysantheum, make a graph "How many letters are in your name?"
For Owen, give the kids a piece of yellow felt. Tell them that it is their own piece of Owen's fuzzy.
For Wemberely Worried, talk about some of the things that the class might be nervous about for First Grade. Last year I had a former study come in while we read the story. She was there to address the fears and since the kids knew that she had just been in my class they really listened to her.
Some of the teacher websites have other ideas for extensions with Kevin Henkes books (#####).
***A good way to establish classroom rules is by having the kids write and draw the one rule that they think is the most important rule to follow in school.I give this as a homework assignment on the first night.
Share and discuss what they wrote/drew. Come up with a list of rules. Make sure that you come up with a list of consequences as well. Look at the other posts that talk about the Stoplight management systems. I use that (the four colired cards) and it's very effective.
***There is also a book called When Will I Read? by Miriam Cohen. It's part of the Welcome to First Grade series. That's another good series to use as a Spotlight Author.
Good luck!

first days of school
Posted by: Katy

A 5th grade teacher at my school does an activity that I think is great and could be possible for 2nd. She makes silhouettes of students heads, they cut them out and then cut out pictures and words from magazines to fill them in with and the pictures and words represent who they think they are. She then mounts them and keeps them as a border around the room (up high)so they can reflect on them at the end of the year. You could also have them use mirrors and people color markers to make self-portraits, frame them and have them write goals around the frame. At back to school night, I've had parents at the end try to guess which self-portrait they think their child made and then they need to make their own self-portrait and the children try to guess the next day. This reminds the parents what it's like to learn by having to do something with others around you doing the same activity and the kids love it.
I also read a lot of stories the first week and teach the kids who don't know already about making text-to-self connections. After reading and discussing a book, I'll ask them to write about a connection they had. This helps me assess reading comprehension, basic writing skills, and get to see their personality a bit by the type of response they write.
For those students who aren't big into reading and writing, it's really great to teach some fun math games. Teach a different game each day and have everybody playing at the same time. At the end of the week, put out all the games and let children choose partners and choose which game they want to play. You could ask a First grade teacher for an end of First grade math game that was successful and fun to have as one game they already know and feel comfortable with.
Lastly, our district has a ton of curriculum to cover and I find that if I spend too much time doing beginning of the year activities, I fall behind schedule and stress at the end of the year. So I would recommend diving into the core curriculum the very first week. Science or Social studies units are really fun for most children so I try to do a lesson almost every day the first week before going to our usual 2-3 times a week. Any art projects are always a big hit. I try to do enough things that by the end of the week children have a few things to take home and we have a few things hanging in our classroom to make it feel like the students' classroom.
Hope some of that helps. I think you'll love Second. I do!

first days of school
Posted by: Rebecca

I would let the students give suggestions for your class name. We usually choose one that starts with the same sound as the beginning of my last name (ex. Carter's Cool Cats, Ritter's Rockets, etc.) Then I list all the suggestions on the board and then we take a vote. Students write their favorite on a little slip of paper and turn it in to the basket. We then tally up the points on the board(math).

As far as first days activities I concentrate on learning the rules and community building. Here are some that I do.

We go over rules in the gym(early morning and assembly), schoolwide, classroom, cafeteria, playground. We discuss why rules are important. We act out scenarios, journal write, draw pictures, make a class book..all on rules.

One of the very first things I do on the first day is to write about what they think third grade will be like and write about how they were feeling coming to a new grade. What were their feelings about a new teacher? Then we read, Teacher From the Black Lagoon. We talk about how the boy felt about his teacher and what ended up happening. Then they share their writing (if they want) and we compare that to how they are feeling now that they have arrived at this grade.

I do the name game where we get in a circle. We go around the circle with the first person saying their name. Then the second person says person one's name and then their own. Person three says all previous names and then their own and so on. I am usually the last so I have to name everyone. I do this the next day also. They all scramble to get in the number one position but I surprise them and start the opposite way, with me still being last. They love it.

I read the book, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. We talk about how just one person can make someone feel bad about themselves. Since this is a book about names, we make a name tag. I give them die cut letters of their first name and stickers to decorate. They glue these letters on a piece of posterboard cut for a name tag and they decorate. Or they could make a mobile (like a tier) with a circle on top(glue on their picture),hang a triangle under that(list their family members) and then a rectangle under that and cut and glue pictures of things they like to do. You could hang them from the ceiling of your room above each one's desk.

I always bring in personal items so I can share (a picture of my family, a craft I have made, my favorite book, etc.)and put them in a brown lunch bag. After I share, then I give them homework. I give each a brown lunch bag. I tell them to fill it with 5 (ONLY 5) items from home that would tell about them. The items MUST fit into the bag or can't be shared. The next day, we take turns letting them share their items. They love this!

I read letters written from last year students(you obviously can't do that but can next year). These letters are written like.... "Dear new third grader", This is what you should know about third grade......They like to hear these especially if one is from a brother or sister.

Sorry this is so long. I hope you can use atleast some of these ideas. Have a great year!

1st days of school
Posted by: suzie

A few things that seem to work for me...

I make a friendship web using yarn. We all get into a circle and each student states their name. (In my school, the students are fairly familiar with most of the other students, but may not remember their names). Then the game begins... I'll go first stating my name. Then, holding a portion of the yarn, I toss the ball across the circle calling out a student's name. That student must say my name, their name, then another student's name (who then will get the ball of yarn). That new student has to say my name, the 1st student's name, then their name. They then call out another name and throw the ball of yarn to that person. Each student continues in this way holding onto a part of the string before throwing it. In the end, they have built a friendship web and learned the names of their classmates, too.

"Me in a Bag"...
Kids bring in a paper bag with about five things that really say something about them. It could be a picture of their family or pet, a trinket from vacation, etc. Then at school, each child gets 3 minutes or so to explain each of the items in the bag. Its a great way for their classmates me to find out the students' interests.

Personalized name tags...
I set up a set of directions for the students to follow to design a name tag for the front of their desk. Just some examples of the steps: If the student has a birthday in Jan.-Apr. they get a yellow strip of paper, May-Aug. gets white, Sept.-Dec. gets light blue. They write their names in the middle large enough for visitors to see from the front of the room with their favorite color. In the upper right hand corner they a draw simple picture of their favorite food, upper left hand corner, they draw symbols to represent sisters and brothers ( a circle with a face and long hair - sister, short hair - brother).... You get the point. When they're finished, they get together in partners or small groups and trade name tags going through each one by one "reading" the symbols to find out more about their new friends.

First Day of school
Posted by: Janet

As you are trying to set the scene for the year to follow it is important to include all the stakeholders in your activities so..... invite parents, welcome year 1 students and students new to other year levels as well as celebrating the return of everyone else -- including STAFF!
I've had groups make up paper patchwork quilts using wrapping paper as the background for each segment and used lined paper (Yrs 2-7) and placing (YR1) and we have written a welcome to our school or a thank-you for letting me be part of our school (New kids) on the lined section.
The whole thing was then put on display in the library.
Take photos of all the kids - you'll need to have a couple of colour cartridges ready but if you put a few in the one picture it helps. Make the poses very informal and let the parents take the photos. Make up into a collage for display under a WELCOME TO........ banner.
One school I heard about had a prayer said by the school captains blessing the safe return of all school members. Another had the RE teachers unite to say a prayer over the tools of the trade .... chalk, dusters, books, pencils etc. hope that they would aide the students in the coming year.
Hope this helped a bit.
I'll ask they rest of our staff (school 460) for any other ideas.
I understand what you are trying to do as I've done most of my teaching at small schools (100 or so)
Best of Luck

First Days
Posted by: KcK

Two and half days or two half days? We start with two half days then come back the next week for full days. In those two days I:

*go over rules and consequences - I take pictures of the kids following the rules and fufilling the consequences (they love to role play breaking the rule) and then have them make the posters and add the pics.
*Getting to Know You Glyph necklace- this actually takes a bit
*Nametags- I make nameplates for our hallway board- I write their name in cursive on a sentence strip and then go over it with black marker. The kids use crayons to color pretty hard (for bright colors) all over the strip in whatever pattern they want. Then we go over their name with puffy paint. They make really cool nameplates to display their work in the hall.
*Open House Craft- our open house is the week after school starts, so I use those 2 days to make a craft for open house.
*Library- We organize all the books in our library. This does take some time.
*Procedures - we go over some of the procedures and classroom jobs that I have for my helpers of the week
*Centers - I split the class up into groups and give each groupd a center to explore for about 20 minutes. Then each group tells the rest of the class about the things in that center.
*LOTS of team building activities and we practice our morning meeting format on the 2nd day. I also do an introductory guess the covered word about Mrs. K lesson.
I usually overplan and then end up spilling over into the next week... but better to overplan then underplan they always say! :)

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Activities for the first few days
Posted by: Robin

Congratulations on getting fourth grade. It is my favorite grade to teach. I have several things I do the first week of school. The first day includes a lot of introductions, explanations, and talking. I try to break it up with several different activities.

1. When students arrive, I have a few directions on the board...what to do with materials, supplies, lunches, etc. At their seats are two pieces of paper. The first is a "Pop Quiz." It includes 10-15 True/False statements about myself. The other piece of paper is an interest inventory including likes, dislikes,
favorites, etc.

2. After we take care of some initial business, I go over the quiz. It is a fun way to tell the students about myself. The student who gets the most correct wins a pencil or piece of candy.

3. The day continues with some more talking...establishing rules and procedures.

4. Bingo...I give students a card with 16 boxes. Each box
includes a different statement:
Has blonde hair.
Is the youngest
in the family.
Wears glasses.
Has been to another country.
Can count to ten in another language.
Was born in the same month.

Students must walk around the room and get the signatures of classmates to complete the bingo board. It's a great way for students to get to know each other. Each student can only sign a
person's board in one square. I participate in the game, too.
Afterwards, we talk about the squares and all the people who were eligible to sign that square.

5. A writing activity I like to complete during the first week is a poem adaptation on Judith Voirst's "If I were in charge of the world" You can find some examples on the 03-04 Student Work page of my website. I begin the assignment by reading the poem to the students. We then brainstorm lots of different things we would change if we were in charge of the world. Next, I give students a copy of the poem with parts left out. I share my own poem as an example. They write in the things they want. It takes a little time to help them make sense of their ideas, but the poems are cute when they are done. After we edit the poems, students publish them in MS Word and add clip art. I put the final products on a bulletin board with a large Earth cut out and a banner reading, "If I were in charge of the world..."

6. All About Me Poster This is a homework assignment for the first 2 weeks of school. Each student must cut a piece of posterboard into a meaningful shape. Next, they divide their shape
into 5 parts: 1-Family 2-Favorites 3-Friends 4-School 5-Playtime. Students can add clip art, photos, or drawings. As the posters trickle in, students present them to the class and then I hang them in the hallway. Students have used the following shapes-Football, soccer ball, ballet shoes, USA flag, state outline, McDonald's arches, etc.

I hope these ideas are helpful. Have a great year.

first days of school
Posted by: Gretchen

I love to have the students interview each other using a Venn diagram graphic organizer. I give them a list of questions to get them started; how many brothers and sisters, favorite food, book or movie, etc. The things they have in common are written in the overlapping section while the unique qualities are in the individual sections. Next I have the pairs introduce eachother to the class using the organizer. They love it.

Instead of using the produced calendar dates, have a blank square on each student's desk. Ask them to design one of the days for the month. Use these instead.

Inside outside circle; Split the class into two groups. One group forms a shoulder to shoulder circle facing outward. The second group forms a circle facing inward. (one to one with the inner circe) Have them shake hands and ask the outer circle to respond to a teacher directed question. The inner circle listens and responds. You can have the outer circle rotate around the stationary inner circle and ask a new question. It is soooo fun.

First days
Posted by: Susan/5th

Relax, Jay - I think we all feel overwhelmed right before school starts. I know I did!! We've been in school over a week now, and these are some things that made the transition easier:

1. Have nametags on desks so students know where to sit. Have their first assignment on the board and ask them to begin working. Explain that you'll instruct them what to do with their bookbags in a little while. The assignments can be information sheets, etc... I had a piece of notebook paper on each desk and told them to write me a letter and tell me about themselves, their families, etc... It helped me see their writing ability as well as know more about them.

2. After most students were finished, I went over some general procedures (quiet when I'm talking, what to do to begin the day, etc...). I told them we would continue going over these daily until I was sure everyone knew what to do.

3. Have a bulletin board that says "Getting to Know You" and have pictures and tidbits about yourself. I used that to tell who I was. I have a picture of me graduating college, former classes, etc... The bulletin board next to it says "Math about me" and is where students use math equations to write information about themselves (3x2)-2= the number of kids in the family, etc... Then have a picture of each child (taken the first day and developed as soon as possible) next to their equations.

4. Have assessment tests ready to give. This takes up time, but it sure lets you know where the students are - so you know where to begin teaching. It also shows them that you mean business and that your classroom is a place of learning.

Sorry, this is getting long, but it gives you a general idea. I had 3X the amount of work that was needed, but I used it for day 2, so it was fine. You'll do fine - and your student teacher will probably LOVE to try out new ideas he/she has!

"fifth grade first two days"
Posted by: Tabitha

This will be my third year teaching fifth grade. I always have a goodie bag on their desk, a puzzle welcoming them (they have to put it together to find the message), and an interview paper that they have been assigned to interview each other at their tables. I also have a letter from last years students on their desks for them to read. Then their is a writing assignment on the board first thing with of course a welcoming message from me. This gives me time to get morning routines done. Then we introduce each other.
This year I am going to have them in groups come up with three questions for me to answer about me. Then each table will get a chance to ask me the three questions. This will give me a quick idea of how they will work together at each group and who I will have to move the next day or so. I also have another get to know you that I am going to use around skittles. Each child takes as many as they want and passes the container around. Each color will have something specific that the child has to talk about. Orange=favorite food Red= favorite music group etc. I will not tell them that how ever many they choose is how many things they have to share until everyone has some infront of them. Also I am putting up a small bulletin board around me. Pictures, hobbies, awards, and my fifth grade report card.
Then we start going over procedures, Class Code Of Conduct, consequences and rewards. I already have this typed up and ready to go home in a packet for my parents. Then we go over hallway behavior, lunch room behavior, specials behavior, how to come in in the morning, how I want papers titled, when to use the bathroom, when to sharpen pencils, and so on. I will go over this for the first two weeks every day. You must make sure they know what you expect from them. Then you can ask them what they expect from you. I always find this interesting. If you need any more ideas or help feel free to email me.

1st days
Posted by: Susan

Of course, procedure, procedure, procedure. There are no questions about what is expected of them by the end of the 2nd week. Mingled in with teaching procedures, I do the following:
1. They write a letter to me, telling me about themselves, their family, etc... Shows me their writing ability and insight into their homelife.
2. Crossword puzzle with the procedures on it.
3. They bring in one item that tells about themselves - they get 1 minute to speak, then the class can ask questions about them.
4. People Bingo - where the kids have to find people on their paper that matches it (someone wearing earrings, someone with 1 sister, etc...).
5. Team brainstorming - put them into teams and give them scenerios to see how they'd handle situations (for ex: your team is going to recess soon. What games can you play so that everyone gets to participate?).
6. Time Capsule - Take each child's picture (after you get the permission slip back to take them!) and let them fill out the rest with their favorite book, recreation, etc... Bring in a measuring tape and write down their height, also (I used to do weight, but some were too sensitive). Glue their picture onto the paper, put them all in a large folder (seal it!), and save it for the last week of school to see how much they've changed!

I'm sure there are more, but that's the main ones I make sure I do.

First Days of School
Posted by: Robin

I like to use a lot of good children's literature. I like the books of P.K. Hallinan (My Teacher's My Friend) and Nancy Poydar's First Day Hooray. The children and I use them to discuss our joys and expecations about second grade. I also do a bulletin board activity called "Heard it Through the Grapevine!". Each child draws a picture of something they heard and/or would like to learn or do in grade 2. They also write a sentence for their picture, and I type it to fit on the grape.Then, I arrange their individual grapes into a bunch. It's fun to look at how their artwork and expectations change from the beginning of the year to the end. We also do self-portraits and some writing about ourselves and our likes and interests. Mailbox and Carson Delosa publish excellent activity books for the different months and separate ones for back-to-school. You might want to look at some of these if you have access to a teacher supply store.

first days
Posted by: Karen

I put my students into pairs for the purpose of interviewing each other. They are given a sheet of questions to ask each other.(hobbies,favorite vacation,pets,number in family etc.) Then they each take the responses and turn them into an introduction. It takes a couple of days to get this done. When everyone is ready, (around day 3), they take turns introducing each other. The person being introduced sits on a stool in front of the class, while their partner reads the introduction. This activity has been quite a hit!

First Day Jitters...
Posted by: teachermlb

I read my students the book First Day Jitters. It's a cute picture book where someone is very scared to go to a new school and it turns out to be the teacher instead of a student. Even my middle school kids love listening to picture books.

I tell them what gives me "jitters" on the first day of school. Then I have them write me a paragraph on their first day jitters. I give them no instructions on how to write the paragraph - they just write. This way I can see if they indent, capitalize, etc.

It's a good judge of their abilities.

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Some ideas
Posted by: msharkey

In the past I've done these. Not sure what I'll do this year. And by the way, I still playing with playdough and I'm 41 years old.

Had the kids work on a BB display (like paper T-Shirts or fish_ - whatever my "Welcome Board" is -
Coloring sheets
Draw a picture of what they did over summer vacation
Draw me a picture of your favorite thing to do.Ooooooo - just had a brainstorm for the playdough idea. How about having the kids "cut out" the letters in their name with the playdough. A few years ago, I purchased a tin of cookie cutter letters and I have my own children use them at home with playdough.

Just thinking... the first week of school we focus on how our names are the same and different. Maybe I can give each child a different color playdough, have them cut out the letters and have them use this as some kind of way to compare/contrast their names. The kids would love that! Might get a little pricey though. I don't know. Just thinking off the cuff.


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