The first week of school is always a challenge. The kids have been playing and swimming for three months. How are you going to keep their attention for more than 5 minutes? You need some fun and engaging lessons for the first few days of school. Keep reading to discover 10 of my favorite first week of school activities. If you want even more ways to make this the BEST start to the school year ever, download my free Back to School Guide.
The first week of school is all about getting to know your students and getting them back into the school routine. You need activities that will get them up and moving and keep them engaged.
10 First Week of School Activities
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#1 – All About Me Bags
My students receive an All About Me Bag when they meet me at our Popsicle and Packet night the week before school. It has a note on the front telling them about the treats that are inside. It also instructs them to decorate the bag and put three things in it to share the first week of school.
The students bring the bag back on the first day of school, and we start the day by sharing 5 bags. Each student tells about the three items they brought. Then, they ask for 3 questions or comments from their classmates. This helps us get to know each other and make connections.
We share 5 bags each morning for the first week of school. By the end of the week, everyone has shared.
Get the Beginning of the Year Bag letter in the 6 Getting to Know You Activities for the First Week of School.
#2 – MINGO
All kiddos love playing BINGO. We start the year with a game of MINGO, where the students have to find classmates who fit certain characteristics.
This activity gets the kids up and moving and talking to each other. When they find someone who has done an activity, that person has to sign the paper. The goal is to fill the whole MINGO board.
This MINGO board is also included in the 6 Getting to Know You Activities for the First Week of School.
#3 – Back to School Unlock the Box Mystery
An Unlock the Box Mystery is the perfect way to get your students up and moving the first day of school. We all know how hard it is for them to sit still for long periods of time!
Put a treat into a locked box and challenge your students to solve the clues and unlock the box. To solve the clues, your students will have to explore the classroom and get to know their new classmates.
Find everything you need for the Back to School Unlock the Box Mystery in the Teach Without Tears TPT Store.
Get more tips for engaging your students with Unlock the Box Mysteries.
#4 – Classroom Rules
One of the most important things to do the first week of school is to establish the classroom rules and practice them. In the past, I’ve read the book Do Unto Otters, and the students helped me write the rules.
This year, we have four school rules – Be Kind, Be Responsible, Be Respectful, and Be Ready to Learn. I’m still going to read the book. Then, the students are going to make a list of what each of those school rules looks like.
#5 – All About Me Writing
Another way I get to know my students is through an All About Me writing assignment. The students answer questions about their favorite things and draw pictures of themselves.
These make a great display for Meet the Teacher Night or any time parents are coming to school.
Get this All About Me Writing page in the 6 Getting to Know You Activities. There are even two differentiated versions – one for grades 1 and 2 and one for grades 3-5.
#5 – Me Quilt
The Me Quilt is an activity I’ve done since my first year teaching. It shows me how well my students are able to follow directions. The Me Quilt is a glyph where students have to listen to directions, find the correct item, and color it the correct color to tell about themselves.
This activity very quickly shows me who is able to follow directions. I know to keep an eye on those kiddos who are 3 steps behind me and those that keep asking me to repeat the directions.
Get the ME Quilt pattern and directions in the 6 Getting to Know You Actvities for the First Week of School.
#6 – Reading Interest Inventory
In addition to getting to know my students’ favorite foods and hobbies, I also like to start getting to know them as readers. I have them complete a Reading Interest Inventory so I can find out what types of books they enjoy and how they see themselves as readers.
We are starting Lucy Calkins Units of Study this year, so the Reading Inventory will let me help them select good-fit books for their book boxes.
You’ll also get this Reading Interest Inventory as one of the 6 Getting to Know You Activities. There are two differentiated versions of this activity – one for grades 1 and 2 and one for grades 3-5.
#7 – Numbers About Me
For math the first day, we get to know each other with numbers. I start by writing 5 numbers on the board that tell about me. Then, the students have to guess what the numbers mean. For example, they need to guess that 315 is my address.
Then, the students get a piece of paper and write 5 numbers about themselves. They trade papers with a partner, and the partner guesses what the numbers tell about them. This is a really fun activity, and it helps us get to know more about each other.
This Numbers About Me sheet is also included in the 6 Getting to Know You Activities.
#8 – Marshmallow STEM Challenge
Team building activities are so important at the beginning of the school year. The students need to be able to work together, even when the activity is challenging. I love STEM activities, and the Marshmallow Toothpick Bridges Freebie from Meredith Schaar is so much fun!
The students use mini marshmallows and toothpicks to build a bridge. Then, they have to see how many pennies their bridge can hold. It’s very challenging, and the students really have to work together to find a way to build a bridge that stands and holds weight.
#9 – First Day Jitters
My favorite beginning of the year read aloud is First Day Jitters. I read it every year. The students love finding out that teachers can be nervous on the first day of school, too. It leads to a great discussion of ways to overcome our fears and have a great school year.
#10 – School Rocks Game
At the end of the first week of school, we play the School Rocks Game. I put students into groups of 4. To play this board game, the students roll a die and choose a card. Each card asks a question about school. This game is a great way to review your classroom rules and expectations.
You can download it for free from Dots-n-Spots store on TPT.
Don’t forget to download your FREE Back to School Guide! These 7 tips will help you have the BEST start to the school year!
Want support from other teachers as you start the school year? Join the Teacher Self-Care Community Facebook Group for tips to have a fun, low-stress start to the school year!
Discover the 10 procedures you need to start teaching the first day of school.
As you’re planning for the first week of school, make sure you’ve done these things every teacher should do before the new school year starts.
What Do You Think?
What are your favorite first week of school activities?
Let me know if the comments below.
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