The first day of school is nerve-wracking for even the most confident children.
Whether your students are starting school for the very first time or returning after vacation, they will be feeling apprehensive.
As teachers, we want to ease children into the academic year and set a positive vibe for the rest of the semester.
One way to make sure this happens is by setting first day of school activities that the kids will love.
We’ve included 18 of our favorite ideas for you to try with your class below:
1. All About Me Poster
This is a great All About Me activity for preschoolers, but it works well with older children, too.
Supply your class with plenty of craft materials and have them create an “All About Me” poster.
They can include their name, a self-portrait, their hobbies, favorite books, and other personal details they’re willing to share.
Once they’re done, have each student present their poster to the class. This helps everyone get to know each other if it’s the first time they’re meeting.
2. Two Truths And A Lie
Two Truths and a Lie is a great activity for children of all ages.
Each student comes up with two true statements and one false statement about themselves.
They then share these with the class, and classmates try to guess which statement is the lie.
3. Time Capsule
Ask students to write down their hopes, dreams, and goals for the school year.
Place these in a time capsule (a box or container) to be opened at the end of the year.
This allows students to reflect on their growth and changes throughout the year.
4. Classroom Scavenger Hunt
Create a list of items or locations in the classroom (e.g., a certain book, a particular stationery item, a poster, etc.) and have students find them.
This is a great activity for familiarizing them with the classroom setup.
5. Interview a Classmate
Pair up your students and give them a list of questions to ask each other, such as their favorite subjects, hobbies, or summer memories.
After the interview, each student introduces their partner to the class using the information they learned.
6. Classroom Rules Collaboration
Instead of setting rules for the year ahead by yourself, involve students in the process.
Discuss as a class what rules are important for a safe and effective learning environment.
This can foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among students.
7. Group Puzzle Activity
Give each student a piece of a puzzle (you can cut up a large picture or image).
Then, ask them to work together to complete the puzzle, emphasizing teamwork and collaboration.
8. Letter To Future Self
Have students write a letter to their future selves, detailing their current feelings, what they hope to achieve, and any questions they might have.
Collect these letters and return them at the end of the school year.
9. Name Bingo
This is a really fun activity for the first day of school, and it can act as a nice icebreaker, too.
Create bingo cards with different characteristics or experiences in each box (e.g., “Has traveled abroad”, “Loves to read”, “Has a pet fish”).
Students go around the classroom trying to find classmates who fit the descriptions, helping them to learn more about each other.
10. Classroom Job Application
This activity works best with younger students.
Introduce various “jobs” available in the classroom (e.g., book monitor, board cleaner, class messenger) and allow students to apply for the job they’re interested in.
This introduces responsibility and ownership in the classroom.
11. Memory Chain
For this task, students write down a favorite summer memory on a strip of paper.
These strips are then linked together to form a chain that can be displayed in the classroom.
12. Interactive Question Ball
Write different icebreaker questions on a beach ball.
Students toss the ball to each other, and whoever catches it answers the question their right thumb touches.
13. Goal Setting
Discuss the importance of setting goals on the first day back.
Have each student set an academic and personal goal for the year and display them in the classroom to serve as motivation.
14. Find Someone Who…
Distribute sheets with statements like “Find someone who has the same shoe size as you” or “Find someone who has been to a beach this summer”.
Students move around the room to find peers who match the statements. This is a great way to get the kids to start talking to one another.
15. This or That? Game
Pose pairs of choices to the class like “Pizza or Burger?”, “Morning or Night?”, “Book or Movie?”.
Students move to designated areas in the room corresponding to their choices.
It’s a quick, fun way to see commonalities and differences among peers.
16. Personalized Bookmarks
Provide students with materials to create their own bookmarks.
They can decorate them with drawings, quotes, or symbols that represent them.
It’s both a craft and a useful tool for future reading activities.
17. Personalized Journal
To help children work with their feelings throughout the year, issue them with a journal on the first day of school and have them spend some time decorating it.
Then, ask them to write their feelings about the first day at school.
They can return to this journal to share their feelings whenever they need to.
18. Cultural Map
Place a large world map in the center of the room.
Students can place a pin or sticker on locations where they or their families come from or places they’ve been to.
It’s a great way to appreciate the diverse backgrounds of students and encourage discussions about culture and heritage.
The first day of school isn’t always easy, but there are plenty of activities that teachers can do to help settle their students into the academic year.
We’ve listed 18 of our favorite first day of school activities above, but there are so many different things you can do with your class.
The most important thing is making them feel comfortable and safe, boosting their confidence, and giving them the opportunity to meet their classmates.
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