One of the best things you can do on the first day of school is help your students feel comfortable in the classroom—and enthusiastic about the year to come. These activities are designed to help you get to know one another, boost confidence, and plan a memorable first day of school.
Read a Book
Choose one of several books that convey a positive message to get your school year started right. Depending on the age of your students or the grade you teach, some excellent options allow you to plan an activity as well. You may already have a book on your shelf that will work, or consider these classic picks:
- The Kissing Hand (great for kids who are nervous about returning to school)
- Llama Llama Misses Mama (for kids missing Mom)
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today (Daily happiness and kindness reminders)
All About Me
Have each child draw a self-portrait, create a fun time capsule (to open at the end of the year), or make a flipbook starring themselves. You’ll ease jitters on the first day of school by letting kids focus on a topic they know extremely well. Plus, you’ll get some insight into how your students think. If you plan on having your students keep journals or notebooks for writing, “About Me” activities are great story prompts, too.
Make Welcome Bags
Create a bag for each student with small tokens and items with special meanings. Explain the meaning of each item as you show it to the class. Some things to include:
- Smarties candy (to highlight how much thinking you’ll all do together)
- A plastic cabochon or gemstone (to show that each one of us is valuable)
- An eraser (to show that it is ok to make mistakes sometimes)
- A stick of gum (showing how we all stick together)
- A heart (for your safe and caring classroom)
- A star (to show we all shine when we do our best)
Create an oversized puzzle with a piece for each student in the class. As students arrive on the first day of school, hand out the blank pieces and have students decorate the pieces to represent themselves. Offer magazine pages, craft supplies, drawing supplies, and fun extras, then ask each student to share their completed piece with the group as they add it to the puzzle. Display the finished puzzle on a board to show how well you all fit together and work together as a team!
Hats Off to Our Class
Offer premade party hats along with a variety of craft supplies so each student can create a hat featuring their favorite things. Pages from magazines, stickers, foam shapes, and more allow each student to create their own hat. Once made, the hats can be worn in the classroom to help with name recognition and conversation starters.
The most meaningful activities allow the class to come together and bond as a group. The things you do on the first day back to school help set the tone for your classroom. Choose meaningful activities and make it easy for everyone to get to know one another. Then watch them carry that positive feeling to carry through the school year!