Parent's Resource Center



FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL

By:

Kimberly Steele

Here are some activities you can do with students on the first day back to school. Some are fun, some are valuable as learning tools, and some are both.

Introduce Yourself

  • This is something that often gets overlooked. Although the students know your name, they do not know you. Let them know some things about you. Let them know where your grew up, where you went to school, your teaching background and how long you have been teaching. (Unless it is your first year. I have discovered that middle schoolers love to torment first year teachers. Do not lie about being new, but do not tell them unless they ask. My teaching partner counted student teaching as her first year so you she would not have to tell them it was her fist year.) Do not forget to tell them about your family. The students will see you as a real person if you share something about yourself.

Student Introductions

  • Have the students introduce themselves to you. Try to remember as many names as possible. I turn it into a game for myself. During the first week, I play "Name That Student" at the end of each class. I take a class roster with me and move around the classroom trying to guess each student's name. I work around the room as many times as time allows. On the last day of the week, I put the class roster away and work from memory. My goal is to know every student's name by the end of the first week, and this game usually allows me to accomplish that goal.

Seating Chart

  • Create a seating chart as soon as your class list is final. Be sure to allow for flexibility, the first chart will more than likely have some flaws. Even if you do not plan to use a seating chart throughout the year, it will help you learn the students' names if you use one the first few weeks of school. If remembering names is a problem for you, put the students in alphabetical order for the first seating chart. Most teachers alphabetize by the last name; try alphabetizing by the first name instead.

Icebreakers and Energizers

  • Present some "getting to know you" activities for the students. They will get to know one another, and you will get to know them. You will also be able to see how they work together as a group so you can spot potential problems and work toward solutions. Visit the Icebreakers and

Crossword Puzzle

Hidden Message Puzzle

  • Create a different word search puzzle with a hidden message for each student. The hidden messages can be rules or policies for your classroom or positive words of encouragement for the new year. The Hidden Message Word Search Puzzle at Discovery School's Puzzlemaker will make the puzzle for you. You tell it what the message is to be and what words you want the students to find.

Hieroglyphic Messages

  • Write your rules or policies in hieroglyphic and have the students decode them. Use the Cheops Hieroglphic Transformer at Egypt's Tourism Net to make your message. A letter to hieroglyphic guide is available as well. You can use the online version or download a program for use on your computer. (You could also write the students' names in hieroglyphic and have the students try to find their names.)

Policy and Rule Question and Answer Match

  • Write questions that students might have about your policies and rules on index cards. Write the answers on cards of a different color. Pass them out to the students and have them try to match questions to answers. You will accomplish three goals with this activity. First, your students will become familiar with your rules and policies. Second, your students will get to know each other. Third, you will be able to see which students are shy and which ones do not interact well with other students.

Preview the Textbook

  • Pass out the textbooks and let the students preview them so they can see what to expect. Create a "worksheet" that requires the students look over the table of contents, index, and glossary. Ask general questions about the topics you will cover during the year. While the students are working on the assignment, you can officially check out the books.

Pretest

  • Give a pretest to determine the class's strengths and weaknesses. This will help you plan lessons throughout the year. You will know which areas to skim over and which ones to cover thoroughly.

Check Out Books from the Classroom Library

  • If you teach language arts, have the students check out books from your classroom library. Be sure to go over the procedure for checking out books and returning them. A few students at a time can check out books while the others are working on another activity. The students will now have something to take home the very first day.

Supply List

  • Even if you posted the supply list before school began, go over the supply list with the students and explain why they need the uncommon items. Give a deadline for having supplies at school.

Organize Materials

  • If you want the students to have a certain organizational method for their notebooks and materials, do this the first day. Be sure to have a supply on hand of simple materials such as dividers, paper, folders, spiral notebooks, etc. for those students who are not prepared the first day. They can then pay you back when they get their materials. Hopefully, most students will pay you back.

Student Made Bulletin Board

  • Have the students create something for a student made bulletin board. For example, give each student a puzzle piece cut from posterboard or tagboard. Have each student decorate her puzzle piece to show her unique qualities. Items to include are name, hobbies, interests, and family. Provide magazines and clip art for the students to use if they are not artistic. Student can work on this while you are checking out materials, assigning lockers, etc.

Student Information Card

  • Use you computer to create student information cards. You can get four cards on each sheet. Run copies on cardstock and cut them apart. File this in a box for future reference. Items to include are name, address, phone number, birthday, class schedule, parents' names, and parents' workplaces and phone numbers. You will have the information on hand when you need to call parents or find the student when she isn't with you--no more running to the office and bothering the secretary.

Learning Styles Inventory

Links to other ideas for first day activities:

  Getting to Know You: Activities for the First Day of School -- found at Education World

  Fourteen Great Ideas for the First Days of School -- found at Education World

  Fourteen MORE Activities for the First Days of School -- found at Education World

  Ideas for Getting Acquainted -- found at Bakersfield City School District