The first day of school inspires a spectrum of emotions for students. There's excitement, joy, anxiety, wonder and so much more. Considering kids feel big emotions, smart teachers know how to put students at ease and set the stage for fun.
The first day of school is all about getting settled and getting to know each other better. Kids need time to adjust to a new environment and bond with their new classmates. Teachers want to kick off the year with a positive experience, so many plan special first-day activities to get everyone ramped up and ready to learn.
Here are five awesome back-to-school activities guaranteed to make students smile:
What kid doesn't appreciate a small gift? It doesn't have to be excessive or expensive, but a welcome bag full of classroom-themed goodies can really make a positive impression. Think about filling it with meaningful items, such as an eraser because it's OK to make mistakes, a pencil with the school logo to promote school spirit and a stick of gum because in this class we stick together.
Classroom icebreaker activity
Everyone's entered and is sitting down. Now what? Introduce yourself and do an icebreaker activity. Young students might sit in a big circle, but big kids may need to sit at their seats. Then ask age-appropriate open-ended questions like, "Did you go to a beach over summer break?" or "Do you have any siblings?" or "Does your family speak another language?" Students who answer "yes" should raise their hand. Then take a moment to inquire a little more. Where did you go swimming? How many siblings do you have? Which language? This activity gets everyone involved and they all get to know each other better.
Elementary students are the perfect age for a structured scavenger hunt. It helps them to get familiar with the classroom and school setting. Plan a hunt and help lead the class around the building to find important places, such as the office and bathrooms. Have them explore the classroom to find particular supplies that they'll be using regularly, such as calculators or markers. If appropriate, offer a reward for completing the hunt, such as a sticker or notebook.
Crafts and kids go hand-in-hand, so kick off the new school year by having students create self-portraits. Let their creativity soar as they draw how they see themselves. Afterward, go around and ask each student to share three things about him- or herself, such as a favorite hobby or pet. Then consider hanging all of the portraits on the wall or doorway to symbolize the classroom family.
A time capsule is an excellent class project that can be adjusted based on the age of students. Essentially, teachers can have students do things such as write a paragraph about their hopes or speak a foreign language and record it to video. At the end of the school year, open the capsule and let students see how far they've come. Everyone is likely to be surprised by just how much they've learned and will feel so proud!