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Activities for the First Days of School!
July 23, 2013

Activities for the First Days of School!

Check out these fun activities for breaking the ice with your students during the first few days of school!

"Knowing how to structure a successful first day of school will set the stage for an effective classroom and a successful school year."

~ Harry Wong and Rosemary T. Wong, authors of The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher

The following activities for the first days of school have been proven to work! They break the ice between teacher and students as well as between the students themselves!

Puzzle-Piece Pairs

This is a simple activity for pairing students on the first day of school. Give each student a puzzle piece that matches the piece of one other student in the class. On your signal, the students must find each other.

You might use this activity to pair students to interview one another. The class might brainstorm some interview questions to get kids started. Those questions could be posted on on the board or on a chart for all students to see.

Birthday Timeline

Ask students to take out a sheet of paper and write down the month and day of their birth. After they have done this, tell them to put away the paper and not let anyone see it. Then direct students to line up themselves randomly in "perfect order of birth".

However, they must follow two rules as they do that: They cannot talk and they cannot show anyone what they wrote. After several quiet minutes of scurrying around, they will be in "order".

Instruct students to check with the person on their right and left to see whether they are in the correct place. Have them continue to do this until the order is indeed perfect.

Then it's time to check the human birthday timeline. Start with the first person and have each student say his or her birthday and display the paper with the month and date written on it. Did students do it correctly?

Bring a calendar to school for students to fill in their birthdays!

Catching Up on Summer

In this activity, students share the most interesting thing about their summer vacations. To start, you hold onto a tennis ball. Younger students might use a larger ball. Share your name and the most interesting thing about your summer.

When you finish, throw the ball to a student in the class. That student will share his or her name and most interesting or fondest summer memory, then pass the ball to somebody else. Continue the activity until all students have shared.

Then challenge students to throw the ball back around the group in the opposite direction. (Students will have to remember who threw the ball to them.)

Finally, you might challenge students to toss the ball in alphabetical order; if they make an error, the ball goes back to the starting point! Adapt the activity: Instead of sharing the most interesting summer memory, students might share a favorite sports star, food, book, etc.

Drawing on Experience

Organize students in pairs. (The ideal pair consists of two students who do not know each other.) Provide each student with a blank sheet of paper and a colored marker.

Instruct the students to interview each other. Each student must come up with five facts to share with his or her partner -- but the "trick" to the activity is that the students can't record those facts in words; they can use only pictures!

The students will have a good laugh at some of the caricatures they draw; they might even help each other figure out how to draw certain things. When the pairs have finished interviewing, students share their pictures as they introduce their partners.

A Web of Introductions

Start with a ball of yarn. Say your name and an interesting fact about yourself. Then, holding the end, toss the ball to a student. That student will say his/her name and an interesting fact, then, holding on to part of the yarn, they will toss the ball to another student.

By the time everyone has spoken, there will be a large web of yarn that can be displayed on the bulletin board with thumb tacks. (This activity can also be used as a review tool - each student says something about the subject, then tosses the yarn.)

Things In Common

Divide students into pairs. Each pair will have 30 seconds to find 5 things they have in common. At the end of the 30 seconds, put two pairs together and give the foursome a minute to find something all 4 students have in common.

Finally, each group can present the list of things they have in common. (You can use this activity to form student groups.)

Don't Forget!

There is no need to stress out about that first week of school! Teachers get nervous too! How will students react to me? What kind of first impression will I make?

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Don't delay! Order your First Week of School Unit Package and use these last few weeks of summer vacation to become familiar with the material and begin preparing for the new school year ahead!

All of us at wish you an amazing, successful school year!

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