My Top 5 First Day of School Activities {with freebies}

After 20+ years of teaching, I have fine-tuned my first day of school activities. This has helped me create a fun and seamless first day back.

Here are my "go to" Top 5 First Day of School Activities.

1. Unpacking

There are so many routines to learn at the beginning of the year, and morning routines are one of them. Every year for the past 15 years I have done the same thing, and it works like a charm. I stand at the front door of the classroom and greet my first graders as they come in. Instead of having them go to their lockers or cubbies and unpack, I have them bring their bookbags right into the classroom and set them on the floor by their seat. After announcements, I discuss our morning routines as a whole class. Then, I take one table at a time and we unpack their bookbags together. In my room I have a turn in tray for all papers (the wooden box next to the mailboxes), they put their folders in their mailbox, and all other items go in their lockers. 

2. Morning Activity

My students come into first grade with varying levels of ability. I have done worksheets in the morning but some students finish early and some don't finish at all. When they come into my room, they have an empty file folder at their seat. I use file folders for our parent volunteer programs with sight words and book in bag. Instead of just using plain ones, I have them decorate their folder. Everyone can do this and it can take as long as you let them do it.  Once all students are seated, announcements are over, and I have begun helping them with the unpacking, we switch over to mini puzzles. I have enough puzzles for each student to have their own and then they can switch with each other. You can check out my Back to School Puzzles here.


3. Shared Reading

Once we are unpacked, it is time to gather and begin building our community. I like to establish rules and routines, and begin our schedule on day one, without overwhelming them. I want my students to feel welcome and comfortable in the classroom immediately. My favorite story to share on the first day of school is First Day Jitters.  This story has an amazing twist at the end, the teacher is actually the one with jitters.   Before coming to school I give the students a little poem with jitter glitter as a lead into this story.  First, we begin by discussing what jitters are, and if any of us had jitters the night before. Then, we list things that help us take our jitters away. After reading the story, we make jitter jars. I have done these two different ways. Sometimes we write what gives us the jitters, and sometimes we write the things that take our jitters away. Here is a picture from last year's jitter jars. 


4. Math & Snack

In my room, we have a community snack. Due to all of the allergies, I like to make sure we have a safe environment when snacking. I provide the snack on the first day of school. I made these cute little tags and I attach them to some fish crackers. After having a snack, we play this fun little fishy math game that goes along with it. You can grab these free first day of school activities here!


5. Calendar

During the first week of school, I do not start a math unit. I use that time to begin building our calendar routines, doing a little assessment, and playing math games. I have a morning helper pick a friend to complete our classroom calendar independently as morning work. For the first two weeks of school, I am the helper.  Every day we ALL complete a calendar journal. I have made a calendar journal for each month in school. My August calendar is free, just click here.  This journal is very repetitive and builds as the year progresses. By December, my students are completing this independently with little to no support. I love that they all get to participate in the calendar routines daily. 

This list of 5 first day of school activities has made the transition back to school seamless for my students. We have a great first day, we learn a little, and we begin to establish those must needed routines. You can check out more of my back to school goodies here. Back to School Bundle  & Back to School for the Teacher

Here's to wishing you an amazing year! I hope you can use some of these back to school activities in your own classroom! Best of Luck, Megan


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