Start Your School Year with Fun First Day Activities
Getting to Know You Activities
On the first day of school always include some type of getting-to-know-you activity. These classroom activities do not have to be boring--they can be fun too. Here are a couple of easy suggestions:
- Shape Pick: Students each pick a shape (either made by you or you can use pattern blocks). They do not show ANYONE their shape--this is part of the fun. You create a poster that tells what students will reveal based on the shape they chose. When it is a student's turn, he goes to the front of the classroom, tells his name, reveals his shape, and then tells the fact that corresponds with his shape. For example, your poster might read: blue square--favorite food; green triangle--one thing you did over the summer; and so on. After all students have had a turn, they gather in groups according to their shapes. They pick new shapes and share more information in smaller groups.
- Classroom Banners: Let your students be creative with their first day of school activities. Students can create classroom banners in this classroom activity. Each student receives a large piece of construction or chart paper. Students write their names in large colorful letters across the paper. Then they decorate the rest of the space with information about themselves--they should reveal their hobbies, family members, pets, interests, favorites, and so on--using NO WORDS. They can only use pictures. You can also allow them to cut pictures out of magazines and glue these on their banners. When they are finished, students will display their banners on classroom walls. Give students a few minutes throughout the day to walk around and check out each others' banners.
Sometimes, fun first day of school activities should include recess activities if students do not know each other well. Recess can often be full of anxiety for students if there is no organized activities. You can play a couple easy games with students on the first day of school:
- Silent Ball: Silent Ball is just that--SILENT! Students stand in a circle and throw each other a ball without saying a word. If a student drops the ball, throws wildly, or talks, he is out. The last man standing is the winner. (If you want students to learn each other's names, you can play NAME BALL--where the only thing students can say is the name of the person to whom they are throwing the ball).
- Kickball: Who doesn't love a good game of kickball to start the year off right?
- Heads-Up, 7-Up: If it's a rainy day and you are stuck inside with classroom activities, most elementary students love the game Heads-Up, 7-Up. This is the one where seven students walk around the room and secretly pick seven more students whose heads are down. The seven picked students try to guess who tagged them. This a great game for the first day of school because students have to practice using each other's names.
Math Board Races
If you want your fun first day of school activities to include academics, then give students some silent reading time or find a funny book to start reading out loud to them.
In math, you can do math board races as part of your classroom activities. Students will have fun practicing math skills, and you can also do a quick assessment on who remembers what facts from the year before. Divide students into teams, and then one student from each team is given a problem at the chalkboard. The first student to solve it correctly gets two points. The second student gets one point if he has the correct answer.