Ready, Set, Teach: Back to School Ideas and Activities for Second Grade Teachers
Erase those first day jitters with some engaging activities. These lesson ideas include fun books and related activities like Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown and a first day of school poem. Students will also make a shape book of their favorite things. Finally, there will be a listening activity and a few ice breakers.
No Worries, Second Grade is Fun
Students often have preoccupations about the new school year. Wipe those insecurities away by reading Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown and letting kids ask questions in poetry form. The book discusses common fears Amber Brown has about school. For instance, some of these fears include receiving too much homework or having a strange teacher. Read half the book and then jot down some general fears that kids may have on the first day of school. Some ideas are not knowing anyone, not understanding a problem or not being able to see the board. When finished with the book, kids will write a first day of school poem. Here's an example:
On the first day of school....
Will my teacher have a hard name?
How many friends will I make?
Can I use the telephone?
What if I have to go to the bathroom?
Whew! Everything is okay in second grade.
Students should write the first line "On the first day of school." Then, they should write four questions and a line that sums up how their day is going. This is a good way for teachers to get an informal writing sample along with seeing what qualms students might be having. Afterwards, students can decorate their poems with pictures and graphics.
Bag of Questions
On the first day of school, tell students they can write a question to ask the teacher. Give students index cards and, after writing their question, they can put it into a bag. Students should not be forced to write a question nor do they need to put their name on the card. Then, as the day progresses, pull out about three cards at a time and answer the inquires to the best of your ability. This is a good way for kids to ask questions they might otherwise be embarrassed or too shy to ask. By the end of the day, the teacher should have answered all of the cards. Teachers can also bring in pictures of their pets or kids so that their students feel more connected to them.
A Few of My Favorite Things
Learn a little more about your second graders by having them make a "Book of My Favorite Things". Give each student a round book with a construction paper cover. They can draw a picture of their face or bring in a photograph of themselves. On the first page, students should write about their favorite foods. They can draw a picture and write the words underneath. The second page contains their favorite subjects. They can pick more than one. Then, have students make three more pages of their choice. Some ideas are favorite movies, songs, books, sports and colors. Each page should have an illustration.
Are you Listening?
Teach kids about the importance of listening. First, read the book Listen Buddy. This cute story is about a bunny with large ears who doesn't listen very well. For instance, his parents send him to buy fifteen tomatoes and he comes home with fifty potatoes. Talk with students about why listening is important. One example would be so that they know what to do for an assignment or when the fire alarm goes off. Next, complete a listening activity. Kids will receive a blank piece of paper and a box of crayons. Give the following directions:
Write your first name in blue in the upper right hand corner.
Put a green X in the middle of your paper.
Write the number seven in the bottom left hand corner in black.
Circle the number seven with yellow.
Turn your paper over.
Draw a red smiley face.
Show kids what the paper should look like and let them see how well they listened.
Get to Know Your Classmates Scavenger Hunt
Give each student a big index card. Have them write down at least five scavenger hunt clues. For example, find someone who has:
- brown eyes
- two siblings
- a cat
- been to a different country
- likes pizza
- a blue shirt on
- likes soccer
Tell students that they need to find different students who match the clues. When they do, the student needs to initial next to the clue. This is a fun way for students to get to know their classmates.
These back to school activities for second grade will help "break the ice" among young students. In addition, they will help both teachers and students get to know one another.
Danziger, Paula. Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown. Puffin Books: New York, 2003.
Lester, Helen. Listen, Buddy. Houghton Mifflin: New York, 1995.
Author's personal classroom experience