Saturday, August 11, 2018

First Day of School Ideas

So I have been a little out of the action for awhile. Buying a house, moving, having a baby, and many more exciting things have happened since I last posted! I am no longer in the classroom, but am staying at home with my sweet baby girl. This is my first year ever not returning to school in some capacity - whether that be as a teacher or student. It is so strange not going back, so I thought I would share my First Day of School ideas with you all instead!

We all know that the first day of school can be daunting. Even the most laid-out plans don't get completed, nor do they need to. I find that instead of having a strict schedule for the first day, having activities and mini lessons planned works much better. So instead of giving you a schedule of what I did in my classroom on the first day of school (because of course I wrote it all out), I thought it would be better to share a few activities/ideas that I try to include every year and that you can do too!

1. Desk work

For the past few years I have taught first grade. When they arrived in the morning, I had the following page on their desk.

Free Welcome to Any Grade {Pre-K through 6th Grade} Coloring Sheets

This is from Jen Jones at Hello Literacy. It is FREE and can be found here.

I chose a coloring sheet because it required no directions or explanation and the students could just get started while I was welcoming other students or talking with parents. Plus, the students loved to open their new box of crayons and start coloring.

2. Go over the "schedule."

As I mentioned earlier, there isn't necessarily a set schedule that you will follow for the first day, but let the students know what types of activities they will be doing. Many of them come in so nervous and just like to hear what they'll be doing to calm their nerves. Activities include reading books, lunch, recess, specials classes (if you have them that day), games, etc.

3. Read a few books.

One of the first things I do with my students is read to them. I want them to know how important I think reading is in the classroom, but also this is a familiar activity for them where they can just sit and enjoy. Here are a few of my first day favorites:

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

(I would have included a picture, but somehow I misplaced 3/4 of these books!)

After we read either First Day Jitters or The Night Before First Grade I will have the students discuss their feelings about the first day. Together we complete the following anchor chart from The Applicious Teacher.You can find it here.

first day feelings chart

You could either have the students write their name on a Post-It (smaller ones would be better than larger ones) or they could put an X on the chart above the picture.

4. Ice Breaker Activities

One of the activities that I have done the past few years is very simple. I put a piece of masking tape on the floor in the front of the classroom. Students will stand in the front. I will then ask them a question, like "Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Do you prefer math or reading? Cats or dogs?" Students will then stand on either side of the line depending on their choice. It is a fun way to get the students up and moving, get a little information about them, and help them see how they are alike and different from their classmates.
Here is a free list of questions that you can use!

5. All About Me Bags

At Meet the Teacher night I pass out these notes stapled to a brown paper bag. This is a free activity from Kindergarten Squared and can be found on TPT here.

 On the first day of school (or during the first week) students are asked to bring 5 items that represent themselves. I always share my bag first and then I ask 4-5 students to share theirs each day during the first week of school.

I brought a blue crayon (I like blue), a puzzle piece, chocolate bar, rubber duck (ducks are my favorite animal), and Spot It game (I love games!).

So those are a few ideas for the first day of school in a first grade classroom!

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