Each year, I scour Pinterest trying to find activities for the first day of school that are engaging for upper elementary students. I want to find activities that will allow me to learn and connect with each student. After FINALLY nailing down my plans, I wanted to share a few of my ideas for my first day.
Brown Paper Bags
I have wanted to send postcards to my incoming students for years, but I hadn’t found anything that I loved. This year, I created my own and ordered them from VistaPrint. They were so inexpensive, plus they serve as an activity on the first day of school. The back of this postcard asks students to bring in a brown paper bag (or something similar) filled with items that tell about themselves.
I love to use Bitmojis…and my kids LOVE them too! A teacher friend of mine had a fun questionnaire that she did with her students on the first day of school each year. I asked her if I could use her questions and add a Bitmoji to create a fun quiz to help my students get to know me. I have pre-made questions and a template made for you in this Bitmoji First Day of School Teacher Quiz.
First Day of School Task Cards
I played a variation of this game on the last day of school last year. When I was brainstorming ideas for the first day of school of this upcoming year, I wanted to switch it up to make it work as a get to know you activity.
Here’s how it works:
1. Gather students in a circle.
2. Have one student draw a card from the bucket in the center of the circle. That student will answer the question on the card.
3. Relax, sit back, and get to know your students.
I’ll be honest. I don’t plan to use these task cards to play a game or stress about writing down answers. As a matter of fact, there isn’t even a recording sheet included. It is simply to sit around and get to know each other! I have included a few cards that are serious, while others are just silly!
Who doesn’t love making a cootie catcher?! Afterall, it is a childhood requirement, right? This year, all of my students will have spelling partners. I am planning to use this activity for them to get to know their new spelling buddy, but it could be utilized for any “Get to Know You” type of activity.
Here’s how it works:
1. Students play with the cootie catcher for 5-10 minutes. Students will take turns answering various questions about themselves.
2. When students are confident that they can answer all questions about their partner, they will give one another a quick assessment.
3. Students independently answer all questions about their partner.
4. Students switch papers and grade their partner’s answers!
Post-It Note Questions
This isn’t my original idea, but I love it! I found this idea last year from Middle School Math Rules‘s blog. My teaching partner and I did this last year. We had our students complete their Post-Its before the morning bell rang on the first day. It sparked great conversation later in our morning meeting.