The first day of school is a delicate balance of establishing a sense of order (routines and procedures) while also creating a friendly, welcoming, and most importantly, safe classroom environment. You can check out how I schedule and plan my whole first week here: First week Plans
First Day of School Resources
This year, I decided to do something a little different. I am sharing a few options for all the essential beginning-of-the-year must-dos: morning work, getting to know you, community building, routines and procedures, summer reflection, behavior management, and introducing a growth mindset. It’s always nice to have some options to pick and choose from. You can download the first-day resource round-up at the bottom of this post. Having something for students to do completely independently as soon as they walk in is key. I like to greet each student at the door. I direct them to find their seat and hang their book bag on their chair. We have closets with cubbies to store their belongings but I want to carefully go over that procedure once everyone has arrived.
Your first activity has to be easy to do without giving directions. Below are some ideas that will be easy for students to work on while you are dealing with all of the other first-day morning chaos.
Getting to know your students as people and not just scholars is crucial to building relationships. It is so helpful to know about their backgrounds, favorites, and interests. These activities will help you to accomplish just that! I used the All About Me flip book last year and we worked on it a little bit each day throughout the week. Then, I hung them up in the hallway and let students walk around and read through each others. The 4 corners game is THE BEST for getting students up and moving. I like to save it for the end of the day when we start to get restless.
Not just on day 1 but the first weeks of your year should be focused on routines and procedures. Sometimes I feel like a drill sergeant having my students practice over and over again. But, this all pays off come October when your classroom is running smoothly. Don’t forget to review and practice procedures throughout the year when you see a need. I love to keep the forms and procedures checklist close by on a clipboard so I don’t forget to go over anything.
Sharing about summer is a great time to get to know your students and also provides a sense of closure. I like to share a bit about what I did so my students can get to know me, too. Summer adventure puzzles are a great way to get students to work together and start communicating! We do a lot of collaboration and partner talks in my classroom so it’s a perfect opportunity to model expectations for working with a partner.
A growth mindset is a huge part of our classroom atmosphere. I like to be proactive and introduce it within the first couple of days. One of my favorite back-to-school read-alouds is Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden. It is SUCH a sweet story and shows how we ALL have a lot of growing to do this year!
Teaching rules and expectations is crucial during these first few days. It is not something I review once and then post a list of rules on the wall. It is an ongoing discussion and learning experience. I have created lessons that build upon an understanding of why we need rules and what expected behaviors are…well…expected. I use behavior stories to help my students think critically about positive and negative choices and to initiate conversations about problem-solving and improving.
Finally, I like to build a lot of excitement for the school year by reading This School Year Will Be The Best! Last year, I had students write why they think it will be the best and turned their writing into our first class book. It was a favorite for students to read all year long! I also like to begin with a STEM activity. Taking the time to provide opportunities for collaborating and problem-solving will help build classroom community. It’s so important to communicate that our class is a team and we will work together to learn and have fun!
Best resource I have EVER bought! Teachers in upper grades always made comments about students struggling with their facts, so I was determined to find a way to help with that. This resource makes knowing math facts fun and students love to achieve their goals! Would recommend this to EVERYONE!
What an amazing resource! I love that students have a checklist and some ideas to help them with writing. My favorite part is the space included for teacher notes. I can jump right in while they're working on their writing and leave feedback. I am recommending this product to all of my second grade teacher friends.