This time of year can be exciting but exhausting. While new schedules and routines get established, it’s important to create a classroom environment that is encouraging, creative, and conducive for learning. That’s why we’ve gathered some of our favorite first week activities and ideas.
After greeting each student at the door and walking them through our morning routines, we will begin each day with a read-aloud. I have a new favorite first book for the first day! The Day You Begin is pretty much perfect. I cannot wait to share it with my students this year and retire First Day Jitters. We will take a morning break to walk through the lunchroom (even though this is their 3rd year eating lunch in the cafeteria, we still feel this is important for establishing expectations and for new students). Then, we go over recess rules and let them have AM recess.
When we get back in, students will draw about something they did over the summer on their summer adventure puzzle. We will eventually cut these out and share them with a partner but not right now.
Morning Activities and Read Alouds
Tuesday through Friday are all similar with routine practice, a read-aloud, and then a beginning-of-the-year activity either about expectations, problem-solving, or all about me books. Here are links to the resources you see above:
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
- Summer Adventure Puzzles
- Back to School Rules by Laurie Friedman
- Back to School Dos and Don’t poster
- Tony Baloney: School Rules by Pam Munoz Ryan
- Everyone makes mistakes/problem-solving activities
- Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books by Diane deGroat
- All About Me flap book by Renee Dooly
- Paperless Morning Meeting by Erin Waters
- Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller
- Directed Drawing Self-Portraits by Howywood Kindergarten
To wrap up our morning, we will have very short math lessons. Due to the back-to-school activities this week, we will only have about 20 minutes. Next week they will be of normal length (about 45 minutes to an hour). We have lunch at 11:07. Read more about my first week of math lessons here.
After lunch and recess Activities and Read Alouds
When students return from lunch/recess, we will read another book to settle down. Then, students will grab a random book box (I don’t label them for a couple of days) and find a spot to read. On the first day, I will just send them off and observe. Each day after, I will introduce the expectations for read-to-self time. If you want to learn more about my first three reading lessons, I go more in-depth here.
Before special and recess, we will s l o w l y be introduced to literacy centers: word work, reading to someone, and listening to reading. We will practice all of these things whole group. If all goes well, they will be able to pick 1 to do on Friday.
After special and recess, we will wrap up the day with one last read-aloud activity that incorporates movement. I use School and the City’s 4 corners game every year. My Back to School Scoot helps me collect information about my students. I hold on to their recording sheets and refer back to them often. And I love to send them off Friday afternoon excited about coming back Monday so we will do our first STEM activity.
Afternoon Activities and Read Alouds
I have such a hard time narrowing down which books to read. If you’d like to see my top 15 favorites, check out this blog post all about back to school books.
- What Should Danny Do? School Day by Adir and Ganit Levy
- How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander
- Math Tools Exploration and Expectations
- Behavior Stories
- Fast Fact Folders
- Book Recommendations
- Smart Spot cards
- Turn and Talk cards
- The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark
- What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick
- ABC order
- How to Get Your Teacher Ready by Jean Reagan
- All About Me Four Corners
- Be a Reading Expert
- The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
- Back to School Scoot
- Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
- This School Year Will Be the Best by Kay Winters
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
- STEM Paper Chain Challenge
Planning the perfect activities and read-alouds for the first week of school is half the fun. There is just so much that goes into back-to-school season. It’s exhausting and overwhelming. But the most important thing to remember is to make it memorable and have fun!
Download these plans here (all books and resources are linked within the plans)