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July 30, 2012

10 First Day of School Activities

Written By: Brandi Jordan
Category: The School Year
X 10 First Day of School Activities

10 First Day of School Activities

The first day of school can give even the most experienced teachers butterflies.  What will the new year be like?  How eager to learn will this class of students be?  The worries and excitement build to a fevered pitch as student enters the classroom on that first morning.

Being prepared and having a plan for what you want to accomplish, as well as some time filler activities, can help ease the worry and make the day run more smoothly.  While there may be a set list of things that your administrator wants or needs for you to cover on the first day, the list below offers you some tried-and-true ideas for things that are not only fun, but helpful to cover on the very first day.  

10 Activities for the First Day of School

  • Mission Possible – There is a lot to cover on the first day of school.  Everything from supply collection to ice breakers to behavior contracts need to be completed.  Create a “Mission Possible” assignment sheet that lists the activities that need to be completed on the first day or throughout the first week.  As students complete each activity, they can check it off of their list.
  • Alike and Different Graphs – Get to know your students by polling them on their favorite food, sport, book, animal, and subject.  Create bar graphs with your class to show the results.  It is a great way to refresh basic bar graph skills and highlight some of the ways that students are alike and different.
  • First Day Photos – Snap two or three different individual photos of students on the first day of school.  Hang up three different backdrops and get creative with props.  Is your class a Super Class?  Have a cape each child can put on for their photo.  Are they busy bees?  Create a bee antenna head band for photos.  You can use these snapshots throughout the year for different projects and crafts.
  • We Lend a Hand – Stress the importance of community in the classroom and the school.  Create a “We Lend a Hand” bulletin board by placing a plain sheet of butcher paper on the wall and having students press their painted palm to the paper around the title.  Keep a package of baby wipes next to the board so that they can wipe off some of the paint before heading to the sink to wash their hands.
  • Pick a Cause – Work with students to choose a charity to support during the school year.  Have a list of 3-5 different options and explain each one.  Students can then choose the one they would like to support.  If the vote is not unanimous, place the top two choices in a jar and have a neighboring teacher or an administrator pick the winner.
  • Write a Letter to Themselves – Not only are you anxious on the first day of school, but so too are your students.  Take the time to have them write a letter to themselves on the first day describing how they are feeling and what they are looking forward to learning.  Place the letters in envelopes and put them in a safe spot.  On the last day of school, return the letters and have the children read them to see just how far they have come.
  • I Have, Who Has? – Using the I Have, Who Has? game idea, adapt it for the first day of school.  Create cards that list things that students might own or have in their family.  For example, one card might read, “I have a dog.  Who has a cat?”  Students must then record their answers on an answer sheet, filling in an answer for each person in the room.
  • Procedure Knockout – Give procedures a once over on the first day of school and expect to repeat and practice them frequently throughout the following weeks.  On the first day, however, emphasize the procedure to coming into the classroom, going to the bathroom, and walking in the halls.  You can build on those three and add more procedures as the days progress.
  • Treasure Boxes – The school year is going to be filled with exciting moments to treasure and you do not want students to forget them.  Have students decorate a pencil box with their name and explain that when they have a memory they would like to treasure, they can write it on a small piece of paper and put it in their treasure box.  If they find a pretty pebble on the playground or are proud of a sticker that they earned for a spelling test, those can go in the box too.  At the end of the school year, they will have boxes filled with their treasures from the year.
  • Start Counting – Start counting to 100 that is!  The 100th Day of School approaches quickly if you are not paying attention and this simple celebration is a great way to engage in discussions about numbers and math.  Start counting on the first day of school, so that you do not have to go back and play catch-up!


What are some of your favorite first day of school activities and ice breakers?  Share them with us below!


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  • Donna S.
    August 18, 2012

    Two activities I have loved doing are 1.) Having a snow storm or making snowballs in August. The students write something about themselves that others might not know or that they want to share without writing their names on the paper. Then they crumble up the paper. and once everyone is done we throw them into a pile on the floor. We then take turns reading them and guessing who wrote it. 2.) I take the students outside and take pictures of them holding numbers that will then become our class calendar. I start alphabetically by last name…. once they all have a number then I do group shots. Last year I had 18 students so the numbers 19-29 were taken by students to gather groups for small group photos. Number 30 is a normal whole group photo and then 31 is a silly whole group photo. This is so wonderful because we have a very colorful playground, they sit on swings, near trees, on slides……… It is amazing how different the students look at the end of the year:) I’ve done this calendar for the past 20 years. Students look forward to it and so do I:)

  • P. Melvin
    July 30, 2012

    I like to start my classes off by using the “Guess Who!” Activity materials from Really Good Stuff. I answer the info about myself so the students get to know me & see how to fill out the boxes of personal info. Then they get their copies & write/draw about themselves. The finished products go up on a bulletin board entitled, “Who’s Who in Room 307” for all to read. They love it! 🙂

  • Julie P.
    July 30, 2012

    I did the letters last year. My kids loved getting them back at the end of the year and completing them.

  • Barbara
    July 30, 2012

    I’ve posted one of our favorite getting-to-know-you activities on the blog today; it’s kind of hard to explain so I did a video tutorial. It’s a little chant meant to teach kids to listen for connections and then give them a chance to connect and share with me and one another. They love to circle up and talk about themselves, right? So come on by here to see how we connect and then adapt it to make it work for your class:

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