First Week of School: Activities and Ideas

Sunday, August 11, 2019

This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 
 The first week of school is always a FUN time because it involves all things
team building, organization, and relationships. I like to mix in rules and procedures with
LOTS OF FUN. I want kids to be excited about the year, but I also want them to understand the expectations and rules that we have in our classroom. I also want my students to begin to build relationships with each other. I am excited to share with you some of my FAVORITE first week ideas I did for the first week of school this year! Let's get started!
Idea number 1: Morning Choice!
This is my first year to do morning choice in my classroom. The original idea comes from Adam Dovico. You can check out his blog post HERE. The goal of morning choice is to get kids excited about coming into school each day. We started morning choice DAY 1 in my classroom and I loved that it took away those "first day scaries" and kids immediately came in and started building relationships. In order to ensure this went smoothly on day one, I typed up direction cards that I stuck at each station. Station cards explained the task at hand and how many students could be at each station. You can grab these direction cards in my TPT store HERE. They are fully editable so you can make them meet the needs in your clasroom. 

In my classroom, students come in, unpack, and record their announcements and homework for the day. They may begin to play with the morning choice centers only once they are completely ready for their day. Morning choice lasts only 20 minutes - so this means students quickly come in and get ready so they can have as much time as possible at their station. 

 Idea Number 2: "Get to Know You" Jenga
In my classroom we play LOTS of games during academic instruction to keep kids engaged. I figured we might as well start day one out with a game as well. This game is SO easy, but I loved that it allowed me to begin introducing rules and procedures for games. Each group got a Jenga set and a batch of task cards. Although my Jenga sets are color coded, we didn't use the color coded aspect for this activity. I introduced our game rules: no turns/no outs, and explained that one student is to draw a task card and read it aloud to his/her group. After the question has been read, all students in the group must answer the question. After everyone has answered, the person who pulled the question card gets to also pull a Jenga block. This was so much fun and it really helped the kids get to know each other. You can grab my "Get to Know You" task cards in my TPT store HERE.

 Idea Number 3: The BEST Team Building Challenge EVER. 
I stole this idea from Dustin Ecker, a phenomenal teacher that shares awesome ideas on his Instagram. The gist of the activity is: Students work together to build a replica of a tower that has already been built in the hallway. Each student has an important role. One student is a "looker", one student is a "toucher", and the other two are "talkers". One can talk to the teacher, the other can talk to other groups. The catch? The supplies for each group were all mixed together. One group got all the paper. Some groups got no cups. What a MESS. Using their important roles, groups worked together to work through the mess in order to build the mystery tower. Fore the full directions from Dustin, you can view his Instagram post HERE. It is safe to say - this is my FAVORITE team building activity I've ever done with a class.

Idea Number 3: Book Tasting 
Starting last year, my team decided to kick off each year with a book tasting. Basically, this is a mini-transformation where students experience a restaurant where they get to "sample" different books from our classroom library. This is such a fun way to get our students exposed to new books and get them excited about our 40 book challenge for the year. The original idea is from Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching and you can grab her product HERE. It seriously has everything you need, minus the books. It is a fabulous resource.  

Idea Number 4: Self Portraits 
Each year, I have my students create self portraits and we keep them hanging in our classroom all year. They are my FAVORITE! We do a directed draw and then students color them to fit their own personalities. For our directed draw, we use a "Modigliani Self Portrait" style. Modigliani distorted his portraits, using longer necks and faces. I just love how they always turn out. I use 18 inch x 24 inch paper for this project. You can grab some for a very affordable price HERE on Amazon. After students draw their self portraits, they outline with black marker and then simply color their portrait the way they like! Once they are done, I back them with black butcher paper my school already has for FREE (woohoo) and hang them on our wall using Mavalus tape. It's legit the best tape and holds SO well. For a link on how to do this directed draw with your students, click here

Idea Number 5: Hanging Craft 
I love using this craft as an easy "time filler" for the first few days of school. I typically spread out each writing prompt over four or five days. Students complete the writing and then we take time to share about ourselves each day. I make sure to get these hung in time for parent night - a night we have at the beginning of the year where parents come back into our classrooms and we go over all things 5th grade. You can grab this craft in my TPT store here.  

As you can see, our first week was full of FUN, Team Building, and procedures! I hope this post gave you some great ideas for your first week! Do you have an awesome first week idea? I'd love to hear all about it. Leave a blog comment below! Happy School Year!

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