Easy and Fun Back to School Activities

Starting a new year in the classroom is so exciting! Each year I read First Grade Jitters to my students, and they think it is amazing that teachers actually get much more nervous about the first day than they do!

Even though I am past my first year of teaching, each year I get a case of the jitters before the first WEEK of school. There is so much to do in the first week, and it can also feel very overwhelming! Luckily, I have several first week activities that are helpful to use in the first week of school.

Back to School Activities for the First Week

It is SO important to learn about your students within the first few weeks of school. Having students complete an All About Me activity is a great way to get to know each of your students in a fun way. I like to let each student share his or her All About Me page with the class, and then I hang them in the classroom for the first three or so weeks of school. This helps to build classroom community!

I actually keep these papers until the last week of school, where I hand them back out, and have students reflect on how much they have changed during the year of school. It is amazing to see the students' reactions!
The Profile of Me activity integrates social media with the students, and is another fun way to learn more about them. Students create their own Instagram-esque profile by choosing a handle and writing a brief paragraph about who they are.

Ice breakers are so important in the first few weeks of school to develop community. I enjoy using a lot of Energizers to engage students and to build community (it's also a great way to get students up and moving!). Many energizers are team-based activities where students have to work with other students or partners, and this really helps for the classroom family to emerge. One of the activities I enjoy doing is a scavenger hunt where students have to fill in a student name for each box until every square is filled (no duplicating names!). This gets students up and moving, and most importantly TALKING to other students!
Mad Libs are one of my favorite activities to use in the classroom. This can also serve as another ice breaker, because the nature of Mad Libs is humor and it really helps students to feel more at ease in a new classroom. Another bonus of doing a Mad Lib is that you can learn about students' knowledge of parts of speech and grammar. Many students will have forgotten what a noun or adjective is, and this serves as a kind of formative assessment for teachers! Students will also help each other, so in essence they are giving other classmates' a refresher on what they may have forgotten during summer break.
Similarly, Scoots are a great way to get students engaged with content (and get up and moving!). The Scoot I created is geared towards grades 3, 4, and 5 and will also really help you as the teacher understand where your students' knowledge is in different content areas.
I Have Who Has is another fun game to get kids to build community. This is yet ANOTHER way to see what students know or don't know (but in a fun, stress-free way).
Kids LOVE riddles and jokes, so School Riddles are another great activity to implement in the first weeks of school. Again students have to practice their math facts and knowledge in order to solve the riddle. No doubt students will work together and help each other! I have included both addition/subtraction with regrouping, multiplication, and division here to help differentiate for different grade levels and abilities. Sometimes it's helpful to give students a choice - this helps you see who your math whiz kids are and who also may struggle with math.

All in all, the first few weeks are not meant to be so overwhelming, but should be an opportunity to have fun and to learn about your students in several fun and engaging ways!

You can find all the Back to School Activities I mentioned here: