10 First Day of School Activities

Make the first day memorable!

I am going to do 2, 4, 5, 7, and 10 over the first week of my classroom.

  1. Time Capsule: Compile a “time capsule”. This can be as simple as a shoe box! Inside the time capsule, have each child draw a picture of themselves and fill out basic information about their preferences. Teacher can also include: measurements of all students’ heights, actual class photograph, and “scraps” of paper from the first day (photos, work samples, etc.). Here is a link to a free Time Capsule Worksheet.fe28f64b635dd7719b661c882a53e361
  2. Class-Puzzles: Each student gets a blank puzzle piece to decorate however they want. An instant display in which your students can find themselves.
  3. Class Rules: Work together as a class to draft class rules. Allow students to write their own independently. Once independently brainstormed, compile ideas onto an anchor chart and sort by commonalities, such as “Respect self” (don’t be late, wear appropriate clothes, etc.), “Respect property” (use tools correctly, don’t draw on the walls, etc.), and “Respect others” (be nice, don’t talk in the hall, etc.). Help students sort their ideas, even the obscure ones!
  4. Bucket Lists: Set goals for the upcoming year using Bucket Lists. Here are the links to the bucket lists for each grade level: firstsecondthirdfourthfifth, and sixth.

5. First Day Jitters: Read First Day Jitters and make Jitter Juice!

6. A Big Wind Blows For: This game is the connection version of musical chairs.  Benefits of this game: Highly active, students find commonalities with other students, and very engaging. Potential Challenges: Must be modeled initially (moving safety), shy students may struggle, and competitive students may struggle.

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 10.44.54 PM

7. Get to Know You PhonesI am personally going to do this low-stress writing and drawing activity. It will not be our only on-going first week task, but an easy one to display for students to express themselves.

8. How Do You Like to Learn? Give students this survey to learn more about their learning styles!

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 10.57.25 PM.png

9. Get to Know You Board Games: Print and play these three board games to get to know your students!

10. What I Wish My Teacher Knew: This does not have to be done on the first day. But how much would you learn about your students if they could tell you one thing completely anonymously? If you would like to structure the activity with a template, look here.

Starting the Year with Growth Mindset

MistakesSchool has not started just yet, but I am already excited to grow with my students. I am ready to launch into Growth Mindset from the beginning of the year. I have found in years past, I’ve often back pedaled to teach Growth Mindset. This back pedaling happens once I hear students use discouraging language or underestimate their own accomplishments. So in terms of growing: this year I will lead with Growth Mindset.

I am going to lead this dialogue with a series of read aloud books. I picked these books, because they specifically focus not on academic growth.

Bubble Gum Brain

This is a fun visual to introduce the idea of Growth Mindset to students, featuring fun cartoon illustrations. I recommend implementing the vocabulary of “Bubble Gum Brain” and “Brick Brain” from this book into your class.

Iggy Peck, Architect

A story about a young architect who, with his second grade class, builds a bridge out of unlikely materials.

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rosie decides to build a flying machine to help her aunt achieve her goals.

The Dot

Vashti is not allowed to leave art class until she draws something, and that is when she discovers her hidden talent.


After or in between these read alouds, I plan to introduce the concept of “Bucket Lists”: skills my students my students wish to foster in the upcoming year. “Bucket List” topics can be linked to the above books by referencing the skills of building, inventing, and drawing, while connected to the students’ lives by having them share skills they wish to develop further.

With your new students in the upcoming year, keep it open ended! I use the below bucket list writing activity to root the students in their goal setting. The pages of the bucket are interchangeable and can be completely customizable to each student. For the younger grades, or students intimidated by writing, there are blank pages for just pictures of their Bucket List goals.

Here are the links to the bucket lists for each grade level: firstsecondthirdfourthfifth, and sixth.

These bucket lists also make great beginning/end of quarter activities as a fresh start! It is a great way for students to independently reevaluate: what goals have I met and what goals have I yet to meet?