Teacher Resources, Lesson Plans, and Classroom Management Tips

The First Day of School Activities

The First Day of School Activities

First day of school

Back to School Night / Meet the Teacher Night

Every school where I've taught, we have always had a Back to School night where the children are able to meet their new teacher. I've also heard of this night called "Meet the Teacher" or "Class Walkthroughs". Our Back to School night is informal, where the parents and children come in, look around, and talk to the teacher. Here are some ideas for Back to School night:

First Day of School Survival Kit: I make these for my children and parents and have them sitting on their desks when they come in. I use a paper bag to hold all of the items and ribbon to secure the note and close the bag. You can download printable notes by clicking below.

first day of school kit

Table Setup: I set up the table with all of the necessary paperwork that I need completed before the first day of school. This includes a contact information form and a transportation form. I also leave a copy of our classroom handbook, supply list, and a volunteer sign up form for them to take home. Here is what our table set up looks like.

back to school night table set up

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Sample First Day of School Schedule

This wonderful kindergarten first day of school schedule is from Courtney Brown:

Time Activities
7:45-8:15 Students arrive, put supplies on back table and book bags in cubbies. Students go to their table spots and work on activity (legs, wooden beads, etc.)
8:15-8:20 Sit on floor for morning announcements
8:20-8:30 Play a good morning song while the students go back to their tables to clean up and return to the floor.
8:30-9:30 I introduce myself and parapro and we play a simple name game. For the game, we sit in a circle and pass a foam ball around saying our names and our favorite color.

We discuss the rules and read No David! or David Goes to School by David Shannon. Afterwards, we talk about some of the rules David broke and how he would have a hard time if he were in our classroom.
We practice lining up and I take them on a quick tour of our school (clinic, front office, library, computer lab, and specials). We also go the lunchroom and practice walking through the lunch line and finding our lunch table. We tae a quick stop at the bathrooms on the way outside.
9:30-10:00 Outside (I take class pictures and individual pictures while we are outside so i have first day of school pictures)
10:00-10:55 We come back in and get drinks, go the bathroom, and return to the floor. We talk about how kindergarten is different from being at home with mom or dad or at daycare or with a nanny. I share and read the book The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and afterwards we talk about how if we ever get sad we just put our hand close to our hearts and think of our family to feel better again.

I then have their names written on a clothespin which hang in the back of the room on a string. I use popsicle sticks to call their names one by one to find their clothes pin. We do developmental play centers for the first week of school or so. Each center has a card with dots where they attach their clothespin. If there are no more dots, then the center is full. When they go to a new center, they take the clothes pin with them and put on the new center card. The centers we use include blocks, housekeeping, computers, reading corner, puzzles, and playdough. While the children are doing centers, my parapro and I call them over a few at a time to make a Kissing Hand. The Kissing Hand is a cut out of a hand that has a little poem in the middle and Hershey kiss taked to the middle. I tell them to take it home to mom or dad so that they know we thought of them while we had fun at school (Great simple project for them to take home on the first day!)
11:00-11:15 After we clean up our centers and come back to the floor, I use popsicle sticks to call them one by one to get their snack and bring it to the table. I let them enjoy and socialize the first day. Sometimes we will listen to a cd or read a story during this time.
11:15-11:45 After we clean up from snack, we come to the floor and do some songs/movement to get the wiggles out. I ust my whiteboard to show them how I can draw a picture of myself. I usually start with just a circle and say I'm finished. They will laugh at me ant tell me that I forgot my eyes or nose, etc. I then give them a white sheet of paper to practice drawing their self portraits. They will go into our kindergarten portfolio/memory book along with the picture I took of them on the playground.

I have a door in the room that I put sheet protectors on for each child. We will slide the self portraits into the sheet protectors so that the parents will be able to view them on open house night.
11:45-12:05 Rest time. We dim the lights and listen to a book on take. They also take turns using the restrom during this time.
12:10-12:50 Specials then come back to the room and quickly wash hands.
1:00-1:30 Lunch time (FINALLY!)
1:35-2:20 We use the restroom after lunch. This is usually when I do unit time, but for the first day we pack up our book bags and come to the floor. I review the rules again by holding up the cutouts and asking them to name each rule. We also go around the room and review names and this time we tell our favorite sport or activity. Then we do a language experience chart using the question "What do you like about your new school?". They respond "I like __." which I write on the chart> "I like blocks," said Eric.
2:20 For the first week of school, we line up kindergarten and go sit outside in the bus lane so that when the buses pull up, we can put kindergarten on the bus first.

Special Goodies

First Day of School Pins: This year, I made my children little pins for the first day of school. I went to Michaels Arts and Crafts store to buy a glue gun and I found these small painted wooden images for 25 cents each. They had about 50 different ones to choose from, but I ended up choosing the hearts for my girls and stars for my boys. I would have made them all the same, but they didn't have enough of just one type to make a class set. I bought some jewelry pins (60 for $2.99) and I was already at the store for a glue gun. When I got home, I wrote messages on the wooden pieces with a fine tip Sharpie and glued the pins on the back. They came out really cute and very inexpensive!

first day of school pins

"Here's a Kiss" treats: On the first day of school, I put a little note that reads "Thank you for a great first day. Here's a kiss!" in their folders. I attach a little Hershey kiss to the note. Here is a picture of what they look like.

here's a kiss note

First Day Activities

Friendship Fruit Salad: Bring in different kinds of fruit to make fruit salad. Have children help adding fruit to the bowl while discussing how different kind of fruits contribute to the dish like different kinds of people contribute to a classroom family. At the end of preparation, take out a rotten banana and see the children's reactions as you get ready to add it. Talk with students about how we don't want "rotten bananas" in fruit salad, just like "rotten bananas" aren't good in a classroom family.

Friendship Lemonade: A great way to start the year is to make friendship lemonade. :o) This is a really easy recipe with just a few ingredients. It is quite manageable. For each child, you will need the following ingredients: half a lemon, 1/2 cup of water, and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Each child squeezes half a lemon and adds the other ingredients to the pitcher. After tasting the friendship lemonade, graph the taste results. Give each child a lemon shape and have him/her draw either a smile, half smile, or a frown telling whether they liked the lemonade, liked it a little, or didn't like it at all. Click below for the lemonade recipe sequence and some lemons to use for the graph.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation "fact or fib" writing: On the first day of school with my second graders, we read the story How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague. The story starts with a boy telling about his summer vacation in class. As he's telling the class about his summer, he starts to imagine out loud about his adventures as a cowboy. After the story, we talk about whether or not they think the boy was telling factual or fictional information about his vacation. After we discuss the difference between fact and fiction, we write our own "fact or fib" story. The students can write about what they really did over summer vacation or use their imagination. When we share our stories together, the class guesses whether they think the person sharing is telling a "fact" or a "fib". They loved trying to guess and trying to trick their classmates!

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