The first weeks of school can be exhausting and overwhelming both for students and for teachers. It is important to make sure that these days are a mix of activities that help with the transition back into work mode, are fun and engaging, and also slowly reintroduce academic skills and concepts.
One of the most important goals is to create a positive and engaging learning environment where your students feel safe and the classroom community is one of respect and caring for each other. Here are 10 activities to consider:
1. Icebreaker Activities: Plan icebreaker activities to help your students get to know one another and build a sense of community. These can include "All About Me" presentations, "Find Someone Who", sharing circles, or partner interviews. Encourage students to share their interests, hobbies, and goals for the school year.
2. Establish Classroom Rules: Collaboratively develop classroom rules with your students. Discuss the importance of respect, responsibility, and cooperation. Create visual reminders of the rules and involve your students in creating a classroom rules display.
3. Name Games and All About Me Activities: Use name games and activities to help your students learn and remember each other's names. Play name games, create name tags, or use interactive name charts. Do activities that help them to share information about themselves. Create "All About Me" posters, collages, or shields. Try combining name acrostics with interests.
4. Daily Routines: Teach and practice daily routines and procedures, such as entering the classroom, morning routines, transitions, lining up, and using materials. Model and practice these routines to ensure a smooth flow of the school day.
5. Team Building Activities: Include team-building activities to encourage cooperation and collaboration. Assign the students group tasks or problem-solving activities that require them to work together and share ideas. This helps build relationships, create a supportive classroom community, and develop important social skills.
6. Classroom Jobs or Responsibilities: Introduce classroom jobs and allow your students to take on responsibilities within the classroom. Assign age-appropriate tasks such as line leader, librarian, or materials organizer. This encourages a sense of responsibility, promotes leadership skills, and helps them feel valued and involved in the classroom community.
7. Growth Mindset Activities: Teach and reinforce the concept of a growth mindset through activities and discussions. Help your students understand that their abilities can be developed through effort, perseverance, and a positive attitude. Engage in discussions about challenges, mistakes, and the power of "yet" (e.g., "I can't do it yet, but I will keep trying").
8. Math and Literacy Centers: Set up math and literacy centers with hands-on activities that review or reinforce skills previously taught. These centers can include puzzles, manipulatives, sorting activities, or small-group games that focus on essential concepts.
9. Arts and Craft Projects: Plan arts and craft projects that allow your students to express their creativity and personalize their learning environment. This can include creating classroom banners, designing name tags, or decorating bulletin boards with collaborative artwork.
10. Brain Breaks: It is important to include energizing brain breaks throughout the day to help your students stay focused and engaged. These can include quick physical activities, stretches, or movement-based games that allow them to recharge their energy.
Remember to create a balanced schedule that includes a mix of academic, social emotional, and community building activities during the first weeks of school.
These activities will help your students feel connected, engaged, and excited about the learning journey ahead. They may also help lessen your teacher overwhelm and stress as you make connections and develop relationships with your students.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.