I’m here today to offer five quick tips for your first day of school. I don’t know about you, but when I was in college, I was given LITTLE instruction on what to do on that first day. However, over the years, I have picked up a few little tricks that work well for me. Although these tips are simple, they are effective and can result in a smooth, FUN first day of school! Here we go!
*Note: Crayon boxes found at Wal-Mart for $1.00 each.
A big piece of advice is to worry about school supplies LATER in the morning. Your students may be coming into your classroom with a backpack filled with supplies. It can be tempting to want to get these supplies out of the backpack and tidied up and put away. However, “school supply sorting” is not what I would call the “calmest” part of the first day of school. We know that the first day sets the tone for the year, but I also believe that our first TASK sets the done for our DAY. Therefore, I like to have kids leave their supplies in their backpacks and get busy! Before school starts, I buy 24 boxes of the 24 pack of crayons. I start every child out with their own box of crayons from me. The boxes are tucked in their desks, waiting to be loved! On the first day, I invite my little babies to find their desk and enjoy a coloring page with their new crayons. So, instead of everyone sifting through backpacks to find their crayons, we start off our first five minutes of the day with a calm, quiet, and happy classroom hum! This allows me time to take attendance, lunch count, collect notes and first-day paperwork, and greet/welcome each child before we officially begin our first day of school!
I want to immediately start my students off with amazing habits! I use laminated calendar numbers that I adhere to the floor with packing tape. These little numbers become the students’ “line up numbers.” We spend time on the first day of school practicing how to line up in a calm, orderly fashion. We wait to be called by rows to line up, practice pushing in our chair, standing with our hands to our side, and walking quietly in the hall. Having a procedure in place for lining up is essential to developing smooth transitions within your day.
I also like to attach a kinesthetic learning activity to our hallway expectations. We use marshmallows to understand how to walk in the hallways! Marshmallows do not have feet, hands, or even mouths! They are so….so….quiet! Shhh……!!!
We have to hook our students right from Day 1! I want my students to fall in love with coming to school. I want them to anticipate what crazy idea or activity their teacher will come up with next. I want them to LOVE learning! One of my favorite activities for the first day of school is Magic Dough! Students use play dough to “solve” the mystery – Will they have a great school year? This activity is fun, engaging, and keeps kids social!
A first day would not be complete without a lesson on kindness to our peers. Using the book, Chrysanthemum, we pass a smooth heart around the circle. I explain that our hearts are smooth if no one has ever said anything bad to us. However, unkind words can cause wrinkles in our hearts! My students sit in a circle and pass this red heart around. When the heart reaches them, they have to crumble a piece of the heart to signify someone has used unkind words or actions. The heart is now “hurt” and very wrinkled. We try to smooth the heart out, but we discover that even when we apologize for something we have done, the wrinkle never fully goes away. Students learn that in all situations, we need to be kind and respectful so that we never put wrinkles in anyone else’s hearts.
Another quick but effective first day of school activity is the “I feel…” assessment. Students simply answer the sentence “I feel…” The teacher gives no help at all. I then collect the papers to look through that night. It is always incredible to see the amount of information I can collect about students’ writing abilities through that one simple sentence! *TIP & TRICK: Keep the “I feel…” papers to pass back on the last day of school. Students LOVE seeing how much they have grown!
I hope these five little tips gave you some ideas to think about for your first day of school. The marshmallow activity, “I feel assessment,” and the “Magic Dough” activity, along with other ideas and lessons, come from my Back to School Pack. You can check that out here.
Thank you so much for joining me for these five quick tips. Be sure to pin the image below to refer back to this post or to share it with your teacher-friends. Happy Learning, Christina