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Simple Activities for the First Week of School

Are you looking for some simple activities for the first week of school? Those first few days really set the tone for the year.

Here are some tried and true things that I have done with my own students to make sure we have not only a successful first week but a successful year!


Read Lots of Picture Books

One of the activities for the first week of school is picture books. Lots and lots of picture books. I probably read at least two or three in that first week. Our first week is filled with classroom community building, going over rules and procedures, all of which can be taught with picture books.

One picture book I start the year off with is Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. I do an activity with it that helps kids see how words and actions can have a lasting effect. Each Kindness is about a little girl who is new at her school. The other kids are not very welcoming to her and say and do things that are unkind. As I read the book I take a pink heart and wrinkle it every time a character in the book says something or does something unkind. I wrote a post that includes my must-read picture books for the first days of school. You can read it here.

After I finish reading I have a very wrinkled heart and ask the kids if it is possible to make the heart smooth again with no wrinkles. Some usually say yes and so I proceed to try and take out all of the wrinkles and marks. Eventually, the kids realize it’s impossible for the heart to go back to how it once was. We have a great discussion about how our words and actions can leave wrinkles and marks on someone’s heart permanently. I hang the heart up in the classroom to help us remember!


Rules and Procedures in the First Days of School

I use Whole Brain Teaching in my class and have adapted their rules to fit our class needs. The rules in our class cover everything you could think of.

1. Be Kind 2. Follow directions quickly. 3. Make smart choices. 4. Keep your eyes on the target! 5. Keep our learning community happy.

Any misbehavior or undesirable action falls under one of the rules. I display them in the class and during the first days of school, I have the kids come up with a hand gesture that goes with each rule so that they take ownership of the rules. We then practice the rules with their corresponding hand gestures every day during morning meeting. The hand gestures make it more fun and it helps the kids remember each rule.

We also practice our procedures for everything- how to put your name on a paper, what to do if you need a pencil, etc. During that first week, we have a lot of time to practice. There is nothing more boring than telling the kids what a rule or procedure is and having them practice it over an over. So I make it fun by doing a lot of role-playing of what NOT to do. I joke with them when they don’t do something correctly. The old saying “Don’t smile until December.” doesn’t work if you want to build relationships with kids. So make rule practice fun!


Learn About The Kids in the First Days of School

It is so important to learn about your students so you can build relationships with them. Something I do in my classroom is Me Bags. I give each child a brown paper lunch bag. Their “homework” for that first week is to go home and put 3 things in the bag that are important to them. It could be an object like a trophy they won or a picture of someone they love. I model how to do this by sharing my own bag of 3 items. During that first week, I let a few kids share their bags each day during our morning meeting. It’s an easy but meaningful way to get to know each other!


Build Reading Stamina with Training Camp

Starting on day one I begin to help the kids build or re-build their reading stamina. It’s hard for kids to read for a long period of time if they haven’t done it all summer. So I hold either a Reading Boot Camp or a Super Readers Training Camp. It’s a fun way to practice building their reading stamina so we can eventually reach 30 minutes of independent reading in third grade. We start off with a small amount of practice time and add time each day until we reach 30 minutes. If you’d like to read more about helping kids read independently, check out this blog post.

I hope you got some ideas to use in the first days of school. If you try any of them out, let me know how it goes!

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