The first day of school is a special one for both teachers and students. New classrooms, new teachers, new classmates – all of this can lead to students’ feeling anxious and uncertain, which is why it’s so important to get off on the right foot. Ease the nerves and help students get settled in while building rapport with them from Day 1 with these fun ideas!
Save your lectures on classroom rules and administrative announcements for the end of the day. Instead, dive right in with some icebreakers that will help your students to get to know you and each other.
Distribute 5×5 bingo cards with phrases that relate to students such as “loves pizza”, “can do a cartwheel”, “favorite color: orange”. Have students ask each other questions to find students who identify with the phrases on their bingo card and sign off on them. This encourages students to get to know each other and form new friendships as they find things they have in common with each other.
Tell It with Emojis
Speak the language of your students, with emojis! Put a fun twist on the usual “Summer Vacation Essay” by getting students to share what they did over the summer with emojis. This activity is sure to get their creative juices flowing!
Students may have a hard time envisioning how they fit into their new class and with their new classmates. Create a giant blank puzzle and give each student a piece of the puzzle to decorate in a way that represents them. Have the class reassemble the puzzle together to get them comfortable working together, and to highlight that they’re all essential parts of the class. As a bonus, you’ll have a fun display for the bare classroom wall!
2. School Survival Kit
Coming back to school can be hard, especially as a middle schooler. Help students ease back into school life by providing them with a School “Survival” kit. Fill a goodie bag with some basic supplies, important information about class schedules and other need-to-knows, and some fun goodies. You can also include a personalized welcome letter to the student, with some information about yourself to start building that relationship with your student on an individual level.
3. Introduce Technology
Kids these days love technology, and the first day of school is an excellent time to introduce ed-tech tools you may be using during the course of the year. ClassDojo is a fun classroom management tool that allows you to keep parents in the loop with what’s happening in school, while Prodigy helps students learn crucial math skills with a gamified platform. Read to Lead® offers students digital reading games to get them engaged and learn essential skills necessary for the 21st century workplace. Giving students a taste of the tech tools they can expect to be using during the course of the school year is sure to get excitement levels up.
4. Time Capsule
The start of the school year is a great time to set goals for the year ahead. But by the time June rolls around, students have forgotten what they’d hoped to achieve. Why not help them keep track of their goals with a time capsule? Have students write down their goals for the year, and place it in a plastic bottle to be opened at the end of the year. Take it one step further by including samples of their work, and let students see for themselves how much they grow over the course of the year!
The first day back at school doesn’t have to be awkward or stressful. Incorporate some of these ideas into your plan for the day and help your students (and yourself) ease back into school life for a fun-filled year ahead!
About Read to Lead
Read to Lead, created by the nonprofit organization, Classroom Inc., uses the power of game-based learning to empower middle school students to build literacy, life, and career skills. Teachers can sign up for a free account to get started!