So, you’ve set up your room and it looks fabulous. For more tips on making your classroom look fabulous click here. You’ve organized your classroom library, and you’re bulletin boards look amazing. Now you’re left with that gnawing question. What activities am I going to do the first week of school? Let’s be honest, it’s too soon to begin teaching the curriculum. There are so many routines, and procedures which your students will need to learn first. So, what exactly will your first week of school activities be?
That first week I focus on building community in my classroom, and learning our rules and routines. Here are a few ways I do that:
Activities to help all students learn everyone’s name
A major goal is for all students to learn one another’s names. I know this does not seem like something you would want to spend time on. The reality though, is that there will be students who are new to the school. Students will also be with kids who may not have been in their classroom the year before. Taking 30 minutes to do an activity to help everyone learn one another’s names is a great use of time. One of my favorite first day of school activities is an ice breaker where we toss a small ball (or even a bean bag) to another person in the room, and call out the person’s first name. The trick is, that no one can get the ball twice. I let my class know that it’s alright to ask someone what there name is before tossing the ball to them. This sets the tone, and no one is ever embarrassed to ask a student their name (or remind someone what their name is). This activity also helps me learn my students names too. Once everyone has received the ball, the last student tosses it back to me. I then congratulate the class, and then ask them if they think they can do it a second time in the same order. That always makes everyone think. If we’re successful with that, (and if we have enough time) I ask them if they think they can do it backwards. This always makes students laugh, but by working together they can usually figure it out.
Setting the Rules Together
Another activity that we spend time on is talking about the kind of school year that we want to have, which goes right into creating our classroom rules for the school year. I always know in advance the 4 rules that my class must have, but by discussion and brainstorming the class is able to create their own rules together. It definitely creates more student buy in, when they create the classroom rules.
Create a Community puzzle
Each year, my class also creates a community puzzle. On the first day of school I give each student a puzzle piece to decorate as a representation of them. We then put the puzzle together and I place it on a bulletin board. We keep the puzzle together all year, to represent our school family. This is another activity which students love.
Writing About Family
I get my students writing about a topic they know a lot about – their family. In fact, we spend the week discussing families (and how everyone’s family is different, but they are all equally important). We wrap the week up with each child making their own family tree. It makes a beautiful bulletin board of authentic student work. You can find the family tree lesson here.
I make it a point to take a picture of each child in my room during the first week of school. I then upload all of the pictures into my Dropbox (Google drive works just as well). Then I use this daily calendar card template to create a calendar card for each student in my room. I print the cards, and laminate them and they make the cutest calendar cards for the school year. It’s another way to celebrate community in the room, and for each student to feel special. You can find the calendar activity here.
Back to School Read Alouds
Another favorite activity of mine for the first week of school are my Kevin Henkes read alouds. Kevin Henkes has some great stories which focus on school, and deal with important social situations that the class can discuss together. My favorite first week of school stories are Chrysanthemum, Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse, and Wemberly Worried. I also adore The Recess Queen by Alexis O’neill and Laura Huliska-Beith. These are affiliate links. I receive a small fee if you purchase anything at no extra cost to you.
By the end of the week each child has had success in the classroom., and feels excited about the year ahead. Looking for help with your second grade curriculum? click here. Looking for more fun teaching ideas? Check out these blogs below. Have a GREAT school year!