First Week of School Activities for Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd Grade
August 9, 2022
Need some fun activities for the first week of school in kindergarten, first, or second-grade classroom? These first week of school lessons are important ones that should be taught during those first days! Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know you can watch or listen to all this information in video format below:
To read the information, just keep scrolling!
#1: Teach Students About Their Classroom Schedule:
I always make sure that we introduce and follow the regular, daily schedule the whole first week of school. Our first week lessons will naturally look different from the following weeks, but I still want to use the same schedule right away so our students can get adjusted to their routine. During this first week, you want to start with low-stress activities during each of your subject blocks. You don’t need to teach them any new material yet during the first week – you can focus more on teaching your students the procedures, where different materials are, etc.
For example, in our math block during the first week of school, I like to do a simple button sort like the one below where students will group different buttons by color and fill out their graph. When we set up this activity I’ll show students where the materials are, how we clean up, and where to put the buttons back when we are done.
You can grab this FREE button graphing sheet here >> Free Button Graphs
We always do a read-aloud during our literacy block, so I would take this time during the first week to show my students how we gather together on the rug. This is when you can tell your class if they should sit in certain spots. Ask yourself, “do you want students to sit in a circle or sit in rows?” Whatever you want the procedure to be for your reading block for the rest of the year is up to you, but this way you teach students your specific rules and procedures! Then, you can read a fun back-to-school book!
In writing, you’ll follow the same lessons. You will want to teach your students the procedures and materials they will follow and use during this time. You can show your students where their pencils and writing folders are. I made a whole video about the beginning of the year writing activities that you can check out if you want some ideas to use for your writing block in the first week (What to Teach at the Beginning of the Year in Writing). Anything low stress where you don’t have to teach any new material is great for this period!
Basically, from day 1 I like to get my students used to their daily schedule by following it right away! Since your “lessons” will be so short, you will have plenty of time in between subject areas to teach students other procedures (where the bathrooms are, how we get ready for dismissal, etc.). And remember, you aren’t teaching EVERY procedure on day one! These will be spread out throughout your first week.
Tip #2: Teach Your Students Where the Supplies Are in Your Classroom
This goes together with our first lesson above – during the first week you can use the allotted time in each of your subject blocks to explain your standard procedures and show students where the classroom supplies are. This is a lesson I usually teach at the end of the first week and My favorite way to do this is with a little scavenger hunt! Using the classroom checklist below, students will work with a partner to check off all the tasks on the list.
You can put everything you want your students to know about the classroom in this first week on the checklist – where their seats are, where the bathroom is, where to put their backpacks, etc. Working in pairs is also a good way to get your students acquainted and a little more comfortable with each other during the first week!
You can download the classroom checklist for free here: Classroom Checklist Freebie
Tip #3: Use the lesson, “I Am Good At…”
“I Am Good At…” is a great lesson for the first week of school because students will be facing several new academic and social/emotional challenges during the year that they may have never experienced before. We want to remind them what they are good at and what they are capable of to help build their confidence and uplift them during this first week.
For this activity, I use a graphic organizer like the one below where students can color the picture of themselves and list or draw a few things that they are good at.
Our younger students might need a little help brainstorming ideas for this activity. You can guide them by asking a few directed questions. For example, you can ask your class to write something that they are good at on the playground or outside – some students might be good at the monkey bars, some might know how to play soccer, some students may have learned how to swim, etc. and they need a little extra help to get to their answer.
I also like to have students think about themselves during this activity and come up with more personal things that they are good at. For example, they might be good at being kind or good at being a big brother or sister. They can write or draw their answers in the graphic organizers shown above.
This is a feel-good activity for students to think about the things they are good at and what they are proud of so we can cheer them on!
These sheets are found in my First Week Fun unit for back to school, found here >>> First Week Fun
Tip #4: Create Your Classroom Rules Together
Instead of just making the rules on your own and putting them up on the board or buying a pre-made anchor chart, there are a lot of benefits to creating your classroom rules together as a community with your students.
When crafting your classroom rules together, you will want to focus on the following skills:
Being a kind friend
Try your best
Helping our classmates
We will go deeper into each of these themes throughout the year as we read different stories and have new experiences. However, I like to lay the groundwork in the first week by starting with these skills when creating our rules. In older classrooms, you can have your students break into small groups and each come up with a few ideas that you can go over as a class to decide what should be added to the classroom rules. For younger students, you can do this as a whole group exercise and brainstorm your ideas together.
Your students might come up with very specific rules, so you can help by naming those rules and fitting them into the skills above. For example, your students might say that everyone should raise their hand before they speak or that we shouldn’t interrupt someone who is talking. Those are great rules, but you can let students know that that is a way to be respectful!
One of the rules you come up with together could be: We are respectful to our teachers and classmates. After adding it to the list, you want to go over what respect is, what being respectful looks like and sounds like in the classroom, and what are some more examples of respecting our teachers and classmates.
Tip #5: Teach Students about Classroom and School Safety
These are some of the most important lessons you’re going to want to teach to your K-2 learners. As you walk through these lessons, it’s important to not only share WHAT the different safety rules are but also WHY it’s important for students to follow them. Here are some examples of what you may teach that first week of school:
You always want to make sure your students get home and that they get home safely. Dismissal can be extremely stressful, especially during this first week when it is all new and students are still learning what to do. You should know what your school’s dismissal procedures are, then make sure that your students know exactly what to do and how to do it.
Windows & Doors:
You want to explain to your students that they cannot just open windows and doors and leave on their own and why it isn’t safe. You can explain that you are their guardian while they are at school so you need to know where they are at all times so you can keep them safe.
For example, I had an exterior door in one of my previous classrooms, so I made sure my students knew that they were not allowed to go near or open that door – only teachers are allowed to open it because it can be very dangerous.
Especially in Kindergarten classrooms, you might be teaching students how to use scissors for the first time. You want to make sure you explain how you should hold scissors, how you should walk with scissors, and how scissors can actually be very dangerous so we need to be careful with them.
You want to explain what your school’s procedures are for recess as well. Tell your students where they can go, where they need to line up and remind them that you are in charge of their safety during school, which includes recess, so you need to know where they are at all times in order to keep them safe.
Walking Around the Building:
Depending on the size of your campus and your school’s rules, you can explain that your students cannot go anywhere without a buddy, maybe they need to be accompanied by an adult, etc. Make sure you explain exactly what the rules are and that we need to follow them to stay safe in the classroom and at school.
So there are 5 lessons I think all K-2 teachers should teach during that first week of school! What other lessons do you think I should add to this list?! Let me know down in the comments!
I also have some other back-to-school activities that you may like to use with your students!
You can find those here:
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