I recently came across a post by @Teacher2Teacher on Twitter that I just HAD to bookmark. They asked a simple question: “Do you have any back to school rituals that you just LOVE?” Boy was I excited to explore the answers and activities shared! Here are some of my favorites.
Renee Dawson (@APSITSdawson) had a fantastic idea to share. She has her students record the correct pronunciation of their names using Microsoft Flip (formerly Flipgrid) so that everyone can pronounce names correctly from the start of the year.
What’s Your Name Story?
Stevie Frank (@steviefrank23) uses a ball of yarn to complete an ice breaker with students. She asks the question, “What’s your name story?” and tosses the yarn to a student. The recipient answers, holds on to the yarn, and then throws the ball of yarn to another student who answers. This continues until the whole class has participated. A web of yarn is created between all the students. “By the end, we all see how we’re connected, and we get to learn parts of identity,” says Stevie. You can do this activity with all kinds of questions!
I absolutely love this idea from Mark Holt (@Holteacher). He calls his 5th grade students superheroes. On the first day of school, they decorate capes with a superhero name and symbol they create for themselves. Mark says, “Some of the students wear their capes all year long.”
Letter to the Teacher
@PamAmendola has students write her a letter. In the letter, they tell her about their lives, their families, their likes/dislikes, and anything else they’d like to share about themselves. “I get an authentic, low stakes writing sample where I hear their voice,” she says.
Team Building with Puzzles
@lberrelez32 buys some 24-piece children’s puzzles from Dollar Tree. She partners up students with one partner blindfolded. Only the blindfolded student can touch the puzzle. “Their partner has to talk them through putting it together. Great team building activity,” she says.
My First Day
Mrs. Moore (@BookDragon_Kat) works with a lot of military kids. She says that reading “My First Day” is a great way for them to share about where they’ve lived, build connections, and learn about how people in different parts of the world go to school.
Plastic Cup Challenge
@Riverart9 puts students in groups of four to five and gives them an equal number of cups of varied sizes and made of different materials. Then she challenges the groups to build the tallest tower of cups. She likes this as a first day of school activity because it encourages teamwork and resilience.
The Name Juggle
Tyle Pelletier (@TPelletierG5) named his favorite activity as being “The Name Juggle.” In this game, students take a ball and say the name of the person they’re tossing it to. Increase the complexity and fun by adding more balls and speeding up the game as students get to know each other’s names.
“Where I’m From” Poems
One activity suggested by @Creative_Ink16 is writing “Where I’m From” poems. Here’s an example with a template based on “Where I’m From” by poet George Ella Lyons. This site also includes a video of students performing their poems. “The students decorate their final drafts, and we hang them up on the classroom wall,” adds Creative_Ink16. I absolutely love this idea.
Letters from Last Year
If you had students write letters at the end of last school year, it’s a great way to introduce incoming students to their new environment. @Kwillmann suggests “reading letters written by last year’s students about how to succeed in class.” It also gives students something to look forward to doing at the end of the year.
Do you have any favorites to add to the list? Tell us about them in the comments, and let’s all have a great first day of school!