This blog post is a list of 10 must-dos for the first day of school! I want to share some actions you may know (or may not know) to make sure you have a great first day! I also included FREE printables to help you have a successful first day!
Let’s Get Started!
First and foremost, make sure you know how your students get home! I usually meet with most of my students’ parents during open house but I had instances when parents couldn’t make it. The first task on the first day of school is to make sure that I introduce myself to my students’ parents and I find out how their child gets home.
To keep track of how they get home, I place the Transportation Checklist (see above) on a clipboard and record how they get home. I am always as specific as possible. For example, if Tommy is a walker, I write Tommy and under “walker.” I additionally write “mom” so I know that mom is the one that is going to pick him up. If he is a bus rider, I write the number or the color of the bus that he gets on. This helps me keep track of how my students are going to get home!
When the students come in, what do you want them to do? There are lots of ideas! You can have them use play dough or do puzzles or color a picture. I usually have my students color a picture because it’s not messy, it’s an activity that every student can complete independently and it usually takes them a while to finish.
If they are finished coloring the picture, I tell them to flip the paper over and draw a picture of their choice. While they are coloring, you have time to talk to parents, collect and organize school supplies or take a breather!
I have included 5 worksheets (1 per day) to get you through the first week.
Before you start explaining the rules and procedures, introduce yourself! By sharing information about yourself, it will allow students to “know you” and they may find out that you all have a lot in common! It’s a fun way to start making connections to your students. Do you have brothers or sisters? What’s your favorite kids’ movie? What do you like to eat? I like to write a book about myself, read it to the class and put in the class library.
After you introduce yourself, have students introduce themselves. Some students are going to be very excited and eager to share information and others will be shy. One year, I called on a student to say her name and say her favorite color and she ran and hid behind a chair. So, be sensitive to the fact that some students may not yet feel comfortable with sharing information about themselves in front of the class and it may take them time to warm up!
What about shy students?
Also, it’s important to give those shy students a chance to share! It may not be at the at moment you asked them. It may be after they see several other students share and realize it’s not that bad or it could happen at the end of the day. By giving a them a chance to share when they are ready, you are acknowledging that what they have to say is important and you value their opinions and feelings.
Here’s a fun sharing activity that will get your students talking!
Buy a pack of Starburst and put them in a cup or in a jar. Project “I’m Bursting to Meet You” document on your Smartboard or similar device. Explain to students that they must pick a starburst color and answer the question! Then, let them eat the Starburst! YumJ (or not let them eat the starburst).
Take lots of photos! I always take a portrait, landscape and a 1st day of school photo! The photos are for our job board, mailboxes, writing center name tags and for literacy center activities. At the end of the year, we always do a picture slideshow for families. I always include their 1st day of school photos!
This is a great first day of school activity! If you can’t get to it the first day, try to get to it the second day of school! To introduce this activity, I read a book about how we all look different and that’s okay! I usually read, Shades of People. Then, I have students draw a picture of what they look like. Last, we go on a gallery walk and admire everyone’s beautiful artwork.
Self-portraits are also a good time to collect anecdotal data on students. You can observe 1) who can hold a pencil correctly or incorrectly 2) who can write their names and 3) what type of details did they include in their pictures.
Students need to know what is a good choice and a bad choice at school. When I teach good and bad choices, I usually read a book about a character that makes bad choices.
Here are 3 books that I have read over the years to teach good and bad choices:
- Monster at School (google and download pdf file)
As I am reading, I stop and allow students to share their opinions as well as discuss why the behavior is a bad or good choice.
Then, we sort good and bad choices at school.
This helps students to see what is a good choice and bad choice as well as clarify any misconceptions. After we discuss the rules, I review my behavior system with them (at my school we must use a “color coded” behavior system). I also tell them about the REWARDS for good behavior such as going to the treasure chest and getting certificates for good behavior and work that they can show with their parents!
In my classroom, students do not write their names on class school supplies because we end of sharing everything. To avoid having my desk full of school supplies, I put out labelled bins and sort the school supplies as I receive them. It keeps my desk neat and school supplies organized!
I have included these school supplies labels for you to use! They aren’t fancy but they’ll keep you organized the first day of school!
Going on a tour of the school will make the school feel less big and make students feel confident and safe in a new environment. While on the tour, they can meet their specials teachers, the nurse or a school administrator. This is also a great opportunity to teach students how to walk in the hallway.
Procedures are so important! I like to review procedures as we need them and in context. I have found that my students remember and apply them more this way. I also like to have pictures or photographs of each procedure. As the teacher, you are going to have to decide which procedures are the most important to teach and which ones you will teach as you go along. It’s the first day of school so I wouldn’t go overboard. They are taking in a lot of information on the first day and you want to make sure that they remember and can apply what you are teaching them.
FYI – You will be reviewing procedures all year long! Don’t get too frustrated or disappointment when they forget! Just gently remind them of the correct way of doing it. The more practice and application they receive the better they will get it at.
Which procedures should I teach on the First Day?
Here are some first day procedures that I review. Click on the links to access these free resources from other bloggers:
- How to ask to go the bathroom, get tissue or get water
- How to sit on the carpet
- How to put away scissors, crayons and glue
- How to order lunch
- How to unpack in the morning
- How to pack up in the afternoon
- How to walk in the hallway
- How to line up
Now, there are a TON of procedures that you must review but these are probably the 8 most important procedures to review for the first day.
Here’s the link to my FREE documents to help you have a successful first week of school!
Here’s the link to the good and bad choice sorting worksheet!
Need more ideas for the first week of school? Follow my Pinterest Board: First Week of School
Are you interested in learning about how to use sorting worksheets in your classroom? Click on the image below to read how I use sorting in my classroom!
What are some tips you have for the first week of school? Leave your advice in the comment sections below!