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BACK-TO-SCHOOL

6 Beginning of the School Year Activities for Day One

5 Min Read
Classcraft Fun Activities for the Beginning of the School Year

Whether you’re a new or seasoned teacher, you know that first impressions are important. That’s why we’ve put together six beginning of the school year activities to kick off the school year.

Fun Beginning of the Year Activities for Any Classroom

1. Role-play bullying scenarios

Bullying is not a happy topic, but it’s one you need to nip in the bud as soon as you can. How? By jumpstarting your year with anti-bullying activity.

Here’s how it works:

  • You provide students with common bullying scenarios.
  • Your students act them out in front of the class (appropriately, of course).
  • You and the audience offer options on how to deal with the situation.
  • Your students act out the solutions.

The kids eat up this activity and break it down in an engaging but powerful way. By spreading bullying awareness, you’ll start the year off right.

2. Organize a parent meeting

You’re a rock star with your students, but the parents are a different story. Sound familiar?

Some teachers find parents intimidating. But think about it this way: You’re in charge of their world, and that’s a huge job. That’s why you need to let parents know that you’re on their team from the get-go. But how do you remind them it takes a collaborative effort to produce successful students?

Sounds like you need a parent meeting. Many schools have these meetings a day or two before the first day of school; others have theirs an evening or two before. It doesn’t matter when the meeting occurs, but you should schedule a time for one. Trust me—your organizational efforts will not go to waste.

During this activity, allow parents to ask questions within a set time frame, discuss your philosophy, go over your major policies, and offer suggestions for homework help.

Setting up a parent meeting is a win-win for all. The parents receive a crash course on how to help their kids in your class, while students benefit from increased parent awareness. And you set the foundation for a collaborative year!

3. Differentiate instruction with student interviews

How do you figure out how your students learn best, especially when they first trickle into your classroom? The answer is simpler than you think: Ask them!

Student interviews offer a way to create a tight-knit community and also help you learn about new students. Just pair up students and observe.

You can use a preset of questions like the following:

  • How do you learn best? (e.g., moving, writing, listening, etc.)
  • What activities do you enjoy the most?
  • What was the most successful project you’ve ever done, and why?
  • What’s your favorite book genre?
  • What topics interest you the most?
  • What’s your most productive time of day?
  • What’s your favorite school subject, and why?

The list goes on!

You’ll learn a lot by conducting student interviews this way at the beginning of the year.

4. A meet-and-greet trip (with no academics)

We’ve talked about parent meetings already, but another beginning of the year activity is a meet-and-greet trip with no academics.

What? No academics, you say? Bear with me. One of the most successful outings I experienced was the annual back-to-school camping trip. That’s right—before even picking up a book with the kids, teachers, students, and parents headed for the woods.

You’re shaking in your boots—I was too! But these camping trips broke the ice in many ways. Think about how real you’ll appear at six in the morning after sleeping on the ground and using a fire to brew your first cup of joe. Kids and parents appreciate a teacher’s humanity, and camping brings out that genuine nature.

Sure, all schools are different, and you may not be able to schedule an annual camping trip, so another option is a cookout. Either way, the kids will see you as a person (not just their teacher), and you will all have an opportunity to get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere.

5. Create a QR code scavenger hunt

When you started a new job, were you nervous? Probably—because change and unfamiliar territories are scary for many of us! And you’re an adult! So, imagine how bad it can get for kids when they enter a different classroom and meet a new teacher. The panic really sets in for some students.

That’s why a QR scavenger hunt activity can break the ice by familiarizing students with your classroom.

Here’s how it works:

  • Download a free QR generator. There are many available.
  • Put links into the generator that relate to your classroom. For example, let’s say you want kids to find and learn about your SmartBoard. Paste in a link to a picture of one. This will generate a QR code of a Smartboard that you then print and tape to a starting point in your classroom. Your desk is an excellent option.
  • Then, students scan the code, see the image, and saunter on over to your SmartBoard.
  • There, they see another QR code that they scan for yet another picture. The cubby station could be next!
  • Each time students arrive at a new QR code, you explain how it relates to classroom procedures.

You can do this as a class with one phone or in small groups with a few phones. Depending on your school’s policy, this could also segue into a discussion about phone use in your school.

Some schools allow students to use phones for academic purposes. They can sign them out as needed. But consider how you’ll handle the school phone policy before taking on this activity.

6. Rotate team quests

Team-based activities promote inquiry, sharing ideas, and problem-solving. That’s why you should try rotating team activities.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Set up three to five quest stations around your classroom.
  • Explain that each station has a team-building activity.
  • Split students into groups and assign them a station.
  • Join in on the fun and witness the team-building extravaganza.

Review Time!

As a teacher, you’re walking a fine line between parents, students, and regulations. You want to create positive first impressions and get everyone in a productive mind frame. We know it’s a lot to juggle, but with prior planning and some fun beginning of the year activities like these, you’ll kick off the year right.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

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