Friday, 24 August 2018

A-Z First Week of School Activities

The first week of school is exciting, but also a little unsettling. Routines are not yet outlined, expectations are not clear and there are many first week of school activities that need to be completed. To help fill in the first week and make is as productive and fun as possible, these first week of school activities will be a lifesaver!

All About Me - It's great to do a 'get to know' you type of activity at the start of the year where children share some facts about themselves. I love this book and it's much more fun that a simple worksheet. Children first completed the book section of their activity by responding to the questions at the top of each page. They then got to decorate themselves using a range of craft materials which they absolutely loved. This makes for a great display too!

Beach Ball Share - Stick a 'get to know you' question onto each colour of the beach ball and sit students in a circle. Toss the ball to a friend and whichever colour is facing them, children answer the question. It's a great way to get children to open up and share as well as get to know their peers.

Classroom Tour - It's always a good idea to do a little tour of the classroom in the first week. This encourages independence as the children know where everything is kept. It's also a nice idea to take a walk around the key areas of the school. There are many fun ways to do this, but one of my favourites is a scavenger hunt where children need to find all of the items from a list.

Displays - I talked a little about child-centred displays in my recent post about setting up a classroom, and the first week of school is a great time to get children involved in the displays in the classroom. You could talk to them about the things that would benefit their learning and they can create artwork or displays themselves to encourage them to use the displays to support their learning.

Elmer's Friends - I like to take a little bit of time to talk about how we are all different and remind children about the importance of valuing others. Make some sort of patchwork, this could be by sticking paper together or a mini sewing project for children. Allow children to use one square to draw or write something special and unique about them. This can be displayed in the classroom as a reminder about respecting others. It's a great project to use along with the Elmer story series.

Figure Me Out Maths - This is such a fun maths activity. Provide children with various facts about them involving numbers, such as the number of people in their house, their age, their shoe size, etc. Children then need to come up with different maths problems that equal the answer. For example, if they were 7 years old, they could write 4+3, 8-1, etc. You could also flip this and give children facts about you with the problems pre-written and children need to solve them.

Golden Rules - It's essential to come up with a set of Golden Rules that will create boundaries and set the classroom expectations. I love to get my children involved in deciding what our rules should be as it helps them to consider the difference between right and wrong. Involving your students also makes them more invested in the rules. You could create a class poster or children could individually create a poster. I work in an international school so I love to add actions to each rule to support EAL learners and children love to make up the actions. Once the rules are set, I usually turn them into a display format.

Holiday Recounts - I always like to get children to write a recount of their holiday in the first week of school and I usually get them to do this independently. I then add this to my assessment folder so I have evidence of the children's writing abilities on entry to my class. It's also nice to find out what they all did during the summer too.

I Can Do & I Want to Learn - I love to give the children a chart which is split in half and children identify the things they are good at or can now do on one side and the things they still want to learn on the other. As a teacher, I value supporting and developing the whole child, so knowing the things that children want to achieve, both academically and personally, will allow me to support them to do this.

Jitterglitter  - Jitterglitter is a great way to get children talking about their nerves at moving to a new class or starting a new school. Children could make up their own batch of jitter glitter, including anything they want in their mixture. They can then share their worries and the class can support them to get rid of their jitters. This could even be developed into a a series of lessons by writing recipes for their jitter glitter mixture.

Lie to Me - Children give three facts about themselves, 2 being true and 1 being a lie. They need to keep a straight face while they say each of them. The rest of the class then needs to guess which of the three facts is a lie.

Memory Box - Give children a special box that they can decorate. They can then store their favourite memories of the year in their memory box. This could be prizes they win, notes from friends or teachers, work they are proud of, etc. It's nice to take a photo of them on their first day and let them put it into their memory box.

Name Labels - Give children simple name labels and let them put their own stamp on them and decorate them in any way they want to. Once complete, they can be laminated and stuck to their lockers or pegs.

Puzzle Me - Puzzles are a great way of connecting children together. Give each child a puzzle piece and let them decorate it with all of their favourite things and unique qualities. Once complete, join the puzzle pieces to create a giant puzzle, demonstrating that the children are all part of a team and the importance of supporting each other and working together.

Quiz Time - Children can make up a true or false quiz about themselves. They can then take turns to ask their questions and the class can decide whether each statement is true or false. They could also do this in pairs to speed up the process or take the pressure off less confident children. It's a really fun way to get to know each other.

Rainbow Fish - Similar to the Elmer activity mentioned above, Rainbow Fish is another great story to start with. It provides a conversation starter about uniqueness and how we're all different. Children can then decorate their own fish, creating a display about individuality.

Spider Web Facts - This is such a fun activity! Give a child a ball of string and they give one fact about themselves. They then pass the ball to another friend who gives a fact about themselves. This continues, creating a giant web between them and showing how they are all connected. Kids love this activitiy!

Time Capsule - As somebody who is big on memories and finding ways to store them, creating a time capsule is one of my favourite first week of school activities. It's up to you what you ask the children to put inside their time capsule; it could be their goals or a writing sample, self portrait, a piece of string that matches their height. At the end of the year they call open their time capsule and see how much progress they have made and whether they have achieved their goals.

Ugly Words - Ugly words are a huge annoyance throughout the year if you don't outline the words children shouldn't use early. Create an ugly words list that children can add to. It's a great way for children to identify those hurtful words that they don't like without the pressure. This list forms the words that are forbidden from your classroom to ensure children have a happy year. You can then keep the list as a reminder or destroy it, demonstrating to children that those words have been destroyed.

Would You Rather... - I like to read the book Would You Rather by John Burningham which is a great book filled with funny choices. The children have lots of fun making choices and it's a great ice-breaker. They can then come up with their own would you rather scenarios to ask the class.

You're Special Mail - For children that already know each other, ask children to write a reason why each child in the class is special. The notes can then be put into children's mail boxes and the children get to read lots of lovely notes on their first day of school.

Zoom to the Sky - Give children a shooting star template which they can decorate. They then write their goals for the year on the star and they are added together to create a class display. They make a lovely display and it's great to have them to refer to throughout the year.

What activities do you like to do during the first week of school?
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