Every time I mentioned Back to School on my Facebook page at least one person mentions that it can't possibly be time yet! I know, I know! It's much too soon… but the fact is that it's coming. In fact, a district a few miles away from me starts school THIS FRIDAY! That means it's time to start planning all those first day of school activities!
Throughout the summer, I have been compiling some brilliant first day of school activities from around the blogosphere. I always feel like I hear about the great activities too late–it's either a day or two before school starts or I hear about them AFTER school starts. So, I hope this post can help give you some ideas of engaging activities for the first days of school…specifically with the older crowd (grades 3-6) in mind.
Update: I now have an ENTIRE free resource dedicated to explaining my first week of school plans! Click here to read about my first week of school lesson plans.
Getting to Know You First Day of School Activities
Use Skittles or M&Ms to get to know students! This would be great to do in rotating groups so that students get talking to all of the kids in the class. Getting To Know You with M&Ms from She's Crafty
This gallery walk is a non-threatening and entertaining way for you to learn more about your students and to let them learn more about each other. This type of activity is also perfect for setting expectations for a moving around the classroom activity or lesson. She has several other first day of school activities on her blog post, too! Gallery Walk Consesograms from Gingersnaps Treats For Teachers
Pretty much anything that Jennifer Runde does is amazing, and this artistic activity is no exception. Your students will love creating these I Am poems, and they will make a great bulletin board display, too. I Am Poems for Runde's Room
This is another activity that requires students to get a little artistic. Loving it! All Hands in Activity from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6
I created these task cards last year, and they were so much fun to use with students on the first day. Kids loved playing SCOOT and getting to know each other. They giggled at many of the questions! Getting to Know You Task Cards
One of my Facebook fans shared this idea. How fun!
Teamwork and Cooperative Learning
All you need are some plastic cups, and you have the perfect cooperative learning activity! Creating the Tallest Cup Tower at Corkboard Connections
I used to do an activity like this with mini marshmallows and toothpicks, but I LOVE this version using spaghetti. Perfect! Marshmallow Challenge from Live.Love.Laugh
Routines and Expectations
This is a wonderful science activity to prepare students for the expectations of working in groups. (More uses for your cups, too!) Setting Group Expectations with The Science Penguin
If you use task cards, this free set is a great way to practice the rules and routines of SCOOT! You will thank yourself later in the year when your class can play SCOOT without a hitch!
I like this for big kids because they can occasionally get a little overzealous and have some issues with boundaries. This would be a great reminder for students about their job as a student vs. yours as their teacher. Your Job Vs. My Job from Hawk's Nest
This could be a great getting to know you activity, too, but I also love the message it sends about both writing and types of consequences. So fun if your school will allow these goodies! Consequences, Writing, and Learning about Your Students from Mrs. O Knows
This wasn't a first day of school activity according to the blog, but I LOVE it! It would work best in groups, but the gist is that you put a bunch of letters in a central location, give a category or topic, and kids build words. Perfect for older kids, and perfect for setting expectations about how to work in groups, how to behave appropriately, keep volume low, etc. Let's Get Physical Scrabble
Even More Ideas
Of course, there are a ton of different first day of school activities out there. This is just a sampling of some of the ones that have caught my eye. If you have a great one to share, please feel free to share it in the comments! I absolutely love hearing about your back to school activities. If you are looking for even more back to school activities, stop by my shop for these engaging goodies!