Menu
Arts Integration / Classroom Communities

21 Amazing Ideas for Activities on the First Day of School

activities on the first day of school anchor chart examples

We all want our activities on the first day of school to make students super excited for the new year, right? Don’t worry – after 9 years of teaching, I’ve got you covered!

I’ve learned that the first day matters, and you want to choose your activities for the first day of school carefully. So I’m going to give you LOTS of choices – enough to plan activities for the first WEEK of school!

This post is all about amazing activities on the first day of school. Read on for games for the first day of school, group activities for the first day of school, games for the first day of school, and crafts for the first day of school!

(If you’re looking for something that’s already prepped and ready to go, check out my activities and anchor charts for the first week of school right here.)

This product may contain affiliate links. I make a small commission on products purchased through these links.

Group Activities for the First Day of School

The class discussions and activities on the first day of school can be especially important to set the tone for your classroom community. We want to make every child feel safe in their new classroom space. These group activities for the first day of school can help build a feeling of trust and responsibility among students.

First Day Feelings

One example of first week of school ideas is a first day feelings anchor chart with emojis
This is one of my favorite ideas for activities on the first day of school!

Talking about our feelings on the first day of school can be especially helpful for students. Starting a new school year is a lot to process! It’s always a good idea to have some first day of school activities that help students express and accept whatever they are feeling.

On an anchor chart, write or draw some different feelings (happy, nervous, excited, sad, etc.). Lead your class in a discussion about how feelings are normal and everyone’s feelings are different. (“First Day Jitters” and “A Tiger Tail” are two great book choices to read with this activity. Read below for more book suggestions.)

Give every student a sticky note to write their name and let them put the sticky note on the anchor chart next to the feeling that they most identify with.

Class Promise

Activities for the first day of school can include a class promise that students put handprints around

One of my favorite activities for the first week of school is to create a class promise together. Lead your students in a discussion about what a great class should look like, sound like, and feel like. Collect all of their ideas on an anchor chart.

Then you can select the ones you want to go on the class promise. Have children decorate a handprint, heart, or cutout person of themselves to go around the class promise, sealing everyone’s pledge to one another.

(The book “I Promise”, listed below, is a great companion to this activity!)

We Want To Learn!

Fun activities for the first day of school can include an anchor chart listing what students want to learn this year

Amidst all these beginning of the year activities, we also want to get our students excited to learn! Grab an anchor chart and some colorful markers and start sharing with your students some amazing things they’re going to learn this year. You can share photos of fun activities from past years or share with them skills that you will help them master! I recommend including PE and arts in your discussion to include students who don’t feel as confident academically.

Then have each student think about something they’re excited to learn! Put all of these ideas down on an anchor chart (or two, if you have a big class) and post them in the classroom to keep your students motivated all year long!

Get To Know Your Teacher

beginning of the year activities can include a heart map of the teacher to get to know students

One of the most important things to do on the first day of school is to make sure students get to know YOU! Students are most likely having thoughts like “What will my new teacher be like?” and “Will my teacher like me? Will I like my teacher?”.

You can share pieces of your life with your students in a variety of ways, but one of my favorite ways is through a heart map.

Draw a big heart on an anchor chart or butcher paper and divide it into sections. In each section, draw or write something that is important to you! Some examples might be: my dog, my sisters, my students, reading, swimming, etc. This will give students insight into who you are and help them feel more connected to you!

(A Letter From Your Teacher, listed below, is a great companion to this activity.)

If you’re interested in these anchor chart templates, check out my Anchor Charts for the First Week of School TPT Product!

Craft Activities For the First Day of School

Crafts might just be my favorite activities for the first week of school. Students love a good art project, and they are such a fun way to celebrate the beginning of the year!

They are also the perfect opportunity to introduce classroom and art supplies. Here are a few crafts for the first day of school that your students will absolutely love!

Crown

This is one of those fun activities for the first day of school that could work in any elementary grade. Students will love that they get to wear the finished product, and it helps them feel ownership of their new grade level.

Heart Map

activities for the first week of school can include student heart maps, where they identify things that are important to them

This is a great companion activity to Get To Know the Teacher, listed above. It gives the students a chance to share about themselves, get to know each other, and get to know you! A great celebration of individuality.

Reach for the Stars

If you are looking for a gorgeous bulletin board for the first week of school, look no further! These celebrate the goals that students have, and they look amazing in the classroom.

Name Poems

Acrostic name poems with adjectives for every letter are perfect first day of school activities kindergarten

One of my favorite crafts for the first day of school! This acrostic poem celebrates student names and the qualities they have.

Behind the Mask

This has become one of our staple activities for the first day of school since the pandemic. Until we are all free of these masks, I will keep on doing this one!

Bookmark

coloring name bookmarks is one of the easiest things to do on the first day of school

This a super low-prep project that students will still adore. You can take this craft for the first day of school up a notch by laminating the finished bookmarks so that students can keep theirs all year long!

Want templates of all these crafts for the first day of school, plus even more? I have that available for you right here!

Games for First Day of School

kids in a huddle ready for activities for the first day of school 1st grade

Here are some games for first day of school ideas to get your students moving around, having fun, and getting to know each other!

Name Games:

Name games are always one of the best beginning of the year activities. These are some extra fun ways to help your students start learning each other’s names (and to help you learn them too!)

  • Name Movements: Students stand in a circle and take turns saying their name with a big movement to go with it. The rest of the class repeats the student’s name along with their movement. For example, I might say “Ms. Laura!” while I jumped up with my arms in the air. Then all the students would repeat “Ms. Laura!” while jumping up with their arms in the air. For shy students, it can be helpful to give them the choice to do a simple wave with their name if they don’t want to do a big movement.
  • Name Alliteration: Students sit in a circle and take turns saying their name and one thing they like that starts with the same sound as their name. So I might start and say “I’m Ms. Laura and I like lollipops.” (or something that starts with “L”) and everyone else in the class says back “She’s Ms. Laura and she likes lollipops.” If you have older kids, you can challenge them at the end to say everyone’s name and what they liked! It’s a fun challenge for the teacher to try to remember, too!
  • Welcome Train: This is one of the best games for the first day of school if you teach younger children. As each child’s name is called, they come from their circle spot to line up in the train. Once every name has been called, go around the room singing the last verse several times. You can also do this as a rap if you don’t want to sing!

“The welcome train is coming 
Get on board! Choo- Choo 
The welcome train is coming 
Get on board! Choo-Choo 

Welcome to (child’s name) 
Get on board! Choo-choo

Welcome to (child’s name) 
Get on board! Choo-choo

Welcome to (child’s name) 
Get on board! Choo-choo

Etc.

The welcome train is coming 
Get on board! Choo- Choo 
The welcome train is coming 
Get on board! Choo-Choo”

  • Good Morning Song: Children start sitting in a circle. The whole class sings as children are prompted to greet the child sitting next to them.

(Sing to the tune of “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old”)

“Good morning (child’s name)

How are you?

Shake hands with (child’s name) next to you.”

You can substitute “shake hands” with “high five” or “bump elbows”.

Warm Breeze Blows:

Stand in a big circle. The teacher says “A warm breeze blows for anyone who _____” and names something. For example, you could say “has a dog” or “has a little sister” or “likes french fries”.

Any student who agrees with the statement has to run into the center and try to find a new spot in the circle.

It can be extra fun to say phrases that apply to all the students, like “is starting first grade today”. Then they all have to run around and switch places! If you have older students, you could eventually let them be the leaders and say the prompts.

Friend Scavenger Hunt:

Make a checklist for students that includes items like “A classmate who has two younger siblings” or “Someone who has the same favorite color as you” or “Someone who went to a different school for kindergarten than you”.

Students then go around the classroom trying to find a student’s name to write next to every item on the list. This gets them walking around, meeting new people, and talking to each other!

I’m offering the Find a Friend Scavenger Hunt for free right here!

Find a Friend Scavenger Hunt

Get this fun Back to School activity for FREE! You’ll also receive news&updates.

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Books for the First Day of School

    Of course, one of my favorite things to do on the first day of school is to read specially chosen books to my class. There are so many wonderful choices that talk about first day hopes, fears, and expectations. Here are the books for the first day of school that you cannot skip!

    A Tiger Tail: A funny book about a girl who wakes up with a tiger tail on the first day of school! She’s worried about what the other kids will think about her, but when she gets to school she realizes that everyone has differences they might feel self-conscious about!

    King of Kindergarten: A wonderful celebration of starting kindergarten with a positive attitude and ready to learn!

    First Day Jitters: A funny story that teaches students that everyone gets nervous on the first day of school – teachers too!

     All Are Welcome Here: A beautiful book that sets a tone of community and inclusion. A must-read for every classroom.

    Our Class Is A Family: Another great story to build inclusion and set an expectation of classroom community.

    I Promise: This story teaches children that their commitment to do their best and to make good choices is important.

    A Letter From Your Teacher: A teacher shares her hopes and dreams for the school year in a letter to her class.

    For even more book recommendations, you can check out my blog post all about the best books for the first week of school.

    I hope you now have lots of fun ideas for activities on the first day of school!

    What is your favorite thing to do with students on the first day of school?
    xoxo
    Laura
    Collage of activities for the first day at school

    More blog posts you might want to check out:

    First Week Of School Activities – You Can Even Do These Virtually!

    Goal Setting With Kids: 7 Tips For Teachers

    Best Read Aloud Books for the First Day of School

    5 Easy and Engaging Inquiry Activities For Kindergarten, Year 1, and Year 2

    Welcome to Back to School Made Easy Guaranteed!

    7 Helpful Tips on How to Blog Like a Boss

    3 Comments

    • Kimberly Morrison
      July 8, 2021 at 11:20 pm

      Great ideas for the first day of school!

      Reply
    • Bethany Gardner
      July 9, 2021 at 10:12 am

      There are SOOOOO many good ideas on this post! I especially love the Heart Map idea! How cute and fun for the first day of school!

      Reply
    • Susan
      July 9, 2021 at 2:59 pm

      These are some great ideas I haven’t seen before! I think my favorite one is the behind the mask idea. What a great find!

      Reply

    Leave a Reply