6 Teacher Tips for The 1st Day of School

Day one of a new school year always introduces a healthy mix of excitement and mundane. That is because the first day of school can tend to feel a little monotonous with formal introductions and course syllabi review. Here are 6 easy ways you can “switch it up” on the 1st day of school and make a lasting impression all year. (Save the boring stuff for Day 2..)
1. Student Info Card. Using either index cards or creating one in MS Word (4 per page), create a fun info card for students to fill out for H.W. Request basic info including nicknames, siblings, birthplace, pets, likes, dislikes, allergies, goals for the year. You can share these the next day or review privately. The idea is to use what you’ve read to inform decisions that you make in your classroom.
2. 10 Questionnaire. Create an easy questionnaire (like THIS) to read to yourself  privately  after class or perhaps have students share their responses out loud.

3. Kiddie Kisses. Here is a nice play on Simon Says that involves a treat at the end. All students start this activity in a seated position. Then  give the following or derive your own 10-15 instructions for students to follow:

  • If you traveled this summer, stand up.
  • If you have a brother, sit down.
  • If you are the youngest of all the children in your family, stand up.
  • If you own a pet, sit down.
  • If you have a sister, stand up.
  • If your family owns a computer, sit down.
  • If you live in an apartment, stand up.
  • If this is your first year in this school, sit down.
  • If you are in ____ grade, stand up. (Fill in the blank with your grade; all students will stand.)
  • If you were kissed by someone this morning, sit down.

At this point in the activity give a (chocolate) kiss to all those who are standing and say, “We all need a kiss a day!”


4. Jeopardy. Yes Day 1 Jeopardy. Create an easy Jeopardy game within your content area including questions that students should be able to answer based on the work covered in the previous year.  (You can use PowerPoint or an online Jeopardy template.) Divide the class into 3 or 4 teams. Select a team leader who will be responsible for picking categories and submitting final answers if a team is divided.  One round of Jeopardy and a Final Jeopardy will suffice.  The team in the end who wins will get a prize (candy, exemption from the first H.W. etc) It is a winning way to get right into the meat of things that will sure to be lively.

5. Spin a Web. Create a circle with your class. Grab a ball of yarn and share with your students one unique thing about you. Then hold your end of the ball and throw the ball to someone else in the circle. That student will share something unique, hold a part of the string and throw the ball to another person. In the end, everyone will be holding a part and it will look like a web. When finished, ask your students, “What did we make?” They will answer that you’ve made a web. Through discussion, have them discover that even though we are all unique and special, we are all connected to each other like a web, because we are a class.

6. Common Connections. You will need a camera & a printer handy for this activity. Take a picture of each student and print the photos out. (If you can obtain these photos before Day one – even better!) Then provide each student with a prepared questionnaire that includes questions about favorite foods, books, places, or hobbies etc. Once the questionnaires are completed, students share their responses with one another. (This can be done one-on-one, in small groups, or as a class activity.) Students examine their peers’ questionnaires to find “connections” — things they have in common with one another. Post student pictures on a bulletin board titled “Common Connections.” Then students can use strips of construction paper to connect the pictures. On each strip that connects two pictures, students must describe the connection clearly in writing. (For example, a strip labeled “We have three brothers” will connect the pictures of two students who each have three brothers. Another strip labeled “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” will connect the pictures of two students who listed that book as their favorite.) For additional fun, don’t be afraid to join in the “sharing” as the teacher. 

Happy “Day One” planning educators! Cheers.

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