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Effective K-2 First Week of School Activities: Guide for Teachers

As the first day of school approaches, how are you feeling? Excited? Jittery? Anxious? A combination of it all? The first week of school as a teacher can be a mixture of emotions because we know it sets the tone for the rest of the year. This is why we need to make sure the first week is engaging, fun, and educational all at once! While this is a lot to take on, we have your back! We just released a guide on “First Week of School Activities” for K-2 classrooms. How do you get this game-changing guide? Keep reading and I’ll give you strategies that make your first week a breeze! As a bonus, I have a special tool that will make your mornings nice and peaceful. Interested? Keep reading! 

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The Importance of the First Week of School 

As a teacher, you know the importance of the first week of school. This first week sets the stage for the rest of the year. It’s the stepping stone that tells students what you will stand for and what you will not stand for. That’s why we need to make sure we are engaging students with fun activities while creating a positive atmosphere for students. That’s a lot to take on. Let me tell you about some first week of school activities you can use to make this a breeze. 

What Should Kindergarteners Do During the First Week of School? 

During the first week of school, students should be getting familiar with the class environment, meet their classmates, and understand how you teach as well as your expectations. This is a process for teachers and students and should be primarily teacher led to support the learning environment. To do this, you must first work on establishing classroom culture. 

Introducing classroom culture includes talking about expectations and practicing them with your students. You don’t want to rush this process. By using right way/wrong way practice activities, you can help your students visualize and understand what the expectations of your classroom are. 

When you introduce your classroom rules, expectations, and procedures, you want to make sure you are reviewing and practicing them each week throughout the year. Slowing down this process will save you time correcting behaviors later on in the year. However, remember this practice is really never done. 

Even though rules and procedures are important, what’s more important is having fun! Kids learn more when they are having a great time which makes your job easier! You can start the school year right with engaging first week of school activities that introduce K-2 students to routines while having a ton of fun! How do you do this? With these fun first week of school activities. 

Create a Self Portrait Drawing 

Allow students to draw a picture of themselves. By doing this, your students get to express themselves while giving you a little peek into their perception of themselves. Therefore, you get to know them. As as a bonus, this also makes an awesome display in your classroom to show all the different personalities you have. 

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Go on a Scavenger Hunt 

When you plan a scavenger hunt, you should focus on the classroom. By doing this, your students will become more familiar with the classroom. Plus, you’ll be showing them where essential items and areas are located. This game is fun and encourages teamwork and communication between your students which can help create a classroom community. This can also help students see how your math and literacy centers are organized! If you need a great resource to organize your math and literacy centers, check out this FREE resource! 

First Week of School Activities for First Grade 

First graders are a bit bigger, a bit older, and a bit more mature than kindergarten students. They have already been in the school setting before, so they are more familiar with the basic rules and procedures. While you should still focus on reinforcing routine, you also need to focus on literacy and numerical skills as well as introducing more structured learning. Here are some fun first week of school activities for first grade that your students will ove! 

Name Puzzle Activity 

With this activity, your students will create a puzzle with their names! Then, they exchange their puzzle pieces with a classmate to solve it. This activity promotes fine motor skills with creating the puzzle pieces. Plus, it helps promote interacting between classmates and helps students practice their problem-solving skills. 

Circle Up to Read! 

Reading circles are a great place for students to practice their fluency because each student takes a turn reading from an age-appropriate book. This can be a daily activity students do and can be part of working on a more structured type of learning as well as literacy skills and listening skills. 

The First Week of Second Grade 

Once students get to second grade, you want to start to expand their skills and increase their independence. You can do this by setting higher expectations while ensuring the learning environment is still engaging and fun! To do this, check out these first week of school activities for second grade! 

Learn to Set Goals for First Week of School Activity 

Now that your students are in second grade, they can start taking more ownership of their learning. One way to promote this is by doing a goal setting activity. Have each student draw their goals for the year. You can even have them draw a sequence of things they will have to do to reach that goal. This activity encourages students to take ownership of their learning and sets a purposeful tone for the school year. 

Create Community with Get to Know You Bingo 

To play Get to Know You bingo, all you need to do is create bingo cards with various facts or interests in each square. For example, you could include “has a pet dog” or “likes to draw.” Then, have students go around the room asking classmates if they match any facts. This creates a great chance for social interaction and learning more about their peers. You never know, your students might even make a new friend! You can find several places to make your own bingo cards for free online

The Big Steps 

When students go from kindergarten to first to second grade, there are some big steps that take place. As a teacher, make sure you are focusing on routines, developing literacy and numerical skills, and introducing structured learning in each grade level. How can you achieve this with ease? Our shop has the perfect solution: Review in A Snap™. 

Review in A Snap™

Spiral Review in A Snap™ is a great way to start each morning. This no-prep purposeful and engaging spiral review activity is designed for first and second grade students. The Review in A Snap™ is the perfect tool to start each day because it sets the tone for learning. Plus, it gives your students 40 weeks of math and ELA standards they can review. This makes preparation minimal for you and your students stay occupied while you do attendance, help other students, and more! . 

What’s even better than all this awesome review is it’s easy-to-follow and super consistent. Why does this matter? Well, this format makes it stinkin’ simple for your students to finish their work independently. This frees you up your time for other tasks that need to be done. Spiral Review keeps your students’ skills sharp all year long, making every moment in the classroom count. 

Tailoring First Week of School Activities for Each Grade Level 

The first week of school activities should be in line with the learning needs and abilities of each grade level. In kindergarten, your activities should be focused on making students feel safe, welcome, and excited about learning. For first graders, activities can introduce a more structured learning environment while adding in plenty of play-based tasks to keep them engaged. Finally, in second grade, students are more able to take care of activities that require higher level academic and social-emotional skills. So, make sure your activities are meeting them where they are so they feel challenged. 

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The first week of school is a great opportunity for you to set the tone for the rest of the year. By using these first week of school activities, you can create an engaging, supportive, and effective learning environment for your students. Your goal is to fill time, yes, but really to establish the foundation for the best year ever! 

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