At the start of every school year, It’s a good idea to have some lessons and activities that make the first few weeks back extra special. As the kids are adjusting, getting acquainted, and learning the new demands of a new grade, it’s nice to offer them fun and memorable opportunities to connect. Check out these 7 lessons and activities to make the start of school memorable!
Add a few personal touches to your classroom decor and students’ materials. These little things can make a big difference!
1. Name Art: Kids find it exciting when they find their name on things. Create a unique way to display their names on things within the classroom. They will feel welcome and that they are an important part in the classroom community.
- Even something as simple as decorating a bulletin board with artful depictions of each child’s name will play a huge part in welcoming them into the new year.
- You could even try this amazing photo wall idea, which is a bulletin board with each child’s portrait and an inspiring message.
2. A Special Something: Just having one small surprise to greet them on their desk the first day can bring a smile to a child’s face who is nervous on the first day. Imagine how you would feel coming into school on the first day back to find one of these simple little gifts on your desk!
- Bubbles – A small bottle of bubbles with a tag that says “I’ve been bubbling with excitement to meet you.”
- Portraits – Take a photo of each child at Orientation Night. Place them inside a card to set on their desk for the first day of school. The card can be a special note from you about how glad you are that they are in your class. You can also use the photos for anything you wish – paste them into portfolio reports for parents throughout the year, use them on your classroom website or Facebook group, for instance. You can also take a second photo at the end of the year in the same location to show growth and provide them an end-of-year card as well.
- Balls – This is a cute “We’re going to have a ball in ___ grade!” printable – just attach it to a small ball from the dollar store, and it’s the perfect little gift.
Make an extra effort to engage and include each individual child. When they feel involved, it will help them ease into routines and responsibilities with ease.
3. Class Contract: Involve children in your class when you are writing your classroom rules and expectations. In this positive method for establishing rules and attitudes, they can come up with respectful and responsible behaviors expected in your room, and each child is left feeling like they had a part in creating “A Great Classroom”.
4. Easy and Engaging Games: Distract them from any uncertainty and try one of these games that will help them get acquainted with you, the classroom, and their peers.
- These School “I Spy” printables will keep them searching the room for items on their list and learning where things are located.
- The Toilet Paper game is a unique and hilarious way to start the year, mentioned along with several other fun games and activities.
- Try the Four Corners method for getting to know the kids that gives them an active way to learn about each other.
Implement proven methods and procedures for classroom management and organization. These are just a few helpful ideas to consider when planning your classroom management techniques and organizing your room. They are memorable because routines are important in cementing memories – and you want those memories to be *good* ones!
5. Classroom Meetings: Hold classroom meetings with your class at least once a day (and weekly in depth) to promote and build community in your classroom. These times of discussion each day are part of a routine that will improve attitudes and involve students in their learning. This is an ideal time to teach those important social emotional learning lessons that children need! Help them learn to self-regulate, express their feelings, and develop strong relationships with THESE lessons and activities.
6. Coupon Rewards: Instead of the typical classroom management rewards system – the “treasure box” – save your money and try using a coupon rewards system instead! This system is more motivational as the treasure box and doesn’t involve you spending money. See it in action HERE!
7. Label and Organize Everything: Chaos is not fun in a classroom, but it can certainly be avoided with a classroom that is set up neatly, in an organized and accessible method for all the children to thrive. Labeling bins, desks, cubbies, and everything that children have access to is an important way of inviting them to feel comfortable. We want them to help themselves as well as to keep their personal space and shared spaces organized.