Let’s explore a collection of meaningful back to school classroom activities that build classroom community and relationships, and promote inclusion in the primary classroom to use during the first few weeks of school!
Classroom Activities For The First Week
Welcome back, teachers! Let’s work together to foster collaboration and togetherness within our classrooms as we start a new school year.
It can be challenging to figure out where to begin during the first week of school. You want to get to know each student and teach expectations, too! Teaching classroom expectations and routines can take up a lot of time. By incorporating engaging and interactive activities, we can establish a strong community where every student feels valued, included, and essential.
This post highlights 7 of my favorite back to school lessons to help build classroom community. These lessons encourage collaboration, connection, and inclusion. Use these seven important lessons as you plan for your first few weeks at school.
Table of Contents
- Classroom Activities For The First Week
- Classroom Activities for the First Weeks of School
- Resources For Back to School
- More Back To School Ideas
Classroom Activities for the First Weeks of School
The first weeks of school set the tone for the academic year, making it the perfect time to introduce engaging and meaningful classroom activities. These activities help students get to know one another and establish a positive and inclusive learning environment.
The classroom activities for the first week are designed to foster connections, promote collaboration, and create a strong foundation for a successful year ahead.
Let’s dive into some exciting and interactive activities that will make the first week of school memorable and set the stage for a fantastic learning journey together.
Grab some of these fantastic activities for FREE down below!
Activity #1: Set Expectations
A simple way to ensure all students understand your expectations for their behavior is to tell them explicitly, demonstrate, and then display the expectations.
Take the time to discuss each expectation with students, providing examples and asking for their input. Encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas on why each expectation is important and how it can contribute to their learning experience.
Having expectation posters prominently displayed in the classroom is an effective way to communicate clear guidelines. It shows kids what is expected of them. These visual reminders serve as a reference point for students, ensuring they know the expectations during arrival, lunch, centers, etc.
By providing explicit expectations, students gain structure and consistency. Moreover, expectation posters encourage students to take ownership of their actions, as they can easily refer back to the agreed-upon standards and strive to meet them.
Activity #2: All Are Welcome
Inclusivity is a fundamental value in every classroom. It is essential to plan a lesson on inclusion to foster a sense of belonging and acceptance at the start of a new school year.
A wonderful book to use for a lesson is called All Are Welcome. This book follows kids through their school day, activities, and at their homes. It repeats the message that everyone belongs regardless of ethnicity, culture, religion, or ability.
After reading All Are Welcome, brainstorm as a class things that make all of us different such as our food, languages, cultures, games, etc. Then, have students write and draw ways they are welcome in the classroom. You can continue the themes of inclusion, empathy, etc., by choosing other great read-aloud books like The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi or Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen.
Don’t forget to grab this inclusion-focused classroom activity for FREE below!
Activity #3: Being My Best Self
It’s important to emphasize responsibility and why it’s important in the classroom. Engage students in activities that promote responsible actions across different areas.
Start by discussing the definition of responsible. Have students come up with their definitions or discuss what the dictionary definition means to them. During this activity, encourage them to discuss what makes a person responsible at home, on the bus, in the playground, in the classroom, etc. They can then set personal goals for being their “best selves.”
Students must understand responsible actions and their impact on the classroom community. Complete a sorting activity to sort scenarios and examples as responsible or irresponsible.
Through this activity, students understand how their responsible actions positively impact the classroom community and their peers.
Activity #4: A Great Classroom
A simple way to have students form the expectations in your classroom is to create an agreement together as a class.
Collaboratively developing classroom expectations ensures that the collective values and needs of the class are included, promoting a sense of fairness and inclusion. When students actively create classroom agreements with the teacher, they are likelier to take ownership of their actions and strive to uphold shared expectations.
Encourage students to brainstorm and share their ideas about how they want their classroom to look, sound, and feel. Once everyone has shared their ideas, everyone can vote on their favorite ideas for what they believe is most important in a “great” classroom.
After that, determine the most “popular” ideas and create a contract that showcases the agreed-upon expectations. Finally, have students sign the contract and display the agreement in the classroom. This poster will be a reminder of the shared responsibility for maintaining a positive atmosphere.
Activity #5: I Am Important
Boosting self-esteem in students is vital for student success. Individuals with a positive self-image and belief in their abilities are more likely to engage in their learning, take risks, and persist through challenges.
High self-esteem also helps increase motivation and a growth mindset. Thus, creating a supportive classroom where students feel valued, capable, and ready to reach their full potential.
Encourage student self-esteem to flourish immediately with motivating messages and stories read aloud. Discuss and promote mindset, acceptance, perseverance, and individuality.
Use confidence question cards to begin discussions focused on self-esteem. Encourage students to share their answers and celebrate them. Therefore, creating a supportive classroom where students support one another.
Activity #6: Embracing a Growth Mindset
Students need to learn how to embrace challenges, push through obstacles, and develop strategies for success. By fostering a growth mindset, students will know they will grow as learners through effort, mistakes, and practice.
Start by introducing the concept of a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset. Engage students in discussions and share picture books with the growth mindset messages.
As part of your growth mindset lesson at the start of the school year, teach students about the power of YET. Teach them that even if they can’t do something yet, they can persevere and work towards it. This lesson is important in helping kids understand that learning and growth are continually encouraged in your classroom.
Practice and role-play using “yet” at the end of “I can’t” phrases with students. Use the “I can” cards to teach students what they “can” do when facing a challenge or making a mistake. Discuss the power of perseverance and the value of making mistakes in the learning process.
Finally, have students set goals, develop strategies, and support each other in their growth journey.
Activity #7: All About Me
Plan a lesson to celebrate the unique identities and experiences of each student in your classroom. We want students to know that their unique identity, background, and experiences are to be celebrated.
Celebrating individual students is important because it promotes inclusion, respect, and appreciation for each other. By sharing our personal values, identities, and experiences, we help create a classroom where everyone feels valued and accepted.
Work with students to create identity collages. Students create a colorful background for their self-portraits. They then write sentences about themselves on strips of paper. Encourage kids to write about their traits, families, friends, favorite things, activities, etc.
Take a photo of each student and print them in black and white. Have students cut out their picture and glue it to the background. Then, glue the personal statement strips of paper around the photograph. Finish the project by having students share their projects with classmates and put them on display.
As this new and exciting new school year, we should never forget that our classrooms are more than just places of learning—they are communities where every student should feel welcome, valued, and empowered. By including these classroom activities, we can create a supportive and inclusive classroom where students can connect and celebrates each other.
Resources For Back to School
Free Social-Emotional Back To School Lessons & Activities
Build a strong classroom community of positive, respectful, and inclusive learners with these FREE Social-Emotional Back To School Activities! This pack of lessons includes writing prompts to use with the book All Are Welcome, a template to use for creating self-portrait art, and classroom contract templates.
Click the image below to grab a copy.
Back to School Social-Emotional Activities for K-2
Try these back to school social-emotional classroom activities by Proud to Be Primary and create a positive classroom environment where students will feel respected, included, responsible, and ready to take chances!
More Back To School Ideas
PIN for Later