The first day of school always brings me joy, excitement, and….. some anxiety! What will I do? How do I set routines up? How do I keep students engaged? What if I don’t have enough planned? After 16 years, I still get the ‘first day jitters’!
Once I meet my sweet students and my day gets underway, though, everything goes smoothly and I can breathe a sigh of relief!
If you are wondering what to do on your first day, here are some sample first day lesson plans (and FREEBIES) that I’ve saved from past years. I always overplan and sometimes don’t even get half done, but I definitely would rather have too much planned than not enough!
Take your time, though, and don’t rush through anything because the kids will feel it and your day may not go smoothly. I’d rather not accomplish as much and have a smooth day than accomplish everything but feel rushed and harried. There are 179 more days to go, so don’t worry about anything you didn’t get to!
Sample First Day of School Plans
- 9:00 – Welcome– Print student names in a bubble font and place on desks, along with blank paper. As you welcome students in, ask them to find their names. Have them either decorate the names, draw themselves, and/or write something to you about themselves while you collect supplies and take attendance/ lunch orders. This will let you know if they can identify their name. Leaving this open-ended relieves stress for struggling writers and differentiates naturally, allowing you to see the different levels of writing ability. Writing to you also gives them a purpose for writing, rather than just doodle.
- 9:30 – Introduction– Share about yourself (I have a ‘Me bag’ full of pictures and trinkets that tell about me), play 2 truths and a lie with a PowerPoint (I read them 3 statements about myself and they guess the lie. I added a FREE editable PPT for you in my free resource library- see bottom of post for how to get it). Give any kids who aren’t too shy an opportunity to also share something about themselves.
- 9:45 – Classroom tour- play I Spy: Ask kids if they can find the word wall, bathroom, pencil sharpener, cubbies/hooks, and any other important area in your room. Take this opportunity to also talk about routines for these areas.
- 10:00- Interactive Read-Aloud: Read a book that leads into a discussion about class rules/expectations. Two of my favorites are No, David and Do Unto Otters. Create class rules, explain your behavior system (I use 3 levels, which you can read about in this blog post: behavior management), have kids sign the rules and draw themselves following one of the rules. You can also make index cards with different scenarios and ask what they should do in that situation.
- 10:30 – Snack- I like to play a rhyming game, and ask kids “Who has a snack that rhymes with Shmetzels, Yackers, Lookies,” etc. Did you ever read The Hungry Thing by Jan Slepian? It is a must-read, in my opinion. So much fun! Read more about it and get a freebie here: The Hungry Thing FREEBIE.
- 10:45 – Read aloud: Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is not only great for word work with names, but you can also talk about being considerate of others’ names, feelings, and being kind. I have a freebie in my TpT store as a follow-up activity to this book: kids create name posters, and I staple them on one half of a long sheet of construction paper and have them draw themselves on the other half. These make lovely displays for Meet the Teacher night!
- 11:30 – Teacher Prep time– label materials, take care of dismissal notes, take a coffee/tea break and sigh of relief!
- 12:15- ‘All About Me’ Glyph- You can make your own chart for kids to follow, or you can use one of my back-to-school glyphs.
- 1:00 – Lunch, aka run around and make sure everything is set for the afternoon, dismissal, notes to parents, and anything else you need to do in your last few minutes alone.
- 1:50 – Math– If you have a calendar routine, start with that right away so they know what to expect daily. I also like to do class graphs as my first couple of math lessons, because they encompass so many different skills with your questioning. You can graph letters in their names, ways to get to school, pets, favorite fruit, etc.
- 2:30 –Wrap up: Review routines, play Dice Roll (write #s 1-6 on the board/chart paper and write a question next to each number. Have kids sit touching knees with a partner, roll a die and ask kids to answer the question to each other, for ex: What was your favorite part of today? Do you have any pets?) or Find-a-Friend (kids go around class to find a friend that fits different categories on their list- included in my year-long scrapbook).
- 3:10- Pack up. Leave extra time for this on the first day, to make sure everyone is on the right bus and knows the routine. It can be students’ most stressful time of day at first, so it helps to be ready and have them at the carpet for a story or game while you wait for dismissal to begin.
I also like to have a list of things to do in case of extra time (not likely, but like I said, I like to overplan!)
IF EXTRA TIME: exercise (make a list of 10 exercises with the class and do 10 of each! I have an exercise leader lead the class once they’re familiar with the exercises), read-aloud, practice routines, read a poem, sing and dance!
AND, don’t forget to take a class picture and individual pictures on the first day! I use these for their year-long scrapbooks and they write about their first day and classmates later in the week. These make the BEST keepsakes at the end of the year- students and parents love them!
I barely scratched the surface of things I love to do the first week of school! I’d love to tell you about our Gingerbread Man Around the School hunt, one of my favorite first-week activities! I’ll add another post soon with more ideas for the beginning of the school year!
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