When it comes to starting a new school year, there is a lot that goes into that first week of school. As a teacher you want those first activities to help students get to know their new classmates, ease any nervousness or anxiety about the new year, and set the foundation for the year to come. These 5 fun beginning of the year activities that are perfect for helping you do just that in your upper elementary classroom!
1. Back to School Postcards
One of my favorite beginning of the year activities actually starts way before your students ever enter your room. While summer is still in session, grab your new student roster, your students’ mailing addresses, and some super cute cards! Check out these adorable print-and-go postcards that are perfect for these sweet summer messages!
Now write a quick personalized note to each one of your students! Your message doesn’t have to be long and can be as simple as, “I can’t wait to see you!” Some ideas for what to include could be:
- sharing what you’re doing this summer
- telling a silly joke
- writing a riddle and sharing the answer on the 1st day of school
- describing the theme of your classroom
- sharing a funny fact about yourself
In your message, encourage your students to write you back and give you their letter on the first day of school! You will be surprised how many students have a note or card ready for you!
This beginning of the year activity does take a bit of time and effort to do, but reaching out to your students now lets them know that you’re thinking about them and excited to meet them! This goes a long way towards building relationships with your students – and their families as well!
2. Fun Morning Work
This may sound crazy, but make sure you have Morning Work for a beginning of year activity and that it’s ready to go starting on the first day of school. Students may be a little nervous that first week. Keeping them busy with fun work will help them forget their fears! You also want them to get back into the routine of school. Morning Work helps with this!
Along with that Morning Work? How about a little treat (on the first day at least)? Finding a Hershey’s Kiss, sucker, or a colorful pencil on their desk is just the right way to start the first day. These pencil gift tags would bring a smile to the face of even the most anxious student.
For Morning Work the first few days of school, I like to leave a simple, yet fun, worksheet that combines coloring and review of concepts they already know. Because the work is review, it’s less likely to be stressful. Students will also enjoy the coloring portion as coloring is a great stress reliever!
These Back to School Parts of Speech coloring worksheets are a great example of activities that are excellent for Morning Work! There are several pages, so you have plenty of print-and-go resources to carry you through that first week back.
Keeping Morning Work simple for now allows you to build up to more rigorous work after students have gotten their new routine down.
3. Morning Meetings
Technically Morning Meetings are not just a beginning of the year activity. Meetings are super important to begin right away though because they help students get to know each other and build your classroom community.
When you gather your students together for these meetings, they listen to what their peers have to say and get to know each other. Laughter also helps bond people together quickly! Inject some humor into your meetings by asking silly questions that allow you to see your students’ personalities. Questions such as:
- What would be in your dream bedroom?
- What is the best thing you did over the summer?
- If you could ask your pet 3 questions, what would they be?
- Would you rather have a desk full of caterpillars or frogs?
If you want to add questions just like these to your beginning of the year Morning Meetings, check out these digital Morning Meeting Questions! Projecting these questions for your students to see allows them to read them on their own and be thinking about their answers before sharing them with the class. They also make a great journal writing prompt too!
4. Motivational Classroom Posters
Many people think that posters in the classroom are just decor, simply there to make your room pretty. This is not the case! And the beginning of the year is the perfect time to draw attention to the true reason you have them posted… to motivate your students!
Ask your students to look around the classroom and read the messages on the posters, thinking about what the words really mean. One at a time, ask each student to share their favorite poster quote and what they think it means. Allow other students to agree or add to the conversation as they have thoughts to share.
When the discussion is finished, encourage students to write their favorite quote on a sticky note. They can tape that note onto the inside cover of their student planner. This way, students will have a visual reminder of their motivational quote and can read it on those tough days. Some students might memorize theirs for a boost of inspiration any time!
Do you have quote posters in your classroom? If not, try adding the posters from my Motivational Song Lyric Classroom Poster Set to your walls! Students will enjoy the messages behind these posters and get a shot of confidence every time they read their favorite quote!
To learn more about how I use motivational posters in my classroom, check out this blog post!
There is no denying that kids love technology! Any time an activity can be turned digital, you’ve got your students’ attention! Show your students just how much fun learning will be in your class this year with this beginning of the year activity: a Back to School WebQuest!
WebQuests are a combination of Research projects and Scavenger Hunts. Students complete activities on digital slides that ask them to gather information by watching videos and reading information from different websites. Links are provided right on the slide to guide students’ research.
Students will then write the information they find on graphic organizers and note templates. There are other writing activities your students will complete as they progress through the WebQuest.
With WebQuests, students take ownership of their learning. They will also become more confident in their research abilities. Plus, these digital projects are just really fun! It never fails that my students beg for more, no matter what time of year it is!
Pin These Beginning of the Year Activities
I hope that the beginning of the Year Activities in this post have given you ideas not just for the first week of school, but for the whole year! Pin this post so that you can find these amazing ideas any time you need them!