Life has been crazy lately! I received a job offer 10 days before school started this year so I am now in a new district, at a new school, in a new grade level! Due to my circumstances, I did not have a lot of time to plan out my first week of school and so I did a blend of modified activities that I had previously done in 3rd grade and new activities that I was able to find last minute. Below you will find a list of what I did during my first week of fifth grade. Let me know in the comments below if you also do any of these! 🙂
1. Introduction Powerpoint
I always start off my school year with an introduction PPT. I start with introducing myself, my education, and my interests, and then go into classroom routines and procedures.
2. Read Aloud- A Letter from Your Teacher on the First Day of School & Dear Teacher (from student)
I absolutely love this book and it is perfect to read on the first day of school. It’s a great alternative to First Day Jitters since its new. I believe that it does a great job with starting to create teacher student relationships. After reading this, I hand out a “Dear Teacher” letter page for my students to write to me. It includes prompts like I enjoy school when, I dislike school when, someday I hope to, one thing I want my teacher to know, one question for you, etc.
3. About Me Pennant
This is a great activity to get to know students and it doubles as classroom decor if you hang them up! I use one similar to this one but I changed the fonts.
4. Read Aloud- Our Class is a Family & Student Response Questions
You have probably heard of this book and it is for good reason. This book does a wonderful job establishing a safe and welcoming classroom community. After reading, I had groups respond to these 5 questions that I wrote on chart paper- 1) What does a class family look like, feel like, sound like? 2) What does it mean to be a family? 3) Why is it important for a class to be a family/team? 4) How can classmates support one another? 5) How can one make themselves feel “at home” while at school?
5. Me Bags & Me Slides
Me bags are the classic activity where students can bring 5 important items to school in a paper bag to share with their new class. This allows their peers and myself to get to know them and learn specifics that you can’t quite learn on a questionnaire. My new school encourages creative technology use and so this year I made it a choice to either bring a Me Bag or to create a Me Slide. I had students create slides on Google Slides to describe 5 important things to them. This is one of my favorite things to do during the first week because it can help fill the time and it allows you to learn SO much about your students.
6. Classroom Scavenger Hunt
This is a classic way to get students out of their seats while learning about their new classroom. I use a A-Z scavenger hunt every year that I found years ago (still searching for the link).
7. Frayer a Friend
This gets students introduced to the Frayer model in a fun way. Students work in pairs to ask each other questions and fill in a Frayer about their partner. Questions we used this year were: describe their ideal pet, describe them with at least 3 words, list 4 likes, list 4 dislikes.
8. Read Aloud- Each Kindness & Kindness brainstorm + questions
This is a fabulous story illustrating the importance of kindness. I HIGHLY recommend this book. It’s a perfect picture book for upper elementary too (bonus points). This story also mentions the ripple effect, which I use in talks a lot with my students, so I was really excited to see that explained in a book. After we read the story, I had students brainstorm random acts of kindness as well as reflect on a phrase from the book. I used an activity from Jennifer Findley to follow the read aloud (linked here).
8. Read Aloud- Decibella & Voice Level Reflection
Decibella is about a girl who does not realize what voice level she is using. This book describes 5 voice levels and actually got my students thinking and being aware of their own voice levels! I used an activity from Jennifer Findley to follow the read aloud.
9. Diagnostic Testing
All students groan when it’s time for testing but this data is so important! This is a great time to start working on stamina and to go over testing expectations.
10. Who Am I? Creative Mini Project
This is a great mini project to display at the beginning of the school year. Students draw themselves and create an interactive display with clues.
11. Word Makers (my students are still asking to play this again)
I was SO surprised how into this activity my students got and they have even asked to do this activity again (which we all know is a teacher win!). Students work in groups to create words based on the letters in all of their first names. Each letter has a value and the goal is to create a word with the highest point value.
12. A Letter to My Future Self on the Fifth Day of Fifth Grade
Students write a letter to themselves on the fifth day of fifth grade and get it back on the last day of fifth grade.
13. Twizzlers Partner Activity
Divide your class into partners. Give each partner 1 Twizzler. Each partner group has to put one hand behind their back while using the other to attempt to tie their Twizzlers in a knot with their partner in ONE MINUTE. Spoiler- most students do not tie their Twizzler in the one minute time limit. After the one minute was up, we discussed any groups that had success and how they worked together to accomplish their goal. I gave students a few more minutes to work with their partner on tying their knot after a discussion on communication, strategy, and teamwork. After, I give every student a new fresh Twizzler to eat 🙂
14. Read Aloud- More Than Anything Else + post it activity
This is a book about a boy in the past who wanted one thing in life- to learn how to read. Before reading, hand every student a post it and have them write down one thing that they want in life (with no limits). After reading the book I have students reflect on their post it and see if they would change what they wrote. I got this idea from Jennifer Findley- she does a great job at going into depth about this. Her blog post is linked here.
15. Mystery Science- How Do Scientists Know So Much?
This is a great way to incorporate science into your first week! My students really enjoyed this lesson focused on curiosity and observations.
16. Games like 2 Truths and a Fib, 4 Corners- About Me Version, This or That- Back to School Version
The first week of school can feel like a lot to students who have been out of a routine for months. I love sprinkling movement activities throughout the day so that students get the opportunity to get up out of their seats and interact with their classmates.
The first week of school can be so overwhelming but remember to take it day by day if you need to, take a deep breath, and have fun with your students!