Top Fun First Day of School Activities

July 14, 2023 | Classroom Tips

The first day of school can set the standard for the rest of the term. Everyone is excited to be back or start at a new school year. Some might be a little nervous about making new friends, while others can’t wait to jump in and find their besties for the year or maybe even life.

You can set the tone for an exciting year by planning fun activities, engaging your students from the get-go. We’ll walk you through our top fun first day of school activities, from icebreakers and team building to creative expression and energizing brain breaks. Adapt these activities for different age groups and apply them throughout the year.

Fun Icebreaker Activities for the First Day

Some students are outgoing and make friends immediately, while others hang back a little bit before warming up to their teacher and classmates. Icebreakers can be a great solution to let students warm up faster and enjoy going to school. Try icebreakers in your first few weeks until all your students are familiarized with each other and their teachers.

Here are a few first day of school activities to break the ice with your students:

  • Countries through emojis: Select two emojis that represent different countries. For example, an eagle and the Statue of Liberty represents the United States. Students can work in teams and take turns guessing the different countries. Make it a get-to-know-you activity by encouraging students to share if they’ve visited a country or have family in any countries mentioned.
  • An emoji for every student: Have students choose an emoji that best showcases who they are. Encourage them to get creative by using animals, funny faces, sports and nature emojis. Let other students guess what the emojis represent, and have the student explain why they chose the particular one.
  • Two truths and a lie: Let students introduce themselves with a twist by sharing two true statements and one fib about themselves. The class can guess which one is the lie. Give students red and green pieces of paper to hold up and show their thoughts — green means they think their classmate is telling the truth, while red is for a lie.
  • Beach ball toss: Have students stand in a circle and use different themes to estimate what new students know. Start with something simple, like colors. Throw the ball and have each student say a color as they catch it. Change the themes according to their age groups. For example, you could use topics like chocolate brands, countries in Asia or famous singers for older students.

Team Building Games for the First Day

Teaching students how to work together forges a deep-rooted belief in teamwork. This makes it easier for them to adapt to new places and environments. Teambuilding activities encourage children to be helpful and assertive while giving them the comfort to ask for help.

Here are three first day appropriate activities:

  • The massive marshmallow challenge: Divide students into groups and ask them to build the tallest freestanding structure using marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti. The team with the highest design wins!
  • Group jigsaw challenge: Give each group a puzzle and have them work together to solve it. Through this game, you’re encouraging teambuilding practices and problem-solving.
  • Escape room mystery: Set up an escape room scenario in the classroom, where students work together to unlock clues and “escape” within a time frame.

Get to Know the Classroom

Turning your classroom into a familiar safe space for your students can help them integrate faster. Take a look at three fun ways your students can get to know their new base for the upcoming year:

  • Classroom tour guides: Assign students to act as tour guides and show the rest of their classmates the different classroom areas. They can share their thoughts on what will happen in these locations and make suggestions.
  • Scavenger hunt: Create a list of items in the classroom for the students to find. Split them into teams to let them work together, giving each group different items to look for.
  • Door chant: Introduce your basic class rules by making a chant the students can say when they leave the classroom to go to the playground, lunch or assembly, like, “No shouting, no pushing, no running, walk in a line.” Add actions to the rules to make them fun and engaging.

Creative Expression

We all have different ways of expressing our creativity. Show students on the first day that it doesn’t matter how they express it. Let them know there is always room for creativity in your classroom. Communicate that there is no right or wrong, and they have the freedom to choose their favorite colors and mediums.

Here are a few individual activities that create a large artwork:

  • Classroom quilt: Each student gets a square of fabric or paper to decorate in any pattern or color. Stitch all the squares together with thick wool and hang your class quilt on the door or wall.
  • Class collage: Let the kids get together and talk about what they love, their favorite colors, animals, etc. Supply stickers, magazines, images, paints, pencils and crayons, and let the students create individual artwork. Display the collages as a visual representation of your diverse class.
  • Outdoor chalk creations: Put out a box of chalk and let the students draw whatever they like on the concrete or bricks outside.

Energizing Brain Breaks

Getting rid of excess energy can help your students focus on the learning part of their school day. Introducing a few fun movement activities is a smart way to keep students entertained and engaged, especially at the beginning of the school year.

Try one of these options the next time your students are fidgeting:

  • Just dance: Use online videos to have a mini dance party in the classroom. Dance with the kids to get them to make fun new dance moves.
  • Yoga meditation: Yoga is a great way to calm down high energy levels. Rename your poses to relate to your students. Use about five poses in the beginning and add more poses to your flow as the year progresses.
  • The preposition game: Let your students use pieces of paper as props and call out prompts. Have them repeat it to you to assist with sentence structure for future lessons. You could call out, “Everybody get on your paper!” and they repeat, “I’m on my paper!” Carry on with prepositions like over, next to, under and behind.

Kindergarten First Day of School Activities

Kindergarteners are buzzing with energy, so keeping your activities fun and interactive is always a win!

Here are a few engaging activities for your kindergarteners:

  • Welcome songs: Gather your students to sing a familiar nursery song they know to get them comfortable. If need be, sing three songs. After that, introduce a new song they’ll learn as their welcome song. Use hand gestures and movement to go with the lyrics.
  • Name tracing: Write each student’s name in connect-the-dots format on separate cards. Laminate each card and supply whiteboard markers. This is a fun way for students to learn how to write their names and an activity that the kids will enjoy throughout the year. Let the students stand up and show their name to their new friends and say it out loud.
  • Friendship bracelets: Let each child create a friendship bracelet using yarn and large, colorful beads. Encourage them to give it to a classmate, fostering friendship and kindness.
  • Playdough monsters: This fun, themed game is sure to be a hit. Read a monster story to the class and discuss what they think different monsters look like. Draw some examples of funny monsters on the board. You can even let the students guide you. Now, ask the students to draw their own special monster. Once all the little monsters are ready, hand out playdough and ask students to create their monsters.
  • Musical movement: Let the students get together on the mat and play upbeat music. Tell your students every time the music stops, they need to stop dancing. You can level it up by showing them what dance moves to do with each new round.

Elementary School First Day of School Activities

Elementary students are fun to play with. They are still energized but can partake in more complex games and activities, like:

  • Get-to-know-you game: Let your students pair up and interview each other. They should ask questions about favorite hobbies, books, sports or subjects. Then, let students introduce their partners to the class, sharing interesting facts they discovered.
  • Blanket flip: Place a large blanket or sheet on the floor and space students on top of it. Have students work together to flip the blanket or sheet without anyone stepping off.
  • Paper tower STEM challenge: Divide students into small groups and ask them to build a tower using only paper and tape. Encourage them to discuss how they want to build their tower and experiment. The tallest tower wins! 
  • Design class flags: Hand out sheets of paper to all the students. Play a short video of flags around the world and have a discussion about what they represent. Have your students design their own flag using colors, symbols and shapes. Afterward, you can string them all together and use them as a class decoration, expressing the versatility of your students.
  • Marshmallow catapults STEM Challenge: In small groups, challenge students to create a catapult. Let them test their creations by launching marshmallows across the classroom. This activity encourages teamwork, problem-solving and engineering skills.
  • Mystery bag challenge: Fill a bag with random objects and have a blindfolded student reach in and select an object. Ask them to describe the item and guess what it could be. This fun activity enhances sensory perception and language skills.
  • Class time capsule: Have students write a letter to their future selves. Encourage them to write about how they think the year will go, what they’ll achieve and how they will feel at the end of the school year.
  • Design unique bookmarks: Ask students to create a bookmark that showcases their favorite stories or characters. Let them use it for their personal or classroom reading.
  • Classroom jobs: Assign students jobs for the month or term, like hallway monitor, class captain, librarian or class helper. The jobs can change each month, quarter or semester. This teaches students responsibility and ownership.

Virtual First Day of School Activities

Teaching online is a lot of fun but can be tricky if it’s the first day. That’s why it is so important to have a few fun first day activities for virtual learners to keep them engaged and interested.

Try one of our favorite virtual first day activities:

  • Introduce yourself: Give the students three prompts to answer, like their name, favorite color and favorite animal. Go around the class and let each student introduce themselves.
  • Virtual scavenger hunt: Write down a list of items one can find around the house, like a broom, a pen, a stuffed toy, their favorite book or a pillow. Ask students to go find each item individually and show their classmates or you if it’s one-on-one classes.
  • Show and tell: Ask students to fetch one of their favorite items that spark joy. Let them describe the item, explain when and where they got it and how they use it or play with it.
  • Two facts and a fib: Tell students two facts and one inaccurate fact, and ask them to show you with a thumbs up (representing fact) or a thumbs down (representing a fib) what they think. Then, tell them the correct answer. Make it a competition and write down how many times each student gets a point, add it up and announce the winner or winners.
  • Virtual name bingo: Ask students to get a pencil and paper, write their names and pay close attention. Start announcing alphabet letters, and let students cross off each letter once you announce it. The first one to mark off all the letters in their name is the winner.
  • Talent show: Ask students to think of something they love doing or a special talent they possess. Let the students take turns to show their new classmates their talent. You can participate, too.
  • Dance off: This activity is not a competition — just a chance for everyone to get up move, around and dance, dance, dance! Ask the students for song requests and encourage them to get up and boogie.
  • Draw a picture together: Ask the students to get a pencil, eraser and paper. Share your screen and play a drawing tutorial. There are many simple tutorials available online that are easy to follow. You can pause and play to accommodate your students. Let them show you their creations once everyone is done.

Get Your School Supplies From The Classroom Store

Leaving a lasting impression on your students will set their expectations for the year. Ensure you’re prepared and ready with all the supplies and materials needed to make your first day of school activities unforgettable. Browse through The Classroom Store’s website to find everything your students might need, from art supplies to other classroom materials.

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