First week of school activities are a must! If you have a few days built into your scope and sequence for culture building, then you may be asking yourself, “What on earth do I cover during that time?” Don’t worry – we got you!
I strongly suggest teaching routines and procedures and building relationships during that time, but presenting a slideshow explaining how to turn in papers is not compelling class time. The best thing about all of these activities is that you can use them to teach routines, build relationships, and develop class pride.
Make sure to grab the activities mentioned below here!
1. How to work in groups with an Interview Activity
This realization came to be once a couple of years ago when I found out that in November some of my students still didn’t know the names of their table mates! Say what!? In order for students to be successful in class, they have to have the full support of their teammates. Knowing their classmates’ names seems like a necessary first step.
The Routine: Students in my classroom must ask the help of every person at their table before asking me. I explain to my students that they learn by teaching each other!
The Activity: The activity that I am going to try out this year is table interviews. You give students a list of questions and they take turns asking the questions to their table mates. This breaks the ice, is non threatening for students who struggle with math/reading/science, and is an activity where you can float around and answer interview questions from students, but only after they have asked everyone at their table. Practice makes permanent!
2. How to Move Around the Classroom Safely with a Matching Activity
The most stressed I felt as a teacher is when students are out of their seats without permission. This does not mean that students must always remain seated in class, it just means that I have very specific procedures around moving safely around the room.
The Routine: Students must learn how to stand, how to push in chairs, how to wait for their tables to be called, the volume, the speed, and the awareness of our bodies when we walk around the room. It may seem like overkill, but when I didn’t cover this skill, I would find students laying on the floor or using their bodies in an unsafe way.
The Activity: To build culture and practice this routine, students participated in “Salt and Pepper.” Essentially, students will all have words taped on their backs (one student might have the word ‘salt,’ and they will have to walk around until they find their match (‘pepper’) using only descriptive clues.
A spin on this activity is to make students get in birthday order without talking. They get to release their wiggles, practice how we move around the room, and use their brains.
3. Other Activities
Although these first week of school activities don’t align to a procedure, they can still help build culture and break the ice with students.
- Two Truths and a Lie – Quick ice breaker that requires no prep work.
- This or That – Builds camaraderie among classmates. You could have students defend their answers and practice answering in complete sentences. (Stand if you prefer waffles to pancakes. Call on students and ask them to explain why.)
- Rock, Paper, Scissors, Posse – This teaches students to cheer their teammates on even when they lose.
- Telephone – If you have 2-3 minutes to kill and you need students to be quiet. 🙂
- 4 Corners – I saved this one for last because this is my absolute favorite. The way to survive in this game is to remain as quiet as possible. This game practically ran itself in my classroom and could keep quiet the most spirited students.
Even if you don’t have extra days allotted for culture building in your scope and sequence, having some of these activities on hand will make sure you stay prepared. Lessons sometimes run short, or if you are in Texas, you could be required to stay inside for recess due to the extreme heat. It is always better to have this stuff on hand, ready to go!
If you are interested in more activities to build culture in the first week of school (or really anytime), check out this bundle here. The activity includes the Interview Questions Worksheet, the Salt and Pepper Matching Activity, a paper version of This or That, and 8 more activities. If you want to be extra prepared for this school year, be sure to grab our Back to School Starter Pack which includes these ice breakers, classroom posters, homeroom activities, and a substitute binder.
What are your go-to first week of school activities?