The first day of school is an exciting milestone for first-grade students. It’s a time for new beginnings, making friends, and embarking on the next piece of their educational journey. As an educator or parent, you play a vital role in helping to ensure that the first day of school is both fun and welcoming. To help, we’re exploring a variety of engaging activities that will not only help children settle in on that first day, but also make them feel safe, comfortable, and excited about their new learning environment.
9 Tips to Make Kids Feel Welcome and Safe
Before diving into first day of school activities, try some of these tips to create a classroom environment that feels welcoming and safe for your first-grade students:
- Create positive surroundings – Decorate your classroom with colorful displays, posters, and interactive bulletin boards. This will help set a positive and inviting tone for the first day of school.
- Share a welcome letter – Prior to the first day, send out a welcome letter to your students and their families. Be sure to include information about what to expect, a brief introduction about yourself, and any important details for a smooth transition.
- Greet your students warmly – Be at the door as kids and parents arrive to welcome each child individually. A friendly smile, a handshake, or a high-five can go a long way in making them feel valued and acknowledged.
- Classroom tour – Take your students on a tour of the classroom, highlighting important areas like where to hang their backpack, their individual desk or shared table, and where to find the reading corner, art supplies, and the classroom library. This will help them familiarize themselves with their new environment.
- Establish rules and expectations – Be sure to clearly communicate classroom rules and expectations from the start to ensure a safe and respectful learning environment. Involve students in creating a set of guidelines to encourage their ownership and accountability.
- Personalized name tags – Create name tags or labels for each student and ask them to decorate it with their favorite colors or drawings. This simple activity will help foster a sense of ownership and identity.
- Buddy system – Consider pairing each first-grade student with an older “buddy” from a higher grade. These buddies can help to provide guidance, support, and friendship throughout the first day of school and beyond.
- Establish routines – Structure the day with consistent routines to provide a sense of security for your first graders. Clearly explain the schedule, transitions, and procedures to help students feel more at ease.
- Encourage expression – Create opportunities for students to express their feelings, concerns, or excitement about the first day. Allow them to share their thoughts through drawings, journals, or class discussions.
11 First Day of School Activities for First Grade
The first day of school is an opportunity to create a positive and welcoming environment for first-grade students. By implementing these 11 fun and engaging first day of school activities for first grade, you can help students settle in, make new friends, and feel safe in their new learning space.
- All about me collage – Provide each student with magazines, scissors, and glue. Ask them to cut out pictures or words that represent their interests, favorite things, or goals. Then, have them create a collage that represents themselves.
- Classroom scavenger hunt – Create a simple scavenger hunt where students search for items around the classroom. This activity will help them become familiar with the classroom layout and where to find essential supplies.
- Friendship bracelets – Give each student a piece of yarn or string and encourage them to create friendship bracelets for their new classmates. This activity promotes bonding and kindness.
- My Summer Adventure – Have students share their summer experiences by drawing or writing about one memorable event. They can then take turns presenting their stories to the class.
- Classmate interviews – Pair up students and have them interview each other using a set of provided questions. Then, invite each pair to introduce their partner to the class, sharing interesting facts they learned.
- Name Bingo – Create bingo cards with the names of all the students in the class. Distribute the cards and have the students mingle, asking each other for their names and marking off the corresponding boxes. The first one to complete a line or full card can shout “Bingo!”
- Feelings chart – Hang a feelings chart on the wall with various emotions illustrated. Ask each student to place a sticker or magnet on the chart to indicate how they’re feeling on the first day of school. This activity encourages emotional expression and empathy.
- Storytime session – Read a fun and engaging story to the class, preferably one that focuses on friendship, kindness, or starting a new adventure like First Grade Jitters. Afterward, engage the students in a discussion about the story’s themes and encourage them to share their thoughts and connections.
- “Find Someone Who” – Create a worksheet with various statements or descriptions, such as “Find someone who has a pet” or “Find someone who visited a beach over the summer.” Students will then have to find classmates who fit each description, writing down their names next to the corresponding statements.
- Classmate puzzle – Provide students with construction paper puzzle pieces. Ask them to decorate their piece with drawings, symbols, or words that represent themselves. Once completed, assemble the pieces to create a classmate puzzle, showcasing the uniqueness and diversity of the class.
- Handprint art – Provide each student with a piece of construction paper and washable paints. Instruct them to dip their hands in different colors and create handprints on the paper. Once dry, display their handprint artwork on a bulletin board as a symbol of unity and togetherness.
Remember, these activities are designed to make the first day of school enjoyable and help students connect with one another. Always choose activities that align with your classroom environment and the interests of your students to help foster a positive and engaging start to the school year.
With these 11 super fun first day of school activities for first grade, you’re well on your way to setting the stage for an exciting and successful day!
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