The first day of school can be both exciting and nerve-wracking for kindergartners and their parents. And if you’re an educator, it’s essential to create a welcoming and safe environment that eases the transition for young learners. With the right introduction, they can feel welcome and safe and avoid those first-day tears. These 7 super fun first day of school activities for kindergarten will help you start the year off right and foster a positive experience for every child.
4 Tips to Make Kids Feel Welcome and Safe
You can help kindergarteners feel welcome and safe with these 4 tips:
- Greet with warmth – Begin the first day of school by warmly welcoming each student at the door, using their names and a friendly smile. This simple gesture will set a positive tone for the day.
- Classroom tour – Give your kindergartners a brief tour of their new classroom. Show them where important areas are, such as the reading corner, art supplies, the bathroom, where to hang their backpack, and of course, their desk or table. This will help them to feel more comfortable and familiar with their surroundings in the days and weeks ahead.
- Name tags – Consider providing personalized name tags or labels for each one of your students. This not only helps you learn their names, but they will begin to learn each other’s names as well. It’ll also offer a sense of ownership and identity within the classroom.
- All about me – Engage your students by having them create an “All About Me” poster or worksheet. Be sure to encourage them to draw pictures or write about their favorite things, family, and hobbies. Then, display their creations in the classroom as a way to celebrate individuality and foster a sense of belonging.
How to Handle First Day Tears
Wondering how to handle those first day tears? Try one of these 3 helpful tips:
- Comfort and reassurance – It is very common for some kindergartners (and parents!) to experience separation anxiety and shed a few tears on their first day of school. Show empathy and provide comfort by reassuring the kids that it’s okay to feel nervous and that you are there to support them. Encourage parents to say their goodbyes confidently, emphasizing that they will return later.
- Distraction and diversion – Engage teary students in an activity or show them something interesting in the classroom to redirect their attention. This can help them to gradually shift their focus and become more engrossed in the day’s activities.
- Buddy system – Try pairing a confident and friendly classmate with a tearful student. This buddy system can provide a little comfort and reassurance, and make a nervous student more likely to engage in first-day activities. The presence of a supportive peer is a great way to help alleviate anxiety in those first days of school.
7 First Day of School Activities for Kindergarten
- Storytime and discussion – Start the day by gathering your students in a cozy circle and reading them a relatable picture book about starting school. Afterward, facilitate a discussion about feelings, expectations, and what they are most excited about. Try a classic first-day of kindergarten book such as “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn or “On the First Day of Kindergarten” by Tish Rabe.
- Scavenger hunt – Organize a simple scavenger hunt around the classroom, where students can search for specific objects or pictures related to school supplies, colors, or shapes. This activity helps them become more familiar with the classroom while having fun and bonding with their classmates. Separate them in pairs and hand them a clipboard, a paper with picture clues, and pencils. Hand out small prizes to teams as they complete the scavenger hunt.
- Playdough extravaganza – Provide each student with a small container of playdough and encourage them to create something they love or find interesting. This activity will help to promote creativity, fine motor skills, and sensory exploration. To make it even more fun, gather some rolling pins, cookie cutters, and craft materials for decorating their creations.
- “Find a Friend” icebreaker – Create a “Find a Friend” game where students interact with their peers and discover commonalities. Start by providing a worksheet with prompts (ie. “Find someone who has a pet at home,” “Find someone who likes the color blue”) and have students find a classmate who fits each description. This activity encourages social interaction and helps students get to know their classmates.
- Colorful name tags – Prepare some blank name tags or labels for students to decorate using colorful crayons, markers, and stickers. Encourage them to write their names on the tags and decorate them however they like. This activity promotes fine motor skills, self-expression, and a sense of ownership.
- Cooperative games – Engage your kindergarteners in cooperative games that promote teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. Try Animal Charades where students take turns acting out an animal while others guess. Or the Color Game where students stand in a circle, you call out a color, and students jump in the middle if they’re wearing that color.
- Mini art gallery – Set up an art gallery in your classroom or in the hall where students can showcase their artwork from the first day of school. Encourage them to share and explain their creations and allow their peers to offer positive feedback. This activity boosts confidence and creativity, as well as communication skills.
The first day of school sets the tone for the rest of the year. Especially for kindergartners. By incorporating these super fun first-day of school activities for kindergarten, you’ll create a welcoming environment, be prepared to handle any tears, and will help ensure a positive and enjoyable start to the kindergarten journey.
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