Back to school: Make the First Day Meaningful

back-to-school-183533_1280Student (and teachers) have many different reactions to school starting again. Some students are excited to see old friends, some are nervous about making new friends, some can’t wait to dive in and start learning, and others worry about what their teacher will be like and if there will be lots of homework. I can see the excitement and fears in my own kids.

Recently I’ve read a few articles from teachers advising to make the first day of school special and an opportunity for kids to learn more than just their teacher’s name and when they will be having lunch and recess. Seeing my kids’ reactions to the impending start of school, I support these teachers’ efforts to save the classroom rules and expectations for the next day. It is something every teacher wants, to excite kids about the wonderful things they are going to explore and experience the rest of the school year. Making such an impression on the first day can help kids start kids on a path to becoming fully participating member of the school community, so why not start off with a bang!

Nancy Flanagan share’s her interesting perspective on the first day of school in her blog: Ten Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School. Follow this link to her article: eu-mostpop

A few first day of school activity ideas to get started:

  • Have kids find a partner. Handing out puzzle pieces that match up in pairs is a fun way to find a partner. Then have partners interview each other. Provide some questions for younger students. After the partners have shared their answers, have the partner tell the class about the person he or she interviewed. Often it is easier to talk about someone else than about yourself.
  • Build a sense of teamwork among students through a challenge. The Marshmallow Challenge has been used to help creative teams in business, but it can also be a fun exercise for older students. Students use spaghetti sticks to hold a marshmallow on the top. The challenge is to build the tallest structure possible. Check out this link for more information:
  • Do a demonstration or experiment about a topic students will explore in the coming months and have students guess the results. It is a teaser for what lies ahead in the course or lesson. Or leave kids hanging by reading an exciting scene from a book they will read as a class. Get them excited about a book or topic, by showing a brief, suspenseful clip from a movie or video. Kids will be begging to learn more!

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