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The first week of school is usually a blur. We are all settling into a new routine and the summer haze is lifting-slowly. This is the time we are getting to know our students, but also the time there is much to be done. We are settling into a new routine, adjusting students to a new routine, filling out enrollment reports, and putting the finishing touches on our classrooms. For this reason, coming up with first week activities can be a bit stressful. For the past few years, I’ve used these seven writing activities the first week of school at various times throughout the day and they all serve their own purpose.
My fifth grade team is departmentalized and I teach writing. For this reason, I make this activity specifically writing focused, and put these as the first page of their binders on the first day of school. However, I’ve given an example in the picture below of how this can be done for any subject or grade level. Goal setting is extremely important because it reminds students that there is a purpose and a focus to their learning. I refer back to this page often throughout the year so they see whether or not they are meeting their goals. The picture I listed here is general, but I encourage you to have students list several goals and make them specific and attainable. You can download this FREE goal setting template here.
My Three Best Summer Memories
This activity is great for the very first day. Students can reflect on their summer and then share. It’s a great icebreaker because students love to read aloud their memories and share their pictures. Many times, individual personalities also come through and you can get a sense of what student hobbies are!
What I Want My Teacher to Know About Me
This is my favorite writing activity for the first week of school. I learn so many things about my students, and I constantly look back at these pages throughout the year. I’ve had students share simple things with me such as their favorite ice cream flavor, or very personal things such as family situations at home. This assignment is special to me because students feel they can share and they know I will read them. I often make sure I mention them throughout the next few weeks. For example, “Christopher, when do you start soccer practice?” Or, “Kayla, I’ll make sure I give you a signal before I ask you to read out loud because I know it makes you anxious.” This helps reduce the anxiety for students and create a friendly class atmosphere!
This Year I Want to Learn
I love reading what types of things students are interested in learning for the year. Some of which we won’t be able to cover, but I try my hardest to make sure students learn many at least one of the things they share on this sheet. Even if it means they have to do some of their own research! It’s a great way for students again to have a goal and a focus. Download this template for FREE here.
Grade Level KWL
This is something I created as kind of a unique spin on a KWL. In the morning, you can have students write what they know and wonder about the grade they are starting. At the end of the day, have students write what they learned about their classroom/grade. It’s a also a great way to reinforce rules and expectations!
The First Day of School
This writing activity is straight forward and simply allows students to share how they felt when they woke up in the morning. It’s also a perfect follow up activity to the book First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. The story has an awesome message about how teachers are nervous on the first day also! I’ve read it every year and it’s perfect for any grade level. I’ve read this story in both first and fifth grade!
All About Me
Although this has been done so many different ways, the All About Me activity is a classic! Letting your students be creative and share some special things about themselves is always a great icebreaker. This activity will never get old!
In addition to the free downloads above, you can purchase my full Back to School Activity set here. Have a wonderful start to your school year!