Many first-year teachers wonder what back to school activities they should do for kindergarten? After all, it’s like teaching neanderthals! For many, it’s their first time in a school building, and there’s so much to teach that it can become overwhelming!
Have no fear!
I put together six activities you should definitely put into practice on day one. These activities will save your sanity and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. By the way, do you like checklists? I put together some back-to-school checklists if you want to make sure you’re not missing a thing. Grab them for free here!
Here are SIX Essential Back to School Activities for Teaching Kindergarten on the First Day of School
Now, let’s get started on what to do for the first day back to school in kindergarten!
1. Teach name recognition and practice.
Name practice and recognition are essential for students to learn on day one of kindergarten! I find it so sweet that the students long to see their names on their desks and walls. They want to belong!
I found an excellent resource for using name practice and recognition that my friend Crystal from Kreative in Kinder created. This resource is terrific because you type in your students’ names, and it prefills all the pages for personalized name practice! How cool is that?
Students learn to recognize their names with coloring and reading, transition to tracing and writing. What’s helpful is you can use this for first names and last names since they’re editable.
2. Take them on a school tour!
This may be the first time they’ve ever stepped foot inside a school building for many students. Taking them on a school tour will help them feel confident and less afraid of being in the building.
Before heading out the door, practice lining up. I like to use tape on the floor that shows them exactly where to stand. Then, I sing (call) “Are we ready?” to the tune of Are You Sleeping. They sing back (respond), “Are we ready?” I use a call and respond to the tune singing verbal praise until all students are ready.
I also use a mystery student in the hallway. This is when I use ClassDojo to select one student randomly. I “watch” that student for good behavior without telling the class who it is. When we return to the classroom, I announce who the mystery person was only if they modeled good behavior. I like to reward them with a ticket to the Surprise Box. You can read more about how I use that here.
3. Build routines starting with your morning meeting.
It’s essential to have a morning meeting with your kindergarteners. It’s the perfect time to have a heart and mind check, ask and answer questions, and learn strategies for coping with failure, anxiety, etc.
I love using these morning meeting slides from It’s Monique’s World because they support a positive classroom culture with quick SEL strategies, and they are editable! So, you can insert digital calendars, weather reports, numbers or word of the day, or anything else you might like to add.
4. Celebrate the milestone with back to school activities and crafts for kindergarten!
Kindergarten is a huge milestone for the children and their families! It’s important to celebrate this milestone because you’re communicating your belief about the importance of education in a way.
In short, it’ll get them excited and set them up for success!
I love using this first day of kindergarten resource from my friend Keri Brown! First, students are welcome with a first-day coloring page. The students create first-day necklaces and hats. It has everything you need from tracing to graphing, and it even has a memory book that you can work with throughout the year and give to them at the end of the year.
To do that, you print one sheet each month. Students complete the page, and then you file it in that students’ folder. At the end of the year, you’ll have all the sheets in place to hole punch and tie a string through.
It’s incredible seeing the transformation in their writing and drawings throughout the year!
5. Build classroom community with talking prompts.
It can be tricky to get little ones to open up on the first day of school. I know I always feel awkward meeting all my new students, and I remember how it felt being little and in a room with many new people. It’s scary!
That’s why I like to start with ice breakers!
Using prompts like, “would you rather,” “what’s your favorite,” “I think I can,” “If I could, I would,” and “I know all about” are great ways to get your students talking and learning about one another.
Not only that, but they support the speaking and listening standards we are supposed to be teaching! It’s easy to integrate these into your morning routine or use them at the end of the day while you’re waiting for dismissal.
6. Model safety procedures.
Teaching students about using scissors is a tremendous back-to-school activity, especially for kindergarten students because they learn how to use scissors properly. Be sure to discuss how to hold the scissors when walking or standing versus how to control them when cutting. I like to model with examples and non-examples.
Then, I give verbal praise to students who are holding them correctly by saying, “____ is doing a wonderful job being very responsible with the scissors. I’m impressed!”
This fine motor alphabet set, also from my friend Crystal, is a great way to introduce scissors. Students will color the image, cut it out and glue it to the lined shape on the other side. Then, trace the letters at the bottom of the page. In the Scissor Skills Tracing & Cutting Practice, students will trace the lines first. They can use a pencil, crayon, or marker. Then, have them start at the scissor icon and cut until they get to the picture. There are several line options (solid, dotted, straight, zig-zag, etc.).
Doing these six things will ensure you have a day filled with fun activities and success! We’ve bundled these resources together and are offering them for 90% off this week only. I’m not joking. My friend Kristen from Easy Teaching Tools put them on her website, and the offer expires on Sunday, July 25 at 11:59 PM.
Don’t forget to grab these free back-to-school checklists to make sure you’re confident, organized, and prepared for the new school year!