The first week of school has arrived or may be arriving soon! I've found that with some classes you can never have too many ideas and activities up your sleeve. Here are 7 ideas you can use in the first weeks of school:
1. Class Word Search
A class name word search is a great way for your students to learn each other's names the first week of school! Not only is it a fun morning work activity for the first week, but it helps your students get used to the idea of morning work if that is something new to them.
Here are the steps on how to make the class word search (steps 4-6 are not necessary but add a more personalized touch):
- Google “free word search maker”
- Choose a word search creator that works for you. I've used the one linked HERE before.
- Follow the steps on the website to generate your word search
- Take a screenshot of just the puzzle (no title or names at the bottom.)
- Insert screenshot into an 8.5X11 Powerpoint slide
- Type your student's names and give it a title in a fun font of your choice!
2. Growth Mindset
Modeling and intentionally teaching a growth mindset is so important, especially with our younger students. The first weeks of school are a great time to add this in!
I like to incorporate a growth mindset in the first few weeks by using the Growth Mindset Flipbook. I recommend doing one flip a day and pairing it with Class Dojo's videos on growth mindset.
Growth Mindset Flipbook & Posters
What's included: Growth Mindset Flipbook (paper AND Digital!), 5 Growth Mindset quote posters in color and black and white, & Growth Mindset Bulletin Board Set
All of these flips make great conversations! Talk to your students about:
- Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
- Achieving thier dreams
- Making mistakes
- Doing something even when it's hard
- The pay off of hard work
3. Read Alouds
The list for great back-to-school read-alouds is very, very long! Here are a few that go along with the growth mindset theme and can be paired with the flipbook to get the conversation started and provide examples of what a growth mindset looks like.
4. First Week Feels FREEBIE
I LOVE doing this first-week survey with students! After they fill it out, meet with each one for 1-2 minutes about their answers! It‘s a perfect way to gauge where they are at after their first week, as well as start building those relationships!
First Week Feels SurveyAs our first week of school wraps up, I always like to get feedback from my students. I want to know how they’re feeling about their new classroom, teacher, grade level, and just school in general. I have found that many times a student may be really honest on a piece of paper about something they may not tell you about in person. A first week feels student survey is one of my favorite relationship pieces during the back to school crazy.
5. Reading Response Notebooks
Reading Response Notebooks are one thing I like to get going the first few weeks of school. The keys to success with response notebooks are high expectations and model, model, model! Set your expectations for the notebook right away!
They are great for :
- morning work
- independent reading
- fast finishers
- small groups
For the first week, practice with a read-aloud a few times and respond to the prompt together. However you use them, response notebooks are a great way to get your year started!
6. Goal Setting
Intentional goal setting with students can be a powerful thing! Keeping it simple at the beginning of the year can really help foster confidence in your students as they accomplish their goals!
Morning meeting is a great time to talk about having goals and why they are important. Set goals as a class and give students time to set goals for themselves individually. I love using these goal-setting cards in the form of “I can” statements.
Goals are already printed on the cards so students can get ideas and pick the one that fits them. These statements go great on the corner of a student’s desk-they even fit PERFECTLY in the target adhesive pockets!
7. Selfie Writing
The beginning of the year is a fresh start for a lot of students. Some students will come to our classrooms disliking writing. Use the first few weeks to get them to buy in! One way I like to get students to buy-in is with Selfie Writing!
Selfie Writing is super engaging because students insert their own photos into their writing and manipulate props that go with the prompt. So fun! It's also digital, so students get the thrill of typing their responses!
Selfie Writing comes with MANY first week of school writing prompts like:
- “I will have a growth mindset this year by…”
- “If I could take a field trip anywhere this year I would want to go…”
- “I am excited for this year because…”
- “What I love most about my new classroom is…”
- “This summer I…”
There's even more beyond that!
The first weeks of school are some of the best! This is the time for you and your students to get to know each other, build a community together, and get back into the swing of things.
For a step-by-step tutorial on the class word search, I have a highlight on my Instagram, @teachcreatemotivate, called “BTS.” Watch the highlight “Response NB” if you'd like to watch how I set up Reading Response Notebooks!
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