As a seasoned educator with many years spent in the classroom and now an edtech blogger, I understand the anticipation, excitement, and, yes, even the slight nervousness that comes with the first day of school. The first day sets the tone for the entire academic year, and it’s the perfect opportunity to establish a vibrant, welcoming, and collaborative learning environment.
Throughout my teaching career, I’ve always believed in the importance of making learning enjoyable, engaging, and interactive. That’s why I love the idea of infusing the first day of school with activities that are not only fun but also promote camaraderie, foster a sense of belonging, and break the ice between students.
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing a collection of unique and fun first day of school activities. Whether you’re a fellow teacher searching for inspiration, a parent wanting to understand more about classroom activities, or a student curious about what to expect, there’s something here for you.
Fun First Day of School Activities
Here are 10 practical examples of fun first day of school activities
1. “Who Am I?” Guessing Game
This is a fun and interactive way to get to know your students. Each student writes three to five interesting facts about themselves on a card, but they don’t put their name on it. These facts can include favorite hobbies, experiences, or unique skills. For instance, a fact might be, “I can play the flute,” or “I have a pet turtle.”
Once completed, collect the cards, shuffle them, and then read them out loud to the class. Students then have to guess which classmate the card belongs to based on the clues provided. This can lead to some surprising revelations and stimulate conversations, helping students learn more about each other.
2. Building a Class Mascot
This activity can foster teamwork and creativity, and it also helps in creating a shared identity. Divide your class into small groups and provide each with a variety of craft materials – think fabric scraps, buttons, pipe cleaners, glue, markers, etc. Each group works together to design and create a class mascot that they believe represents the values of the class.
This might be a brave lion for courage, a wise owl for wisdom, or something more abstract. Once the mascots are complete, each group presents their mascot to the class, explaining why they chose their design and how it represents the class. These mascots can be displayed in the classroom as a reminder of shared values and unity.
3. Classroom Scavenger Hunt
A classroom scavenger hunt is an engaging way to familiarize students with their new environment. Create a list of items or locations within the classroom for the students to find. This list might include items like a specific book in the classroom library, a fire safety poster, or where the pencils are located.
For a more advanced hunt, you could include riddles as clues. For example, “I’m full of knowledge, but I don’t have a brain. What am I?” (The answer would be a book.) Students can work individually or in pairs to complete the hunt. This will not only help them understand where key items are located but also encourage them to work collaboratively and solve problems.
4. Comic Strip About the Summer
This is a creative and engaging way for students to share their summer experiences. Provide each student with a blank comic strip template. The template could simply be a sheet of paper divided into six or eight squares.
Ask students to draw and write about a memorable experience they had over the summer in the form of a comic strip. They can use dialogue, captions, and pictures to tell their story. This activity not only allows students to share their experiences but also gives them a chance to practice sequential storytelling. Once everyone is finished, you can have volunteers share their comic strips with the class.
5. Classmate Bingo
This activity helps students get to know one another in a fun and interactive manner. Before class, create a bingo card for each student. Instead of numbers, fill the squares with statements that could apply to various students, such as “Has been to Europe,” “Can play a musical instrument,” or “Loves to bake.”
The goal is to find classmates who fit each square’s description, prompting students to mingle and learn about each other. The first student who gets five in a row (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) and yells “Bingo!” is the winner. This game can lead to interesting conversations and foster new friendships.
6. Group Mural
This activity is a great way to foster collaboration and creativity within your classroom. Set up a large piece of paper or a roll of butcher paper on a wall in the classroom. Decide on a theme that is broad enough for all students to contribute – it could be “Our Goals for the Year,” “What We Did This Summer,” “Our Favorite Books,” etc. Then, have students collectively create a mural related to this theme.
They could draw, write words or quotes, or even collage images. Over the course of the day or week, the mural will grow into a visual representation of your students’ collective thoughts and creativity. It’s a wonderful way to make your classroom feel like a shared, inclusive space.
7. Photograph Puzzles
This is a unique, interactive activity that helps students get to know each other. Have students bring in a photograph of themselves doing something they love or a picture that represents an important aspect of their life.
Prior to the activity, cut these photos into puzzle pieces (the number of pieces can vary depending on the age and skill level of the students). During the activity, mix up all the puzzle pieces and have classmates try to put them together.
Once a puzzle is completed, the student who is in the picture can share the story behind the photograph. This activity not only encourages problem-solving but also allows students to share a piece of their life with the class.
8. Ice Breaker Ball Game
This game is a great way to start the school year, enabling students to share interesting facts about themselves in a fun, low-pressure way. Begin by standing in a circle and tossing a soft ball or a bean bag to a student.
Whoever catches the ball must share something about themselves—such as a favorite hobby, a memorable trip they took, or the name of their pet—before tossing the ball to another student. This continues until everyone has had a turn. The game helps students learn more about their classmates, fostering a sense of community.
9. Class Time Capsule
A class time capsule is a meaningful project that encourages students to reflect on their current selves and anticipate their future growth. Provide each student with a piece of paper and have them write a letter to their future self, drawing a picture, or sharing their goals for the year.
Once everyone has contributed their memento, place all the items into a box and seal it. Explain to the class that this is their time capsule, to be opened at the end of the school year. When the time capsule is finally opened, students will enjoy seeing how much they’ve grown and changed over the year. It provides a tangible connection to the past and can stimulate discussions about personal growth and change.
10. Karaoke Session
A karaoke session can serve as an exciting and enjoyable ice-breaker. Prior to the session, select a list of popular, age-appropriate songs. During the activity, students can take turns singing their favorite song. Not only is this a fun way to kick off the school year, but it also encourages students to step out of their comfort zones.
It can serve as a foundation for discussions about taking risks in learning, supporting peers, and enjoying school life. For the students who may be shy, they can be part of the cheering crowd, creating a positive, supportive atmosphere.
11. Guess the Teacher
This activity helps build connections between the teacher and students. As the teacher, share three truths and one lie about yourself. The truths and lie can revolve around your life experiences, hobbies, or anything else that you’re comfortable sharing.
The students’ task is to guess which statement is the lie. This activity not only helps students get to know you better but also sets a tone of openness and connection. It’s a fun and personal way to begin establishing a positive classroom culture.
12. Postcard Goals
This activity invites students to think about their goals for the school year. Provide each student with a postcard (or they can create their own). On one side, they can illustrate something related to their goal. On the other side, they write down the goal itself and a few steps they think will help them reach it.
These postcards can be collected and revisited at different points throughout the school year, providing students with a visual reminder of their personal objectives and the progress they’re making toward achieving them. This activity is a great way to cultivate a growth mindset and encourage personal accountability.
13. Dance and Music Ice Breakers
Music is a universal language that can quickly break down barriers and encourage interaction. For this ice breaker, play a lively, popular, and appropriate song. While the music is playing, students must dance or move around.
When the music stops, everyone must freeze. Anyone caught moving while the music is off is out of the game. Continue the game until you have a winner. This activity is an entertaining way to get the energy flowing in your classroom and it also allows students to blow off some of the first-day nerves.
13. Map It Out
This activity is an interesting way for students to share a little about their past experiences and it also gives the class a visual representation of the diverse backgrounds in the room. Start with a large world map placed at the front of the classroom.
Provide students with stickers and ask them to place a sticker on places they’ve visited or lived in. Once everyone has added their stickers, students can share stories or interesting facts about the places they marked.
14. Story Circle
This activity encourages creativity and collaboration among students. Start by sitting in a circle and begin a story with just one sentence. Then, pass the story along to the next student to add a sentence, and continue around the circle. Each student builds on the story, making it more interesting and often humorous.
This not only provides a fun, creative start to the year but also emphasizes the importance of listening skills and imaginative thinking. To conclude, you could write down the final story and post it in the classroom as a unique memento of the first day.