As an educator with decades of experience in the classroom and now an edtech blogger, I fully understand both the joys and jitters that accompany the first day of school—especially for our fifth graders who are at such a critical juncture in their learning journey.
The first day sets the tone for the rest of the year. It’s an opportunity to foster an atmosphere of excitement, curiosity, respect, and community in your classroom. Yet, it’s often challenging to find the right activities that make everyone feel comfortable and engaged, while also setting a strong academic tone.
So, based on my own experience and the research I have done in this regard, I’ve curated a list of activities specifically designed for the first day in a 5th-grade classroom. These activities are aimed at easing students into the school environment, encouraging interaction among classmates, and sparking enthusiasm for the learning year ahead. I hope they inspire you and help you create memorable first day experiences for your students.
Check out out our back to school resources section for more ideas and materials!
5th Grade First Day of School Activities
Here are some suggested 5th grade first day of school activities to try out in your class:
1. “All About Me” Presentations
This activity provides a platform for students to share about their lives and interests. They can use a few slides to introduce their family members, pets, favorite books, and hobbies. They could also talk about an exciting adventure they had over the summer. As they present, it not only helps the class learn more about each other but also helps boost their confidence and public speaking skills.
2. Classroom Scavenger Hunt
To familiarize students with the classroom, you can set up a scavenger hunt. The hunt could involve finding different book genres in the classroom library, locating emergency exits, finding where the pencils and erasers are stored, or identifying where the class schedule is posted. This activity combines fun with learning about the classroom environment.
3. Goal Setting
Start the year by encouraging students to set academic and personal goals. They might aim to improve their math skills, read a certain number of books, or make a new friend. You could provide a template for this, with sections for different types of goals and steps to achieve them. At the end of the year, students can reflect on these goals, providing a concrete measure of their growth.
4. Create a Classroom Constitution
Engage students in creating a Classroom Constitution or a set of class rules. The process involves brainstorming, discussion, negotiation, and voting, which not only provides a sense of ownership and responsibility to students but also helps build a community. The rules might include respecting each other, raising hands to speak, or taking care of classroom resources.
5. “Two Truths and a Lie” Icebreaker
This is a fun game that encourages students to share unique information about themselves. Each student states two truths and one lie about themselves, and the rest of the class has to guess which one is the lie. For example, a student might say, “I have a twin, I’ve been to Hawaii, and I can play the violin.” This game is a great way for students to learn more about their classmates in an entertaining way.
6. Summer Memories Collage
Students can reflect on their summer adventures by creating a unique collage. They can bring in photos, ticket stubs, postcards, or even draw pictures to represent their memories. Once all collages are complete, each student can present their creation to the class and share their favorite summer moments. This allows students to learn about each other’s experiences and interests.
7. Math About Me
In this activity, students fill out a worksheet with numerical facts about themselves. For instance, “Number of siblings I have,” “Number of pets I have,” “My age in months,” “The number of letters in my first name,” or “The length of my foot in inches.” This activity serves a dual purpose – it lets classmates learn more about each other and acts as a fun way to refresh their math skills.
8. Design Your Own Book Cover
Allow students to imagine their lives as a book and then design a cover for it. They can think about significant events, people, or hobbies in their life that would make interesting book topics. This task encourages creativity and introspection. Once finished, students can share their book covers and explain their designs to the class, providing a fun insight into each student’s life.
9. “Find Someone Who” Bingo
This activity is a fun and engaging way to get students interacting. Each student receives a bingo card filled with interesting facts or traits like “Has a pet turtle” or “Can play the guitar.” The aim is to find other students who fit those facts and have them sign that square. The first student to get a bingo (a complete row) wins. This game helps students learn more about each other and promotes communication.
10. Letter to Future Self
Students write a letter to their future selves detailing their current likes and dislikes, their friends, their goals for the year, and any other details they would want their future selves to remember. These letters are sealed and stored to be handed back at the end of the school year. This activity is a meaningful way for students to reflect on their aspirations and growth over the school year.
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