5 must do's for the first week of school

This post originally appeared on the blog Cassie Dahl: Teaching and Technology

The beginning of the school year is just around the corner (and it’s already started for some!). Classroom decorating and organizing are in full effect and teachers are starting to panic about their first week of lesson plans! Here are five must do’s during the first week of school, to help you start the year on the right foot.
#1: Have a team building activity ready for your students

1. Team Building Activity

Up first, plan some kind of a team building activity for the first or second day of school. This should be an activity that requires students to work in small groups (more than three in a group) and to complete the activity… they have to work as a team.
My go-to team building activity for the beginning of the year is cup stacking. It is an easy activity to prep, doesn’t cost a whole lot of money and students LOVE it. 
Students playing the cup stacking game in action Students successfully completing the cup stacking game
This activity is a hit every single year. Want to know how to play? Click here to read all about it.
#2: Five Facts in Thirty Seconds

2. Five Facts in Thirty Seconds

Five facts in thirty seconds takes a little bit of planning ahead of time. On the first day of school, I share five facts about myself in less than 30 seconds. We have a few cheap timers that we use anytime we need a timer. I try to model what it will look like for students. Make sure you explain that you want five facts that are not obvious (not boy/girl, tall/short, etc.). 
After modeling for my students, I assign them their first homework assignment *GASP*. Their job after the first day of school is to go home and think about five facts that they can share about themselves in less than 30 seconds. Remind them that they cannot be too elaborate on their facts… if they are, they will be cut off. 
If students want to write down their five facts, that is totally fine! Over the next few days, have students volunteer to share their five facts in thirty seconds. This could be during morning meeting, while you are waiting for specials, in-between other activities. You will have your go-getters that are eager to go first. Let them dive in first while your shy students sit back and wait. They will all have to go at some point… but let them warm up to the idea. 
#3: "Chill Zone" Activity

3. “Chill Zone” Activity

Let’s face it. At the end of the first day of school, we are exhausted. Our students are exhausted, too! So in between active games, read alouds, and other back to school activities, plan a “chill zone” activity. This is a time when students can just chill while they work on something and chat with their friends. 
This gives you a chance to walk around and talk with different groups of students and get to know them a little bit better. Some of my favorite go-to activities are to have them color self-portraits or an All About me poster. Here is a fun #selfie poster that is available in my TpT store. 
Click here to download a "Selfie" poster for your classroom
The poster has them name their favorites, draw and write about their summer vacation, write or draw about their family, and more! Basically, it is a mindless activity that gives students’ brains a break during the day. 
#4: Make Parent Contact

4. Make Parent Contact

This is a must no matter what grade you teach. In some way, during the first week of school make contact with parents. This could be with an e-mail, phone call, letter/note home, or even a postcard. Make this contact be a positive one. Stray away from negative comments or concerns. By making this first contact home a positive interaction, you are setting yourself up for future successful communication with your parents.
#5: Step Back If... Get to Know Them

5. Step Back If… Get to Know Them

The last activity that I always plan is an active (but not TOO active) game. To play, you place a line of tape down the center of the classroom. You will need it to be long enough for every student to have a place on the tape and not feel crowded. Have students stand on the tape (it doesn’t matter which way they face). Then, you read a prompt out loud (examples: step back if you have ridden a horse, step back if you like pizza, step back if you are an only child, etc.). 
You read one prompt at a time. If the statement applies to them, students take a step back (off of the line of tape). If the statement does not apply to them, they stay on the tape. After reading a statement and the students move, make sure you reset before reading the next prompt. You can come up with a list that is perfect for your classroom, or check out this pack of 40 that I have in my TpT store. 
Click here to download the Step Back If... getting-to-know-you beginning of the year activity

With TpT for Schools, your administrator can review, purchase, and send TpT resources like these directly to you.

This game will get students up and moving, and it is a fun way to get to know them at the beginning of the year! 
So there you have it: 5 must-do activities for the first week of school. If you are looking for more back to school resources, check out the resources that I have in my TpT store. I have printables, posters, student interest surveys, back to school books and more! Click here to check it out. 
5 Must Do's during the first week of school
Cassie Dahl's signature

Headshot of Cassie Dahl, Teaching & TechnologyCassie has been a 4th grade teacher for three years and is the author of the blog Cassie Dahl: Teaching & Technology. She lives in Northern Minnesota with her husband and three dogs (two pugs and a trouble-making lab). As a Teacher-Author, her goal is to help students in the middle grades succeed and excel by publishing products that push students outside their box. Follow her on Instagram, pin with her on Pinterest, like her Facebook page, read her new blog posts, or check out her TpT store!