Monday, July 18, 2011

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL ACTIVITIES



Do Y'all Know Jodi?

Not me sillies.

The other Jodi.

I know. Cool name, right?

I'm talking about Jodi from Fun in First. She's hosting a What's Your Favorite Back to School Activity linky.

I was going to wait until August to post this, but since she asked...

I always start the year by making playdough the day before school starts. It's really easy and cheap to make and kids LOVE it regardless of how old they are. I leave it white when I make it.


I roll it into balls (one for each student), poke a small hole in each with my finger, add a few drops of food color and then cover the hole. I then place each ball into a ziploc bag and put a bag at each child's seat for their arrival.

After they arrive I instruct them to squish up the bag to see what happens. They oooh and ahhh over the "magic" (even in 3rd grade). Having them mush it in the bag prevents them from getting the food coloring all over their hands. After the color is well-blended I have them take it out of the bag. I give them about 5 minutes of "free play" with it and then instruct them to make certain things:
  • their initials
  • their favorite animal
  • their favorite food
  • something to represent their favorite subject in school
After they create each we share them. It's a great get to know you activity, but also gives them something to do to release any nervous energy they have. Also if something unexpected occurs (student added to roster, parent that stops by, crying child who won't come in) it gives the class something quiet to do at their seats until you can focus your attention on them. This is key since you will not have any guidelines, rules or expectations in place at that point.

You could also have large sheets of paper and crayons available to have the children illustrate a self-portrait. Not only do these make an easy, colorful and appropriate display, but I love having them repeat this activity at the end of the year. They always grow so much as artists.

Another favorite activity of mine is to create a "Who's in Our Class" word search. There are some great free online sources for generating them. All you need to do is type in the first names, print and copy. Just be sure to check the word search and make sure everyone is included.


I've also done crossword puzzles with their names, but find that some children need help. The goal is to have some fun, independent activities available so that you are free to tend to unexpected first day issues that may arise.
I've compiled some of my favorite activities for the 1st week of school to create a collection of "Back To School Printables" for grades 2-5. There are elements that could be used for grades K-1 as well (illustrating, self-portraits, handwriting samples, handprints) and you could scribe for the little ones if you wanted, but these are designed for 2-5 to do independently. They are also great to use as part of your emergency sub plans.

The unit includes:.

1. Teacher Guide

2. All About Me
This is a 2 page set. It includes a lined paper titled, “All About Me” and a drawing page titled, “This is Me.” Students use these pages to write about themselves and/or illustrate a self-portrait. These activities are great to do at the beginning, middle and end of each school year as they really show the progress the child has made as a writer and artist. They also make a quick and easy bulletin board display.

3. Bio Poem
The students complete the cloze activity to create a bio poem about themselves. The pages can be kept as is or they can be used as a rough draft. These are beautiful keepsakes when they are typed and illustrated by the children.

4. Classmate Bingo
Each student begins by completing the sentences at the bottom to tell about themself. The student then cuts that part of the page off and gives it to the teacher. The teacher provides the class with a list of student names (either reproduced individually or written on the board to be copied) and the children write one name in each box. If there are more boxes than names you may consider asking specialists, the nurse, the custodian, or the principal to fill out a paper as well. To play: pick one info page from the collection and read the sentences out loud. See if anyone can guess who it is before reading the name at the end. Students then mark that space on their bingo board (pasta makes a cheap and easy marker if you do not have bingo markers).

5. Getting to Know Me Gazette
Students use words and/or pictures to complete this personal newspaper about themselves. You can use the completed pages to make a bulletin board display or bind them into a class book that is sure to be a favorite throughout the year.

6. How I Spent My Summer Vacation
This is a 2 page set. It includes a lined paper and a drawing page that are both titled, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Students use these pages to write about and/or illustrate the highlights of their summer. ou can use the completed pages to make a bulletin board display or bind them into a class book that is sure to be a favorite throughout the year.

7. I Am Poem
This is a 2 page set. It includes a graphic organizer for branstorming ideas and a cloze activity to create the poem. The cloze activity can be the finished product or it can be edited for spelling and then published as a final draft. These look beautiful when you add a photo of the child and create a display. They are also cherished keepsakes and make wonderful holiday gifts for the families.

8. K-W-L About My New Grade
This is a 2 page set. It includes two KWL charts. The first is formatted in narrow columns and the second has been created with wider columns. This is a great way to introduce or review what a K-W-L chart is. Start by having the students brainstorm a list of things they already know about their new grade level (or classroom or teachers). Then have them generate a list of questions about their new grade level. Bring the class together to share their lists. You may want to compile them into a master list on poster paper or using an overhead projector. At the end of the 1st week of school have the sudents complete the last column by recording some things they have learned about their new grade.

9. Math About Me
The students begin by completing the sentences using the numbers that apply to them personally. Next, they create a collage of those numbers. To create the collage you can either have them write the numbers using markers, crayons or colored pencils or you could have them cut those numbers out of magazines and newspapers and glue them to the page.

10 My Picture is Worth Many Words
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. To complete this activity attach a photo of each child to the center of the page (or have each student draw a
self-portrait). Next, have each child brainstorm a list of words that tell about themself. This is a nice opportunity to discuss nouns and adjectives or even introduce a thesaurus. Have the children count the number of words they wrote and write that number on the line in the title. Cut out the box, mount onto colored paper and either display the finished products individually or create a class book.

11. New Classroom Scavenger Hunt
This activity can be done individually or in pairs. The students explore their new classroom and record something that fits into each category onto the chart. They can either use words, pictures or labeled illustrations to document their findings.

12. Squiggle Art
This activity shows that everyone is unique and that people often see things differently. The black squiggle is the start of a picture. Encourage the children to use their imaginations and incorporate that black squiggle into their own drawing. There are lines below the drawing box to write about what they drew. This makes a fun display or a class book. It is also a nice activity to do at the start and end of a school year to show personal growth in each student.

13. Time Capsule
This is a 5 page set. You may elect to do any or all of the activities. The idea is for the students to complete the activities at the start of the year and then revisit them at the end of the year. This set includes:
-a self-portrait
-a handprint (either painted and stamped or simply t
traced)
-a handwriting sample (perhaps the alphabet or a
dictated sentence)
-a list of things the student hopes to learn about that
year
-a collection of favorite things

After the students complete the pages you may want to seal them all into one box or else create individual time capsules using Pringles can. If you keep portfolios for your students then you could also use these as the first pages.

14. Who Am I?
Have the students complete each sentence starter to tell about themselves. Staple the top of the finished paper to construction paper so that the page can be lifted from the bottom. Attach a photo of the student underneath so that people can guess who it is and lift the page to check. These are especially fun for open house nights as parents love “finding” their litle darling.




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29 comments:

  1. I absolutely love creating activities for back to school! You have inspired me to get started! :0)

    http://mdteachingtales.blogspot.com/

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  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the playdough activity! What a fun way to get the kids "moving" and doing something fun!!!! I'm going to be stealing that idea for sure!

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  3. That idea of getting the children to dye the playdough as a surprise activity is GENIUS! Will definitely be using that in the future!!

    Baggy Trousers at A Crucial Week In The Life of an NQT

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  4. Great idea:) I think it will be good to make a few extra, just in case you do get a new student:) Thanks!!!

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  5. Thanks for linking up, Jodi (yes, very cool name). I love your ideas!
    Jodi
    Fun-in-first.blogspot.com

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  6. I LOVE the play-dough activity! I am going to borrow that from you. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  7. love the playdough activity! a friend that does this each year tells the kiddos at the beginning that if theirs changes colors then they're going to have a fantastic year. they get so excited when theirs does change colors!

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  8. LOVE the play dough idea! I am excited to try this! I know the kids will love it!

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  9. I love your post about the first day of school. I would LOVE to adapt your idea and use your playdough photo if you allow me to.
    littlemisskindergarten.blogspot.com

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  10. I do the playdoh activity too but instead of adding messy food coloring, I add a small bit of real colored playdoh inside(usually 2 of the 3 primary colors). It's worth the small cost so they can really get in there and smoosh. The poem I use is:

    Magic Playdoh, soft and white
    We will squeeze with all our might
    If we see a color appear
    It means we'll have an amazing year!

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    Replies
    1. Very cute poem! I was trying to find some kind of way to connect it to something! I just might borrow your poem! Thanks!

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    2. I love both your idea's if you don't mind I'm going to use both of them!

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  11. Great play dough idea!

    http://teachthemlove.blogspot.com

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  12. I am going to use this idea....what a lot of fun for the kids...can't wait to see the expressions on their faces when the color begins to show! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Thank you for sharing your terrific ideas! I love the playdough!!
    Lory
    Lory's Page

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  14. Our students come to class for only an hour on the first day. We did the play dough activity and they loved it. Thanks!

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  15. Excellent idea! So easy and fun. Does anyone have an easy recipe for making playdough?

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    1. 2 cups boiling water - then mix in the following:
      3 - 4 cups flour(you can add more to get consistency you like)
      1/2 cup salt
      1 tbs alum
      3 tbsp vegetable oil
      (of course, it's HOT initially when mixing, but once it cools you can use your hands to mix it better)

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  16. Looking for something new.June 17, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I really love this idea. I teach Kindergarten and I always use play dough. This year I will try making it instead of buying it. I love the idea of connecting a poem to it. My idea will be to place the poem on the zip lock bag for students to take home during the first week of school. Thanks for all the creative ideas.

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  17. I always find myself inspired for new ideas as I close out & pack up the old year. I love the creative possibilities of it! Like a kid in a candy store, all things are possible. Thanks for these gr8 ideas!

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  18. The included playdough recipe - how much does it make? Enough for one child? 4 children? Just curious how much I'd have to make. Thanks!

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    1. It didn't make enough for good sized amounts for a class of 20. I made two batches and now each of my students has about a golf ball sized amount to play with.

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  19. Another fun activity is to grow a pet TickleMe Plant from seeds and watch how the leaves fold together one by one or all at once when Tickled.
    Just google pet TickleMe Plant.

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  20. How much does the recipe make? I want to know how much to do for 34 kids. :)

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  21. We loved growing TicklePlants and I made it part of my lesson plans.
    www.ticklemeplant.com Cool video

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  22. How many dough balls do you get out of one batch of playdough? I'm making for 22 students.

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  23. I just found this idea and am SO excited about it! I've been trying to find something to use the first day of school that is far different from any other grade-level and this is perfect. I wrote a quick poem to print so that the kids have directions they can follow when they walk in the door. I thought I'd share in case you might like to use it, too:

    An ordinary ball of dough?
    I wonder what it's for.

    My teacher's lost her marbles.
    I'm not in first grade any more.

    "You're right," my teacher yelled,
    "but here's a super-fun surprise!

    "Keep it in the ziplock bag,
    and squish it lots of times!"

    "You'll find it to be lots of fun,
    just like third grade this year.

    "Hooray for school!" she winked at me.
    "I'm so glad you're here!"

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the poem idea! I'm hoping to tie this in with the book, "The Crayon Box That Talked." Of course it's at school so I can't look at it right now, but it's something about all the colors being important. :-)

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  24. How many drops of food coloring should I use for nice vibrant color? Also, snack sized zip-loc, or sandwich sized?

    Can't wait! Making it today.

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