First Week of School Activities

Can you believe it is back to school time already?  We just finished up an amazing first week of school and I could not have been more exhausted!  With a summer full of fun and relaxation, my body had forgotten how much energy I use teaching all day!  After a weekend of rest, I am looking forward to the second week of school.  But first, I had to share with you a few of the activities I did with my students in their first week of the new school year!

Play Dough Introductions
Before the kiddos arrived, I placed a little container of play dough on each of the students’ desk.  The Dollar Tree has 4 mini-containers of play dough for $1, so it’s not expensive at all to get a class set and they come in a variety of colors!  Since I don’t do a seating chart this early in the year, I gave students a little card that had a color on it and asked for them to sit at a desk that had play dough the same color as their card.  This takes the stress out of finding a seat for any nervous students!  Once they were at their seat, they were directed to take out the play dough and make anything they wanted to as long as the object they made had the same first letter as their name.  While they were making their creations, I was able to move around to every table and just spend time with my new students, make them laugh, ask them questions, and just put them all at ease.  After awhile, each student shared their name and what they made.  Later in the day, if I couldn’t remember their name, I would simply ask them what they made and I was usually able to come up with their name!  By the end of the second day of school I had all 48 of my students' names down!  All I had to remember was Emma Elephant, Nate North Carolina, Trey Tree and I was good to go! J  Students had fun, we all got to laugh, and it took pressure off me and the students!

A Twist on Teaching Procedures
Let me start by saying this, I hate teaching rules and procedures.  It’s not fun for me and it’s not fun for the kids, but it is a necessary foundation I have to build in order for the rest of the school year to be successful.  After being inspired by Hope King at Elementary Shenanigans, I decided to get my students out of their seat and have a little fun so I didn't bore my students to tears with procedures.  I started the activity by explaining to students that I had a few procedures we as a class need to commit to following.  I told them I was going to give them a quick run down of them, but they had to pay very close attention to them because I had a little game where only those who remembered this information would be successful.  It’s all about selling it... the kids were hooked and they listened very closely so that they would be prepared for whatever task I threw at them later.  After I ran through the procedures, I paired up all the students and gave each pair two stretchy headbands (another Dollar Tree find) and a set of cards that had the different rules and procedures on them.  Students took turns putting the card in their headband while their partner acted out the procedure.  The student with the card in their headband had to guess which procedure their partner was acting out.  It may sound cheesy, but the students had a blast and I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt!  After going through the deck a few times, I brought all the students back together and we played a little game of “What Would You Do?”  I gave the students different scenarios that might come up in the classroom and then asked the students “what would you do?”  Students answered the questions using the correct procedure they had just acted out.  Even though I highly dislike teaching rules and procedures, this turned out to be so much fun!

Recipe for Success
Even more important than rules and procedures are the expectations we have for how students contribute to the culture of the classroom.  Character traits such as respect and integrity must be present from all students if the classroom is going to be a place where students feel safe to make mistakes, share their ideas, and participate in learning.  Intentional math talk is one of my focuses for this school year, so I realize it is more important than ever to establish these expectations early!  Instead of simply telling my students these expectations, I decided to do a baking activity to represent our Recipe for Success in the classroom.  I made these delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls in front of my students as we talked about what each "ingredient" meant.  We discussed how all of these ingredients by themselves are important, but when they are all mixed together they create something to be desired by all students.  When we as a class uphold all of these expectations (respect, effort, integrity, teamwork, responsibility, and positivity), our classroom becomes a place that everybody loves to be a part of!  You can download the freebie I made to go along with this baking activity below!  The recipe makes enough for about 30 students and is super easy since it doesn't require any baking.  Be careful though, these balls of yumminess will ruin any diet you plan to start with the new school year!  

Now that we have laid the groundwork for how our classroom will run, we will spend the second week of the school year building a solid math foundation!  Students need to be taught certain math “behaviors” and grow a mathematical mindset if they are going to grow as mathematicians.  I’ve been looking forward to this week since the end of last school year, so I can’t wait to share with y’all some of my favorite resources for building a strong math foundation! Stay tuned J


  1. This is such a creative way to teach. Thank you for sharing your recipe to success. I’m sure the kids have learned the lesson for lifetime.

  2. these activites are a perfect welcome for the students which helps in letting them know that it is not that big a bummer to be back at school. i love the ideas a lot. keep posting