Are you looking for activities to make open house and the first day of school a breeze? Look no further because I’m here to help! Back to school time can be stressful for any teacher, whether you are new or an OG teacher. Let’s not make things more complicated than they need to be, am I right? Let’s start by discussing how to make Back to School Night or Open House easy peasy!
Back to School Night/ Open House
Before heading back to school, most schools hold a meet the teacher night. This is obviously where students come and meet their teacher and see their new classroom! Some schools also call this open house.
At Meet the Teacher Night, I always strive to have easy-to-follow instructions for parents so that if I am talking to another family, they can go ahead and get started with what they need to do when they enter the classroom. Here are some things that I do to make my life easier on this long night:
I use these step by step back-to-school signs for families to follow around the classroom and unload supplies and such.
Each sign also has a table tent that matches in color for placing things. I love that the signs have step #1, step #2 and so on because families can easily follow the order and not miss anything! I include a little thank you note to families with popcorn packets attached! The students always get excited about these!
On each student desk, I place a folder for the family. This is my EDITABLE Student Welcome Packet and I use it every single year. It has a packet that is full of all the information about our class, rules, expectations, and much more! I also place any forms that parents need to fill out in this folder.
This folder makes it easy for parents to fill out everything right there and turn it in or they can take the folder home with them and fill everything out and then turn it in all together. Parents typically like the organization and simplicity of this. I buy the folders here in bulk so they are all the same color. I buy whichever is on sale. But, this set is a pack of 50 so it will usually last two years.
Open house/ Back to School Night is always a long and busy night but it’s so nice to be able to meet the families that you will be working with all year! It’s coming up quick this year...where did summer go?!
First Day of School Activities
The first day of school is always a very exciting day! Both for the students and the teachers! I feel that the first day of school is the best time to get to know each other and start building a family together. The day typically goes so fast and I tend to pack a lot of fun-filled activities in!
Here is what the first day of school looks like in my room:
First, we organize all of our supplies and see what is still needed and I always ask if anyone has extras for the students who were not able to get supplies. I love teaching upper elementary students because they are typically able to help sort and put away supplies without much help from me. Here are some of my favorite school supplies! I use these to fill in where students are missing and I also share this list with parents when they ask what is needed!
2. I Spy
After we put away our supplies, we complete 2 individual I Spy activities from this Team Building Packet. We do I Spy ABCs which helps to get the students looking around the room to get familiar with where they can find things in their new classroom. We also do Topic I Spy. The sheet says things like "red" and students have to look around the room to find something red. Their goal is to be the only one who puts it on their sheet - however, it must be seen from their seat! For the topic I Spy, it says something like "comfy" and the students have to look around the room to find something that would be comfy.
After the I Spy activities, I have each student write me a note about each class subject. It can be anything they want me to know-what they like about math, what they think they struggle with, etc. These notes are very important and actually give me a lot of information. It helps me see their handwriting, what kind of writer they are, their writing stamina and their confidence or lack of confidence within a certain subject area. I keep these notes in their assessment folders to refer back to throughout the school year.
Then we do three team building activities together from this team-building packet. I absolutely LOVE team building activities and do them quite often in my classroom. Team-building activities force the students to work together in groups and compete as a group. They become small families during these team-building exercises and sometimes I even catch them cheering each other along as they become more comfortable.
These are the team-building activities that we do:
-Marshmallow Tower Team Building Center
-Oreo Tower Team Building Center
-Paper Chains Team Building Center
4. Find Someone Who
Finally for the first day, (Or if we run out of time this runs over to day 2) we do 1 more full class activity. We play Find Someone Who in which students have to find someone in the class who has done something on their Find Someone Who board. For example- find someone who has flown on an airplane. This lets them see that people have things in common and also forces them to talk to each other and ask questions. For my larger classes (25+) they can only use each person one time on their sheet. (Ex: If Katie has flown on an airplane and I put her on my board for that, I can’t also write her down for having a cat.) I do this so that they will talk to more than just a couple people.
Finally, sometime on the first few days of school have them fill out this FREE digital student information form!
My students LOVE these activities from the team-building packet and it makes our first days of school so much fun and keeps them engaged!
I would love to know if there are special activities that you always do on the first day of school?