Effective teachers know the importance of making the class fun and engaging, especially in the first week of elementary school. Doing this helps the students feel comfortable in their learning space and excited to socialize with their peers. Most importantly, students will develop a lasting impression of their teacher, making them more likely to engage in class and be successful throughout the school year. Here are 30 creative first-week activities that are sure to make an impression on your young students:
1. Fruit Basket Turnover: With a Twist!
This fun activity adds a twist to fruit basket turnover. The traditional rules of the game still apply, except the last student standing will have to tell the class an interesting fact about themselves before calling out a new fruit. Repeat the process until the desired activity length.
2. Four Corners: Introductions
A fun game with no preparation! The teacher must stand in front of the class with eyes closed and count to ten. Students will hide in one of the room's corners while the teacher blindly chooses one. Caught students must introduce themselves and then sit down. Repeat until everyone introduces themselves.
3. Survey Groups
Split the elementary students into groups and have them choose a leader that will be the surveyor. After, hand each leader a survey worksheet and have them fill it out based on their group member’s answers. At the end of the class, have the surveyors share the results with the class.
Learn more: Wiki How
4. Introductory Telephone Game
Play a classroom icebreaker! One student will whisper their name and a fact about themselves to their neighbor who will quietly pass it on. Repeat until it reaches the end of the class. The last student will tell the class what they heard. Repeat the process for every student's introduction.
Easily my students favorite activity! Have everyone stand and ask them a question like, "who has a hamster?" The fastest student to raise their hand chooses a row/column to sit, including themselves. Repeat until only one student is standing. If a student selects a row/column that is seated, they must stand.
Learn more: Easy ESL Games
6. Establishing Class Rules through Group Art Projects
Establishing elementary classroom rules is critical! Make it fun by grouping the students by each rule. Have them draw a picture of what that rule means. For example, if a rule is to “respect each other” then the students may draw a picture of the class being silent during a test.
7. Student Questionnaire
Knowing more about the learning style of your students and their preferred classroom environment can help you cater to their needs. During the first week of school, give them a questionnaire to complete. Using the data from the questionnaire, make adjustments to future lesson plans if needed.
Learn more: Minervateach
8. Teacher Introduction & Kahoot!
Make a teacher introduction Powerpoint and present it to the new students. Next, make the students take a Kahoot quiz about the Powerpoint to test their memory skills and to help them get to know you more. Be sure to include silly questions and answers to make things more interesting!
Learn more: Kahoot
9. Question Jar Group Activity
Make creative question jars out of ordinary mason jars. Fill them up with folded pieces of paper that have fun questions like, "what is your favorite food?" Split the students into groups and let them take turns passing it around and learning about each other. Icebreaker questions give students an excellent opportunity to express themselves!
Learn more: The Paper Mama
10. Human Scavenger Hunt!
Help your students learn more about each other by doing a fun scavenger hunt. The first student to fill out the entire worksheet wins! This hands-on activity is perfect for getting your students to talk.
Learn more: Worksheet Place
11. Student Names Crossword Puzzle
An awesome idea to get students familiar with their classmates' names! Make a fun crossword puzzle using the names of your students. If there are any repeats, include the first initial of the student's last name after their given name.
12. Name Memorization Game
This game always gets a laugh out of my students. Have a student share their name, then have the next one repeat it and add their name. The third student will repeat the first two names, then add their own. Continue this until all the students add their names.
13. Hot Potato
Have the elementary students all sit in a circle tossing around a ball while you play music. Once the music stops, the student holding the ball has to answer a prepared question like, “what is your favorite sport?” Repeat until desired activity length.
14. Customized Name Tags
A simple art project! Punch two holes into a blank card stock, then tie a string to it like a necklace. Make enough for every student, have them write their name using their favorite color, and then ask them to draw three of their favorite things (food, animal, etc.)
Learn more: Mrs. Jones Creation Station
15. Collect Signatures
Make signature books out of construction paper for each student in the class. Have them decorate the cover as a short art project, then ask them to go around collecting signatures from their classmates. Encourage your students to get everyone’s signature.
16. Guess Who
Pick a student in the class without telling anyone who it is, then have students ask questions about them (ex. “are they a boy” or “do they wear glasses”). Students will use these questions to guess which student it is. Give everyone name tags beforehand to run the game smoothly.
17. Self-Portrait & Three Goals
Developing a strong sense of self and establishing goals are critical lessons for young children. Kickstart these life skills with an awesome art project!
Learn more: Art Projects for Kids
18. Birthday Bulletin Board
Have your students decorate a name card and ask them to write their birthday on it. Have them write one wish they want for this year’s birthday. Make a birthday bulletin board labeled with the months of the year, then place the name cards under the corresponding birth month.
19. Personal Rule Book
This awesome activity will help you throughout the whole year. Ask your students to make a rule book containing the class rules. Provide construction paper to make a foldable book, have them decorate it, then have them write the class rules inside. They can keep this personal copy inside their desks!
20. Piece it Together
Remind your students that they’re all unique! Have them write six facts about themselves on puzzle pieces, then staple the outside of the puzzle pieces onto a self-portrait or their picture. This art project can beautifully decorate the classroom or hallway.
Learn more: 2nd Grade Happenings
21. “I’m good at…”
Learn your what subjects your students are good at and bad at. Give them a piece of construction paper and have them write what subject they’re good at in their favorite color. After, have them write what subject they’re bad at in their least favorite color. Finally, have them write what they will do this year to get better in their least favorite subject.
22. Musical Chairs: Meet and Greet
Follow the rules for musical chairs but start with two missing chairs. Students should walk around the chairs with music until it stops, then sit down quickly. The two remaining students should introduce themselves to each other, shake hands, and be out of the round. Remove another chair, then repeat.
23. Acrostic Poems
Encourage your students to be creative! Have them write an acrostic poem using their first name. For each line of the poem, they can use words to describe themselves. Help them come up with words by using a dictionary. Hang the finished poems in the classroom!
Learn more: Surfin’ Through Second
24. Fishing Game
Make cut-out fish using construction paper for every student. Write their names on the fish and toss them in a makeshift pond. Fish a name out of the pond and have that student introduce themself. After, the student will fish from the pond. Repeat until the pond is empty.
25. “What’s your favorite…” Bonding Activity
Make a worksheet for your elementary students asking about their favorite things. For example, “what are your favorite snacks” or “what’s your favorite color?” Students should complete the worksheet. After, instruct them to search for another student with something similar or matching written down as their favorite.
26. Classroom Scavenger Hunt
Take the kids on a scavenger hunt around the classroom to familiarize them with everything. You can hide everyday classroom items in places around the room and make a list of things for the students to find. Give them hints on the list, such as, “find a writing tool” or “find something sticky.”
27. Before and After: Classroom Decor
The perfect activity for your elementary students to see how much they’ve changed! Take a picture of each student on the first day, then glue them on construction paper with the date. At the end of the school year, take a new picture and glue it to the back with the date.
28. Teacher Q&A
Give the students a small piece of paper to write anonymous questions they have for the teacher. Have them fold the paper and toss it into a hat. Shuffle the papers, then answer each, one by one.
29. Make a Beautiful Display
Have each student trace their hand on a piece of colorful paper, then have them write their name. Help them cut it out and have them personalize it. Afterward, decorate the front door of the classroom with their hand tracings.
Learn more: 3rd Grade Thoughts
30. Parent Survey
Send each student home with a survey for their Parent’s to fill out. Ask them to have it completed and signed to bring to school the next day. Collect the surveys and review them so you can build a better classroom space.
Learn more: Primary Chalkboard