It’s that time of the year again. You’re trying to come up with back-to-school activities that will introduce your students to you and your classroom and set them up for success.
Looking for something fresh and fun to do with your preschoolers or maybe some back-to-school activities for middle schoolers? We’ve got you covered with ideas for each grade level and age group!
Back to school activities for preschoolers
Preschoolers are often new to school or haven’t had much experience in the classroom, so we find that back-to-school activities for preschoolers are best focused on providing comfort as they transition into a new environment while also providing a positive introduction to school!
Good morning song
One of our favorite preschool back-to-school activities is the introduction of a good morning song. The lyrics for this song are fun and easy to learn and memorize:
Good Morning! How are you?
It’s so nice to have you here with me today. Good Morning!
How are you? Howdy, how do you do, hello, good day!
Now that we’re together, learning so much fun,
The more of us the better, so come on everyone!
Good Morning! How are you?
Howdy, how do you do, hello, good day!
Howdy, how do you do, hello, good day.
Get acquainted with the classroom
Reading back to school books is a great way to connect with your new preschool class on the first day of school. Read How to Get Your Teacher Ready for School by Jean Reagan and continue the idea of role reversal by asking your students to help you get to know your classroom. Ask your students to take you on a museum walk (silent stroll) around the classroom to observe the different areas of the classroom.
- Gather in a circle and lead a discussion where your students tell you what they have seen.
- Encourage your students to tell you what activities might take place in areas such as the reading nook, wet area, and group work area.
- Encourage your students to suggest how each area could be looked after.
Read a Back to School Poem
To help children transition back to school, Steph Mulrooney (one of our highly experienced teachers and Resource Producers) has written the Back to School Today! Poem. It’s perfectly timed and perfectly pitched for kids. This poem is a must for the first day back after a break!
Back to School Activities for Elementary Students
If your students are a bit older, they may not need to be introduced to the school, but they can certainly use the back-to-school period as a chance to get to know you!
What could be more surprising than finding out your teacher has a life outside school? A great way to make a connection with your new students is to share a little bit about yourself. Perhaps you could tell your students about your family, your interests, and why you love being a teacher.
Work on Emotional Literacy
Set your students up for a successful year from a social and emotional perspective by introducing our emotions strategy wheel and discussing methods for managing feelings.
When teaching social-emotional learning to students, it is important to show them different strategies they can use to process their emotions. This wheel can help students identify the emotion they are feeling and the different strategies they can use.
Present your students with expectations for the coming year on how big feelings can be dealt with so they know they are in a safe space with you and their peers.
There’s no doubt that the first few weeks of school is a busy time. However, if you can find time to coordinate an introductory buddy activity, your new class will be buzzing with self-esteem.
A buddy program can strengthen the school community and help to promote a sense of belonging for all students involved. Buddy systems provide students with the opportunity to practice the values of:
- valuing difference
For more information on the benefits of setting up a buddy system read our blog read 10 Awesome Buddy Program Activity Ideas.
Back to School Activities for Middle Schoolers
Are many of the back to school activities out there just a bit babyish for your middle schoolers? Kids in fifth, sixth, or even seventh and eighth grade may look at school as old hat, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need some support during the transition back to school.
Try some of these back to school activities designed to support middle schoolers as they adjust to being back in a classroom.
All About Me with a Twist
It’s typical to include some kind of an ‘All About Me’ activity during the first week back at school, but most are quite simple. Take things up a notch for middle schoolers with a Getting to Know You Biography Template.
So how does it work? Students So how does it work? Students interview another member of the class and record their findings on an easy to use template. Students can then add a photograph to their own biography and hey presto, you’ve got an instant classroom display!
The Spider’s Web Icebreaker Game
Our Icebreaker Game Cards are perfect to use during your first week of school as a back-to-school activity. I particularly love The Spider’s Web Icebreaker Game. This game encourages students to reflect on how we are different and how we are connected.
This fun icebreaker activity promotes inclusion and helps to create a sense of belonging for your students. Follow these easy steps to play the spider web game:
- Ask the students to sit in a large circle.
- Give one student a ball of string.
- The student must say their name and share three interesting facts about themselves.
- They then throw the ball of string to another student, keeping hold of one end.
- Once every student has had a turn, the class has created a large spider’s web.
- The students must then work together to untangle the web and recreate the original ball of string.
It is important to give your students a chance to tell you a little bit about themselves as part of your back to school activities. For a brilliant back to school activity for middle schoolers, download the Writing an Autobiographical Poem Worksheet.
This worksheet is one of my top picks because it includes a writing scaffold. Begin by modeling how to write the poem, then complete a shared writing experience before asking your students to have a go independently.
Remember our mantra – connection not content. Don’t get too heavy on the outcome, just view the activity as an opportunity to get to know your students. You could also use this activity as a baseline writing sample.
Create a Classroom Contract
Next up…make sure that you spend time establishing clear expectations with your students. A great way to do that is to create a classroom contract as part of your back to school activities.
Here’s the important bit…the most effective classroom contracts are student-led. For an essential guide to creating a student-led classroom contract, read our guide to creating a Student-Led Classroom Contract.
Play Team Building Games
Playing team-building back to school games encourages students to learn the life skills of compromise and collaboration.
We have a huge collection of active games to choose from. Just head to our Brain Break Active Games Resource Pack. My top pick for a back-to-school activity is Shazzam! because it’s based on the familiar game Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Playing team-building back to school games encourages students to learn the vital skills of compromise and collaboration. Make sure that you include a few team building games to bring your class together by working as a collective unit toward a common goal.
We have a huge collection of active games to choose from. Just head to our Brain Break Active Games Resource Pack. My top pick for a back to school activity is Shazzam! because it’s based on the familiar game Rock, Paper, Scissors.
For more team-building activity ideas that are linked to literacy and numeracy learning, read Emma’s blog Learning Through Play | Active Learning Games.
Have a Class Discussion
Most upper-grade students love a good classroom discussion! Guided classroom discussions provide students with the opportunity to develop the essential skill of active listening as well as developing speaking skills.
Keep the subject of your classroom discussion light with our Would You Rather…? Question Cards. These hilarious questions have been tried and tested, resulting in some brilliant debates.