5 Must Do Back to School Activities for First Graders

The first two weeks of back to school are a unique experience. 🙂  We are
excited, nervous, and spewing rules and procedures in every other
sentence.  It’s mentally exhausting.  And I sometimes I don’t have
the head space to plan out fancy activities.  So, I go to what
works.  

And my first two weeks look basically the same every year until we can get
rules and procedures established.  Ain’t nobody got time to reinvent the
wheel those first 10 days.  Am I right?  

So, if your head is spinning too, here are my 5 tried and true back to school
activities for first grade that I ALWAYS include during the first two weeks!

Counting Collections

Counting Collections
is a routine that I use throughout the entire year.  And we start it
early.  I introduce it during the first 10 days and give kids time to
count collections.  

Why do I love it?  Because it’s backed by loads of math research
and is a solid math activity that we will continue throughout the year. 
And the sooner I start it, the sooner they will become independent so I can
pull math intervention groups! So, I’m happy to put in a little extra effort
on this up front.

So why start it during the first 10 days?  If you’ve taught first
grade long, you know that independent work is hard to come by during those
first few weeks.  But this simple routine for counting collections is
something kids can do independently almost immediately… and all first grade
teachers said, “Amen!”

You can read more about our routines and procedures for counting collections
here.

And grab the resource
here! (Struggling with math at the beginning of the year?  I’ve got all my detailed plans for the first 10 days for FREE here!)

Time Capsules

First grade is such a fun year for me because the kids grow by leaps and
bounds!  It is so amazing to watch how far they come.

That’s exactly why we do
time capsules!  I have themed ours with Olaf and Frozen.  So we have a cold tub
that “Olaf” puts our papers in to keep them, “Frozen in Time.”  

At the end of the year, Olaf delivers our time capsules and we remeasure our
handprints and height and our writing skills!  It’s the best day because
the kids are always surprised at how far they’ve come during the year!!

School, School, What Do You See?

One of the the must-dos for the beginning of the year is finding your way
around the school…. learning where to go, who you’ll see there, and what is
expected. 

We use the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, to do this.  We make a
similarly patterned book called,
School, School, What Do You See?  I have it in a digital version that we read together.  

Each day, we talk about a new helper in our school and what their job
is.  We write about their job and then talk about how we can
help!  

Then, the kids make
their own paper booklet
as we write and have their own book by the end.

How We Go Home Graphs

This is a first day of school MUST!  One of my biggest fears is not
getting one of my firsties home the right way on day one.

Of course, I always have parents write down how they will get home at Meet the
Teacher night and on the first day of school (looking at you Moms who change
your mind 20 times about how your child will go home)! 🙂

But I like to go over this with the kids on day 1.  And day 2, and
literally for the first two weeks.  We make a giant pictorial graph using
car, bus, feet, and bike diecuts.  And then, if we do
this independent graph
as well!

Graphs are an amazing beginning of school math activity. 
Here’s a set
of all my “get to know you” back to school graphs!

Read Alouds

Books.  Books.  Books.  Just read more books.

I always have a stack of back to school books to read during the first two
weeks.  There always seems to be an awkward 10 minutes left here and
there during those first few days and weeks as we all figure out our new
schedule and before all the normal routines start.

I fill that space with books.  Most of our read alouds at the beginning
of the year go with our citizenship unit and are all about building classroom
community and good character traits.

You can read more about all of my favorite back to school read alouds in this
post!