Back to school activities are one of my favorite things to plan. Building a strong community from the start is essential for a successful classroom. Here are some of my favorite back to school activities that can be used both in the classroom or with distance learning.
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This or That:
This is a great activity to get students talking! Simply ask a question and have students respond with either “this” or “that” and then have them explain their answer. For example, which is better ice cream or popcorn? Questions like this allow students to find commonalities with their classmates and start fostering classroom community early on.
Want to start with a bit of writing? On your whiteboard, Smartboard or chart paper write, “Once upon a time”. Then have students take turns adding one sentence to the story at a time. You can be the recorder to make the activity run smoothly. This works great with distance learning too! Simply share your screen and have students take turns saying a sentence while you type it on a word document.
The stories that your students will create are often hilarious. Remember to mention to your students that it needs to be school appropriate… just in case. You can use any sentence starter to mix things up. Here are a few fun ones:
- I opened the box and…
- I closed my eyes and made my first wish…
- The storm came out of nowhere…
- I finally had saved enough money…
- My mom told me for the tenth time…
Depending on your classroom situation, this one may or may not work for you. Grab a big bag of individual Skittle packages and have some fun! As students take Skittles out of their bag to enjoy, they have to answer some fun questions with their classmates:
- Red- something fun you did over the summer
- Orange- something about your family
- Yellow- something that is your favorite (food, drink, sport, etc.)
- Green- something that you are excited about
- Purple- something no one knows about you
This is a great way to start the first day of school! Have some blank strips of paper, a variety of craft supplies and some markers/crayons/colored pencils handy. Have students design a bookmark that they can keep all year long.
If you have access to a laminator like this one, simply run the bookmarks through it before students start using them. Then they are easy to clean and they will last a lot longer.
Want some customizable bookmarks? Check out these Back to School ones HERE.
If You Could:
This is another great activity to get students talking. I love to use this one as a time-filler throughout the first week of school. It’s super simple and kids love it! Simply as a question that starts with, “If you could…” and allow students a chance to respond. Some example questions include:
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
- If you could eat any meal, what would you eat?
- If you could have any super power, which would you have?
- If you could buy anything, what would you buy?
- If you could skip any subject in school, which would you skip?
- If you could meet anyone, who would you meet?
- If you could have any job, what job would you want?
It works best to create a list ahead of time so that you can easily engage in the conversations with your students, without having to brainstorm in between.
Let’s face it, the first few days of school are completely exhausting (for both teachers and students). It is always a good idea to plan at least one down-time activity for students to complete. It gives them a chance to “turn their brain off” and let their energy reboot. I always play some quiet music during this time too. One of my favorite downtime activities is my Back to School Selfie Poster. They make a great classroom display and students love them!
Want a low-prep, but high engagement activity? Question graffiti is a huge hit in any classroom. Simply write generic questions on large pieces of chart paper. Then have students respond to each question (this can be done directly on the chart paper or on individual post-it notes that get attached to the chart paper). Play some fun music and let kids answer all of the questions. Take a few minutes to go back and read some of their answers aloud at the end (students don’t need to write their name on any of their answers).
Here are some example questions that you can use for this activity:
- Things that scare me…
- I wonder…
- My favorite…
- Things people do that annoy me…
- What I like about school…
- My favorite part of summer…
- This year, I am looking forward to…
I hope that these activities will be a total hit in your classroom! Have a fantastic school year!