First Week Lesson Ideas: Part 2
Yesterday, I wrote about how I go back to school with a theme a day during the first week. I laid out how easily I implement the “summer” theme into the first day.
(Click here to read about my 10 First Week Must-Do lessons, including Data Wall set-up)
Morning Work: “Let’s Play B.A.L.L.”
This is something I tuck into their morning work folders for them to work on while everyone is coming in and getting settled. Students answer questions about their strengths and what they like. It is a simple activity that they can do independently. During morning meeting we toss a ball around the circle, when you catch the ball, you read one of your answers from the “Let’s Play B.A.L.L.” about me sheet.
Class Meeting: Sports Buddies & Class Rules
I like to assign students buddies to make partnering throughout the year much quicker. For example, instead of just saying “find a buddy”, I would ask students to find their “basketball” buddy. Initially, I give student parameters when finding buddies. I might say their basketball buddy has to be someone who wasn’t in their class last year, or their soccer buddy has to be boy/girl. Once we have our buddies down, we move on to brainstorming class rules. I ask students to meet with one of their buddies and come with up 4 rules they think we should have in our classroom. Afterwards, we meet back and share the ideas aloud. We end combining and pairing down everyone’s ideas into 3-4 basic expectations.
Closing Meeting Activity: Find Someone Who
During the last week of school, I like to have an afternoon “closing” meeting in addition to our morning meetings. It gives an opportunity to wrap up the day and work together as a team one more time. “Find Someone Who” is a great activity to do on the second day because it gets the kids moving and learning about each other. After a set amount of time to try and find as many names as they can, I like to have students share things they learned about their classmates.
Class Meeting: Would You Rather
I like to kick off “sweet treat” theme day by bringing in donuts for my kiddos. When we move to the “activity” part of morning meeting, I have them make two lines, facing each other. I display slides from my donut themed “Would You Rather” resource and students take turns talking about which one they would choose and why. Before we begin, I remind them of the importance of making eye contact when speaking with people and waiting for someone to finish before starting to talk. I also put a sentence frame on the board for my students (I would rather ______ because ______.)
Closing Meeting Activity: “10 Reasons This Year Will Be Sweet” bulletin board
As part of our wrap up from the day, I split my class into 10 groups. The students have to brainstorm a reason this school year will be amazing (“sweet”). The write their reason behind the flap and color/sign their names to the front. This ends up making a really cute bulletin board for back to school night.
Morning Work: Superhero Glyph
During the first week of school, I am a big fan of morning work that is simple and that students will be able to accomplish without help. On our superhero day, I give the students a boy or girl template of a superhero with a key. Students answer the questions about themselves on the key and then color their superhero to reflect their answers. I either put these up on a bulletin board or end up adding them to portfolios. I like to have to kids interact with each other’s superheros, so I will have students “roam the room” with the key to learn facts about their classmates based on how they colored their superhero.
Writing Lesson: Guess Who Flipbook
The “Guess Who” flipbook takes a little more time to set up, so I like to do this during my writing time. Before I begin, I review what make a complete sentence (you would be surprised at how many beginning of the year third-graders struggle with this). The goal for the lesson is for students to write 3 complete sentences about themselves as clues for classmates.
I review these as students finish and then for the next couple of weeks, we will read aloud a different one during each morning meeting for students to guess the classmate from the clues.
Closing Meeting Activity: Batmobile STEM
Since students are familiar with my STEM response sheet from the “Sandcastle STEM” activity on the first day of school, this activity is easy to get going. Students work in pairs to build a “batmobile” that will fly the farthest into “the city” to save the people in need. I’ve given students just paper before and other times I’ve given them straws, tape, etc. It depends on how much time we have for this activity. I try not to make it a competition since the students are still getting to know each other. As students finish, they stand behind a line to fly their batmobile and measure the distance.
to something on big year
Writing Lesson: Data Binder Set Up
Data Binders are a big part of our growth-mindset culture because I work at a Baldrige school. I review the components of a complete sentence from yesterday’s lesson and then we use that skill to set goals for ourselves for this school year. I like to use my Emoji Data Binder, but I have 4 different types of Data Binders that I have used over the years. We revisit our binders in between every unit to chart our scores and set new goals for the next unit. We also record our mission, vision, and classroom expectations for quality students and teachers.
You can read more about how I use my Data Binders here.
Closing Meeting Activity: Time Capsule/Portfolio Centers
Students grow A LOT in the course of a school year! I love to document this with first/last day photos, but after receiving my own child’s preschool portfolio, I knew I wanted to create something similar for my third-graders. I made 10 centers (I don’t usually do all 10) where students can move around and create pieces for their portfolio or end of year time capsule. The centers include measuring themselves with yarn, a hand-print with paint, tracing their shoe, etc. I have them do all the same centers at the end of the year and we compare how much they’ve changed. Parents love this keepsake!
There you have it, first week fun with a themed twist! My number one priority is setting up a community and culture in which my students feel cared for, safe, and supported. In order to do that, I need to be intentional. This layout of lessons has always helped me get my students and classroom environment where I want it to be. I am always learning and growing, so please add your own ideas down below.
If you are interested in the resources for any specific days, you can click the titles for a link to the resources. If you are interested in checking out a bundle of activities for the week, you can click here.
Talk to you soon,