Back to school season is always fun and the back to school activities are the best! The excitement of the kiddos, the freshness of the classroom, and the desire to learn is there all around! In this post, you will see my top five MUST-DO activities for the first few weeks of school.
Back to School STEM Activities
STEM projects are one of the best back to school activities. They are highly engaging, motivating, and a great way to work through group work and community building.
1. Spaghetti and Marshmallows– Give students spaghetti noodles and little marshmallows and challenge them to make the tallest tower. This is a great one to revisit throughout the year and see how they have learned from previous mistakes and find new ways to create as a team.
Add this with the book Spaghetti and a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy. You can even find an amazing lesson to go with all of it here!
2. The Most Magnificent Thing– Read the book The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires and give your kids a ton of materials. These can be STEM materials, recycled materials, or literally anything you can find! Then, let the kids create their “Most Magnificent Thing”. This is a great way to watch them think, get creative, and work together!
Find my favorite STEM materials here!
Learning and knowing each of your student’s cultures is essential. Just by asking the family and the child in the first week, you are immediately creating a respectful connection between the home and school life.
On the second day of school, send home a culture survey. This will tell you about holidays the child celebrates and doesn’t celebrate, special things they do at home, and beliefs their family has. It is a great way for you to really make sure that you are representing their culture in some way throughout the year.
Then, read the story, “Adventures to School: Real-Life Journeys of Students from Around the World” by Miranda Paul. This book is a great way to start the discussion about cultures and how we all come from different ones.
Take those surveys and have students make a poster to show off their personal cultures and beliefs. They might even learn some things about themselves after reading the survey that their parents fill out.
Display these posters and allow students to talk about each other’s cultures. (Grab the full lesson plan here)
Use those surveys throughout the year to refer to and make sure that you are representing each student.
Want the culture survey for free?! Put your email below to grab it!
The Best Read Aloud Lesson for Back to School
The must-read book during the back to school is “Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind” by Judy Finchler. This is a great way to start the discussion about how you feel about reading in your classroom.
The book also helps to introduce reading stamina and the importance of reading time. As soon as I start this book, I also help my kiddos find a few good books to read.
Meet in the back of the classroom, one by one, and help them find a few good books to start off the year with. This is also a great place for some more one on one discussion and getting to know each other.
When done reading, have the kiddos write a short paragraph about how they feel about reading at the start of the year. Then, at the end of the year, you can revise this writing. This will give the kids a chance to see how their opinions of reading have changed, but also how their ability to write has increased. You can grab this full lesson plan here!
Back to School Reading Challenge
This is a must-do activity because it is a way for you to preassess your students on their reading skills, while also keeping them engaged and having fun.
In this challenge, students read passages and answer questions in order to earn their school supplies. Once they have earned them all they get a special prize (this is the first time I give my kids the ability to get on the technology in the room).
While they are engaged in earning their school supplies you can see what reading skills they have mastered already and what they really need to work on!
Grab the challenge here!
Get Your Student’s Opinions
If you want your students to buy into your classroom, they need to have a say in what is going on, or at least think they do! 😉
You can do this in several ways…
1. Make a “What do you like in a teacher?” anchor chart – Have the students tell you what qualities they want to see in you as a teacher. Then, you can also let them know what qualities you want to see in them as students! 😉
2. Math Interest Survey– Do this free survey to allow your kiddos to tell you what they like and don’t like when it comes to math.
3. Read “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds and have students write down any questions they may have about your classroom. Then, allow them to voice their opinions on anything they would love added or love to change about the room. You don’t have to change a thing, but sometimes just allowing them to voice their opinion can go a long way. You can find that lesson plan here!
4. Rules or Core Values- Have a long discussion about what is important to each student. What they want to feel like every day, what they want to learn, how they want it to be, etc. Then, create the list of rules or the list of core values together.
I hope one of these back to school activities will help you keep your kids engaged in meaningful learning in those first weeks of school.
Head here to find more back to school ideas!