The first day of school is one of my favorites! In the first day of third grade, the excitement, the fun first day activities, and the go with the flow schedule makes it my kind of day! But it is also an essential day that sets the tone for the rest of your classroom. In this post, I will show you what I believe the first day in a third grade classroom should look like.
When They Walk In On The First Day of School
When the students walk in on the first day of third grade, I tell them to take their backpack and put it in the hallway. Then, on their desk, I always have a freshly sharpened pencil and playdough! Starting with playdough allows the students to get any nerves out that they have as they play and sculpt. It also gives the students a chance to talk and catch up from summer. I have found that by giving them this time to chat and sculpt, they are less likely to want to talk throughout the day. This also is a great way for me to get all the things that I need to get done or the questions that I need to answer completely!
Sidenote: I let them keep that playdough at their desk all day long. They are able to play with it if they have free time. This helps with nerves and the fact that I haven’t taught them what to do when they finish early yet.
The First Few Minutes of the First Day of School
First and foremost, on the first day of school you need to go over three things.
1. Your Bathroom Procedure- The kiddos want to know when and how they use the bathroom. I highly suggest the hand sanitizer procedure. You have one girl and one boy hand sanitizer that sits in the front of the room. When a child has to go to the bathroom, they grab that hand sanitizer and sit it on their desk, this way you know they are gone. It also makes it so there is only one boy and one girl gone at a time. Just make sure to discuss when an appropriate time to use the sanitizer is and when it is not appropriate (like when you are in the middle of teaching a lesson).
2. Your Snack Procedure- Do you allow snacks? If so, when and how? I have always gone by the one snack a day, just don’t eat it while I am in the front of the room teaching, rule. I have had no issues and my kiddos just eat when they are hungry.
3. Let them ask questions- These kiddos have some burning questions they have wanted to ask you all summer long. Let them!
Let’s Move on the First Day of Third Grade
Get those kids up and moving!
My suggestion is to play the game Switch Sides If.
How to play?
Simple, you have the kids stand on one side of the room, or even go outside, and say “switch sides if you like basketball.” If they do they switch, if not, they don’t. You can do this with so many things! What they did over the summer, the type of animals they like, if they like to read, and more! It is a great way to ease nerves, let kids move, and learn about each other.
Make a quick PowerPoint or book about yourself! In the freebie at the bottom of this page, you will find a free editable Google Slides document where you can make a super quick slideshow for your kiddos. In the slideshow, include pictures and fun facts about yourself. There is no doubt that this will also lead to you learning about your kiddos. They will want to share every way that they relate to what they see in your presentation, which is a magical thing!
First Day of Third Grade Book
On the first day in third grade I always read “Exceptionally, Extraordinary Ordinary First Day of School” by Albert Lorenz (grab it with the affiliate link below).
I like this story for two reasons…
1. It is a unique story that kids will not have read in previous years.
2. It is funny, interesting and it keeps the kids excited!
After reading, we do a fun little activity where the students draw one thing that they want to happen on the first day of school. Every thirty seconds we pass their papers to the left and add to each other’s papers. What they come up with is hysterical. They then write about what their perfect first day would look like.
You can find this entire lesson plan, plus more lesson plans for back to school here!
Classroom Management on the First Day
On the first day of school, my goal is to show students the expectation without having to go over every single rule and procedure. The first day should be enjoyable and memorable, not full of lectures. So, go OVER THE TOP praising desirable behaviors. This will pay off big time throughout the year. One way I love to do this is with a bag of M&Ms. When they are doing something amazing I shout it to the rooftops and hand out an M&M.
If there is an undesirable behavior that takes place on the first day of school, I go and have a quiet conversation with that student.
Make sure the students know that on the first day of school your class is now a family. When they go to the lunchroom, no one is left out. They sit by different people each day of the first week and make sure that each person inside those four walls feels loved at all times. Making this known on the first day is essential to a great classroom community in the future.
Content Based Activities
Math: For math, get out ALL of your manipulatives and place them in different places around the room. Allow the kids to chat as they move around the room playing with these manipulatives. You can also spend this time walking around and talking to each student, making that one on one personal connection on day one. Set a timer for about 10 minutes for each station as they rotate around the room. I highly suggest having a checklist and making sure that during this time you have one conversation with each student.
Writing: At the end of the day when you need to get everything done, have your students write a letter to their parents about what they did on their first day and their predictions of what they think the year will be like.
End the Day on a High Note
On the first day, take the kiddos outside to play and enjoy a popsicle. While they are doing this, snatch a picture of each kid. This way you can take the first day of school pictures and hang them up somewhere. It is so fun to see how much they’ve grown in 180+ days.
Do you want lesson plans for the entire first week?!
Head to this blog post and read more!
Then, by putting your email below I will send you the entire first week of school plans with tons of freebies and links!