1. Get to Know Your Classmates STEM Challenges
This is the MOST fun your students will have during your first week of school activities – promise! Use this STEM activity to engage your classroom of new students in learning about each other! They’ll be creating, building, problem-solving, and interacting with their new classmates without even realizing it, all from this simple activity that takes you hardly any time to prep.
Here’s how it works: give each student (or groups of students, or partners) a task card and some sort of building material. Think – legos, brain flakes, hashtag blocks, play-doh, clay, pipe cleaners, wax sticks, etc.! Each task card will prompt students to build something that will give insight into something they like, or a fun fact about them. For example, one card asks them to build their favorite food. After a certain amount of time, have a few students share their creations and show the class, then switch up the cards!
You can have students work in small groups, and only share with each other, OR you can project one card up on the smart board, and have the entire class work on the same challenge all at once!
My favorite way to use this activity is to sprinkle it throughout the entire first week! Use the last hour of the day every day to work on a few – you will be amazed at what your students come up with! Grab everything you need below to have this prepped and ready for back to school.
- Get to Know Your Classmates STEM Challenges
- The best deal on Legos!
- Brain Flakes
- Hashtag Blocks
- Wax Sticks
- Pipe Cleaners
2. Back to School Flipbook
If you’re bored with your back to school lesson plans, because let’s be honest, they can get veeryyyyy boring, especially for upper elementary students – grab this free flipbook activity and it’ll add some engagement with little prep on your end!
You can read more about exactly how to use this flipbook here. Basically, your students will cut out the templates, glue the flipbook together, and then complete three, engaging activities! The first is a ‘get to know you’ activity, the second has some fun ‘would you rather’ prompts, and the third is a compact color-by-number activity!
3. Name Activity
Read alouds are the perfect easy addition to your first week of school activities. This picture book is adorable, and the activity you can do to go along with it is simple but so meaningful! We start by reading the book Your Name is a Song. Then, I have my students decorate and color their names in bubble letters (I print these ahead of time). I like to tell my students to fill in each letter with something that represents them. We discuss the importance of names and it sets a great tone for the rest of the year!
Throw this activity into your first week of school lesson plans for when you have an extra 20 minutes and aren’t sure what to do. Grab the hardback here on amazon so that it’s on your bookshelf ready to go! See my example of a completed name below.
4. First Day of School Color-by-Number
Adding color by number activities to your first week of school lesson plans is GENIUS and here’s why: your students can sit (or lay) around the classroom, work independently, and listen to some calm music, while you finish some of those annoying first week of school tasks. Sounds amazing, right??
You’ll love this activity for that very reason – your students will be able to answer some questions about the upcoming school year, and color the picture according to the answers they choose. The best part? Everyone’s picture will turn out differently based on their answer choices! Hang these puppies up in the hallway and voila – your first back-to-school bulletin board is finished too! Grab the color by number by clicking here. This will be a staple in your first week of school activities year after year.
5. Put a Finger Down Activity
If you’re a fan of the simplest of simple first week of school activities – this is for you. It has been around for years – but it’s still one your students will love! Basically, you have your students hold up ten fingers. You read off statements like, “Put a finger down if you are an only child” if something is true for them, they put a finger down. Continue reading statements until only one student is left – and they’re the winner!
You can play over and over again with different questions – silly or serious! I like to have my students come up with statements of their own as well. This one is perfect to throw into your lesson plans when you have an awkward 10 minutes left at the end of class.
Looking for more upper elementary lesson plans and activities? Find more blog posts here!
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