How to Plan the Best First Day of School Activity for Your Classroom

The first week of school can be SO overwhelming to plan. You want your students to get to know each other, you need to review classroom procedures, and you want your new class to have FUN coming back to school after the summer!

Use this step-by-step guide to create your own, around the room first day of school activity that your students will love!! This scavenger hunt activity is sure to be a hit – and I promise your back to school lesson plans have never been easier!

Don’t have time to create your own? No worries! Grab a made-for-you back to school around the room activity instead by clicking here. Just print and go!

first day of school activity scavenger hunt for students

BUT if you do want to create your own, unique and fun first day of school activity that will have your students up and moving around the room, here are the steps to take!

1. Create Your Questions

You’ll need questions to post around the room for students to answer. Decide how many questions you want, and if they’ll be open-ended or multiple-choice. Think, get-to-know-you type questions, ‘would you rather’ questions, questions about the upcoming school year – the possibilities are endless!

Here are some back to school question ideas:

  • How many books did you read this summer?
  • Would you rather have hot dogs for fingers or spaghetti for hair?
  • How did you get to school this morning?
  • Would you rather play football or swing at recess?
  • What is your favorite TV show?
  • How do you like to relax?
  • Would you rather camp in the mountains or on the beach?
  • If you could have dinner with any professional athlete, who would you choose?
  • Would you rather have a hippo or a tiger as a pet?

I chose to create 26 questions, one starting with each letter of the alphabet. This was so fun, but it will take more time to think of the questions! If you don’t use letters of the alphabet, make sure you number your questions so that students can track their answers!

Remember – this does NOT have to be fancy!! It can be as simple as questions written out on bright, colored paper that you cut and hang around the room.

first day of school activity for upper elementary

2. Create your answer sheet

Next, decide how you want your students to record their answers. An around the room first day of school activity can really go awry when there are not clear, purposeful directions.

So think, do you want students to just write their answers on notebook paper? If it’s open-ended questions, do you want them to write and explain their answers? (this is great for a writing extension!!) If it’s multiple choice, are they just recording the letter of their answer choice?

Again, the answer sheet can be as simple as you want. More complicated does not mean more engaging when it comes to a first day of school activity! For my ABC Back to School Activity, shown below, I created a simple recording sheet for students to track their answers.

first week of school activity for upper elementary

3. Extend the Activity!

A first day of school activity where your students walk around and answer questions, instead of sitting at their desks, is super fun and engaging on its own because it’s just different and gets them up and moving.

It’s also a great opportunity to talk about classroom expectations! Use this activity as a chance to practice noise level, moving safely around the room, attention-getters, you name it!

If you want to extend the activity, to make it take up a larger portion of the day, here are some ideas.

  • Make it a color-by-number activity. This takes some more prep, but you can pass out a coloring sheet, and have students color each section according to their answer choices. Grab the one I created done-for-you here. If you want to make it yourself, just download a free color by number picture template from the internet (google it, there are a ton!) and write one number in each section of the picture before you make copies. (if you wrote 25 questions, you’ll need numbers 1-25 at least once)
  • If you don’t have time to create a color-by-number, have students record their answers on a fun piece of paper, or even let them write their answers on their desks with dry-erase markers!
  • Want to incorporate more academics into your first day of school activity? Have students choose one answer and write about why they chose that answer. Then, put them into groups and have them discuss their answers with their new classmates!
first day of school activity for upper elementary

And that’s it! If you had your students complete a coloring sheet – these make a GREAT back to school bulletin board display.

So next time you’re planning for the first day of school – try creating an engaging around the room activity instead of a boring back to school worksheet!

Need more first week of school activities? Find my complete roundup of back to school resources and activities, here!

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