Category: Back to School

First Day of School: Ideas & Activities

The first day of school can be scary…for both students and teachers! You meet new people, assess which classes might cause trouble or might be easy to manage, and get used to waking up early again. So, how can teachers make the first day of school clear and manageable for both themselves and their students? 

Learn Names

first day of school learning

For younger students, seating plans definitely help with learning names. Choose an order that works for name memorization at the beginning, then switch up the seats as problems arise or just as the year continues. Alphabetical by either first or last name can be a huge help when trying to remember. When calling attendance, make sure to look up and notice the student that answers after each name. 

For older students, you may choose to have a seating plan as suggested for younger students, but it can be good to let them have a bit more freedom within the classroom. If you choose to forgo seating plans, consider letting the students make their own nametags for the first few weeks of school.

Spend some time letting the students decorate their nametag. As long as the name is legible, their decorations may also help you learn about each student’s personality. Letting them personalize it also gives them a sense of ownership over it. They can leave it in the classroom at the end of the period and pick it up when they return. 

Whatever you teach, learning student names is essential. Student surveys have indicated that knowing an instructor knows them is very important. Additionally, studies have shown that knowing names increases community, accountability, and trust.

Get to Know Each Other

first day of school icebreakers

Break the ice! Not only can ice breakers help you learn names from the first day of school, it also lets members of your class get to know each other. Ice breakers can also help you recognize personality types among your students, allowing you to get a basic understanding of how to treat each of them to facilitate their learning.

For younger kids, it may help to get their nervous energy out through an ice breaker that involves physical activity. Here’s a list of ice breakers that involve some moving around on the part of the students.

For older students, particularly ones who have begun having many teachers, try to come up with something unique! They’ve probably spent all day playing classics like Two Truths and a Lie. Check out these two lists for some ideas that can serve as bouncing off points for discussion.

Lay Out the Rules

first day of school rules

It seems like this would be the most boring part, but it’s also important. Students who know expectations from the beginning won’t violate them accidentally. Making sure there’s a clear place where rules are laid out can be helpful for those who need reminders.

For older classrooms, particularly in discussion-heavy classrooms, have your students express their expectations. How do they want a discussion to be run in the classroom? If a student feels comfortable within rules, they may share their opinion more often. Consider taking some time to discuss a code of conduct for the classroom that works for everyone. If they need a jumping off point, here’s a list of basic rules.

Game Based Learning

While Excavate! might not be the ideal way to start the school year (although, why not?), now is the best time to buy the series. Using the code BACKTOSCHOOL18, get 30% off on all the Excavate! games in our online store. These can be used on Chromebooks or other school issued laptops to teach critical thinking, analysis skills, and facts about six unique ancient civilizations. Dig into the series today!


Back to School: Advice for Parents

Back to school season is a mess of excitement, nerves, and dread for kids. They want to see their friends again, but they’re less excited about getting up early or taking the bus. To help ease your kids into the school year, make sure everything gets prepared ahead of time- from supplies to attitude to schedule. Here’s our back to school advice for parents and guardians as the year begins!

Set a Schedule for Back to School

back to school schedule

Transitioning into an early morning wake-up time can be hard, especially for older kids. Encourage your children to start gradually shifting their sleep schedule as the school year gets closer. Getting a good alarm clock can be a place to start.

Sleep is very important for kids in all stages of development. Without enough sleep, students find it hard to focus on their classes and other social activities. Although school might not work with their preferred sleep schedule, trying to get enough hours is essential to encourage healthy development. Learn more about the importance of sleep for each age group here.

Get What Your Kids Need

back to school supplies

Teachers often let students know exactly what they need on the first day of school but grabbing some basics beforehand may save you a shopping trip later on! Double-check to see if there are school supplies left over from previous years first, then collect some basic necessities. Pencils, pens, notebooks, and folders are all guaranteed to be important.

However, that’s not everything! Backpacks, lunchboxes (if your student packs lunch), and clothing also fall under back to school supplies. All of this can get a little pricey, but there are plenty of resources to help you keep within a reasonable budget if it turns out you need more than you thought.

Double-Check Summer Work

back to school work

Did your student have summer homework? Nothing’s worse than heading to school and realizing that you’re already behind! Therefore, make sure your students double-check that they’ve completed any assignments they needed to do. 

That goes for parents too! Make sure forms are filled out and information is up to date. Meeting your students’ new teacher is also helpful. Make sure you know what they expect from their students and how to reach them if there are any issues. While it’s good to let kids be independent, they also need a solid support system.

One Last Hurrah!

back to school season

End the summer vacation with a bang! Take your kids out on an adventure of their choosing so that their last memory of summer is fond rather than bitter. 

If you want to make it educational to help them start enjoying learning again, that’s even better! There’s tons of ways to incorporate learning into everyday fun. Check out our blog on summer learning to get you started with ideas.

You Might Be Interested In:

  • This complete list from Edutopia with all the resources you could ever need.
  • Tips from the official blog of the United States Department of Education.
  • Our Excavate! games are 30% off until the end of September. Ease your students back into learning with the code BACKTOSCHOOL18 on our online store.