The first day of school can come with lots of excitement and, often, a bit of the jitters. It’s the start of a fresh academic year with new challenges and loads of learning opportunities. It’s also time to meet new people, make new friends, and learn different perspectives. These first-day-of-school activities will help you start off the year with a bang as you and your students form your community and begin your journey together.

1. Take first-day photos

First day of school signs featuring a 4th grade boy holding one of the signs as an example of first day of school activities

Mark the occasion! These signs for the first day of school are the perfect back-to-school accessory for photo opportunities and activities on the first day of school.

Learn more: Free First-Day-of-School Printable Signs for Every Grade

2. Play a name game

Examples of name games including Name Ring Toss with red plastic cups and Name Puzzles with child's photo.

Playing a name game is a fun way to help the entire class place faces with names and learn proper pronunciation. Plus kids are more likely to feel like they’re part of an inclusive environment when they hear their name pronounced correctly.

Learn more: Fun Name Games To Play With Your New Class

3. Read first-day-of-school books

Two first day of school books for kids

The first days of back-to-school can truly set the stage for the entire school year with students. Get off on the right track with these entertaining and informative read-alouds.


Learn more: Perfect Back-to-School Books To Read Aloud on the First Day

4. Play a round of Classmate Bingo

Three black and white worksheets with instructions for first day of school activities

Invite students to mix and mingle as they learn fun facts about one another with this fun, free printable bingo template. And check out the link below for even more awesome first-day printable activities.

Learn more: Fun First-Day-of-School Worksheets

5. Go on a school supply scavenger hunt

A colorful school scavenger hunt worksheet

Spending lots of time gathering supplies for each assignment is time-consuming! Use this free printable worksheet to send your students on a scavenger hunt to find everything on the list. Then, when the time comes, they’ll be able to get geared up quickly.

Learn more: Life Over Cs

6. Ask your students about their hopes and dreams

Asking students about their hopes and dreams at the start of the school year gets them excited and enthusiastic about learning in your classroom.

Learn more: Responsive Classroom

7. Break the ice with fun activities

An icebreaker question which asks

Icebreaker activities help kids form positive relationships from the get-go and are a great way to build community in your classroom. Along with these fun activities, try these Fun Icebreaker Questions for Kids and Teens.

Learn more: Elementary Icebreakers

8. Interview a classmate

Instructions for an Interview a Classmate activity with a drawing of two students against a teal background

What better way to help students get to know each other those first few weeks of school than by asking each other questions? Have students pair up, ask questions, and take notes on each other. Do this activity a few times, having students switch up partners each time.

Learn more: Teaching Made Practical

9. Write “I Am” poems

Illustration of a student

“I Am” poems beautifully capture a snapshot of your students at the beginning of the school year. Their poems reveal their hopes, dreams, and fears and help you get to know them a little better. Write your own along with them, and be sure to share.

Learn more: Mary Hanna Wilson

10. Craft a class contract together

Colorful image of a class contract lesson as an example of first day of school activities

Taking the time to create a classroom contract sets the stage for a supportive environment. Asking questions like “How do you want to treat each other?” and “How should we handle conflict?” opens up the dialogue and lets your students know that their needs are important.

Learn more: 4 Free 15-Minute Icebreakers for Your Classroom

11. Offer a STEM challenge

WAT - 25 Second Grade STEM Challenges

STEM challenges not only encourage kids to work together to solve problems and challenge their thinking skills,  they are super fun!

Learn more:

12. Open up with a teacher Q&A

Holding a Q&A session is a great way for your students to know more about you. Sit center stage and open the floor to their questions. Not only will this establish trust and help your students feel more comfortable with you, it is a great way to model how your morning circle works.

Learn more: What I Have Learned

13. Establish a few first-day-of-school traditions

A young student walks down a red carpet giving high fives to other students as an example of first day of school activities

Over the years, you’ll find a few first-day-of-school activities that are keepers. They mark the day as special and help you set the tone for a fun year ahead. Check out the list below and adopt a few as your own.

Learn more: First-Day-of-School Traditions Your Students Will Love

14. Start a goal-setting project

Three student worksheets with circles and writing prompts for students to set goals

Being able to set goals is an important skill for students to practice all year long. This fun activity helps students identify some of the things they hope to accomplish and document them in an artful, creative way that becomes a colorful display for the classroom and a great keepsake for parents.

Learn more: What I Have Learned

15. Get those procedures and routines rolling

Two panel image of classroom procedure activities

The first days and weeks of school are the ideal time to set the stage for a well-managed classroom. These tips will help you establish, reinforce, and streamline classroom procedures that will really make a difference.

Learn more: Must-Teach Classroom Routines and Procedures

16. Race to build the tallest tower

Three images of colorful towers made from plastic glasses as an example of first day of school activities

This is another fun STEM challenge and collaborative activity for your students. As your students work, circulate around the classroom and take note of the strengths and challenges you see among your students. Use your notes to plan future coaching sessions.

Learn more: Laura Candler

17. Ask “Would you rather” questions

Picture of

A perennial favorite, “Would you rather” questions delight kids of all ages. Funny, silly, and though-provoking, they loosen up first-day jitters and help kids find common ground with their classmates.

Learn more: Would You Rather? Questions for Elementary School

18. Play “Get To Know You” Jenga

Instruction sheet for playing Get to Know You Jenga

Sometimes direct Q and A can feel a little intimidating. Putting a Jenga spin on it turns it into a game while accomplishing the “get to know you” aspect of this fun first-day-of-school activity.

Learn more: Jennifer Findley

19. Get creative together

Kids drawing games feature

Get your students’ creative juices flowing from the get-go with these fun drawing activities.

Learn more: Clever Drawing Games To Level Up Artistic Skills

20. Find out what your students wish their teacher knew

A pink index card on top of a blue index card with student writing on them as an example of first day of school activities

Getting to know your students is the first step toward building meaningful relationships with them. This activity gives your kids the opportunity to share important information about who they are and what is important to them. Share a little bit of yourself as you model this activity for them first.

Learn more: For the Love of Teachers

21. Establish your job/my job expectations

A classroom anchor chart listing teacher's job responsibilities vs. students' job responsibilities

Occasionally kids can get a little overzealous and have some issues with boundaries. This activity is a great reminder for students about their job as a student vs. yours as their teacher.

Learn more: Mrs. Hawk’s Nest

22. Set the stage for a great year

Two panel image of classroom management strategies

The key to a well-planned classroom management system is finding out what works best for you and for your particular group of individuals each year. Here are 22 teacher-tested management techniques to help you design and maintain your own ideal classroom learning environment.

Learn more: Brilliant Classroom Management Strategies and Techniques

23. Find common ground with Venn diagrams

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Venn diagrams are not only a great learning tool, they can be a fun get-to-know-you activity. Watch this fun video together, then pair students up to find out just how much they have in common with one another.

24. Put together a group puzzle

A round puzzle consisting of student-drawn pieces as an example of first day of school activities

Create a beautiful collage of student art with this group puzzle. Hand out one piece to each student and encourage them to illustrate their piece in a way that expresses their personality. Then, give them time to put it all together. Once they’re done, apply clear contact paper over the puzzle and turn it into a hangable piece of art for your classroom.

Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers

25. Touch base with some one-on-one time

This teacher-blogger shares one of her favorite activities for the first day of school. “I like to spend a few minutes one-on-one with each student,” she says. “Get to know them, introduce yourself, giggle, and encourage them. Making that personal connection on the first day is so important! You may get some teacher inspiration and insights into your students that you can use all year long!”

Learn more: What I Have Learned

26. Sweeten the getting-to-know-you process

A colorful instruction sheet for playing an M&M get to know you game

Did someone say M&Ms? This fun activity is sure to catch your students’ attention. Maybe save it until right before recess so they can run off the sugar spike.

Learn more: She’s Crafty

27. Play a team-building game

Two panel picture of first day of school activities for building community

Team-building activities are a super way to kick off the first day of school. They give your students the chance to get to know one another, build trust as a community, and, best of all, have fun!

Learn more: Awesome Team-Building Activities for Kids

28. Set goals with avatars

Colorful school bulletin board featuring student caricatures made from construction paper

This is another fun way to teach students the importance of setting meaningful goals. And just like the characters they create, have your students focus on their individual strengths and needs as they formulate their goals.

Learn more: Around the Kampfire

What are some of your favorite first-day-of-school activities? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out Welcoming Doors for Back to School.

These first-day-of-school activities will help you and your students form a community and begin your journey together.