3 Easy Activities for the First Days of School

Inside: You’ll get 3 fun and easy activities your students will love in those first few days of schools, plus a printable you can use in the classroom. This is an updated post and no longer includes the balloon popping activity.

Aah, the first days of school. Don’t you love ’em? Clean classrooms, empty notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, eager new students and the anticipation of a wonderful new school year. Nothing beats those first few days.

I always like to ease my new students into the year with some fun, relaxing and community-building activities.

Here are 3 activities I do during my first week back at school.

In August I always go to our local book store and buy one or two new books to jump start my year.  One of the books I love to read to my kids is Don’t Eat the Teacher!

This hilarious story about a young shark has a bad, but funny habit of chomping everything in sight.

You can’t beat it for a back-to-school book because it’s just so lighthearted and silly. Plus, first graders totally buy into the suspense and are usually convinced that the shark ate his teacher.

Don't Eat the Teacher

Don't Eat the Teacher


2. Charades

Charades is such a fun game and requires absolutely no prep. Gather your students around the board or chart paper and brainstorm charade categories. Some good choices for young kids are food, activities, and animals. Brainstorm lots of words and phrases for each category. When you’re done just keep the words on the board, but as the game goes on encourage the kids to choose a word that hasn’t been acted out yet.

Preparing the words together builds anticipation and excitement.

This game can be played either in teams or singly. I usually avoid teams this early in the year because I’m trying to build community. Everyone who wants a turn, gets a turn and I never force a child to come up and act out a word.

If your students are still learning each other’s names then it’s fun to pull a name out of a hat, invite that student to the front and introduce them by name: “This is Andy.” Then the whole class responds with “Hi, Andy!”. Then Andy begins his charade.

Below you can download a printable of some simple charade words and phrases to help you get started.

playing charades

3. Hey There Neighbour

I also teach the kids a quick and fun way to introduce themselves to each other. They love the rhyme and actions and are always happy to play this.

We begin by learning the chant and actions in one big circle. Instead of high-fiving and shaking hands with each other we just do it in the air. After most people are comfortable with the words we switch to partners. You may have heard it before:

Hey there neighbor (shake right hands — or fist bump)
What do you say? (shake left hands — or fist bump)
It’s gonna be (move right hand in a half circle wave)
A happy day. (move left hand in a half circle wave)
Greet your friend (high five)
And boogie on down. (do a little knee-bending shimmy)
Give ’em a bump (a gentle hip bump)
and turn around! (now turn around)

Below you can download a printable of these chant to use in your classroom.


Thanks for reading and I hope these ideas help make your first few days back to school relaxing and enjoyable!

DOWNLOAD: Back to School Printable

First Days of School. Three fun ideas for beginning your school year.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

7 thoughts on “3 Easy Activities for the First Days of School”

  1. These are really cute ideas, Barbara! Just wondering, do you tell the children how to pop the balloon? Do they do it with pencils? Do many of them get upset. I know quite a few young children who get distressed by loud noises!

  2. Thanks, Baggy Trousers! After I emailed you my reply it occurred to me I should make it public. I usually do the popping for the children and I use a thumb tack. I've never had anyone get upset, but that's certainly something to keep in mind. I just tell them to cover their ears ~ there's going to be a loud noise and we're usually okay 🙂

  3. I use that chant too and my Kindergartners love it. I often do it twice, but the second time instead of saying “turn around” we say “sit down” 🙂

  4. I love the balloons idea!You know what?since I have a large number of students per class and I'm not a classroom teacher I'm going to use it on my son's birthday!Thanks


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