Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First Day Ideas

Here are some cute activity/ice breakers for the kids to do on the first day from 2nd grade teacher Denise Evanko.

M&M's and Me!
As the students walk in my class on the first day of school, I stand by the door with a bowl of M&M's. I instruct them to take 1-4 M&M's. They have to decide the number that they wish to take. I also instruct them not to eat them until I tell them to. Finally, I explain to my students that for every M&M they picked, they have to tell the class one thing about themselves. I demonstrate the activity by being the first one to share and eat my M&M's!

Sing! Getting to know each other.
(Sung to the tune of "The More We Get Together")
Sit in a circle and then sing: Here we sit together, together, together Here we sit together, all here on the floor.
There's ________ and ________ and ________ (etc, until every child has said their name)Here we sit together, all here on the floor.

Guess who?
Have students fold over a piece of white paper and fold it hamburger-style. On the front, have them draw their self-portrait. Model using details (glasses, length of hair, buttons on clothes) Tell them NOT to write their names on the pictures because we will use the clues inside to figure it out. Inside they can write words or phrases to describe themselves. Pull a few a day and have the class guess after the clues. Then, have the creator stand up.

Time Capsule
I also had each child add a sheet to a time capsules that asks general questions like: favorite t.v. show, song, color, best friend, food, game. I kept them and have them complete it again at the end of the year to see how we changed.

The following first day activities come from an excellent blog of reading and writing lesson ideas. Check it out: http://www.debrennersmith.com/

Idea #1 Name Tag Glyph (Back to School)
The students will use stencils to trace the letters in their name on a paper strip.They will use these directions to make their name.

  • 1st letter-boy-stripes/girl-checkerboard

  • 2nd letter-do you have any brothers or sisters-yes-red/no-green

  • 3rd letter-do you have a pet-black dots-yes/no-white dots

  • 4th letter-Which subject do you like the most?reading-red; math-blue;science-green; pe-purple; art-orange; music-yellow; other-brown

  • 5th letter-How do you get to school?walk-yellow/bus-purple/car-red/van-0range/other-green

  • 6th letter-Do you like ice cream?yes-black triangle/no-white triangles

  • 7th letter-Do you like sports?yes-black stars /no-white stars

  • more than seven letters - color the eighth like the first one, and so on.

This idea came from the Mailbox magazine, Aug/Sept. 2002


The chart below tells you what each color bead means. Read the chart carefully and choose your beads.

  • RED – if you are a girl

  • BLUE – if you are a boy

  • ORANGE – how many sisters you have

  • GREEN – how many brothers you have

  • WHITE – how many pets you have

  • BLACK – how many different elementary schools you have attended

  • YELLOW – if you like reading (0=don’t like, 1=a little, 2=a lot)

  • PURPLE – if you like math (0=don’t like, 1=a little, 2=a lot)

  • SPORTS BEADS ~ pick 1 bead to show which sport you like the best

  • SMILEY FACE BEADS – if you like third grade (0=don’t like, 1=a little, 2=a lot)

* Once you have your beads, get your initial beads and make a cool pattern.Please bring your necklace to me when you are finished and I will put the end on it.

Fill out the questions below. Just look at other students’ necklaces to find your answers!

1. Name one person who has the same number of sisters as you: ______________

2. Name one person who has the same number of brothers as you:___________

3. Name one person who has more pets than you do: ______________________

4. Find two people who have gone to more than one elementary school: __________________ __________________

5. Find one person who likes reading the same as you do:________________

6. Find one person who likes math less than you do: ____________________

7. How many people in your group like third grade a lot? ________

8. How many people in your group have pets? ________

9. How many people in your group like reading and math a lot? ________

10. How many people in your group have only gone to one elementary school?____________

11. Write your own question! ___________________________________________

Answer to your question: _________________

Getting to know you necklace - DIRECTIONS

1. I buy the beads (colored, sports, and smiley faces), string (black stretchy necklace cord), and clasps in the craft section of Wal-Mart.

2. Before the day of the activity, cut the necklace cord and attach the clasp to one end. Make sure you make it the right length for your kiddos!

3. Copy the paper and fold it in 1/2 below the smiley faces. Let the kids choose their beads using the chart. They get a cord, arrange the beads in a pattern of their choice, and bring it to you to attach the other end of the clasp. It's very helpful to have another adult or two to help you tie! I usually don't have help, so I plan the activity so that I can tie the necklaces while they are in specials or at lunch and then we continue the activity later...

4. When everyone has a necklace the kids should all put them on. Then they flip their papers over and go around the room answering the questions by looking at everyone else's necklaces.

5. Helpful tip: Tell the kids that they will probably want to wear the necklace again, especially at the end of the year. (For some reason they always do...although some will wear theirs throughout the year). Anyway, I always tell them to find a safe place to hang it at home so they won't lose it!


Anonymous said...

Ms.Timmons My little sister Amanda wil be in your class this year she is really excited to meet you! Who will be teaching with you? I think all of your ideas are great Im sure Amanda and the other students will have a great time on there first day!

Susan T. Phillips said...

This blog is an exceptional resource for all teachers. Lots of these tips are great reminders - it is easy to forget how it all starts after a whole year has passed. I am grateful.

Meli Launey said...

I love this blog. Thank you so much for putting it together. The welcome messages from all the teachers were so sweet and comforting! I love love love it here!

T-Cubed said...


I am so terrible at making up these ice-breakers. I really appreciate the ideas. (I can find thousands of people that like math less than me!)

I read the H. Wong statement that leads your prior blog, scary thought that! I better make it a good day! I smell Krispy-Kremes, with hats! Works every time.

Peace and thanks,


Anonymous said...

Hey Dayle,

I know that I just left another comment, but I just had to share the all-time best first day bit that I ever pulled off. (I think that I stole it from Karen or Lori)

I told the kids that the school budget was really in the tank, and that we were going to have to ration toilet paper. (I had taken all of the rolls and hidden them) I told them that I had the only roll that we would have until Christmas. I asked them to take as many sheets as they needed, remembering that their neighbors would need some too.

Some took one square, some took many. Then, like the M&Ms, I had them tell a fact for each square. The funny thing was, even after I told them it was a gag, the kids' families brought in tons of TP. This was 7 years ago, and I still have about 36 rolls left.

If you do it, really sell it hard, and you'll get TP for life:-}



dayle timmons said...

The toilet paper trick may be a good idea because I hear the budget is so tight that we only have toilet paper for 3 months and then we may be on our own. We might be fighting you for those 36 rolls!