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First Day of School Lesson Plans and Activities

The first days back are the most exciting and yet overwhelming days of the year! Empty bulletin boards, a new audience for all your favorite read alouds and of course, all the crafts and activities you've pinned on your "back-to-school" Pinterest board all summer. In full disclosure, I was victim to trying to do it all on the first day but the reality is- you can't! Last year I attempted to try a new back to school method- less is more. I tried slowing down and staying simple with my lesson plans for the first days. Rather than rushing to try to do it all, I made sure to take time to enjoy the small moments that we need to cherish those first few days. I definitely recommend it!!

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I'm sharing with you my short range lesson plans for the first days of first grade and hope you can find some inspiration along the way! I've mapped out the all the read alouds, crafts and activities as well as teaching into the routines and establishing the rules/expectations. It's brief but get's the job done! :)

The first day we spend a lot of time learning and practicing each other's names and doing ice breakers to get to know more about one another. Our focus is on building a community, in addition to reviewing and modeling the rules and procedures. I love to integrate this during our daily morning meeting time. Some examples include graphing our kindergarten teacher and reading/responding to the book "You're Finally Here" with their summer activities (anchor chart idea from Amy over at Step Into 2nd Grade)!

Another activity I do to make the student feel comfortable is one I got from the lovely Cara Carroll over the The First Grade Parade. After reading the book, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, I tell a story about "Miss Take" to my students. *Cue the dramatics :)* I share all the mistakes "Miss Take" makes and what she has learned from them. Then I tell them that "Miss Take" is actually me. *Gasp* This encourages your students to not only be okay with making mistakes, but also teaches them how to learn and grow from them.

 Once that is in place and students feel safe and secure, its important to foster the foundation for becoming a life long learner. I find I love to engage my learners first through my love of reading. The best way is to put on your teacher pants and do some of your best read alouds. How spot on is this meme?! It could not be more accurate.
So, choose your favorite author or book series and align them with engaging crafts and book talks. I love to start out with Kevin Henkes books- they are perfect for making connections to hook my kiddos as readers and their messages are perfect for building a classroom culture. His characters are so strong and memorable that we even refer to them as a mentor text throughout the year.

Chrysanthemum is great to explore learning names and Wemberly Worried is the perfect text to make connections! There are so many great resources online to supplement these texts if you are looking for a little something extra.

You can find the books Chrysanthemum here and Wemberly Worried here.  

My personal favorite is this craftivity I got from Amy Lemons over at Step Into 2nd Grade! I tried to find the link to the template but I can't seem to find it! I'm sorry! :( Amy if you see this, hook a girl up! I'd be happy to provide the link. 

I have all the heart eyes for this craft- I love the way they all look hanging up year after year at back to school time. Their responses are always so precious! Take a look at this cutie!

There are so many other great read alouds to build community this time of year. Here are some of my favorites!  Each of them have such a strong and unique message. I love the way the messages go hand in hand with building our classroom rules/promise. If you're looking for ways to integrate them into your plans, refer back to my lesson plans.

Click on the titles below to snag yourself a copy!

You're Finally Here (currently unavailable)

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

My Mouth is a Volcano

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon

Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker

Enemy Pie

Recess Queen

First Grade Stinks

First Grade Dropout! 

Also, have I mentioned David Shannon is a genius?! I read these books a few times a year, year after year and I still laugh... every time. Usually the kiddos enjoy this so much that it's the perfect behavior mentor text! After reading, we make this chart and complete one of the fabulous crafts from the Friends in First by Lyndsey over at A Year of Many Firsts about being respectful, responsible, really safe and ready to learn.

These crafts are my go to at the beginning of the year. They truly set the tone for clear expectations in the classroom.

I know adorable, right?! I can't take any of the credit... Lyndsey is amazing and all her products are fabulous. You should go check them out here! I use many of the crafts and printables from that product, as well as many of her themed products all year long. What I love most about these crafts is that above all, they have meaning and purpose. It allows my kiddos to develop a stronger conceptual understanding of the 4 "Rs" (responsible, respectful, really safe and ready to learn) and set goals for how to attain each of our class rules.

Lastly, just before I am ready to start teaching the curriculum, there are two very important content related community building activities I love to do. If your school follows the Responsive Classroom approach to behavior, you'll know this activity very well!

As a class, we spend time thinking about all our "Hopes and Dreams" for the year. I usually give the students some private thinking time before sharing with their neighbor before sharing it out with the class to put on the anchor chart. After I list their ideas, they go to their seats and write/draw out their hope and dream for the year. You can find this printable in in my store here.  After, I place them on colored paper before laminating and hanging them for the start of the year. 

Lastly, before starting Math Workshop I use my Math Workshop Community Building unit to build our community of mathematicians, establish routines and set expectations.  This is the perfect math workshop priming unit before you dive into teaching content.

This resource includes templates to use as anchor charts. When printing, I change the print features to "zoom 200%." This will print the document into 4 pieces, which can be cut and glued to create a larger poster size. 
After we complete them as a class, I laminate and hang them up to reference during our first unit. Often times I reiterate these expectations and lessons throughout the "first six weeks" of school.  You have quite the eye of detail if you notice that the fonts are slightly different. I recently updated this product! :) 

The resource also includes printables to make your very own "Math About Me & My Community" class book. This is the perfect activity for getting to explore real world math, while also getting to know our classmates. 

I hope you found some inspiration for any first days of school lesson plan activities! I'm always looking for any new ideas myself. If you have any you'd like to share, be sure to comment below! :) 


  1. I found the link for Wemberly Worried.

  2. Where did you get the lesson plan template from?

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