Allison White

First Day of School Lesson Ideas

It’s the first day of school! Hooray… right? The first day of school can bring up some mixed emotions for teachers, including concerns about lesson planning mixed in with the hope and excitement for the new year. Here are some ideas for first day of school lessons.

First Day of School Lesson Ideas Magoosh
Source: Flickr user Julie Jordan Scott

Create Community

The stuff about addition or prepositions or whatever academic content you are in charge of can wait. Seriously. Taking the first day, and even a good part of the first week, to build relationships will pay off all year long. It will help you with classroom management and it will help students feel part of a team.

Lessons that do this can be things like writing classroom rules together, talking about shared values, and writing down class goals for the year. Make sure that this is a team effort — try to let students do most of the talking! Also take time to establish “norms” that make all students feel safe and respected in the classroom.

Get to Know your Students

“All about me” type games or activities are perfect for meeting this goal. Depending on your students’ age, you can do activities like drawing pictures of their families, writing about their favorite things, or getting together in small groups to play “icebreaker” style games like “Two Truths and a Lie.”

Introduce Classroom Routines

It isn’t necessarily a lesson per se, but I’m including it here because introducing classroom routines is so crucial to do at the beginning of the year! Teachers often fall into the trap of assuming that children learn like many adults do: watch and they will pick it up eventually. The thing is, when no one in the class knows exactly what you are expecting, the kids who do learn that way don’t have anyone to watch and learn from! Plus, not all kids learn that way. It’s always best to explicitly teach the routines you want kids to know and in some cases, teach it a few times!

As you go through the week, teach a few routines each day. For instance, depending on your classroom and age group of course, on day one you might teach how to line up, how to walk through the halls, how to raise your hand to ask a question, and how to hang your belongings in the cubbies. On day 2 you might teach the restroom routines, how to throw away your trash from lunch, and how to re-enter the classroom after “specials.” Keep going throughout the week until you have introduced all of the expectations in turn. Be patient and give frequent practice and positive reinforcement. Each one of these teaching periods can be a lesson in and of itself, except the objective isn’t an academic one. Again, this will have huge benefits throughout the year! With these lessons in your plans, the rest of the year will go much more smoothly. 🙂


  • Allison White

    Allison is an Early Childhood Educator who has been a teacher since 2010. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010 with a degree in Psychology, focused in Child Development. She began her teaching career as a 2nd grade teacher in Washington, D.C. After moving to Denver, Colorado she discovered a passion for Early Childhood Special Education. She earned a Master’s in the subject from University of Colorado Denver in 2015. She spent Spring 2016 teaching pre-service early childhood educators at the undergraduate level. Now she and her husband are on a big adventure travelling around the western United States in an RV!

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