Five Activities to Incorporate into Your 1st Grade Lesson Plans for the First Days of School (and FREE Lesson Plans)

The summer is winding down, and you are more than likely preparing yourself by creating some new 1st grade lesson plans for school. All teachers understand the importance of setting the tone within the first few days of school.

It is important that students learn expectations and routines, while also acknowledging that this year will be filled with fun and engaging learning within a welcoming environment.

It is a delicate balance to create fun yet meaningful lessons for the first few days of school. Most teachers want to introduce and solidify classroom procedures and rules, expectations, and all other new information—so why not make this inundation of information a little more engaging?

Here are 5 engaging yet meaningful activities to include in your first grade lesson plans for the first days of school:

1. The 1st Grade Lesson Plans Essential: The Name Game

There are so many different variations of name games available for you and your first graders. These games are meaningful because they stress the importance of referring to one another in a respectful way. Plus it helps you learn all of their names faster!

Even before school begins, make sure that you have printed student labels. You can tape them on desks, assign cubbies, and label so much more! This strategy takes away some of the nerves that everyone will be feeling on the first day of school. Students will feel much more comfortable knowing that they have no say in where they sit, or who sits near them.

In your 1st grade lesson plans for the first day of school, consider instructing students to color in their own nametag upon finding their seat. Not only does this activity create a much-needed transition while everyone settles in, but it will help you sneak a peak into each student’s personality as well.

Once you are ready, explain how the name game will work. The first order of business is to ask that every student pronounces their own name for the class—it is important to address one another correctly! Also, tell students to say, “Hello!” or “Welcome!” after everyone pronounces their name. By implementing these polite procedures from the get go, students will begin to feel comfortable with you as a respectful authority figure. (Always try to include gestures like this into your 1st grade lesson plans; it will assure you are creating a comfortable environment within your classroom.)

After everyone is introduced, explain the name game. Once you say go, everyone will move onto a floor surface to sit in a circle (you could also arrange the desks into this formation ahead of time). Ask for a volunteer to begin. The first student will say their name aloud, and then the class will follow with your lyrics. However, first you must help the class establish the beat—pat, pat, clap (You know, like to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”).

Working in a clockwise direction, the class now starts the lyrics. Let’s say Sally went first—the lyrics would then go, “Sally, Sally, how are you? Who’s that sitting next to you?”

You can adapt this to add lyrics or name shouting in between the lyrics. For example, if the next person is Michael, then after the class says, “Who’s that sitting next to you?” Michael can shout out his name.

At the end, ask for a brave volunteer to try and remember everyone’s names!

2.Acknowledge the First Day Jitters

Within your first day of 1st grade lesson plans, you can touch upon important skills and emotions by introducing a first day of school text. Books such as The Night Before First Grade or First Day of School Jitters” discuss the nerves that everyone, even teachers, feel on the night before school.

Turn this into a writing prompt by asking your students to write how they felt last night. You can encourage them to share by sharing your own writing first! Writing alongside your students will always inspire them to write, too.

If you are nervous for students to share on the first day, then you can have students crumple their papers up and place them into a jar. One by one, read the emotions aloud and discuss. Questions such as, “Did you feel this way as well?” and “What made you so nervous?” prompt excellent discussion.

This is a fantastic opportunity to establish the routine of reading texts aloud in class, since they are likely to appear frequently within your 1st grade lesson plans.

3. The 1stGrade Lesson Plan Necessity: Classroom Rules and Procedures

It is an absolute necessity to include a discussion the various rules and procedures of your classroom within your first day of 1st grade lesson plans. This process is so necessary, but honestly can take a turn for snooze-town very quickly. Make establishing rules and procedures much more fun by turning it into a scavenger hunt!

Explain to students that the rules and procedures of the classroom are scattered all over on colored paper. They must find them all—ready, set, go! (Do make sure you set some boundaries first, though, as in no pushing, running, fighting—let them know that one paper per student, and there are enough for all!) As students find the colored pieces of paper, they will place them onto a board.

Next, discuss the difference between a rule and a procedure. Ask the class to help sort the two into two different columns. Now you can introduce each rule and procedure, making sure to answer any questions that they are sure to have.

4. Me in a Bag

This activity will have to be assigned as homework, but you can model your example on the first day of school. Simply be sure to outline this activity that spans multiple days in your weekly lesson plan template.

Introduce the mini presentation to students through modeling your example. Then, clarify the components of your presentation that they will have to include in theirs as well. These components include three objects that represent you, and they must be within some sort of bag or container. These objects must be school appropriate and nonperishable, so you should go into detail if necessary.

When you model the presentation by introducing your bag to the class, be genuine, and do not be afraid to be goofy! Remember that you are setting the precedent. Make sure students are clear as to the expectations.

When students come in ready to present, guarantee that you establish appropriate behavior for sharing. You want to promote discussion, but you also want students to respect one another and feel comfortable.

5. Two Truths and a Lie

This is yet another game that will help students introduce themselves; yet, it will also help you assess their creativity and writing abilities—perfectly justifiable for your first day of 1st grade lesson plans.

Start by modeling the game yourself. Tell the students three “facts” about you, but make sure that only two of them are true. Students must now guess which statements are the truths, and which one is false.

Allow a generous ten to fifteen minutes for students to come up with these statements. If you sense students struggling, then prompt them with sentence starters like, “I recently went on vacation to…” and, “My favorite activity over the summer was…” or, “The craziest thing I’ve ever done is…”

The statements you hear may surprise you!

Once these introductory activities are through, you can move into a more routine 1st grade lesson plans.