Start of the Year Activities

Five Activities for the First Week of School

It’s officially back to school season! Whether you’re already back with the kiddos or you’re knee deep in teacher workdays, we are right there with you. To lessen your load, we come bearing gifts in the form of Five Activities for the First Week of School that you can put in your lesson plan book today. Let’s dive right in!

Activity #1: Spaghetti in a Hot Day Bun

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Marie Dismondy is the cutest picture book about being unique and having confidence. It touches base on topics such as anti-bullying, forgiveness, and friendship. With its intriguing title and relatable story, it is perfect for the first week of school.

Here is a FREE quick Venn diagram we made comparing and contrasting the two main characters, Ralph and Lucy.

Complete this activity after reading the book for a quick whole group informal assessment. Comparing and contrasting also opens up discussions on comparing ourselves to these characters. Have we ever been unkind like Ralph was to Lucy? Have we ever felt different for being ourselves like Lucy? This book celebrates individuality and differences. It’s a perfect connecting point for that first week back.

If you would like to use our full unit including writing prompts, a craftivity, vocabulary, graphic organizers, and so much more, check the link here.

Activity #2: Establishment of Class Rules

The first week back to school is a great time to collaborate with your class to discuss and make specific classroom rules. Students have greater autonomy in following the rules if they help create and establish them. It’s best to start with a couple of non-negotiable rules and have students offer ideas to expand from there. Also, students can rephrase rules to fit more of their language. Writing up the rules on poster board and having them sign their names around them is a good idea, so everyone knows they are working as a team to follow them. Creating rules also opens up a discussion of the rationale of the rules. This creates a desire for students to follow them.

We have an editable farmhouse classroom rules signs resource here if you are interested:

Activity #3: First Writing Activity for the Year – All About Me

One of my first writing activities for the year is not your typical assignment. I find students get really excited about fictional writing, so I like to bank on that excitement before I go into narratives. My middle school students and past upper elementary kids loved to write about being a superhero. They loved to discuss what superpowers they would have, the movies they’ve seen like Avengers and The Hulk, and what villains they would fight. I credit this idea to my sixth-grade math and science teacher who would regularly discuss this idea for fun as brain breaks. While this could be a quick writing assignment to assess writing abilities, you could also turn this into a longer unit. To make this fit more into back to school, you can have students fill out our FREE superhero all about me banner. They can fill it out based on the character they’ll be writing about, or they can write all about themselves.

We have a superhero resource bundle here including a PowerPoint that opens up a great dialogue about character traits, in which students can use in their writing. You can connect it back to how students should behave in school.

Activity #4: Interesting Non-Fiction Reading Passages

Ever wondered what to do during those first couple of days of school AFTER you’ve gotten through the very first day? Oftentimes I love to start the year off with some interesting nonfiction reading passages. I feel like it’s a good way to ease into language arts without going into an extensive unit. It’s a way to informally assess reading and comprehension skills and also peak students’ interests.

We have a FREE zoo animals nonfiction reading passage resource all about barred owls with questions and a scientific organizer. Download here.

To expand on reading passages about animals, we have a larger unit here that spans a couple of lessons.

There are so many free websites out there that have non-fiction reading passages for students. is a wonderful free website with a variety of passages from fiction to scientific.

Activity #5: Pineapple Growth Mindset Activity

Lastly, the first week of school is a great time to discuss growth mindset. We want our students to have a growth mindset versus a fixed one. We want them to always continue to grow and develop their education, skills, and talents. Students achieve more when they have this type of mindset. That first week back is a wonderful time to educate students on how to have a growth mindset. An easy example to compare it to is that of a pineapple. Students should stand tall and grow their abilities just like a pineapple grows bigger and taller. I love to use this visual for the kiddos to understand.

Make a list together as to what it looks like to “stand tall.” This requires advanced thinking as it’s definitely more than just sitting up straight in your desk! Ask students what does it look like to grow academically and emotionally throughout the year? Some examples would be: I will choose to have self-control in situations I could be silly. Another example is: I will choose to study my times tables, so I can grow in math. Once students see what a growth mindset is in concrete ways, have them write down their specific goals in a list or in a paragraph.

If this activity interests you, we have FREE pineapple printable and digital paper. Click image below.

If you wanted to expand this into a craftivity, we have a cute one right here: click image below.


These five activities for the first week of school are perfect for any elementary to middle school classroom. These activities target social-emotional health, growth mindset, classroom collaboration, and reading and writing skills. With the four FREEBIES listed above, we hope you’re able to fill in that lesson plan book swiftly!

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