If you had a chance to read 25 Awesome Back to School Read Alouds, you’ll know my favorites out of the TONS of great back to school read alouds. In that post I shared the why for those specific books. Here I’ll be sharing some of my favorite activities to go along with those books. These are typically activities that have students practicing an important skill to go along with an integral lesson tied to the story. Some of these activities many be geared towards primary grades but I believe that there is also value for older grades. The best part… many of these activities can be found for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers!
First Day Jitters
I love to end the first day of school with this book. There are so many great activities that can be done with this book and one of my favorite community building activities is to use a first day feelings chart to discuss how we felt on our first day. I also love to use the poem pictured below because the students get a kick out of it. Of course a kid favorite is definitely making and drinking Jitter Juice!
You’re Finally Here!
Aroundthekampfire has the BEST resource for this book! From the cutest bulletin board, to TONS of wonderful activities including a retelling activity, first day writing, and of course the ADORABLE craft!
I Don’t Like Teamwork and Sharing is Not My Thing
This a great book to introduce the class to working together as a team and why it is so important. After reading, we chart what a good teammate looks and sounds like to build up to the really fun part…The Cup Stacking Challenge! We get to practice BEING a good teammate in groups of 4 or 5. Each group is given a stack of cups and a rubber band with 4 or 5 paper clips (based the number of students in the group). They are NOT allowed to touch the cups or rubber bands, only their paperclip, and they have to work as a group to stack the cups into a pyramid! Students love the challenge and although some get super frustrated, it’s a great way for them to practice great teamwork skills! You can find more team building activities HERE!
David Goes to School
David is always a fun and entertaining character. He always shows us the WRONG things to do and kids love it. One of my favorite things to do after reading David is discuss good choices vs. poor choices. I’ve created THIS comprehensive resource that includes whole group, partner, and individual practice for students. It also includes a fun book for students to create about good choices!
I have been reading this book since my first year of teaching and completing the same activity that I believe is super powerful for students. I cut out as many little red hearts as I need for each student to have one. Before reading I explain that we will crumple our heart every time we hear a hurtful thing said in the book. This not only keeps their attention, but it gives them something to do while listening. After reading, we discuss what was said and I challenge tell them to try and un-crumple the heart to get it back to what it started as. When they can’t, I tell them that all of those bends and marks represent how hurt things leave marks that we cannot see or undo. We then make a class promise to be kind to one another and I have each student write their name on their crumpled heart. We tape them all to our promise as a reminder and I keep this up most of the year. There are also some great name activities that can be done with Chrysanthemum, Your Name is a Song, and The Name Jar!
This is Not a Box
The activity that goes along with this book is one that challenges and pushes some students out of their comfort zone. The book shows how creative this little bunny is and we discuss it. Afterward, each student is given one bottle cap and a piece of paper and I tell them that it’s not a bottle cap. They are then given time to create something out of their bottle cap. Students can use glue, markers, and crayons and the only requirement is that they have to incorporate their bottle cap somehow in their creation. When their time is up, together we write about what we created. The length of the writing will depend on their grade. For beginning of the year first graders, I like to use the sentence stem, “This is not a bottle cap it is a __________.”
Another fan favorite that kids love because Little Chicken just can’t control herself! We discuss how her behavior impacts others and what would happen if we displayed that behavior in the classroom. Mrs. Wheeler has the perfect FREE resource to go along with this book! There is a whole class sort that can be completed together as well, in addition to an individual practice students can do!
Only One You
This book has sweet message that allows students to see why they are special. The Classroom Contessa has a fun writing activity and craft for students to complete. I love hanging them in the hallway when completed because they all turn out so unique.
How Full is Your Bucket?
I love using this book for many reasons but the most important is that I believe it is such a great analogy for students. This is language that we use for the entire year to help students understand how their actions impact others whether it be in a positive or negative way. After reading, we complete a sort of Bucket Filler vs. Bucket Dipper behaviors. Students then write how they will be a Bucket Filler throughout the school year. The set pictured below is a set I’ve had for many years. I don’t know where I found it but there are TONS of activities on Teachers Pay Teachers!
Leo the Late Bloomer
Leo is such a loveable character that many students can relate to. His friends can all do things that he can’t… yet! This is one of my favorite books to use for goal setting. We discuss how everyone blooms at different times and how we will all learn a lot throughout the year together. We all set goals, including me, and we hang them up as a reminder of what we want to strive for. HERE is the template I like to use and it also has a bulletin border banner for display!
Giraffes Can’t Dance
This is another great book to talk about goal setting and open up student’s minds to having a growth mindset. We discuss what a growth mindset is and watch the VIDEOS from Dojo. These videos go super in depth about what it feels like to have a growth mindset. The website also has discussion guides and activities to accompany the videos. I typically do different writing activities to go along with the videos and we watch them over a few days. We have a lot of discussions about having a growth mindset and continue that over the year.
Officer Buckle and Gloria
Let’s talk SAFETY! This is super important to discuss with students. This book is a fun way to do that! Gloria helps make safety more entertaining and we can have some serious discussions about how we stay safe. After reading the story, the students can create their own safety tip and they LOVE this activity.
The Most Magnificent Thing
Another great book for having a growth mindset and I like to use it to set up an expectation for STEM in our classroom. We discuss what STEM is and how we are all engineers. I use the posters from my Pigeon STEM resource to help establish expectations. We then complete our own most magnificent thing. I love using this FREEBIE from Buzzing for Books! It is so fun to see their creativity and their struggle!
Kindness is Cooler Mrs. Ruler
This book helps set up the expectation of kindness in our classroom. In the book, Mrs. Ruler gives the students an assignment of doing 10 kind things. I typically read this book on the Friday of the first full week of school and give each student 10 hearts and have them do 10 kind things at home over the weekend. The following week, students get to present the kind things they did and I hang them up outside! They love it!
The Bad Seed
The last one I’ll share has such a great message for students! These engaging activities help students change their mindset and have a toolbox of positive affirmations. There are also adorable crafts and a beautiful back to school bulletin board! Check this this fun pack HERE!
These are just SOME of my favorite back to school activities. Just like with books, there are so many more activities out there. If you haven’t read The Morning Meeting Book and The First Six Weeks of School, I would highly recommend both of them to read prior to starting the school year if you can! Building classroom community is also SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT at the beginning of school and as these books and activities bring these discussions to light, there are many other things we do to build this community. Here are some of my other favorite first week of school activities to help build classroom community:
Brown Bear Activity- Lindsay, Lindsay who do you see, I see _____________ looking at me (Learning Names)
Poison Dart Frog
Teamwork Hula Hoop Activity
Hide the Object (Following Directions)
Connection Circle (From Day ONE)
Just Like Me
Get to Know You BINGO
If you would like anymore information about ANY of these activities please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you have any more of your favorite back to school activities, I would LOVE to hear about them.
I really hope you enjoyed learning more about back to school activities and how to make it fun and enjoyable for your first days together! You can check out ALL of my back to school resources HERE! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including The Good Choices Book FREEBIE! But you will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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