Ten Back to School Activities to Welcome Your Class and Break the Ice
Summer is wrapping up and the scent of new school supplies is in the air. Time to start planning for the thunderous roar of children headed back to school. Here are ten activities, some from Steve Spangler Science, others from teacher bloggers to make the transition from the lazy days of summer back into the learning environment.
Steve Spangler Science has created the perfect welcome back to school science kit for teachers. Our First Days of School Kit contains several activities that are easy to present and have a great WOW! factor. The hands-on activities also illustrate science principles that can be used as metaphors for lessons in teamwork, goal setting, creativity, problem solving, effective communication and critical thinking. Some of the activities listed below are taken from that kit.
1. Using Polymers to Help the Invisible Child
I’ve wanted to write this for a long time but never seemed to have the right words. I am a “nobody.” Some people might think of me as an Invisible Kid. I have never thought of myself as a “leader.” I know who the leaders are in my school. I know all of the “popular” kids. I even have lunch with them once in a great while when I’m invited to join their table.
(An excerpt from the Science of Leadership, Dr. Earl Reum and Steve Spangler, 1995)
Over the years, there’s been lots of talk about the dangers of “invisible students.” This is an amazing way to get students to talk about the dangers of just blending in… becoming invisible… seeming insignificant or believing that no one cares.
Water Jelly Marbles start out as tiny, solid spheres. Place them in water and in a little while they will grow to the size of marbles. Due to the index of refraction, these water marbles are invisible in water.
Start this activity by hydrating a handful of Water Jelly Marbles in a bowl of water and show it to the students. Allow the students to then place their hands in the water and feel what they cannot see. This is a powerful way to illustrate how things can be hidden from our view.
This demo teaches us how to become invisible… just blend in with your surroundings. But it’s equally amazing to see how invisible objects become visible by just changing the surroundings. Add a few drops of food coloring to the bowl of water and stir. The once invisible Jelly Marbles now stand out again the different colored background.
2. Write a Classroom Promise
This idea comes from Lesson Plan SOS. Sit down with the class during the first week of school and together write a classroom pledge, motto, mission statement or promise. Start with a discussion about responsibilities of students and teachers. Include the three “S” words – what will it take to make the classroom a fun place for all students to feel Safe, Smart and Special. Make posters or cards and write the final promise out for everyone to refer back to all year.
3. Windbag Wonders Team Building Activity
The goal is really quite simple… blow up the Windbag as fast as you can. There is just one little hitch. The bag is 8 feet long! So, how many breaths does it take to inflate an 8 foot long bag? It seems impossible, doesn’t it? After you uncover a little secret called Bernoulli’s Principle, you can inflate the entire bag with just one breath of air. Give each child two or three Windbags and have them inflate each bag. Divide the students into groups of 3 to 5 students. Have the students work together to build a free standing structure. The highest structure wins the challenge.
4. Break the Ice with a Student Scavenger Hunt
These free printables come from Minds in Bloom. Download them for free and print it out. On the first day of school, have the students find classmates that fit the description in each box. This serves as an ice breaker and gets the kids talking and interacting quickly.
5. Back to School Top 10 List
This idea is from teacher blogger, Tracee Orman. Have the students write a top ten list of why they are happy to be back in school. Ms. Orman says some of the reasons she gets are hysterical. Here is our favorite top 5 list from one of her students…
5. Instead of “Happy Meals” we get Mystery Meals!
4. We get real exercise instead of video game fingeraerobics.
3. We get to catch up on our sleep.
2. We get to buy school supplies instead of stuff that really matters.
1. We get to see how ugly everyone has gotten over the summer.
6. QR Codes for Curriculum Night
This idea comes from Pencils, Paper and Pixie Dust. This teacher is high tech and we love it. She creates and places a QR code on the classroom door during the Open House. Parents scan the code on their smart photo to receive tons of information like phone numbers, conference periods and email addresses.
7. Student Bios and About Me
We found a lot of great ideas for having students write about themselves as an introduction for their new classmates. One of our favorites was a printable from WikiSpaces.
Mrs. Van Dyke’s Blog, Welcome to Room 28, shared her Child Glyphs. Each student draws a face and then fills out the information on the t-shirt. What the kids did over the summer is written on an index card and attached to the shorts.
Tracee Orman has her kids draw South Park Caricatures of themselves.
She even offers a step by step how to free download to help the kids get started. What an adorable idea and one parents will treasure.
8. Get to Know Your Teacher
The students need to get to know their classmates for the upcoming year, but what about their teacher? The Penny Pinching Teacher puts together a Get to Know the Teacher Power Point. She includes fun information about herself like hometown, college, family, favorite sports, favorite food, favorite movie.
9. Put Away School Supplies Scavenger Hunt
KinderKay offers a free scavenger hunt to help students and their parents put away the school supplies before school starts. There are clues written in silly rhymes. The clue describes a picture that must be searched for to find the spot where the supply goes. This game also teaches students where the supplies are stored.
10. Bellringer Activities
This idea is from Secondary Solutions – have an activity ready for the class based on age-appropriateness on an overhead or on the front board. Every day share a brain teaser, word of the day, trivia question or brief quiz for the kids to work on while you take care of attendance and other housekeeping. It also brings gets the kids into their seats and gets them ready to work.
We found many of these great ideas on Pinterest. There are a lot of amazing educators and parents with creative learning ideas for the classroom and home. While you are there, don’t forget to visit our Back to School Pinterest page for more great ideas.