Memorable First Day of School Activity


This year, for most of us, the first day of school is going to look and feel different. It is important to me, especially this year, that children are happy to be at school and activities are as engaging as possible. This first day of school activity is my favorite and always a highlight for my students. Although I used this activity at school, it could easily be done at home.

first day of school activity

This is a very simple activity, but there is something almost magical about it and it always brings a smile to my students’ faces. I love it as a first day of school activity because it is a great way to have each child think about, and share, their hopes and wishes for the year.

For this activity, all you need is white dough and colored dough. I always purchase the same type of white dough each year because it works great for this activity. (I have included an Amazon link to the dough I used at the bottom of the post. )

first day of school activity
The dough I have purchased and used is available on Amazon. A link is available at the end of this post.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  

To start, I rolled the dough into balls. You can make them any size you want, but I like to make sure each child has enough to play and create with.

I hand out a ball of white dough to each child. At first, I tell them that there is something magical about the dough, but before we add the magic I give them a chance to play with it.

This is also nice for the first day because it gives each child something they can each do, and enjoy, while I get everyone settled on the first day.

I typically have small plastic containers, or plastic baggies, to store the dough in when children are not playing with it. This year they will each have their own container to store their dough in.

Once I know they have all had a chance to play with the dough, I have them store it in their container. They have the option to come back to it at times when they have completed their work.

(I often have them start adding some color to an All About Me page. Free All About Me printable, available. Click link below.)

Next, the magic! When children are out of the room, I switch their white dough with a new ball of dough. I make sure that the storage containers are identical and switch it for the “magic” dough.

(You may need to ask children to roll their dough into a ball before storing it in the container, so that when you switch it, it looks the same, just in case they have created something before storing it. Also, you can simply open each container and switch out the dough, but if you are trying for less contact, switching the whole container is best.)

first day of school activity

The ‘magic’ dough is very simple to create. Roll some of the colored dough into a ball. Cover the colored ball in white dough. It’s that simple! Make sure the the balls are roughly the same size.

first day of school activity

When children return, I have them hold the container, or the dough, without squishing it. They will assume it’s still just the same plain white dough they played with before.

first day of school activity

As they hold it, ask each child to think of something that they hope for, for the year. What are they excited about? What do they want to happen? This is a great way to find out a little bit about your group of children. You will discover what they are looking forward to and hoping for for your year together.

I typically give each child the opportunity to share what are hoping for with the class. It is a great way for kids to get to know each other and hear from each other.

first day of school activity

Once everyone has shared their ideas, everyone holds the dough between their hands and whispers their wish into their dough. I tell them if their wish was heard, something special will happen.

In past years I have even sprinkled some sparkles over the dough before it is squished to reveal the color. Everyone counts to three and then squishes their dough.

first day of school activity

As they begin to squish and play with the dough, the color inside begins to show. There is a very exciting feeling throughout the room when the colors start to appear. Everyone knows that the dough had only been white, because they had all played with it before, so the new color inside must be magic!

first day of school activity

This is a wonderful way to start a new year and always the highlight of the day. Sometimes I have students take the dough home with them to tell their parents about. Other times, we keep it at school for the first few days as a hands-on calm down activity. It is a simple activity, but is a perfect first day of school activity.


For more back to school activities our All About Me Time Capsule and Parent Flip Book bundle has everything you need to start the year!

For more hands-on activities for kids…

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