35 Best First Day of School Ideas and Activities

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We are still a month away from the first day of school, but I’ll admit, I’m starting to think about it and beginning to collect ideas. There tends to be a mix of excitement and butterflies in stomachs as the first day of school rolls around each year.

As a mom, I love finding new first day of school ideas to mark the occasion and prepare at home. As a teacher, I am always looking for creative first day of school activities and lessons that I can use to make the day special for my students.

I have created a list of back to school activities including hands-on activities, art activities, games, reading, math, free printables and much more!

For your classroom or home, choose activities and lessons that are the right fit for you and your children. I hope that the collection of first day of school ideas and activities below give you lots of inspiration as you prepare for your first day.

first day of school ideas

Educators – If you teach young children and are looking for detailed lesson plans for your first day of school, filled with hands-on activity ideas as well as printables, such as a first day photo sign, class rules, certificate and much more, there is a link to my “First Day of School Day Plan and Printables” available below activity #35.

First Day of School Activities for the Classroom or Home

Many of the activities below can be done at home to prepare for the first day of school or in the classroom with students.

*Click on each image for the full activity description.*

#1

This is my personal favorite activity to do on the first day. This Magic Dough activity gives children the chance to share their hopes for the upcoming year in a fun and almost magical way – sure to be the highlight of the day for many children.

first day of school ideas

#2

I love using escape room/scavenger hunt type activities in my classroom – it makes learning fun! A classroom escape room can be created for any occasion including the first day.

Make the clues important things or places around the classroom or school. This way children are introduced to their new room in a fun way.

As children solve the clues they unlock a lock until all locks are opened and the prize inside is revealed. For the first day of school, school supplies, certificates or a small treat is a great idea to put in the box.

first day of school ideas

#3

This is one of my favorite activities to do on the first few days of school with my class. I have done this with older children in intermediate grades and even with younger children in primary grades.

This friendship wheel is a great way for children to work together and get to know each other. It also creates some beautiful pieces of art to display at the beginning of the year.

first day of school ideas

#4

Spread some kindness on the first day with these pencil toppers! This would work well for teachers to prepare for students, or for your own child to find in their pencil case from you.

first day of school ideas

#5

If you’ve got a collection of pencils ready for the school year, this STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) challenge is a great, hands-on activity for the first day of school.

#6 First Day of School BINGO

I can’t wait to try this Back to School Bingo! If you are looking for an exciting hands-on activity to try on the first day of school, a BINGO game with a back to school theme is sure to be a hit!

This would also be a great activity to try at home to have some fun with children starting school. For younger children, discuss each of the pictures on the BINGO board as a way of showing some of the things they may see once they start at school.

first day of school

#7

Write a letter to your child’s new teacher telling a bit about your child. Prepare the letter before starting school, and have your child give it to their new teacher on the first day.

This gives children the opportunity to tell their teacher a little bit about themselves and anything your child really wants their teacher to know. It is also a great way to do a bit of writing before school starts.

first day of school

#8 Back to School Slime

If your kids love to make slime, this is the perfect back to school activity. If you’ve got a collection of broken crayons around the house or classroom, this is a great way to reuse them. I also love this idea as a small gift for students on their first day.

first day of school

#9

There are a lot of great books for the first day of school and most first days involved at least a story or two. Take a look through 4 very popular first day of school books for kids and try out a craft to go along with them.

first day of school

#10

I love this idea! Create a card with your child for their teacher. It is a great way to tell the teacher a little bit about your child, and have some fun making a cute card. Such a sweet gesture!

first day of school

#11

These would be a simple way to quickly decorate a classroom with children’s handmade creations. Kids will love seeing their art work displayed in their classroom after the first day.

I love using an apple theme at the beginning of the year. Children are excited about fall and the changing season. This easy apple stained glass art activity would be perfect in a preschool or kindergarten class as a simple sensory art activity.

first day of school

#12

“The Wheels on the Bus” is a great song for the first day of school. For many children the first day may be their first time on the bus. Make it fun with this adorable bus craft to go along with the song.

first day of school

#13

This is such a cute idea for teachers! At the beginning of the year, have each child create a birthday card. Before a child’s birthday, choose a card and have everyone sign it.

Each child gets a unique card made by one of their peers and signed by all of their friends! Click the image for lots of ideas for really creative, but simple cards.

first day of school

#14 First Day of School Ideas for Bulletin Boards

How cute of a bulletin board would these adorable self portrait crafts make? Children can mix and match and get creative while working on their fine motor skills!

first day of school

#15

This free emergent reader book is great to help prepare children for school at home, or in the classroom to remind children about being kind. These are important lessons, and discussions especially at the start of school.

These books are ideal to read and discuss together at school. They would also be great to send home for children to read and talk about with parents at home.

first day of school

#16

How cute is this apple craft? Use a few simple materials to create with young children during the first days of school or to celebrate fall. Simple crafts like this are ideal for the first day of school because every child can feel successful when making it.

first day of school

#17 First Day of School Hats

First day of school hats are a classic first day of school art activity. These printable back to school hats are perfect for teachers, homeschooling parents or just for fun at home.

first day of school

#18

Add a little bit of math as you prepare your little ones for first day of school with this hands-on apple tree activity. This activity would also work well in a classroom especially when celebrating with a fall theme.

first day of school

#19

If you are looking to do a bit of practice with young children for their first day of school, this ABC game would be a great choice. Whether you are looking for a fun, hands-on way to practice letter recognition at home, or a fun center in the classroom on the first day, this game is sure to be a hit!

first day of school

#20 First Day of School Activities – I Spy

This I Spy activity is a fun back to school activity that kids of all ages will enjoy. I Spy games also involve lots of learning!

first day of school

#21

My daughter would love this! These would look beautiful in a classroom to fit a fun theme. Creating a fun pencil holder for children to keep some writing and coloring materials at home would be a great way to get ready for the first day of school.

first day of school

#22

This printable booklet gives kids the opportunity to record their experiences from the first day of school and first week in their new grade. The booklet is designed with young children in mind because it is simple and gives kids lots of room to draw.

first day of school

#23

Don’t forget about math on your first day of school. These crack the code worksheets are all school themed and fun!

first day of school

#24

With many people learning online, this First Day of School Laptop craft is an adorable way to mark the beginning of school.

first day of school

#25

Have some fun reviewing numbers on the first few days of school, or at home to practice, with this hands-on number matching activity. Simple centers and hands-on activities to reintroduce important skills are ideal to do when school starts.

first day of school

#26 First Day of School Song

Music is a great way to make children feel welcome and a fun way to discuss some of the great things that can happen this year. These printables and songs would be a wonderful addition to any classroom.

first day of school

#27 Back to School Name Tags

If you are looking for a fun, inexpensive, and easy way to make name tags for your child or classroom, these vibrant back to school name tags are a great choice!

first day of school

#28

My kids would love to come home to this special apple cupcake for the first day of school. They would also love creating it on their own to enjoy. I love the idea of themed food and treats!

first day of school

First Day of School All About Me Printables

Doing a bit of printing and writing is important to start right away in the classroom. Try to keep it simple, but meaningful. All About Me posters and pages are ideal to start the year with because any child can be successful because they know all of the answers – because they are about themselves!

#29

I created this All About Me package that I use at home, and in my classroom each year. Children fill out the sheets with their answers about themselves and the pages also include recording height, hand and foot size and much more.

This activity works really well as a time capsule activity where all of the pages are put inside a container and sealed up. I usually return it to children on the last day of school to reminisce and create memories.

At home, we have a few of these ‘capsules’ sealed up for my kids to open years down the road.

first day of school

#30

Create a lapbook of memories with this printable activity. This would be great for children in the primary grades and it creates a beautiful foldable mini book all about each child.

first day of school

#31

Get children doing a bit of writing, either at home to review for school, or in the classroom on the first few days. These All About Me booklets are a great and easy, way to record special things about your child. This is also a great way for older children to write about themselves.

first day of school

#32

This compact, foldable mini All About Me booklet is an easy way to get children to record lots of information about themselves as they start their new grade.

first day of school

#33

These All About Me posters are designed with young children in mind. Give kids the chance to print some of their answers and be creative with their coloring.

first day of school

#34

If your kids love creating with building blocks, this All About Me page will keep them engaged and happy to write.

first day of school

#35

This All About Me page integrates math and learning as it requires children to measure as they record all about them.

first day of school

First Day of School Printables + Day Plan

I remember my very first day of school as a teacher and looking for any activities and ideas that I could use. I finally have a first day of school plan that I love and has worked well with my groups over the years.

Of course, each year is different, but my first day of school day plan and activity pages below have been tested in my primary classroom.

The product includes a very detailed lesson plan with everything I make sure to reinforce, teach and do on the first day. A collection of printables for activities and exciting, unique hands-on activities to keep children engaged and make the day memorable are included.

FREE First Day of School All About Me Printable

To get you started on your first day of school, you can download a FREE All About Me page for children to fill out. Printable is available in black and white and color.

When you subscribe you will gain access to Hands-On Teaching Ideas Free Resource Library, filled with a variety of free printable learning resources. You will also receive emails with my latest blog posts and freebies! Click image below to subscribe and gain access.

Preparing for Back to School – Printables

Being prepared for the first day of school is one of the best ways to keep from being nervous and helping to make sure that your first day goes smoothly. Below are a collection of printable products ideal for preparing for the first day of school.

More Hands-On Teaching Ideas

If you are looking for more hands-on learning activities, below are a collection of some of my favorite, and most popular activities and ideas from my classroom.

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