Back to School Activities

Welcome back, my friends! Although, many of you have been back since the very beginning of August, right? For those of you who follow Young Teacher Love on Facebook, you’ve had the pleasure of seeing these amazing ecards/comics!

I mean…so fitting! ;)

I have to be honest with you here…first days scare me! As in super nervous all night long/no sleep! You’d think I was a student! I’m bad! I like a nice low-key type of day, so I do my best to keep it fun and easy, while still offering my kids a little glimpse into my personality.

I made sure to have a seat ready to go for every student with their name tag visible. That way the students can come right in and feel welcomed. On their desk, I had a letter that I typed which gives explicit step-by-step instructions on what to do as soon as they sit down (this helps me to see right away who my direction followers are!), and I also had my supply checklist found here in my store! In case students finish early, I always create a word search puzzle with the students’ names.

Part of the letter on their desk asks them to decorate and color their name tags. Despite the fact that they’re big kids, they love doing stuff like this. It works perfectly to get them started and settled while I am greeting 30 students and sometimes 30 sets of parents!

After students were settled and feeling a bit more comfortable, I pulled them to the carpet and introduce myself a bit. We then turned our conversation into our hopes and dreams for the year. This great conversation lead perfectly into the read aloud of Oh The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss.

This lovely book has got so much wear and tear because I love it SO much! Side note: You can also see my very favorite read a loud Where the Red Fern Grows. I read this book every single year and each year my students’ reactions get better and better. It’s a fabulous book to get your kids addicted to reading.

After reading this book, we did a simple craft with the theme: Our Future’s So Bright, We Have to Wear Shades. I made sunglass trace-ables with card-stock, and students had to draw pictures inside the sunglasses to show their hopes for the future or this school year.

I so wish I would have taken more pictures because they turned out SO cute!

After this, we spent a big chunk of time modeling and practicing our classroom procedures from my Classroom Procedures to Teach pack found in my store.

We also squeezed in some fun team building/get to know you games from my Beginning of the Year Team Building/Ice Breaker Activities.

Last, we did these SUPER cute all about me self portraits! Because no first day is complete without self portraits!

These were inspired by this fabulous idea from Ms. Barbaro here. She even gives step-by-step directions for the non-artists like myself! Didn’t they turn out SO cute?! They look even cuter lining the halls!


I also wanted to share two more quick pictures of my classroom decor. You can see a few more pics here. Here’s a picture of my little area:


and this is a picture of my FAVORITE spot, our reading/mini-lesson area!


Pfew! I’m exhausted! I hope everyone’s first days were FABULOUS and you are off to a good start with your new group of eager students!


  1. Glad to hear your first day turned out well! I love the things you did to keep it fun and easy for you. May the rest of your week go well! And I hope your group of kids is a good one…because my difficult little group is certainly nothing I’d wish upon anyone else, good teacher or not. ;-) I even devoted a whole blog post to the stress the’ve caused. It’s getting better, just slower than I would hope for. Sigh.

  2. I loooooooove all of your ideas. I just started teaching 4th this year (after teaching 3rd for the past 2 years) and your stuff has really helped me out! I’m using 2 standards based assessments from your ELA pack this week! :)

  3. Kristine,
    Your room looks fabulous, and I love your first day ideas. So true–those self-portraits are must-do’s on day 1. Don’t you feel like you learn so much about them quickly just by watching how they approach what might seem like a fluffy task? Each year I’m amazed at how fast I can see who is slow and careful, who rushes just to be done, who struggles with cutting, pasting, spacial organization, etc. How nicely they make the classroom look is also a huge bonus :)
    The Wild Rumpus

  4. Yayyyy! So glad your first few days went well!! I’ve seen that self-portrait thing before and totally forgot that I wanted to do this at the beginning of the year this year! Darn! I am going to have to remember it for next year! Yours turned out super cute! And I absolutely love your cute green chair and pink table in your reading/mini-lesson area!! I feel like I’ve told you that before about the pink table, but it is just so darn cute!! Hope you are having a relaxing weekend! :)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kristine,

    You are amazing! I have found so many ideas on your blog that I plan to use next year! I also bought several of your items on TPT and have more in my cart right now. :)

    I have a question about your self-portraits: What questions do you use on your “eagle form” (is that your school’s mascot?) ?…or could you possibly send me an editable form to ?

    Thanks for everything you do!


  6. @Kelli- Thank you! I appreciate your kind words so much! Yes, the eagle is our school mascot. The questions are simple get to know you types of questions. They include how old are you, do you have any brothers or sisters/pets, what do you like to do after school/weekends, what are some things that you would love to learn about in school, what do you aspire to be when you grow up, what is your favorite book, one thing you did this summer, etc. I hope that helps!

  7. The self portrait looks like fun! I think I can recreate the mad-libs type info sheet, but I don’t know about faking my way through the art piece of it! Do you have another way to access Ms. Barbaro’s information other than the dead link above? “These were inspired by this fabulous idea from Ms. Barbaro here. She even gives step-by-step directions for the non-artists like myself!” Thanks!

  8. Thank you for sharing about your first day! We start school in two weeks, and I’m busy trying to get everything ready! I really loved the self portrait activity. Where can I find the about me survey?? Thank you!

  9. Hi Kristine!
    Ilove your blog and it has helped me so much as I just finished my first year teaching fourth grade after teaching K and 1st for 12 years. I just had a baby, so I am prepping early for next school year. Do you have the printed directions to Ms. Barbaro’s self portrait? It was so cute, I want to do it next school year but the link said its not found. I even tried to do a name search. No luck :(
    Also, can I email you about the All About Me sheet?

    Thank you!

  10. I love your chevron rug! I looked for a good chunk of time and only found a white one! ? That was a no go with 5th graders. Where did you find yours?

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      Thanks, Abby! I got mine at Big Lots.

  11. Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic.This has really made me think and I hope to read more.

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