5 Meaningful No-Prep Activities for the First Week of School

Bookmark this page! If you're frantically planning for your first day or week of school, here are five tried & true activities (not busy work!) to keep your students engaged while you get to observe and learn more about them. And be sure to download all the FREEBIES!
Although many of your students may know one another, you may have new students or those who are shy. Friend BINGO is a great way for kids to get up and moving and interacting with each other! They may not just shove the paper in another person's face and say, "Sign!" They need to ask specific questions from the BINGO board. Students may also ask me to sign their BINGO and I'm happy to share about myself (and to be seen as a member of our classroom community). After a set amount of time, we gather on the rug and share what we learned about each other. This often elicits even more conversations (and it's a great time to take notes on what you are learning about children's extracurricular interests and activities.)
Click on the BINGO above or grab a copy of Friend Bingo HERE.

As part of our first week procedures, I send my students on a classroom scavenger hunt.  This helps them familiarize themselves with our classroom and to take ownership for getting supplies and putting materials away. Click on the image below or you can grab a copy of Classroom Scavenger Hunt HERE
Beginning on the first day of school and continuing throughout the year, my class participates in many team building activities. An  easy and exciting game is Thumb War. Break the class into two groups, and have the teams line up facing one another. Each person’s partner will be the person directly across from them. Before each round of Thumb War, give the class a question each player must answer with their partner. After each pair finishes sharing, the Thumb War begins.
Click HERE to download more detailed Thumb War directions and questions. Read about 3 more simple yet effective community building activities HERE.
Getting children to practice thinking and forming logical conclusions is helpful in so many areas (plus it's fun)! A terrific first week of school math activity is School Supplies Logic. My students LOVE using School Supplies Logic Task Cards! In partners, they read clues regarding the amount of objects in a group, while using pencil, ruler, and scissors tiles as manipulatives. This gets students talking to one another, arguing their logical thinking, using the clues as evidence.
Download  your FREE sample set of School Supply Logic task cards HERE.
And of course, always have a good book or two ready to read! HERE is a detailed lesson plan on Big Al by Andrew Clements. It's perfect for the first week! (or anytime!)
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Okay, I know I've given you 5 activities already, but if you're willing to spend  more time, one of my all-time favorite first week projects is to create a class mission statement. Cultivating community and the expectation of acceptance, growth mindset, and kindness within my classroom is first on my list of goals. We begin each school year creating a class mission statement. You can read step by step directions of how to create a class mission statement, click HERE.
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  1. I teach on the college level, and I always have a scavenger hunt so the students can find their way around.

  2. Just love your Friend Bingo Game, a wonderful way to help your kids get to know each other. The thumb wars also look like they're so much fun, I bet your kids really enjoy them. Of course reading an awesome book is so good for them. Your creative ideas really rock.

  3. This is a great back to school post, with tons of great ideas! I really like your team building activities and I LOVE your photos!