First order? Save 5% - FIRST5 close

What activities should I do during the first week of teaching first grade?

I have been a teacher for the past 7 years. I have been teaching 5th grade for the past 4 years (prior to that I was a reading specialist).

At the end of the last school year, I was told I would be teaching 1st grade. I am excited about the change, however I am struggling with activities to do at the beginning of the year. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Top 3 Answers

Favorite Answer

One of the best books I’ve read about the beginning of the school year is “The First Six Weeks of School.” This book has detailed lesson plans for the first few weeks of school and then broader plans for the rest of the six weeks.

Before you can do much academic teaching, you must teach the students the routines of the classroom from how to enter the room, lining up, asking questions, using the restroom, getting supplies, etc. and give them ample opportunity to practice them so that they know the routines and can do them in their sleep so to speak; if this is done, you will not be disturbed during the teaching time by a student not knowing what to do.

If the students learn what is expected of them as far as following classroom routines and rules at the beginning of the year, you will not waste precious classroom time later in the year and you will have much more time available for teaching.

You may also want to have the first graders give you some ideas for classroom rules (they are more likely to adhere to the rules if they decide what they should be).

Do some “getting to know you” activities so that the students get to know the other students. It is also a good way for you to learn more about the likes and dislikes of each student.

Also read to them, have them draw/write stories for you (most first grade students may not yet be able to do a lot of writing). The first week is a good time for you to do informal assessments to see what they know and what they still need to work on. This will help determine your small groups and what you need to work on with each student.

Being a former reading specialist will be a plus in a first grade classroom!


This is going to be really different for you! The first week of school it is really important to establish classroom rules and routines. This could include:

what they’ll do before school starts every day , how they’ll hand in homework,

when they can talk,

how to get sharpened pencils,

how to navigate the cafeteria,

how to play on the playground

where to go during a fire drill

what the classroom rules will be as well as the consequences.

how they’ll line up and walk down the hall

You’ll want to explain all this stuff and then model it and then they’ll have to practice it. It’s really important that they know the first week what your expectations are, if they don’t you’ll spend the whole year being frustrated.

Fifth graders knew how to “do” school. First graders are pretty much a clean slate. BTW, I have a bathroom in my room so I have to give the boys a lecture about the toilet seat.

This will keep you pretty busy, but you’ll also want to do some getting to know each other activities. I always have them draw a picture of how they looked the first day of school and have them do another one at the end of the year and then send them both home.

Another thing I like to do is to plant seeds the first week….like basil or rosemary or coleius. They can watch them grow the whole year and by Mother’s day you’ve got something pretty impressive for them to take home that didn’t cost you very much.

Email me if I can be helpful!


Read the kids “The Kissing Hand.” It talks about how hard it is to be away from “mom” and gives them a coping mechanism for their school day.

Go over rules and routines over and over and over again.

Write a classroom pledge to one another about ways that you’ll treat each other during the year. It goes along with rules, etc.

Be sure that you are very consistent with your behavior management system. Teach them about it immediately and follow through.

Teach them some poems/rhymes/etc. that you can use in a pinch during a transition time.

Get them up and moving to get wiggles out often. My kids LOVE the chicken dance…you just have to set the tone that you can take breaks like that as long as the kids will get back to work afterward…they have to know not to take it too far.

I could go on and on.

Good luck. First grade is a wonderful adventure.


Give your grades a lift Order