First Day of School Lesson Plans, Ideas and Freebies

Many students are going back to school this week. As teachers, we try to go over our lists and lesson plans to make sure that everything is ready for the first day of school. Although some of us know that we will have to start soon and we always want to be prepared.

Here is a blog post, about the first day (and week) of school, that I published on my old blog back in 2011. It contains my notes for ideas that can be used on the first day of school, but they can also be spread out throughout the week. I hope that it is useful to you.

To do list:

  • Hallway Bulletin Board
  • Class list (3 copies- one to post at your door -one for attendance -one on clipboard that you will carry all day)
  • Create a door sign
    (Welcome to Mrs. Barbosa’s Classroom) or (Mrs. Barbosa’s Shining Stars)
  • Parent information form. Parents will fill out important information when they drop child off on the first day.
  • Supply list
  • Decide on storage for supplies for the first day of school
  • Name tags, desk plates and backpack tags with student names
  • Put up the classroom decorations and any posters you have to make the classroom look more inviting.
  • Classroom labels (dual language classrooms will print English words in black or blue and Spanish words in red.
  • Book basket labels for the library center.
  • Center signs
  • Daily schedule
  • Tubs for middle of tables for community supplies (crayons, markers, pencils, erasers)
  • Word Wall letters are up on the wall
  • Restroom Signs
  • Labeled mailboxes for Student work
  • Calendar for morning songs and routines
  • Teacher table for Guided Reading
  • Bulletin Board to display student work
  • Center materials nicely organized in each center
  • Seating chart for tables and carpet area

Just a few things that you might want to incorporate into your lesson plan.

First Day Lesson Plans

Student Arrival

The first day is very quiet in the classroom because students are a little nervous. Have some soft music playing in the background as they walk in. This will help calm their nerves. Greet students and parents at the door. Show student where to place backpack. Ask students to come in and get started on a table activity. I like to place colored trays out with play-doh for each student. I take half sheets of construction paper and write their names in large print. Each student will trace his name with play-doh. This will keep students stay engaged while you give parents an information sheet to fill out.

Introductions- Time to call students to the meeting area. First welcome the students and introduce yourself. You can have a getting to know you activity. It can be something as simple as tossing a bean bag to one student at a time. When a child catches the bean bag, he will say his name. Students receive their name tags as soon as they state their name. You can write their lunch card number behind their name tags.

Summer stories-

Engage students in conversations about their summer adventures.

Our School

Students will get to know that there are different areas within our school.

  • This will be your classroom and I am your teacher, Mrs. Barbosa. I will take care of you at school and teach you how to read, write, count and much more.
  • We have restrooms. This is where they are located. If you need to go to the restroom, just look at this door where the restroom passes are hanging. If you see that the restroom pass is available, just get up and take the pass with you. Make sure you return it to it’s home when you come back, so that other students may use it.
  • We have a cafeteria. This is where we will go to eat. We will take a tour of the school a little later.
  • We have a nurse. If you ever feel sick, the nurse can take care of you.
  • Our school has a library. We will go there for Story Time and to check out books.
  • We have a Computer Lab. We will go there once a week to learn how to use the computer and work on some activities.
  • You will have recess time every day. This is when you will take a break from studying and play with your friends in the playground.
  • The office is located at the entrance of the school. This is where the Principal and Assistant Principal have their offices to work in. They will come visit our classroom throughout the year to see what we are learning.

Story Time

I love to read The Kissing Hand on the first day of school. This will be a story that all students will be able to relate to. After the story tell students to kiss their hand and place it gently on their cheek. I tell them to do this any time they feel sad or miss home when they are at school. This will represent their mom’s presence, love and warmth while they are at school. It’s cute to see students kissing their little hand and then placing it on their cheek throughout the day. It’s like their security blanket. Hold a discussion after you read the story. Ask; What happened first? next? last? Now talk about how the racoon felt on his first day of school. Now, tie it in to how your students feel today on their first day of school.

Follow-up activity

This can be an illustration of how the student feels on their first day of school. (This will become your first Class Book.) I always demonstrate how to complete an activity before I send them to their tables… Before they go to the table, I give them three choices with visuals. How do you feel today? Happy, nervous or sad? Students will go to tables and get started.

Restroom Break and Procedures

While students are working on the Kissing Hand activity, I start calling one table at a time for a restroom break. Before each student walks in, I explain that they have to go inside toilet bowl so that seats don’t get wet (you have to repeat this over and over to the boys throughout the year). Also, all paper needs to be flushed away! No paper is allowed to be thrown on the floor. I also show them where they need to stand to wait their turn in line when the restroom is busy. I also show them how to wash their hands. You need to demonstrate step by step. A drop of soap, place hands under running stream of water, scrub hands, rinse hands and turn faucet off – they could even use hand sanitizer to keep their hands free of germs. Take one paper towel and toss it in the waste basket when you are done. Walk quietly to your work station or carpet. They also need to know where and how to wait their turn.

Calendar time songs and procedures

  • Sing the songs and use the Macarena gestures for Months of the year
  • Sing Days of the week
  • Yesterday was, Today is, Tomorrow will be
  • Count the number of days in school
  • Last month was, This month is, Next month will be
  • Today’s date is
  • Alphabet chant
  • Star of the day -Choose one student per day to be the star.

Introduce Quiet Signal (Give me 5 poster)

  • Eyes on speaker
  • Listening ears
  • Hands to self
  • Legs crossed (Sit like a pretzel)
  • Quiet voices (to respect the speaker)

Procedures to line up- Students practice how and where to line up when we are going to exit the classroom. We practice (in the classroom) how to walk in line. Face forward, hands to yourself, feet to yourself, nice and quiet. Now we practice in the hallway while taking a tour of the school. I take them to the cafeteria first because we go to lunch very early. Students practice walking into the cafeteria and to our designated table. They also practice procedures for putting lunch trays away and getting up from table to line up quietly. We continue our tour around the school. I make sure to take them to the playground to show them where our meeting area will be at the end of recess.

D.E.A.R. time procedures

(or Daily 5 reading time) -let students know that this is a good time to go to the restroom if needed.

  • Quiet spot (in Kinder, the teacher selects a quiet spot for each student until students demonstrate an established routine and responsibility)
  • Choose book from your book basket (or browsing box)
  • Read quietly without interrupting your neighbors
  • Teacher walks around the room praising students who are following procedures.

Introduce math tubs

Show students how math tubs have their own home. This will help them and you stay organized by putting things back where they belong. You might consider using labels for your math tubs. Place one on the tub and one on the shelf. -The teacher will sit at the table and all the students will stand around her in the math center.

Teacher will model how to:

  • select a math tub
  • take manipulatives out quietly
  • return tub to its’ home when they are done

Graphing Activity

How do you go home?

Dismissal procedures

Use a list and name tags to make dismissal time a breeze.

Songs for the Week

  • Wheels on the Bus
  • Good Morning song
  • Everybody Clean Up
  • Calendar songs
  • Alphabet song

Assessment Checklist and notes

  • follows directions
  • attentive listener
  • participates during songs
  • participates in discussions
  • speaks up when needed (needs to go to the restroom, needs a pencil…)
  • gets along with others
  • need to separate from this student __________
  • writes first name
  • good fine motor skills
  • good gross motor skills
  • concerns: ________________________
  • I love doing a sounds assessment on the first week of school after reading the story Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I incorporate an art activity. Students make a coconut tree and each student adds colorful stickers with the sounds they already know as I conduct the assessment. Some students will know a lot of sounds and others will not, but you can keep adding stickers throughout the year as the student learns new sounds. Post these in your classroom. It’s a quick way of monitoring a student’s progress.

The next few weeks of school, students will continue to practice rules and procedures until they demonstrate an established routine.

Your students will also be helping you write criteria charts.

Criteria Chart ideas

  • I’m Ready for School (students will generate a list of classroom rules)
  • I’m Ready for the Hall (hallway rules)
  • Good Listeners (students always come up with the Give Me 5 rules)
  • I’m Ready to work ( table work procedures)
  • Good Readers
  • Good Writers
  • Arrival Procedures


Here are some school forms that will help you on the first weeks of school. They are all available in English and Spanish.
Find the Spanish resources here.