5 First Week of School Activities to Build Lasting Relationships

First week of school activities are the perfect way to build lasting relationships and trust with your students. They can be quick and easy to do!

Do you remember your first day of school? If you are like me, you might have to think REALLY hard! So many emotions are swirling – excitement, fear, and everything in between! Back to school is an exciting time for students and teachers and first week of school activities are a great way to start the fun!

First week of school activities are one of the best ways to begin the school year. The first week of school is an important time to set the stage for establishing strong relationships and trust with your students.

Some teachers see the “fun” back to school activities as a waste of time, but I’m here to tell you that it can quite possibly be the most important thing you can do to build relationships and get to know your students.

First week of school activities do not have to be time-consuming. I like to sprinkle in the get to know you activities as I am teaching our routines and introducing a little bit of content.

Here are five easy, no-prep, back to school activities that I love to use in my own classroom. They are a quick, fun way to break the ice and get to know your students!

1. Three Truths and Lie

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This easy game is always a hit and is guaranteed to get a few laughs! Challenge students to think up three interesting facts about themselves and one lie. Students can easily write these down on paper or go to my free resource library to use this digital copy.

It’s fun to have the students take turns reading their four statements and let their classmates guess which is false.

2. Get to Know You Bingo – A great first week of school activity!

Save time with this ready-made game here!

This is one of my favorite first week of school activities! Give each student a bingo card and instruct them to find partners who meet the descriptions in the boxes. Ex: find someone who speaks another language. If the person matches the description in the box, they sign in the empty space. My rule is that students can only get one signature per classmate. This encourages them to mingle and get outside of their comfort zone a little bit.

I LOVE to play along with my students!! It’s a great way to mingle and get to know all about them!

3. The A-B-C Name Game

If you are like me and have a difficult time getting to know 100 + students, the name game is a lifesaver! To play this quick and easy game, have students come up with a description that matches the first letter of their name. Ex: Soccer Steve, Piano Paula ….

I like to work our way around the room and have each student introduce themselves with their “new name”. You will be sure to get some laughs and a few goofy answers which will not only help you get to know their names, but other students may discover something they have in common with someone they have never talked to before.

If you have some extra time, try challenging students to list as many “new names” as they can. Sometimes, I like to challenge a student to see who can remember the most names in the class!

4. Time Capsule (my absolute FAVORITE first week of school activity)

Take a look at this no-prep PDF resource here!

Every year for the past 20 years, I have kicked off the school year with a time capsule. Students complete a series of questions about themselves and their favorite things. I keep a meter stick hot glued to my wall to measure their height which also gets recorded on the time capsule.

When they are finished, they fold their answers over and turn in their paper. I tell them that I will lock it away in my file cabinet and they will see it again on the last day of school.

Fast forward to the last day of school – each student receives their time capsule, but the fall answers are hidden from view. They pinkie swear not to peek and then quickly get to work re-answering the same questions on the opposite side of the paper. Students get re-measured (be sure to use the same unit so they can easily see the comparison – I use cm since we are in science and I am introducing the metric system) and they record their height.

When everyone is done, I make a big deal of the time capsule reveal, complete with a countdown and drumroll. The oohs and ahhs are audible as they are reading their previous answers and realizing how much they have changed. I can’t tell you how many times I hear things like “eeew, I can’t believe I used to like……” 🙂

This year, Covid threw a curveball at me. It was the first time in 20 years that I haven’t been able to return the time capsule. I promised my students that they could come by my classroom when they returned to school to pick them up!

Since everyone was so disappointed they could not finish the time capsule, I decided to up the game and go digital this year. I’ve added some fun slides that I think the students will really love and that will help me learn even more about them.

Click here to take a look at this digital time capsule for PPT and Google Slides.

5. Table Top Name Tents

When you have 100+ students get to know, tabletop name tents are an easy first week of school activity to help learn names and some fun facts about your students.

They are SUPER EASY to make:

  • Hold the paper vertically (portrait) and make three even folds.
  • Unfold and position so that the base is supporting the two sides.
  • Instruct students to write their name very large on one side.
  • They can color and decorate their name to personalize it

I like to have students complete one side per day for the first three days of school. For example. on day one, they write their name and describe in words or pictures the best part of their summer. On day two, they choose a different side and again write their name and write three awesome facts about themselves. On day three, they complete the final side by writing their name in bubble letters and filling the letters in with pictures or words that describe them/favorite things). Sky’s the limit!

Two reasons I like to use this activity:

  1. It gives the students something to work on while I am taking attendance and passing out papers during the first five minutes of class.
  2. I can get to know the students just by walking around the room and do not have to on using a seating chart to figure out who they are!

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