How do you help kindergarteners settle in on the first day? Try these engaging first day of kindergarten activities!
What Kindergarteners Are Feeling
The first day of kindergarten is the first day of formal schooling.
Even if students went to preschool, the first day of kindergarten is unnerving.
The kindergarten classroom is part of a larger school. That means buses, school lunches, and older students.
In addition, kindergarten differs from preschool in that there is an increased academic focus and a more scheduled day.
On the first day of school, kindergartners are feeling anxious.
This may be due to:
- not knowing what to expect during the school day
- separation from parents or typical caregivers
- not having established friendships
- concern that academic content will be too hard
- not knowing you, the teacher
- being in unfamiliar surroundings
These first day of kindergarten activities will address these potential anxieties to put students’ minds at ease.
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First Day of Kindergarten Activities to Help Kids Adjust
Try these first day of kindergarten activities to acclimate your students to school and calm their worries.
Greet Your Students and Tell Them Fun Facts
Your students want to get to know you.
They want to know that you like them and will be there for them this year.
Greet your students with a kind word and a smile as they enter the room.
Once the day starts, you can help them learn about you by sharing fun facts about yourself.
You can share your favorite color, food, and children’s book.
Tell them something that you are looking forward to this year! Humanize yourself from the start.
Start with a Laugh
You want your classroom to be a joyful learning environment.
Why not set the tone for the day with a laugh?
Share a joke as part of your morning routine.
Do you need some jokes for kids? This digital pack has one for every day of the school year!
Go Over the Schedule
Post your schedule in sight of all your students.
Remember that you may have some pre-readers, so use pictures and words so all students can read the schedule.
Go over what you will do first, next, etc.
Talk them through transition times that require them to leave the classroom.
Assure them that you will walk them everywhere they need to go.
Tell them the procedure for using the bathroom (that is another concern kindergartners have).
Understand that kids may need to go to the bathroom more frequently when nerves are high.
Talk Through Expectations
You should also post your classroom expectations (and send them home to the parents).
Kindly but firmly tell them what you expect from them regarding behavior.
Play Icebreaker Games That Build Community
You can help students make connections with one another by playing some icebreaker games.
Here are two popular ideas:
Would You Rather Questions are great get-to-know-you questions that kids love to answer. This pack is themed for back to school.
You can also ask Attendance Questions to get kids talking. It’s a great icebreaker!
You have to take attendance anyway; you might as well get to know your students while you are at it!
Introduce Subjects Briefly
You want to do a quick overview of each subject and what you’ll be learning.
You want kids to know what to expect and to get excited about the year. Strike an optimistic tone!
If you can, jump in with hands-on activities on Day 1. This will get kids up and moving, which is not only a stress release, it’s fun!
You can also promote connections by doing some group learning. You can put kids in clusters to do a problem-solving activity.
Play Soothing Music
Remember that music is key to mood.
Play some upbeat tunes during transition times. Check out this ultimate classroom playlist.
During quiet times, play some soothing music.
Take a Nature Break
Nature is also soothing to the soul.
If you can’t spend time outside (and I hope you can), you can use nature as a hands-on activity.
Bring something tactile for science – like fresh moss, flowers, or a bug in a jar.
Back to School Books
Reading aloud to your kids is a great way to relax them.
Books with a back-to-school theme help kids identify with their emotions.
They can see the characters work through their problems, giving the child a template.
Here are some ideal read-alouds for the first day of kindergarten:
This adaptation of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” goes through activities for the first day of school.
This warm and friendly book is the perfect way to welcome students to your classroom.
This book sets the theme for the classroom: Kindness. It’s a story about a classroom coming together.
First Day of Kindergarten Activities
These first day of kindergarten activities will go a long way in calming the first day jitters.
By adding some to your daily routine, you’ll help all the students in the classroom smoothly transition to this new grade!
As a bonus, you’ll set the tone for a fantastic year!