The first week of 2nd grade is an exciting time for both students and teachers and I like to make it fun! In this post you’ll find first day ideas, free back to school activities and more!
The first week of school sets the tone for the entire school year (no pressure) and gives you a chance to get to know your students as they get to know each other!
It’s so very important to focus on establishing routines, building a positive classroom environment, and reviewing essential skills from the previous grade. Here are some key topics and activities to consider doing during your first week of 2nd grade! You will definitely want to add these ideas to your favorite first week of school activities!
Activities for the First Week of 2nd Grade
Teach Classroom Procedures and Expectations
From the moment your new 2nd graders walk into your classroom, you should be modeling and teaching your classroom procedures and expectations.
Do not be lenient on these just because it’s the first day or week of school. I promise they won’t think you are “mean”. 2nd graders thrive with structure and routine.
Here are some important classroom procedures to start teaching on the very first day!
- Introduce and explain the daily routines, such as morning procedures, transitions, lunch, recess, and dismissal.
- Teach students how to organize their materials, use classroom resources, and follow directions.
- Establish behavior expectations and discuss the importance of respect, teamwork, and active participation (and any other expectations you may have). Make sure to have a solid classroom management plan in place + additional positive behavior interventions ready to go.
Play Getting to Know You Games
This is a fun, but crucial step to building a positive environment where your students feel safe and ready to learn.
Here are some getting-to-know-each-other activities to plan for the first week of 2nd grade!
This getting to know you Bored Game goes with (my very favorite first day book) will have your students giggling as they get to know each other. Students spin and describe a time when they felt like the book character in You’re Finally Here!
Do Icebreaker Activities
Encourage your students to share about themselves to break the ice and make new friends. This could be done as a game of around-the-room BINGO or play a version of Find Someone Who. that I call Find a Friend. Download a FREE Find a Friend activity page for your students to do the first week of school.
- Create a welcoming and inclusive environment by fostering connections and building a sense of community.
- Use cooperative learning activities to encourage teamwork and collaboration.
Plan First Week Read Alouds
lnclude read-alouds the first week of school to use as a jumping off point for calming nerves, being a good friend, including others, being polite, and so many more topics that many students may be nervous about when starting a new grade.
You’re Finally Here is my all-time favorite first day book that is perfect for all of these topics. It is always a hit with my class and lends itself so well to lots of fun activities to do with the book. This gem of a book is now available in paperback on Amazon. I find it’s a great start to building community in your classroom too!
Include Literacy Activities
I use this book for a full and fun first week of school! We do everything from taking first day photos to setting goals and everything in between! I make a ery big fuss about the fat that I’ve been wiating and waiting for the to arrive! And then I ask, “What took you so long?”. The responses they write on sticky notes are PRICELESS!
I wrote a blog post with pictures of all the activities I do with You’re Finally Here.
Although you likely won’t jump right into the curriculum during your first week of school, I recommend trying to follow your daily schedule. If you normally have your Language Arts block at 10:00 am, try to stick to literacy activities at 10:00 am. It will help build your routine andstart to familiarize students with your classroom schedule. If you need scheduling help or ideas, I’ve written a helpful blog post laying out how to create a daily classroom schedule that is actually do-able.
Additional Language Arts activities to do the first week of school:
- Conduct a fun reading or grammar assessment .
- Give students a reading inventory to gauge their interests.
- Slowly introduce a few of the different centers you will use during your small group literacy block.
Review Math Skills
In math the first week of 2nd grade, I like to review simple addition and subtraction. Choose one addition strategy and one subtraction strategy to do a short review. Color by sum pages are a fun an easy follow up for practice.
Similar to the literacy skills, you can start getting a baseline for your class’ math skills as well. This way, you will be able to adapt your lesson plans, set up small groups, and hit the ground running when it’s time to jump into the curriculum.
Math skills to practice/assess in the first week of 2nd grade:
- Review foundational math concepts such as number sense, place value, and basic addition and subtraction.
- Incorporate math manipulatives and games to make your review fun and hands-on.
Get to know your students using math!
Here’s a fun About Me Math project students always enjoy doing during the first week of school! I’ve also sent this home with families on Meet the Teacher Night so a grown-up can help the student fill out the math autobiography page. They then bring that to school and we do the craft together.
Take An Informal Writing Baseline
To check in on how my students are doing, I use a “How’s it going so far?” writing prompt. I save that writing as a baseline. It often show it to parents at conference time so they can compare it to a current piece of writing and see the growth their child is making.
I know that writing can sometimes be intimidating to start right away (for you AND your students) so this prompt is a no-expectation piece to start with.
Check out these additional writing ideas:
- Do some pre-writing activities like using a graphic organizer to describe 2nd graders or comparing a 2nd grader to a 1st grader. Or use chart paper to make a whole class chart.
- Try fun ways to review grammar and punctuation that students learned in first grade.
- Download these free journal labels and get writing journals, folders, and other notebooks ready.
Have your students set goals for the school year. We make these goal setting kids and hang them up all year. The last week of school I take them down and we revisit all our goals!
Introduce Your Classroom Library
If you are anything like me, your classroom library plays a big role in your classroom. You want your students to have access to all the books they could ever want while still using the library effectively…and responsibly care for the books.
Tips for introducing your classroom library:
- Introduce students to the classroom library and explain how it works.
- Model and discuss your procedure for selecting books based on reading levels and interests.
- Model how to put books back where they go.
- Allow time for independent reading and provide guidance in choosing appropriate books. Independent reading time often gets overlooked, but it’s so important.
- Teach students how to handle and care for the books in your library
- Create a procedure for what to do if students find a damaged book.
Include Social-Emotional Learning
Although your administration, district, and state may believe academics are of sole importance in the classroom, you (as the expert) know that social-emotional learning can be just as important. As teachers, we want to make sure we are fostering the growth of the whole child.
- Introduce social-emotional learning (SEL) activities and discussions to foster emotional well-being and empathy. There are so many great books that can aid in your teaching!
- Teach conflict resolution strategies and encourage students to communicate their feelings effectively. Morning Circle is a great time for this!
- Create a safe space where students can openly express themselves and discuss any concerns they may have.
- Introduce and teach expectations for your calm-down space to help students learn to self-regulate their emotions.
FREE First Day of School Planning Checklist
To help you plan your first day of school, grab this FREE first day planning checklist. The checklist will guide you in everything to plan, teach, and do so you don’t forget anything!
Get it here: FREE First Day of School Checklist
I hope this post helps you feel prepared and ready to go for your first week of 2nd grade! It will be amazing!
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