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Engaging and Insightful Activities for the First Day of School

Are you about to find yourself face to face with students on the first day of school? Check out these long term substitute teacher tips for engaging first day activities.  These activities are designed for students to have FUN while you get a glimpse into their skills!

• Mad-Libs – Remember these side-splitting stories from your childhood? Leave this activity on each student’s desk for them to work on when they first arrive in the morning. This will keep the kids productive while you get everyone situated. Kids will love creating silly stories and they won't even know that you're secretly assessing their grasp of basic grammar! Check out Teaching Resources Classroom jr for some free printable versions that you can use right away.

BONUS: Double this activity as an icebreaker by having students read their stories out loud.  The kids will get a kick out of all the silly combinations!

• “Dear Me” Letter – Ask students to write a letter to their future self. Encourage them to write about how they are feeling on their first day of school, what they hope to learn that year, and what they think they might be like at the end of the year. After they finish writing, have students seal their letters in an envelope, not to be opened until the last day of school. Students will be excited about the idea of receiving their letter at the end of the year, and you'll get to check out their writing skills. 

BONUS: You get a sneak peek into the student's thoughts AND the letters can be used to show student growth at the end of the year.

• Math Vocabulary Crossword Puzzle – While you’re busy handing out books and materials, assign a crossword puzzle that tests students' knowledge of basic math terms and concepts. Students will enjoy the challenge of the puzzle and you'll get to preliminarily assess their math knowledge. Head on over to The Teachers Corner to create your own puzzle.

BONUS: This activity is easily adjusted to all skill levels by either adding a word bank or having students create their own puzzles!

Do you have any creative first day activities that secretly help you diagnose student skills?

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