Planning for the first week of kindergarten can be a challenge. You don't know your students yet, therefore, you don't know their skill-level or personalities yet. Take the stress out of planning for the first week of school with these hands-on, meaningful first week of kindergarten activities and assessments.
The first week of kindergarten is all about balancing getting to know you activities and building relationships with procedures, routines, and fun, hands-on activities. There's so much to do, but only a limited amount of time.
As you plan, you also have to keep in mind what's realistic for brand new kindergarteners. You can check out an example schedule for the first week of kindergarten as well as learn how to set realistic expectations for yourself and your students in this blog post.
Read on to learn about some engaging first week of kindergarten activities that you can incorporate into your lesson plans.
Soft Start Activities
When your brand new kindergarteners enter your classroom for the first week of school, they're most likely going to be a little nervous. They're in a new place with new friends and a new teacher.
Giving students soft start activities to begin their day is important anytime of year, but especially during the first week of school. This allows students to ease into the school routine and get more comfortable before starting the day.
As you greet students and connect with them 1-on-1, the other students can be completing soft start activities, such as coloring pages, building with pattern blocks or other manipulatives, or doing hands-on educational activities, such as bear or link sorts.
Getting to Know You Activities
Building relationships with your students and creating a strong classroom community is the number one goal during the first week of school.
Incorporating getting to know you activities is a great way for you to learn more about your students as well as help them get to know each other.
One idea is to play a game where students stand in a circle and pass a ball or item while the music plays. When the music stops, the student with the ball shares something, such as their name, favorite food, favorite color, game, book, etc. Play continues until all students have had a turn.
Pair, Share is another fun first week of school activity. Put students in partners and have them tell each other something fun about them. After sharing, they can switch partners and repeat.
They could even share their All About Me Book, like the one found in this First Week of Kindergarten resource.
Three About Me
A fun way to involve families is to have students complete a Three About Me activity. They can bring 3 items from home that represent them so they can share with the class.
If you have a meet the teacher night, you can have a Three About Me bag sitting on their desk for them to take home, complete with their family, and return on the first day.
You can also send their Three About Me bag home on the first day of school for them to return later that week.
Another option is for students to draw 3 things that represent them, instead of bringing items from home.
While you may not dive straight into your literacy curriculum during the first week of kindergarten, you can still incorporate literacy activities into your lessons.
Name practice activities that encourage students to trace, write, or build their name are great for the first week. Students can use manipulatives such as magnetic letters or mini erasers to build their names.
Read alouds are always a must-have, especially during the first week of school. After a read aloud, have students draw a picture to show their favorite part of the story. Encourage students to turn and talk to a neighbor to discuss the story and their favorite characters.
Basic literacy activities, such as magnetic letter matching mats for uppercase and lowercase letters is an effective way to ease students into more educational activities, while still keeping it first week appropriate.
When it comes to planning your first week of kindergarten activities for math, the name of the game is manipulatives! This keeps the learning hands-on so students stay engaged. Plus, they're super simple and don't require much (or any!) prep.
Some great options are to have students sort shapes with pattern blocks. They can sort colors with various manipulatives, such as bears, color links, math cubes, or pom-poms.
You can extend these activities by having students make a pattern with their manipulatives.
Similar to the magnetic letter matching, students can use magnetic number matching mats.
If you want to incorporate some counting activities, you can have students build math towers with cubes. Use activity mats with materials such as mini erasers or snack items like cereal or cheese crackers.
While you may not be doing pop quizzes and tests during the first week of school, it is important to get an idea of where your students are at with their skills.
While students are doing an independent activity or having technology time, you can use assessment checklists and task card activities to assess where your students are at skill-wise.
Don't stress these assessments (for you or your students). They're simply a baseline to let you know where students are at and track their progress as they grow.
Rules, Procedures, and Social Skills Activities
The first week of kindergarten is all about rules, procedures, and social skills! With brand new kindergarteners, you have to teach them the expectations and model how to do nearly everything.
From hand-washing to tracing, cutting, gluing, and even using manipulatives like dice correctly, they need to practice it all! Therefore, it's important to give students meaningful activities to help them learn.
To help students get more comfortable with the school, the people, and where they'll be going throughout the day, you can complete a fun school scavenger hunt activity as a class.
The goal is to make students feel as safe and welcomed in the school and your classroom as possible.
By setting expectations and working on social skills, you can ensure you're doing your part to make school a safe place for them to learn and grow.
Free Listening Skills Mini Unit
Teaching students listening skills is one of the most important social skills to introduce right away. It's important that you communicate to them WHY it's important to listen as well as to model what listening does and doesn't look like.
Follow that up with engaging listening skills activities such as pocket chart sorts, posters, activity pages, foldable books, and more.
You can get an entire listening skills mini unit to use with your students for FREE. Just fill out the form below and it'll be sent straight to your inbox.
First Week of Kindergarten Reminders
As you get ready to take on the first week of kindergarten, remember to give yourself, your students, and their parents grace. This is a big adjustment for everyone.
Don't forget to take a first day of school picture of your students. Save them, add them to their memory books at the end of the year, and compare them to their last day of school pictures.
Kindergarteners are wiggly, so do plenty of brain breaks, songs, and read alouds throughout the day.
Keep the activities simple. The last thing you want is a child to feel frustrated on the first day of school because something was too hard.
Stay positive, take care of yourself, and most of all, have fun!
For more tips and encouragement for the first week of school, check out this first week of school survival guide.
If you liked the activities you saw in this blog post, you can get them all in this First Week of Kindergarten activity pack. Comment below and let me know if you grab it!