Can you believe it? It’s already time to go back to school! Another thing it might be hard to believe after the year we’ve had is that kids are going back to in-person teaching. This means that things are slowly going back to normal! However, kids need more time to adjust and feel comfortable in this new environment after spending most of the time home this past year. This is why preparing awesome back-to-school activities can be the perfect beginning of the new school year!
In this article, we’ll share some fun back-to-school activities for kids of all ages, so regardless of what grade you teach, you can find the ones that work best for your students. Now, let’s get started!
Back-to-School Activities for Preschoolers
Preschoolers’ social development was probably the most affected during the pandemic. The reason for this is because they never established close relationships with other kids. Therefore, it’s not surprising that most of the activities are focused on children getting to know each other and interacting in a playful way.
Passing the Ball
Passing the ball is a powerful team-building activity that even adults use when working in groups. However, due to its simplicity, we believe it would be the perfect ice-breaker activity for preschoolers on their first day of school.
All you need is a soft ball that kids can easily throw from one to another. The challenge is that they need to say the name of the classmate to which they’re throwing the ball. For instance, “I’m throwing the ball to Lily!”
This way they can all remember each other’s names from the very beginning, the purpose being to feel more comfortable and safe in each other’s presence.
All About Me Caterpillar
Another fun back-to-school activity for preschoolers is making them say something about themselves in a fun way. Each child receives a caterpillar made from four or five green paper circles glued one after another. In the first circle, glue a small photo of the student, while in the following circles white their name, their favorite color, their favorite food, and what they want to play the most.
Once you collect caterpillars from all students, create a big board where you’ll pin them. Then, hang the board on a wall, so all the students can see it all the time.
Preschoolers still haven’t learned how to read, but they’re familiar with the letters of the alphabet. And, even if they’re not, playing fun activities and games based on the alphabet is the perfect way for them to learn. Plus, alphabet games and activities are the perfect back-to-school activity as it’s not too challenging nor intimidating.
Memory Matching Games
Memory matching games are always welcomed, regardless of the subject. That’s one of the reasons why we love them – they are very flexible and easily adjustable to different circumstances. However, as a back-to-school activity for preschoolers, we love them because they can introduce a friendly competition among kids, improve their memory, and familiarize them with school items.
To play, make matching cards – one card with a picture of a school item, such as a ruler, and another with the name of that item. Make as many as you want. Then, mix the cards and arrange them on the desk, face down. Ask kids to pick two cards – if the cards match, they receive one point, if the cards don’t match, they lose their turn, and another student guesses. The winner is the student with the most points.
We can’t really finish this list without suggesting some form of art crafts or art activities. After all, they’re perfect for helping children feel more comfortable, expressive, and open with other students. As a back-to-school activity, you can ask preschoolers to draw and paint their name, their family, their pet, favorite school item, and so many other things. After all, drawing is an activity that never fails.
Back-to-School Activities for Elementary School Students
Elementary school students are also very young to begin with curriculum-based activities from day one. Keep a chill and playful atmosphere with the following back-to-school activities for elementary school students.
Hunting for an autograph not only sounds cool, but it will help students feel appreciated and socially more close to their classmates. The activity consists of children drawing a table with a couple of boxes in which they write their favorite activities, interests, or exciting things they’ve done in the past. Then, they show each other the table. If the other student has done the activity, they leave an autograph inside the box. This way, kids will know the classmates they have most in common with, so it’ll be easier to socialize with them later on.
Do You Know Your Neighbour?
Another activity for kids to get to know each other is called “Do you know your neighbor?” To play, you first need to randomize children’s seating arrangement. Then, ask them to get to know the classmate sitting next to them by engaging in a conversation for 10 minutes. Then, ask them to present their new friend in front of the whole class with the information they now know about that student.
Writing “I am..” Poem
Ask kids to write a short poem or text beginning the sentences with “I am… ” Through this poem or text, they need to present to the class the most important characteristics making them who they are.
Even though teaching has not started yet, kids can still form long-term goals for the upcoming year by writing a short paragraph explaining what they want to master (knowledge and/or skills) and why. Then, tell them that you’ll take all of the writings and keep them until the end of the year, which is when you’ll give them back. This way, they’ll see whether they’ve accomplished their goals and reflect on how the year has changed them.
This one is a classic, but still worth covering. It’s a simple writing activity where kids write a short essay about their summer experiences and memories, then they read it in front of the class if they are comfortable.
Alternatively, you can also ask the student to simply share their experience orally, and not by writing an essay. Choose the alternative you think will best fit your students’ abilities and skills.
You can also encourage them to write or think of happy memories, no matter how trivial they might seem.
Back-to-School Activities for Middle School Students
Middle schoolers are filled with energy and social drive that makes it a considerable challenge to keep their attention longer than a few minutes. This is why playful back-to-school activities are very important for middle school students. Diving straight into the material from day one might backfire, making them disinterested and impatient, which is why we recommend the following activities.
Vocabulary Exercise: Describing My Personality
There’s still a way for kids to learn without them even realizing it. For instance, through this back-to-school activity, you can enrich kids’ vocabulary by asking them to describe themselves or their best friend in new words. Bonus: make it a game, the student who uses the newest words, wins a reward.
However, when we say new words, we mean some high-end descriptive adjectives that kids don’t often use. Give them a vocabulary pool of words with their definitions and ask them to find words that best fit their personality (or their best friend’s).
What Do I Remember?
This is an activity that gives teachers the chance to evaluate students’ retained knowledge from the past year, without giving them a test or stressing them out with a formal quiz.
Sit in front of the students and ask them to share what they remember most about the past year. Do not limit them, but simply encourage them to share anything they feel is worth remembering. This can be a joke, an activity that made an impression on them, a specific lecture, a field trip, or maybe something else.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Just like the “Summer Memories” activity for elementary school students, “How I spent my summer” is a writing activity that asks students to write about their summer, but in a more elaborate way. Instruct students to include skills they’ve learned, new knowledge they’ve gained, new hobbies they’ve taken, places they’ve visited, or more personal experiences if they’re comfortable sharing.
Is there a better way to fill the classroom with laughter than challenging kids with a joyful brain game, challenging their creative thinking? They’ll have fun while working on their cognitive development, the best of both worlds.
Here are a few examples of a rhyming riddle for kids:
The sound of my voice can bring you to tears without a single word touching your ears.
I have a tongue but cannot talk.
I regularly go for walks.
Yet, despite all this, I have no legs.
No, not even a peg.
My Personal Journey
Finally, the last back-to-school activity for middle schoolers is creating a personal journey based on their interests, hobbies, talents, and other important things they find important. Ask them to write down the things they enjoy doing, the questions that cause curiosity, and the skills they would like to develop. Then, with your help, ask them to write a step-by-step plan on how to improve their knowledge or skills regarding the things they’ve written down.
Back-to-School Activities for High School Students
How do you grab the attention of teenagers? It’s not easy, but the following activities might help you make them more interested in the matter at hand. After all, many of the activities involve group work, which for them is a great opportunity for socializing.
Would You Rather?
“Would you rather” is a popular party game, which is why we believe it would be appealing to high school students. However, to make it more educational, ask questions that pose a moral dilemma, or a dilemma concerning an upcoming topic. Encourage kids to elaborate their opinions and even develop a debate with other students who might think differently. This would result in a very educational and productive discussion, and that’s the perfect beginning of high school.
Another back-to-school activity for high school students is to divide them into groups and have them take a look around the classroom materials and set up, trying to make predictions about the upcoming lessons. Additionally, ask them to pick a book, textbook, or other educational material (topic overviews) and choose a topic they want to explore more in-depth, then write a presentation when that topic is covered.
Writing Assignment: How I’ve Changed?
For high school students, this writing assignment should be a more abstract, reflective task that focuses on their identity as a central topic. Teenagers are in their formative years, where their most important job is figuring out who they are and what they want from their life. This is why asking them to write an essay on changes and how their feelings or opinions have changed is an extremely beneficial assignment for their self-development.
Building a positive learning environment and setting good classroom principles that all students will respect is not an easy job. This is why it’s a great idea to start the year by preparing anonymous questionnaires and asking students to fill them out as honestly as they can because it’s only for feedback and improvement.
This type of evaluation questionnaires are given at the end of the course, but doing one at the beginning is probably even more useful. Ask students what they expect, what they want to learn about, what type of teaching style they prefer, what bothers stem most, on what level is their previous knowledge on the subject, and how they feel about the subject in general. Using this information, you can choose to structure the upcoming lessons accordingly.
Setting Up a Career Goal
Finally, the last back-to-school activity for today is asking kids to set up a career goal. Of course, this is not something decisive as when they have to make a decision at which college or university they’re going to attend, but more of a reflective activity and practice plan that forces students to think about the future in a more serious way. Regardless of what they choose, make them write down how they envision themselves after 10 years – what skills or knowledge they possess, why they are good at their job, what makes them happy, etc.
Before You Go
We hope that these activities will help you prepare students for learning. After all, it’s important to acknowledge that new beginnings are hard and there might be psychological barriers that keep kids on their toes. Spending time to make them feel comfortable with each other and you as a teacher is a productive time that will pay off throughout the year.
And, if you ever need help through the year with resources to accompany your lessons or awesome activities such as these ones, don’t hesitate to visit our website and blog.
On our website, you’ll find thousands of worksheet packs organized by subject area and specific topics, so you’ll easily find what you’re looking for.
On our blog, you can read dozens of other articles describing educational activities for kids in the classroom or a homeschooling setting. Whatever you need, we’ve got your back!
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Link will appear as 20 Back-to-School Activities for Kids of All Ages: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 25, 2021