The words “back to school” can trigger many emotions in students and teachers alike. Help your new students get rid of first week jitters with lesson plans that will build new friendships in the classroom through creative art projects, a lesson on the power of interviews and much more.
Art: My favorite things
Get to know your students from head to toe through this hands-on art project.This exercise not only builds friendships but boost self-esteem through positive reinforcement from one classmate to another.
- Roll paper (the length of a student’s body)
- Break students into pairs. Instruct each pair that they will take turns lying on the floor on top of the roll paper while their partner traces their figure.
- Each student will proceed to work on their own traced figure, decorating him or herself. Remind students to not only draw facial features but also design their clothes and write their name somewhere on the sheet of paper.
- On the outlined sides of the body, have each student write their favorite things according to different categories such as favorite food, television show, color, school subject and holiday. These categories vary with age and you can work with your class to determine them.
- Students will turn back to their partners and share their favorite things.
- Instruct each partner to then write what they like the most about their new classmate on the bottom of the traced figure and initial it.
- Hang the artwork up in the hallway or the classroom.
As a class, discuss your favorite things. Students will be surprised to see how much they have in common. And teachers: don’t forget to share your favorite things too.
Math: Birthday graphs
This introductory lesson on graphing will enable you to gather important information for the school year while students get to know their classmates’ birthdays.
- List of birthdays
- Graphing paper
- Hold a mini-lesson on graphing. First, list the different types of graphs a person can make (bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs, etc.). Explain the differences between each graph and when it is best to use the various types.
- Go over the importance of collecting data and the key terms to make a graph (the x- and y-axis, the title, the legend, etc.).
- As a class, create a sample graph. Poll your students as to what their favorite summer activity was from camping to playing sports to making arts and crafts.
- Draw the graph of your choosing on the whiteboard so students can see an example of what they’re going to do next.
- Now, distribute the class list of everyone’s birthday.
- Students will work individually creating each type of graph discussed in class with the students’ birthdays.
- Each type of graph should analyze a different result from their findings from dates to months to years:
- The Bar Graph: Tally how many students have a birthday in each month of the year.
- The Pie Chart: Record the percentage of students who have a birthday each month. Or, instruct students to record the top three months in their pie charts.
- The Line Graph: Document the days of the month on the line graph, and conclude which date has the most (and least) birthdays.
As a class, choose the best graph to show their birthdays and work together to make a large chart to hang up in the classroom.
Writing: Summer shades
Start the year off with a quick writing activity that assesses each student’s writing ability while getting to know how each student spent his or her summer.
- Drawing paper
- Lined paper
- As a class, discuss how students spent their summer prompting each student or a just a few to share an engaging story about their favorite summer activity.
- Pass out drawing paper and crayons/markers to each student.
- Instruct students to spend 15 minutes drawing a self-portrait, but instead of eyes, each student draws a large pair of sunglasses.
- Inside the sunglasses, instruct students to tell a story through their artwork, drawing something he or she did over the summer such as a trip, activity, etc.
- Proceed to pass out lined paper while students are coloring their self-portraits.
- Take this opportunity to review the characteristics of a paragraph and topic sentences.
- After the allotted time is up, have students write a short story of three paragraphs with a beginning, middle and an end on the activity they just drew.
- Ask a few students that did not share earlier to read their final paragraphs to the class.
Hang each self-portrait on a bulletin board to brighten your classroom and get some personalization from the first week of school.
Language Arts: The interview
Students will practice oral presentations skills as well as writing and note taking while getting to know their new classmates.
- Sample interview question worksheet
- Paper and pens
- Student photos
- Ask students to define what an interview is.
- As a class, brainstorm reasons for interviewing people and people they would like to interview and why. This also acts as a great ice-breaking activity for the first week of school.
- Pair students, if possible, with a classmate who is unknown to him or her.
- Hand out a worksheet, with prompts including birthplace, birthday, favorite food, pets, books, etc. Dependent upon age and ability of students this may be eliminated or elaborated as needed.
- Remind students to ask each other what they hope to learn in the new school year.
- Explain the need for notes, and if necessary, do a quick review of note taking.
- Allow students 15 minutes to interview their partners.
- After students interview each other, give them five-to-10 minutes to review their notes, gather their thoughts and make a plan for the oral presentation.
- Go around the room and have each student introduce his or her partner to the class and field any questions about their subject.
If possible, attach a photo of each student to the interviewer’s write-up. Collect, and hang on a bulletin for classroom décor.