Ready or Not, Here They Come!

No matter if it’s your first year teaching or your first time in first grade, the first day of school can be INTIMIDATING. In this post, I wanted to share with you some resources I use and my schedule for my first day of first grade! If you’re just joining me in this series, check out Part One and Part Two by clicking on the links!

My Schedule

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This bad boy stays attached to my clipboard all. day. long. You might have already read about how I make this schedule (and how you can make yours!) in THIS blog post.

What do I do when they come through the door?

Smile and say, “Good Morning!”

When the kids come through the door, they will have a million pieces of information being thrown at them. I always make a point to greet them as soon as they get in the room and usher them through our typical morning routine. For us, that means signing in and unpacking at our cubby. I also go ahead and give them their name tag that you can get from my Kentucky Kinder store.  This is a moment for me to introduce the child to his/her cubby and desk while also gently telling parents, “We’ve got this!” so they can get on to work without worrying!

I am not trying to sort through any school supplies at this point. I will help kids remove the supplies from their backpacks, but I try to just keep them in an explosive mess on the floor organized piles until I can get to them at the end of the day.

What are the kids doing when they get to the room?

At my school, kids are aloud to come to my classroom 30 minutes before the school day begins. This means that I HAVE to have something ready to get those kids engaged from the moment they walk through the door. For the first three days of school, I have very simple activities that require no directions whatsoever. On day one, it is always Play-doh. What kid isn’t going to say, “PEACE OUT!” to their parents when they see Play-doh on their desk? You could just as easily do unifix cubes, tangrams, pattern blocks, coloring pages, etc.


Some people are doing the morning tub idea – if that’s what your school does, then I would just go ahead and begin with some very simple morning tubs. 🙂


In my schedule, you’ll see reference to a few of my “go-to” activities in the first week of school. Some of these activities are on the first day, some are on the second or third. And, let’s be real, some will happen the next week or not at all because that’s just LIFE!

All About Me Teacher Bag


Have your students help you create an anchor chart with all of the things they want in a teacher this year. I love hearing what hopes and dreams the students have to know if there are any characteristics I can play up with my bag or can work on to make the year a success. Unfortunately, I’m not a poster princess yet 😦


Fill a bag with pieces of information all about YOU! This is such a fun way to help the students build their inferencing and questioning skills all while learning about their new favorite subject: their teacher!

How We Get Home Graph


Prep this simple graph ahead of time and have your students make a graph about how they will go home today. This serves as a great way to figure out which students do not know where they need to go (and you can therefore check your lists or call the office) and you can go over dismissal procedures!


Yes, it’s the first day of school. Yes, they are five and six. Yes, they can do procedures on the first day. Yes, it will save your sanity. One click glance at my schedule and you can see that is what we spend the very bulk of our first day(s) doing as first graders. They crave structure and need to know exactly what you expect of them in order to set the tone for your year.

In the first few weeks of school, I have a PowerPoint that I reference constantly. I describe that PowerPoint, and how you can make one for your kiddos, in this blog post. Any time in my plans that you see “on PPT” or “using the PPT” that means my kids and I are locked into some real photographs and real discussion of what I expect in the classroom and in the building.


Community Building

We do a lot of community building in those first few weeks. Sometimes, it is a simple Kagan strategy and other times it is an activity from my Back to School Pack. Link Up is an absolutely zero prep way to get to know your kiddos and for them to get to know one another.

Another popular favorite is…Jitter Juice.

Who doesn’t love Jitter Juice?


We always read Jitter Juice as a class in order to let the kids know that I am absolutely just as nervous as they are! The kids are always so surprised by the ending and the tension they previously held in their little bodies immediately leaves. There are a lot of different recipes that you can find online regarding Jitter Juice, but here is mine:

  • Sprite
  • Pink Lemonade Mix
  • Rainbow Sprinkles


After reading the story, I announce that *gasp* we are going to make Jitter Juice!

I call the kids over in small groups while the rest of the students are coloring or watching something on the Smart Board. I know this isn’t the most groundbreaking experience for them, but they’re going to be tired by this point in the day, folks!

IMG_1005 copyI do none of the work other than pour the Sprite into the cups. The kids are mesmerized by watching the Sprinkles dance in the bubbles and we talk about how those are like the jitters in their bellies. As soon as they finish their taste test, they take a post-it and write their name. This post-it is then placed on our “Do you like Jitter Juice?” graph. (We love graphs at the beginning of the year!)


I hope you have found something that makes your life a little bit easier for your first day of First Grade!


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