My Top 5 Activities for First Day of School for Second Grade

June 22, 2021
top 5 activities for the first day of school

I am sharing with you my top 5 favorite activities for the first day of school for second grade.  These activities for second grade’s first day of school are fun and engaging for students.

Goals for the First Day of School

My goal for my students on the first day of school is for them to feel welcomed at school.   I tell them that we are a school family.  We are kind and helpful to each other.   I want my second graders to enjoy school and learning.

  • Build positive relationships with my students
  • Slowly introduce routines to my students
  • Create a sense of excitement about  learning
  • Students should leave school feeling positive

Word Search for the First Day of School

One of my students’ favorite activities for the first day of school is finding their names in a word search. Second graders love word searches. This Back to School word search is a fun and simple activity for the first day of school.  This word search for Back to School is editable so that you can add your students’ names.  

My students love finding their name and friends’ names in the word search.  It is a great Back to School activity to complete while you are waiting for everyone to join your class and are busy greeting students and parents as they enter the classroom for the first time.   You can grab this FREE Editable Back to School Word Search from Lauren Fairclough on Teachers Pay Teachers.  

Back to school word search freebie for the first day of school

Books to Read for the First Day of School

There are many great books to read on the first day of school.  My favorite Back to School book to read is “How Full is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer.  It is about how everyone has an invisible bucket.  When our bucket is full, we feel great!  We feel sad and awful when our bucket is empty.  

This book discusses how our interactions during the day either add water to our bucket or empties water from our bucket.  This book is a great discussion starter on ways we can fill or empty each other’s buckets.

First day of school read aloud

Need more suggestions for Read Alouds?  Check out this post.

Find A Friend Icebreaker Activity for the First Day of School

Introduce students to their classmates using this Find a Friend icebreaker activity for the first day of school!  I want my students to walk around, chat, and get to know their new classmates on the first day of school. As students walk around the classroom, they ask their classmates questions that are on the sheet. The goal is to find a new friend for each box.  This is perfect for lower grades because there are pictures to help the students that struggle with reading.  

First day of school icebreaker activity for second grade
First Day of School Icebreaker
Find a Friend Icebreaker
Find a Friend Icebreaker

You can grab this Back to School Freebie in the FREE Resource Library.

Introduce Rules and Procedures

I like to go over the rules and procedures slowly with my students.  No one wants to hear a long lecture of the rules.  They will start to tune you out.  Whole Brain Teaching has great rules for any classroom with spoken responses and hand gestures.  These rules are a great way to keep students engaged and energized.

Amy Groesbeck has FREE Whole Brain Teaching classroom rules on Teachers Pay Teachers.  There is an editable version so you can use her cute classroom rules posters and add your own rules to them if you don’t want to use the Whole BrainTeaching classroom rules.

FREE whole brain teaching classroom rules - class expectations posters

I especially like using Whole Brain Teaching Attention Getters.  There are many variations to it and you can adapt it to your personality.  The sillier your variations of the Attention Getter, the more fun for your students.

I like to introduce the Scoreboard on the first day of school. The Scoreboard is a great class motivator.  If the class wins, I like giving them rewards such as extra recess or eating lunch on the lawn with the teacher.  

Do you use the Scoreboard in your class?  What type of rewards do you give to your students?

I suggest adding Whole Brain Teaching strategies slowly into your teaching routine.  You don’t have to use all of them. Choose the ones you are most comfortable with and use them before adding new ones to your routine.  

Want to know more about Whole Brain Teaching?  You can find tons of great information on Chris Biffle’s Whole Brain Teaching website.

Snack for Back to School

 I like to read the story “Pete the Cat- Rocking in My School Shoes”. The kids love listening to the CD and watching it on YouTube. Then we follow the clues that Pete the Cat left us. We follow the clues and get a tour of the school.

When we returned to class, there was a snack for us that Pete the Cat had left us.   My students love goldfish crackers.  They especially like the tag I put on them.  They remember this for the rest of the school year. You can get the goldfish snack labels in my free resource library. I have them for first grade and second grade.

You're o-fish-ally a second grader snack tags

Need more freebies and activities for the first day of school? Check out the following posts for more Back to School ideas.

Freebie Frenzy for Back to School

Back-to-School Teacher Ideas and Freebies

Classroom Management Tips and Tricks

How to Teach Routines and Procedures in a Primary Classroom

Back to School Read Alouds

Back to School Ideas and Activities for Kindergarten

Alphabet Activities

The First Day in Kindergarten

Phonological Awareness


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