The first day of kindergarten is one of the most exciting days in elementary school! As teachers, this can result in feeling a lot of pressure to make the first day of kindergarten go smoothly so that students have happy memories of their very first day of school. In this post, I wanted to outline fun activities and important procedures to include in your lesson plans for the first day of kindergarten. In fact, I’m even going to give you a chance to take a peek at my very own detailed plans for the first day of school!
What to Plan for the First Day of Kindergarten
Open-Ended Seat Work
The first thing you want to plan for the first day of kindergarten is an open-ended activity for students to complete as they arrive. There are going to be many different things that require your attention as students are entering the classroom.
Having a simple but engaging activity will keep students occupied until you’re ready to move on to the next activity. Make sure it’s open-ended so that students don’t say they’re “finished” and then find something else to occupy their time. Try using play dough with these FREE mats!
Be sure to plan for at least one read-aloud during the first day of kindergarten! This gives students an opportunity to practice sitting at the carpet as they listen to an engaging story. I like to use David Goes to School and The Kissing Hand as our first day of school read-alouds.
It’s important that you plan to discuss the variety of emotions that students experience on the first day. This reassures students that their feelings are okay. Plus, it helps them to be more understanding of their classmates’ feelings. One reason that I like to use The Kissing Hand as a read-aloud on the first day of school is that it opens the door to this classroom discussion.
I like to use a pocket chart to have students add their names, one by one, under the emotion they are feeling on the first day of school. As students come up and add their names, we repeat together that “We are so happy _____ is in our class!” This is also a great way to help students start to learn the names of their classmates.
Review Rules and Procedures
You’ll want to review rules and procedures right from the first day of school! One way that I start discussing appropriate school behavior is using the “David Goes to School” read-aloud. Then I also introduce additional rules and procedures as we need them during the first day, such as bathroom and cafeteria procedures.
Practice Using School Supplies
School supply procedures are especially important to practice on the first day of kindergarten so that you can dive right into hands-on learning activities! First, provide students with a simple coloring page to help them practice sharing crayons at their table groups. Some students will have had very little exposure to using crayons and writing utensils, so this gives you a chance to see which students might need some additional support. You can also take this time to remind students about the expectations of using crayons, such as drawing only on paper and using the right amount of pressure.
Another great way to practice using school supplies is with a fun craft! If you choose to read The Kissing Hand with your class, use this fun (and free) raccoon craft to go along with it! I like to have all of the pieces pre-cut so that the only thing students need to focus on is using glue. Plus, this is a much safer option until you know which students need extra support with fine motor activities.
Tour the School
Give your students a chance to see the other parts of the school, but add a fun twist! I like to use The Gingerbread Man as the inspiration for our school tour. After reading the story, I have the students look for a hidden gingerbread man in the school.
As we pass the different parts of the school, I discuss the different locations with the students. I like to use the school office as the hiding place for our gingerbread man (with an okay from the office staff, of course).
Use Take-Home Folders
Get your students and their families in the habit of checking take-home folders from the very first day! As the day comes to an end, I like to explain the take-home folder to students. I use these fun handprint labels to show students what needs to be LEFT at home and what needs to come RIGHT back. After showing students the labels, we discuss the end-of-day paper procedures as students fill their folders.
Plan Extra Activities
One thing I’ve learned during my years as a kindergarten teacher is that there are often extra pockets of time on the first day of school. Be sure to have some additional activities planned, whether it’s an extra read-aloud, name tracing, or these fun first day of school hats.
Free Lesson Plans for the First Day of Kindergarten
As helpful as it is to have a list of activity ideas for the first day of school, it can feel a little overwhelming to put it all together. I wanted to give you an opportunity to look over my shoulder, so to speak. I have compiled a free lesson plan that outlines exactly how I schedule all of these activities for the first day of kindergarten. My goal is to save you some time and stress as you make your own plans.
Just fill out your information below to receive your free lesson plan. It will be delivered straight to your inbox!
Save These Tips for the First Day of Kindergarten
I hope these ideas and lesson plans will help you feel more prepared for the first day of kindergarten! Would you like to come back later to grab these free resources? Be sure to add this pin to your favorite classroom board on Pinterest so you can easily find this post when you need it.