The First Day of First Grade

I will never forget my first day of teaching. At around 8:15 all of the teary parents finally left their Kindergartners in my care and all of a sudden I realized I was in charge! ME! People actually left 21 year old little me to care for and teach their precious child...times 22. What an honor and what a terrifying moment!  I've had a few first days since then, but every year I still remember how that first year felt! Maybe it's your first year teaching or maybe it's your first year teaching first grade or maybe you just want see how someone else makes it through the first day...this post is for you!
Now of course I know that your day probably looks a little different than mine; but I wanted to give you a minute by minute first day. : )

7:30-8:00 Hello First Graders
It's here! The moment you have been waiting for and the start of the best school year ever! Stand near the door with that huge welcoming smile on your face and be prepared for pictures and hugs! Many parents will want a picture of you and their child on that first day! It's also fun to have a little photo booth area set up outside of the doorway for parents to take a few pictures there too!

Hopefully you have previously met most of your students and parents at Meet the Teacher Night. Many parents will have questions and information to tell you this morning. Keep a little notepad by the door in case you need to write something down, you don't want to forget that Thomas needs to see the nurse at 9 for medicine or that Landry rides Bus 14. Be sure you know how everyone is getting home. I repeat: Be sure you know how everyone is getting home today. If you haven't already, have parents fill out a form like this:

During this time, be prepared to show students where they can put their backpack, supplies, lunches, etc! I usually tell students, "Just put everything in your locker for now."  Most students will be able to find their name on a desk to know where to sit, but be prepared to help. It's also a good idea to stick a name tag on everyone too. Be prepared for a few students who may show up for the first time that morning and not be on your roster. Have an extra desk or two set up for them and make them feel extra welcome!  
During this time, students should have something at their seat that they can independently work on while you are greeting everyone and getting them settled. Play-Doh is a great idea! I put these on my back table and tell students they can choose any color they like and make anything they want at their desk.

It will take a little bit to get all of the parents and visitors cleared out of your classroom and you will most likely be answering questions and reassuring parents and students. So, make sure students have something to do that doesn't have an end! If you have coloring sheets out, someone is going to finish really fast! ; )

During this time, don't forget to take your own first day of school pictures! You will want to have these for your end of the year photo albums! Don't forget to take a class picture too! 

8:00-8:30 Calendar and Whole Group
Don't start the day until you are ready and gotten all of those little morning things complete. When you are ready, bring everyone your gathering spot and begin the day! I let everyone choose a spot on the carpet to start with and I tell them that it's there spot. Throughout the day as they find their same spot on the carpet I make a big deal of it! We watch announcements and go through our morning and calendar routine. Be sure to take lunch count, attendance, etc. during this time too! Those are easy but not good things to forget. 

I also like to read this special book to my class and show them what I was like in first grade! They love trying to find me in my first grade class picture! 

8:30-8:45 Restroom Break & School Tour
Take those kids to the bathroom ASAP.  I'm not a huge fan of class restroom breaks during the year, but it's important at the beginning of the year to teach expectations. Which one is for girls? What about boys? What sink can they use? How many squirts of soap? Can they run around? What's the voice level? Where can they get a drink of water? Be prepared to teach it! 

If you can, take a quick walk around the school too! It may be a good idea to stop by the cafeteria and show students where they will be sitting, etc. You want to do anything you can to reduce those anxiety feelings!

8:45-9:45 Reading
It's time to read! There are so many fun first day of school books to choose from. I LOVE to read the book  A Tiger Tail (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School)

It's a perfect read aloud and the kids think it's so funny. Spoiler Alert: Anya wakes up with a tiger tail on her first day of school. It's a great book to talk about how to be a friend! This is a super easy anchor chart to do with the book. 

After reading the book, we create a class book that is precious. It helps to break the ice and gets those creative juices going.

Students pretend they woke up with some animal body part on the first day of school. It is so cute to see what they come up with and their pictures are adorable! 

As students finish I have puzzles that they can do on the carpet. It's always hard to figure out what they can do after they finish those first few days of school because you haven't taught them any centers or stations yet.Melisa and Doug floor puzzles are the best!

 I like using puzzles because they are easy clean up and encourage students to work together and talk! After everyone finishes their book page we read the final product! All of these activities and many more are available HERE. 

9:45 to 10:15 Writing
 For writing all week, we work on a First Week of First Grade Memory Book. Each day we complete a different page. On the first day we complete this page:

Each day of the first week we add a page to the book! It makes a fun little keepsake and parents love it! 

You can also check it out for Kindergarten and Second Grade too! 

I also tell them about their first homework assignment that will go in their writing workshop folder. You can read more about it HERE. 

10:15-10:30 Restroom Break 
Back to the bathroom! Encourage everyone to go before lunch and recess.  

10:30-11:00 Recess
It doesn't matter what duty you have today, you will be helping with everything! Before going to the playground make sure to touch on expectations and safety type stuff. Count everyone when you arrive at the playground and then count them again!

11:00-11:30 Lunch
Get these babies fed! Make sure everyone has a lunch and bring scissors to make opening food a little easier! Be sure to discuss expectations! Make sure you talk about what they should do if they need help or where to put their trash.  Please be sure that you get something to eat too! : )

11:30-11:45 Restroom Break
You know the drill. 

11:45-1:00 Math
I start off my math block everyday with a problem in our math journals! Today will be no different! Students will solve this problem:

Check out all of my first grade math problems HERE. The unit includes enough problems for the entire school year and is easily organized! 

For today's math lesson we always make a graph of how everyone is getting home that day! 

The last part of our math block is spent doing math tubs! For the first week or two of school I put out math manipulatives for free exploration. Each tub has a different math manipulative in it. Pattern blocks, cubes, geoblocks, counting bears, etc...

While students are working, I use this part of the day to complete beginning of the year assessments, math screeners, etc! 

12:50-1:00 Restroom Break
You know the drill. 

1:00-1:50 Conference Time
Whew! Make a run to the coke machine and prioritize your time! Do what needs to be done right now and today! Double check that you know how everyone is getting home too!

1:50-2:00 Snack Time
I always try to have a box of goldfish or something on hand for students who forget snacks, especially those first few weeks. Just be extra careful about allergies! I like to put on a book or something for students to watch for a few minutes and have a little downtime! Tumble Books is great and many public libraries have a subscription!

2:00-2:50 Science
Kids just love science! We talk about what we think science is and then I read this amazing book!

It's perfect for younger students and helps them realize that they are scientists!  Then they create the cover for their Science Notebook.

You can download this for free HERE.  

2:50-2:55 Dismissal
Be sure to pack up a little bit early today and make sure everyone has everything they need. Lunch boxes, water bottles, backpacks, etc. Remind students about beginning of the day procedures and what they will do when they walk in the door tomorrow. Where does your backpack go? Where will you sit? Where does your green folder go? What about your backpack? Seriously, if you feel like a broken record, you are doing it right! 

 I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is will probably be one of the most stressful times of your day!  Hopefully, your school has procedures in place so that things go as smoothly as possible! I take a clipboard to dismissal with me and check off every student as they leave just to make sure that everyone is accounted for! I also recommend giving students something (like this) when they tell you that they are leaving! That way they don't take off without you knowing! 

 A Few More First Day Hints:

  • Go with the flow. Plan for that first day, but don't be frustrated if you don't get to it all! The first few weeks of school are all about establishing routines, expectations and procedures. Spend all the time you need doing that! It's most important!
  • Use community supplies the first few days if you need to. Don't stress about trying to get each child's stuff labeled and ready for them to use on Day 1. 
  • Send out a class email that night or make a post on a class Facebook page. If you can, send a class picture from the first day and just a quick note about the day. Nicely remind parents if there is anything you need from them like forms, signed paperwork, etc.
  • Be sure to go over fire drill procedures pretty quick that first week, without scaring the kids. You never know what could happen and I speak from experience...
  • Have some extra books first day of school books on hand to read in case you have any downtime! Click any book to order from Amazon. Here are a few of my favorites:
Have a wonderful first day!

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