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First Day of School Activities 2021

Tomorrow is my first day of the school year with students! Yesterday and today were teacher days, and I do not feel fully ready and prepared for back to school this year. Even though I feel like I could use another week or so to prepare, I am excited about having students back in my classroom tomorrow!

first day of school activities 2021

It is going to be strange having full sized classes again. I have several classes that currently have an enrollment of 30. Last year, due to so many students opting to take virtual classes due to the pandemic, my largest class was 17. I only had 92 students across six periods.

This year, I’m back to much more normal numbers for my school. My largest class is 30, and I currently have 140 students enrolled across six periods. Those numbers will drop a bit as students get schedule changes. A handful of students always realize that they don’t need any more math classes to graduate, so they end up dropping my class. This year I am teaching Pre-Calculus (4 sections) and Statistics (2 sections).

Sarah Carter

So, what are we going to get up to on Day 1? I’m actually not trying out any new activities for the first day. At the end of last year, I trialed some possible new first day of school activities with my senior statistics students.

Jumbo Green Foam Die

After introducing myself to students and making a seating chart for contact tracing, we will do a simple getting to know you activity that only requires a die. I like to use a jumbo foam die to make it even more fun. Students take turns rolling the die. Whatever number they roll dictates how many facts about themselves they have to share with the class.

Ink Stain Matching Activity

After this, we’ll work with our group members to complete an Ink Stain Matching Activity. Students have to pretend each of the items is covered completely in ink. Then, they must discover which handprint matches each item based on if the ink-covered item was used in a standard way. It’s a great conversation starter.

Our last activity for the day will be Let’s Make Squares. It’s a cooperative group learning activity that challenges students to arrange 12 popsicle sticks (or strips of card stock) into different designs with varying numbers of squares. It’s a fun puzzle that combines group work and a bit of math.

Let's Make Squares Activity

Before I left school today, I went ahead and hung my giant Let’s Make Squares strips on the dry erase board so they are ready for demonstrating the rules tomorrow.

First Day of School Activities 2021

I also have a new favorite school supply that I think is going to help me keep so much more organized this year – magnetic wall pockets! I stumbled across these magnetic pockets from Charles Leonard on Amazon this summer while looking for a magnetic wall pocket to hold my dry erase supplies. I was intrigued, so I clicked over to read the reviews and found that teachers seemed to be thrilled with this product. Good reviews on Amazon? That seems to be a rarity these days.

First Day of School Activities 2021

I highly recommend them. I got a set of 6 for ~$20. The entire back of the pocket is a magnet, so they are supposed to be able to hold quite a few papers.

First Day of School Activities 2021

Currently, I am using them to organize the papers for the day’s activities. Normally, I would keep these in stacks on my desk that would get progressively unorganized as the day progresses. I’m hoping that by keeping them on the dry erase board that my desk will stay cleaner and I will waste less time looking for stuff.

Once we get into the normal swing of things next week, I plan on using these magnetic wall pockets to hold the day’s handouts for students to grab as they come in the classroom.

If students finish early, I have the Five Arrows Puzzle up as my Puzzle of the Week.

First Day of School Activities 2021

Hope everyone else is having fun preparing for back to school or are having a great year if you already have students in your classroom! Want more ideas for the first day of school (or first week of school)? Check out my 30+ activities for the first week of school post!


Sunday 22nd of August 2021

Sarah, I just discovered your blog and I love it. I have two questions: 1. Do you have directions for creating your 'foldables'? I just printed a few but not sure how to fold them. 2. It looks as if you have your students glue resources into a notebook. (Foldables, etc) You teach high school; do you have your high schoolers do this?

Sarah Carter

Monday 30th of August 2021

1. Which foldables are you looking for directions for? I do not currently have a page dedicated to how to fold the foldables, but I will add it to my blog ideas list.

2. Yes, I had my high school students glue the foldables in when I was doing interactive notebooks. Other teachers prefer to use tape or staples. Just pick a method that you think your students can handle.


Thursday 12th of August 2021

LOVE these!

Sarah Carter

Sunday 15th of August 2021

Thanks Grace! The first week of school is definitely one of my favorite times of the year to plan for!


Wednesday 11th of August 2021

Thank you for always coming through with the exact right activities at the exact right time!!

Sarah Carter

Sunday 15th of August 2021

Glad I could help!

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