In the past when I taught first grade, I always read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn on the first day.
You can check it out by clicking on the picture below.
Then I gave my kids this poem printed on white card stock. They traced their hands on a piece of construction paper (tan, brown, etc.), cut it out, and glued it to the right side of the poem sheet. This is a great way to get a quick glimpse of fine motor skills, too. Finally, they used two thumb prints (using red ink pads I found at the dollar store) to form a heart in the middle of their hand. They got to take this home at the end of the first day.
By second grade, however, 99% of my students have already done The Kissing Hand activities at least once in kindergarten or first grade. So, I have switched things up a bit. Here are a couple of activities I plan on using again this year.
1. Self-Portrait Books - Last year I used the first activity from Super Paper Bag Books (Scholastic) as a first week activity during writer's workshop.
The kids get to create a book about themselves, there's some writing but not a ton to help them ease into things, and they get to do some art when they are done writing to make their book look like them. After we finished the books, I had one child share their book each day during our morning meeting (more about morning meeting in this post). They also make a cute display in the classroom or hallway. Click on the picture above to check out the book from Scholastic. You can actually see this activity in the preview pages on Amazon. I have also used some other activities from the book throughout the school year.
2. Our Special Names Activity- Another favorite first day read aloud is Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.
I read the book aloud and we discuss how each of our names are special (named after grandparent, special meaning, etc.) Then, I cut out the letters for each students name with our school's die-cut machine. I give them their letters and they glue them down on a strip of construction paper. Finally, I tell them to make their names look as special as we already know they are! I let them use markers, beads, yarn, glitter, etc. Their decorated names also made a really cute get to know you bulletin board display. They loved this last year!
3. Along with the Chrysanthemum read aloud and discussion about our names, during word work I put the following poem in a pocket chart on sentence strips.
Everybody has a name,
Some are different,
Some the same.
Some are short, some are long.
All are right, none are wrong.
My name is _______,
It's special to me.
It's exactly who I want to be.
I write each child's name on an index card. I hold up a name for the whole class to read. Then, that student puts his/her name in the pocket chart and we read the poem. That child gets to read the line - My name is ____. We do a handful of kids each day until everyone has had a turn.
4. Finally, I have not done this next activity yet but I am going to do it this year. It looks so cute! And, what a great way to build self-esteem. Where did I find this adorable idea you ask? Pinterest of course! The pin only leads to a Flickr picture, so there's no further explanation to go along with it and I can't link to the original source.
Do you have a favorite first day/week activity to share? Please leave a comment and explain! :)
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