Planning the first day of grade 5 can be a daunting task!
Are you a brand new teacher, nervous about starting the school year on the right foot? Maybe you were trained in secondary or primary but you’ve been moved to grade 5? Or maybe you’re a super experienced teacher looking to spice up the first day of grade 5 for your students? Whatever your situation, I hope that this blog post helps you to create a magical first day for your kiddos.
The following is a schedule that works for ME on the first day of grade 5. Remember… we are different teachers who like different things! Change things up to work for you and your students. I have included estimated time frames to make it easier for new teachers to understand how the day may play out but remember… do what works for you!
Note: While this is the general plan that I follow, I ALWAYS have extra games and activities prepared and ready to go for the first day of grade 5! You never know, maybe your class will do something super fast and you will end up with 10 minutes to fill in here or there. Here are some extra activities that you can use to fill in any gaps.
I also have a blog post for community building activities! Click HERE to check out out and be sure to prep at least one of them just in case!
1) Welcome! – 30 Minutes
I choose to assign students seats on the first day of school. I do this because it can be very anxiety-inducing for a new student to have to find someone to sit next to. I always lay out these name tags because they function as bookmarks and book club conversation starters throughout the year.
Next to the student name tags are small containers of play dough. I buy these for cheap at Costco every year. Then we use them for STEM projects all year long!
As students come into the room, I stand at the door and welcome them. Meanwhile, I have a slide on the SMART board that asks students to keep their backpacks with them. After all, I don’t want kiddos to start putting things away yet! Can you spell chaos?
Also, there is a little note on the SMART board asking them to build something that represents who they are with their play dough. I always give some examples such as “The number 5 because it’s the first day of grade 5” or “The letter A because your name starts with the letter A” or “A Basketball because that’s your favourite sport.” Notice how the examples that I give are SUPER simple. The goal is to ensure that EVERYONE experiences success. Don’t worry, your super creative kids will still think outside of the box.
After everyone is settled and all of the parents have dispersed, I like to provide students with an opportunity to share what they have created with the person next to them. Depending on the group, I will sometimes ask for a few volunteers to share with the whole class. But I NEVER force everyone to share in a whole group situation on the first day of school. You need to build trust before that can happen effectively.
2) Put Our Stuff Away – 10 Minutes
I absolutely HATE putting away school supplies, so I generally wait until later in the day to tackle that beast. After all, one sure fire way to wreck the first day of grade 5 is for me to get overwhelmed or grumpy! Which is why now I just want to have students hang up their bags on their hooks so that they are out of the way.
In my classroom, each student has a number. This number is also next to their hook. So I ask students to put their belongings on their hooks as I read out their names and numbers.
3) Play a Game – 30 Minutes
There are a TON of fun games that work well here and I tend to switch things up year after year. Some favourites include:
- French Would You Rather
- Two Truths and a Lie
4) Bathroom and Recess Procedures – 15 minutes
If your school has a morning recess, you want to ensure that you talk about your bathroom and recess expectations BEFORE hand.
Some things to consider about bathroom procedures:
- Can students use the washroom anytime they want?
- How will they communicate with you that they need to use the washroom?
In my classroom, students are allowed to use the washroom at any time EXCEPT for while I am teaching. I have them write their name on the whiteboard under “Bathroom”. Only one student is allowed to be out of the room at a time.
Here are some things to consider when planning your recess expectations.
- Are students encouraged to take a snack outside or will there be snack time inside?
- Do students line up and walk out together as a class? Or do they trickle out on their own as they are ready?
- Is there a specific recess zone where they are supposed to play?
- Is there any recess equipment that they can play with?
- Whose responsibility is it to return the recess equipment?
- Where does recess equipment belong?
- When the bell rings, do they line up outside or come straight in?
- How will they know what to do when they enter the classroom after recess? (TIP: I LOVE using these transition slides!)
5) Recess – 15 minutes
Drink your coffee! You will need it!
6) The Day You Begin Interactive Read Aloud AND Friendship Activity – 45 Minutes
I am super passionate about sharing meaningful picture books in the upper elementary classroom. We can share so many lessons with our students through literature. Which is why I include picture books in my lessons, even on the first day of grade 5!
One of my absolute favourite books for back to school is The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson.
Before this first read-aloud, I like to give each student a partner that they will turn and talk with for the entirety of the lesson. This will also be the person with whom they complete the friendship activity.
You can find this ENTIRE lesson by clicking HERE.
7) Lunch Expectations – 15 minutes
Here are some things to consider when deciding on your lunch expectations. It can be helpful to create an anchor chart with students about how lunchtime goes.
- Where do students eat their lunch?
- How should they treat the lunchroom supervisors?
- What are students allowed to do during lunchtime? Move around? Technology? Etc.
- What do students do when they are done eating?
- What do students do to clean up?
8) Lunch – 1 hour
Hopefully, you get some peace and quiet! Or at least a yummy salad!
9) The School Supply Monster – 30 Minutes (in a dream world!)
Now is the time to have students put away their school supplies. I like to wait until the afternoon to do this because it can get a bit chaotic and I need students to know my expectations ahead of time.
Even in grade 5, you need to go ITEM by ITEM! Tell students EXACTLY where they should put each individual school supply.
If you wait for each and every student to be done with each item before moving on, this will take an eternity. So I like to go rather fast. As we go, I write on the whiteboard where each item belongs, in case someone gets behind. I also encourage students to help out their peers.
If I notice that a kiddo is struggling, I will position myself next to them and use their supplies as an example of what to do. That way I can help them without slowing down the entire process.
10) Handshake Activity – 10 Minutes
After school supplies, I like to reward students with a fun brain break! These handshakes are a blast! I don’t usually show the video to students. But rather I learn all of these handshakes and teach them to the kiddos.
11) All About Me Art AND First Day Photos – 45 Minutes
I LOVE to take first day of grade 5 photos of my fifth graders. I email these to parents after the first day and I ALWAYS get a ton of positive feedback. Plus, I like to print out these photos and hang them up in our classroom as another reminder that everyone belongs!
You can use ANY props or signs that you like! THESE are the ones that I use in my classroom. I also allow kids to use fun dollar store props such as glasses, hats, leis, jewellery, etc. It just makes the photos even more fun.
In order for the photos to go smoothly, you NEED to have the other students working relatively quietly on a simple task that requires NO assistance from you. I like to use THIS FREE Art project. It’s super easy and the kiddos love it. But you can use anything that you like!
12) Recess – 15 Minutes
13) Saving Fred – 45 Minutes
Saving Fred is one of my all-time favourite STEM challenges!
Be sure to think carefully about your teams for this activity! I HIGHLY suggest making the groupings yourself so that no one gets left out.
There are LOTS of FREEBIES on TPT that walk you through this fun activity! Simply go to TPT and type “Saving Fred”, then select “FREE”. This is the one that I use.
15) Popcorn Game – 10 Minutes
Students start sitting with their chairs pulled away from their desks. At any point, any student can jump up, spread their arms wide and say, “Pop!” Then that student remains standing. But if more than one student “Pops” at the same time, everyone must sit down and the game starts again. If you have a larger class or are short on time, you can have just the students that popped at the same time sit down.
16) Pack Up and Line Up – 5 Minutes
As students leave the room for the day, I like to have them choose a way to say goodbye. They can choose a handshake, high five, hug, wave, joke, etc. I find that taking time at the end of each day to look every child in the eyes and connect with them helps me to develop meaningful connections with students! Plus this allows me to ensure that each and every child had an amazing first day of grade 5.
17) Email Photos and Call Parents
At the end of the first day of school, I like to email every parent a photo of their child.
I also like to make at least 3 parent phone calls. These calls are to let parents know how great their child did at school today. Here is my tip, choose to call the parents whose kiddos have STRUGGLED in previous years! Calling before any problems have occurred will help you to develop a great relationship with those families!
18) Where is the wine?
LOL JK but seriously… the first day of grade 5 is exhausting!
So there you have it, your first day of grade 5 all planned out and ready to go! If you use this plan or any of the activities, let me know! I would love to connect with you on Instagram!