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15 tried and tested activity ideas to begin a new school year

The first day back at school is always at least a little anxiety inducing, both for children and teachers. 

For those new to teaching, nerves are perfectly understandable of course, but even teachers with many years of experience can often feel somewhat trepidatious. They might be wondering if they can still do it! Or it might just be that they understand the highs and lows that come with a school year, and the huge emotional investment required as they step back onto the rollercoaster. 

As for the children, they will be excited to see their friends again, but may be nervous about re-connecting with some. They commonly think that the work is going to be much harder (having gone up a whole year!) And, of course, usually they will have to get to know at least one brand new teacher. 

Setting the mood and ethos of your classroom as a friendly, non-threatening, industrious but safe place for learning is incredibly important, and the first few days and activities you choose are part of what will help you achieve this. The aim is to make everyone feel connected and that they are part of a new team. 

The Education Specialists here at EuHu have come up with their tried and tested, favourite activities to start the year, and we’ve added a few others you might like.  

So, if you’re in need of some first-week inspiration, please browse below and see if any of these suggestions take your fancy! 


“I used to put a few items in a shoe box which were clues about me and get the class to guess what I like/what's important to me from the items. I would then invite them to do the same and we would share a few each day.”

You could give a paper bag to each child with a note on it:    

‘Fill this bag with 4 things that tell us something about you! (It must be exactly 4 objects and all 4 must fit in this bag.)’ 


“I used The Day the Crayons Quit book a few times in Year 1. It’s really good fun and they all loved it! After we’d read it, the children would all make their own crayon in their favourite colour with their name on it. Those could then be used as peg labels or for a display.”


“In KS1, I'd get the children to do little activities like drawing themselves as a superhero - I'd then laminate these and use them for peg labels or on a behaviour chart.”

You could give a paper bag to each child with a note on it:    

‘Fill this bag with 4 things that tell us something about you! (It must be exactly 4 objects and all 4 must fit in this bag.)’ 


“I'd always do a class Q+A on post it notes. They could post whatever questions they wanted and then I'd answer some at the end of the day.

What is your favourite colour?


Who is your favourite football team?

were the ones I got most often 😊”

“Another thing I did was to make a jigsaw template. Children would design their own piece including something about themself and their goals, then we'd cut them out and display them all joined together.”


“Instead of writing about their holidays (which is a very common first day back activity) I would get the children to interview each other about them instead. We chose 3 questions to ask (as a basis for them to get started). Children were paired up and they had a set amount of time to take turns as the interviewer and interviewee and ask the questions. They could make notes if they wanted. Then, back in the class group, each child would report back about what their partner had been up to.”

“I also loved to begin the first day (and most days) by playing music as the children came in. Music is an important part of the curriculum, and this demonstrated it in a very practical way. They got to know my love for various artists! Children also took turns suggesting the music they liked. It set a lovely tone as they completed whatever starter activity was set and they were settling in for the day.”

8 more ideas!

➤ Two truths and a lie

Each child writes three facts about themselves – two that are true and one that is a lie. They read them out one at a time. The rest of the class votes on which fact they think is a lie.


➤ Thanks for the compliment! 

Each child has a blank piece of paper or card taped to their back and a pen. Discuss what is meant by a ‘compliment’. They think of one compliment to write down on the back of a selection of their classmates. 

When finished the children can then read the comments written about them and hopefully feel a lovely confidence boost!


➤ Find Four

A great activity to get children to mingle and find out little facts about each other. Give each child a clipboard and piece of paper split into 4 sections, with a different statement in each. E.g.

I have a cat.                                                   

I have brown eyes.

I have a brother.                                            

I like reading.

Children walk around to try to find the names of exactly 4 people to write in each of their boxes.


 Classroom decoration 

If you’re feeling brave(!) a fun activity, requiring lots of communication and teamwork is to ask children to help decorate the classroom. Split the class into groups and give each a board or a space to fill and a common theme. Provide any art materials they might need. This will give the children a real sense of ownership and camaraderie as they begin the year together.


 Class time capsule 

Take pictures of the children on their first day, ask them to write a ‘Dear me’ letter to themselves about how they’re feeling now and what they’d like to do in the year. Put them all in a ‘time capsule’ to be opened at the end of the summer term, so they’ll see how much they have changed, grown and achieved over the year.


Beach ball game  

All you need for this activity is a beach ball and a pen. Write several questions on the beach ball, such as: What’s your favourite film?  What’s your favourite sport? What’s your favourite food? What month were you born? etc. Now stand in a circle and throw the ball to one of your class. Wherever the child’s right thumb lands, is the question they must answer. They then throw the ball to someone else.

Team games

You might do these as a whole class, perhaps with a timer, split the class in half, or have slightly smaller teams, depending on the size/age of the group. Once in the correct group/groups, give instructions such as:

·     Get in a line from smallest to tallest

·     Line up in first name alphabetical order

·     Line up in last name alphabetical order

·     Line up from youngest to oldest

·     All children with an odd number of letters in their name on the right of the line, even number of letters to the left.


All about me colourful caterpillar  

This is an enjoyable activity for younger children and makes an eye-catching display for a new classroom.

Prepare 4 or 5 coloured circles. On the first, each child sticks a photo of themselves. The next 3 or 4 could include different drawings and facts, such as: This is my favourite colour. This is my favourite food. This is my family.

Once the circles have been filled in, stick them together and add antennae to create your class of caterpillars!

Whatever activities you choose, have a great start to the school year!

With best wishes from the EuHu team.

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