Close this search box.

Your Purpose & (FREE) Lesson Plans for the First Day of School


The First Day of School is a significant milestone for both students and teachers! It’s a day filled with excitement, nervousness, and endless possibilities. As teachers, it’s important to harness the positive energy of the day to create an environment where students feel welcomed, safe, and eager to learn. Consider the purpose of this special day and learn about (FREE) lesson plans for the First Day of School to make the day run smoothly and get the year off to a great start!

Understanding the First Day Jitters

Before you dive into planning for the First Day of School, it’s important to think about how your students will be feeling on this big day. 


They may feel:

  • Excitement about meeting new friends and discovering a new classroom
  • Anxiety about the unknown
  • Separation anxiety from their caregivers
  • Overwhelm as they dive into a new environment


You might even have first day jitters too! You may feel nervous about meeting your new students, excited about the potential of a new school year, or pressure to start on a great foot– or maybe all three at once.

Focusing on the day’s purpose and establishing clear plans for yourself will help you create a memorable and fun First Day of School experience for everyone!

The Purpose of the First Day of School

A veteran teacher once shared that the primary job of a teacher on the first day is to ensure students get lunch and find their correct bus home. While these things are undoubtedly important, there’s SO MUCH MORE to the main goal for the First Day of School!

Build a Strong Foundation

A Positive & Personalized Greeting

How you greet your students each morning really matters, but this is especially important on the first day! 


Take time to learn each child’s name in advance and greet them with a smile as you call them by name. This personalized greeting helps each student feel welcome and ready to engage in the day.

Safe Environment

Introduce clear rules, routines, and expectations to students as quickly as possible. This means you need to be clear with yourself before the first day on what you plan to do.


When students know what to expect, they can feel more secure and comfortable in the new environment of your classroom and are more likely to succeed throughout the year!

Sense of Belonging

Foster a sense of community among your students so everyone knows they are a part of the class family. When students feel valued, they are more likely to participate and contribute positively to the classroom.

Structuring the First Day of School

A well-structured first day sets the stage for a successful year! Use these FREE lesson plans for the First Day of School to help you navigate this important day.


FREE First Day of School Lesson Plans! 📝

Start off with a well-structured first day! Leave your email below and we will send you these FREE First Day of School Lesson Plans right away! 

Lesson Plans for the First Day of School

Use the lesson plans for the First Day of School and plan your first day like a checklist. With a group of new students, some tasks will take much longer than you anticipated while others will be done quickly. With a checklist mindset, you can “press pause” on your list as needed for times like bathroom breaks, lunch, specials, or recess. By pausing, you don’t have to stress about the exact timeline and can continue with the flow of the day as it allows. 

If something doesn’t get done, save it for the next day!

These free First Day of School Plans were designed to be developmentally appropriate for young children. Activities rotate from a seated activity to a movement activity. Your students will stay engaged ALL DAY!


First, greet each of your students. Use the classroom greetings chart to give students options!


As soon as they enter the classroom, have them sit down and keep their backpacks CLOSED. If you have a long arrival time, have a morning activity ready for them. Building bricks and coloring are easy, fun choices!


Next, take attendance. Greet all of the students together and call them by name. This segment of the morning helps the students get to know each other’s names! 

Also, ask your students about their lunch choice and show them how to record it. Use these editable student number labels to create instant displays for attendance, lunch count, and dismissal. 


Show your students how you expect them to unpack each day. This includes emptying their bookbags and where to hang them Also model where they should hang their jackets and place their lunchboxes and snacks.

lesson plans for the first day of school arrival visuals

During this time, help students find their name tags in the classroom. These editable autofill name tags make labeling super easy for you!


During carpet time, practice coming to the carpet and sitting on the floor. Use these FREE How to Sit posters as a guide.

You might need to repeat this step a few times to make sure students understand your expectations, and that’s perfectly okay!

Play Pause

Next, teach your classroom “quiet signal”. Play Pause to practice this expectation in a fun way. Play it again and again until you feel like your students clearly understand the signal!


Moving on, it’s time to introduce your calendar routine! Talk to students about the importance of raising their hands to speak, and let them practice this skill.

*If you’re feeling unsure about your calendar routine, check out this digital Calendar and Morning Meeting set that includes everything you need to have successful mornings ALL YEAR LONG!


After your students have been practicing sitting on the carpet, it’s time to get them moving with a hands-on activity. Use the School Sculptures guide to practice following directions while having fun with Play-Doh at their seats. 

Read Aloud

Next, grab your favorite First Day of School book for read aloud time! LeBron James’ book “I Promise” is a great choice that aligns perfectly with so many activities.

Check out several other Back to School book favorites to be inspired!

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Then, teach your students all about classroom promises! Use the Classroom Promises vs Problems Behavior Sort to help your students learn about classroom expectations. 

Scavenger Hunt

Get your students moving again with a fun classroom or school scavenger hunt! Practice walking quietly in the halls while students learn about their classroom and school community. 

Rainbow Names

Next, it’s time for a seated activity. Don’t worry though, your students will love Rainbow Names!

Students write their names in the colors of the rainbow. Talk to your students about caring for crayons. As they work, walk around to informally assess your students’ handwriting abilities. 

Pass It On

Gather your class together and play Pass It On. As students say their favorite colors, write their name on a class anchor chart with that color. 

Make this game extra engaging by including a weighted stuffed animal or ball.

First Day Frames

Next, have students draw a self-portrait and memories. When they’re complete, hang them in your classroom for beautiful classroom displays!

Read Aloud

Help students begin to wind down from their busy First Day of School with another read aloud! 


The day is almost done, but if you have extra time to fill, use any of these interactive options found in this Back to School Activities Bundle.

Pack Up

Finally, model packing up and explain the daily “Going Home” procedures. Give yourself plenty of time for this portion of the day so you’re not rushed and your students clearly know what to expect when it’s time to pack up again tomorrow!

More Ideas for Your First Day of School

Find so many of the mentioned activities and games in this Back to School Activities Bundle to make planning your first days in kindergarten & 1st grade a breeze! You can take the stress out of your first few days by using these carefully designed and developmentally appropriate activities to teach classroom routines and expectations while nurturing your new classroom community.

Also, how you organize your classroom before the First Day of School is so important! Set up your kindergarten classroom to be functional and highly engaging for your students with these tips and tricks.

By focusing on the purpose of this special day and following done-for-you lesson plans for the First Day of School, you can be sure your students will have a FANTASTIC first day! Your students will be encouraged and excited to learn and contribute to their classroom community. They’re so lucky to have a teacher who cares so much!

shop these favorites now...

Picture of Emily Yerty

Emily Yerty

I’m a teacher who believes in creating a classroom kids love and activities that keep them engaged all day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *