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Get Your Students Up and Moving the First Weeks of School

All summer long your students have been running around the neighborhood, swimming in the pool, and playing with their friends. The school year starts, and all of a sudden, they’re expected to sit still for long periods of time. Ease your students’ transition back to school with these activities to get them up and moving the first week of school.

Back to School Math Activity

1. Brain Breaks

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to introduce your class to brain breaks. A minute or two of getting up and moving gives them an opportunity to work off some energy. My favorite brain breaks are from Go Noodle. I choose a student each day to pick our brain break. They love looking through all the options and selecting one for the class.

2. Back to School Unlock the Box Mystery

My students absolutely love Unlock the Box Mysteries! They work together to solve four clues. Then, they use the answer to the last clue to open a locked box and get a surprise. The Back to School Unlock the Box Mystery is perfect for the first day of school. It will help your students get to know each other and your classroom. Plus, they will be up and moving around as they look for clues and problem solve.

3. Math Relays

Get to know your students’ math skills with some fun relay races. I use questions from the second grade math program to see what they remember about money, geometry, fractions, and basic operations. I divide my class into 4 or 5 teams. Then, I pose a problem, and one member from each team runs to the board and solves the problem. The first person with the correct answer earns a point for the team. This is a fun way to get up and moving while reviewing important skills.

4. Chart Writing

My students love using my fun markers to add to charts that are posted around the room. You could use this for many different activities. I’ve done it for character traits in reading, research in social studies, and writing word problems in math. On the first day of school, I write our four school rules on charts and post them around the room. The rules are really general, like “Be Kind.” I divide my students into groups and send each group to a poster. Their job is to talk about what that rule looks like in the classroom. They have three minutes to add examples of ways to follow that rule to the chart. Then, they move to the next one. By the time we’re done, each chart is full of great ideas.

5. STEM Activities

If you want your students to collaborate and problem solve, STEM activities are just what you need. At the beginning of the year, I always do a marshmallow bridge STEM challenge. My students have to find a way to use toothpicks and marshmallows to build a bridge that will hold weight. The students are moving the whole time they are working on this challenge. When time runs out, we add pennies to each bridge to see how many it can hold. The bridge that holds the most weight wins.

Your students will really appreciate the opportunity to move when you add these activities to your lesson plans for the first week of school. I try not to make them sit for more than 15 minutes at a time. That helps to make the transition back to school easier for everyone.

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Want more from this author? Check out Tara's tips for managing a chatty class, getting free or cheap books for your classroom library, and her money-saving ideas for teachers.
Author Bio:

Tara Dusko is a 3rd-grade teacher and mom of two. She blogs about ways to have a fun, low-stress year as a teacher at Teach Without Tears and about time and money-saving tips for moms at Flavors, Fashion, and Fun.

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