Back to school icebreakers and first week of school activities with Nearpod (Blog image)

Back to school icebreakers and first week of school activities with Nearpod

July 11, 2024Darri Stephens

Most educators will probably admit they get just as excited, anxious, and overwhelmed as their new students for the first week of back to school. That first week marks a new school year, 180+ days full of promise and potential. However, the stakes are high, and the goals are lofty, whether academic, social, or emotional. This is why the first week of school activities is crucial. We rely on our schools to help shape tomorrow’s contributors to society, and so much rides on the expectations laid out and agreed upon during that first week of school.

Harry Wong, coauthor of The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher, writes, “The most important day of a person’s education is the first day of school, not Graduation Day.” And while Mr. Wong most likely spoke of that first big day of kindergarten, students get a gift of a new beginning, a new first day, each and every school year. It is an opportunity to reset, realign, and reimagine the upcoming school experience. Students and teachers must forge new relationships to come together and work toward success through the beginning of the school year activities.

Take a moment to check out these turnkey and fun activities you can employ during the first week of school to build your classroom culture. All the while, you and your schools can become more familiar with the offerings and features of Nearpod.

New to Nearpod? Teachers can sign up for free below to access these resources, interactive activities, and engaging lessons. Administrators can schedule a call with an expert to unlock the full power of Nearpod for schools and districts.

Back to School icebreakers and first week of school activities with Nearpod

1. Ready, set, and prep for the new school year!

Lesson subject guides

Are you looking to save prep time and boost learning this school year? With ready-to-launch lessons, activities, and videos, these guides can help you remediate key skills, reteach concepts, and even prep for testing time. Find lessons for ELA, math, social studies, and science, all organized by grade level and topic, making it easy to select just what you need.

Whether you’re new to Nearpod, a seasoned Nearpod pro, or even new to the classroom – these guides were curated so you can spend less time searching for resources and more time doing what you love: teaching.

Live and on-demand webinar trainings

In anticipation of the start of a new school year, districts often kick off teachers’ returns with a couple of in-service days. Yet this allotted time is rarely enough to get up to speed on the latest and greatest tools and resources. So teachers often seek out their own professional growth opportunities. 

Consider registering for Nearpod’s one-hour, free live webinars over the next month. From basics to best practices, learn some tricks of the trade for using Nearpod effectively in your classroom. Choose a webinar topic and click on the drop-down menu to see all date/time options! You can also scroll through our calendar to find a time that works for you.

Or, scroll through Nearpod’s live webinar calendar and filter via the monthly, weekly, or daily view to find a topic and time best for you.

2. Get to know each other with digital icebreaker activities

During the first week, most teachers try to establish a sense of classroom culture to build camaraderie, respect, and teamwork — a solid foundation for the rest of the year. Each year, I was eager to get to know my students — firstly, to remember their names, and secondly, to learn those nuanced likes/dislikes, personality traits, and hopes and dreams that make each student an individual learner. It is often a fast and furious meeting, so teachers tend to try to dive deep to get to know their students. Don’t underestimate the value of icebreaker activities for students.

Here is a daily suggestion for the beginning of the school year activities to build classroom community:

Back to school icebreakers activities on Nearpod
Nearpod back to school activity Draw It template

Ready for some more? Find an entire library of icebreaker activities that you can filter by grade and subject, all within Nearpod.

3. Use interactive activities to help establish a classroom routine

Children thrive with classroom routines to help them mentally and physically prepare for the tasks. In addition to getting to know one another, try establishing a sense of routine as quickly as possible. A regular and predictable schedule can help students feel safe by lowering anxiety and heightening their sense of agency. With consistency and stability comes a sense of comfort as well as a sense of anticipation. Established routines can help develop constructive habits and allow students to flex their sense of independence and autonomy around their learning pursuits. Skip the pieces of paper and index cards and instead try one of these anticipatory sets, called “bell ringers” or “bellwork” activities, to start each day off well.

Collaborate Board strategies for overcoming learning gap to check in on students' social emotional well-being
Time to Climb activity
  • Get creative and pose a morning activity or puzzle for students to answer the questions via one of Nearpod’s interactive features. Such a sponge activity will help center students’ attention and start the school day with some critical and creative thinking. Here are some ideas to get started:
  • Discover a plethora of resources with Nearpod’s 21st Century Readiness Program. This holistic program includes ready-to-teach interactive lessons, videos, and activities for social and emotional learning (SEL), digital citizenship, financial literacy, and college, and career readiness. With this program, you can access premade Brain Breaks to establish throughout the school day that recharge and redirect students’ focus.

4. Introduce new tech tools to students

In addition to familiarizing students with the materials they will need this school year — supply lists, room organization, and classroom resources — you will want to get students up and running with any new tools or programs as quickly as possible. This includes learning how to teach your students to use Nearpod. It is best to immerse them and “learn by doing.” With Nearpod, some of the most engaging features are effective for both teaching techniques and learning strategies. Immerse yourself alongside your students to try out these tools. Even if you’re not an early adopter of technology, you can still model being an eager adopter! Lifelong learning at its best.

Nearpod orientation lesson covers

5. Evaluate students’ prior knowledge

All students have varied levels of prior knowledge, real-world experiences, and quality schooling that they bring with them into the classroom. Each new year brings a classroom full of diverse needs. Find ways to continually evaluate students’ prior knowledge as well as progress through formative assessment techniques. Students love educational games such as Time to Climb!

Consider these interactive activities and assessments:

Use Nearpod to deliver effective instruction

Teachers know to write their plan books in pencil since the best-laid plans can quickly go awry. Still, it is a good idea to overplan a bit for the first week so that you can be responsive to the classroom full of new students. Options are helpful for the first day of school activities! Mix and match the activities to gauge which engages your students the most. Have a collaborative mindset as you embark on this yearlong journey with your pint-sized partners (or not-so-pint-sized …). Enjoy this exciting time of the school year, and know that you have a community of Nearpod educators ready to support you!

New to Nearpod? Teachers can sign up for free below to access these resources, interactive activities, and engaging lessons. Administrators can schedule a call with an expert to unlock the full power of Nearpod for schools and districts.

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