The first day of school is going to look different this school year. While some teachers will head back to the classroom, others will be teaching remotely. The first week of school is a crucial time in any school year. This is the time when we build relationships with our students and they begin building relationships with each other. It is also a time to start setting expectations and goals for the school year. Starting the school year remotely means the traditional first week of school activities will have to be revised for an online setting. In this post, I’m sharing seven virtual back to school activities your students will love!
After you finish reading, be sure to check out my YouTube video all about virtual back to school activities and ways to build relationships remotely. It includes three additional ideas that are not listed here.
Back to School Games
If you are looking for back to school games that can be played remotely, virtual scavenger hunt games are a great option. I have created another blog post that lists some of my favorite virtual scavenger hunts that help students get to know each other. I’ve also created this video with over 20 virtual scavenger hunt ideas.
Back to School Books
During the traditional first week of school, I always use read alouds with my upper elementary students to introduce expectations and model behaviors for the school year. Read alouds are some of the easiest virtual back to school activities you can implement. Instead of reading the book in a physical classroom, you can read the same books in an online classroom. You can also have the same discussions and complete many of the same read aloud activities remotely.
If you are looking for great back to school books, check out my blog post all about back to school read alouds for upper elementary. The post lists my favorite back to school books and conversation starters and activities to use with each book.
First Day of School Science Activities
When starting the school year in a traditional classroom setting, I always use STEM challenges throughout the first week of school. Even though learning is taking place remotely this school year, you can still use STEM challenges throughout the first week of school.
When creating your first day of school science activities, make sure to consider what materials all your students have available? Since learning is taking place remotely, students will need to use materials they have around their homes. Make sure to select materials such as spoons or socks that all students will have at home. Also, make sure to create a STEM challenge that students can complete independently. When they are completing science activities at school, they are often working as part of a team. In an online setting, they will need to complete the challenge independently.
To complete the back to school STEM challenge, give students instructions and time to find the materials they will be able to use. Set a timer and give students a certain amount of time to complete the challenge. When the timer goes off, have students share and test what they created.
Get to Know You Games
One of the easiest and most fun back to school games is a “would you rather” game. I have created 24 cards with “would you rather” questions. Throughout the first week of school, I randomly select cards and read the questions. Then, I allow students time to discuss and share their responses. Some cards have serious questions, and other cards have funny questions.
This “would you rather” game is also one of the easiest virtual back to school activities you can implement in your online classroom. Each day, read a few of the questions and allow students to discuss their responses through your online learning platform. In addition to helping your students get to know each other, this back to school game will also help them learn how to communicate in an online learning environment.
If you are looking for virtual back to school activities and are short on planning time, download my “would you rather” cards for free. The download also includes several other back to school activities you can use with your students.
Get to Know You Bag
Another item that is part of my free back to school ice breakers and games download is my get to know you bag activity. Traditionally, on the first day of school, I always give students a brown paper bag to take home. For homework, they are to fill the bag with three to five items that describe them. On the second day of school, each student shares the items in their bag.
This back to school activity can easily be replicated in your online classroom. Have each student bring three to five small items to your second online meeting. Then, give each student time to share their items with the class.
Back to School Writing Activities
Writing activities are also easy virtual back to school activities. Typical back to school writing activities include things such as writing out goals and writing a letter to the teacher. Use these same back to school writing activities to have students practice using online tools and programs such as Google Docs and Google Classroom.
Back to School Dance Party
Who doesn’t love to dance? Dancing is a great way to get kids smiling and to get them feeling more comfortable around each other. Why not end each online school day throughout the first week of school with a virtual dance party!? Play a fun song or two at the end of the day. Have students get up and dance next to their computers.
As a teacher, back to school has always been one of my favorite times of the year. The classroom is clean, the supplies are new, and I get to begin building relationships with my new students. Starting the school year remotely is disappointing and will likely present some challenges. Luckily, there are many virtual back to school activities you can implement to get to know the students and introduce expectations for the school year. If you have any great virtual back to school activities that I forgot to list here, be sure to leave them in the comments below!
Also, don’t forget to download the free back to school ice breakers and games resource for activities you can use with your students during the first week of school!