5 Engaging Activities to Start the New School Year

Math, science, reading, writing, etc. are all important academic skills students must learn throughout the year. But before you can even begin to crank out place value and decode text, there are a few life lessons that you must emphasize in order to have a more cooperative and engaging classroom!

Those lessons center around topics like friendship, following directions, having quality character, teamwork, and getting to know each other as a way to build classroom community.

Starting the new school year by shaping the type of learning environment you want for your classroom will take engaging activities that focus on these elements. Because truthfully, your students won’t respond without a bit of fun!

I’ve got 5 engaging back-to-school activity ideas for you, but first, let’s dive into why engaging activities matter.

What makes activities engaging?

Engagement is more than keeping your students interested. While that is an important piece, engaging activities are educational experiences that capture interest along with stimulating curiosity and encouraging active participation in the learning process.

In the end, you want engaging activities for your students in order to make learning enjoyable, relevant, and meaningful. With these elements, you’ll foster a positive and team-oriented classroom!

Your back-to-school activities should indeed include these engaging traits if you want to kick off the school year strong! Use a mix of hands-on activities, problem-solving, collaborative projects, and creative expression. 

We include many options for these inside our Back to School Activities Pack. Let’s look at a few of them more closely.

Back to School Friendship Sushi

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We are all friends here! That should be the motto in your classroom from day one! To show just how serious you are, have your students create friendship sushi. It has always been a hit in the classroom.

Friendship sushi is a beginning-of-the-year snack that teaches students the importance of friendship. They will read several poems which give instructions on how to create their sweet sushi treat. 

At the conclusion of making their treat, students will complete a how-to writing to show the steps in making Friendship Sushi!

Back to School Cootie Catchers

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You’ve never seen a way to get to know each other like this! Students will have a blast playing a game with these cootie catchers!

For this game, students will create their cootie catchers using the template and go around the room in a speed dating-like manner asking each other questions from the catcher. You can do 6 rounds with each student pairing with separate partners each round. 

You can choose to use one set of questions or vary them among students with multiple template options. On a recording sheet, students can write down one fun fact they learned about each classmate!

Back to School Play-Doh Puzzlers

engaging activities for back to school using play-doh to complete stem challenges.

Learning how to follow directions and work as a team is certainly an important part of the classroom community. Instead of going down the rule book, try a fun, cooperative game that allows students to learn this in a hands-on way!

With Play-Doh puzzlers, students will complete various STEM challenges in teams. Working together, they will create various items using Play-Doh based on the included task cards.

You can have them run through the tasks in one sitting or use them as brain breaks throughout the first week of school!

It is such an engaging way to get students working together without too much fuss. 

All About Me Bags

All about me activity with a backpack craft for back to school.

It’s important that each student is given a chance to introduce themselves to everyone in the classroom! All About Me activities ensure that no one is missed.

But instead of the typical all about me posters, consider this All About Me bag craft! Students will craft a backpack to hold all the important details about who they are. 

Simply fold a brown paper bag in half. Then cut out the paper elements and glue them onto the front.

Students can use the included question stems to provide fun facts about themselves and place them in their bags. In the end, the bags can be used as a bulletin board around the room. That way you can show off everyone included in your classroom community!

Each day, you can pull new bags from the board and have students share.

Encouraging Quality Character

engaging activities for quality character featuring a no bullying booklet page.

Show students the quality character traits that make your classroom the place where they can be themselves and make new friends.

Use quality character activities to highlight important character traits – like resilience against bullying! 

Teachers can anchor the quality character activities with picture books that reinforce the type of characteristics that make us good humans!

This is where you can begin to pull in language skills as you discuss how each trait was used throughout the story. Students will use a quality character booklet to write about what they’ve learned and how they can exhibit each trait at school.

Whichever back-to-school activities you choose to start the new school year, be sure they have enough engaging qualities to get students excited to become a part of your classroom community. 

If you’re interested in what you’ve seen in this post, you can check out the Back to School activities unit for building character, promoting cooperation, and setting classroom goals!

Don’t forget these engaging activities for back to school, save the image below for later!

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Hi, I'm Amy

Hey, y’all! My name is Amy Lemons and I am passionate about providing students with both engaging and effective standards-based Math and ELA lessons.


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