It is SO important to have a positive first day of school experience, especially when homeschooling. It just sets the tone for the entire school year. Today I'm going to give you 7 great activities for the first day of school, most of which can be done without a lot of extra expense or planning time.
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1. Take Back to School Photos
I know you've seen them on Pinterest. The photos where you hold a sign saying the school year and/or grade on it. Check out our First Day of School Pinterest board for ideas and printable signs. They're so much fun to take and a great photo to treasure in the family album, besides being a good addition to your homeschool records file.
2. Write “Who are You?” Journal Pages
Every child loves to share his favorite things. Let them fill out this free printable Journal Page with all their favorites listed, then try to guess each other's favorites. You might even draw self portraits. Be sure to keep them (or take a photo/scan) as part of your yearly records or family memory album as well. It will be so much fun in later years to look back and remember what was “cool”. (Another option would be to create video interviews of each child answering the same kinds of journal questions.)
3. Make a Time Capsule
Create a time capsule (perhaps in an empty soda bottle or yogurt container and bury it (or hide it) in a safe place to dig out and open on the first day of school next year, or save them for the child's graduation. Possible things to include:
- the First Day of School Photo from this year.
- address and photo of your home (especially if you move often)
- shoe sizes or heights (to see how much they've grown)
- goals for the year (to evaluate if they've reached them or grown a different direction)
4. Do a Crazy, Surprising and Fun Activity
Don't forget the fun! As Mary Poppins says
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”
Make it fun. Surprise them with a scavenger hunt, a water fight, a secret destination outing. A Crossword puzzle where the clues describe the field trips planned for this year. Do something that makes them excited about the prospect of a new year of learning together. For more ideas on creating crazy family fun see my post How to Create Happiness, 30 Ideas for Rainy Day Fun, and 3 Tips for a Great First Day of Homeschool.
5. Adopt a Learning Partner from Far Away
Ahead of time, make arrangements with another family (perhaps a missionary family) who live in a different part of the state, country, or world to be learning partners for the year. Here are some ideas:
- On the first day of school, introduce the family and their location using maps, a surprise package containing things from them/their area, virtual tours etc.
- Have a conference call or Skype with them to introduce each other and share the things you're excited about for the year.
- You may even exchange flat travelers, so that you and the other family can include them in your activities and field trips for the year.
- Make a point to communicate with each other (email, snail mail, conference or video calls) at least once a month to update each other on what you're learning and share interesting things about your country/state.
- If possible take a trip to visit them or meet them half way (if they live closer) to spend a day together.
6. Celebrate with Special Foods or Snacks
Make breakfast, lunch or snack time extra special with back to school themed snacks or party food (some great ideas here), or some dish that's a family favorite, but not enjoyed frequently. Our tradition is to have cinnamon rolls on the first day of school.
7. Plan a Scavenger Hunt
To get the kids excited about the adventure of learning you could pre-arrange a set of clues. Start by getting them all in the car and giving them a clue, when you arrive at the first surprise destination they will discover the answer, and be given the next clue. You can do this for all of the subjects you will study. For instance, a clue could be something like: “I am part of your town, I helped it become what it is today.” And you end up at a local historical statue or your city museum and learn a bit of what you will study in your American History this year. You can be as creative as you want. It would also count as a field trip in most places. Win win!
What do you do on the first day of Back to School? I would love to have you share!