Free Lesson Plans for the Best First Day Ever

The first day of school brings about many butterflies for me, regardless of how many years I teach. Each August as the summer winds down, I get antsy about that first day because it is such a brief moment in the timeline of our school year when I want to squeeze in love, excitement, routines, expectations, and the first building blocks of community.

Core inspiration third grade classroom tour

Goals for our First Day of School

As I plan my first day each year, I always bring myself back to this list of the MOST important goals for the first day of school in my classroom:

  • Make sure every student feels welcome, seen, and safe
  • Teach students how to navigate/move safely within their new learning environment
  • Show students that our classroom is a shared space where they will take ownership
  • Help students begin to feel that our classroom is their home away from home

I also want my new students to know that everyone around them will be held to a high standard of respect. Establishing that high level of respect from the first seconds is the key to building the trust required for growing the deep relationships I need in order to truly teach my students. Weaving all this into one school day is like crafting a complicated new recipe. To help ensure the first day runs smoothly, I always type out a detailed lesson plan of exactly what’s going to happen at each point during the day.

Third grade lesson plan on table in folder with classroom welcome banner overhead

FIRST DAY LESSON PLAN FORMAT

During my first year, these lesson plans were a detailed script written in a narrative format with a column of notes that listed what each narrative paragraph was focused on, which progressed to what it is today… a detailed schedule with notes about which routines I want to introduce. Both formats have helped me visualize each moment of the first day. As we know, visualization alone leads to more confidence and success…and we need all the confidence and success we can get when we’ve got 25+ new personalities making a debut in our lives.

A DOWNLOAD TO GET YOU STARTED

Although planning for the first day is a process that must be very customized to your unique teaching style, classroom, school, and students, I am giving you a peek at my first day plans in hopes that they might help you in some way. If you are interested in an editable version of my first day schedule, submit the form below to get your free download. I look forward to hearing what you think about this format in the comments below. How do you like to approach planning for your first day of school each year?

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13 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing. The first day of school has really evolved for me over the years. Seeing someone else’s first day makes me reevaluate what I do. I, too, type up detailed lesson plans. It helps tremendously, especially after a long summer break!

  2. I am enjoying your blog. We are just re-starting writer’s and reader’s workshop and you make it seem so easy. Thank you for sharing your experience and ideas.

  3. Just like you, II like to type out all of my plans in detail as well. I often try to plan the first week, because there is SO much to cover. And I want to get to everything while still making the classroom engaging and welcoming. Thanks for your post and for sharing!
    Jan
    Laughter and Consistency

  4. Dear Laura,
    What a valuable resource this is for someone who is about to teach their first class this year, yikes! There is soooo much to organise! Mental-overload! Your blog has given me inspiration, and guidance on how to set up my classroom, to provide the best learning opportunities that I can to my students. You’re an angel, thank you!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your first day plans. It is a great reminder for those of us who have been teaching for some time. I’m curious about your Coyote signal. It intrigues me… L

    1. Thank you Elle. 🙂 Our Coyote signal is a hand signal we hold up (it looks like the rock on symbol, haha!) We use it as a nonverbal way to quiet a room…the Coyote is our school mascot.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing! It is so helpful to see other teachers’ first day plans. I am curious about the witch and warlock game. Is there somewhere I can find out more? Thank you again

    1. You’re welcome Alex. 🙂 It’s a silent game like statues or museum. All students pretend they are trees in a forest and freeze in any position they’d like. Two students are witches/warlocks wandering through the forest. Those students walk around the room and try to find people who are moving. If the witch/warlock see you move, you are out and have to go to your seat. Students try to sneakily move around while the witch/warlock isn’t looking. This is a silent game that’s a really fun way to bring the classroom to a state of clam at the end of a long day.

  7. Thank you for sharing. like you said it is customized to cater to the students you teach, however, these ideas can help to jumpstart plannig.

I’m Laura Santos

I’ve been an elementary teacher for ten years, and love sharing tips and resources that make differentiated learning more manageable for you. Thank you for visiting.

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