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15 free back-to-school activities and teaching resources – Updated for 2018/19

From icebreakers and getting-to-know-you activities to behaviour tips and starter ideas, here's everything you need to kickstart the new school year...

  • 15 free back-to-school activities and teaching resources – Updated for 2018/19

Where did the six weeks go, eh? Well, you were probably either in school, ill or asleep for most of them, but here’s hoping you at least got some time for a bit of much-needed R&R.

Well, while you still have a couple of weeks before it all starts again and you have the excitement of a brand new class to meet, try adding some of these ideas, activities and helpful resources to your teaching repertoire before the September term kicks in.

1 | Back-to-school bingo

Author: KS2History

Help your new class get to know each other with this fun game.

Give each child a ‘Find Someone Who…’ board (choose the KS1 or KS2 version), and let them go around the room to find somebody who can sign their name in each box on the board.

The aim is to fill up their whole board as well as to get to know their classmates better!

Download your bingo cards here.

2 | New school year song

Author: Primary Songs

This is fun song to start a new school year for assemblies or the classroom, and it comes with piano/vocal sheet music, an audio backing track with instrumental melody and a lyrics sheet (that comes as a PowerPoint and PDF document).

Get this catchy tune here.

3 | Five icebreakers

Meeting anyone for the first time can be scary, even as adults being confronted with a situation where you need to introduce yourself to a stranger is unnerving for most.

Children have to experience this several times throughout their school years. Not only do they meet a new teacher but also a class of, potentially, 30 new faces.

Nothing is worse than making a child stand up in front of the entire class and talk about themselves.

Icebreakers can be a fantastic way to ease the first day awkwardness, here are five examples that will ensure a smooth start to the school year.

Read all five ideas here.

4 | New school year activities for KS2

Author: Little Sherbet Lemon

Get your new class to learn about each other with these four back-to-school activities.

There’s a ‘getting to know you’ grid and a ‘getting to know you’ game, an activity where each student writes and draws about themselves for a class display and a ‘we are all part of this class’ activity where students’ individual puzzle pieces of their personality are weaved together.

Get these activities here.

5 | All about me

Author: Sparklebox

Pretty standard stuff, but it’s always good to get students to share a bit of themselves with you and their classmates.

This worksheet is a good starting point which will work fine for younger children, or you can always just use it as a basis to build upon if you teach older pupils.

Either way, you’ll find it here.

6 | Back-to-school icebreaker Lotto for KS1

Author: Laura J Harris

Getting children to chat to each other on the first day back is easy with ‘Find a friend who…’ activity. Who is shy? Who can’t stay on task? This activity stamps ‘we are interested in one another and like to communicate’ on the class from the very first moment.

Download everything you need for this activity here.

7 | Annual planner

Author: Traidcraft

Other than the big events, and any that involve cake, it can be hard to keep up with the various awareness days and school initiatives. But never again miss Squirrel Appreciation Day (21 January), Be A Millionaire Day (easier said than done, 20 May) or Sauntering Day (19 June) with this Traidcraft calendar.

OK, so those particular examples might not be on there, but each addition to the calendar comes with relevant links to teaching resources. What more could you want?

Check it out here.

8 | First day back KS3 icebreaker activities

Author: Kat Howard

This PDF features a collection of ways of getting to know your students and putting them at ease on the first day back in September.

Download it here.

9 | Welcome Back! assembly from TrueTube

Author: TrueTube

This assembly for Key Stages 3 and 4 will help your students think about what they want to achieve on the next stage of life’s journey.

There’s a short film, some games and a PowerPoint presentation too.

Get all this here.

10 | Behaviour app

Author: Pivotal Education

Forrest Gump’s mother’s advice on life being like a box of chocolates is perhaps more apt for describing your new class. You’re sure they’re mostly lovely, but too much all at once is never fun, and there’s always the potential for one that’s a little harder to stomach than others.

Pivotal Education’s behaviour app means you can access free resources, articles and tips on classroom management, as well as listen to episodes of the Pivotal Podcast and more. And it’s available for Apple and Android devices.

Find out more and download here.

11 | Year 7 spellings tracker

Author: Toni Banks

This booklet is designed to help Year 7 students keep track of accurate spellings after responding to feedback in their books.

Simply hole-punch and treasury-tag them at the back of pupils’ exercise books.

Students will find it very useful as it also includes a list of some commonly misspelled words and allows them to independently develop their spelling accuracy.

Download this resource here.

12 | Caught on film

Author: Into Film

Suitable for primary or secondary teachers, this assembly plan makes use of a range of films that look at first days at school, potential problems students may come across and how to tackle them.

Topics included are negotiating the first days, making new friends, believing in yourself and working together. There are also accompanying teachers’ notes on PDF.

Download everything you need here.

13 | Starter activity generator

Author: Mike Gershon

Stocking up on starter activities is always a good idea for the start of a new school year, and you can find over 100 of them in this activity generator from Mike Gershon of Assessment for Learning.

It’s free, and it’s here.

14 | Discussion toolkit

Author: Mike Gershon

Another of Mike’s excellent resources is this discussion toolkit, which guides you through a variety of activities you can use to structure and encourage discussion in the classroom. Given that many of your new students won’t know each other very well, or even at all, these can really help to break the ice in a way that isn’t forced or awkward.

The kit focuses on discussion, rather than debate, although many of the activities will work equally well for both, and there are lots of links should you want to follow ideas further.

Get this resource here.

15 | Icebreakers that rock

Author: Cult of Pedagogy

No one wants to admit the most embarrassing thing they’ve ever done as a forced exercise in a room full of strangers, so these three ideas from Cult of Pedagogy are a much better option.

Described as “no-cheese activities that won’t embarrass students”, they focus on finding similarities and asking hypothetical ‘would you rather…’ questions that get pupils opening up in a safe way.

You’ll find all three activities here.

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