Fun Beginning of the Year Activities for Self Contained Classrooms

When students enjoy school and want to be there, it makes learning better and more successful in all areas.

Looking for some fun activities for the beginning of the school year for your self contained classroom?  You’ve come to the right place.

Now depending on who you ask, you may get a bunch of different answers… but I’ve come up with some activities that will be easy for you, but also easy and enjoyable for the kids.

Let’s hit some key areas today – back to school rules, social emotional learning, and academics.

Back to School Rule Activities for the First Weeks of School

  • Decibella and Her 6-Inch Voice – Decibella is a girl who learns about the different levels of her voice throughout the story.  A Book Companion & Craftivity is the perfect addition to your beginning of the year routine to teach your students about their voice level at school, as well as at home and in their community.
  • How to Use Sensory Toys – the beginning of the year is a great touch point and starting place for teaching your students the rules and expectations in your school and classroom… and also how to handle different items in your classroom appropriately. Just like anything else, we have to explicitly teach our students how to use the sensory toys in our classrooms.
  • Do’s And Don’ts of School Sorting Activity – Social skills are important in allowing us to communicate and problem solve.  Students with special needs need more help from us to learn these skills.  Knowing how to act in school is such an important social skill.  This activity will help your students better understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors at school.
  • School Drills – It’s never too early to start preparing your students for all of the different drills that happen throughout the school year, especially if there is an emergency.  These interactive adapted books help teach school safety routines covering a fire drill, earthquake drill, lock down drill, evacuation drill and tornado drill.

Social Emotional Learning During the First Weeks of School

  • Color Monster Book – The Color Monster is the story of a monster who, with the help of a little girl, learns about his emotions through different colors.  A Book Companion is the best cross-curricular addition to your classroom to help teach your students about their emotions.
  • Making Friends – Children oftentimes have a hard time making friends at school, especially when factors like Autism come into play.  Social stories, like Making a Friend Interactive Social Story, are an effective way to teach children how to manage their emotions and teach them social norms, skills and routines.  This could be followed up with the How to Make Friends Social Skills Practice and Sorting Activity for more hands on review. 
  • How To Act In School – If you are looking for behavior management ideas, this resource is what you need.  This social skills activity will help students learn how to act in school and how to listen in the classroom.
  • We Don’t Eat Our Classmates – what kid doesn’t think talking about eating classmates is funny? This book companion is a sure fire way to get kids laughing, engaged, and loving coming to school.  It is perfect for back to school lessons in all subjects – science, math, literacy and even art!

Academics to Teach the First Weeks of School

  • See what they know – if you have a new child, this gives you a good opportunity to collect some baseline data to see what they know and where to start with their learning (it also helps you know if their IEP goals are truly aligned to what they know).  If this is a child you have had previously, this gives you an idea of the information they have retained, or maybe regressed over the summer break.  A good resource for this is Literacy and Math Assessment Bundle for IEP Progress Monitoring.
  • Learning their name – have a student who is learning to spell their name?  Then this Editable Name Spelling Cut and Paste Activity is perfect.  It could be used as a one time activity, or you can laminate and use velcro to continue practicing this skill.  Another fun way of practicing names is creating a graph to compare the amount of letters everyone has in their name to see who has the most letters or who has the least amount of letters in their name.
  • Errorless Learning Folders – Getting your students into a routine and teaching them that routine can be one of the hardest parts of a new school year, nevermind throwing in work they don’t know how to do yet.  Get your students happy and comfortable with a new routine by giving them these errorless activities that they can easily do during independent work, small groups or 1 on 1 work sessions.

What are some of your favorite back to school activities? Comment below and let us know!




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