Activities for the first lesson

There is no day like the first day of the school year or the first day of a training course. Students are likely to experience mixed feelings. For teachers, it isn’t much different. Get your lessons off to a successful start. The first day is THE day so you'd better make it count!
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There is no day like the first day of the school year or the first day of a training course. The activities planned for the first lesson might have a huge impact on the educational journey that is about to start.

For students...

Students are likely to experience mixed feelings. On the one end, they have to spend some time sitting in a classroom or at their desks facing a computer; on the other hand, they get to be with their friends or colleagues again; or maybe they are newbies and every single thing is a first for them.

For teachers...

For teachers, it isn’t much different. Activities for the first day of school? – For sure this was not the topic on their minds during summer. But now the time has come and, although the school year is still about to start, they can’t help but feel overwhelmed with all they have to do to ensure that their first lesson is a success.

Simple tips

Some planning and the right teaching resources will help you be fully prepared and ensure you have a smooth and rewarding day. Here are some tips to make a great first impression and to get the year off to a successful start. I teach foreign languages (English, German and Portuguese) and the samples below are ideas for first day of school or back to school activities for English learners. However, all these activities can be easily adapted to other subject areas.

1

Speed Interviewing

Prepare a quick interview to get to know each other

Do a fun ice-breaking activity to put everyone at ease with a speedy interview. This is particularly important if there are new students in the class. If they are learning a foreign language, it is even better because this activity gives everyone the chance to speak in class. However, it is essential to ensure that every student is ready to take part in an interview. 

Content:

  • Giving and asking for personal information
  • Introducing yourself
  • Interview

Included resources:

  • Worksheet
  • PowerPoint Presentation with answer key
  • It all starts with a simple sentence: students introduce themselves giving little information (maybe name and where they live).
  • Then comes a listening activity: students listen to and transcribe short questions and answers to ensure they all have some backup while interviewing their classmates. These questions and answers will boost confidence and ease fears.
  • Ask the students to stand up and interview the person next to them. This way, they won’t have to choose and nobody will feel left out. If there’s an odd number of students, the teacher steps in and takes part in the activity.
  • During the interview, students take some notes about the classmates they have had the chance to meet.
  • As soon as they finish interviewing their first match, they move to another person and repeat the interview. Repetition is extremely important when learning a new language. However, in this activity, since the students are always talking to different classmates, they won’t feel like they are repeating themselves.

To get detailed information about this activity, read more>>

It is good to keep in mind that the first day of school is also the first day of an academic year. Understanding your students’ abilities is a springboard to a successful school year. A teacher-friendly English Level Test Sample is a must-have for every busy teacher, and can easily be used as a back-to-school activity. To get detailed information about this activity and how to use it in class, read our blog post on Assessing and teaching English to mixed ability students from day 1.

3

Trivia Game

Engaging games with a high success rate

Create a pleasant mood and ease students’ anxieties by playing a trivia game.

We have two ready-to-use games for English learners, one to review the Past Simple and another one based on common mistakes in English.

Past Simple Game, a game for EFL/ESL learners designed by up2dateSKILLS, included in the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Series.
Past Simple Game
EFL/ESL Game
up2dateSKILLS English language resources
Common Mistakes in English, a game for EFL/ESL learners designed by up2dateSKILLS, included in the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Series.
Common Mistakes in English
EFL/ESL Game
up2dateSKILLS English language resources

We also have templates with blank PowerPoint presentations that you can use to insert the information that best suits your class or subject. 

Who wants to be a Millionaire PowerPoint and A4 size Word templates to create games for the classroom, designed by up2dateSKILLS.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
PowerPoint and A4 size Word templates
up2dateSKILLS resources for commercial use
Who wants to be a Millionaire PowerPoint and US-Letter Word templates to create games for the classroom, designed by up2dateSKILLS.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
PowerPoint and US-Letter Word templates
up2dateSKILLS resources for commercial use

Here are some ideas: (1) classroom rules and routines – you can introduce important features of the room and the school and present the most important classroom routines in a playful way, thus avoiding handing out a list; (2) question to review previously taught content, etc.

You can still use the questions in a worksheet to revise the content of your game. The template for an after-game worksheet is also provided.

This is a simple academic activity that can easily be adapted to short reviews and guarantee a high success rate. These will boost confidence and ease fears. To get detailed information on how to use these games in class, read more>>

The resources in the pictures below include a worksheet and a PowerPoint Presentation. They were designed as a back-to-school icebreaker for learners of English. In addition, these resources can be also be used to introduce a discussion on the importance of English in the world. They are simple and engaging for learners of all age ranges.

It’s a simple resource to break the ice in classes with students of different levels because even those at the lowest levels will feel confident to take part in the lesson.

Although certain answers seem quite obvious, there is always something new to learn about the English-speaking world. At home, students can do some research to find out the other English-speaking countries not identified in class. They can later share the result of their research with the class. To get detailed information about this activity, read more>>

Content:

  • Anglicisms
  • English Speaking Countries (map)
  • The United Kingdom (map)
  • Countries and Nationalities

Included resources:

  • Worksheet
  • PowerPoint Presentation with answer key

The resources in the pictures below include a worksheet and the answer key. The first one is free. The second one is a paid product but it includes editable files as well as a PowerPoint Presentation. They were designed to help students develop their ability to deconstruct social constructs. They are simple and engaging for learners of all age ranges.

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