The first day of preschool is an exciting opportunity to welcome children to your center and start your upcoming year together on a positive note. When you’re planning the first day of preschool activities and crafts, you want them to be fun and engaging tasks that inspire children and support them to get to know their teachers and peers.
This article covers simple ways to welcome children on the first day of preschool and creative activity ideas for teachers.
Welcoming children on the first day of preschool
The first day of preschool holds a special place in the hearts of both children and their families. It marks a significant milestone in a child's life, as they embark on a journey of learning, growth, and new experiences. However, this momentous occasion can also be accompanied by feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, both for the little ones and their families.
Fortunately, preschool teachers have an arsenal of strategies at their disposal to help ease this transition and make the first day a positive experience for everyone involved.
1. Prepare children and families before the first day
As a teacher, taking proactive measures is important to help children and their families prepare for the first day of preschool. One way to do this is by planning an orientation where you can warmly greet families and introduce yourself. During the orientation, take the time to make families familiar with the preschool environment and share important information about daily routines, expectations, and any special activities or events. By allowing families to ask questions and get a sense of comfort before the official start, you can make the transition smoother for everyone.
Additionally, you can send out a newsletter before the first day, which can serve as a helpful resource. This is a great way to include important details about the curriculum, classroom procedures, contact information, and suggestions to help prepare children for the transition. By doing this, you can ease any anxieties, build trust, and establish a strong partnership between home and school from the beginning.
2. Provide comfort for separation anxiety
The first day of preschool is a chance to care for children who may have anxiety about being separated from their families. Comfort them by acknowledging their feelings, creating a calm down corner, or practicing deep breathing exercises. You can also allow children to bring a comfort item from home or create a family photo wall to help them feel more comfortable in your classroom and look forward to learning and spending time at preschool.
3. Support children in building friendships
Use the first day of preschool activities as a prime opportunity to create connections between the children. These activities can be a fun way to learn more about each other and lay the foundation for future friendships.
4. Introduce the teacher(s) to the children
Children are undoubtedly curious about you as the newly-acquainted adult they’ll spend a lot of time with. So let children get to know you with an activity where you share a few facts about who you are and what they can expect from you as their teacher.
5. Share memorable moments with families
It is also likely that families will be anxious to know how their child is doing on their first day. Help families stay connected to their child's day by using a tool like brightwheel's daily activity report feature which allows you to share real-time updates about daily activities and events and send customized daily reports for each child.
Read on for first day of preschool ideas for teachers who want to welcome children into their classroom with activities that instruct and bring smiles!
First day of preschool ideas for teachers
There are many ways to make the first day of preschool fun and welcoming for your children. These activities can help reduce nervousness, create a sense of belonging, and encourage children to make new friends. You can read a story about starting school or work together to come up with rules for the classroom. These activities will help everyone feel comfortable and set the stage for a happy and inclusive classroom environment.
1. Read a book about the first day of school
Utilize your read-aloud time to read a book themed around the first day of school. Books support everyone—including children—to feel more connected and calm. The books below can assist children in easing any anxiety about their first day of preschool and inspire them to embrace what’s ahead.
- Little Critter: First Day of School by Mercer Mayer
- The Berenstain Bears Go to School by Stan Berenstain
- Pete the Kitty's First Day of Preschool by Kimberly and James Dean
- Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen
- Curious George's First Day of School by Margret and H.A. Rey
- Rosie Goes to Preschool by Karen Katz
2. Have a classroom tour or scavenger hunt
Help children adjust to their new learning environment by showing them around the classroom. Point out the most important supplies and the proper places to store their belongings. Then, make it a game by turning it into a scavenger hunt! Give each child a list and have them search for the listed items or locations in the classroom, marking them off as they find them. Afterwards, gather the children together to discuss their findings and celebrate their efforts as a group.
3. Play a “get to know the teacher” game
Make introducing yourself to preschoolers more memorable by playing a “get to know me” game. Children may not remember a list of facts, but they’ll perk up for a guessing game with funny options!
Create a list of fun facts about yourself and get the children to guess which one applies to you. For example, “My favorite color is blue, I used to have green hair, and I love cats more than any other animal!”
4. Sticker name activity
Name-based activities are perfect for the first day of preschool. This one requires a little preparation, but it’s a simple way for children to use their creativity and begin to introduce themselves to their classmates.
Write out each child’s name large enough for them to put stickers on top of or inside of the letters. Provide the children with a variety of stickers and allow them to decorate their name. This activity not only gets names circulating among the children but helps children learn the letters in their name.
5. Play “our favorite things” activity
Building a giant list of favorite things is an exercise that everyone can participate in. First, write out categories, ask children what their favorite things are, and have the children draw their favorite things on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be legible—ask the children to explain what they drew as you walk around the room! Drawing has many benefits for young children, including improved hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
You can also revisit this activity as a way to celebrate your preschoolers' 100th day of school. Create a new list of your children's favorite things and compare with the first day list to see much your children's interests have changed!
6. Invite children to co-create classroom rules and procedures
Sharing the classroom rules and essential procedures with children is an integral part of the first day of preschool. Before the first day of school, write out a list of classroom rules and plan how you’ll guide children to participate in naming them. Their participation is also a great icebreaker that will help them get to know each other and remember the classroom rules.
You can even make a game of it afterward to further help children retain the information. Quiz children on what to do in certain scenarios (how to apply the rules and the correct procedure) and reward them with a small prize for correct answers.
7. Pass the ball
All you need for this activity is a ball made of a soft material and a predetermined “fun fact” for children to share. Children will slowly pass or gently toss a ball around. The child who catches it will share their name plus the fun fact (e.g., their favorite color, favorite animal, or favorite food).
8. First-day self-portrait
A first day of preschool self-portrait is a great way to celebrate and makes a wonderful keepsake that parents will love. Ask children to draw a picture of themselves on the first day of preschool. You can use this free printable first day of school self-portrait worksheet or create your own template!
9. Interview time
Pair up the children and have them take turns interviewing each other. Provide simple questions like "What is your favorite color?" or "What do you like to do for fun?" They can then share their partner's answers with the group.
10. Friendship chain
Give each child a paper strip with their name on it and allow them to decorate it. Then, link the strips together to create a friendship chain, symbolizing unity and connection in the classroom. Display it in your classroom where children can see it.
Make the most of their first day
For a preschool teacher, few things bring more joy than welcoming a child to their first day of preschool. As you plan for their first day, remember that your excitement is contagious, and your smile can help put children and families at ease. With the fun activities you plan, you’ll help children feel comfortable and adjust to their new environment in no time.