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The First Day of Second Grade

By Nancy Jang on August 19, 2010
  • Grades: 1–2

The pencils are sharpened, the name tags are written, and butterflies are dancing in your stomach. It's the First Day of Second Grade for your new students, and you are probably as nervous as they are going to be. Every year, some things change and some things stay the same. This year, it's possible that I will have up to twenty-nine students. I've rearranged my furniture and organized and planned. Now, I'm ready. Are you?



The 1st Day of 2nd Grade

The first day  even the first week  of school is an adjustment period. The students are getting to know me and I am getting to know them. We learn the procedures for things in our classroom and the rules for out on the playground. We settle into an easy routine before the beginning of the year assessments begin and the curriculum becomes fast paced and demanding. Many times, students are still trying to enroll, and the staff in the office (bless their infinite patience) send students to their new classes all of that first week and partly into the second.

A Peek Into My First Day of School

When the students come in, they find their name tag on a table near the door and then choose a desk. The students' desks are in two large table groups. On their desks are two easy worksheets, a small tub of Play-Doh, and a pencil box with two pencils, an eraser, and a small box of crayons. 

Parents are invited to come in the first day to take pictures and say the pledge with us. I ask them to  tell their children what they are doing for lunch and where they are going after school to get picked up. Then the kids say good-bye and get started on their math worksheet. After Back to School Night, we will begin study hall in the mornings. There will be dedicated posts on Back to School Night and study hall in September.

Scholastic 3 012
Patchwork Math is an excellent sponge activity and can be used at many times during the year. The kids get a review of addition and subtraction and look forward to coloring the page according to the key. The coloring greatly motivates kids to finish the math problems.

After everyone is working quietly and I am done taking roll and the lunch count, we have our Morning Meeting. We talk about student numbers, sitting on the carpet, lining up, and hanging up our backpacks. Then we practice each of these things.

We play a game called Mingo that is great for grades 25. I downloaded it from Scholastic when they had some free back-to-school printables last year. You can download it here. There are some other great first day/first week activities included with the Mingo directions and black line master.

After the icebreaker, I will choose some procedures to model and practice with my students. The first day, it's usually where and how to line up in class, lining up after a recess,  sitting on the carpet, and my attention signal. We will also talk about school rules and classroom consequences.  Every day, I choose about five procedures to teach, model, and practice with the students. We also play a quick icebreaker game or complete a get-to-know-you activity every day the first week of school.

Scholastic 011

The Playground

Before recess, we take a tour of the school and playground. We review the rules for playing on the equipment. This helps little ones who have forgotten the rules, minimizes the number of playground incidents, and helps the teachers on recess duty. It also allows students new to our school to get a preview of the rules. I assign a buddy to any new students, and I hand out their snacks as I release them to recess.

When recess is over, we have P.E. I will show them their assigned spot and we will do a little stretching. My first unit of P.E. is Playground Games. We learn how to play handball, as well as other recess games, and how to use all the equipment properly. We pick a different game to play as a class, and learn and practice the school rules together.


Read Aloud

After P.E., the students come into class and join me on the carpet for Read Aloud time. Below are some of my first week read-alouds. These titles are also on a downloadable booklist I created on Scholastic's List Exchange.

  Scholastic 3 009   Scholastic 3 004   Scholastic 3 006 

Scholastic 3 001  Scholastic 3 002  Scholastic 3 011   Scholastic 3 003

  Scholastic 3 007    Scholastic 3 005   Scholastic 3 008

After lunch, my class has silent reading. At the beginning of the year, we read for about 10 minutes. Gradually, I increase the time until we are at about 30 minutes. During this time, I will pull students to a corner of the room and take their pictures.

After silent reading, we will draw self-portraits, and I will share my "All About Me" poster. If I have time, I have them do some writing about themselves to go with their "First Day of School" photos. Writing usually takes a long time at the beginning of the year, so I do a lot of modeling.

DVD cover

By late afternoon of the first day, the kids are wilted and their attention is flagging. Most of them are showing me signs that they need a little down time. So, I show a short video. The Scholastic Teacher Store has a nice selection of DVDs by Weston Woods. The DVDs have three or four books that are animated. They are available throughout the year in the book catalog, so I use my bonus points to purchase them.  I like to have these on hand for our parties, a sub, and the first week of school. I like to use Back to School Stories and Stories About Growing Up the first week.  If your school subscribes to Discovery Education, all of the Weston Woods videos are available to download or stream.


I hope that you feel excited, organized, and prepared for your first day and first week of school. Thank you for visiting. Join me next week as I take you on a tour of my finished classroom. 




The winner of 20 Judy clocks is . . . Rebecca!

Thank you for your comments! Rebecca, please post your mailing address in the comments, and I will ship it out to you. (I will not make your comment with your address public for others to see.) Congratulations!

Comments (15)

I am going into my first year of teacher 2nd grade and this was so helpful! Thank you!!

Hi Nancy!
Those are great books indeed.

However may I suggest a few more books that include characters of color?

I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont (great first day book!!!)
Blackout by John Rocco (summer night in the city)
Keen Ford and the 2nd Grade Mix-up by Melissa Thomson (fabulous chapter book read aloud!!!)

Our school is predominately caucasian but every year I have about 3 - 4 bi-racial and African American children. I want them to immediately feel included in this sea of white faces (including their teacher) so I try to incorporate as much literature as possible that will reflect their family and experiences.


Thanks Nancy for your great tips. I am teaching 2nd grade and this is my second year as a full time teacher. So I am anxious and nervous for the start of a new year. Felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants last year. I really want to be more on top of things. I appreciate your tips for introducing routines and some of your First Days of School ideas. Looking forward to your other posts.

I'm getting ready to start my first day of my first year of teaching, and this post was really helpful and detailed! Thank you!!!

Leigh, I'm glad that you found something that you can use in your classroom. I hope you will share back what new tool you tried and how you used it. Thank you for your comment!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Amazing ideas....I teach 2nd grade and am slowly integrating more technology into my day. You have some great ideas. Thank you for sharing them and getting my imagination going as to how I could get 2nd graders involved whether it be through Edublog, Blabberize, etc.

Sandra, Thanks for visiting! I'm going to be posting about getting ready for assessment and Back To School Night in the weeks to come. Stay tuned!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Thanks for the preview of your first day. This is my second year of teaching but my first time being there on the first day of school (I started mid year last year). I have been racking my brain to figure out what to do the first week of school. Thanks to your post I now have some really good ideas and feel a lot more comfortable about writing my lesson plans. Thanks Again, Sandra Ringle - 2nd grade

Brent, Thanks for visiting! We usually have almost every single parent on the first day, so I try to help them help me prevent tears.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Allie, Thank you for your support. I love that my second graders are the "Big Kids" at my school since we are K-2. I'm absolutely excited for the new year to begin. I'm really trying to push myself to get out of my comfort zone this year.

Happy vacation! Nancy

Nancy, You look so ready already! I really enjoyed reading your post and learning how you begin the year. I see we have some similar routines. I take my kinders on a tour of the school and we do self portraits too. I love the swings too. I miss swings on the playground. I can tell you are getting excited for the new year. I look forward to next weeks post. ~Allie

I like how you involve the parents in reminding them youngsters of two very confusing parts of the day...lunch and going home. Nice tips!

Erica, Thanks for visiting! I'm glad that you found something useful in my post. If you have anything that you would like me to post about, please let me know.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

I am so excited to follow a fellow second grade teacher this year. There are lots of things I can draw from other levels but I am excited to see second grade perspectives this year! Thanks for the list of first day books!

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