Back to School Stations are such a fun and engaging way to start the school year. The first day of school can be nerve-wrecking and stressful for students, so these rotations allow them to get comfortable and excited about what is to come. And don’t worry, it’s not just games. Each station has a specific purpose, either in helping students get to know the classroom, the expectations or each other.
So, what are the stations?! Let’s get started.
Back to School Station #1: Classroom Scavenger Hunt
The goal of this station is to get students to familiarize themselves with the classroom. They will walk around and locate specific zones, areas or tools they will need throughout the year. Some key parts I include are:
- Direction of washroom & nearest exit door
- Classroom library & checkout method
- Turn in bin
- “When I Was Away” station
#2: Student Survey
A student survey is a MUST in back to school stations. This really gives them the opportunity to tell you about themselves, and gives you an opportunity to learn about them both as a person but also as a learner. I always include questions about what they expect from their teacher and some personal questions that I can use to relate and connect to them!
#3: Investigate the Teacher
This is a fun one for both you and the students. It is also a very interesting one to observe because it can show you if your students are more “black-and-white” thinkers, or if they are able to think outside of the box a little. In this station, students will look around the room and make observations. Once they have a few notes, they will take 3 of those observations and analyze them to come up with some facts about YOU as a teacher. For example, if they noticed your colour-coded shelving system they may come to the conclusion that you are neat & organized.
Once all of the students finish the rotations, this can be a fun one to come back to and use as a little bit of an introduction to yourself. Students LOVE learning about their teacher (more than you think) so it’s important to let them in a little 🙂
#4: Silly Debates
This is MY version of a fun icebreaker for the first day of school. Let’s face it, students from Grade 4-8 do not want to sit around and come up with fun facts about themselves. However, will talk about their opinions. The purpose of this back to school station is to get students to chat about funny debate topics in their groups. While it’s not a typical ice breaker, it does actually show students a lot about the different personalities in their class. It also shows YOU a lot about how your students interact with one another and what kind of reasoning and communication they use.
Back to School Station #5: Classroom Expectations
We all know classroom expectations can be tough to get through in the first week of school. We also know that they are the most critical part of our classroom management, so they can’t be skipped. In this back to school station, students will come up with some ideas for what their DREAM classroom would look like, sound like and feel like. Groups will brainstorm together and once the rotations are complete, you can use their ideas to create a version as a class. I’d use the look like, sound like, and feel like as a starting point to ask them… what do WE need to do to have a classroom that feels “flexible” or “fair”.
Check out this blog post for more details on classroom systems, routines & expectations.
Grab the resource here or by clicking on the image below!
Hopefully this blog post helped you wrap your head around how and why you should use back to school stations in your classroom this year. If you have any questions, find me on Instagram! I’m always happy to chat 🙂