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10 Back-to-School Activities for High School Students

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First Day of School Activities to Get to Know Your Students

Back-to-school time can be fun and exciting for middle and high school students. Getting off on the right foot at the start of a new school year can help to create a positive classroom community that students both respect and want to be a part of. Here are some fun activities (that don’t require many school supplies) that can help you get to know your students and help them get to know their new classmates after a long summer break. As you plan your back-to-school lesson plans, block out some time for activities that can help create a classroom sense of community. 

1- Recipe of Me– Have students write about themselves in a Recipe of Me activity that doubles as classroom decor. This is an excellent way for students to share about themselves with the class and for you to get to know their interests and build a rapport. This activity comes in both print and Google versions.

Check out our TPT store for more back-to-school activities for middle school and high school!

Want to know more about your students on the first day of school? Hand out an index card to each student and write on the whiteboard or project questions to gather some personal information, such as what is your:

  • name
  • phone number
  • parents email address
  • favorite subject
  • goals for this year
  • learning style
  • birthday

I file these cards somewhere safe and refer back to them during the school year when I need to learn more about a student or if I need to contact their parents. 

2- Two Truths and a Lie:

This is another low prep first day of school activity. Students write down on a piece of paper two truths about themselves that are a fun fact and a lie that sounds like it could be true. This activity provides entertainment and laughter because discovering the truth or lie can be amusing and lead to shared laughter among participants. The game’s light-hearted nature and element of surprise make it an enjoyable experience for high school students, helping them relax and have fun in a school setting. You, as the teacher, can participate as well! For example: “I have three sisters, my favorite sport is hockey, and we own a dog.” Which one is the lie? Students can play in groups and guess their peer’s “lies” and the correct answers. Or, you could play as an entire class. My lie is that we don’t own a dog!

3- A Latte About Me:

first day of school activity middle school

This A Latte About Me worksheet is a fun way to get to know your new students. This kills two birds with one stone because it helps you get to know students and can be used as classroom decor for your bulletin board or walls! Students answer the questions with interesting facts about themselves on the coffee (because who doesn’t love a latte?), color it, and you can have them present their paper to the class or in small groups. This is a fun activity for students to ease into the beginning of the school year.

4- Spice of My Life Worksheet:

This get-to-know-you worksheet has students write about their favorite things on a spice rack-themed worksheet. It also includes a Goal Soup worksheet for students to record their goals for the school year. It can be a fun activity for any grade level, including high schoolers and middle schoolers. It is another great way to step up your classroom bulletin board or wall decor idea, especially for Open House. If you teach culinary arts or family consumer science, you can ask students to wright a food goal, and the Spice of Me activity includes a question about their favorite food. 

get to know you activities middle school

5- Classroom Scavenger Hunt:

back to school activities for middle school and high school teachers
  1. Create a series of clues that lead students from one location or item to the next. Ensure the clues are challenging but not too difficult for the students to solve. You can use riddles, puzzles, and codes or even incorporate technology such as QR codes.
  2. Select hiding spots: Decide where you’ll hide the clues in the classroom or school. Consider areas that are safe and accessible to students. Common hiding spots could be inside books, on bulletin boards, under desks, or even outdoors if the scavenger hunt extends beyond the classroom. You can easily use sticky notes with clues. 
  3. Divide students into teams: Divide the students into teams of 3-5 members, depending on the class size. Mix students with different abilities and strengths to encourage collaboration and teamwork.
  4. Provide instructions: Explain the rules of the scavenger hunt to the students. Set a time limit and establish any guidelines or restrictions, such as staying within a designated area or not disturbing other classes.
  5. Distribute the first clue: Give each team the first clue to start the scavenger hunt. Ensure that each team receives a different starting clue to avoid congestion.
  6. Monitor the progress: Observe the students as they work through the clues. Offer guidance or hints if any team gets stuck or falls behind. Keep track of each team’s progress and offer encouragement throughout the activity.
  7. Incorporate learning opportunities: If the scavenger hunt is designed to reinforce concepts, consider incorporating questions or tasks related to the curriculum into the clues. This will encourage students to apply their knowledge and deepen their understanding of the subject.
  8. Wrap up and debrief: Once all the teams have completed the scavenger hunt or the time limit has expired, gather the students for a debriefing session. Discuss the experience, allow teams to share their journey, and highlight any key takeaways or lessons learned.

6- Beach Ball Toss:

A beach ball throw activity is a fun game to help high school students get to know each other. It’s a great icebreaker because they move and laugh. Here’s how you can organize and play:

  1. Prepare the beach ball: Take a large inflatable beach ball and use a permanent marker to write a series of icebreaker questions on different ball sections. Make sure the questions are open-ended and encourage personal sharing. For example, you can include questions like:
    • What is your favorite hobby or activity?
    • Share something interesting about yourself.
    • What is your dream travel destination?
    • What is your favorite book or movie?
    • What is one goal you have for this school year?
  2. Form a circle: Ask the students to form a large circle, standing or sitting, with enough space to toss the beach ball around.
  3. Explain the rules: Explain to the students that the ball will be tossed from one person to another. When someone catches the ball, they should look for their right thumb or index finger to touch a question on the ball. The question their finger touches is the one they have to answer.
  4. Start the game by randomly tossing the beach ball to a student. They catch it and identify the question their finger lands on. They then answer the question out loud for the whole group to hear.
  5. Repeat and rotate: After the student answers the question, they toss the ball to another participant, preferably someone who hasn’t had a turn yet. The process continues, with each person answering a question before passing the ball. Encourage active listening and respectful engagement during the activity.

7- Find Someone Who Bingo– An excellent way to get to know each other! Here’s how to set it up:

back to school activities middle school
  1. Prepare Bingo Cards: Create Bingo cards with a grid of squares, just like a regular Bingo card. However, write interesting facts or descriptions in each square instead of numbers. Examples could include: “Has traveled outside the country,” “Plays a musical instrument,” “Can speak more than one language,” “Has a pet,” or “Likes spicy food.” Customize the squares based on your student’s interests and experiences. Here is a free food-themed Find Someone Who Bingo:

2. Distribute the Bingo Cards: Hand out the Bingo cards to each student. Make sure everyone has a pen or pencil to mark their squares.

3. Explain the Rules: Explain that the goal is to fill out the Bingo card by finding classmates who match the descriptions in each square. Students must interact with their peers and ask questions to find someone who fits the criteria. For example, if one square says, “Has a pet,” they need to find a classmate who owns a pet and have them sign or initial that square.

4. Begin the Activity: Give students a set amount of time (e.g., 10 or 15 minutes) to mingle and find classmates who match the descriptions on their Bingo cards. Encourage them to introduce themselves, ask questions, and engage in conversations to learn more about their peers.

5. Bingo! When students successfully fill out a row or column, they should call out “Bingo!” and show their card to you or the group leader to verify the matches. You can offer small prizes or acknowledgments for the first few students who achieve Bingo.

6. Share and Reflect: Once the game is complete, gather the students and allow them to share their experiences. Encourage them to discuss interesting facts they learned about their classmates during the activity. This can help foster a sense of community and connection within the group.

“Human Bingo” is an interactive and inclusive activity that promotes conversation, exploration of commonalities, and the formation of new connections among high school students. It allows them to learn interesting facts about their peers and encourages them to leave their comfort zones while having fun.

8- Culinary Inventory: If you teach culinary arts or family consumer science, you can do this culinary inventory activity in which students answer questions about their cooking and food experiences. It is a perfect way to gauge their skill level in the kitchen and a great opportunity to determine if they have food allergies or sensitivities. Here is the link for the worksheet.

9- Child Development Get to Know You Activity– do you teach a FACS class on Child Development or Early Childhood Education? This worksheet can be added to your first week of school activities and is perfect for your students, and can be used as classroom decor! Students write about themselves and their childhood experiences on blocks to get them thinking about childhood development.  This does not require classroom materials and can be a great way to decorate your classroom! You can also have the students present their blocks to the class and help to build relationships in the first weeks of school. 

10- Fact or Fiction Activity– test your student’s knowledge of food with this fun fact or fiction slideshow. Play as a class or split groups into 2 to create a team-building activity and have them compete against one another. Questions include:

  • Salt is the only rock people eat.- Fact- salt is essential for human life and is one of the basic human tastes.
  • Mexico grows the most coffee in the world. Fiction- Brazil is the leading producer of coffee.
  • M&M candies became popular during World War 2 – Fact – The Mars company sold M&Ms exclusively to American soldiers stationed overseas.
  • Raw carrots are healthier than cooked carrots – Fiction – cooking carrots increases their nutritional value.

You could even use these each day of the back-to-school weeks as a bell ringer to get students thinking about food!

Establish a Classroom Routine for the Upcoming Year

Bell Ringers and Exit Tickets– Starting from day 1 with a bellringer and ending with an exit ticket is a great way to establish a routine and structure in your class for the entire year. Students will take a mile if you give an inch, and establishing a set routine will get them into the right learning habits in your classroom.

Engaging in get-to-know-you activities at the beginning of the school year is essential for fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment. These activities allow students to connect, build relationships, and discover commonalities among their peers. By actively participating in such activities, students feel more comfortable and supported in their educational journey. Through laughter, shared experiences, and meaningful conversations, they develop a sense of belonging and unity within the classroom.

These initial connections lay the foundation for collaboration, empathy, and a supportive community throughout the school year. By investing time in getting to know one another at the outset, students cultivate an environment that values diversity, encourages open-mindedness, and nurtures the social and emotional well-being of all.

Don’t forget to check out our 30 back-to-school teacher school supplies blog post for ways to prepare your classroom for your students!

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