My 10 favorite back to school activities

September is officially here and we’re all getting in a full back-to-school mode. I’m always excited to try new ideas and experiment with new crafts and projects every year, but there are some activities that I love using again and again. In case you’re looking for more back to school ideas, check out my following posts:

  1. All about me posters and bags: I love using “All About Me” posters as a way to get to know my students and give the opportunity to the more artistic of them to share their own creations. I started using “All About Me” Bags as well two years ago and I’ve realized they’re a great way to help kids learn more about each other and feel honored in their new class.
  2. Beach ball questions: This activity is so much fun! You only need a plastic beach ball on which you write get to know you questions for your students to answer. It turns all the typical icebreaker activities into a fun, exciting game!
  3. Peek into my summer / What lifts us up bulletin boards: My first week of back-to-school lessons always finishes with a project or a bulletin board where my students either reflect on their summer or share their hopes and ambitions for the new year.
  4. Board games & Story Cubes: I mainly create my own board games or adjust ready-made ones. I think it’s one of the best ways to review grammar and vocabulary in a fun, relaxing way. Story Cubes is another useful tool for creative Writing and Speaking tasks, especially for these first classes. I normally give a simple, summer-inspired starter such as “I was having so much fun on the beach that day when…” and let the Cubes and my students’ imagination do the rest!
  5. A recipe for a great year: This is an activity that has been around for a while mainly as a recipe for a great friendship, but I’ve adapted it for my kids and always use it as an alternative to the traditional class rules and procedures activities.
  6. Christmas self letters (goal setting): Goal setting is extremely important for all of us – it reminds us of the fact that learning is an ongoing process, gives us a sense of purpose and makes learning more “tangible”. What I’ve been doing for the past 4 years or so is focus on short-term goal setting. So, instead of asking what my students hope to accomplish by the end of year, I ask them to write letters to themselves about what they hope they will have achieved by Christmas time.
  7. Would you rather? popsicle sticks questions: A great activity that works even better if you make sure your questions are as unpredictable as possible. Also, you could extend the activity by asking your students to keep the sticks they chose and write their own Would you rather…? questions on the back of them.
  8. Stranded on an island activity – Back to School version: I love using Desert Island activities for Speaking practice, so I decided to adjust one of them and make it back to school influenced by asking my students to choose among different school objects (eg. pencils, rulers, rubbers, sharpeners etc) the ones they think could help them survive!
  9. Creative Writing or Mad Libs: I think bogglesworldesl has some of the most imaginative story starters, but you can also find more suggestions here. Mad Libs is also another great activity to try if you want to make the transition to the world of Writing smoother and more interesting.
  10. Mini Stories: There are so many great sites out there that have stories you can use for your first lessons. My favorites are onestopenglish, speakaboos which is now an app,the stories on highlightskids and the stories on the LearnEnglishKids site. For older learners try or or

Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you enjoy these first days back to school! 🙂



Comments (8)

    1. True, the beach ball idea has been around for a while. It still is so much fun though, especially with young learners! 🙂 I’m glad you liked the popsicle stick questions – teens love them! 🙂

    1. Thank you for your question, Evi. I use the Recipe activity as a way to build empathy and understanding in my class. What I do is bring some basic kitchen “equipment” like a plastic bowl, 2-3 plastic spoons and 2-3 empty plastic jars. I give out sticky notes to my students and then I tell them that we’re going to cook together something special, a recipe for a happy new school year. Using their notes students write what they need from each other for eg. 2 tablespoons of kindness, 2 teaspoons of politeness etc. Once they’re done, they put the pieces in the bowl and I start “mixing” everything together. For older students you could do the same activity on a big piece of construction paper and ask them to stick their notes there or write the ingredients on the paper right away.

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