15 Best Unique Back to School Activities to Kickstart the New School Year

The first week of school can be stressful for both parents and kids, as they prepare for the new school year. From buying school supplies to planning healthy snacks for lunch, there’s a lot to do. However, it’s important to make sure your kids are excited about the school year. That’s where fun Back to school activities come in!

We’ve put together a list of crafts, experiments, and projects for preschoolers, kindergartners, and elementary school students. We even have a few ideas for middle schoolers! These hands-on activities encourage critical thinking, reading, and math skills, and help students bond with their teachers and classmates. We’ve also included social-emotional learning ideas like guided meditations, mental health check-ins, and personal letter writing.

Browse through our list of activities and use them to remind your kids that school can be fun. And if you need more advice on navigating the school year, check out our back-to-school guide. Here’s to a happy first week of classes!

Boat Craft 

Once the kids have constructed their sponge and craft stick boats, it’s time to put them to the test! Host a competition to see whose boat can travel across a water-filled bucket or tub the fastest. The winner could receive a treat or a cute sticker as a prize.

Underwater fireworks 

Debbie, a blogger, shared a fun experiment that she did with her kids – creating underwater fireworks using food coloring. The result is truly mesmerizing when done properly!

Preschool Counting Activity

This activity is a great way for kids to learn various skills, including counting and recognizing numbers. Start by drawing and cutting out mini kites, then attach them to pipe cleaners and add beads for counting practice.

DIY Oobleck

This slimy craft is sure to keep kids entertained for hours! All you need to do is mix water, corn starch, and food coloring in a bowl. It’s that simple!

Student Survey

If you’re looking for a first-day-of-school activity for middle schoolers or high schoolers, The Daring English Teacher suggests running a back-to-school student survey. It’s a quick way for a teacher to get to know new students.

The Daring English Teacher recommends a great first-day-of-school activity for middle schoolers or high schoolers – a back-to-school student survey. This quick and easy survey is a great way for teachers to get to know their new students.

All About Me Caterpillar

To create a “caterpillar” face, start by using a photo and have kids answer questions for each segment. This is a great project to do year after year, as it allows you to see how the responses change over time.

Get-to-Know-You Jenga

Jenga is a fun game to play, but with a few modifications, it can also serve as a great icebreaker activity. Consider using this colorful Jenga set that includes different questions to answer based on the color block that gets pulled.


In light of the past couple of years, schools have placed a greater emphasis on social-emotional learning to help students cope with stress and anxiety. Starting the school year off with a guided meditation session could be a great way to help ease any first-day nerves that students may have.

Kindness Clips

Write positive messages on clothespins and clip them to their friends’ backpacks for a mood boost throughout the day. It’s a great way to help them get into the habit of spreading positivity and kindness.

Set Goals

Help students stay focused on their goals by starting the year off with a goal-setting activity. Have them write down something they would like to achieve during the school year, and consider incorporating self-portraits to decorate the classroom. In Olympic years, you could even give students gold medals to glue onto their self-portraits as a way to celebrate their accomplishments. 

Emoji Code

While being welcomed to class with a note from a teacher is nice, it can be even more fun when the note is written in a secret code that students have to decipher. This activity adds an element of excitement to the first day of school and can help establish a positive and engaging classroom environment.

Get-to-Know-You Sculpture

In this activity, students can create a sculpture in which specific attributes are represented by particular features. For example, a green zig-zag could represent a love for books, while a black arch could represent a passion for sports. This activity is a great way to encourage creativity and self-expression, and every sculpture will be unique, just like every artist.

Write a Letter to Themselves

Encourage students to write a letter to a very special pen pal – themselves! In this activity, they can include their private thoughts on their hopes, fears, and anxieties for the upcoming year. The fun part is that the letters will be delivered back to them on the last day of school, so they can see how much they have changed and achieved over the course of the year. This activity is a great way to promote self-reflection, goal-setting, and personal growth.

Mental Health Check-In

As the new school year begins, it’s important to acknowledge that this time can be stressful for many students. To address this, you can come up with a great activity to start talking about mental health in your classroom. You invite each student to anonymously indicate their current mood or feelings by writing their name on the back of a sticky note and placing it on a poster board. This approach allows teachers to identify students who may need extra support while promoting mental health awareness and fostering a supportive classroom environment.

Time Capsule

out and place inside. This activity is a great way to capture memories and moments from the beginning of the school year. Save the time capsules to open and read again on the last day of school, and reflect on how much has changed and how far students have come. It’s a fun and meaningful way to celebrate the end of the year and the progress that has been made.

I hope this post was very useful for you. I would love to see your creations. Do you have any questions or comments? Leave me a comment below – I would LOVE to hear from you!

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