18 First Day of School Books Teachers Swear By + Complementary Activities

Going back to school can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking time for students of all ages. Teachers often use books to help ease this transition, and some titles have become beloved staples in the classroom. Here’s a list of 18 first-day-of-school books teachers love, along with complementary activities that can be integrated into the curriculum to make the first days engaging and educational.

1. “First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg – Teachers can start a discussion about feelings on the first day of school and have students draw their emotions.

2. “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn – After reading, students can create handprint art and discuss their family traditions.

3. “Wemberly Worried” by Kevin Henkes – A great way to explore worries and comforting techniques, culminating in creating a “Worry Wall”.

4. “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing – Kids can write a letter to their kindergarten self reflecting what they have learned.

5. “School’s First Day of School” by Adam Rex – Hold a classroom camera tour, letting students take pictures of their new environment from the perspective of the school building.

6. “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes – A name study activity would complement this book well; every student could research the meaning and origin of their name.

7. “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate – Create an alphabet activity where students match letters with objects or actions related to school.

8. “The Name Jar” by Yangsook Choi – Start a multicultural discussion and have each child introduce their name and its story.

9. “Llama Llama Misses Mama” by Anna Dewdney – A group collage of favorite things about school can foster discussions about being away from home.

10. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” by Mark Teague – Invite students to present a short story or picture diary of their summer vacation.

11. “David Goes To School” by David Shannon – Discuss classroom rules, then have children create posters illustrating them.

12. “Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes” by Eric Litwin – Have a shoe-themed music and movement activity where kids sing about their own school shoes.

13. “My Teacher’s Secret Life” by Stephen Krensky – Classmates could interview each other about what they imagine their lives are like outside of school.

14. “A Bad Case of Stripes” by David Shannon – Use this book to explore themes of self-esteem and individuality through an art project using different patterns and colors.

15. “If You Take a Mouse to School” by Laura Numeroff – Set up a sequence activity based on cause-and-effect scenarios.

16. “The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson – Could lead to writing personal narratives about unique experiences that each student has had.

17. The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks” by Joanna Cole – Perfect for science-based activities exploring water cycles or creating simple water experiments.

18. “Too Much Glue” by Jason Lefebvre – After reading, engage in a sensory play activity using glue and crafting materials, tapping into creativity while discussing moderation and limits.

These titles not only prepare children for the academic year ahead but also cater to the emotional side of entering a new grade or school environment through stories they can relate to and learn from. Including activities associated with these books further enhances student involvement and creates a memorable beginning to the school year.

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