Students are often nervous on the first day of school, but fun activities can help to ease their transition into the 3rd grade. Look for activities that will help your new 3rd-grade students learn more about themselves, their peers or the class year they're just beginning. Mix it up by giving students a combination of active assignments and passive listening time on the first day of the school year.

Class Bulletin Board

Have each student make an “All About Me” poster with her name in large letters in the center. Students can add details about their interests, birthdays or families, then decorate the poster with illustrations or adjectives that reflect their personalities. You can cut out flowers and other shapes in advance for students to decorate. Have each student write her name in the center of the flower, and one detail about herself on each petal. Gather all the “All About Me” posters or flowers and staple them to a bulletin board so that students can learn about their classmates.

Advice from Last Year’s 3rd-Graders

If you've been teaching 3rd grade for several years, ask your students on the last day of class to write letters of advice to future 3rd-graders. Ask them to write about activities they particularly enjoyed in your class, or about the strategies they may have developed for success in the 3rd grade. Read a sample of these letters to your new 3rd-grade class on the first day.

"Dear Me" Letters

Have your new 3rd-grade students write letters to themselves that you will return to them at the end of the year. Ask them to write about specific goals for the year, or activities or lessons they're particularly looking forward to. Students can also simply write about what's going on in their lives at the beginning of the year, or what activities they're currently involved in and excited about.

Scavenger Hunt

Design a scavenger hunt that will help your students get to know each other. Give each student a list of people he must find, such as “A person with a birthday in March,” “A person with two sisters” or “A person who speaks two languages.” Each student must ask his peers questions and, when he finds the classmates who fit the descriptions on his list, have that person sign the paper.