By fifth grade, students have the first day back-to-school routine down pat: learn everyone's name, learn the rules, get the books, find out the schedule, and so on. Why not grab your fifth graders attention this year by surprising him with some new activities intended to accomplish the basics---with a little fun thrown in. As fifth graders, students will appreciate a unique approach to the beginning of the year, particularly one that treats them as the more mature young people they have become.
Turn introductions into an insightful and entertaining activity by asking students to team up and then introduce each other as if they were making a guest appearance on a favorite TV show. You might model the activity by saying, "Hello, I'm Mrs. Smith, and I'll be making a guest appearance on "Heroes" this week, where my special power is having eyes in the back of my head." Ask students to introduce each other using first names, names of television shows, and short explanations of what guest role they will be playing on the show.
Ask students to create a top ten list of what they hope will NOT happen during their fifth grade year. Explain that you will be looking at their lists, typing them up without their names, and distributing them for everyone to read. Suggest they make their lists from topics like lunch, homework, friends, assemblies and so on. Explain that they can take a serious approach or invent funny items.
Suggest an activity of "Favorite Stacking." Give students six strips of colored paper (primary and secondary colors) and then ask them to arrange their rainbows with, for example, purple on top and red on the bottom. Then, with black markers, ask them to label their rainbows by putting the name of their favorite subject on the top (purple), their least favorite on the bottom (red) and then fill the other four appropriately. Have them tape these together, and then compare their rainbows with other students sitting around them. This activity will provide a good conversation starter, and, when you collect them, you will have a good idea of how your class feels about the various subject matter.
Ask students to think about the topic of "Classroom Rules" as you set a large piggy bank on your desk. Give each student a long slip of white paper. Ask students to write one classroom rule they feel is important on the slip of paper. Then have them fold up the slips and insert them into the piggy bank slot. Explain that instead of making rules today, you'll be taking one slip out of the piggy bank each day for the first month of school and that you'll be discussing these as a class.
Take a digital photo of each student. Ask everyone to write his name on the bottom of a piece of cardstock. Print out the photos after school and have the photos mounted on the cardstock and posted on the wall when the students arrive at school the next day.
Arrange activities in an order that will fit in comfortably with the first day of school schedule, or fit in activities throughout the first week of school.