In my district, the first week of school is typically 3 or 4 days. Over the years I had worked my first week plans into a 4 day work of art. Then they threw a wrench into the machine. The first week was a full 5 days. What was I supposed to do with that?? I didn’t feel I had time to start a full math unit or to get centers up and running, but 5 days was too long to spend practicing routines and procedures.
In an effort to fill up those first days with meaningful activities, I came across the idea of celebrating the 2nd day of 2nd grade. I loved it so much I continued to do it every year. I usually do it in the afternoon of the second day. It’s a nice little break from the tedium of drilling expectations. It gives the students a chance to unwind a bit, too. Don’t get me wrong. This may be fun, but it is still important work. I’m reinforcing expectations, they’re practicing procedures. I’m assessing how they work together and which concepts they are still shaky with from first grade. They’re learning how to work together and how things run in our new classroom. We’re building an identity as a class.
The theme is “2 Steps Forward.” We’re honoring our new beginning as 2nd graders (and as a 2nd grade teacher starting over again!). This is a celebration of all things 2. You can pick it up at TPT here.
We’ve planned for waaaayyyy more than you can use in a day. This gives you the chance to pick and choose what is most valuable for your class. Or you can stretch the celebration out for a week and celebrate the 2nd Week in 2nd Grade! Or the first week in 2nd grade, or really whatever works for your class!
In this unit, there are 17 work pages. Copy the ones you think will be most useful for your students. The topics covered are meant to be a review of first grade concepts. It’s purposefully easier than a 2nd grade level so none of your littles get overwhelmed and you can assess their current level of understanding on several topics.
Topics covered include: skip-counting, basic addition and subtraction, compound words, antonyms, opinion writing, symmetry, sight words, and goal setting.
You will want your students involved in books as soon as possible. This unit includes 4 story tie-ins. The books aren’t included, but should be easy to find: I Got Two Dogs by John Lithgow (my favorite!), Max Found Two Sticks by Jerry Pinkney, Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg, and Two Cool Coyotes by Jillian Lund. Pick and choose which books you want to use, or use them all throughout the week.
There are activities to use after reading each book. For I Got Two Dogs you can have students compare and write about their own 2 dogs (real or imaginary). Max Found Two Sticks is the perfect lead in to some drumming activities. Help students make rhythm patterns. We used pick-up sticks for our rhythm sticks, but Popsicle sticks, chopsticks, or pencils would also work!
Two Bad Ants is a wonderful book on point of view. Your students can write about what might happen if those bad ants came to 2nd grade. Two Cool Coyotes is the perfect lead-in to some discussion about frienship (so important at the beginning of the year!). There are graphic organizers for students to get to know one another and even a sign for a photo op. You can take a picture of your new Cool Kids!
As a fun get-to-know you activity, we have cards for kids to mingle and mix and chat a bit. Students have to find their matching half and then share 2 things about themselves. When I first did this, I used die-cut shapes.
(Love the ketchup stained mouth! These particular kids are headed to junior high next month! Where has the time gone???)
If you need a game to get everyone up and moving, head to the gym for a game of PB&J. There are complete directions in the unit.
When we’re having a class celebration, I love to set up centers. I set the timer and have small groups rotate through each station. At the beginning of the year this is an important opportunity for establishing center expectations (noise level, working together, responsibly caring for materials, etc.).
We’ve included 4 full color centers in this unit. There’s Tic-Tac-Two, a game to practice adding and subtracting two. To help students practice syllables, we have Time 2 Plant the Garden. Students get to add tulips with 2-syllable pictures to their gardens. It Takes Two is played like old maid. There’s also a place value review using ice cream cones.
Because we know there’s pressure to get the first hallway display up, the pack includes a glyph craftivity focused on (what else?)…shoes! Students answer some get-to-know-you questions and create a shoe craft based on their answers. This can be your class’s first data collection activity. There is a blank graph included. We also have some hallway signs that explain the glyph so you can prove to your admin, students’ parents, fellow teachers, and anyone else that walks past that this is an academically rich task!
Of course you’ll want to commemorate your new little 2s with a photo opportunity. We have a sign for you to take a photograph each child with, but instead of holding it, the kids put their feet in the photo. We’re steppin’ into 2nd!
We also put together a 22 page resource guide with details and tips for all the included activities + other ideas. Like we said, this is probably a bit more than you could use in one day. We were having so much fun making this set that we just couldn’t help ourselves!
Throughout the resource guide you’ll find ATTA BOY tip boxes for ideas on how to make an activity serve the demands of starting school: Assessing, Training, Teaching, Affirming at the Beginning Of the Year.
Celebrating all things 2 on the 2nd day of 2nd grade is great way to take two steps forward into a wonderful year! (Was that last part too cheesy?)
Click here to purchase the resource pack on TPT. In total, there are 99 pages!