First Day of School Activities for High School

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Use these icebreakers to welcome students to a new school year. Some activities can be tailored to test students' prior knowledge about your specific content area.

Find a Friend...

This first-day activity requires you to create a worksheet for each student and include several questions on the sheet. Then students have to find someone in the class who fits the statement or question. The student who fits the statement, will sign the paper. Here are some example statements/questions that can be used as icebreakers:

  • Find a friend who:
    • Visited a relative over the summer
    • Has his/her driver's license
    • Had a summer job

You can also make the Find a Friend activity content-specific to see what students know going into the course. You will need to include an 'answer' line for these questions. For example:

  • Find a friend who:
    • Knows how many protons the element neon has
    • Knows what year the United States joined WWII
    • Can calculate 8x = 5 + 35


This activity works allows students to get to know each other and can also lead into timelines if that is something utilized in your content area. Each student will need a large piece of paper and colored pencils/markers. Give students the following instructions:

Think of six major events that have shaped who you are. Next, think of major events you would like to see in your future. Create a timeline of events (past and future). Instead of writing out the events, create an image that represents the event.

  • Some examples students might choose to represent the past include the following:
    • Birth
    • Moving
    • Travel
    • Sporting events
  • Some future goals students might choose include the following:
    • Graduating high school
    • Getting into a specific college
    • Buying a specific item

After students have completed their timelines (or the following day), pair up students so they can share their timeline. Then have the partner introduce the student to the class, sharing a few of the past and future events on the timeline.

What Do You Know?

This is a game that allows students to work in teams, which makes peer interaction easier on the first day. It also lets you see what students know coming into the course.

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