Back to School Activities - Perfect for Upper Elementary and Middle School

June 14, 2022


Searching for fun and meaningful back to school activities? Looking for easy ideas that introduce students to you, their classmates, and your classroom? Wish you could grab some FREE back to school activities to try at the start of the new school year? Well...then you're in the right place!

I've rounded up some of my favorite back to school ideas for grades 4-8.'s the best part...I've included 2 different freebies so that you can easily give some of them a try!


Plan an activity to get students sharing about themselves in a fun and easy way. I'm a fan of starting the first day of school off with letting students create name tags. Download this freebie for a name tag activity that combines some "get to know you" questions.


The beginning of a school year is a great time to lead students through goal setting. You can have students write their goals for different categories on strips of colorful paper. Then, you can loop students' goals together for a paper chain to decorate your classroom. Here's a DOODLE GOAL setting activity you might want to try too.


Set the tone for a fun and engaging classroom with a game. Some of my favorites are "Move if You" and "Palm Tree." Games are perfect to play when you want to get students up and out of their seats. Or, they're great to have on hand if your instruction ends early. Grab 12 simple games for FREE here.


Give students a glimpse into your life, hobbies, and favorite activities with a slideshow of pictures. You could even add a photo of yourself when you were your students' age. (That's always a hit!)


Let students get a little creative with a back to school craft. Not only are crafts engaging, they're also a great way to turn students' work into a classroom display. Just imagine, you can decorate a bulletin board in your classroom with students' creations right away. There's a craft in this FREEBIE.


Set up a textbook or classroom scavenger hunt to help students learn about the classroom. You could even "bury" some hidden treasure for students to find.


Set up a simple photo booth in front of a bulletin board. Photograph students on their first day of school. These photos are great to display in the classroom. In addition, they can be incorporated into Open House presentations, class scrapbooks, or an end-of-the-year reflection.


Give students a chance to get to know one another at the start of a new school year. One of my favorite ways to do that is with Paper Airplane Introductions. First, students fold a paper airplane. Then, students write interview questions on one wing of the paper airplane. Next, they launch them. Everyone grabs a plane at random and finds the "owner" of the paper airplane. When they meet with the plane's owner, they answer the questions. If you like this activity, grab it for FREE here.


Have students work in small groups to write a rhyming poem about the first day of school. Groups can share their poems with the entire class.


I love to get students writing when school starts. Having students complete creative writing prompts is a great way to get a baseline of students' skills. It's also a way to show students how fun writing can be! Check out my back to school writing prompts here!

Ready for more ideas? I've put together a RECIPE for a great FIRST DAY of SCHOOL that you just might want to "cook up!"

Wishing you a great school year!

Mary Beth

P.S. If you'd like MORE free resources for your classroom, be sure to join the Brain Waves Instruction club!

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