I’ve created this blog post to share my plans for the first day of school for Grade 3 French Immersion. Each school board in Ontario has different French hours, so I am providing plans for a full day, with a prep period factored in. You may find you need less than this if your board isn’t 100% French. I’ve also created an Back to School Guide that can help you plan other aspects of your return (classroom setup, setting up routines, letters for parents, activities, etc.). If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s a great place to start! I am also including some activities in this day plan are exclusive to this guide.
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Arrival/Entry: Approx. 20-30 minutes
This transition will depend heavily on how your school does things. If you’re at a new school, make sure you’re informed on the first day procedures. Our students don’t know their class placement until the first day of school. We go outside with a sign with our name and grade, and families come see us to ask if their child is in our class. If they are, they will stand in line in front of me. This goes on until everybody in the yard has found their class.
Parents who are still there have a last chance to say a quick goodbye, then off to our classroom we go. I always choose cubby spaces on behalf of the children. This helps to save a lot of headache and it makes it easy to move students around if you need some closer to you. I encourage them to find their cubbies, take out any class materials they need as well as their water bottle. Once they’ve done that, they are to go into the room, find their spot (also chosen ahead of time for them) and get settled.
Writing Activity: 30 minutes
I start the day with a small writing activity. This gives me a quick glimpse into their writing abilities as well as their independence level. It also gets them immediately used to the transition that they go directly to their desks when they enter. During the school year, they use this time to write agenda messages and show me any parent messages. I give them about 20-30 minutes to write their response and complete their drawing. Afterwards, I bring them to the carpet, we talk about carpet expectations and they all get the chance to share one thing about their summer vacation.
Classmate Bingo: 30 minutes
This activity is found in my Back to School Guide. I hand off a copy to each student and they have to find different classmates for each box. It can be hard to fit everybody in, since not everything fits for every child, so I put a limit on using the same person on their sheet a maximum of two times.
Recess/Nutrition Break: 40 minutes
This is your time off, make sure to take a bathroom break and eat something! Nerves run high the first day and it can get quite busy. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!
Cooperative – L’image Mystère: 30-60 minutes
I take some sheets of the larger square graph paper ahead of time and number the paper according to a 100s chart. I make 5 copies of these to put the class into groups of 4. In my Back to School Guide, there are some mystery photo pages. I write the key on the board that shows which colour needs to be coloured where and the students must work together to discover what their mystery image is. This activity can be done in one long shot, or be done over a few days – it depends on how long your students remain engaged for.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to prep the graph paper, or run out of time, this is offered as an individual colouring sheet so you can just photocopy that and have students do it independently.
Read Aloud: 30 minutes
I may do this, or I may not. It depends on how long the colouring activity goes on for. If I have time for this, I’ll choose one of my books relating to the first day of school or going to school. My favourites for this age are: Je raffole de l’école, Ovide à l’école and Je suis absolument trop petite pour aller à l’école.
PREP: 40-60 minutes
I use this time to catch up on anything I forgot to do. This could be photocopying, getting forms ready, labelling duo-tangs/notebooks, etc.
Recess/Nutrition Break: 50 minutes
This is your time! Make sure to eat your lunch.
Literacy Centres: 45 minutes
After lunch, we move on to some literacy centers. I have some Back to School centers found in my store and I use these. There are 10 different centers, but I only use 5 at a time. When we have finished this set, then I pull out the other 5 (one or two weeks later). I explain to the class what to do before I let them go. We rotate through them, so students will complete each center. Below are the 5 I would use during the first week of school.
Mots mystères: Students use the provided code to figure out what the 6 words are. Once they’ve written the words, they need to draw a photo of it. These types of activities are generally quite popular because they’re like a puzzle they need to solve.
Creative writing: I try to give them a fun prompt. My resource comes with 3 different prompts, but this is the one I would be most likely to choose. At the end, I’ll compile them all and we will make a class book out of it. As the year progresses (during other themed centres), I will give them choice in which prompt they’d like to use. We always make class books out of them.
Casse-têtes: These are break apart puzzles with the word and the photo. The photo makes it self correcting, but I encourage the students to try to figure out what each one is by using the letters on the side. There are many of these, so I print, laminate and cut them all out and mix them up together. The group here works together to try to figure out all the words.
Lis et dessine: This is a reading comprehension activity. Students must read the sentences and draw an illustration that describes it. There are 3 different pages of this in my resource, each with 4 prompts on them. At this age, I will usually give them all as one package.
Mini book: this activity works writing and word work. The booklet folds up and creates a nice little book for the students to work on.
End of the Day Routine: 15 minutes
I start by teaching them the routine that I’d like them to follow. I do coloured table groups and each group has a captain (the captain gets switched out every week, so they all get a chance to do it). Everybody has to tidy up all the materials they were using for the previous activity. The captain goes to get the message bags for their group (I have a bin for each group) and hands them out. Everybody else needs to pack up anything that is going home into their message bag and they signal to me that they’re ready to go by being quiet with their heads on their desk.
I let each group go as they’re ready and they go to their cubbies to pack up their bags. Because it’s the first day, I make sure to double check with each child where they’re going after school (after school program, bus, parent pick up). If there is extra time left after I’ve ensured that they all know where to go, we will play some quick games (list of games found in my Back to School Guide) until the bell rings.
I hope this helps you get organized for your first day. Please drop a comment below if you have any questions.