I’ve created this blog post to share my plans for the first day of school for Grade 2 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 a 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!
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.
Introductory Activity: 20 minutes
I always like to start simple. In Grade Two, most kids are no longer anxious coming to school and no longer cry, but it’s not uncommon to have some that are still feeling emotional. Because I am a stickler for routine, I want to start certain routines right away. During the year, the students are expected to come in and write their agenda messages immediately. I circulate so that I have a chance to see any parent messages right away. While they aren’t writing agenda messages on the first day, I put out a simple sit down activity to get them used to the routine.
I usually like to put out a Finish the Drawing activity. I encourage early finishers to write a sentence about what they drew. This gives me an immediate glance at who can write a sentence independently, who my “rushers” are, who is too busy talking to do the activity, etc. Afterwards, I take them all to the carpet for the first time, we discuss carpet expectations and then we take turns introducing ourselves and sharing what we turned our squiggle into. I do these for the first week before we transition on to agenda messages.
Read Aloud: 30 minutes
The next activity I like to do is a read aloud book relating to the first day of school. I have a few different books, I usually choose to read Souris, tu viens à l’école? first. We read the story and then talk about what animal we would each bring to school if we could, what we would feed them, etc.
Outdoor Time/Recess: 45 minutes
I often like to take them outside early for recess. My school has recess first, then nutrition break following that, but if your school is the opposite, I would personally take them outside for a bit after the read aloud instead. Then they can come back inside to work a bit more before it’s time to eat.
Nutrition Break: 20 minutes
This is your time off, make sure to eat something! Nerves run high the first day.
Read Aloud and Classroom Rules: 30 minutes
To introduce our classroom rules, I read David va à l’école to the class. The book is short, but the students generally find it quite funny. Afterwards, we talk about the behaviours we noticed in David and whether or not they’re appropriate. From this, we come up with a list of class rules together. I don’t write down everything they say (some of their ideas are very specific…!), but I want their input so that they’re co-created. Afterwards, the kids all come and sign the rules and we post them in a visible place in the room. I stress that this is our “classroom contract”. Once they’re posted, I refer to them when there are some less than ideal behaviours and have students begin to learn to self-correct.
Tout sur moi: 30 minutes
This is an activity found in my Back to School Guide. We work on this over the course of a few days and I give them 1-2 pages at a time. I model the pages because although the kids have received French instruction in previous years, they all come in at varying levels. Sometimes their reading isn’t strong enough for them to do it without modeling. I take cues from them about how long we do this for; I won’t necessarily cut it off at 40 minutes if they’re all engaged.
PREP: 40-60 minutes
Finally a time to breathe! 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
I use this time decompress a bit, make sure I’ve eaten and gone to the bathroom (if I didn’t during the first break). I may have supervision during this break, or I may have already had it earlier today.
Ending the day: 30 minutes
When we come back from the nutrition break, I bring the kids to the carpet and we have a small discussion about how their day went. Afterwards, I give them a small colouring activity that they can work on until it’s time for our end of the day routine.
End of the Day Routine: 30 minutes
Because it’s the first day, I give them extra time to get organized. I usually wouldn’t give them 30 minutes to pack up, but I teach 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 now 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. Today, I ask them to return to their spots so I can ensure that they all know where they’re going when the bell rings. I would have asked the parents that morning how their child goes home. I double check with each one of them where they’re going (after school program, bus, parent pick up) and line them up in 3 different lines. Those lines will be the same for the rest of the year. By now, the bell as rung and you’ve officially survived day one!
I hope this helps you get organized for your first day. Please drop a comment below if you have any questions.