The return to school is a period of nerves, excitement, new friendships, hopes and expectations. By planning the right back-to-school activities, teachers can ease the return to school, and help students get to know each other and start the new year in the right state of mind.

From ice breakers to team-building activities, to goal-setting exercises — here are eleven back-to-school activities that will start the year off right.

The Toilet Paper Pass

Ah, the tried and true toilet paper pass. Just pass the roll around and ask each student to takeĀ some. Then, go around the room and ask the children, one at a time, to share one piece of information about themselves forĀ each square of toilet paper they have in hand.

Back-to-school activities - toilet paper pass

Find more info on this back-to-school activity on Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

Blobs & Lines

This back-to-school activity by Cult of Pedagogy is an icebreaker that won’t embarrass your more reserved students. Ask your students questions that require them either to line up in a particular order (e.g. alphabetically by first name), or to gather in “blobs” based on things shared characteristics (e.g. by number of siblings). It takes the pressure off and helps your students discover things they have in common.

Back-to-school activities - Blobs & Lines

Find more info on this back-to-school activity on Cult of Pedagogy

Get to Know You Beach Ball

Here’s a fun and easy back-to-school activity to take outdoors. Use a marker to write up get-to-know-you questions on an inexpensive inflatable beach ball. Have your students form a circle and toss the ball around. When they catch the ball, children have to answer the question nearest to where their right thumb lands.

Back-to-school activities - Get to Know You Beach Ball

Find more info on this back-to-school activity on Joy in the Journey

Back-to-School Read-Alouds

Read-aloud books can be a great way to stimulate discussion around different topics. On her blog, teacher Jennifer Findley describes how she uses specific read-alouds at the start of the school year “to build community and set expectations”. Check out her great selection of books and the free printables she shares.

Back-to-school activities - Read-Alouds

Find more info on this back-to-school activity on Teaching to Inspire

Back-to-School Scavenger Hunt

Everyone loves a scavenger hunt. In this back-to-school variation, students have to collect classmates who meet specific criteria – e.g. a student who has green eyes, one who’s lived in a different city, one who has more than three siblings, etc. It’s a quick and easy way for students to discover a little more about each other.

Back-to-school activities - Scavenger hunt

Find more info on this back-to-school activity on Create Abilities

The M&M Game

This back-to-school icebreaker comes with a special perk for sweets-craving youngsters. Dole out a small quantity of M&Ms or Skittles to each student. On a poster, list a number of get-to-know-you questions – one for each color. Then, go around in circles and have the kids pick out a candy from their pile, then answer the question of the corresponding color… before popping the candy into their eager mouths.