5 Fun First Week of School Social Studies Activity Ideas

By Kirsten Hammond

Looking for some fun activity ideas for your upper elementary students for the first week of school? You’ll love these simple but easy-to-implement ways to get in the groove of social studies! This can be great to integrate as you set up interactive social studies notebooks for the year.

While it’s not recommended to start off the school year going into social studies content, there is a way to embed social studies concepts in a way that builds a classroom community.

first week of school ideas

Community Bingo

Community Bingo is a fun and interactive way for students to get to know each other. By finding classmates who match specific characteristics or experiences, students build connections and learn interesting facts about one another.

  1. Design bingo cards with different characteristics or experiences (e.g., “has a pet,” “traveled to another country,” “went to Florida”).
  2. Give each student a bingo card.
  3. Students will mingle around, finding classmates who fit each characteristic, and write their names in the corresponding squares.
  4. Set a goal (e.g., five in a row or fill in as many squares as possible in a set time).
  5. Have students share some of the interesting facts they learned about their classmates.

Mapping My Summer

Mapping My Summer is another first week of school activity where students draw maps of their summer vacation activities. This helps them reflect on their experiences and share them with their peers, fostering a sense of community.

  1. Give each student paper and drawing supplies.
  2. Have students draw a map of their summer vacation activities, including places they visited and activities they did.
  3. Encourage them to add significant events and locations, making the map as detailed as they like.
  4. Students share their maps with a partner, small group, or the entire class.
  5. Facilitate a discussion where students can ask questions and learn more about each other’s experiences.
Top view of crop anonymous person holding toy airplane on colorful world map drawn on chalkboard

Geotag Icebreaker

The Geotag Icebreaker involves students writing interesting geographical facts about themselves on sticky notes and placing them on a map. This first week of school activity helps students find common interests and learn about each other’s backgrounds.

  1. Give each student a sticky note.
  2. Ask students to write down one interesting fact about themselves related to geography (e.g., a place they’ve visited or a favorite landmark).
  3. Have students stick their notes on a world, US, or state map.
  4. Each student shares their fact with the class as they place their sticky note on the map.
  5. Encourage students to ask questions and find common interests.

Classroom Timeline

Creating a Classroom Timeline allows students to contribute significant events from their lives to a collaborative timeline. This first week of school activity introduces the concept of timelines and helps students learn about each other’s backgrounds.

  1. Gather butcher paper and markers for the timeline.
  2. Each student will contribute two to three significant events from their lives (e.g., birthday, memorable trip).
  3. Have students write their events on index cards, including the date and a brief description.
  4. Draw a blank timeline on the butcher paper.
  5. Students place their events on the timeline in chronological order.
  6. Each student shares their events with the class, explaining why they are significant.
Students Raising their Hands in the Classroom

Classroom Constitution

A Classroom Constitution involves students in creating a set of classroom rules. This first week of school activity fosters a sense of community and responsibility by having students contribute to and agree on the rules.

  1. Guide students in brainstorming a set of classroom rules.
  2. Discuss why rules are important for maintaining order and fairness.
  3. Write the agreed-upon rules on a large piece of paper or poster board.
  4. Have each student (and the teacher) sign the Classroom Constitution as a commitment to the rules.
  5. Place the Classroom Constitution in a prominent place in the classroom.
  6. Throughout the year, refer back to the constitution to reinforce the rules and commitment.
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First Week of School Activities Can Be Fun!

These first week of school activities will help you build a positive classroom community and introduce social studies concepts in a fun and engaging way.

If you’re looking for a fun way to get to know your students, check out Our Class is a Family Book Companion with a variety of classroom community resources!

If you want something more geared to social studies, get your upper elementary students excited to start the school year using these low-prep social studies-themed worksheets

kirsten hammond

Kirsten is a former 3rd and 5th grade teacher who loves helping upper elementary teachers by creating resources and sharing ideas that are engaging, research-based, and TEKS-aligned. She is a work-from-home mama of 3 rambunctious little ones and loves running, true crime, and lots of coffee.

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