This year, back to school looks a little different than ever before. I’ve been busy behind the scenes here at The OT Toolbox building tools that you can use during the first weeks of school that will make your life easier. Here, you will find first day of school activities, first day of school printables, and back to school baseline screening activities, back to school crafts, and ideas to use in therapy or the classroom this week (and coming weeks).
Back to School Activities
These activities should keep your students (virtual or in-person) busy the first few weeks of school. Some of these activities are great for online icebreaker activities and others are wonderful ways to build rapport while assessing baseline status in areas like pencil grasp, handwriting, math, scissor skills, or other learning/school tasks.
Back to School Slide Deck- This interactive back to school slide deck works with Google slides. Enter your email address and log into your Google account. You will receive an email with a prompt to access a file for your personal use. Click the button on that pdf and the interactive slide can be copied right into your Google drive. Then, make a copy for each student and they can work through the slides in edit mode. These slides are designed to address visual perceptual skills. Kids will enjoy the back to school supply activities and won’t even know they are building skills that will help them thrive in learning.
Back to school activities for kindergarten- (and first grade, second grade, etc.) These back to school fine motor activities are fun ways to quickly screen for fine motor skills needed at school while building rapport with the students. First day of school activities for kindergarten can involved fine motor activities that are fun and get children excited about their time in therapy sessions.
Visual Schedules- There is something about having a visual schedule that makes things easier when it comes to transitions. We made these back to school story stones a while back and used them to adjust to the new routine that back to school time brings. Visual schedules can be effective in virtual sessions or hybrid learning. Why not use a visual schedule as a tool to move students between group online activities?
Online Icebreaker Activity
Back to School Writing and I Spy Slide Deck- Another interactive slide deck for back to school writing, this slide deck covers a variety of areas. Use the school supplies I Spy slide as a fun activity to get started with the school year. The icebreaker slide can be used to get to know students as they fill out an All About Me activity. The slides include handwriting tasks so students can write words and sentences while teachers or therapists assess baseline levels for each student.
Separation Anxiety Activity- After being out of the classroom for a much longer period of time this year, kids might have some worries or separation anxiety that leaves them anxious. Try this separation anxiety activity that uses a popular children’s book. Reading a book and doing a book-related activity a great icebreaker activity for kids.
Icebreaker Questions- Go through some icebreaker questions for kids. This is fun in person or in virtual settings. Use these questions as a writing prompt to work on handwriting, too.
Effective online learning
Heading back to the classroom means switching gears back to online learning. Having a productive and effective online learning experience can be hard for some kids, and the same is true for virual therapy sessions. Here are tips for parents to make the most of teletherapy and online learning sessions.
Having a toolbox of coping strategies for kids can make a big difference, too. Be sure to offer brain breaks, movement activities, and have a set of rules in place to make the most of online learning and virtual therapy sessions.
These back to school sensory activities can be effective movement strategies for kids to stay alert to online learning and pay attention during virtual classroom sessions.
Staying organized- Using organization strategies is more important than ever this school year. Here are organization strategies for the school-based OT, and here are organization strategies for students.
This free editable therapy planner will keep you organized with themes and planning activities this school year.
This therapy planning interactive bulletin board might be just the thing you need to prepare virtual therapy sessions, home programs, and keeping track of therapy plans.
Back to School Crafts
School Bus Craft- This school bus craft is a simple one to set up and can be done as a group online activity or in person. Record the activity for a recorded session, too. With the simple shapes, the bus craft is great for working on scissor skills, visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and problem solving.
The Kissing Hand Craft- You’ve read the book The Kissing Hand, right? The book is a helpful tool to help kids with the transition to school. We made a The Kissing Hand craft that involved salt dough key chains (fine motor fun!) and be sure to check out the four other Kissing Hand crafts in the blog post, too.
Pencil Fidget Tool Craft- This pencil topper fidget is a fun craft for kids but it can double as a fidget tool, too. Making this DIY fidget tool builds fine motor skills with sensory-related benefits.
Handwriting Spacing Tools Craft- These spacing tools can be a fun way to get kids invested in spacing between letters and words. Make this spacing tool craft that kids can add to their pencil box and pull out for handwriting tasks. The best news is that making the craft builds fine motor skills too! Try this button spacing tool, this easy craft stick spacing tool, this pipe cleaner spacing tool, this clothes pin spacing tool, and this space martian spacing tool craft.
Make a Space Man spacing tool. Make a DIY spacing tool. Make a pipe cleaner spacing tool for handwriting.
First Day of School Printables
The first day of school is exciting! Having a set of printables ready for kids of different ages makes the teacher or therapist feel a little more organized and ready for back-to-school, too. Try these first day of school printables:
Back to school printable toolkit- This set of back to school printable activities is fun for the first day of school or the first weeks of school! There are book themed hole punch cards, school supplies I Spy printable page, school materials handwriting paper, an exclusive school supplies “spot it” matching game, and a printable PDF version of the school materials match-up game. Grab the toolkit here OR, get the free back to school writing slide deck listed for a special discount price 🙂
Emotions and Feelings Printable- Talking about feelings on the first day of school (or first weeks of school) is important, especially this year. Grab this social emotional learning worksheet to cover facial expressions and emotions with kids.
More first day of school activities
What are your favorite ways to get kids excited about the first weeks of school or therapy?
Add this set of back to school activities to your therapy or classroom toolkit…on sale now!
Back to school toolkit– school materials and activities for kids.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to email@example.com.