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first week back to school ideas

First Week Back To School Ideas
and Art Activities

First week back to school ideas and activities are great for soothing anxious students and teachers. Icebreakers do just that – they break the ice!

How do we build a strong classroom community for the year ahead?

  • Engage kids in fun group discussions
  • Set goals for the year, talk about hopes and fears
  • Get creative and decorate classroom walls, doors, and bulletin boards for an inspiring learning environment

We’ve gathered some fun facts, exploring what back to school looks like, in different countries around the world.

This could be an interesting back to school idea – open up a global conversation with your new class. Get students chatting and researching in small groups about back to school customs and traditions in different countries.


Back to School Around the World – First Week Back Customs

Children all around the world are experiencing their first week back to school too at different times throughout the year.

  • In Japan, parents give their children a randoseru (a specific type of backpack made from leather) on the first day of elementary/primary school to prepare them for their new school year.
  • In India, a back to school tradition is the giving of a small gift. This is often an umbrella, as the school year starts in May/June which is the monsoon season in India.
  • In Russia, the first day back to school is always September 1st. Even if it falls on a Saturday the children will still attend school! This first day is known as ‘Knowledge Day’. Teachers receive a bouquet of flowers from the students as thanks and the student each receive a balloon in return.
  • In Saudi Arabia, back to school celebrations can take several days. New students are invited to socialize through activities and the sharing of food.
  • In Germany, first-grade children are given a giant cone made of paper, cardboard, or plastic and filled with treats such as candy and useful items such as crayons and pens. The cones are called ‘schultüten’ which translates to ‘school bag’.
  • In Vietnam, a countrywide festival ends with a guest beating a drum three times to signal the start of the academic year.
  • In Kazakhstan, education starts at age 7 and first day of school is known as Tyl Ashar which translates to ‘initiation into education’. Children honour their ancestors around family and friends at a ceremony where each child delivers the Zhety ata, reciting the names of their seven generations of grandfathers.
  • In Brazil, the school year starts in February.
  • The USA has the biggest number of home-schooled children at 2.5 million.

What are School Uniforms Like Around the World?

  • Japanese uniforms, known as ‘seifuku’ look like a sailor suit with a bow and a flat panel across the back. 
  • In France, school uniforms aren’t compulsory but some schools have a casual hoodie with the school logo. Children can choose their own trousers.
  • In China, school uniforms are often tracksuits for comfort.  
  • In the UK, trousers or a skirt, shirt, tie and blazer are worn – sometimes a straw hat.
  • In Australia, dresses or shorts are worn with a large hat to protect children from the sun.
  • In Italy, children traditionally wear a smock or apron called a ‘grembiule’ on the first day back to school. This can be personalised with a unique pattern or name. A specific colour ribbon is worn on the Grembiule to show what grade you are in.

Ideas for your class:

Research and design your own Italian grembiule or Japanese seifuku


Discovering Unusual Schools Around the World

  • In Ziyun County,China, the Dongzhong Cave, housed a primary school from 1984 until 2011!
  • Bangladesh has many floating schools due to regular flooding. For this reason, schools are boats which also transport the children home, at the end of the school day.
  • Denmark started forest schools where children are educated outdoors using nature and natural materials

A question for your class:

How would you welcome another student from a different country to your school?


Back to School Ideas – My Resources

Browse back to school art activities on The Imagination Box Website

View these same back to school art activities on TPT

Here are some popular back to school printable resource ideas, ideal community builders for the first week back. They are carefully designed to help kids express their uniqueness, reflect and set goals in a safe and creative way – ready to print and go! Kids love sharing their finished t-shirts, hoodies and backpacks with their friends!

design a t-shirt
design a backpack
design a hoodie

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Diane 🙂


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First Week Back To School Ideas and Activities

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