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The First Day of Third Grade: A Full Day of Plans for 3rd Grade Teachers

Wondering what to do on the first day of third grade? Plan for the first day of school like a pro with these detailed first day lesson plans including math, reading, and writing activities, easy team building ideas, classroom procedures, and super teacher tips to rock that first day of 3rd grade.
Rock that first day of school graphic

Searching for ideas of what to teach on the first day of third grade? Look no further Super Teacher!

These classroom-tested first day of school lesson plans will fill your entire Day 1 and get you well on your way to a successful Day 2.

If you’re a first year teacher wondering how in the world to fill an entire first day of school, use everything in the plans! The first day ideas detailed here should give you more than enough activities to fill the day.

Are you an established teacher looking for some fresh ideas, or just new to 3rd grade? Feel free to mix and match what works for you from these plans, and then add your tried and true first day faves.

Need a printable copy of the lesson plans? Click the button below, enter your email, and the first day lesson plans will be sent to your inbox! Just hit print and your first day planning is done!

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Think about these

Before diving headfirst into first day of school lesson plans, take a few minutes to do the following:

Think about these questions before the first day of third grade:

  • What will students work on when they first come into the classroom?
  • What supplies should I have ready for them to make the day run as smoothly as possible?
  • What forms will students be bringing in today, and where will I tell them to put them?
  • If students bring in supplies, what will I have them do with them?
before school

Get these things ready before the first day of school:

  • Write directions on your board, or have a to do list on your projected onto your screen
  • Have something on desks for students to do + 2 sharpened pencils on each desk
  • Have copies of all activities ready
  • Have all books you want to read ready and in a practical location (think carpet, mentor text bucket, easel, or where you keep you copies for quick grabbing)

Think through your first day procedures

The key to the first day(s) is to teach (and practice over and over) classroom procedures, and get into your normal routine asap.

“Normal” is pretty much impossible on Day 1, so having a list of procedures to teach throughout the day, along with an activity for all the major subjects is a good way to give students a feel for what a typical day in your classroom looks like.

Throughout the day (think every 15 minutes) teach a small procedure.

Sometimes procedures to teach will fall into place based on the activity you’re doing, and sometimes you just need to introduce them randomly throughout the day.

Here are some must-teach first day procedures:

  • Attendance sticks
  • Lunch count
  • Lining up
  • Bathroom passes/procedures
  • Sharpening pencils
  • Turning in work
  • Quiet signal
  • Getting drinks
  • Coming to mini-lesson carpet
  • Sitting at carpet
  • Lunch money
  • Coming in from recess
  • Classroom clean up
  • Dismissal

Now that you’ve done the prep work, you’re ready to go.

Ready or not, first day HERE . . . WE . . . COME!

Onto the first day of school lesson plans. You’ve got this Super Teacher!

First Day of Third Grade Lesson Plans

You've Got This

This post contains affiliate links. You can find all the books and supplies mentioned in this post at the First Days of School Amazon recommendation list HERE.

Morning Routine
Time needed: 10 minutes

Greet students and have your lunch count/attendance items ready to go. Have a list of (simple) items to do ready on the board.

*Procedures: attendance, lunch count, coat room

Morning work

Morning Work
Time needed: 20-25 minutes

If you haven’t read Michael Friermood’s (The Thinker Builder’s) post about setting the tone on the first day of school, check it out HERE.

This is exactly what the first minutes of school should look and sound like.

*Procedures: turning in finished work, where to keep unfinished work

Teacher Introduction

Introduce Yourself
Time needed: 5 minutes

The kids have probably figured out that you’re their teacher by now since you’re probably the only adult in the room. (Minus the parents with cameras)

So, this doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Resist the urge to make today all about you. There will be plenty of time for your students to get to know you.

All year in fact.

Just tell them your name, show them how it’s spelled, and tell them how excited you are to have them in your class.

*Procedures: listening when the teacher is talking 🙂

Basic Needs

Basic Needs Chat
Time needed: 10-15 minutes

The two biggest questions on every 3rd grade student’s mind are:

Where do I sharpen my pencil?

and

What do I do if I need to go to the bathroom?

Answer these questions (plus how to get a drink) and move along.

Don’t give them too long to think about it, or everyone will need to go to the bathroom.

*Procedures: pencil sharpening, bathroom passes

Team Building

Team Building/Brain Break: Stand Up Sit Down
Time needed: 10-15 minutes

This is a super simple team building activity that requires no paper, no pencils, nada.

Everyone can participate without being singled out, and it can go on for as long or short a time period as you need.

It also gets students moving (in a controlled way), so it also counts as a brain break. Win!

You give a statement aloud like: “I am 7 years old.” If this applies to a student, they stand up.

Then they look around at the other students standing, giggle, and sit down when you start your next statement.

Repeat again and again until students are a little more at ease.

Here are a few statements you can use:

  • I had cereal for breakfast.
  • I am an only child.
  • I have blonde hair.
  • I have brown hair.
  • I like P.E.
  • I have a brother.
  • I have a sister.
  • I am a third grader.
  • I am a second grader.
  • I am a first grader.
  • I like P.E.
  • My birthday is in January.
  • I came to school in a bus today.
  • I came to school in a car today.
  • I am eating home lunch today.
  • I am eating school lunch today.
  • I am a first grader.
  • My first name starts with the letter K.
  • I like computers.
  • I like recess.
  • I like art.
  • I like video games.
  • I like to read.
  • I like art.
Read Aloud

Class read aloud: First Day Jitters
Time needed: 15-20 minutes

Although this is by no means a recently published book, it’s typically new for 3rd graders (or they’ve forgotten it since the first day of school last year).

Tell them there might just be a surprise ending to the book, and see if they can figure out what that surprise ending is.

The moral of the story is: we’re all a little anxious on the first day. We’re going to live. We’re going to have fun. Our class is the best. Onward and upward!

*Procedures: coming to the carpet, active listening to a shared story

You can find this book at the First Days of School Amazon Recommendation list HERE.

Rules

Rewards and Consequences CHIP chat
Time needed: 20-30 minutes

While you’re at the carpet, discuss your rewards and consequences with students.

Are you using Class Dojo? Brainstorm a class list of how to earn points.

Use something else? Tell the kiddos and show how it works.

CHIP Awards

I introduce all the good stuff first: Tickets for end of day treasure box drawings, team points, lead teams, CHIP necklaces and CHIP Trophies! You can read more about CHIP necklaces/trophies HERE.

Then in a very sad voice I talk about yellow cards and “Think about it” pages for bad choices (which we never want to use, but we will when needed). It’s so very sad when someone makes poor choices. 🙂

*Procedure: coming to the carpet

Reading

Reading
Time needed: 30-40 minutes

Activity options: Around the room book look or library organization guessing game

Unless you’ve already instructed students to bring books from home to read for silent reading, reading time should be spent looking at the books in your room and having every student choose 2.

If you have books in bins, you can set a few book bins on every group of desks and then have students look through the bins until they find 1-2 books they want to use for silent reading later today.

Classroom Library Photo

Don’t worry about checking the levels of the books or creating book boxes/bags yet.

Just make sure every student has something to read (even if “read” needs to be in quotation marks) this afternoon.

If students already have books from home, you can start introducing your classroom library.

Library Genre PowerPoint Example

Mine is organized by genre, so I use a genre guessing game PowerPoint activity where students can think/pair/share when shown the pictures used to label the genres in the library.

Super Teacher Tip: If you have already labeled your library bins by genre, turn them around before school so no cheating occurs during the guessing game. Proactive management is the name of the game today!

You can get a free copy of the Library Introduction PowerPoint at the TpT store HERE.

*Procedures: Quiet gallery walk or think/pair/share

It's Recess

Morning Recess
Time needed: 20-30 minutes

You’re tired already. The kids are ready for a break.

  1. BE SAFE
  2. BE KIND
  3. HAVE FUN

Those are good enough guidelines for recess Day 1.

Do you have a throat lozenge? Take it (and your whistle) with you outside.

*Procedures: playground expectations, lining up at a given signal, coming into class from recess

Writing

Writing: Decorate Writer’s Notebook Covers
Time needed: 30-45 minutes

Writer's Notebooks

If you are going to have students use writer’s notebooks, show them some of yours, and have them decorate a cover that will be on their first writer’s notebook of the year!

If you are using composition notebooks, have card stock cut beforehand. Get some heavy duty packing tape to adhere the covers so they’ll last.

If you don’t have a writer’s notebook from previous years, Amelia’s Notebook is a fun book to show as an example of how a writer’s notebook can hold pictures and words together.

*Procedures: passing out papers + getting & putting back crayons/colored pencils/other art supplies, sharpening pencils

You can read more about starting writer’s notebooks and other back to school writing activities HERE.

Brain Break

Brain Break: Go Noodle or Just Like Me
Time needed: 10-15 minutes

Activity Options: If you’re planning to use Go Noodle, now is a good time to do it.

If not, try a variation on the Stand Up Sit Down game you did earlier with a game called “Just Like Me”.

Students will be familiar with the standing up/sitting down when a statement is given.

However, this time, if the statement applies to them they stand up and say “Just like me!”.

Instead of just the teacher giving the statements, students will get a chance to join in the fun.

For example:

You start with a fact about you: “I like recess.”

Any student who also likes recess will stand and say “Just like me!”

Then you can choose a willing volunteer to give a fact about him/herself aloud like: “I brought a home lunch today.”

Then, all students who have this in common will stand and say “Just like me!” look around, giggle, repeat until all of those little leggies get a stretch.

Read Aloud

Read Aloud: The World According to Humphrey
Time needed: 20-30 minutes

The World According to Humphrey is the cutest Back to School read aloud.

Third graders love nothing more than a cute classroom hamster, and teachers love nothing more than a cute classroom hamster who models good manners. Win, win!

This is the first book in a series, so it’s perfect for the beginning of the year.

If Humphrey makes students ask repeatedly for a classroom pet, tell them your qualifications for a classroom pet are: doesn’t have hair, and doesn’t go to the bathroom.

This disqualifies any pet except a rock.

We can deal with a pet rock.

*Procedures: Read aloud norms (Will students be at desks/at carpet area during read aloud? Make it explicit.)

Routines

Before Lunch Routine (start at least 30 minutes early)
Time needed: 20-30 minutes

Every school is so different when it comes to lunch norms, but a few questions you should think through before giving kids a lunchroom overview:

  • How will the students with home lunch get their lunches to the lunchroom?
  • Where are the lunch numbers?
  • Will you have different lines for home/school lunch?
  • Where does your class sit in the lunch room?
  • What is the expectation for voice level in the lunch room?
  • What should students do if they have no one to sit by/play with during lunch and recess?

*Procedures: Lining up, walking in hall, taking sack lunches to the lunchroom, cleaning up classroom supplies

It's Lunch

You made it to lunch. You’re halfway through the first day of third grade Super Teacher!

Lunch & lunch recess
Time needed: 45-60 minutes

*Procedures: Lunch numbers, lunch line, lunchroom seating, heading out to recess after lunch

Feel tired yet? The first day is exhausting! 🙂

Teacher note: Don’t plan on having time to eat much. Bring a Zone Bar/trail mix/Airborne/water and just try to breathe for a few moments until the kiddos come back.

Routines

After Lunch Recess Routine
Time needed: 5-10 minutes

Make sure all the kids are there and get them back to desks.

The quicker and calmer the better.

Get students accustomed to getting right into class, checking the board for directions, and getting started on a task as quickly as possible.

Be ready for questions about drinks and possible recess problems.

*Procedures: Checking board for directions, drinks/water bottle expectations

Reading

Silent Reading/Read to Self
Time needed: 25-30 minutes

Have a note on the board that tells students to get out the 2 books they chose this morning and read.

It’s OK if they’re not really reading as long as they’re not talking.

Even if you’re planning to implement Daily 5, you can probably hold off on keeping track of how long the whole class is actually reading, and start your time tracking graph tomorrow.

If you really want to start an “Independent Reading looks like/sounds like” chart, do it after the kids have at least 15 minutes to read.

Typically teacher proximity will keep things pretty calm on day 1. The kids are tired. 🙂 

*Procedures: Silent reading/Read to self norms

Team Building

Teambuilding: Around the Room Signature Game
Time needed: 30-40 minutes

So far, all team building has been standing up, sitting down, safe, safe, safe.

Now it’s time to let the kidlets get a little out of their comfort zones.

The signature game is a good one to get students out of their seats and talking to lots of different classmates, but is still pretty structured and safe.

All they really need to do is approach another student and ask a question.

You can automatically download a copy of the signature game I use HERE.

After 10-15 minutes (before it gets too crazy), have students return to seats and do a whole class overview.

Read each descriptor and have all students who fit that descriptor raise their hand/stand up/do a popcorn (stand up/jump/sit down).

This is another way to get everyone participating, and to kill a little time with something easy.

*Procedures: Around the room voice level, participation in group activities, passing out papers, turning in work

Math

Math: Pentominoes Intro & Practice
Time needed: 45-60 minutes

Pentominoes are a super fast finisher that all students can use (and love), so not only do you have a fun first day math activity, you are also introducing a fast finisher students will have available to them ALL . . . YEAR . . . LONG. 

Pentomino Picture

During these first weeks of school it’s pretty much priceless to have a “go to” fast finisher ready on Day 1!

Show students the book Chasing Vermeer (this mystery book has a pentomino by name chart and hidden pentominoes on the cover) and then see if students can figure out how the pentominoes are named (spoiler alert: it’s by letters of the alphabet).

The ultimate goal with pentominoes is to use all 12 pieces to create a square or rectangle with no overlapping pieces or gaps.

However, on the first day tell students that although a 12-piecer is the ultimate goal, right now they just want to try and use as many pieces as they can to create a square or rectangle.

You can read more details about organizing and using pentominoes at the Back to School math post HERE.

*Procedures: Math fast finishers, putting away supplies

Read Aloud

Class Read Aloud & Australian Flags Intro
Time needed: 25-30 minutes

By this time of day, the kids are hot. You’re all tired. So, bring them to the carpet for a nice relaxing read aloud.

Read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and talk about a bad day you’ve had at school.

The kids will be all about talking about a bad day they’ve had, and then you can transition into introducing your quick, easy, (and quiet) strategy for students to show you they’re having a bad day.

Alexander poster and flags

Australian Flags!

Students simply put one of these on the top of their desk when they’re having a hard day, and return it when they’re feeling better.

It gives you a signal they might need a quiet moment, and they have an immediate way to show the teacher they need a little extra attention.

Alexander poster and flag on white board

Super easy! All you need to do is print out Australian flags and make a poster if you want, or you can grab them ready to go at the Super Teacher TpT store HERE.

Need more details about how these work? You can read more about using Australian flags as your calm down tools here.

Team Building

One Last Team Building Activity
Time needed: 10-20 minutes

Will you have time for one more activity? Probably not, but it’s better to be over prepared than have 20 minutes you have no idea what to do with.

Have students return to seats with a blank index card. On the card have them write 3 true facts about them.

For those that have no idea what to write, refer them to the facts on the signature game you played earlier. Favorites work well.

Here are mine:

  1. I have 2 fake teeth.
  2. I had a pet rat named Stimpy.
  3. I watch Crumbl Cookies’ weekly unboxing video every Monday. It’s sad, but delicious.

Sadly, all true.

Students can think about their ideas, write them down, and then turn them in.

You’ll use these throughout the first week of school as a “Who am I?” Get to know your classmates team building game.

You simply read the facts on the card, have students silently point to the student they think wrote the facts, and then have the actual student stand when you give the signal.

This activity is perfect to fill those weird spaces you have as you’re trying to get into your normal routine.

So easy and every student gets his/her time to shine.

*Procedures: Passing out papers, turning in papers, quiet work time

Super Teacher Note: make sure you look through the cards before you try to read them to the class. There’s always one or two that are super hard to read, and you don’t want to embarrass a kiddo by stumbling through their writing in front of the entire class on the first days of school.

Routines

End of the day routine
Time needed: 20-30 minutes

Before you get into jobs, talk about transportation!

By third grade most students know how they are getting home, but it’s always smart to review at least 30 minutes before dismissal.

When students come to the carpet after jobs, have them sit in groups by how they’re traveling home.

Meet with students at the carpet to show them what’s going home (any papers you have for parents or weekly folder items) and talk about your end of day routine.

You probably won’t have classroom jobs up and running yet. Don’t worry!

First day cleanup shouldn’t be too bad. A list on the board will work just fine.

  1. Get your backpack
  2. Stack your chair
  3. Meet at the carpet

Once students are back at the carpet you want to have something ready to go to keep it calm.

If you can create a chill final 5 minutes, you will feel so much better about your day!

Choose a song karaoke style for students to sing, or have a Go Noodle video ready for kiddos once they make it to the carpet.

*Procedures: packing up backpacks, cleaning the room, dismissal

You made it!

Congratulations! You have officially survived the first day of third grade!

After School

Keep celebrating, but you do have to come back tomorrow. You’re not quite done yet.

After School

Eat a popsicle and prep your Around the Room Scavenger Hunt and/or Bubble Letter Name Art for tomorrow.

Now go home! You deserve a nice rest, and a yummy takeout dinner.

Would you like a printable copy of the first day lesson plans? Simply click below, enter your email, and they’ll appear in your inbox so you’ll be ready to print and go!

​​ get ​the printable lesson plans

Do you have any must-do activities for the first day of third grade? Comment below and let me know.

Have a fab day Super Teacher,

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4 Comments

  1. What an organized, enthusiastic and encouraging post ! Lots a nice ideas. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Typo above! How did that get past me? Of course it should have said ‘Lots OF nice ideas.’

    2. Thanks so much Carly! I hope some of the ideas might be helpful. Have a great school year!

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