Back to school lesson ideas

School is starting in many parts of the world: are you ready for your first day?

As teachers, the start of the school year can be a hectic time for us: getting everything ready, getting used to the new timetable, meeting new colleagues and students… and for many of us, it’s a nerve-racking time of waiting to find out where we’re going to teach this year.

Whether you have forty years of experience or zero, you’ll find these back-to-school ideas useful to start your year with a bang!

If you’re looking for the opposite, i.e. end-of-school lesson ideas, check out our dedicated article!

My 6 favourite tried and tested back to scool activities

Here are my personal favourites (which I’ve used both with new classes and old classes on the first day):

1. Facts about me

Give learners some pictures, numbers or nouns related to your life and ask them to guess what they mean. They can then do the same, possibly using their phones to show their partners pictures if they’re allowed to use them.

2. Ask me 3 questions

In groups of 3 (possibly socially distanced or in breakout rooms), students have 3 minutes to think about as many questions as they can for the teacher. As long as the questions are in a correct interrogative form, I answer them (and get a chance to revise question forms!)

3. Speed ‘dating’

I used to do this activity with teenage students in summer schools in the UK: we would go out to a garden or park, they would stand in two lines and talk to the person opposite them for 3 minutes, after which they would swap. To make sure they use English as much as possible, you can give students an aim and/or ask them to show some proof of what they’ve done (e.g. they have to discover one new fact about each person and note it down on a piece of paper).

4. Timelines

How fun can timelines be? You can draw one easily to show your students your main milestones in life or in the past summer; you can draw one with gaps and they have to guess; you can draw one with just some dates and ask students to guess the events, or vice versa; you can ask students to do the same; you can use them to revise verb tenses. Super versatile, low prep and easy to do online!

5. Find someone who

Who hasn’t tried “find someone who”? Students have a list of questions and have to mingle to find as many students as possible who have done or are the things said in the worksheet. What’s even cooler is this Find someone who generator!

6. Language portraits

Each learner gets a sheet with the outline of a person and they colour it in to represent the various languages they speak and consider part of their identity. It’s a tried and tested activity that is inspired by multilingualism and sociolinguistic research. See an example here.

Further resources

Are you inspired? Looking for more ideas? I have selected the best ones I found on the internet, from very talented bloggers and teachers:

85 Get to know you activities (by LanguagEd member Rachel Tsateri!)

10 Invaluable Back To School Ideas For ELT Teachers

5 ways to reinspire your students after the summer holidays

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