The beginning of the school year is fast approaching (if it hasn’t already begun for some of us). As teachers, once August hits we begin planning out our first few days with the students. Those first days are perfect for going over procedures, reviewing the expectations, and getting to know each other. As a math teacher, I’m often frustrated throughout the year by students asking, “It’s a (insert type of day here: half-day, shortened day, field trip day, holiday, special day, Friday, etc.), do we really have to do math today?” Math is a part of life, and for a math class, math should be every day! So I like to set the tone from Day 1 that this is a math classroom, and math will be a part of everything we do. So here are a few first day activities I’ve done that students enjoy, accomplish the goals of getting to know each other, and incorporate mathematical concepts.

**100 Grid Nametags**

Using small 10x10 grids, I give each student the same number of grids as letters in their name (my name is Pauline, so I would have 7 grids). The students then sketch each letter of their name in each one of the grid boxes. The trick comes when I tell them each letter must take up 50% of the grid (i.e. 50 boxes out of 100 boxes). Once they sketch the letters, they color them and mount them on construction paper, and I’ve got mathematical name tags I can have the students use until I learn all their names.

**Tessellation Leaves**

I give each student a leaf. They are asked to put their name in the center, and then on each of the three branches, they write and color a picture of something about themselves, including:

- A favorite place
- A favorite memory
- A favorite hobby

**Math About Me**

There are so many great examples of ‘math about me” activities out there. Since I use a math notebook with my students, I have the students put their name / picture in the center, and then around it they put at least 5 numbers and what those numbers represent about them (i.e. “2 - I have 2 siblings.”). It makes a great ‘get-to-know-you’ activity, and a way to personalize their math notebook. Or if you do it on a separate sheet of paper, it is also a colorful decoration for your wall in those first few weeks.

**Start with a Problem**

Sometimes the best way to get to know each other is to jump right in with some math. Pick a non-routine or multi-level problem (I love Problem of the Month activities for this), put them in groups, and let them get started working. They get to know each other, you get to observe them working, and it can provide a great discussion on your expectations and rules with concrete examples (“Jimmy, where did you find the scratch paper when you needed some?”).

There are tons of blogs and links to other activities out there, but I just wanted to share a few of my own. The important aspect is to incorporate math from Day 1, and set the expectation that everything you do will always involve some element of mathematics.

What are your first day math activities?