I used to love going back to school just for the shopping. I always got new shoes, a new haircut, and my favorite: NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES!!! But for some kids, especially those starting a new school, the first day back can be nerve-wracking. For this reason, I think it might actually be a great way to start the new year with a “back-to-school party.”
Even Umi's in the school spirit!
How cute would a miniature black and white speckled composition book invite be? Especially if it had lined paper backing. Or what about a miniature chalkboard, with the information printed in white with a black background so it looked like writing on the board? Or a printed lunchbox with the information printed on the picture of a sandwich.
Set out cute little lunch bag paper bags filled with snacks like Goldfish crackers, cheese sticks, Go-Gurts, baby carrots, apples, pudding cups, granola bars, etc. Put each guest’s name on their own bag so they can graze or trade whenever they want.
Getting to know you photo board
As guests arrive, take a photo. Have guests fill out a form that lists their name, age, and 5 things that they love to do. If you’ve got the capacity to print out the photos, or have one of those fun Fugi instant photo cameras - attach the photos to the forms and display where everyone can see them - you could clip them to a clothesline, or hang them from a bulletin board or open wall area. When the party is over, put all the pages in a binder so that the host can use it as a reference guide for greeting and remembering people. It’s a great way to discover who might have similar tastes.
First day of school relay race
Divide your group into teams and have them line up. Set up a chair for each team. On the chair place a school book, notebook, a pen, and an eraser. On “Go!” have the first person run up to the chair and stack all the items on their head. They must then return to their team, while trying not to let any of the item drop. If they drop, they must leave them. When they reach their line, they hand off the items to the next team member; if they have dropped any items on the way they must run and retrieve them and give them to the next player in line. Once the next player has all the items, they make their way to the chair where they deposit all the items (again retrieving any they have dropped). The player then runs back to their team and tags the next player who begins the process all over again. Continue until everyone has gone. When a team completes their relay, they should all sit down to let everyone know they’re done. The team that has all of their members sitting down in a line wins.
Team spelling bee
This works really well for large groups. Divide into two groups and have them line up on opposite sides, shoulder to shoulder, facing each other with a dividing space in between them (like you would in “steal the bacon”). Hand out index cards to each person. The index cards should have one letter (A through Z) written on each card. Each team will need one complete set of alphabet letters distributed among its team members. It’s okay if some team members get more than one letter, as long as all the letters are distributed. Designate a “spell zone” for each team. The game leader will then call out a word, such as “dog.” As soon as the word is announced, players with those letters run to the spell zone and line themselves up with their cards in the correct order to spell D-O-G. If one person has more than one letter, they should take up their first spot, then move once their first letter has been acknowledged. The first team to get the word spelled correctly wins the point. Continue playing rounds with harder and harder words.
Divide group into teams and give each team two minutes to come up with either a school cheer, or give them 10 minutes to come up with a school song. Have them share their cheer or song one by one.
Behind the teacher’s back
Choose one person to be the “teacher.” Have them stand at the front of the room with their back facing everyone. Have everyone else spread out and sit down in rows (either in chairs or on the ground) like they are in class. While the teacher’s back is turned, hand one person a “note” (a wadded up piece of paper). The object is for the students to pass the note back and forth by handing, tossing, or rolling the paper wad to one another. At any given time, the teacher can turn around. If they catch someone with the paper, that person gets detention. Three detentions and you are out of the game. Play for a few rounds, then switch the teacher.
We’ve got a bunch of back to school crafts on our site: locker organizers, pencil cases, decorated pens and pencils, textbook covers, and decorated notebooks. Set up a station where everyone can make something for back to school.
The main goal of this party (other than having a party) is for everyone to get a chance to mingle, catch up, and meet the people they will be spending the next odd number of years. Keep things light, fun, and short. The closer to the start of school, the better. Who knows, some guests may come away from the party making a new best friend!