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15 First Day Jitters Activities to Calm Back-to-School Nerves
Jitter juice, jitter glitter, and more!
First day of school! It’s a phrase that sends thrills and chills down your spine. Those feelings are captured perfectly in the classic picture book First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and Judy Love . Readers learn that everyone is nervous on their first day— including teachers ! If you’re reading this beloved book to your class this year, try one of these First Day Jitters– inspired activities to make it even more meaningful.
1. Mix up a batch of Jitter Juice.
Jitter Juice is one of everyone’s favorite activities! Have kids help you mix up lemon-lime soda and fruit punch, then add a dash of sprinkles (for even more fun, try edible glitter). They can sip their juice while you read and discuss the book.
Learn more: The Kindergarten Connection
2. Practice counting with a Jitter Juice survey.
Once they’ve drunk their Jitter Juice, take a survey to find out who liked it. Have kids keep count, then graph the results.
Learn more: A Cupcake for the Teacher
3. Assemble a paper craft bed.
Sarah Jane hides under the covers at the beginning of the book, and maybe a few of your students did the same! Craft this bed using the free patterns found at the link below and have students fill in the blank, describing how they felt that morning before coming to school.
Learn more: First Grade Wow
4. Give them some Jitter Glitter.
This is a great giveaway for a pre–first day meet and greet. Fill small bags with glitter that students can tuck under their pillow the night before the big day and pass them out along with this sweet poem.
Learn more: Class of Kinders
5. Try a cleaner take on Jitter Glitter.
One teacher explains, “I didn’t want messy glitter, so instead I use a decorated antibacterial hand gel that has the glittery-like beads, which magically disappear as kids rub their hands together. (It also helps to keep germs at bay on the first day!)”
Source: Happy Teacher/Pinterest
6. Craft Jitter Glitter necklaces.
First Day Jitters activities using Jitter Glitter are really popular! In this version, kids help fill tiny jars with glitter (a tiny funnel will make this job much easier). Tie a cord or ribbon around the neck so kids can wear their necklace when they’re feeling nervous. (Here’s another cool Jitter Glitter idea: calm-down jars! )
Learn more: The DIY Mommy
7. Help them make a text-to-self connection.
This free printable is simple but gets straight to the point. Use it in class or as a first-day homework assignment to talk over and complete with their grown-ups.
Learn more: Lesson Plan Diva
8. Put your worries in a Jitter Jar.
Sometimes just acknowledging your worries is enough to calm you down. Have kids write down their jittery thoughts on a small piece of paper. Then, crumple them up and seal them in the jar, explaining that they’re getting the worries out of their heads so they can focus on more fun things!
Source: Mrs. Medeiros/Twitter
9. Make a First Day Feelings graph.
First, students color a small symbol of themselves showing how they felt about the first day of school. Then, they construct a picture graph with those symbols as a class, learning about the parts of a graph as they go.
Learn more: The Cutesy Teacher
10. Write and draw a before and after.
The reality is usually a lot less scary than what we imagine in advance. Let kids reflect on how they felt before the first day and how they feel now that they’re living it. Then have them write and/or draw about their before-and-after feelings.
Learn more: The Applicious Teacher
11. Compose a First Day Jitters predictable chart.
Predictable charts are great for kindergarten when students aren’t writing much on their own yet. Kids help fill in the blanks to create a chart of complete sentences describing how the first day of school made them feel.
Learn more: The Kindergarten Smorgasboard
12. Stick your feelings to the wall.
Writing is always more fun with sticky notes! This is a terrific way to assess handwriting, spelling, and basic writing skills on the first day in a low-pressure way. ( Here are more fun ways to use sticky notes in the classroom. )
Source: Trisha Little Weinig/Pinterest
13. Snack on some Jitter Beans.
You can use Jitter Beans for multiple First Day Jitters activities. Estimate them, count them, sort them, graph them … oh, and eat them, too!
Learn more: The Krafty Teacher
14. Use emojis to illustrate their jitters.
Try this activity with older kids (because first day jitters certainly aren’t limited to little ones). Project a selection of emojis on your screen and have kids choose a couple to describe how they’re feeling. Then, ask them to write an explanation of why those chose each one. For a fun finish, take a picture of each student and print it out. Then have kids cut them out and paste the emojis over their faces!
Learn more: Teaching in Room 6
15. Learn new vocabulary words.
Even though it’s a picture book, First Day Jitters has some words kids may not be familiar with. Identify some vocab words (like the ones shown here) and help kids learn what they mean.
Learn more: Teacher Mom of 3
Have more First Day Jitters activities to share? Come tell us about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, more read-aloud books for the first day of school.
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- Julie Danneberg
Children's Author, Speaker, Writing Coach
First day jitters and a timed writing assignment.
- August 5, 2021
- For Teachers
Whenever I talk to students, whether in my own class or during school visits, I’m inevitably asked how my book, First Day Jitters, came into being.
The answer is simple. I owe it all to a timed writing assignment!
Over twenty years ago, my class and I were doing a 10 minute quick write on the topic of “school.” Students could write anything they wanted. It could be true or untrue, funny, or serious, a collection of memories or a made-up story. The only requirement was that they had to write until the timer went off. When they were done, they could share with the class if they wanted but they knew that it wasn’t graded, and it wasn’t going to be turned in. They knew it was just for fun. Just for practice. And if something else came out of it, all the better.
I started writing about a child being nervous on the first day of school. (Yes, I know. Very predictable. But that is the fun of timed writing. No judgement.) Near the end of the story though, I got stuck. I had written a big build up describing the child’s nerves before school but didn’t know how to end it. Nevertheless, I kept my pen moving. What would happen once the child got to school? Would he cry? Would he see a friend? Would the teacher know just what to do? I kept writing and just before the timer rang, I wrote my last line
A surprise ending that surprised me when I wrote it.
Here is the important part of this writing story. I hadn’t set out, 10 minutes earlier, to write about a teacher being nervous on the first day of school. But that is what the story ended up being. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t charted out. It truly was a surprise.
So why does this matter?
We, as writers, truly do have unlimited creativity. And most often, that creativity is accessed when we aren’t trying. How many times have you heard about people getting their genius idea in the shower, or while washing dishes, or when taking a walk? Timed writing is one way to give that creative, unexpected, unplanned thinking free rein. To just let your imagination, and your story, go where it wants, to trust that it might lead you in surprising directions. The trick is to let go of the control long enough to see what happens. And, truthfully, a lot of times nothing does happen. But sometimes, something does. Sometimes it is the germ of a story, the invention of a new character or a surprise ending that begs to be made into a book.
This kind of low stakes, creative writing is a fun way to get students, and yourself, to engage in writing practice. Which ultimately makes you a better writer in the long run! And might even surprise you in the short run!
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SICK DAY JITTERS Lesson Plan: Building School Wide Community
Experienced teachers know that building community within the classroom is one key to a successful learning experience for their students. A sense of community creates
SICK DAY JITTERS Lesson Plan: How to Handle Change
Our students want and need consistency and routine. Knowing that, we try our hardest to provide it for them in our classrooms. However, sometimes, life
Jitters Jitters Everywhere!
Just when you get your FIRST DAY JITTERS settled down after the first day of school, it’s time to work on your PICTURE DAY JITTERS!
Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources for First Day Jitters
Use First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg to strengthen your students comprehension skills, build their vocabulary, and help them understand how words work.
Explore lesson plans and activities to help you teach with First Day Jitters in the drop down below.
Making connections with first day jitters.
- RF.2.3 RF.2.4 SL.2.1b SL.2.2 SL.2.3 W.2.8 L.2.6 RL.2.2 RL.2.10
- 2.6A 2.13E 2.6E 2.13G 2.6I 2.7A 2.7B 2.7C 2.7D 2.7E 2.1A 2.7F 2.1C 2.8C 2.1D 2.13C
Making Inferences with First Day Jitters
- SL.2.2 SL.2.3 W.2.8 L.2.6 RL.2.6 RL.2.7 RL.2.10 RF.2.3 RF.2.4 SL.2.1b
- 2.6I 2.7B 2.7C 2.7D 2.7E 2.1A 2.7F 2.1C 2.8B 2.1D 2.8C 2.6A 2.13C 2.6E 2.13E 2.6F 2.13G
Making Predictions with First Day Jitters
- W.2.8 L.2.6 RL.2.1 RL.2.3 RL.2.10 RF.2.3 RF.2.4 SL.2.1b SL.2.2 SL.2.3
- 2.7A 2.7B 2.7C 2.1A 2.7D 2.1C 2.7E 2.1D 2.7F 2.6A 2.8C 2.6B 2.13C 2.6C 2.13E 2.6E 2.13G 2.6I
Retelling & Summarizing with First Day Jitters
- SL.2.3 W.2.8 RL.2.2 L.2.6 RL.2.3 RL.2.5 RL.2.7 RL.2.10 RF.2.3 RF.2.4 SL.2.1b SL.2.2
- 2.7B 2.13G 2.7C 2.7D 2.7E 2.1A 2.7F 2.1C 2.8A 2.1D 2.8C 2.6A 2.8D 2.6G 2.9C 2.6I 2.13C 2.7A 2.13E
Suffixes with First Day Jitters
This word work lesson plan and set of teaching resources use First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg as a springboard for instruction focused on suffixes.
By anchoring word study to the text, students will benefit from seeing how suffix ed is used inside of the text before engaging in both guided and independent practice with suffixes.
Vocabulary Connections with First Day Jitters
This set of vocabulary development resources for First Day Jitter highlights the words that are most important for students to know and understand while reading the book. Through engaging in fun word games, matching words to definitions and pictures, and practicing how to categorize words, students will develop the vocabulary necessary to comprehend this story and many others.
Comprehension Assessment with First Day Jitters
Running Record with First Day Jitters
Use this Running Record to assess oral reading fluency with First Day Jitter . Track meaning, structure, and visual accuracy using the first 100 words of the text to determine whether or not this book is a good fit for the readers in your classroom.
Cause and Effect Matching with First Day Jitters
Cause and Effect Sentence Stems with First Day Jitters
Writing with First Day Jitters
Making Connections with First Day Jitters (Spanish)
- Student Practice Page and Answer Key
- Reader's Notebook Prompt
- Graphic Organizer
Making Inferences with First Day Jitters (Spanish)
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First Day Jitters Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources
First Day Jitters Lesson Plans for Elementary School Teachers
This page contains First Day Jitters lesson plans, teaching resources, and a fun student project.
Student lunch box writing templates, first day jitters lesson plans.
First Day Jitters Lesson Plans: This five page banner is included for free in this set of First Day Jitters teaching resources.
Lunch Box Writing Templates Author: Julie Danneberg First Day Jitters Lesson Plans
Click on the Add to Cart button above to purchase this set of teaching resources. You will be emailed a download link for this First Day Jitters project so you can download and use it today !
Lunch Box Templates #1:
The first set of lunch box templates has standard sized writing lines . Below is an example of the first draft worksheet for the first lunch box template.
First Day Jitters Lesson Plans: First Draft Worksheet Lunch Box Template #1
Below is an example of the first lunch box template .
There are 7 colorful lunch box templates in this set of First Day Jitters teaching resources: blue, red, yellow, green, orange, pink, and purple.
Lunch Box Templates #2:
The second set of lunch box templates has double spaced writing lines . Below is an example of the first draft worksheet for the second lunch box template.
First Day Jitters Lesson Plans: First Draft Worksheet Lunch Box Template #2
Below are examples of the second lunch box templates in black and white and color. These templates have double spaced lines for lower elementary students to write on.
Lunch Box Templates #3:
The third set of lunch box templates has a writing and a drawing area . Below is an example of the first draft worksheet for the third lunch box template.
First Day Jitters Lesson Plans: First Draft Worksheet Lunch Box Template #3
Below are examples of the third lunch box templates in black and white and color. These templates have a writing area and a drawing area inside the apple. You can also use this apple section of the template to glue photographs of your students.
Lunch Box Templates #4:
The fourth set of lunch box templates has been left blank so that they can be used for a variety of different purposes .
- Read About Our First Day Jitters
- Welcome Back to School
- Our First Day Jitters Lunchboxes
- Did You Have Jitters on the First Day of School?
MATCHING APPLE TEACHING RESOURCES SET:
Apple writing templates: flip book, students write an essay or story inside apple templates that form a flip book.
The apple templates in this set of teaching resources are also used in the First Day Jitters lunch box templates.
These two sets of apple teaching resources would look great displayed together on a Back To School bulletin board.
Click on the link below to go the page where this set of apple writing templates is found:
Go To: Apple Writing Templates
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Best Back to School Ideas 🍏
First Day Jitters Emoji Writing
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The first day of school can be nerve-racking! And that’s not just for the teacher. I can say with confidence I’ve survived my first day of 5th grade and I lived to tell about it! New district, new school, new grade level, new classroom. There are so many “new things” happening in this Applicious Teacher’s life I’m surprised I have enough energy to tell about it! We’ve done a lot in our first few days, but one of my favorite (and my students’!) Was a quick and fun activity we did with the book, “First Day Jitters”.
If you’re not familiar with this book, you need to stop reading, click the picture below (affiliate link) and grab it now. This book is one of my hands down FAVORITE books to read! I’ll wait… don’t worry!
Ok, now that you’re back… Let’s talk about this book! “First Day Jitters” is about Sarah Jane Hartwell and her first day at her new school. Julie Danneberg perfectly captures the feelings all students have when faced with starting at a new school. But the surprise at the at the end is what sealed the deal for me! (I won’t give it away, but I promise you’ll love it!
First Day Jitters Question Cards
Now, by fifth grade, most students have read this text, but I still shared it on our first day! Luckily, many of the students forgot the ending so it was like reading the book for the first time! As we read, I asked some of the questions from the question cards that come in the First Day Jitters Close Reading pack .
Then, I passed out a few of the cards and we answered them together as a class. It was a perfect way to discuss the text in a meaningful, yet casual way.
From there, we headed back to our seats. We discussed how Sarah felt through out the text. Then, I passed out the responding to text and emoji sheet.
We discussed how they felt on their first day of school. Then, my students choose three emojis they felt best represented how they felt throughout the first day of school. After selecting their emojis they could write about how they felt coming back to school as a big fifth grader.
After their writing was done, they could color and cut out their emojis and glue them to the bottom of their writing. I kept this writing pretty casual as it was their first day back. If students didn’t finish, I gave them the next day to complete and publish their writings.
Can I just say, the kiddos were REALLY into this? Like seriously!!! They even wanted to take the extra emojis home to color. I was like SURE!
Here’s a few of their writings. It was fun to see how they were feeling those first few hours of school!
Displaying our Writings
I wanted to display our writings for the first few weeks, but there’s not really a lot of extra space in my “concrete-able”. So, I used paperclips to hang our emoji writing on the blinds at the front of the room.
Simple and easy in my book! I plan to keep the paper clips up throughout the year, so I can just take down and hang up work as we go! #easy
So that’s a little peek at what we did on our first few days of fifth grade! If you want to grab this fun writing activity and discussion cards for your class, you can find EVERYTHING here in my TeachersPayTeachers store .
Now this pack has WAAAAAYYYY more in it than just the emoji writing! Lesson plans, vocabulary building activities, tons of writing activities, and quick prints, this pack has everything you need to work through a close read of this amazing book! Check it out!
Now, I’m off to make dinner and finish up some school stuff that I haven’t finished yet….
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- Categories: Back to School , close reading , reading , writing
Hi, I'm Leigh.
The Applicious Teacher is all about creating hands-on and engaging lessons that align with the standards while still having time for your life. This is your place for ideas, tips, and resources for the REAL teacher!
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First Day Jitters in Upper Elementary
First Day Jitters is a great book and pairing it with Emojis and a little writing task is super! Who doesn't like Emojis?
I read this book for the first time last year and we had a class discussion. This year I will use your ideas because they connect well with our behavior management system (Zones of Regulation) and modeling/instructing the students on emotions and managing emotions.
Love this idea! I am going to try it on the first day this coming school year. How many emojis did you project on the screen for the students to choose from??
Great idea. You have so many fun activities. Thanks for sharing. Love this book and using your emoji idea.
Very fun idea, and I'm contemplating adapting it for my middle school reading classes this fall!
This is great ! Do you have an emoji list you can share?
I just did a google search for emojis in the Images section and projected the first big block I came across.
That's a great idea! Could you go over the process of taking their pictures please. I find a struggle to print then to the size needed. Thank you!
I was just given this book 2 years ago, on the last day of school by a student when I was teaching 4th - I AM Mrs. Hartwell!!! (3rdinroom18 on IG). I have the last day one too! I am so excited to use the emoji writing this year!!!
I was given this book a 2 years ago on the last day of school (with the end of year story too) and what a surprise because I AM Mrs. Hartwell!! Crazy that I never knew about the series. I can't wait to do this emoji writing this year!
Please leave a comment! I love to hear what you think about what is posted :)
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I am so glad to have you along with me for this teaching journey we are both on.
This newsletter will always be full of tried and true, classroom tested ideas that will
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