It's In the Bag: First Week of School Activities

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SWBAT write about real experiences, interests, and events that reflect who they are using effective technique and descriptive details.

Big Idea

Students will see how writing can be used to express ones thoughts, interests, and share meaningful ideas with others.

Overview of Lesson

This lesson is a lesson I use at the beginning of the school year to give students an opportunity to share information about themselves to me and their classmates. I use this as an icebreaker activity and a way to introduce procedures and norms that I would like for students to use through out the school year.


10 minutes

To begin the lesson, I brought a bag of items to school to share with students. These items are special to me and I share them with students to give them a sense of who I am and what I like. I gathered students in front of me on the carpet so that we are sitting close. I want to create an atmosphere of community and closeness that I hope will carry on through out the school year. I begin by sharing each item with students. I pull one item out at a time and tell students what each item is. Don't tell them about the item just yet, I'll save this for later in the lesson. I allow students to take a look at the items and predict why they think the item is special to me. Again, I don't share this with them yet.


15 minutes

 I began this part of the lesson by taking out one object at a time and explaining to students why the object reflected me or why I included it in my bag. The purpose of this part of the lesson is to allow students to share, but to establish acceptable speaking and writing norms and expectations in the class. Later, students will create "All About Me Posters" to share with their classmates. To show students how I wanted them to share I modeled for them using the items in my bag. I took one item and modeled for students how to create a short written caption about the item. For example I took a small black change pouch out of my bag and began to tell about the pouch. Here's how I shared the item. This is my grandmother's change pouch. When I was a little girl growing up in Baltimore, I would ride the bus with my Grandmother down to Broadway. We would get hot potato wedges that melted in your mouth. My grandmother would pay for the wedges using the shiny coins she kept in her change pouch. This pouch is special to me because it reminds me of the summers I spent with my grandmother.  I continued modeling by writing about a few more items for students and posted these on the board for students to reference. 

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Next, I asked each student to choose one item from their bag and to think about what they would like to say about that item. Then, giving students a note card, I asked them to write their ideas for the item on the note card. Students were then asked to share what they wrote about the item they chose with the class. I asked students questions to get them to dig a little deeper and give a little more information on their note card, referring back to my note card as an example.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

After students have each had an opportunity to share, have students choose 2 to 3 items in their bag to write a caption for. While students are writing their captions on note cards, I circulate the room to see what students are writing, offer guidance,  and suggestions. Students are told to take their captions home to use to create an "All About Me" poster. Students' homework assignment is to complete the captions for the rest of the items in their bag and any other items they would like to include. 


5 minutes

I explain to students that they will complete the captions for the rest of their items at home. I give students an assignment to complete their captions and use their creativity to create an "All About Me" poster. I tell students to make sure their poster is reflective of their personality and includes items that are special and tell something interesting and unique about them. I also give students their requirements and a rubric of how the poster will be graded. I also tell students that I will be looking at how well, they present their poster. I tell them that I am looking for them to interact with the class during their presentation, making it really engaging.