The first day of school can make children and teachers very nervous. To alleviate some of those nerves, you can have a ready made activity with self guided directions for the students to start on without your guidance. After greeting them, you can direct your students to choose a desk and begin on their ice breaker activity. Creating a sculpture out of play dough gives the children a chance to settle their nerves, get acclimated with their new environment at their own pace, and even begin to develop bonds naturally. As they create, this frees you to handle any last minute parent concerns or questions, misplaced students, attendance and a general sense of order.
After the children are all settled, you can walk around and take photos as a keepsake, you can turn it into a writing activity that they can then share with the class. Interestingly, you can quickly see personalities developing where some students might even begin synergizing and trading colors to create more colorful sculptures.
The play dough can often be purchased at a dollar store or I have seen recipes on how to make play dough, too.
Have a wonderful First Day of School!