First Day Jitters Book Summary and Activities

First Day Jitters Book Summary and Activities
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About the Book


First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is a funny book about a teacher who just does not want to go in for her first day of school. As the book begins though, the reader is lead to believe that it is a young child who is lamenting that first day. It is not until the end that we see that it is Mrs. Hartwell who had a hard time getting out of bed to face her new class. She worries she won’t know anyone, thinks it will be too hard, and complains that her head hurts….all things many of your students may have experienced just that very same morning!

It is the perfect way to show your students that even adults get a little nervous when trying something new. When students begin to see that they are not the only ones feeling this way, settling into a new school year may seem less overwhelming. Being ready with these first day of school activities will help calm your student’s nerves, and maybe yours as well!


As you gather your class on the first day of school, show them the cover of the book First Day Jitters. As they look at the cover, ask them to make predictions on what the book is about. Make a list of these predictions on the board or on chart paper. Then, read the opening page and see if their predictions change.

Once you finish the book, discuss these predictions. You will probably find that most were assuming that the book was about a child with the “First Day Jitters”. In reality, it was a teacher who was nervous about facing her class for the first time. Take the opportunity to talk with the class about your apprehensions as the first day of school approaches. Explain that you too get nervous as you have a new class to prepare for and that you too are anxious to meet new people. Invite students to share their feelings about the first day of school and how they may have tried to overcome their fears.

Ice Breakers

One thing you can do the previous school year to help alleviate some of the first day jitters, is to have your class write letters to the incoming students. When your new class comes in on the first day, they can have a letter from a former student that talks about all of


the fun things they did in the classroom last year.

These tips for the first day of school can help put your students at ease:

  1. Name tags: Name tags aren’t just for wearing. Putting name tags at student’s seats can also help their neighbors learn the names of their new classmates. If you have a job chart, call up students as you explain the jobs posted. If you have students paired up for jobs, call them up together, introduce them, and then explain their job for the week. Also, the faster you learn names, the faster the students will pick up on it.
  2. Write a letter. For morning work on the first day of school, provide writing paper and ask students to write you a letter. Encourage them to write about their concerns about the school year, as well as what they are excited about. This will give you an idea of where your students are coming from, and will also be a nice base writing sample.
  3. Be thorough. As you progress through your first day, take the time to explain the little things. Where the bathrooms are and what the protocol is if a student needs to use the restroom? How do the students do lunch count, what is the daily schedule? The more you break things down into little steps, the easier it will be for the students to grasp. If you see that you are losing them, take a break and check out the playground or take a quick tour of the building. You want to be thorough, without overwhelming them.
  4. Get to know you game: Print out a list of descriptive phrases. Then, the students have a specified amount of time to go around the room and fill in names next to as many of the phrases as possible. This gets them talking to everyone and puts names to faces. Some samples to use are:
  • I have flown on a plane.
  • I have blue (or any color) eyes.
  • I have a dog (or any pet).
  • I play soccer (or any sport).
  • I wear glasses.
  • I have braces.
  • I have a brother (or sister).
  • I like roller coasters.
  • My favorite color is ……..
  • I am wearing tennis shoes.
  • I rode the bus to school.
  • I packed my lunch today.
  • I like peanut butter and jelly.

Depending on the size of your school, students may be unfamiliar with many of their new classmates. Helping students learn the names of their classmates can go a long way in helping to make them more at ease in their new surroundings. Make them comfortable and at ease, and your new school year will get off to a positive start.


  • Teaching experience.

This post is part of the series: Books by Julie Danneberg

These articles help bring to life the wonderful stories told by Julie Danneberg. Her stories revolve around life in the classroom, and give a true-to-life picture of school days.

  1. Literature in the Classroom: Julie Danneberg
  2. A Book Summary with Ideas for the First Day Jitters