Easing the Fears and Anxieties Through Team Building During the First Days of School

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

As the back to school season starts, what types of feelings are stirred up? For me, it was always a mixture of excitement and joy over new clothes and school supplies and a knot in my stomach knowing I was headed into a new class with a new teacher. There were so many unknowns and stresses placed in that first day of school.

Activities to make the first day of school go smoothly. | Steve Spangler Science

While some kids are ready and eager to return to school, many face a plethora of fears and aren’t ready to say goodbye to the freedom of summer.

Our Steve Spangler Science First Days of School Kit not only contains activities to turn students into friends, but also engages the kids and gets them excited about learning.

If you are a teacher, you know how difficult it is to enthrall a new classroom of students who have spent long lazy days dulling their minds in the sunshine. How do you grab their minds, shake some oohs, ahhs and laughter out of them, and become the coolest teacher in the school?

The First Days of School kit is packed with several Steve Spangler experiments and science toys.

First Days of School Kit - Activities to Team Build, Ease Anxiety and Welcome Them Back to School | Steve Spangler Science

If it makes it to the dinner table, you win!

Windbag Wonders Team Building Activity
Give each student a Windbag and ask them to blow it up as fast as they can. How many breaths will it take to inflate the 8-foot-long bag? The kids will blow and blow and blow and swear that it’s impossible. It may seem that way, until you share a little secret called Bernoulli’s Principle. Inflate the bag in front of them with one breath. Now divide the students into groups of three to five and have them inflate the Windbags. Ask the students to create a free standing structure. The highest structure wins the challenge. As a chorus of laughter and chatter erupts, the students will be so engaged, they will forget all about missing mom or dad. They may even meet a new friend or two.


Team building and engaging activities for back to school and throughout the year with Wind Bags | Steve Spangler Science

Do You Trust Me? 
Before the students arrive in the classroom, set up by adding 1/2 a teaspoon of Water Gel in a styrofoam cup. Fill a pitcher of water and set it aside. When the students come into the classroom, choose a volunteer. Have the volunteer hold the cup above eye level while you fill it. Don’t let them see inside. The Water Gel is a special powder that is similar to the polymer found in baby diapers. When you pour the water in the cup, the powder will absorb it.

Do you trust me? Water Gel trick to build connections and teach the science of polymers. | Steve Spangler Science

Talk about the idea of trust and say “If you give me your trust this year, I promise to teach you things that will change your life forever!”

Now hold the cup over the student’s head and poke pencils through the cup. Have the student promise not to runaway, and warn, “you may get wet, but I really need my pencils back.”

Pull the pencils out of the cup. The water will appear to have vanished and the room will fill with shouts of “how did you DO that??”

Before you give yourself away, have the students make guesses as to what happened to the water. Get them asking questions and making predictions. Now that’s the science of leadership!

Rainbow Friendship Bead Bracelets
Give each student five or so Color Changing UV Beads and a pipe cleaner. Ask them to string the white beads and make a bracelet with the pipe cleaner around their wrist. The beads will remain white until exposed to ultra-violet light, like sunlight. The secret is a pigment in the beads that responds to UV light waves. Remove them from sunlight, and they return to their white color. You may want to “forget” to tell them that the beads have this special power and instead send them home or out to recess with the bracelets to discover on their own. Fuel their curiosity by asking the students how and why they change color.

UV Color Changing Beads - A Metaphor for a Person's True Colors. Give Students on first day of school to engage learning | Steve Spangler Science

Then use the beads for one or more of these great metaphors and life lessons –

  • B.E.A.D.S = Becoming Enthusiastic and Dedicated Students
  • The beads are a celebration of diversity – diversity is often hidden in the brightest source of light.
  • The beads are a metaphor for a person’s true colors. True colors are a person’s inner strengths, willingness to help out, a giving heart, compassion for others or being truthful. A person’s true colors may not be visible at first, but character traits may come out in life situations.

The First Days of School Kit comes complete with an Activity Guide packed with science experiments, connections to life lessons and scientific principles. The kit is aimed at making those first days of school energetic and unforgettable by using teamwork, sharing, goal setting, reasoning and creative thinking.

  • 30 Windbags
  • Approximately 250 Energy Beads (Assorted Colors)
  • 100g jar of Water Gel™
  • 50g jar of Jelly Marbles
  • 3 styrofoam cups
  • 30 pipe cleaners
  • First Days of School Activity Guide




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