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A few years ago, I gave up on doing my first day procedures in the regular way. I noticed that after the first period of the day, after hearing the same information multiple times, my students were no longer listening. But procedures and rules were important for the smooth running of a classroom, so I decided to make a change: Instead of talking to my students about the policies and procedures, I turned it into an activity that would involve them. A classroom scavenger hunt was born. It was the most successful first day that I had ever had, and the students were much more engaged with my class. I’ve been doing it ever since.

Steps to creating your own scavenger hunt:

1️⃣ Decide what your policies and procedures will be. Tip: Take the time to think about anything that has not worked in prior years.

2️⃣ Link each policy and procedure to an object in your classroom. For example, the restroom policy is connected to our restroom pass. Make a 📄spreadsheet listing all the policies and objects. Then, copy the contents onto 📄slides. You will need them to make the cards for rules and procedures.

3️⃣ Use sticky notes to attach a letter or symbol to each object. Print one card for each rule or procedure and hide them around the room, or line them up somewhere. Tip: I laminated the sticky notes and cards.

4️⃣ Print a copy of the spreadsheet with space for the students to write the policies and procedures. Once they arrive on the first day, introduce yourself and have them explore the classroom.

When the scavenger hunt is complete, debrief the students about what they learned and make sure to review anything that you think they might have missed. The activity can be for a team or individuals. If I put students in teams, I usually give some kind of reward. Feel free to use my templates and let me know if you give this a try.

Evangeline Mitchell is a history teacher, curriculum writer and presenter based in Spring, Texas. She is the 2023 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year for Texas and a Retro Report Ambassador.

This article first appeared in Retro Report’s education newsletter. You can subscribe here and view past newsletters here.