Back to school activities: A creative approach

12th September 2016 at 18:20

Subject Genius, Diane Pagan, Back to school activities: A creative approach

It’s the first week back to school...

The class meets up again after the long holiday.

Children get to reflect over their summer memories, catch up with friends, and begin to learn more about their new teacher.

They explore their learning preferences, where they excel, the challenges they face, they set new goals for the coming year.

And the new teacher starts to build a picture of each child - what a lot is going on!!

Subject Genius, Diane Pagan, Back to school activities: A creative approach

This is where we can introduce icebreaker games, ‘all about me’ activities, student surveys and teacher questionnaires.


There seems to be a ‘format’ for these activities – typical questions feature along the lines of:

Student’s name, age, birthday, family members, favourite food, book, movie, sport, weekend hobby etc

Whilst I think these questions are great, it also got me thinking about what could be missing? Or can we dig a bit deeper to find out what really makes our student’s tick and build a relationship and environment based on trust, open communication, empathy and support?


How are the children really feeling on their first day back to school?

And how do teachers feel?

A mixture of excitement and apprehension?

We are all unique and can feel happy, sad, scared, anxious and excited all at the same time.

Excited to see friends again.

Sad, or maybe glad that the summer holidays are over.

Anxious about meeting the new teacher

Scared that maths might be too challenging this year.


In this blog post, I’d like to explore why I feel including a good dose of art and creativity is a good idea during the first week back to school.

Do kids feel more comfortable or free to express themselves in a deeper way via imagery? Art is a fantastic vehicle for learning, communicating feelings and exploring outside of the box thinking.


I’m a great believer in the positive power of art on our mental wellbeing.


I’ve listed 10 Ways I think Art Can Help Us …


1. to make sense of our thoughts

2. to connect with our feelings

3. to tell our story, explore our internal world

4. to encourage play, stimulate our imagination

5. to relax, quieten our minds, aid concentration

6. to relieve stress, reduce anxiety

7. to develop self awareness

8. to build confidence and self esteem

9. to lower blood pressure

10. to express complex states of mind


Researching ‘Back to School’ activities on the web (mainly pinterest because I love it), I found such an abundance of printable pages and activities, teacher surveys and questionnaires.

Most of them involve answering questions with words.

Being a visual creative type who sees the world in pictures and colour format, this information gave me the inspiration to fill what I see, as a gap – to design some fun, imaginative back to school activities that involve illustrating our answers, exploring colour and imagery, alongside the written aspect.


Have a great start to the new term!


If you are looking for ideas, you can visit my Back To School Pinterest Board here:


I've researched and compiled a 2 page free '50 question' teacher resource.
It can be used in full in the classroom, or as a reflective homework activity with parents.
Or you may wish to select just the questions that feel right for you.

The activity includes general 'All About Me' questions such as age, birthday, favourite food etc, and also 'digs a bit deeper' with questions such as, 'how do you feel this week, what challenges you, what support do you need' along with some open ended sentences to complete, such as , 'I imagine, I aim to, I wonder....'


Subject Genius, Diane Pagan, Back to school activities: A creative approach

Subject Genius, Diane Pagan, Back to school activities: A creative approach


Here are links to my 4 new original creative Back to School activities, involving art and image making


1. Creative Artist Art Palette activities, posters and welcome garland



2. A Ball about ME, a fun football inspired all about me art activity and banner


3. All About Me Instagram style ‘Art Phone’ creative lesson


4. My Summer Memories Instagram style ‘Art Phone’ creative lesson



Diane Pagan is an artist who has 13 years’ experience teaching children about art and design to help them complete creative group projects in primary and secondary schools.