Lesson Plans and Activities

We invite you to explore our sample lesson plans, provided by FYE instructors who have successfully used them in their classrooms. International section instructors will find separate sample Week-by-Week curriculum. We always welcome additional resources, so please send us any lessons that you've created and want to share with our larger FYE community. Questions, comments, and lesson submissions can be sent to sarah.scheidel@uconn.edu  

Icebreakers and Community Building Ideas

  • This page includes many links to help generate ideas and inspiration for activities to use in a distance learning, hybrid, or face-to-face FYE course
  • It also includes some helpful websites to increase interactions and engagement

Highlighted Lesson Plans/Activities:

UConn 101

“First-year students can be taught the strategies and skills they need to fulfill their educational goals. Institutions must promote first-year student success by teaching them what and how to learn, providing them with opportunities to grow and develop, and teaching them the skills necessary to become responsible citizens.”(Nash et al., 2005). From rubbing Jonathan's nose to building teams and showcasing campus resources and offices, we have the opportunity to show incoming FYE students what it means to be a Husky!

Campus Tree Walk

Destination - UConn project

FYE Scavenger Hunt

Map out Campus

Researching Your University

Student Admin BINGO

UCONN Project Assignment Sheet - with UConn Project Rubric Visual Aid and UConn Project Rubric Oral Presentation

Week 1 Basic Intake Card

Academic Enrichment

...students think they know more about accessing information and conducting library research than they are able to demonstrate when put to the test.” (Maughan, 2001) We can’t make the assumption that students are able to navigate the UConn Libraries and other resources on their own. Let’s lend a helping hand to our students to enrich their academic experience with all of the available resources UConn has to offer.

Information Literacy Scavenger Hunt

Student Enrichment Panel

Campus Involvement

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) data have shown the more that students are involved on campus, the more likely they will stay enrolled at the institution and earn better grades (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinizie, & Gonyea, 2008). An involved student is “one who devotes considerable energy to academics, spends much time on campus, participates actively in student organizations and activities, and interacts often with faculty” (Astin, 1984, p. 292).

FYE Challenge Group assignment

Getting Out There: Friendships & Bucket List

Involvement Fair - Getting Involved assignment

Involvement Fair assignment w/Part II Interviews

Involvement Fair Scavenger Hunt

Research Connections Scavenger Hunt

Voting 101 Power Point (created by Andrea McDermott)

Critical and Creative Thinking

The objective of this component is to help student recognize the ways in which critical and creative thinking, often considered to be daunting elements of academic inquiry, are actually vital life skills. You are encouraged to incorporate critical and creative thinking throughout your course, encouraging students to look at their college experience and the world from many angles, utilizing the best resources at their disposal. Ideally, this practice should be introduced early and assessed through an assignment you choose.

Defining Critical & Creative Thinking

Everyday Critical and Creative Thinking

Expect the Unexpected Writing Prompt with Expect the Unexpected

Critical Thinking Activity with Lunch (pre-Critical Reflection activity)

Narratives through Diverse Perspectives

Understanding White Privilege & Social Identities lesson plan, with Forced Choices ActivitySocial Identities Wheel Activity, and Social Identities Wheel Discussion Questions

Weekly Reflections

Critical Thinking, the News, and Social Media

Cultural Competency

How do you define diversity? How do your students define diversity? As your students become members of our University, these types of discussions become important to their experience in our community. It is important that our students join us in promoting and nurturing different perspectives that are enabled through differences in culture, experience, and values. This is a core value of FYP&LC as well as the University of Connecticut as a whole, which is why you are strongly encouraged to incorporate additional cultural competency lessons into your course beyond the required Critical Reflection Assignment.

100 Person World

Biographical Item

Move Into the Circle

On the Bus, Off the Bus

Understanding White Privilege & Social Identities lesson plan, with Forced Choices ActivitySocial Identities Wheel Activity, and Social Identities Wheel Discussion Questions

Financial Literacy

“Students suffer from a lack of financial literacy that leaves them unable to navigate the complex maze of financial aid applications and loan options, further adding to their money troubles even after they leave school.” Fiscal literacy isn’t just how to pay off student loans when students are out of college. Managing their finances throughout college is just as important and many student need help navigating that path, which will establish a successful financial management foundation for post-graduation.

The Cost of Missing Class

Expert-Led Presentation from Office of Student Financial Aid

Goal Setting, Motivation, and Character

Health, Wellness, and Safety

Being a healthy college student is no longer only focused on not gaining the dreaded Freshman-15. Student’s health, wellness and safety focuses on all aspects of the student: from physical to emotional to even mental health.

Catching All the Balls

One Week Wellness Log

Stress Management Lesson Plan with Stress Management PPT

How to Make Stress Your Friend video with related lesson plan ideas on stress


International Lesson Plans

American Partner Interview (can be used as research for Marketing Proposal presentations or by itself)
US Election Presentations for International Classes - US Elections Group Presentations and Grading Rubric - US Elections Group Presentation

International Instructor Resources

NEW! - Tips for Chinese Name Pronunciation video from UConn ISSS
Ammigan, R. & Jones, E. (2018). Improving the student experience: Learning from a comparative study of international student satisfaction. Journal of Studies in International Education, 22 (4), 283-301.
Andrade (2006). A First-Year Seminar for International Students. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 18 (1), 85-103.
Andrade, M. S. (2005). International students and the first year of collegeJournal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 17 (1), 101-129.
Chapdelaine, R. F., & Alexitch, L. R. (2004). Social skills difficulty: Model of culture shock for international graduate students. Journal of College Student Development, 45(2), 167-184.
Gao, Helen (2017). Chinese, Studying in America, and Struggling. New York Times.
Han, X, et al. (2016). Report of a Mental Health Survey Among Chinese International Students at Yale University. Journal of American College Health, 61 (1), 1-8.
Leask, B. (2009). Using formal and informal curricula to improve interactions between home and international students. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13 (2), 205-221.
Li, L & Wegerif, R. (2014). What does it mean to teach thinking in China? Challenging and developing notions of "Confucian education." Thinking Skills and Creativity, 11, 22-32.
Smith, Elizabeth Washam (2015). "Undergraduate International Student Persistence at a Large, Public US Institution. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee. http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/3365
Wu, H.P., Garza E., and Guzman, N. (2015). International Student's Challenge and Adjustment to College.
Yan, Z. and Sendall, P. (2016).  First Year Experience: How we can better assist first-year international students in higher education? Journal of International Students, 6 (1), 35-51.

Majors and Career Planning

Students usually have a long list of beliefs about majors and many of them are wrong. Deciding on a major and planning for a future career can be very stressful for students who feel as if they have to go at it alone and are unsure of how to work with their advisor. More than half of our students will most likely change their major, so we should give them the tools they need to make that decision.

Elevator Pitch Lesson Plan

Webinar - The Story of Your Life at UConn - Understanding Your Academic Transcript

Assignment - Advising Preparation

Assignment - Personalized Students Development Research

Assignment: Resume Assignment Part 2 - Your First Post-Graduate Resume

Toll Booth Worker

Values Card Sort

Your Passion Your Life


As students transition into the University setting and begin their college experience, many of them struggle with self-awareness because it is not something they have had to deal with in the past. Self-awareness has been shown to have a huge impact on students learning processes and outcomes. Learning about one’s own personal needs, strengths and weakness is just the start to becoming self-aware. (Steiner, 2014)

True Colors curriculum - Complete True Colors Facilitation Guide 09History_of_True_ColorsTrue Colors Activity, and True Colors packet

Understanding White Privilege & Social Identities lesson plan, with Forced Choices ActivitySocial Identities Wheel Activity, and Social Identities Wheel Discussion Questions

Daily Writing

Soundtrack of My Life

Values Clarification Carousel activity

W-Curve PPTW-Curve Project and Rubric by Molly Woods

W Curve Activity

Study Skills

Strategic Learning is more than textbook reading strategies. Many high school scholars enter their college career as “passive learners who possess rote-level strategies for learning” that may have worked in high school, but make learning and studying much more difficult at the college level." (Simpson, 2000)

Bringing Your Strongest Effort to Exams

Reading Speed Activity, with Reading Speed Packet and Reading Rate Handout (from Jamison Judd)

What Type of Learner Are You assessment

The Five-Day Study Plan