20 Best Moments From Elementary School
Everyone remembers elementary school: the faded hopscotch lines on the playground blacktop, the slightly freezer-burned yet uber-comforting smell of the cafeteria, the long colorful rows of books in the library stacks, the first time the teacher wrote our name on the blackboard for speaking out of turn, and whether we got sent there or not, the unnerving presence of the Principal’s Office.
The elementary school years might very well be the best years, even if we didn’t know it then.
Each of us, no doubt, have our own unshakable, personal memories from our early school years. However, there are also so many heartwarming flashbacks and shared experiences that take us back to grade school and leave us with that intense pang of nostalgia.
Here are 20 familiar memories that we can trace back to the good old days in elementary school.
Sometimes we sat cross-legged around our teacher and called it Circle Time. Almost always we got to sit on an itchy but colorful rug decorated with bright letters, numbers, or animals while our teacher’s soothing, hypnotic voice introduced us to the most amazing characters and adventures.
“More!” we’d chant when she would finish. “Tomorrow, tomorrow,” she’d say back. Always another book tomorrow, hooray!
The School Bell
Sure, the clanging "brrring" of the school bell meant recess was over or class time was about to begin, but the same sound also meant recess was starting and school was out.
We could forgive the bell’s offenses, for it was also the sound of freedom.
Show and Tell
No one in class knew you had a hamster named Spaz, a music box with an actual, real twirling ballerina, a baseball signed by a professional ball player who was dead now, or a extra spectacular sea glass collection — until Show and Tell day, when we could bring anything we loved from home and share it with the class.
It was that day when we finally felt seen and heard, in all our individual shining glory.
They were shiny tokens of pure achievement.
They were beautiful twinkles on the top of a perfect test, gorgeous symmetrical sparkles next to our name on the spelling test chart on the wall … until that one day we missed one single spelling word (it’s spelled “conscience,” really?!!) and up popped a single gleaming blue star that ruined everything.
There was something for everyone at recess. We’d shoot out the door of our muggy classroom and dash toward friends, a game of wall ball, hopscotch, tetherball, four-square, or jump rope.
We’d run glorious touchdowns in flag football, hit the monkey bars where we’d perfect that cherry drop, or hide out in that “secret” place under the big tree where we could read all alone, find ladybugs, or pretend to be anyone or anywhere we wanted for 15 beautiful minutes.
Field trip days were amazing. There was no boring morning routine and the teacher wore blue jeans and sneakers all day.
But we still had to act right on the bus. We went to zoos, science centers, museums, and plays, and absolutely believed that we would take field trips every single day of our lives, as soon as we didn’t have school anymore.
New School Supplies
Is there anything more exhilarating than a brand new box of crayons? Or a sturdy binder filled with fresh lined, paper separated by brand-new index tabs?
When our parents let us pick out our new school supplies, anything seemed possible! We felt ready and prepared to take on the entire world.
New Teacher, New Classmates
Every school had a different system for assigning our next teachers for the new school year.
Sometimes it was written at the bottom of our report card at the end of the school year so we could spend the summer trying to put together who was going to be in our class the next year.
Other times, they posted the class lists at the front of the school just before the first day of school. And every time, it felt like a whole new start, a brand new life.
Whether we got to grow mold in our refrigerators, turn a lemon into a battery, make a periscope out of a Pringles can, or figure out a way to drop an egg from several feet without it breaking, science time was fun. We literally had no idea were were learning, but we were!
Praise be to afternoon dental appointments (and our beloved parents for occasionally scheduling them!). There was no better feeling than when the office intercom squawked into the classroom and called our name for an early dismissal.
We’d put away our books and pencils and then zip up our backpack while waving goodbye to classmates who stared in envy. At this age, there was probably no other feeling closer to godliness.
First Day of School
Every single year it was as exciting as the last. We got to see the friends we missed and show off the fact that we finally grew out last year’s bad haircut over the summer.
We got to brag about our vacation (even if it was just to Great Uncle Frank’s walnut ranch), meet our new teachers, see who was in our class, and find out who we’d get to sit by.
And year after year after year, we never learned — we always showed up for the first day of school our new “fall” corduroy pants and sweaters and were sweating to death by lunch.
Movies in Class
There was something almost dark (no pun intended) about the days the teacher showed movies in class.
All the lights out, the cool room, the sound of the projector clicking, and the way we could kind of stare around at everyone else, thinking they couldn’t really see us looking.
That’s when we really took the time to imagine the lives of other kids and when we found out how far the boys could shoot a spitball.
The day we got to wear costumes to school was one of the best days of the year. We didn’t get in trouble for being distracted by Gabriel’s big blue mohawk or Aliyah’s insanely realistic scar makeup.
And there were treats. In class. With sugar.
Some of us were even lucky enough to have a costume parade, a kid-run haunted house, or a school carnival where we could win a real-live goldfish just by bouncing a ping pong ball into cup.
Back to School Night and Open House
Our hard-working teachers would surely be thrilled to think we loved these evening school events because we got to show off our classrooms and all the hard work we put in on class projects.
However, there was something bigger than life about being on school grounds under the black night sky, unbound from the typical daytime rules.
This is our school! We’re doing whatever we want!
If we were good at following the general school rules, this amazing experience would come for us — the day our teacher looked across the classroom, made eye contact, and yes, called us by name and asked us to take the attendance sheet, or any other important piece of school paperwork, to the office.
We got to stand up, leave our classmates behind during social studies, and walk super slow by all the other classes in session, down to the front office.
And we didn’t even have to break any rules to get this extraordinary privilege. Is this what being an adult feels like? It must be.
When there was an inevitable torrential downpour at recess or lunch on a school day, it always meant 15-30 minutes of indoor classroom games instead.
From everyone’s favorite Heads Up 7 Up to Doggy Doggy Where’s Your Bone? (usually played with the classroom eraser), Balloon Volleyball, or Charades, there was always some different fun to be had on rainy days spent inside.
The Smell of Brown Paper Towels
Every elementary school must have a lifetime contract with the Brown Paper Towel Company because every elementary school bathroom smells like them.
It’s not a bad smell but not really a natural smell either. It hit immediately when we pushed open the door and came out on our hands as we ran back out to play.
Whether we bought a hot lunch or brought lunch from home packed in a cool lunchbox, school lunch in the cafeteria is something none of us will ever forget.
The jingle of the exact change for lunch in our pocket, the little cartons of milk, the divided lunch trays, the daily jello surprise, how Penny Mathers always brought homemade cookies she would trade if we had something good enough to offer, and the almost white noise effect of that many kids talking excitedly with food in their mouths at once.
How could there be so many stories inside so many books — so many we’d never be able to read them all, but we sure wanted to try.
And the year they showed us how to open those little drawers in the card catalog and use the Dewey Decimal System had to be the most magical lesson of them all.
It was a like a secret code and we were finally being let in on it.
First Day of 6th Grade
We wait years for this rite of passage to finally come. From kindergarten on, we silently pine for the day we get to be the big kids on campus. The biggest, baddest, coolest big kids who totally ruled the whole darn school.
Of course, we soon realized we didn’t really rule anything about the school just because we were 6th graders — but as long as all the kids 5th grade and under believed we did, that’s all that really mattered.