To start with I am going to write about puzzle pieces. I really like this activity for a number of reasons:
1. You get to see each student's handwriting
2. You get to see their likes/dislikes and interests
3. You get to see their creativity and personality
I like to do this activity on the transition day if possible. By doing it the year before I can have all the pieces up ready for the first day of school. I like to have these laminated and up on a pin-up board with Velcro so that they last the distance. Here's mine that I use as an example:
I have tried two different sets of puzzle pieces but I really like the set by Megan McMahon on TPT. The pieces are a little more varied in shapes and not so "boxy". There are also 28 pieces so for the average junior primary Australian classroom there are enough pieces for each student along with a few spares as students leave and enroll. Just a note about this product: when I purchased mine there was one piece though that has the arrow up the wrong way - so check before you hand them out to the students!
A great activity which gives insight into the students you'll be teaching.