Regrow roses!!! "My neighbor has a row of roses, which he took as cuttings. I asked how he took them. He simply plunges the cuttings into the ground. But his secret of success is the humble potato! Before planting cuttings, he pushes the bottom end into a small potato, which he believes keeps the cuttings moist as they develop roots. It sounds crazy, but his row of allotment roses is proof it works." (quote from link)
when you have kids with short tempers, it helps for them to have somewhere to just settle down and think a little. :)
Great beginning of the Year activity: All About Me Theme craft. Students write facts about themselves, have them bring a special item from home to put inside the bag. Have them present to the class or a small group as a getting-to-know-you activity.