At my high school, all Art 1 courses all do the same activities during the first week, so that as students get schedules changed that week they don't go into another class confused/lost already. We don't have a good survey or intro lesson for the first day, but here is what we do the next 4-5 days.
Days 2-3: Creativity Test. Each student is given a paper with 25 circles drawn on it. The challenge is to draw as many different things using the circles as possible, aiming for things that noone else will think of. At the start of day 4, before they turn in the papers, we do a class survey of what they came up with and how many other students drew the same thing. (We get lots of lollipops, balloons, etc. but it is a good exercise to see how they think).
Days 4-5 (or more as needed): Pre-Instruction Drawings. We limit them to 10-15 minutes per drawing, since that's the most time an intro student seems to spend on a drawing. First students draw a person's head/shoulders that they make up (person from their imagination); next they draw a classmate (put them in pairs, they take turns). Depending on how many samples you want, they also draw their hand and a chair we put up on the still life table. When we get to our portrait unit in the spring semester, we pull those initial portraits out and have them write a compare/contrast paper with it and their final portrait.
We use these to help ID students who need a schedule change into the Pre-AP Art 1 course, and to ID students who need gifted extension projects, and students who need extra support.
Art 1 and Electronic Media
Pasadena HS, TX