Now that the new school year is fast approaching, it's important that teachers get to know their new students, students get to know their teacher and students get to know each other. During my 30 plus years of teaching I have used several classroom activities as a fun and non-stressful way to get the school year started on the right foot. Here are 5 of my favorite.
1. Name The Student
On the first day of school my students and I played this game. I divided students into small groups of 4-6 and since my classroom seating arrangements already had my students separated into small groups, this was easy. The first student in the first group said his name. The next student then said his name and repeated the first student's name. The third student cave his name and repeated the first two. This continued until all the students in the group had said their names. Then on to the 2nd group. Students not only said their names and the names of the students in their group but the previous group (s) students' names as well. Finally when all the groups were finished I took my turn. I was pretty good at it (from all my years of experience) and my students were impressed (that's not the point). It was a great fun way to start the new school year.
2. My Favorite
Here's another fun activity for you and your students to get to know each others names and to learn a few things about each other. Students sit in a circle on the floor. I start the game by thinking of a topic, food for example. I tell the students my favorite food and roll a ball to one of the other students. They give their name and favorite food and roll the ball to another student. This continues until all students have said their favorite food. The last student gets to select the favorite topic for the next round. The list of topics can go on and on – movies, TV shows, music groups, etc.
3. Have You Ever
For this great activity, each student has a list of the same 30 or so statements that I have made up. For example, have you ever:
a. Won a trophy.
b. Visited a foreign country.
c. Done anything that you were really proud of.
d. etc., etc., etc.
The students move around the classroom from one student to another, asking each other these questions. When they find a student who has done the activity, they jot down his name beside the statement. The goal is to get 3 names down for each statement. Teachers, be sure to include yourself in the game. After about 20 – 30 minutes stop the game and have a class discussion about what was discovered, for example which activity was the hardest to fill in, who had the most names on their list, etc.
4. Three Amazing Comments
After about three months once your students get to know each other a little better, here's a game that I absolutely love. Have the students sit in a large circle. Each student starts with a 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper with their name written at the very visibly at the top. Tell the students that they must think of 3 positive things about each person in the class. For example, good athlete, pretty smile, very helpful, good in math, very friendly, etc. Each student passes the sheet they have to the next student beside them in the circle. As each student gets a sheet, he / she must write 3 positive things (anywhere on the sheet) about the person whose name is at the top of the sheet. Students should not look at the other comments on the sheet but should try to come up with their own. At the end, for a class of 30 students there should be 90 positive comments. What a great way to build student self esteem.
5. Special Talk and Student of the Week
Every Friday afternoon for the last period of the day, my students and I sat down together in a circle at the back of the class had a fun discussion about what we might be doing this weekend, happenings in the school, shared jokes and other fun things and selected a "Special Student of the Week". The special student was selected by the previous student of the week and was chosen for any positive reasons; friendship, helpfulness, consideration of others, etc. The student received a classroom reward (a prize or treat). Each student had to be selected at least once before another student could be selected a second time.
Use these classroom team building activities and not only will you and your students get to know each other, but they are a great way to build student motivation, self esteem, and student camaraderie.