The beginning of the school year is such a fun and exciting time for kids. They are seeing old friends while meeting new ones. Use this time of excitement to help your students get to know each other while you are learning about them. This brings me to my number two back to school planning tip. It’s all about setting the stage with those getting to know you activities. There are a variety of ways you can incorporate getting to know you activities with your new students.
One simple and fun idea is to play “Two Truths and a Lie” with your whole class. Pass out index cards to each student or have students pick them up on the way into the classroom. Tell students to write two interesting facts that are true on the card along with one thing that is not true. You can give examples, like visiting different locations, playing sports, favorite music or bands, professions of their parents, and so on. The options are really endless for what kids can write. Then, have each student read their list to the class and have everyone vote on which they thought was untrue. It is so fun because many times the facts about each student really surprise the others in the class. Another way to modify this game is to have students turn their cards in to the teacher. The cards are shuffled and passed back out randomly. Each student will read someone else’s card. The class then tries to guess whose card it might be. Again, it’s so exciting watching the kids begin to interact and learn about each other. Best of all, this activity can be done at almost any grade level and with no materials at all.
For young grades, “All About Me” activities are tons of fun. Kids love sharing their age, favorite foods, hobbies, who they live with, their pets, and all about their life. It can become a fun beginning of the year project to make a “Spotlight on Me” Mini-book that lets kids share about themselves. Once your students are done making their minibooks, give time for students to share them either in small groups or with the whole class. Presentations like this early on in the school year not only build confidence but a real sense of community and belonging.
Middle and high school kids often don’t like to share their life stories with the whole class, so sometimes you need a different approach with them. For these grade levels, you should still give time for your kids to tell you about themselves, just in a more private way. Written questionnaires are a great way to let students share how they learn, what they are curious about in your particular class, and what they will need help in. You can even incorporate this as a homework writing assignment. Give your students class time and beyond to write a letter to you about themselves.
However you approach these activities, make sure you make time for getting to know you activities and ice breakers. It’s important to set the stage for positive connections early on so you can have a great year all around. Make sure to come back for my number 1 back to school planning tip!
Check out my all my back to school planning tips:
- #2 Back to School Planning Tip: Getting to Know You Activities
- #3 Back to School Planning Tip: Instructional Planning
- #4 Back to School Planning Tip: Getting Organized
- #5 Back to School Planning Tip: Bulletin Boards