Thursday, January 25, 2018

Start of the year: Getting to Know you activities




 Every class has a few students who want to belong to the class community and fit in, but find connecting with others to be a challenge and need a bit of help. They may be shy, or just unsure of how to communicate with others, especially after the long holiday break where some have not had a lot of interaction with others outside the family. They may be gifted or different in some way and uncertain of how they will be accepted by their classmates and the new teacher. Everyone needs a sense of belonging in order to be effective in their working environment and the teacher has a big part to play in the world of the student. The classroom is a community but I believe that it is important to provide reasons for wanting to be part of that community rather than telling students what not to do. The activities outlined here are a collection of ideas for teachers to use at the beginning of the year to help everyone in the class to get to know each other. Seeing how the students react to various situations can provide useful insights for later.

SWITCH AND SHARE.
The start of the year brings anticipation and a degree of nervousness for many students moving classes, while others who have already formed strong friendship bonds are eager to share their holiday stories. Switch and Share is a game that can help to meet the needs of both and can be played either indoors or outdoors. Since it is 2018 there are 18 caller statements but you can easily add your own or change them to suit your students.
How to play:
Define the playing area. All you need is a line down the middle.
Students stand on either side of the line, facing the caller. (teacher)
Caller starts the game. Each time you switch sides then your job is to talk to the person closest to you. 
Switch to the other side if…
·        You have a pet. If you switched sides then tell the person nearest to you what pet you have and its name.
·        You went to the beach in the holidays. If you switched then share three things that you did there.
·        You went to a barbecue in the holidays. Tell the person next to you what your favourite barbecue food is.
·        You are the oldest kid in your family. Share your sister’s /brother’s names with a partner.
·        You like to sing. Sing a song to the person next to you.
·        You have ever been in hospital. Tell why.
·        You have ever been to a zoo. Share the name of your favourite animal.
·        You did jobs at home this morning before school. Share what you did.
·        You like fruit more than vegetables. Share the name of your favourite fruit. If you didn’t switch then tell the person next to you why not.
·        Your first name starts with a letter that comes after M in the alphabet. Share.
·        Your first name has more than four letters in it. Share the number.
·        You play a musical instrument. Share what it is and how long you have been playing it.
·        You love to read. What is your favourite book? Share.
·        You have an Xbox or PlayStation. Share the name of your favourite game.
·        You like to dance. Share a dance step with your neighbour.
·        You like math time. Share why.
·        You like to play sport. Talk about your favourite sport.
·        You didn’t walk to school this morning. Share how you got here.

NAME SEARCH
This activity requires a little preparation from the teacher with the help of www.puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com
Go to the website and type in a list of all the student’s first names into the word search creator to create a classroom specific name search.
Challenge your year 3 /4 students to find their own name and to share that with others in the class to complete the search. The aim is to make sure that everyone completes the puzzle and gets a chance to talk to others rather than to be the first finished. Instead of names you could use holiday activities and ask students to find an activity that they participated in during the holidays. A google search will generate a list of verbs to choose from. The task then is to find others who did the same activity to share with. If the word has not been chosen by anyone else then the student shares with the teacher.

CLASSROOM ALPHABET
A walk around the school with cameras or iPads to take photos can help you and your young students to become familiar with the surroundings and you can use the photos to create a wonderful personalised alphabet for the classroom.
This activity is an ideal opportunity to identify students who are creative thinkers. Provide opportunities for students to talk to each other about phonetic sounds and to make decisions about which pictures to use. You might be surprised at what you can learn from the side line if you listen in.

Older able students might like the challenge of creating an alphabet with a difference following the ideas from one of these fun alphabet books…
Tomorrow’s Alphabet by
George Shannon. Illustrated by Donald Crews.
ISBN :978-0-688-13504-1
This book is for those who know the alphabet well enough to want to play with it a bit. You have to think ahead!
A is for seed. Tomorrow’s apple.
B is for eggs. Tomorrow’s birds.
C is for milk. Tomorrow’s cheese etc.


Alphabet Squabble by
Isaac Drought and Jenny Cooper.
ISBN : 978-1-77543-124-4
Everyone in Alphabet Land knows that As, Es, Cs and Ps are popular letters, but what about the Xs,Ys and Zs?  Do they matter? Read about the rowdy alphabet squabble to gain recognition.



FIND 10
Another activity involving the teacher in some preparation is to take 10 close up photos of things in the room then challenge the students to work with each other to identify them. Photos are numbered. Best done as a small group activity, it ensures that all the students know where things are kept and can put them back after use without teacher having to nag. An alternative to close up photos is to use the photocopy machine to enlarge just a small area of a photo and to use that as the search picture.


TOY MINGLE FOR JUNIORS
(Thanks to Shelly Terrell for this idea). Each student is given a toy. Pair the students up. Give them one minute to play with each other before ringing the timer. Each student then finds another peer to pay with for a minute.


 FLIP IT.
This game is over and done with very quickly but is popular and a great interactive before settling down to work or getting ready for a break. Students who find it a challenge to sit still after a learning session will love this activity.
How to play:
1.   Start with everyone standing. At the signal 3.2.1 FREEZE. Everyone chooses either hands on heads or hands on bottoms to represent the heads or tails of a coin toss.

2.   Caller tosses the coin. 
3.   All those who are doing the action that mimics the coin call remain standing. The rest sit down .No changing of position after the call of FREEZE is allowed. Infringers have to sit down.
4.   Repeat until there is a winner who becomes the next caller or some other appropriate action designated by the teacher.


And finally, an activity for Valentine’s day…

 VALENTINE’S DAY.
February 14 is a special day for me and my family. It is the day that my daughter was born. Feel free to visit my Thinking Challenges website and download the Valentine’s Day riddle and leave feedback or become a follower. Not into riddles? There are other Valentine’s Day activities available to suit different class levels.








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