The first week of school can be a daunting time. Not only are you getting a brand new group of students that you need to get to know, you are dealing with paperwork, classroom organization and management issues, AND your specials usually haven't started yet. This means that getting into a routine can be T.O.U.G.H. I have five activities that can help make that time a little bit easier.
To get a packet of printables for these activities, either we can email it to you, or you can download it from the 'Files' section of our Create-abilities Teacher Community Facebook Group. If you haven't joined the group yet, it's a great way to stay up-to-speed on everything create-abilities, including product announcements, sales, freebies, live broadcasts, giveaways, and more!
1. Guess Who?
This is a fun activity to get to know your students and create a safe space in your room. Pass out a Guess Who? card to each student. They fill out each question about themselves. Then, you collect the cards and mix them up. Begin giving clues about the student without saying their name. Their classmates have to try and guess which student you are talking about. I usually did 2-3 at a time (or a day) so it wouldn't become tedious.
2. Classmate Scavenger Hunt
This is another fun icebreaker. Each student must walk around the room and find a classmate that fits the criteria inside each box. That student then writes or signs there name inside each box. The goal is to fill up each box with a different student. It really gets everyone talking!
This activity is not only highly motivating for our students, it also makes a really great hallway display. Students create "apps" that represent them. They can draw real apps or just make some up to fit their personality.
4. I Can't Funeral
One of the phrases that teachers often hear is "I can't _____." When a child believes they can't do something, they feel defeated. They might feel stupid, inadequate, or foolish. I started each year by having an I Can't Funeral. I had my students write down their main "I Can't". Then I collected those strips and we put them in a container. We would dramatically have a moment of silence for our I Can'ts. Then we threw them away.They can no longer say they can't do something! Learning is supposed to be a productive struggle!
There was a sixth grade teacher in my building that did something similar. He actually went out and buried the can of I Can'ts with his kids. He later went back and dug them up without the kids so he could reuse the can and the spot. It was very powerful!
5. Dear Me
This one seems simple, but I've added a twist to make it more interesting. In Dear Me, Students write a letter to themselves at the beginning of the year. They write about the goals and hopes they have for their upcoming school year. They can also give themselves some advice. Then, you measure each student with a piece of yarn that is measured to be exactly how tall they are. You roll up the letter and tie it with that string.
On the last day of school, the students get to read their letters. They can also use the string to see how much they've grown! I had one student (pictured below) that grew over a foot in one year! Wowza.
Using these ideas can help make your first week run a lot smoother!