Who’s already prepping for their back to school week? One of my very favorite things about the first few weeks of school is getting to know the students….and students getting to know one another. I just love it! They are so eager and excited about their new classroom, teacher, and friends! Today, I wanted to share some fun and interactive back to school activities and games from a few years ago, as well as team building activities to use during those first few weeks of school.
Grab some coffee (or your favorite beverage) and let’s start planning your first few weeks.
Let’s start with ice breaker activities. Here’s a look at 5 different ones that you can use all during the first back to school week, or you can spread them out over the first few weeks or so. Totally up to you!
Students work in pairs to flip a coin and answer question cards to get to know one another. For example if a student flips over the card “dog or cat”. They might respond by telling their partner, “I like dogs because they can do silly tricks.”
Next up is The Colors of Me. I love this one! This is completed as a whole group. Students pass the bowl of Skittles (or any colored candy) around the circle. One student at a time will take a Skittle from the bowl, and complete the sentence stem that corresponds with the color of their Skittle. Afterwards, they can complete the follow up rainbow craftivity – they are adorable hanging in the hallway!
Students fill out their individual Guess Who card. After each student has completed their card, the teacher mixes all the cards together in a bowl and students reach in the bowl and choose a card. If they get their own, they place it back in the bowl and choose again. Once all students have a card, students walk around the room and try to find who the card belongs to based on the clues that are written on the card.
Students split into 2 groups – this could be girls vs. boys or however you choose to split them. The teacher reads aloud one of the questions from the question cards and if students answer “yes”, then they jump over the line.
We did this activity every year. Students mix and mingle around the room to find a friend that can sign a square on their scavenger hunt.
Team building is SO, SO, SO important to establish during those first weeks. I always like to take several weeks to discuss how to treat each other, what makes a good team, and what we are going to do to make sure that everyone is being a team player! Here are 3 team building activities that are engaging and meaningful for your students.
After reading the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today by Carol McCloud, I like to discuss ways that we can be a bucket filler within our classroom. One way to have your students practice using encouraging and helpful words, is to play Bucket Filler. I had my daughter and nephew play this game a few years ago and they had so much fun!
To play, students get into teams (4 or 5 teams). They line up behind the bowl of pompoms. The first student in line places their pom pom in the launcher (plastic cup with balloon), and try to launch the pom pom into the bucket. The students behind the student launching the pom pom encourage them by using kind, helpful words while they are trying to launch the pompom into the bucket. If they get the pom pom in the bucket, their team gets a point and the next student in their line goes. If they miss, they place their pompom back into the bowl and the next student in their line goes. Whichever team gets all of their pompoms into the bucket first, wins (if you choose to have a winning team).
Afterwards, students complete this bucket filler craftivity and write about how they can be a bucket filler.
Students can also play Fill and Scoot by writing a kind word about their friend inside their friend’s bucket. Students each have a bucket page sitting on their table with their name on it. Students write a kind word and SCOOT to the next student’s bucket when the teacher calls “Scoot”. This continues until all students have been to everyone’s bucket. You can download this freebie here.
Students, as a whole group, form a circle (facing out) with their eyes closed. One student starts by saying the number 1, the next student calls out the number 2, and so forth. The goal is for the class to count as high as they can without anyone being skipped. In order for students to know when it is their turn, they have to listen closely! This is SO much fun! You could of course do this with something other than counting – the objective is to practice listening. Afterwards, students can complete this craftivity and write about how they can be a good listener in class. This is a great activity to do after creating an anchor chart of the characteristics of a good listener!
Students work in table groups to draw as many shapes as they can by holding ONLY the string that is attached to their table’s marker. You can also set a timer and challenge them to draw a certain amount of shapes within that time. This is a blast! The goal is for all the students in the table group to work together to create the shapes.
Next up is a fun goal setting activity with Trashketball! Students line up in front of a trash can, state their learning goal and one thing they plan to do to help reach that goal, and then throw the ball (or crumbled paper) into the basket. Seriously, so much fun!
Let’s take a look at some character building activities.
Each year, I made a Social Contract in my class. We talked about things like: how we want our classroom to feel, how we want everyone to treat each other, what everyone needs to do to help in our classroom, how we want our classroom to run, etc. We tied this in to being a TEAM and how a team treats each other. Afterwards, we always created an anchor chart to display in our room. Every student, plus me, signed that chart…promising that we will do our very best to hold each other accountable for the things listed on the chart. Any visitors that come into our room also sign it.
As a follow up to discussing being a team, students can complete this team pennant and write about being a team player. These can be displayed around the chart and stay up all year long! Any time someone is not being a team player, refer to the Team Player Social Contract.
Another fun thing to do while discussing being a team, is to make these yummy team medals!