From establishing new routines to figuring out your new class dynamic, there’s so much going on those first days of classes.
You might have students that are brand new to the school or groups who have been in class together before; it’s important to make sure cliques don’t form and give those newer or introverted students a chance to integrate themselves.
A great place to start is name tags and nameplates! The first step to getting to know someone is getting to know their name!
Name tags are great short-term solutions and never hurt to have on hand, especially for special days, guests or substitute teachers. There are so many adorable designs available like Pete the Cat and School Bus, or something more adult with the Industrial Chic designs.
Nameplates last longer and can decorate a student’s desk, plus they’re portable if they switch spots. Buy whichever fits your classroom’s aesthetic best, or have a variety students can pick from, like the Colour Harmony or Alphabet Nameplates. Of course, you could have each student design their own! Make it an arts and crafts activity and ask students to make a nameplate that shows who they are. They can draw and use whichever colours they like, expressing themselves on the paper. You can use regular old printer paper, but we recommend something a little more sturdy, like Manila Drawing Paper or Construction Paper.
Names are one thing, and easily sorted, but how do you really get to know your new kiddos? And how can they get to know each other? We’ve compiled a list of fun activities and games that’ll make great ice breakers for both the whole class, or in smaller groups.
The Whole Class
Pick from a variety of matching games, like Easy Words, Alphabet, What Goes Together and Upper & Lowercase, based on your kids’ ages. Give each child a card and have them find their match. The kids will ask their match a question, then recite their name and answer to the question to the rest of the class. Repeat as many times as you like!
The questions could be their age, favourite colour/food/animal, how many siblings they have, what they want to be when they grow up, or anything else you want to know about your students.
For older students, you can play Sight Words Games at different levels, which matches questions with answers on different cards. The student whose card reads, “I have the first card! Who has …?” begins. The student who has the answer to that question responds and then asks a different question. In addition to the question on the card, have the students also ask each other personal questions too. This one can be played at their desks or in smaller groups as well.
Option 1: Create a bingo card with common traits, like hair colour, types of pets, how many siblings, birthday month, etc, and the students need to find another student to match the characteristic. They write the person’s name over the trait, only using each person once per card. Whoever fills out their card first wins and tells the class who matched each characteristic.
Option 2: Create a bingo card with different students’ names. You can have the kids walk around and check off each person they meet, or read the names out loud, with each student saying something about themselves when their name is called. Whoever fills out their card or get 4 in a row wins.
Use the Quality Classrooms Bingo Card for free!
A Great Wind Blows:
This one involves a little setup. Clear a space and set up enough chairs for each child in a circle (or have them sit on the floor). The caller says, “A great wind blows for everyone who (blank).” The blank could be anything from birthday month to clothing type to what they ate that day. Anyone who qualifies get up and runs to the new spot (at least two spots over). You can make it competitive by taking away chairs like musical chairs.
Mix and Meet:
Place a bowl of M&M’s, Skittles or other colourful candies in the middle. Have each student take a handful, but don’t let them eat them yet. Each colour they grabbed coincides with a topic they have to say a fact about. For example, blue candies mean pets, red is family, yellow is hobbies, brown is movie and music, and so on. Students will take turns sharing facts coinciding with their colours until all the candies are gone.
You could play this with nonedible colours, like beads or Lego, but candy offers a direct reward for sharing and makes it more fun.
A fun cooperative game where players must build a safe path to unite the kingdom. It’s a mix of medieval fun and strategy, dashing past dragons and gathering enough pieces to complete the path.
Another cooperative game where children work together to build an ant colony. Players battle angry beetles, hidden rocks and anteaters as they build a safe home for the ants.
Getting to know your students is so important to building a good bond. It’s the first step to figuring out seating arrangements and lesson plans. Spreading out introverts and extroverts provides a balance to your room and exposes each student to various personalities, helping them develop emotionally.
Plus, if you start off the year as the fun teacher, you make your students excited to come to class, which is always a wonderful thing.