Just a few days to go until the new term begins and I am thinking of all the fun activities we can do in the first few days back (and throughout the year) to get to know our pupils as well as building a sense of community and developing teamwork skills in the class.
This year I will be teaching Year 3 so the children will be making the important transition from Infant to Junior School. My pupils come from three feeder schools and, as such, know some people in the class but may have never met others. I want to start the year off by having fun together, getting to know my pupils and supporting them to get to know each other and using this opportunity to establish a supportive, caring classroom community.
In my school we do a ‘Bonding’ Day where the class and teacher go outside into the park and play games together for a whole day, including having a picnic lunch together. We usually do races, parachute and co-operative games in the morning, then go into the woods to build dens.
I also do lots of little activities in the classroom – here are a few of my favourites to get children talking, working together and breaking the ice.
Getting in order
In groups of 5 – 6 children have to get themselves in the order you give them – it helps if you appoint a leader or have them choose one before beginning.
Ask them to line up in order of:
- shoe size
- name (alphabetical order)
- distance from school
If they are finding it easy you can add the extra stipulation that they have to get in order in silence, using actions to communicate.
This game encourages the children to work together and learn information about each other. At the end of each round I ask one group to read out their answers – this also helps other children in the class learn names, etc. It is nice because there is competition between the groups but no one person is singled out. The shoe size round is often hilarious with younger children as they have to take their shoes off to check!
This was very popular with my class last year and is lovely but, be warned, it takes far longer than you might think and can end up in a bit of a tangle! The idea is to symbolise the connections between everyone in the class using a ball of string – each person states their name and special skill/ superpower, then tosses the ball to someone else in the circle, keeping a hold of the string. At the end you have a web of string connecting everyone in the class.
Two truths and a lie
This is an old classic, but fun for a reason. Write down three fun facts about yourself, two that are true and one that is a lie. It can be hard with younger pupils as they simply do three truths or a really obvious lie. Still, if you model it a few times, it is a really fun way of getting to know your class. You can get them to write them down and share them in pairs or around a group. It could be fun to collect them in at the end and come back to them later in the year.
I also do a classroom trail (treasure hunt style finding things around the classroom and ticking them off), a discussion of classroom rules to come up with a charter, as well as putting various questions on sugar paper (e.g. What makes you happy? What would you like to ask your teacher? etc) around the room and have the children move around discussing and writing ideas.
In the first few weeks I also like to let the children put their stamp on the classroom by creating a class book with information on each child, adding their photos, drawings and writing around the classroom.
For the More About me sheet I have the children write their name in the top-left box and decorate it with things they like and stick their photo in the top-right box. The two pages go together into a folder to create our class book.
Have you got any favourite activities for getting to know a new class?
Let me know in a comment!