Start of the Year Activities

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by LiveNLearn, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

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    Jun 23, 2009

    What are some things that you all do on the first days of school? I am looking for meaningful activities to get off to a good start. :thanks::thumb:
     
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  3. massacremayhem

    massacremayhem Rookie

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    How about some fun ice breaker activities (you can use google to find activities you like). Although they can be fun and sometimes silly, they can help you gauge how your students interact with eachother. You'll also get some insight into their personalities and interests.
     
  4. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

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    My favorite is lining up in order by birthdays without talking. They look at me funny at first, but soon are coming up with great ways of nonverbal communication.

    Any good icebreakers?
     
  5. massacremayhem

    massacremayhem Rookie

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    That's a fun one to do on the first day.

    There's many ice breaker games that involve beach balls (they don't go very far and don't do any damage). You can have students stand in a circle and toss the beach ball back and forth. Whenever someone catches the ball, they have to share something about themselves (i.e., interests, hobbies, pets, what they did over the summer). The game goes on for as long as you like. I have also known teachers to write questions on the beach ball, and whenever a student catches the ball, they have to answer the question under their left thumb.
     
  6. carlea

    carlea Comrade

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    I did the toilet paper ice breaker with my four classes - you tell students to take as many squares as they want but don't tell them why. When everybody has some tp, they need to tell the class one thing about themselves for each square they took. I tried having them write on the tp, but that doesn't work.
     
  7. cmw

    cmw Groupie

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    I do different name games which helps me and the students. (I have 300+ new names to learn each year). This one I tried for the 1st time last year & really liked it.
    We all stand in a circle and do the following 4 beat pattern... pat/ pat/ clap/ snap. On the pats nothing is said. On the clap the student who is up says her name. On the snap she says the name of the person to her right. We then go around saying the next student's name & the person on her right. Anyone who knows names can help.
    Then we get fancy...when I say switch they have to say their name & then the person on their other side. (So the direction switches). If I can't remember someone's name I can say switch several times around that person to drill the name into my head. To get more advanced you can have students not help each other and have them go out if they mess up.
    It is really fun and can be done throughout the week. I find that even by the 2nd week of school students don't all know each other. I only see the students once a week but will challenge them to practice and see how man more people they'll know the next week. :D
     
  8. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I like to do a lot of fun things the first day. When they come in the class, I have a letter from a past third grader on their desk for them to read.

    I also do a puzzle. I make a puzzle shape out of posterboard (I did a 3 for third grade one year and a star the next year). I put the puzzle pieces on their desk for when they come in the room. They write their name on the puzzle and then color it. After they finish we get together and put the puzzle together. I laminate it and put it up outside the classroom door afterwards. I also do the toilet paper ice breaker someone mentioned above.

    We do two art projects with food coloring. I cut squares of white construction paper, 2 for each student. For one project, they get drops of food coloring and blow them on the paper with a straw. I go around and put one drop at a time until they've had 4 colors. For the next project, they have shaving cream on a plate. I put a few drops of food coloring on the shaving cream and have them mix it up with the straw we used earlier. (Forks are also really good to use.) Then they press their paper on the shaving cream gently and then peel it off. Next we scrape the shaving cream off (rulers work well) and they have marbled paper. The kids love these two projects!
     
  9. cwp873

    cwp873 Comrade

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    Jun 23, 2009

    oooooh--I LOVE the shaving cream idea. Fun and fresh smelling!
     
  10. hawkteacher

    hawkteacher Comrade

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    First thing - I read a book! It sets the tone that reading matters in our class and really calms them down.

    Last year the first book I read was Wilma Unlimited. That then launched into an art/writing project where students wrote their goals/how they were unlimited on a gold medal that we attached with ribbon to a self portrait that they drew. It tied in nicely with the Summer Olympics.

    This year, I'm not sure which book I'm going to read first, but I know I want them to do a monster-self portrait. I'm going to give them a large photo of their face and then ask them to create a monster that will represent their interests and show who they are in some way. Then, they'll write a narrative piece about their monster.

    As far as ice breakers . . . I'm not such a huge fan. I never really liked them as a kid or as an adult, so I don't do too much with them. I do have students write down three things about themselves on an index card and the class guesses who the student is. They love it!

    We play math games practicing basic operations.

    We go through procedures and play games to learn reinforce those procedures.
     
  11. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    Jun 23, 2009

    I love this one. I do it almost every year.
     
  12. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    For the VERY first day I have them do a questionnaire so I can get all sorts of info about them. I was thinking I would take the answers and turn it into a trivia game so we could learn about eachother. I like the idea of simply writing tid bits about yourself on an index card and pulling them out of a jar to guess who.

    I also have them draw a self portrait. They don't put their name on the front because we hang them so their parents can guess their portrait... they also put some interests in the background of their picture.

    At some point they write a letter to themselves detailing what they are like right now... and then outlining some goals they hope to achieve by the end of the year. We read the letter at the end of the year.

    As for a game... I put colored stickers on the foreheads of the class and they have to organize themselves into like groups in complete silence.
     
  13. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 23, 2009

    Far~I love the puzzle idea!
     
  14. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jun 24, 2009

    What about for first grade? Anyone know any good firt day activities for first grade?
     
  15. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    I HIGHLY recommend the book "The First Six Weeks of School." It's all about establishing community in the classroom. It includes lots of games and activities.
     
  16. Ellensmom

    Ellensmom Companion

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    Last year I found this post on this site- I have my students do a writing assignment about what they did this summer. The only rule is that it CAN'T BE TRUE. They enjoyed it, and I got an idea where their writing skills are. I also play 20 questions with them: they can ask me a question about myself, they can ask about something in the room, or they can choose to answer a question about themselves. Usually they ask about me or the room first, but after they see it is ok to share about ourselves , they usually choose to answer a question.
     
  17. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

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    I love the writing assignment idea. It could be fun with a three truths and a lie sort of format.
     
  18. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    For K and 2nd grade I would read First Day Jitters; I also do a puzzle piece for each student. They decorate and then we have to put it together, which is a great springboard for discussing teamwork.

    For 2nd, I have them go on a friend scavenger hunt (find someone who lost a tooth this summer, find someone who wasn't in your class last year...), and a desk scavenger hunt (Chapter 7 in your SS book is where we will learn..., an interesting thing in my Science book is...).

    We usually learn about the different things in our classroom (job chart, classroom library, where to turn in work, etc.), then on the second day we do a scavenger hunt w/ sticky notes to see what they remember about the areas in our room.

    Some years I give them a 2nd Grade Survival Kit (baggie w/ many small items and a key explaining each one: an eraser b/c everyone makes mistakes, a googly-eye to remind them that we all will keep an eye out for each other this year, etc.).

    I also read the them some picture books that go w/ the classroom theme, and we do our first writing activity together using one of these books as a starting point.

    Just getting their materials unpacked and organized takes time, too. Hope this helps!
     
  19. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I love the puzzles because it gives me something I can keep to remember the class!
     
  20. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Consider these 2 ideas STOLEN (if I remember..lol).

    One of my problems is my students all know each other. We have one class per grade and they follow each other up to the next grade. They often spend weekends and summertime playing at each other's house. I want stuff to build a rapport with them but not necessarily stuff to help them get to know each other.

    I can see myself changing the scavenger hunt to get to know the classroom, etc. The gift is just cute. I'm gonna have to look for other things too for community building and to build a rapport. I, do however, plan to start digging into the curriculum pretty fast but a few activities throughout the first week would be nice.
     
  21. Teachling

    Teachling Groupie

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    I did the 'brown paper bag - a favorite thing'. I give them a brown paper bag & they bring in something that is there favorite. They talked about without naming what it is & everyone else has to guess what it is.
     
  22. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Do any of you who do the puzzle have a template?
     
  23. teacherSMK

    teacherSMK Habitué

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    I was just about to ask the same thing. I am a K teacher, and I would like to do the puzzle with my class, but am a visual person and would love to see pics/templates of how other teachers have done this. I think my kids would love this activity on day one. Would it be silly to just cut out a big circle, and turn that into a puzzle? Or is it better to go with something more creative?
    :confused:
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I did a number 2 for 2nd grade when we did the puzzle thing last year. Then when the kids decorated it, explained it and put it together, it went up on the outside BB as the beginning of the year welcome BB just in time for Parent Night.
     
  25. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I like to use Mrs. Nelson is Missing to discuss class rules.
    I also do a paper wad fight where the kids write 3 clues about themselves on a piece of paper. We wad them up, throw them, everyone grabs a paper wad 2-3 read theirs aloud and try to guess who it is. Then we wad them up and play several rounds.

    The paper airplane is a favorite-everyone makes a paper airplane and puts his/her name on it. We stand in a circle and fly the planes. Once they land everyone takes a plane and writes a compliment to the owner. We do several rounds of this and then the kids get to take their planes home.

    Bio poems are great. PM me for the format, if you're interested.

    Goals- use t-shirts on a clothes line, leaves on a tree, whatever you like and have the kids write 3 goals for the year. Keep these all year and return them on the last day of school.

    Make a class quilt-give each child a square and they decorate it to represent themselves.

    Back To School ABC book for a younger class.

    A fun writing prompt so you can assess writing skills.
     
  26. Petite_Teacher

    Petite_Teacher Companion

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    A neat icebreaker activity would be for each student to write down 4 facts about themselves on an index card. One fact has to be false. Each day the teacher pulls an index card and the rest of the students have to guess which fact is false. It's a great way for students to get to know each other during the first week of school.
     
  27. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    That is actually exactly what I do! I don't have a template-I just trace a shape on posterboard and then draw puzzle pieces for however many students I have. You can make the puzzle easier or harder depending on how you cut the puzzle pieces. I usually do a few extra pieces because we sometimes have kids show up on the first day. I don't have pictures right now, but I could probably take some the next time I go to my school. (I thought I had some, but I can't find them.) But I made my own so that it could be different each year. I did a big 3 my first year, a star last year, and I don't know yet what I will do for this next year.
     
  28. teacherSMK

    teacherSMK Habitué

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    I think I am going to make a big lily pad. I bought some frogs and my main bboard in the hall is going to say "Look who's hopping into Mrs. -----'s Classroom. I will put the lily pad puzzle under the frogs after the kids have each decorated a piece. Does this sound cheesy?
     
  29. teacherSMK

    teacherSMK Habitué

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    Or, should I just make smaller lily pads for each student, and then put each individual student's lily pad under their frog? I am so indecisive. Glad I still have a couple of months to decide.
     
  30. lteach2

    lteach2 Cohort

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    No, it doesn't sound cheesy. I made a giant lily pad a few years ago for my reading area that says "Reading Pond."
     
  31. GD2BQN

    GD2BQN Comrade

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    Big Puzzle

    I, too, do the large puzzle and use it as a bulletin board throughout the year.

    A word from the "wise" (from experience)~number your puzzle pieces on the back and also label "top left, bottom left, top right, bottom right" so that you know where they go. Also, tell students the direction to place their puzzle on their desks that way it's the right side up. The first time we created puzzles I let them color their puzzle in any direction. Well, when we placed these puzzles on a board some of the pieces had been colored upside down and it was difficult to see the image.

    My bb title was "We go together like......."
     
  32. teacherSMK

    teacherSMK Habitué

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    very good advice,GD2BQN ! I have been doodling out ideas today for the puzzle, and I think I am going with a circle or a lily pad. I don't really like any of my other doodles. That may just be because I am not a great artist. :) I may finagle my husband into drawing the big lily pad for me. :lol:
     
  33. EiffelTower

    EiffelTower Comrade

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    I give each student an index card. They write down 2 general things (ex. I was born in Arizona. I have two brothers.) and then 1 specific thing (ex. I was born on August 4). I collect all of the index cards and throughout the first couple days of school I will share them with the class. I will ask the entire class to stand up and then select a card. I read the first statement and everyone that agrees with it (ex. I was born in Arizona) remains standing. Then I read the next statement (ex. I have two brothers) and everyone remains standing that agrees with it. Then I read the specific statement (ex. I was born on August 4) and only one student should be left standing at this point. They introduce themselves to the class by saying their name, one thing they did over their summer vacation, and a goal they have for 3rd grade. I really like doing this activity because it gets the kids up and moving and it allows them to learn a little bit more about their classmates and the things that they have in common.
     
  34. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I labeled which side was the back-but not which side was up. I kind of like how they're not all facing the same direction! Do you have pictures of your puzzles? It would be neat to see how different they are from the ones I have done.
     
  35. Ellensmom

    Ellensmom Companion

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    I am too particular (ok call me anal retentative) :blush:;)to just let them go any which way. I would HAVE to have them correctly making the picture. That's great that you can handle it- I can't. It's interesting how people's personalities come out with these activities.
     
  36. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I love this idea from the standpoint of setting the tone. Any recommendations for intermediate kids?

    Last year I made a get-to-know you bingo. The kids liked it, I'll be doing that again this year.
     
  37. GD2BQN

    GD2BQN Comrade

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    Reading the puzzles that were sideways or upside down made it really difficult to read. But you're right, you want them to be unique.
     
  38. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I just had them put their name and then color it. So it didn't really matter to me if they were opposite directions.
     
  39. noreenk

    noreenk Cohort

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    TeacherChele, I love your ideas! I was hoping for something new this year... normally I have them start off the day by filling out a Guess Who? page with information about themselves. Every day for the first two weeks we choose two pages and give clues until someone guesses whose Guess Who? page it is.

    I also have them make an illustrated nametag for their desk; I show them a model of my name with pictures that represent me. For example, the letter "O" could be a basketball or "I" could be a paintbrush. On the back for homework, they write "The Story of My Name" (How they got their name, what it means) and present it to the class the next day.
     
  40. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    I do the scavenger hunt for student names.

    Have also done the line up by birthdays (it is a hoot!)

    Also, I always have my kids discuss & justify the rules & procedures (we act them out too). We do a lot with HOTS skils, so I like to start off day one with having them justify why we do things.

    I did the made up summer paper last year. Boy, it was awful! Most of them did not want to make up anything. It was just my group of kids though. It was like pulling teeth to get them to write creatively (at least at first).
     
  41. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Explain the HOTS skills.
     

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