Aug 18, 2011

Teaching Thursday - First Days of School

Welcome to Teaching Thursdays! For info on how Teaching Thursdays came about, check out this post!

Many of you fabulous teachers will be meeting this year's students next week. Or maybe you met them recently. Either way, I always spent the first day or two adding in 'get to know you' activities as a class or ice breakers to do in groups. Here are two of my favorites:

1. Starburst Game -

image from here

Grab a whole bag of starbursts (or similar candy with colors) and pass out to students. Tell them they can have 1, 2, or 3 starbursts (or whatever your {personal} budget allows). After all students have their starbursts, put on the board the following:

red- share an embarassing moment
yellow- share a goal for the year
orange- tell the story behind a scar on your body
pink- share your best personal quality

Students will then share based on the starburst color they picked. And those greedy kiddos get to share more. haha! You can have students share in pairs, groups, or as a whole class. Of course you can change what you want the colors to represent, but it is a fun way to get the kids talking with each other. Be sure the students also say their name when they share their colors. I mean, don't you hate it when it is May and students still don't know each other's names???

2. Throwing Soft Balls -

image from here

Ok, so it might sound scary to have students start throwing objects around the room on the first day of class, but my students always loved this one. I actually learned this one from Mrs. Karen Kraft several years ago (who had a great new-teacher inservice when I was at her school!). And if these instructions are confusing, and you teach at Wakelnd HS, find Mrs. Renshaw and she can explain it to you!

For this activity I used soft dog toys that looked like baseballs that I found in the dollar section of Target. If you don't want to buy anything you could probably use paper wads or even balled up socks.

-Students start standing at their desk.
-First person has a ball, calls out another student's name and then throws the ball to him. (First student DOES NOT sit down).
- The second student now calls out another student's name, throws the ball to him, and takes his seat.
-Once a student takes a seat, he can't be called on again.
-Continue until only the all students have thrown to another student and the last person to catch the ball is the first person (who will then be the last student to finally sit down).
-Now have everyone stand up again and the first person starts the SAME EXACT pattern of throwing. So, each person calls to the SAME person and throws to the SAME person they threw to the first time. Go through the pattern maybe two more times. At this point, they don't have to sit down after they throw the ball; they can keep standing.
-Now the fun really begins. As the kids are throwing through the pattern, every 5 seconds or so, hand the first student another ball. I used 5 balls for this activity and kept them in rotation for a while (until I noticed them getting bored with it). It is fun to see the chaos of balls being throw across students over and over again.
-If you have time, have students complete the pattern in reverse order.

I love that the students have to say each other's names over and over (you don't want to throw the ball to someone who isn't paying attention so INSIST students call out the names before they throw. I also love that it is just a fun way to break the ice between students and do some class bonding.

As with any activity I did in class, I was sure to set expectations of behavior. I made sure students knew I expected the balls to be used properly. If a student chose to chunk the ball at someone, or misbehave, they would be excused to the hallway and would miss out on the fun. I think this type of activity is a great intro to class activities that are out of the norm, yet behavior expectations will be held high by the teacher. Teaching freshman? Perfect opportunity to use this to show how you can do fun things in class if they can handle themselves in a mature way. :)

What are your favorite get to know you activities or ice breakers?

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  1. This made me want some candy......

  2. I love love these ideas! I think I will stick it on my facebook page! How fun!

  3. I like the starbrust game, and I actually bought a bag today thinking I could do something with it on the first day, but I will have to buy a couple more. I also have a "rough" group of freshmen, not sure they are even up to handling either of these. We may be on the "ok, lets try to walk in to the room appropriately. Ok, that was an improvement, but I know you can do better" I find it sad that I may have to do this.

  4. Great ideas! Thanks for posting. During the first week of school I enjoy the "lie game" where students write 3 things about themselves on a sheet of paper but only ONE thing is TRUE (other two are good lies). I have them get into group of fours, introduce themselves and read their three things and the others in the group have to guess which one is true.


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