Updated: Apr 10
It’s back to school time! Are you heading back to the classroom in the next few weeks? Are you feeling the new school year jitters? I always felt a mix of excitement, trepidation and downright panic! What would the year hold? Who was I about to spend the next 200(ish) school days with? Where should I start? Find some fun back to school activities here to help you get to know the students in your new class.
Learn their names
Check with their previous teacher.
Make sure you can correctly pronounce all your new students' names before you meet them. Ask about friendships.
Make name tags.
Spend the first couple of days of term making a concerted effort to learn your new students' names. Make a name tag for them. Create name tags and place them on their desks before school on the first day. The students must find their name tags and sit at that desk. Seat each student next to someone they were friendly with the previous year. This creates a greater feeling of belonging in a new class.
If you are lucky enough to have some EA time on the first day of school, have them take photos of each student. If you have no EA time, try to line up a parent beforehand to take these photos. Take a headshot and a full-body shot that you may want to use later. Create a seating chart with these photos and the students’ names to study over the next few days.
Use the student’s name
Use each student’s name at least three or four times every day.
Get to Know Their Likes and Dislikes
Get to Know Me in a Bag
Give each student a brown paper shopping bag or ask them to bring a bag from home. In the bag, your students must place five items that represent them and their interests. They bring the bag back to class on a roster basis and they share their bag with the class, talking about each of the items and why it is important to them.
Roll a Question
Use a large die or a random number generator from the web. CLICK HERE for the one I use. Create a question for each number and display the questions on the whiteboard. This can be played in small groups for extra participation, but in the first few days of the year, I like to play this with the whole class sitting in a circle. The first student rolls or generates a number and the teacher asks the question. The student answers the question and nominates the next student to have a turn.
Questions you might ask:
What is your favourite animal?
Who is your best friend? What do you like most about them?
What is the last movie you saw?
What is one word you could use to describe your mum?
How many siblings do you have?
What is your favourite subject at school?
Prepare a number of statements to present to your students, eg I would like to go to Africa, I hate reading, I have 1 or more brothers. Select two assembly points - all those who agree with the statement move to one corner and all those who disagree move to the opposite corner. After you have read a statement aloud, all the students decide whether they agree or disagree and move to the appropriate area. Allow them to have a short chat with another person in the same corner, then on a signal (maybe a clapping pattern or a bell ring) the students head back to the centre of the room. Repeat.
Now this will kill two birds with one stone. Getting to know your students also means getting to know their ability levels. This activity will highlight their writing and spelling ability, as well as help you get to know more about them and the way they think and feel.
Provide your students with a prompt for them to reply to in writing.
Some ideas may be:
Write a list of 10 things you enjoyed doing on the holidays.
Write a letter to your mum to tell her about one thing you really didn’t enjoy about the holidays.
Create a PMI chart about your holidays.
Complete an All About Me Sheet.
Would you rather come to school or stay at home? Why?
These graphic organisers, and more, are available in my Back to School Maths and Literacy Activities, Games and Assessment Pack.
Do you have a fun, back to school activity that you would like to share with us? Please scroll to the bottom of the page and tell us all about it!