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Looking for low to no-prep activities to get to know your students and build community at the beginning of the year? This Back to School Pack contains 10 "Getting to Know You" and community building activities – enough to spread out over the first two weeks of school! In addition to answering questions about themselves and learning more about each other, you can use these activities to gain initial writing samples and keep for student portfolios. It also provides meaningful activities for students to complete independently while you work on beginning of the year assessments. All of the activities were designed with simple graphics to help save your ink and allow student work to shine through!
About this resource teachers have said:
"Fantastic product. So many thoughtful and engaging activities. I cannot wait to use this again in August. Thank you!"
"Provided entertainment for the class for the first two weeks of school and I still have material left over! The kids loved it. Especially the snowball game! We actually played it twice they had so much fun."
"A great variety of creative activities! The best part is that this unit uses several great books, many of which are not the "usual suspects" you see in a back-to-school resource. Broaden your students' literary horizons by using the suggestions in this packet!"
Seven pages of notes and directions for use.
Getting to Know You Activities:
1. Friend Detective. This activity has three parts. During the first one, students use their “detective” skills to interview someone they don’t know. Next, they use the information from their interview to complete a Venn diagram that shows how the new friends are alike and different. Last, each student introduces the other to the class using information from either the interview or the diagram.
2. Time Capsule. I use this to learn more about students and as their first writing sample. It can be sent home for homework the first week or completed in class. The perfect activity to keep students busy with meaningful work while you catch up on beginning of the year assessments.
3. Meet and Greet. Great for breaking the ice and getting kids up and moving. Students walk the room asking each other questions until they find someone who fits the description in each box.
4. Snowballs. Have a timid group? This is sure to change that! Students write a fact about themselves before crumpling their papers and throwing them across the room. They run to find a “snowball” near them and read what is written on the page. This repeats until they’ve written ten separate facts on ten different pages. Be warned - it’s a surefire way to warm up a quiet class!
5. Taking a Trip. Students make a plan for their “journey” this year by setting goals in eight areas. Completed booklets are kept in portfolios, brought out during mid-year conferences, and returned at the end of the year.
These 5 activities accompany popular read alouds you may already have in your classroom:
1. "Ish," by Peter Reynolds. Students draw “ish” self-portraits celebrating areas they haven’t yet mastered but want to one day.
2. "Have you Filled a Bucket Today?" by Carol McCloud. Students identify positive behaviors that would make them "bucket fillers" and negative behaviors that would make others think they were "bucket dippers." They create a picture and pledge to be bucket fillers throughout the year.
3. "Those Shoes" by Maribeth Boelts. As a class, discuss ways in which having a friend is better than having anything else. Students identify what they want most (game, shoes, etc.) and then write how having a friend would be even better than receiving that object.
4. "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!" by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky. Students draw a picture of their ideal imaginary school and write why it is ideal, what it contains, and create a teacher that is its “star.”
5. "The Incredible Book Eating Boy" by Oliver Jeffers. Students identify what they love so much they would eat it if possible. They create an image of themselves eating parts of what they love and write several paragraphs explaining their drawings.
I’ve also included 16 sets of Partnering Cards to provide you with a very simple way to pair or group your students. They are perfect for days when your technology isn’t working - or if you don’t have technology at all!
If you are looking for more simple activities to go along with other great read alouds, check out my literature units:
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© 2013 Jennifer Martinez, everything just so. All rights reserved. License permits individual use in single classroom only. To share with friends, please purchase additional licenses at a discounted price. No part of this work may be reproduced in any way or by any means without expressed written consent of the author. Thank you for helping to protect my work!