More ,start of the school year, fun!

 

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Building a classroom community is very important and is an indicator of success. Icebreakers and other activities are important to implement during the first days of a new school year. It is important for all students to feel welcome and a part of their small community which actually a part of an even bigger one. Feeling comfortable will help create resilient learners that have confidence in sharing their ideas without fear of being judged.

Sharing some of my favourite activities, here, today…….

The ball game

Have all the kids stand up .  As a group think of 5 questions that they want to find out about each other such as:

What is your name?

When is your birthday?

What is your favorite color?

What is your favorite food?

Name something you are good at?

After you decide on the questions you can start the game.  Give one player the ball.  Have them throw the ball across the circle to another player.  Whoever catches it has to answer one of  the 5 questions- the one the person who has thrown the ball is asking him/her.  When they answer the questions they throw it to another player who then does the same .  To make sure everyone gets a turn make it a rule that you have to throw the ball to someone that didn’t already have a turn.

Variation: I ask them to say a reason they think they are special , each time they catch the ball or share a fact about them nobody in class knows …..

Words about me

I saw this one on Pinterest and thought it would be a great way to revise some vocabulary and boost their self-esteem, at the same time .  The students had to find at least 20 words that describe themselves. They had a great time working on this activity. This was also an encouragement to the students because they realized that they have some great qualities to share with the world.

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With older students, we do ” I am special because..” They have to write as many reasons they can think of , why  they are special!I use the body template below… A great self-esteem booster, too.

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Scavenger Hunt

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Children are given a list of questions about their class and classroom to answer. First most accurate sheet wins. Some examples are: How many children are in this class, how many girls/boys are there, how many dictionaries are in the room,  where are the games kept….This activity helps the children get to know each other and their new classroom.

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Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

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A ball of yarn

One of my favorite getting-to-know you activity is building a friendship web using a ball of yarn. We all sit in a circle and I start with a ball of yarn ( I say my name and something that makes me special and then throw the yarn to a friend. When my friend catches the yarn, he/she states his/her name and shares a reason he/she is special  and then throws it to another friend. It is a great way for everyone to get to know each other. I tell all the children we are building a friendship class web where we are always here to help each other. They really enjoy this activity and always ask to do it again!

 

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Self portraits

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Have students draw and color self-portraits on the first day of school. These self-portraits make great displays for back-to-school night and perfect keepsakes to pull out at the end of the year.This activity would be further enhanced by having students write an “I Am” poem. Each line of the list poem starts with the phrase, “I am”. You could also add other phrases such as ” I have..”, “I can…”, ” I like…” etc. Students brainstorm descriptive phrases about themselves to write their poems. Younger students could brainstorm a list of descriptors as a group and copy their ideas onto sentence strips to write a class poem

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Shhh Spray

I made up some “Quiet Spray!”  You spray the ROOM to signal children to get quiet.  Or you can just leave the bottle empty.  Mine love the mist in the air.  It is so funny!  {I do not condone spraying a child!  As much as you might want to!  Ha! ;)}

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Brain Sprinkles

1. To playfully encourage anxious kiddos during test time or challenging academic times throughout the year 2. To playfully encourage students to THINK or USE THEIR BRAINS when conflicts, problem-solving situations, anger-inducing situations, or social situations arise

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I took an empty spice container, created a cute label, then filled the container with beads and glitter. I shake the container over their heads, and…boom! They are revitalized. Sometimes I use them on myself. I love to give everyone brain sprinkles right before a test. Some even ask if I can shake a little extra sprinkles for them!

Name chant

This cute chant , is the way for my juniors to get to know each other’s names  , the very first day in our  English class! Sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques”.

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I am done Jar

I created an “I’m Done” jar for my fast finishers and it was seriously amazing! I always had students who finished their “must do’s” quickly. They just got it! When they came up to me and exclaimed, “Teacher! I’m done!” I generally would just tell them to go read a book/magazine . I wanted to figure out *more* ways to challenge and engage my students who finished quickly. So I complied a list of activities  that would be fun and meaningful for my students and stuck them in a jar. It worked wonders!

 

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Bulletin boards

I always create my class bulletin boards, before the school year starts!They help me improve effectiveness and enjoyment of lessons . They make my classroom visually appealing and stimulating to my  students

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 Fill in the funny blanks

Sometimes, I give them a sheet of paper with funny info about me and ask them to work in teams and correct the info which is not right, by guessing! They love this activity! They always guess wrong about my age!!….

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Our mail box

There is a mail box in class, where anybody who wishes to write me a letter can do so, any time they feel like it! The first letter I send them myself,  is at the beginning of each school year, welcoming them to our class  and I always ask them to write back sharing their hopes, fears, expectations, goals, feelings…..

Here are some of their letters , this year!

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Three truths and a lie

I play a game called 3 Truths and 1 Lie and have students tell their three most favourite things  and one  untrue fact. It is up to the class to guess which fact is untrue.

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All about me paper figures 

I provide each student with a small paper cutout in the shape of a human, or have students cut out their own paper figures. I ask each student to write his or her name on the cutout and all about him/her they would like us to know…

These cutouts make a beautiful classroom walls display!

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Posters  entitled ‘About Me’

They have  spaces for a photo of the child, likes and dislikes (foods, movies, books etc), about their family, what they like to do in their spare time,  what makes them special….

It’s a way for me to get to know the children and if the children are new to each other, its great for them to learn more about each other and find a new friend with similar or same interests.It is also a good self esteem booster!

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Cute selfies, on our classroom walls

Using  templates ( there are so many of them on Pinterest, eg https://www.pinterest.com/pin/248401735675011808/ ) , students draw their selfie (self portrait) onto a smart phone template handout. They then select from the variety of text message (writing prompts) and answer questions for back to school, Halloween, New Year’s or end of the year. This year, I have  decided to ask them to choose from alternative back-to-school  text message  topics:

 

  • What I DIDN’T DO this summer
  • A unique person I met this summer
  • My most memorable moment of the summer
  • One thing I learned this summer
  • The person I spent the most time with this summer
  • The best meal I ate this summer
  • Something educational I did this summer
  • Something I bought this summer
  • Something I made this summer

 

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Cute selfies, on our classroom walls!!

Cute selfies, on our classroom walls!!

Our birthday calendar

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When it’s a student’s birthday, I give him/her a special birthday card and they have to wear their birthday hat , during the lesson! In the beginning of each school year, I ask them to use this calendar to mark their birthdays on.

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A class poster

A poster with their class photos, on their first day in class, is always a precious keepsake.

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Me in a Bag

I ask them to bring a bag to school on the first day with things –no more than 3 (objects, pictures, etc.) that tell about them, their family, and things they like. I start by sharing my bag and telling about myself and my family. After seeing what’s in my box and sharing my stories about each objects, students can’t wait to show their objects and talk about themselves. I learn a great deal about each child and their lives. This is also a great speaking activity! Classmates are given an opportunity to ask a question or share a compliment.

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Time capsule

I make a Time Capsule every year with my students, as one of my first activities. It includes their goals for the new school year. One they have each completed one, they fold it up and seal it and it goes in a box that I have labeled Time Capsule. In May,they open the one from September and to much of their surprise many goals are NOT accomplished , over the course of eight months.  This activity is always a winner with my students. I have been doing it for years!

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The first days of school, can be stressful for everyone, but these activities  will help you and your students get to know each other in a fun, interactive way to help build the classroom environment all year long!

What are your favorite first days activities?

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Back to school:Me in a bag and a…portrait!

 

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My bag this year

It’s finally  time to start building the classroom community. As I write my lesson plans, I include getting-to-know-you activities. These activities provide opportunities for the students to interact positively with one another. The children are eager to make new friends, learn about the classroom environment, and become part of a school family. After all, the classroom will become a home away from home for the next ten months.

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Few of the items in my bag

ME IN A BAG:

I know that there are many people who already do this activity but I hope that someone will find this helpful for the beginning of the year!

Yes, this is my night buddy!! We always sleep together!

Yes, this is my night buddy!! We always sleep together!

I bring a sack with a running shoe, a bread pan, a piece of stained glass, something of my daughter’s etc .I group students and dump a few things on each table.Then, I give them a few minutes to say what they think each item says about me !I invite them to bring their own sack on the following day and I am  always surprised of how many kids  actually, bring one!  It is fun to see how excited the kids get when they discover that a classmate has something in common with them.

 

During the next lesson, students bring their own bags and let their classmates guess about the items in it!

During the next lesson, students bring their own bags and let their classmates guess about the items in it!

Note: The Me in a bag  idea is adapted from a classroom banner example. The professional book is from a Scholastic book club order. I do not think it is available from the online store at this time. You could include a simple note to families requesting three or four small objects for each child to share.

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Students spend some time trying to guess about each item in my bag…

 

Well, when it is my kids’ turn to let their classmates guess about the items in their bags, they share so many personal stories, too! A precious moment was  yesterday ,when a girl showed the class an old DVD…and finally revealed that it was her late grandmother’s birthday present when she was much younger!

What is my favourite sport? I am going to tell you why, as soon as you make the right guess!

What is my favourite sport? I am going to tell you why, as soon as you make the right guess!

 

They used to watch it together, laugh and share unforgetable moments ! Then , she broke down in tears!! ” I really miss my grandma, miss” she said! I gave her a hug and thanked her for sharing such a precious moment with the rest of the class!

Guess about my talents!

Guess about my talents!

 

MY PARTNER’S  PORTRAIT

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After the portraits are ready, they are handed to the kids who use the frames to write words which talk about them.

I have students draw and color their partner’s portrait on the first day of school. These portraits make perfect keepsakes to pull out at the end of the year. Students are later , asked to brainstorm descriptive phrases and adjectives to write on the frame of their portrait , which talk about their special interests personality and talents! They are also free to comment on their partner’s portrait. Finally, all portraits are displayed in class. Rapport matters!

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Their partner, can’t see his/her portrait until it’s done!They may comment on it later…

Rapport activity: make your partner's portrait the way you see him/her , add adjectives which you think describe their character and personality !

Rapport activity: make your partner’s portrait the way you see him/her , add adjectives which you think describe their character and personality !

Rapport matters!

Rapport matters!

 

 

 

 

 

Building self- esteem, on day one- part 1

 

Passing the ball self-esteem games

Passing the ball self-esteem games

 

I always include creative activities to build self-esteem in my curriculum. We all know that, students  with low self-esteem often can feel powerless, lonely, resentful, defensive and easily frustrated. These feelings can lead to aggression, teasing and bullying behaviour. Students with high self-esteem are proud of themselves, assume responsibility for their own actions and deal with frustration well.

I deal with such self-esteem building activities, mainly during the first two weeks of each new school year! But, I do make sure that, I always  include cooperative, nurturing games in my class, throughout the curriculum.

Passing the ball self-esteem games

Passing the ball self-esteem games

Initially, I introduce   large group activities with all the children. Later during the school year, I create several other self-esteem activities such as  “My Family Book”, a book about themselves and their family (they can draw, use photographs, etc.) “My Tree/My Hand Activities”, in which each child does one leaf about themselves and then, the leaves are all put on the tree. while for “My Hand” each child traces her hand and writes something about herself on each finger. Sometimes, I use books to develop self-esteem ( a favourite one is “The Incredible You! 10 Ways to be Happy, Inside and Out”  by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer) . We also do several writing activities at the beginning of each school year,  such as ” I am special because..” -which I am going to write more about during the following few weeks…..

My name is and I can....

My name is and I can….

First day in class after the summer break today, with my 3rd and 4th graders, after such a long time! I decided to spend half the lesson using the icebreakers below, in order to foster children’s self-esteem. Today’s activities , were used to to reinforce strengths and to help build individual self-esteem before the learning took  place.

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Task 1- the circle 1-sitting

My name is…and this is…(3rd graders)

My name is …and I’m sitting next to…( 4th graders)

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My name is…and I like….

Task 2-the circle 2

My name is….and I can…(4th graders)

Follow up: write down words having to do with the things that you can do well on a Star name tag  template to be put on your desk in order  to help the teacher learn the name YOU would like her to call you.

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The Star- desk name tag template

 

Task 3- the circle 3 and ball-standing

The teacher throws the ball to a diffrent student each time who is asked to shout his/her name as loud and possible with confidence! (3rd -4th graders)

Task 4-the circle 4-standing up

My name is …and I like….(3rd graders)

My name is…and I am good at…(4th graders)

Follow up: write as many things as you can that you are good at.

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My name is…and I’m sitting next to….

 

To be continued……

 

 

My Interview to the amazing ,Vicky Loras

My Interview to the amazing ,Vicky Loras

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Vicky and me, a year ago…….first meeting in Athens.

Being a teacher means being there, giving everything I can, making sure I am as knowledgeable as I can be about my content and about my students’ lives; it means sacrifice for the sake of helping kids in need and it means caring about students unconditionally. I am not a teacher for me–I am a teacher for my students. When teaching becomes about me, I assure you, I will know it is time to stop teaching.  Being a teacher is exciting, enjoyable, and REWARDING!!!! I get no greater thrill than seeing my students achieve. I am constantly in awe of my students and their abilities.
Being a teacher is NEVER about counting down the last days of the year, but rather, to rue them, because I will lose yet another class to the high schools.
I am JUST  an ordinary teacher Vicky ! I just happen to love my job.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my work in a small Greek classroom with the world!