More ,start of the school year, fun!



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.



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.


Scavenger Hunt


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.


Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!


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!



Self portraits


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 ) , 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


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.





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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Some of our “European Day of Languages” activities

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Eighty-one per cent of adults regret not having learned another language and while of course it’s never too late, children do have the advantage in language learning.The European day of Languages, celebrated on 26 September, is a wonderful opportunity to inspire young people and get them excited about learning languages.

I always make sure we do several activities to celebrate that special day, with all my classes!

I am sharing, what we did, this year!

First, we played a really fun game to learn about 12 European languages in just one teaching hour!!

Our multilingual game!

I gave students a handout with 12 names of European countries, their flags, and four different phrases typed next to each country, in 12 different languages:

How are you?


So and so.


I had them work in small groups of 5-6 students This  is a game  where a number of chairs  one less than the number of players are arranged facing outward with the players standing in a circle just outside of that. The first player,who’s standing,  asks the person sitting next to him ” How are you” in one of the languages on the handout. He has to reply by using any of the three phrases above, in the same language!

Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

Students playing and having fun, while learning new languages!

If he decides to reply  ” Well”, nothing happens and the standing player asks the same question to the very next student. If he answers ” So and so”, he changes chairs with the student sitting on his left. If he replies “Bad” , all players run around the chairs!  Usually, music  is played while the players in the circle run in unison around the chairs. When the music stops, each player attempts to sit down in one of the chairs. The player who is left without a chair is the next player to ask ” How are you ” and start the game again.

My students had so much fun playing this game and asked me to play it again and again! The result was that, they finally managed to remember most of the phrases on the handout and use them with confidence during the breaks, as well….

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Whole school languages survey

I carried out a survey of languages spoken amongst school community – included staff, pupils and family members. I collected, displayed and interpreted data. I created a display for a prominent location in the school.

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An exchange of students’ photos for the European day of languages.

We arranged that exchange , with colleagues from several  European countries . We all  belong in the same facebook group “Celebrate the European Day of Languages (EDL) 26th of September”
We had two choices:
1.- to send a postcard (homemade) by mail with the  greeting “Happy European Day of Languages “ (in our language) from (name of our school) to (name of a school we are sending to)
2. – to  prepare a big poster in our mother tongue: “GREETINGS FROM STUDENTS OF (MY SCHOOL’S NAME) TO STUDENTS OF (YOUR SCHOOL’S NAME AND PLACE WHERE IT IS)”. You  can add the logo of European Day of Languages if you want.

We took a photo of our students holding the poster and sent the photo by email. My students were thrilled to see the name of our school in all the photos-cards we received, in return !!






Creating a poster : ” Write Good morning in another language “

A number of students in our school, speak a foreign language. I thought it would be good to make the poster below,  and display it in school!I decided to display it in a long , busy corridor  . Students loved adding new words on it, during the breaks!

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Teachers4Europe project, 2014/2015

The books we used during the project

The books we used during the project

A few months ago, I decided to take part in an amazing European project called ” Teachers4Europe”. That project, was the best follow-up of the British Council project ” Life Skills” , which I had finished just a week before.

One of the activities , was actually about tolerance , acceptance and respect which  proved valuable when we decided to start working on this  new european project.

Τhe project idea,  presupposes the acceptance of certain values without which Europe cannot exist. These core values are Respect for Human Dignity, Equality and Respect for Human Rights, which, along with Democracy, Freedom and the Rule of Law, are the founding values of the European Union. The main goal of our  project was to help students enrich their knowledge about Europe in general and especially about the basic principles that permeate the family of countries which constitute the European Union. Another aim was to sensitize them to the notions of collaboration and supporting one another through group work, as these notions are also part of the essential European ideals that lie in the core of the Union itself. The project methodology was based on cross-curricular, experiential, cooperative, communicative and learning-through-playing approaches. By the end of the project the students had acquired a significant amount of knowledge as to how the European Union works. They developed an understanding of the basic values that bound the European countries together and the significant role they play in our lives. They understood the importance of notions such as “acceptance”, “collaboration”, “respect” and “equal opportunities for everyone”.


For more information about Teachers4Europe: )

( teachers4Europe” )



The project lasted about two months .

I decided to name it ” Our European House” . Actually, that was the name of one of the project activities, as well.

I wanted to emphasize the fact that, all Europeans live under the same ” roof” ! We are  European citizens , a characteristic which unites us all !

The class project activities ,were the following:



Warming-up activities


We spent about a week, playing team games , in order to get to know Europe better! We used the books ” Let’s discover Europe” and ” The European passport” as well as a map of Europe , to find information since, we don’t have a computer lab at school!


We played a guessing game about European monuments and  did a quiz on European flags and capital cities.




“ The story of a 50 Euros banknote”



Creative writing: a 50 E banknote travels from hand to hand and from country to country , around Europe

  1. Work on the myth: “ Europe’s kidnapping by Zeus”

Description of the tool

We work in 4 teams, 4-6 students each.

Two teams work on the first topic while the other two work on the second one.

The first two teams, write their own story using creative writing tools. The other two teams , receive a worksheet with the myth of  “ Europe’s kidnapping by Zeus”  and are asked to write their own short play about it!


Alternatively,  a representative of each team, picks up a card


with a word having to do with one form  of Art on it ( theatre, music, dancing, literature-poetry) and the team is asked to  compose a unique work of art either on the story of a 50 E note or on the myth of Europe and Zeus .



God Eros! lol!

God Eros! lol!


Later, they have to present their work , in class. There are four teams working on four different works of Art.

We give plenty of time both for the writing  and for the rehearsals.

A discussion follows about the whole experience, in class.




What is Europe for me? Our European house.


Getting to know one another and coming close to the topic of Europe

Description of the tool.



A topic is presented to the group through a question and/or a heading e.g.: “My house of Europe – what is Europe for me?”.

(Further variations: “My picture of Europe”, “I find this exciting about Europe?”, “I would like a Europe like this….” … )







What is Europe for you? A brainstorming group activity.


Small groups of 4-7 participants are divided between several rooms so as not to disturb each other. Each group gets a large sheet of paper and draws on it their outline of ‘A European House’ with foundations, a roof and as many rooms as there are participants in the small group. They can decide on the architecture of the house. In this way their drawing of the house (crooked or futuristic, strong etc) can also represent their ideas on Europe. Additional ‘extensions to the house’, as well as the environment the house stands in or the ‘surrounding weather conditions’ (sunny, stormy etc) can with other associations be integrated into the picture.



In one of the rooms the participants write down their personal associations and answers to the question ‘What is Europe for me?’ and then exchange opinions on these statements. The second stage is the group filtering out things they have in common. These things form the foundations. The roof is filled with the group’s shared visions for the future of Europe. The game leaders should make it clear that the small group must reach a consensus concerning the foundations and the visions for the future (30 – 45 mins).





The small groups present their ‘European House’ to the larger group and hang up their poster in the group room (30 mins). To conclude common factors and differences between the group posters should be discussed (15 mins).

The participants should recognise that the European Union grew out of a long line of ‘events’ and that this process has not finished; important events in this process should be found out and their chronological order.


Orangito, a flat puppet ambassador from our pen pals in Spain, took part in the project, as well!




We decided to build a 3D European house in class, as well!! We loved every minute doing so!






Story on a long line.


Description of the tool.

Preparation and procedure: select event and picture cards (possibly, look for picture cards at Form small groups of max. 6 people. The small groups each receive a set of event and picture cards as well as the corresponding dates, additional washing line and pegs and possibly glue.

The small groups should match the dates with the event and picture cards and then put them in the correct order attaching them to their washing line or prepared pinboards.


The washing lines or pinboards stay in the classroom.

Evaluation: The ‘story on a long line’ (time line) is designed as an introductory unit. The correct chronology is discussed and the results of the small groups’ work then correspondingly altered. The results will then subsequently be discussed and the participants’ questions addressed

Variations: The method can serve as a targeted introduction to a specific topic. The selection of event and picture cards should correspond accordingly

Event and date cards examples :

The beginning of the strike at the Lenin docks in Danzig

Greece joins the EC


Spain and Portugal join the EC

Turkey applies to join the EC

The fall of the Berlin Wall

The treaty of Maastricht comes into force

Austria, Sweden, and Finland join the EU

The treaty of Amsterdam comes into force


The EU and Morocco sign an association agreement

The beginning of economic and monetary union

Turkey gains the status of a pre-accession candidate

The Charta of basic rights is accepted

The treaty of Nice is agreed

The € is introduced as cash in 12 countries

The European Convention begins with its conferences

The draft constitution is presented



Name that european tradition.


Exercise that allows participants to reflect on European traditions in a fun way.

Aims of the tool

Reflect on which traditions/people we identify as “European”

Description of the tool.


The player has one minute to take a paper and explain to his partners what is on the paper without saying the word.

Participants take 3 slips of paper. On each paper they write a name of a person (historical or present) or something that they perceive as typical European. All things written down should be known by most European people.

  1. All papers are put in a hat.
  2. Participants are divided in pairs and sit in a circle whereby the members of the pair sit opposite of each other.
  3. The game has 3 rounds


  1. FIRST ROUND: The hat starts with one person. This person has one minute to take a paper and explain to his partner what is on the paper without saying the word. If his partner finds the correct answer the first person of the pair can take a new paper. S/he can continue until the minute is over. Then the person on the left has the chance. We continue until there are no more papers. In the end of the round the points are counted (1 point per guessed answer)
The hat

The hat

  1. SECOND ROUND: same as round 1 but you cannot speak only mimic the issues. The points of this round are added to the first round
  2. THIRD ROUND: same as round 1 but you can use only 1 word to describe it. The points of this round are counted to the other rounds


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After the exercise the facilitators make a small debriefing:

– Why did you pick the following issues related to Europe

– What determines why something is European

– Where do you make the border of Europe




First, we read the book " The Stars of Europe"

First, we read the book ” The Stars of Europe”


Description of the tool.

Creative writing: The students are given a several pictures that come from the book “ The Stars of Europe” – “Τ’ Αστέρια της Ευρώπης” .


They first read the book story and later decide about how they can adapt it or completely change it using any of the pictures given in any order they wish, to write their own stories about Europe.

Students work in groups of 4-5 .

Highly engaged teams of students, working on their comic strips stories!

Highly engaged teams of students, working on their comic strips stories!


Their story pages are put together and form their own creative writing storybook. They decide about the cover and about how to colour or decorate it inside.

Finally, all the storybooks are read by all different teams of students, in turns. The teams decide about which story liked best and why. A discussion about both stories and Europe follows.











A few days later, the Eurobooks were almost ready! My students amazed me, by asking me to let them work on their stories ,during all the breaks!! They were so excited and enganged!

I am really  thankful for the chance I have been given ,  to be a “Teacher4Europe” !














Looking forward to more such creative and engaging projects, in the near future!




Thanksgiving class favourites



Thanksgiving, is my most favourite holiday of all! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to teach our kids about being thankful. Taking nothing for granted, matters! Here are some ideas to teach  children how to appreciate the blessings in their lives.

Most of the following ideas, come from, an amazing site I often visit! Highly recommended!

Thankful Paper Chain


Another way to remind your children of their blessings is to create a paper chain. This is similar to a regular paper chain – where you cut strips of paper and connect them together as loops, but there’s one difference. You write on the strips of paper before you connect them. Write the things you are thankful for with your children. For instance, “Grandma plays games with me” or “My teacher is nice.” The fun part of this activity is to make the chain as long as possible – showing all your blessings. A variation I tried this year was to ask my students to write the things they are thankful for on paper turkeys which they have made by tracing their hands on paper and later added eyes etc to make it look like a turkey!


Thanksgiving Tree


This is another take on the idea above and works really well if you have several kids in the family. Get each child to trace their hand on yellow, red, or brown construction paper. Cut out the hand shapes and write (or have the child write) what they are thankful for on the hand shape. Cut a tree trunk shape out of brown construction paper. Glue it on a large piece of poster board. Let the kids add their hand shapes as leaves above the tree trunk, turning it into a beautiful fall colored tree.



Thankful Book


This idea is similar to the others, except it’s more of a keepsake. Purchase a photo album or scrapbook kit and make a “blessings” theme. Add photos of loved ones, including stories about why they are special to you. Also, include pages of your favorite foods, favorite stories, favorite movies and all the other things that make you happy. Any time your kids feel down, you can open your blessing book to see all the reasons you have to be happy – and thankful for the blessings in your life.


Thankful collage 


The goal of this craft is to create a collage filled with drawings and pictures of all the things the  children are thankful for. I ask them to cut photos from magazines, or print some photos from their  computer. Older children can write captions under the photos or draw their own. After I have talked with my 4th graders about what they feel thankful for,and we brainstorm some relevant vocabulary on the board, I ask them to go home and make their  collage  and be ready to talk about it in class, before it is put up on the classroom walls!The big poster with all the individual collages , remains on the classroom walls till the end of the school year, reminding my students of all their blessings every time they look at it! Precious!



Teaching my students to be Thankful!


Thanksgiving is the perfect time to teach our students about being thankful!

Here are some ideas on how I teach my students about how to appreciate the blessings in their lives.

GIVING THANKS POSTER for my 3rd graders.

The poster collage

The poster collage

My little ones can’t read or write much yet, so I ask them to draw, or use photos of all the things they are thankful for.We make a “Blessings” theme…They add photos of their loved ones, pages or drawings of their favourite foods, and all the things that make them happy.Any time they feel down, I ask them to have a look at our posters wall and and see all the reasons they have, to be happy- and thankful!
We name all the things on their posters in english!


GIVING THANKS COLLAGE for my 4th graders

The goal of this craft, is to create a collage filled with drawings and pictures of all the things my students are thankful for.They are asked to draw pictures or cut photos from magazines or even print photos from their computers! They write captions under their photos or drawings and talk to the class about them.It’s important , to braistorm ideas and have a class discussion about Thanksgiving, before they do the task above!

I keep  their collage up on the wall, till the end of the school year! They love looking at them from time to time.


Another way to remind my students of their blessing is the Thankful Wreath. It is similar to the Thanksgiving tree idea below and is used with  my 5th graders.

I give them a leaves template and ask them to write the things they are thankful for and share them with the class, justifying their opinions.

We talk about Thaksgiving and how important it is to appreciate what we have and take nothing for granted, before we make the wreath.

Another idea that works really well, is to get each child to trace their hand on yellow, red or brown construction paper and write what they are thankful for on the hand shape.



This is ideal for my 6th graders. We start by talking about how Thanksgiving bacame a holiday and the first Thanksgiving!
Later, they cut out  the leaves shapes and write their blessings on them!They add their leaves above the tree trunk, turning it into a beautiful Fall colored tree!


For many other Thanksgiving Games and crafts ideas , apart from mine , you can visit

blogthanksgivingtree2 be-thankful for