Every year I am look for new back to school ideas to help me get to know my students and help the students get to know me. I have looped with two groups of kids, so I try to change activities each year to keep things fresh and new. Here are some of my favorites for the first week:
Friend Bingo: This is a classic. The kids have always done it before, but really enjoy it.
Guess Who Teacher?: This is a great way to have the students get to know you. Using index cards, write down answers to questions about yourself. For example, the card might just say 2 or blue or reading. Hand out the answer cards to your students. I tell them to put all their cards in the middle of the table and work as a group. Then, ask the class a question. "What is my favorite color?" The kids have to look at their cards and decide if they have the answer. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. I always try to put a couple of similar answers in the mix to make things a little more fun. They always remember what they've learned about you, especially if you are just a little bit silly.
Student Interest Survey: I think I modify this every year looking for the right balance of fun and information. Here is what my survey looks like this year:
Toothpaste Words: This fun activity illustrates how words can never really be taken back. First, buy several travel size toothpastes (enough for all your groups), toothpicks, and paper towels. Hand out materials to your groups and tell them to squeeze out as much toothpaste onto the paper towels as possible. Just go for it! When it looks like they have gotten most of it out, tell them they have a new challenge. They must put all the toothpaste back into the tube using only the toothpick and their fingers. They should be able to get most of it back in, but not all. At the end of the activity, pull the class together to discuss how the toothpaste is like the words we use in the classroom. Even with an apology, the words have still been said and you can't unsay them. Later in the year, I refer back to this activity reminding kids not to use toothpaste words that you can't take back.
I'd love to get some new ideas. What are some of your favorite back to school activities?