The first day of school is an important time for students to get to know one another and begin to form a classroom community. They will be spending every day together for the entire school year; playing some icebreaker games together is a great kickoff to a wonderful year ahead.
Students are used to participating in get-to-know-you activities with each other at the beginning of the school year, but teachers often forget to let students know about themselves. Create a KWL chart about yourself with your students, with the K column listing things they already know about you, the W column listing what they want to know about you and the L listing the things they have learned about you after some introduction activities. To help them learn about you, give them a list of facts about you, but include some that are not true. Ask the students to guess which things from the list are true about you and which ones are not.
Student Venn Diagrams
Divide students into groups of two or three. Ask them to discuss their likes and dislikes and other characteristics about themselves. Have them create a Venn diagram, or large overlapping circles on a large sheet of poster paper. The diagram should include one circle for each student in the group. Invite them to fill in the Venn diagram to illustrate their similarities and differences. Things that the students have in common will be placed in the overlapping section of the diagram, while things that are unique to each student will be placed in his individual circle. Display each group's poster to show how students are alike and different.
Who Am I?
Play this game with students to get them up and moving and to practice asking questions. Prepare sticky notes labeled with a famous person's name. The names can be movie stars, political figures, cartoon characters, singers or other celebrities. Place the sticky notes on each student's back so she cannot see the name written on her note. Students must mingle with their classmates and find a partner to help them figure out the identity of the person on their sticky note. They may ask their partner three yes-or-no questions before making a guess. If the student does not guess correctly, he must find a new partner and ask more questions. Once the student has guessed correctly, she may continue answering other players' questions.
Blanket Name Game
For a fun way to learn classmates' names, play a game in which students have to say each other's names quickly. Divide students into two equal groups facing each other. Hold a blanket between the two groups. Invite one person from each group to quietly come up to the blanket so the two are facing each other with the blanket in between them. Count to three and drop the blanket so that the two players are standing face to face. The students must quickly say the other person's name; whichever student says the name correctly first gets to bring the other player onto his side of the blanket. Continue playing until students have had a lot of practice with each other's names and can say them quickly.
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