Back to School Activities for Building Classroom Community

by Hollie Griffith

on July 12, 2023

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As a teacher, one of the most important things you can do is establish a strong sense of community in your classroom. A positive and inclusive environment can have a significant impact on your students’ academic and social success. It’s crucial to build trust and connection among your students, but how do you do it? Here are some back to school activities you can try during the first weeks of school.

1. Back to School Icebreaker Games

Icebreaker games are always a hit! They are designed to be fun and engaging, but also serve the important purpose of helping students get to know each other. Here are four great ideas that are perfect for promoting teamwork, exploring the classroom, getting to know one another, and having fun with math:

  1. Hula-Hoop Pass: This team-building activity challenges students to communicate, listen to each other, and work together to pass a hula-hoop around in a circle.
  2. Classroom Treasure Hunt: Help your students explore their new classroom and work together as a team by creating a treasure hunt using items in the room. Students check off items on a list and draw a picture.
  3. Find a Person Who: Get your students up, moving, and talking with this fun icebreaker activity that helps them get to know one another.
  4. Math Explorations: Exploring math tools is perfect for the first week of school, as it allows students to explore math materials in a fun and engaging way. Here’s how it works: four math tools are set up on four different tables, and students are divided into four groups. Each group spends 10 minutes exploring one tool before moving to the next station. As they work together, they complete a recording sheet. This activity not only helps students get to know one another but also gives them a chance to familiarize themselves with the classroom materials.

Grab the FREE recording sheets HERE!

2. Get-To-Know-You Activities

At the beginning of the school year, most students are nervous and hesitant to share their personal information in front of the class. That’s why it’s important to include back to school activities that are designed to make them feel comfortable. You can have them play games that involve sharing fun facts, personal interests, or experience. This will help create a safe space where students get to learn more about each other and start building relationships.

3. A Back to School Escape Room

An escape room can also help ease first-day jitters and anxiety by providing a low-pressure, non-traditional way for students to get to know each other and the classroom environment. The interactive and hands-on nature of an escape room keeps students engaged and motivated while building important skills like problem-solving, communication, and collaboration.

4. Learn About Your School

School’s First Day of School is a wonderful book that tells the story of a school first day from the school’s perspective. This book provides a great opportunity for students to learn about their own school and develop a sense of pride and respect for their school community.

After reading the story, you can lead your students in a discussion about how they can contribute to making their school a welcoming and positive environment. You can also talk about school expectations, such as being respectful to teachers and classmates, following rules and procedures, and taking responsibility for their actions.

Another fun activity is to have students write from the school’s perspective. They can imagine what the school might say if it could talk and write a creative piece based on that perspective. This exercise encourages creativity and imagination while also helping students connect with their school in a unique way.

Finally, you can take your students on a scavenger hunt around the school to help them get familiar with their new environment. This activity is not only fun but also helps students feel more confident and comfortable in their new setting.

5. Goal-Setting Back to School Activities

Setting personal goals is an excellent way of getting students to develop a sense of empathy, self-awareness, and responsibility. Encourage students to set themselves SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) that they can work towards throughout the year. Have them map out strategies and action plans to reach these goals and share it with the class. In doing this, students will connect with one another, establishing a sense of accountability, and encouraging collective work.

6. Build a Classroom Family

I love using the book Our Class is a Family during the first week of school to begin building our classroom family. The book emphasizes the importance of treating each other with kindness, respect, and love in the classroom, just like a family would at home. Also… have you ever tried making classroom family pudding?!?!?!  I PROMISE it will be a hit with your students…

Building strong classroom communities is vital for teacher’s and student’s success. By employing some of these back to school activities at the beginning of the school year, you can create a culture of connection, positivity, and inclusion in your classroom. The result is an environment that allows students to thrive academically and socially. Furthermore, these activities provide opportunities for personal growth, empathy, and inspire lifelong values and skills that would positively impact and benefit our society. So why not make the most of the first few weeks of school to establish positive and productive classroom culture.

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