Based on the thousands of social media posts on our newsfeeds…school is officially back in session. Sure, kids are dressed to the nines and have shiny new notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils to mark the occasion, but they also still have…summer energy.
You know summer energy. It’s different. It’s magical. It’s based on carefree days at the pool, nights capturing fireflies, and adventures fueled by ice cream and lemonade. But now, we’re asking kids to sit at a desk for eight hours for the next 180 days, even though they’re still filled to the brim with the magical energy of summer.
As a teacher, how do you use that summer energy to your advantage?
Here are three activities that you can use in the first weeks of school to not only get to know your students but also get them out of their desks and let them hold on to that summer magic just a little longer.
Grades 3-8: Snowball Fight!
Yes, it’s the end of summer, and I can almost guarantee that none of your students have had a good snowball fight in the past few months. Why not have one in your class? Give each student four pieces of paper and instruct them to write four facts about themselves (favorite musician/tv show/movie, if they went on vacation/where, siblings, what they want to be when they grow up, birthday, favorite food, etc.). Then throw on your favorite version of “Winter Wonderland” and let your students have a good old-fashioned snowball fight. After giving them a chance to play (make sure you get in on the action, too!), each student has to pick up four snowballs, walk around the room, and find out who wrote the information on each. Each student will then share the information with the rest of the class.
Grades 3-5: Blobs and Lines
This gets students out of their seats and a chance to learn what they have in common with other students. Students will either have to line up or form a blob based on what you are asking. Here are some examples:
- Line up in alphabetical order by first or last name.
- Line up in order of birthdays with January 1 as first in line (of course, you can also use the school calendar, which might help you…)
- Form groups (or “blobs”) with students who have the same hair color
- Form blobs based on favorite seasons
- Form blobs based on how many chores you have at home: a lot, a few, none
Grades 6-8: The Mingle Game
Give each student an index card and ask them to them write a question for other students in the class. Questions should be easy to answer, such as “What’s your favorite movie?” or “What’s your favorite subject?” Have your students walk around the room and after a few seconds call out “Stop!” and have the students ask the question to those closest to them. They need to write down the student’s name and answer on the card. This is a great activity because it encourages sharing personal information without opening up to complex topics. Use topics such as sports and movies to increase finding things students have in common. After you complete the activity, you can have students make graphs or pie charts of their answers or even find percentages and hang their findings up in the room.
And remember: icebreakers don’t just have to be used during the first days of school, either. If you want to keep that summer energy going year-round, then find ways to get students exploring the world around them. The easiest way to lose the magic of summer is to sit anyone in the same spot for eight hours a day, five days a week. You don’t need an ice cream social to keep the magic of summer alive, simply giving your students an opportunity to get out of their seats might reap rewards that are just as sweet.