Activities and Lessons
for Beginning the School Year

Getting To Know Each Other
Martha Hitzel

I was very nervous during my first week in my 4/5 multiage classroom after taking over for a very popular and talented teacher who remains on our campus in a different capacity. Things I did during the week were:
1. I read Chyrsanthemum (I was worried that this was a little immature for this age group but they seemed to enjoy it) and then we talked about how we got our names, whether we were named after someone or if our names had special meanings. I then gave each student a blank bingo board with the name Chrysanthemum as the free space. The kids went around and had other students sign their names in the blank spots. We then played Name Bingo using Skittles as the markers. When I called out a name, that child stood up so
everyone could see who s/he was.
2. We brainstormed things we would like to find out about each other. I then made up a questionaire and then randomly paired students. They interviewed each other and are working on writing a biography on their partner. I will put these, along with a picture of the student in a class book, called Our Classroom Community. 3. I formed random teams of 5-6 students and gave each team a pack of index cards and a box of paper clips. The goal was to build the tallest tower. The teams were able to talk for the first five minutes and then had to work silently for the next 30 minutes. After, we had a great discussion about what helped teams work well together and what made things difficult.

One of the other teachers at my grade level played a game called Knots with her students and it went really well. The kids stand in a circle (I think the number of students must be even). They reach into the circle with
their right hand and grab the hand of another student. It cannot be the one next to them. Then, they reach in with their left hand and grab another students hand. The goal is to then untangle the knot without letting go of
hands. They did it on teams of 4th graders vs. 5th graders and boys vs girls. She says she was really able to tell which of her students were leaders. I may try this one this week.

None of the ideas is my own original but ideas I've borrowed from others.

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