August 28, 2016

Free and Easy First Week Fun, or (Thanks for the Students, Now What?)

Welcome Back!

As the pack of students floods the hallway and makes their way to your classroom, have no fear. I have 3 fun, free, and easy activities you can do with your students to ensure the first week has a perfect balance of fun and function.

Sample bulletin board of t-shirts my
students created last June.
FOR INDIVIDUAL RESPONSE: 
Click here for a Summer Fun T-Shirt Craftivity

This print and go activity has so many possibilities. You can pretty much put anything at the top of the shirt and make this work for your classroom. This September, I will be asking the students to write/respond about "Summer Fun".

I have included three different levels of response depending on the needs of your learners. One version with just lines, another with lines and a blank space for drawing, and a third with just a blank space.

You can print on colored paper, or have the students embellish in their own way. If you are going to break out the glue and glitter, I recommend you print on cardstock to give the artwork a bit more stability.

Once t-shirts are complete, collect them and you have a ready-to-go bulletin board!


FOR WORKING IN PAIRS: 
Speaking and Listening Task Cards
Check out my Speaking and Listening Task Cards. These cards can help establish the speaking and listening norms in your classroom and it gives your students an opportunity to do what they love best- talk about themselves! 

Although this is designed for pairs, the first few times we use these cards, I do it as a whole group or within a small group setting. I take my time explaining the norms, modeling the expected behaviors, and give each side an opportunity to share their ideas as well as question their partners. The "listener" half is very challenging for many students. This activity gives them the practice of listening for information and not simply listening to respond with their own input.

Once you have established the norms, continue to use these cues to lead your students through many different discussions throughout the year. Change up the question cards depending on the content you are working on: incorporate them into your guided reading groups, use them for think-pair-share activities, or have students defend their positions with one another on various topics. These cues are flexible enough to be used in any situation where students are speaking and listening to one another.

FOR WHOLE GROUP:
This is a great first day activity, but it could be done anytime and in many different contexts.

Get a roll of toilet paper. Stand at the door to greet the students in the morning. As they come in, ask them to take "as much as they will need". (I never tell them what they will need it for...) Once the morning bustle has settled down, explain to the students that they will share one thing about themselves for each piece of toilet paper they have. 

Some students will stick to one fact per square. Others may "think outside the square" and rip their pieces into smaller pieces so they can share more about themselves. And, others may keep their piece "whole". It's a fun activity that can give you some great insight into how your students think.


Have a great start to the school year!

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