It’s August first and teachers across this country are in an excited panic for a brand new school year! One of my favorite things about teaching is having the opportunity to start over each year. New ideas, new classroom setup, new activities, new EVERYTHING! I find it exhilarating! This year, I have decided to start off my school year with more play, educational play that is. I have been compiling a folder of back to school games that include getting to know you, what you know, working together and experiments. I’m hoping through more play to ease the kids back into school and make them feel more comfortable through laughter and learning. I’m really excited to try it out and see what I find. If you’d like to give this a try as well, I am sharing my compiled list. I think most things here could be modified or pretty easily recreated to fit any grade level.
1. STEM Challenge Cards
The first STEM activity that I thought I’d begin with is building towers. This seems to me to be a simple task where every student in my classroom can feel successful. There are several different materials to build the towers with and each day I would change those materials. Using a pencil box I will place a challenge card, the materials and a sticky note pad inside for them. Once they have built their tower as tall as they can, they will record how many pieces they used and put it on their desk for later comparisons. Some material ideas would be pennies, legos, markers, clips anything small that will fit in a box.
2. Pick a Stick
First, have the kids sit in a circle. Model for the class by choosing a colored stick at random and matching it to the prompt. Start by sharing your name and then whatever the prompt was. Have the kids take turns passing the sticks around the circle and sharing using the color code. I was thinking of modifying this a little bit and making a it a morning sharing time with all kids having the same color stick to ensure everyone gets to share their responses to all the prompts. Here is the link for this activity Pick a Stick.
3. The Red Cup Challenge
This a great way to begin having the kids start working together and sharing ideas. It’s a challenging activity and some will get frustrated, but it encourages kids to build grit and stick with it for their team. There are different ways of doing this challenge. The most popular involves the teacher tying four strings onto a rubber band before class and placing a pile of cups into a bin. You can pair the kids up into twos or into fours. They must pull on strings to open the rubber band and place it around the cup, NO HANDS, and place the cups on top of one another. Here is a site that you can find other ways to play this game.Red Cup Challenge.
Let us know of any games that you enjoy playing during these first days back, we’d love to hear from you!!