Starting school is a little bit scary for any age. But Middle Schoolers especially are filled with anxiety. They are excited and anxious to get back to school. These transitional years can be difficult as they are eager to claim their status as a teenager. Middle School experiences can often set the tone for the remainder of their school years, so getting to know their classmates and working with them has bountiful results. It can help deter bullying, and build camaraderie, trust and respect for one another.
We’ve compiled some ideas, activities, icebreakers and projects that will help your students get to know each other and build a positive learning community. .
Inside Out Circle
Split the class into two groups. One group forms a shoulder to shoulder circle facing outward. The second group forms a circle facing inward (one to one with the inner circle). Have them shake hands and ask the outer circle to respond to a teacher directed question such as “What is your favorite subject in school?” “What is your favorite Pizza” “What kind of pet do you have?” Then give the inner circle students a question. Once they have all answered, the outer circle rotates around the stationary inner circle and ask the same questions again, or new questions. It’s fun to have 4 or 6 total questions and keep rotating them. Then at the end they can each try to remember who gave which answers. Although simple, this activity always get’s the kids talking and having fun together.
This ice breaker is always a hit. It’s an easy activity to help students get to know each other. . Start by making a bingo grid on a regular piece of paper and put a “someone who” phrase in each box, such as someone who has a hamster, someone whose favorite color is green, someone that has been to the Grand Canyon, someone that loves Justin Bieber, someone that prefers pineapple on their pizza. Etc. Make enough copies for the whole class. You can mix them up on the card if you like, so that each student does not have the same card. Then ask students to find a peer who fits the criterion in a box and have that person initial the box. The first to have a “BINGO” is the winner. You can ask them to get a straight line bingo, or better yet a full card. It’s up to you. Prizes are optional.
Getting To Know You Game
This activity is a great way to get to know each other and share some laughs, which are great ways to bond as a class. Start by giving each student two index cards or pieces of paper similar size. Ask them to write a question about themselves on one card and the answer on the other. It’s a good idea to give them a list of questions to choose from. For example; I have a pet dog, what do you think her name is? Where did I go on vacation this summer? What is my favorite musical group? What is my favorite movie? Etc. Then the answer cards are collected and shuffled and passed out.
The students take turns asking their questions to the class, and then whoever thinks they have the answer stands up and reads it. It gets funny when the wrong answers are guessed.
Give your class a name, or ask them for help in coming up with it. A simple idea is to use your room number and hour number such as Team 25-2. Or choose something fun or silly such as Pencil Pushers, Learning Lizards etc. Write the team name on the top of a piece of poster board. Then cut out jagged edge pieces in the exact number as the number of kids in the class. Have each student decorate with words and images that represent them. Students share the pieces, explaining how and why they decorated their piece a certain way. Then tape or glue the puzzle pieces together to form a complete poster.
This is a great opportunity to talk about how each person is a valuable, contributing member to the team, and that each one of them together make the class complete.
If you would like to give your students a little something to build rapport these little goodie bags are inexpensive and fun.
Start with a simple zip top plastic bag for each student.
Fill with the following items and then write up their descriptions to include in the bag, along with a welcome note from you:
Welcome Students! As we begin this year together, I have these special items for you to enjoy:
• An eraser – mistakes are opportunities for learning
• Smarties candies – we all have different kinds of “smarts”
• A pencil – “Because I know that you are sharp!”
• A stick of gum – we are going to stick together as a team
• A Hershey hug – we have a safe and caring classroom
• Candy – we are sweet and respectful towards each other
I hope we have a happy and productive year together!
Do you have some ideas that have worked in your classroom? We’d love to hear about them!