The first few weeks of school can be a blur with new students, a new curriculum, and new faces all around. But with some intentional elementary school activities, you can make the most of this time to really get to know your students. This can help build rapport which leads to better classroom management and overall academic achievement.
Here are our favorite activities to help you get to know your elementary school students during the first days of school.
1. The Clapping Name Game
This game focuses on keeping a steady rhythm. Everyone claps this beat, and then the first person says their name and the name of another student. That student continues the game by repeating their own name and then saying the name of another student. It continues and gets faster and faster.
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2. What's Your Favorite...?
This is the classic elementary school interview, and kids love to talk about their favorite things! Whether you're asking about their favorite food, favorite animal, or favorite books and TV series, they'll be sure to have plenty of answers for you.
Learn More: Ponly
3. Classroom Job Board
Here's a game that will help you learn your students' strengths while also building a classroom community. Each student on the class list should explain what their job should be in the classroom, and why they're best suited to serve in that role.
Learn More: Etsy
4. Yarn Names Web
In a circle, students stand facing each other. Then, they pass a ball of yarn across the circle while saying the student's name that they're passing to. That student must say all of the previous names along the yarn's path (which forms a "web") in reverse order. It's a great way to learn all of the students' names!
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5. Homework Scavenger Hunt
This is an activity that you assign for homework. You can give prompts like "Something you love" and "Something you dislike." Students either take a picture or bring in these objects to share with the class. This way, everyone can learn more about each other's interests and hobbies.
Learn More: Scholastic
6. Classmate Bingo
In this game, students have a bingo card. They go around the room to find classmates who meet the criteria listed on the card until they fill in the right spaces. Then, they should introduce each person who helped them "win" the bingo game.
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
7. Baby Pictures Board
On one of the bulletin boards in your classroom, hang a baby picture of each of your students. Then, have students guess which baby is which present-day classmate. This is a great segue into discussing early memories and experiences as well!
Learn More: Pinterest
8. Leave it to Chance!
With this activity, you roll a die and see what number it lands on. Then, according to the roll, you complete a fun activity together. This is a fun activity to keep up throughout the school year, with updates to the different games that are listed on the dice reference sheet.
Learn More: Pinterest
9. Large Group, Hula Hoop
These are several fun activities for class learning and boding, and they're especially great for active kids. When it's time to stand up and get moving, you can keep getting to know your students with these purposeful and engaging hula hoop activities that the whole class can enjoy!
Learn More: Laurie's Little Monkeys
10. Kahoot! Ice Breakers
This is a great option for distance learning since it relies on technology and the internet. Kids can play the popular online game Kahoot! to learn more about their new classmates. It also gives the teacher more insight into the kids in their class.
Learn More: Kahoot
11. Ice Breaker with Candy
For this activity, you need a food item such as M&Ms or Skittles candies. Then, invite each kid to take a handful of the candy. According to the color of the candies in their hand, they should answer a topic or question for the class.
Learn More: MNPTA.gov
12. Self Portraits
Give each child a blank piece of paper and plenty of multimedia art supplies. Then, have them create and present a picture of themselves. It's a great way to see how your kids view themselves. This can also segue into a self-description writing assignment.
Learn More: Art With Mrs. E
13. Objects in the Classroom Introductions
Ask each student to find something in the classroom that resembles themselves in some way. Then, hold a show and tell where each kid explains what classroom object they choose and why they think it's somehow like them.
Learn More: Wise Geek
14. Introduce a Book By Its Cover
In this activity, each student makes a book jacket cover that explains the story of their life up to this point. Make sure that they have plenty of materials and then give them time to explain the cover that they designed and why they choose those images and that title.
Learn More: Creative Educator
15. "Figure" Me Out
This is a fun math classroom icebreaker that brings fractions, decimals, and integers into the mix. Students should make simple math equations that answer numerical questions. Then, classmates solve the problems to learn more about their friends through the power of critical thinking skills.
Learn More: Shut The Door And Teach
16. "All About Me" Bag
In this activity, students prepare a bag of some of their favorite things. They follow several prompts and then present the objects in their bags to all of their classmates. This is a homework activity, so most of the action will happen at home, after school.
Learn More: A Love 4 Teaching
17. Positive Morning Prompts
With these notes to leave your students every morning, you'll be able to get to know them better while also helping to boost the overall morale in the classroom. These positive notes are a great way to start every day!
Learn More: We Are Teachers
18. Getting to Know You Glyphs
These printable glyphs come with a special color-coded guide. Depending on their personal information, students color different parts of the glyph with corresponding colors. This way, students have a creative way to display all of their favorite things and facts about themselves.
Learn More: Scaffolded Math
19. Love Notes to Parents
Getting closer to your students also involves getting closer to their parents. That's where these little love notes can come in handy! You can use these notes with parents to help you build rapport with your students and their whole families.
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
20. "This or That" Icebreaker Game
In this game, students must choose between two options before explaining why they made that choice. You can elicit options from students and then put them in a hat to be passed around and have each learner pick one out to answer. It's a great game for getting a bit more insight into your students' personalities and preferences.
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21. Printable Conversation Cards
These conversation cards are sure to help your students open up as you build rapport throughout the first few weeks of school. They're perfect for starting deeper conversations that can easily be segued into talks about expectations and classroom management.
Learn More: Childhood 101
22. "Would You Rather" Questions
This is a classic game with some fresh inspiration thanks to this awesome list of "would you rather" questions that are geared towards elementary school students. The best part is hearing how your kiddos justify their answers- explaining why they chose one thing over the other.
Learn More: Vigor It Out
23. Virtual "Get to Know You" Activities
Here is a whole list of excellent icebreaker activities that you can do in online or distance learning classes with elementary schoolers. The list features all of the instructions for several games that will get your kids talking and interacting so that the whole class, the teacher included, can get to know them better.
Learn More: Kristine Nannini
24. Back-To-School Digital Escape Room
This is a perfect activity for the digital remote classroom because it really draws the attention of your elementary school students. It is also a great way to introduce expectations and classroom management tricks throughout the first week of school.
Learn More: Ed Tech 101
25. "Think Fast" Icebreaker Game
This printable game is a classic word association game. There are several prompts on the sheet, and students respond with the first word or idea that comes to their minds. Then, the fun continues as everyone explains why or how they came up with their word or idea.
Learn More: Fun Family Games