Monday, September 9, 2013

Community Building Games for a New School Year!

I am just elated! My new class of second graders are just perfect! I could not imagine a more well-adjusted group. Last year, I had a class full of tough cookies, so this year seems to be a breath of fresh air. The first week of school is finished and I am ready to dive right into learning. 

During the first week of school, I tried to be very strategic with my lesson plans. I wanted to limited individual activities and plan for more activities with rotating partners and small groups. I want my class to be a community! I couldn't imagine building a strong community of learners without many, many, many collaborative activities where students can learn how to interact effectively with one another. 

I wanted to share a couple of my very favorite group activities from the first week of school! 


Roll and Learn! 


This game is easy-peasy, fun, and gets rid of some of your students' endless energy! Here's what you need...

1. Music
2. Large dice
3. Poster with a question for each number of the dice

We started the game by playing music. While the music is playing, my students walked around the room, smiling at one other. When the music stopped, the kiddos stood back-to-back with the person closest to them. I then chose a student to roll the dice. Whatever number it landed on deciphered the question/ statement my second graders would discuss with one another. When the music started back up, my students would once again walk around the room, making sure to smile at whomever they passed. We repeated this until all of the questions were answered. 

Match Mine!

This game was the funnest game we've played so far! The kids loved it and didn't even realize how much learning and vocabulary development was taking place... score!


In my classroom, my students sit in groups of four. To play this game, you need two partner groups working together, comprising a group of four. Each partner group gets a set of matching pattern blocks. 


Before my students walked into the room from specials, I made a design using a set of pattern blocks and covered it so my students couldn't see what I had made. I told my kiddos that I was going to carefully describe what I made and see if they can create the exact same design. I described my design, making sure I was using accurate vocabulary, one pattern block at a time... "The top of my design is a triangle. Below the triangle is a hexagon..."

I gave students breaks in between each description to allow my kiddos to discuss how they think the design should be assembled. It was so much fun listening to their discussions! I loved how some of the students were trying to persuade one another that they knew where a shape went. They were so engaged!!

When I was done describing the design, I revealed it to the students. They compared their design to mine and discussed why it may or may not match what I created. 



The next day, I set up the classroom so my second graders could play this game with their table groups. I put file folders on each table and connected them with a paperclip. This made the perfect shield for students to create and build their designs on. 


The first group made their design while the other group explored their pattern blocks. When the first group was finished creating their design, they began describing it to their partners. 


When they were finished describing their design, the other group took a peak and compared it with their own. They discussed what went wrong, or right! Then, the second group got to create a design! 

This was a great first week community building activity, but I know I will pull it out again when we are on our geometry unit! It is such a good way to reinforce vocabulary!!! Not to mention, listening skills, too!! 

What group activities did you do with your class on the first day of school?? 
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