8 activities to start the class

This article presents a selection of useful activities for the first few days during the beginning of the new school year. These activities are aimed at getting to know eachother by breaking the ice with the students, learning their names, understanding their motivations and boosting the relationships and interactions among them, as well as discovering their fears and improving their self-esteem and respect among colleagues and teachers.

Let’s begin by starting with something basic in every relationship: get to know the name of every student and let them know ours.

1. Pass the ball

For this activity, we all, both the teacher and the students, will make a circle. The teacher begins by saying their name and passing the ball to the person on his right, so everyone will have a turn until the whole circle is completed. After that, the person with the ball has to throw it (carefully) to another classmate by saying the first classmate’s name. The dynamic must be quick to make it fun. Also, the game needs to be managed to ensure that every student receives the ball several times.

2. Connected names

This activity consists on writing the names of the whole class on the blackboard, by using at least one letter already written of another name. We can start by writing the teacher’s name. The teacher will go up to the blackboard, present themselves and write their name. Then, every student will follow – by going up too, present themselves and write their name by using at least one letter of another name written on the blackboard. With this activity the students focus their attention on how to write their classmates names while the group sense increases since all the names become linked.

Next are the activities to learn more about each student in the group.

3. Present your partner

For the first few days of class, we must create pairs of stamps, papers or stickers following a pattern: for instance, a pair or two related objects (a stamp with a flower and another stamp with a watering can, canoe/paddle, pencil/sharpener, etc.). We distribute the stamps among the students and ask them to look for the other element to create the pair. Once pairs are formed, each student interviews their partner, with suggested questions like: What is your favorite color? What do you like to do the most? What is your favorite subject? Then, each student will present his partner to the rest of the class.

4. The star

For this activity a star is drawn on the blackboard. Each student goes up to the blackboard and writes his name next to the start and on each point of the star a piece of information about themselves. For instance: blue, 3, pizza, bicycle, London. The rest of the students guess with yes or no questions to find out what corresponds to each clue:

– Is blue your favorite color?
– Yes! – Is 3 your favorite number?
– No!
– Do you have three siblings?
– Yes!

This continues until each piece of information has been guessed for every member of the class. We recommend that the teacher starts with their own information to make it easier to understand the rules of the game and to make students know more about us.

An alternative activity that helps strengthen the interaction among students is:

5. The spider web

For this activity we will use a ball of wool or a roll of rope. Students will sit in a circle and one of them will start with the ball in his hands saying his name to the rest of the group and a piece of information about himself, such as what they did on vacation, something they like or don’t like.

– My name’s Mariah and I spent my holiday by the seashore.

Every other student familiar with that information can raise his hand. The chosen student will say his name and explain why he’s related to the information shared by the other school mate:

– My name’s Peter and I also went to the beach during the holiday. I also learned to ride a on a bicycle.

Pedro receives the ball of wool while Mariah retains one of the strings. As students share these details, they pass the ball and retain the string, so they create a wool web that represents the relationships among the class members. The objective is that students can share personal information and weave a net showing that we all are connected somehow.

But it is not only about knowing each other and establishing relationships. Here are to improve self-esteem and respect to others.

6. The “I can’t” Funeral

For this activity we distribute a piece of paper to each student, in which they have to write at least one task they think they cannot uphold. For instance: “I can’t learn the times tables for seven” or “I can’t read words well in Spanish”. Then, all papers are collected and kept in a shoe box or something similar. The group goes to the garden or park and celebrates the “I can’t” Funeral. With a solemn ceremony, the box is buried while the group chants as follows:

Here today,
The “I can’t” of group _____
Are buried.
We suffer their loss
And we will miss them,
But we will remain strong
And learn to live without them.

Digging up the box at the end of the course is an alternative to this activity, so each student sees how those “I can’t” have now become, “Yes, I could”.

7. Toothpaste to teach respect

Before sharing with the students the class rules we’ll play a game. We will distribute to each student, or to groups of 2 or 3 students, a toothpaste tube and a plate. We will ask them to take all the toothpaste out of the tube and that they then try to put it back inside again without the help of any other object. Students won’t manage it, but we will let them to work on it for a while. Afterwards, we will explain that, as happens to the toothpaste, whenever we say a bad word to our colleagues, we won’t be able to take it back and it will stay with them forever. On the basis of this reflection, we will be able to link the conversation with other rules of behavior for the rest of the course.

And last but not least, a motivating activity for teaching Science, which is one of the specialties of Elesapiens.

8. Discovering scientists

A good way to start the subject of Science is discovering scientists. For this activity we will give a blank piece of paper to each student and ask them to imagine what a scientist is and draw it. Then we will ask them to write what they think a scientifist does in his work, by using single words or brief phrases, such as: “A scientist reads, study, mixes, makes experiments, observes …” When students share their written words these will be noted on the blackboard. Then we will ask students if they read, study, mix, experiment, observe … The objective is to make them realize that scientists don’t have to all look the same or particularly different, so students become conscious that they also do things that scientists do and that, therefore, they can become scientists too.

This activity can be complemented with these Elesapiens’ videos: Darwin’s Theories, awarded by NESCent (USA) or Newton, the Superscientist.

If you want to discover other activities for your Science classes to become even more fun, Elesapiens’ offline activities propose extraordinary and handy experiments, debates and group games related to curriculum-aligned content about Natural Sciences, Life Science, Earth Science and the space, Physics or Chemistry.

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