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Coming back to school after having two weeks off (or the summer off) can be really rough for students and teachers. The last thing anyone wants to do is get right back to work the first day back. It’s important for us to reconnect with our students, have some fun and listen to what they’ve been up to the last few weeks/months. Here are five activities that can help you do just that!
1. Share Pictures/Videos
If you teach middle or high school, most of your students have phones. Tell your class to pull those phones out and share some pictures and videos from their break. Students can share other pictures they might have on their phones too, pictures of pets, family or stunts on their skateboard all count. I love sharing pictures of my family with my students, and I’m pretty sure at least some of them like it too. Here is picture of a rose from my garden.
2. Tell Stories
Let your students tell stories! This is the perfect opportunity to teach discussion and elaboration skills. You could have a chart like the one below to help students get each other to elaborate. Allowing students to talk about things that interest them is such a great way to get them to actually have meaningful discussions.
3. Make Memes
I’ve recently gotten really into making memes, it’s so fun! Check them out here. Students love memes. All you really need to make a meme is a smart phone or computer. My favorite app is mematic for iPhones. Just be careful with the apps you let students use (some have some inappropriate pictures). You can also make memes on computers. Have students upload their photos from their vacation and make memes out of them with this website.
4. Play a Community Building Game
Students need to reconnect with each other after being away for so long. One of the best ways I’ve found to reconnect students is with a community building game. Here are three of my favorites, that I completely made up!
- Name Catch -have students stand in a circle, one student has a plush ball or stuffed animal. The first student has to say the name of another student before throwing the ball. The receiving student has to catch the ball or they are out. If the thrower does not produce a good throw then they are out. I also tell students if they don’t know someone’s name, that’s okay, all they have to do is say, “What’s your name again?” The goal is for students to learn each other’s names with this game. You can also make it more challenging by making students throw under their leg, over their head or kick the object gently. Again, students have to do this in a straight line to the receiving person or they are out! I add challenges as we go.
- What’s up?-have students sit in a circle, one student comes up with a question to ask the class, it can be anything (as long as it is school appropriate). The first question should be, “What’s up?”. Other questions might be, “What’s your favorite movie?” or “What’s stressing you out right now?” or “What are your pets’ names?”. Anything is game. Students have to answer as quickly as possible around the circle.
- Remember the time-this is a spin off of two truths and a lie. Have students write fond, funny, crazy memories from your class or past classes students have shared together on notecards. Students can write as many memories as they can think of but one of the memories needs to be made up. Then, have student volunteers share two of their memories with the whole class or in small groups. One memory should be real and the other made up. The class then has to guess which is true and which is made up!
5. Play a Randomly Fun Game
I recently wrote a blog post about my favorite games to play with my students just for the fun of it. Why do this? Many reasons! Laughing and having fun together builds community. Also, students are much more willing to comply with a teacher they care about and like. Students are sure to like you when you let them play games once and in a while! I’m not saying being liked is necessary or something you should focus on, but it can definitely help you in your efforts to reach students (especially students who challenge you). Check out my five favorite games to play with students here.
I wish you all luck going back to school after a long break! It’s tough. I hope some of these ideas ease you back into the daily grind. What sorts of things do you plan to do with your class the day after a long break?