by Rachel Stepp
Do you want your students to get to know their peers better? Here are a few activities that you can use in your classroom to accomplish this. I recommend doing them during down time (such as before or after lunch), morning meeting, or at the end of the day.
A Web of Knowledge
Have your students sit on the floor in a circle. Use a ball of yarn to create your web. Start with one student in the circle who will hold the end of the string. Have the starting student tell the class something about himself/herself.
For example, students can tell their name, favorite television show, interesting fact, hobbies, etc. Once the first student has shared, the first student holds the end of the string and rolls the rest of the yarn ball to a student sitting across the circle. The student who now has the yarn ball tells information about him/herself. Then this student holds onto the yarn and passes the yarn ball to somebody else in the circle. By the end of the activity, students will have created a yarn web by passing the yarn ball all around the circle. Students will be able to see how they are “connected” to one another and learn about their peers!
Not only would this be a good activity for the beginning of the year, but also when students are studying animals. Once again, have students sit in a circle where everybody can see everyone else. The activity works as students go around the circle one by one. Each student must think of an animal whose first letter is the same as the first letter in his or her own name, and then state that animal after saying his/her name.
For example, I might say “Rachel Rat” because “Rachel” starts with “r” and so does “rat.” Each student would go around the circle and share this information.
To add some challenge to this activity, have each student repeat all of the responses of the students that have gone before them before adding their own name to the list! For example, if you are the fifth student to go, you must repeat what students one, two, three and four have said. This helps students learn their peers’ names while having a little fun!
Make space in your classroom for everybody to stand up and move about the room. Each student should stand up and get ready to move! Students will learn about their classmates as they are asked to get into lines based on personal information. This is also a great exercise in categorizing–a higher level thinking skill!
To start, ask students to get into a line based alphabetically on their names. Students who names start with “A” will start the line. This makes students think and talk to their peers. You can do this activity repeatedly with different directions, such as “line up according to your birthday.” You can also ask students to get into groups instead of lines for directions such as, “Stand with people who share the same favorite color as you!” Here are some more directions you can use:
- Stand with people who ride the bus with you.
- Get into a line based alphabetically on your last name.
- Stand with people who have the same color hair as you.
- Get into a line based on height.
These activities can be used in many grade levels and can be easily modified to be age appropriate. And don’t be shy- play along in these activities with your students!
Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at the University of Georgia, currently working on a Masters in Early Childhood Education. We are pleased as punch to share her great ideas on A Learning Experience!