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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Use Back to School Activities That Help Teach Character Traits

It's time for back to school and that means planning fun back to school get to know you activities that students haven't done before.  Plus, the first week activities you plan set the tone for your year.  I want students to know that they will be working together, doing projects and activities with other students and collaborating.  It's important to establish rapport and teach students how they are expected to treat each other, with dignity and respect.  We also value and teach character traits.

On day one I want students to be see what their year will be like.  I want them working together, talking, and getting to know each other.  Yes, I teach routines and rules, too, but I want students interacting. I want to hear laughter. I want to see smiles on faces.  I want new friendships to blossom.  I want students to accept each other.  Through play, this process begins.
I recently designed a great set of activities that can be used for the first four days of school.  They best part is they are Cootie Catchers.  Who doesn't love making and playing with the?  Best of all, they let the teacher talk about four character traits each day so by the end of the fourth day, 16 traits have been discussed as a class.  Teachers can reinforce why the traits are important to creating a positive class culture.  The first Cootie Catcher gets students paired up and allows for the game playing to be non-threatening because the questions students ask each other are non-personal.  Each of the next Cootie Catchers gradually ask more questions that are more and more designed for students to share more about themselves.  Hopefully by the end of the week students will have new friends with things in common.

Here's some examples of the questions designed to gradually allow students to become comfortable sharing.
Cootie Catcher #1 - These are a few of my favorite things : 
  • What is your favorite food? 
Cootie Catcher #2 - Get to Know Me! 
  • Do you celebrate holidays? If so, what’s your favorite?
Cootie Catcher #3 - More About Me! 
  • What do you like to do for fun on weekends?
Cootie Catcher #4 - Wishes, Hopes and Dream
  • What is one thing you wish people knew about you?
This activity is designed so students can play the game with one to four partners so that over the course of the first week, students know at least four students really well.

What are your favorite back to school ice breakers and get to know you activities?  Have a great school year!

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