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Back to School: Establishing Classroom Community

Outside of teaching expectations and routines to your new batch of kiddos, establishing classroom community is one of the most important things you can do during the first few weeks of school.  Taking time to allow your students to get to know each other as classmates, teaching your students how to interact with one another kindly, and building rapport and respect among your class will benefit you immensely throughout the duration of the school year.  Thus, it's worth the time and effort to do this with intentionality from the moment those new school shoes hit the floor of your classroom.  

Here's a few ways to make it happen in your room...

Bond Over Banners

Roll out some banner-sized paper (mine was from IKEA) and allow your students to work in groups to decorate them.  The banners below happen to have three simple classroom rules on them, and were made following a lesson on expectations.  Stickers, crayons, and markers were writing tools of choice.

Not only will this activity give students a brain and body break while they're still adjusting to being back in school, but it will also foster opportunities to share, learn each other's names, and practice working in a group.  After the banners are complete, have the groups share their masterpieces.  Provide plenty of ooooohs and aaaaaahs, praise their amazing abilities to work together and note samples of kindness (i.e. I really like how Savannah shared her green marker with Evan!), and then hang the banners up in your room.  This will add student personalization to your classroom and show your students that you value their work enough to show it off!


Play a Get-to-Know-You Game

This game is a class favorite!  Pass out a copy of this Find-a-Friend activity to each student, read the descriptions in the boxes aloud, and have students talk to their new classmates to find a friend who fits the description.  The friend then signs their name in the box.  This is a fun and easy way for classmates to get to know one another and an opportunity to practice following directions!  Plus, your kiddos get to get up and move around.  #boom

There are three versions of Find-a-Friend in my back to school packs.  Click the pics below to check them out!


Kick Things off with Chrysanthemum

Reading Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a *must do* in the first few days of school.  I'm not going to spoil this amazing book if you haven't read it, but just know that it lends itself quite nicely to building classroom community and kindness.  {And practicing spelling your name, too!}  Afterwards, we made name maps that we then shared-out with each other.  {This idea was adapted from Teaching Heart and the one below was obviously made pre-Faith, and I was still an avid Diet Coke drinker - which I am NOT anymore!}

Happy Back to School, y'all and come visit me at The Inspired Apple!
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  1. Great ideas! Thank you for sharing.

  2. I am totally into community building - you would probably like Responsive classroom or Tribes too. :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle