It’s back to school season, teachers! You know what that means… Lots of introductions, icebreakers, and getting to know your new students on a personal and academic level. It also means that students will begin to build their classroom community, setting the tone for the rest of the school year! I am a firm believer in fostering a positive and strong community in my class. Younger students need that sense of community to build their sense of responsibility, accountability, and compassion for their fellow classmates. It’s the secret formula to ensuring your year goes smoothly and benefits every student!
Why are activities to build community in the classroom important?
A classroom community is more important to an educational environment than you might think! When a class shares strong feelings of community, they are more likely to hold other students accountable and take ownership of their own behavior. Day-to-day activities will go more smoothly when students work together and understand the value of their interpersonal relationships. They will be more likely to follow rules and work together to get tasks done. Finally, a good classroom community helps students act with kindness, compassion, fairness, and respect towards each other.
1. Start the morning with a song
Using songs in the classroom is a way to build classroom community while learning. Younger students respond really well to songs, and I’ve found that to be true with my first graders. Singing is great for bringing students together and helping them focus on whatever task is at hand. I love using my Songs for Your Classroom with my first graders, but they also work well for kindergartners and second graders.
2. Hold morning meetings
Morning meetings are a fantastic way to hold engaging discussions each morning and help your students focus on the day ahead. I use these Digital Morning Meetings for 1st Grade with my kids. The meetings let students sing a morning song together, answer a question of the day, get moving, and even answer a math problem! Students always get excited to start their day with this fun activity. Plus, the meetings are perfect for both in-person and distance learning.
3. Ask discussion questions
When students get to know each other on a deeper level, it helps foster a sense of understanding, compassion, and form lasting friendships. They also encourage critical thinking skills and help each student develop a sense of self. For this reason, I love including discussion questions in my classroom routine or in my morning meetings. To make it easier for you, I have two sets of discussion questions that are perfect for elementary students. Here is Set One and here is Set Two! I also wanted to include these Morning Meeting Roll and Talk Discussion Questions and Digital Discussion Questions designed for K-2nd grade students.
4. Let students design their perfect classroom
Here’s a fun one: this Design Your Perfect Classroom Activity is an amazing way to let your students envision their perfect classroom and build community while doing so. This project allows your students to think critically about what would be the best learning environment for them and their classmates. Students will work together through 10 steps to complete a model of their perfect classroom. The steps of this project include individual and group brainstorming, research, planning, revising, and creation. Students can reflect on their final products, too! A project based activity like this is a fantastic way to introduce group work to your students and encourage a collaborative environment.
5. Incorporate community building into your first day of school
A positive classroom community starts on the very first day! When planning your first day activities, I recommend including activities that help students get to know each other. For example, my Digital Back to School Activity lets students share their “Silly School Name” with each other. Trust me, this game is sure to bring about a lot of laughs!
Encourage students to build a positive community and take ownership with these 5 activities to build community in the classroom. From silly songs to collaborative projects, these resources will help you construct a compassionate and productive community that will last all year long!