The Tuesday 12: 12 Ways to Build Classroom Community on the First Day of School (or any time really)!

In this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we’ll look at different ways to build classroom community on the first day of school.  Here in Ontario, school does not begin until Tuesday, September 4; however, some of you may already be back with your students!  These activities are great on the first day of school, but they can really be used any day of the year!

1. Student Scavenger Hunt

Create a handout for students to fill in with their favourite items, such as favourite sport, colour, movie, school subject, song.  Once students fill in their favourites, they are to mix and mingle around the room to find other students in the class that listed the same favourite items!

2. Class Code of Conduct

Many teachers have a class set of rules posted somewhere in their classroom for their students to follow.  What about creating the classroom rules with your students on the first day of school?  As a community, create a Class Code of Conduct by brainstorming the positive behaviors that everyone will strive for throughout the year.  Once the code is written, have everyone in the class (teacher included!) to sign their name together.  This is a very powerful activity to let all students know that we are collectively responsible for our behaviors and successes.

3. Class Quilt

Grab some leftover white fabric and cut it into squares to create a beautiful class quilt!  The size of the quilt patches is up to you, but I’ve found that an 10 inch x 10 inch piece works best.  Each student receives a patch and they use markers and pencil crayons to decorate the quilt piece to illustrate their personalities, hobbies, interests, and goals for the year.  The patches are then sewn together (or even stapled if you can’t sew!) and displayed on the classroom wall like a tapestry.  It’s a beautiful creation that can then be given to a student on the last day of school (one year we gave it to a student who was moving away, while other years we chose a name at random).

4. It’s All in the Bag!

Fill a paper bag with 5-10 items that represent who you are and share them with your students along with a brief description of why each item is important to you.  Students love to find out this kind of info about their teachers!  Have students do the same activity by bringing in a paper bag filled with their own items the next day to present to the class.

5. We All Fit Together

Similar to the classroom quilt, this activity has students decorating a puzzle piece and then all pieces are put together to create a completed classroom puzzle to show how everyone in the class is connected!  Click here for the activity!

6. Class Slogan, Name, Cheer, or Song!

Make your class stand out by coming up with a class slogan, cheer, or song that is unique to your students!

7. Read All About it!

Share a great book with your students! There are so many books to help students learn to work together, appreciate/accept their differences, and celebrate their community.  Check out Lisa’s post about “The Name Jar” for some great ideas!

8. Acrostic Poems

Here’s a great lesson plan to follow up on “The Name Jar” or to use as a stand alone activity.  Students write creative acrostic poems to represent their names and characteristics.  Have students present the poems in small groups or to the whole class.

9. Here’s Introducing….

Usually students are asked to introduce themselves to the class by talking about their summer vacations, hobbies, or favourites.  Put a twist on this activity by pairing off students and have them introduce each other!  Give students about 2 minutes to talk to their partner and learn three things about them.  Next, have each pair of students introduce their partner to the rest of the class!  I find that this helps the shy students, as they may not like to introduce themselves to the class, but may be willing to introduce a partner.

10. Group Artwork

Check out these awesome collaborative artworks!  Each student in the class receives a pre-cut paper to decorate and then all the pieces come together to form a larger work of art.  Beautiful!

Source: Art at Becker Middle School

Source: Mrs. Werner’s Art Room

11. Classroom Roles!

Students should understand that they are part of a community and each person in a community has a role to play.  Here’s Lisa’s post on creating classroom jobs for students, so that each student is accountable for keeping the classroom healthy, organized, and safe!

12. Community Circle

Have students sit around in a circle (either whole class or in small groups to break the ice) and have each person share an idea on a given topic.  For example, the teacher could ask everyone to share one goal they have for the year, something they look forward to doing this year, their favourite summer memory…the list is endless!  This Community Circle can continue throughout the year to help students share ideas, discuss important topics, and share experiences!


Good luck to everyone going back to school in the next few days!
For those of you already back in school, we hope the new school year has started out great!

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