With that comes the first day, which always makes me a bit nervous, mostly because the students are so nervous. It's contagious. They are all so quiet and well-behaved and so different from how they'll be in a week or two. I'm always shocked when I realize just how much personality is packed into those shy little kids I meet the first day. And while you'd think I'd enjoy the quiet (because in a few weeks I'll be strategizing how to get them to be quiet again), really I just want them to feel comfortable and at ease. It helps us both.
So here's a little first day of school icebreaker I do with my first graders that helps them ease up a little and helps me learn their names.
It's simple and doesn't require any planning and I guess isn't terrible creative, but it's fun!
When I switched to teaching younger kids, it took me a while to transition. The first day I had them stand up and introduce themselves. How very adult of me. It just made them nervous and really isn't a good idea for little kids, it turns out. I realized that about half way through the introductions, and switched to this.
The Name Game
I ask each of the students their names then I close my eyes and while they're closed the students all move around and switch places. When I say stop, they freeze in place and I point to each student and guess their name. If I get their name right, they sit down in their seat. If I get their name wrong, they stay standing. I close my eyes and the remaining students switch places and I try to guess again. It usually takes a few rounds before I can get them all and the students love it for a few reasons.
1) They get to run around while my eyes are closed!
2) They get to try to trick the teacher!
3) For some reason it's downright hilarious when a teacher can't remember their names!
I usually do this the first few days because one day just isn't enough for me to remember their names. You can also have a student close their eyes and try to guess everyone's names. If you do this, be sure to join in and have the student guess your name too. Kids always get it a kick out of having their teacher join in on little games like this, and it builds rapport and helps them feel comfortable in the classroom.
I'm always up for more ideas, so please share.