5 Ways to Get to Know Your Students

07 August 2015 / Leave a Comment
Hey everyone! It's Cassie from Funky in Fourth. The school year starts for me in just a few short weeks, so I have been busy planning... planning... planning for those first few days of school! I decided to share my favorite get to know you activities that are so easy and so much fun, for both the primary and intermediate grades! You are going to want to read this one to the end... there *might* just be a FREEBIE hidden somewhere in the blog post that you can use in your classroom on day one!!

This is the activity that I have my students start working on right when they enter my classroom on the first day of school. I have the directions projected up on my whiteboard and the index card is sitting at their desk with a freshly sharpened pencil (probably my favorite part about the beginning of the school year...). 

They simply write the following items on every other line on the index card and place their name on the right edge of the card. 
Line One: age
Line Two: favorite food
Line Three: favorite color
Line Four: characteristic (about their appearance)
Line Five: favorite animal
Line Six: middle name
Line Seven: letter (either first letter of first name or last name)

Here is an example card: 
After all of your students have had a chance to list out their trivia details, collect all the cards. Done. Well kind of! Store the cards in a place where your students can't see them. When you have an extra minute or two throughout the first few weeks of school, simply grab a card, start at the top and list the details out loud to the class (give plenty of guessing time in between each line). DO NOT ANNOUNCE THE NAME even if they guess it until you have read all seven clues. 

Simple way to fill a few extra minutes and learn all about your students! My favorite is the characteristic. Some students will list "glasses" or "freckles" and they are the only kid in the class that has them... dead giveaway. Or they might list "tan"- which most kids are after summer break, more of a challenge that way!

This game is one that we play during morning meeting during the first week of school. You have all of your students sit in a large circle. You say the name of a category and the student to your left says their answer as quick as they can. Then the student next to them says their answer and so on and so forth as QUICKLY as possible (while still saying the entire word and not made up words like "waterapple").

At the end of the round, you repeat one of the student's answers and see if the class can remember who said that as their answer during the round. Here are some example categories:

favorite fruit
favorite color
favorite sport
favorite singer
favorite movie
favorite book
favorite farm animal
favorite song
favorite dessert
favorite candy
favorite summer activity
favorite subject

You could do just a few each day or really challenge your kids and do multiple one right after the other! 

Here is another notecard activity that you can do with your students on the first day of school or even wait until a few weeks in. Hand out a blank notecard to each student and have them put their name at the top. These will NOT be read to the class so they can be as unique and sharing as they would like to be. I repeat YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE TO READ THEM. This is essential for this activity, you will be extremely surprised by how much your students are willing to share if the know their peers will not be hearing it. 

Now the fun part, set a timer for EXACTLY 3 minutes. Your students must write down the 3 most interesting facts about themselves in only 3 minutes. Once the timer goes off, they have to turn it in. 

After the 3 minutes, collect the cards. Enjoy reading through them on your own time with a nice cup of hot coffee! Here is an example of what the card would look like: 

I like this activity because I can partner up students with classmates they might not normally get to know very easily. It puts kids just outside of their comfort zone sometimes. Not too far because they are still in the classroom with their peers all around them but just enough for them to have to rely on all of those friendship and communications skills they have been learning since pre-school.

For this activity, you will need to partner your students up and give them a survey sheet. Then set a timer for 5 minutes (there will be two rotations for a total of 10 minutes). They will take turns, one being the interviewer one being the interview"ee"). They simply ask each other the questions and then record the answers on one side of the survey. 

When the timer goes off, they switch roles and the other student gets interviewed. During both rounds, you are walking around listening in and hopefully learning just a little bit more about your students (not only with their answers, but about their confidence and ability to socialize with peers). Wondering about the survey I use in my classroom? Click HERE to download the freebie!! Told you it was hidden in the post.

This one is a bit off the wall and quite frankly not loved by everyone. HOWEVER, I LOVE IT. It is one of my favorites and it is definitely a hit with my students. You will need a 4 minute timer for this activity. You will also want to have a list of some possible topics written down (most of the time I have a few but then end up making some more up as I am participating in the conversations). 

The way the activity works is you will need to number your students off 1-4. Have them start by sitting in their assigned spot. Propose a blab topic (there is a little list of ideas farther down the page). Start the 4 minute timer and let them blab. They can blab to anyone around them but they cannot get out of their chair or talk across the classroom. Their blab voices must remain calm and collected. 

When the timer goes off, yell out a number (or odd/even) for students to change places. Only the number (or odd/even) get up and change. Once everyone has found a new place to sit, propose a new blab session topic and start the timer again. I have two rules for changing places. 

#1 You must walk. No running or jumping over chairs.
#2 You cannot sit in the same seat twice. No Matter What.

It is as simple as that. You can go as long as you want with the blab session topics, just keep giving out topics, changing chairs and blabbing! Make sure that you are participating with some blabs too! I always give myself a number and pull my teacher chair right up to a desk so that students can sit in my chair when I move to a new spot. 

Here are some ideas for blab session topics:

*best summer activity
*best place to vacation
*family members
*why you LOVE school
*favorite part of the school day
*defend your favorite color/food/sport

One of my all time favorites for blab session topics are my Would You Rather task cards which you can find in my TpT store. They make the perfect controversy/discussion question! You can find them by clicking HERE

I hope that at least one of these get-to-know-you activities will be something you can use in your classroom this year. It is crucial that we get to know our students and get to know them in a hurry. I would love to know if there are specific activities you do every year to get to know your students, leave them in the comments below!


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