Low Pressure Games to Foster Classroom Community
The beginning of the school year is a blank slate. You are all new to one another after a summer at home. Kids and teachers get to start fresh, in a new class. The students look to the teacher to set the tone, behavior norms and class culture for the year. This is the prime real estate for setting up the best classroom community possible for your year. And then sticking to it! Low stakes games are a great way to have fun as a class. Making them about the students adds a heightened level of interest. It is saying to them “You are important and I am interested in what is unique about you.” How you respond to their facts also sets the tone for how the students will be encouraged to respond to each other. Let’s make this year the best year possible!
1. Boring Facts: I got this from a social media post. The teacher stated, “Instead of asking the class for interesting facts this year, I asked them for boring facts and it was way more fun.” Pass out index cards and have students write their names at the top. Tell students to think of a boring, everyday fact about themselves. Something that is specific to them and not too general. Ex) I love ranch dressing and put it on everything. Or I only eat my burger with pickles and mustard. Or I set my alarm for 6:33 am every morning. Don’t let them write general things like “I like pizza” or “I have a dog.” Have them be specific. Then collect the cards and each day start by reading a few facts and having students guess the students. Bonus: create a game on Kahoot using these same facts and students can revisit it later in the year.
2. Two Truths and a Lie: An oldie but a goodie. I like using the index cards for this again. Ask students to write their name at the top of the card. Then write two true facts about themselves and a lie. Have them mark the lie with an x (or circle it or mark it some other way). Also, let them know they can write them in any order- don’t have everyone put the lie last or it will be obvious. Then, start out each class by reading who the student is, what the three items are and have the students guess the lie. These can also be used later on in a Kahoot game to review what they know about one another.
3. One Word Stories: I learned this one as a drama class warm up activity. It builds creativity and fun. It does get a little ridiculous and sometimes makes no sense at all! Have students sit in a circle if possible. Each person says one word to create a story. To get the flow going, have it always start with “Once upon a time.” Person one says “once.” Person two says, “upon.” Person three says “a.” Person four says “time.” Then, person five will say whatever they want (within reason). They might say “there.” and Person six might say “was.” etc. After getting to a good stopping point you can challenge the class to go back and remember the entire story. You might even have a notetaker write it down. Since the stories are fun and imaginative, students love doing this together. It gives them something to bond over. To extend this one to another day, you could have students work in small groups or partners and do it again. Another spin off is the alphabet version. Person one has to say a word staring with “A.” Person two says one starting with “b.” Person three says one starting with “c.” And it continues. ex) All butterflies can drive exceptional Ferraris getting happy inside. Just keep looking….” Sometimes it falls apart but it’s a fun challenge.
4. Caliente/Frio: For this simple game, find a small toy or object that kids like. I use a Mike Wazowski monster figure. Select a student to hide the toy and a student to find the toy. The searcher will wait in the hallway while the hider hides it in the room, making sure it is still visible. Invite the searcher back in. They should walk to the middle of the room. Then, tell them if they are warm (caliente) or cold (frio), depending on how close they are to the object. As they move closer you tell them “mas caliente” and as they move further away from it, you tell them “mas frio”. Once they are near it you can tell them “en fuego!” or on fire! This game is a nice pace. It usually doesn’t take too long to find the object so several people get turns hiding and finding. I love hiding it in unlikely places like on a student’s shoulder, or in their hood. You could also use this to teach hot and cold in multiple languages- adding the element of playing with words.
5. One Must Go: Hand out sticky notes to students. Tell them to write three items in the same category on their sticky note. Ex) winter, spring, summer or candy, cookies, ice cream. You might also want to have your own list written as a backup. Then, collect the stickies and read one of the sticky notes. The students must decide if one has to go, which one they would choose. You can have them raise hands to show the answer. Or you could choose places in the room for each answer and have them walk to the area of the one they would eliminate. Then let the debates begin!
Try out a new community building activity in your class or share one that you already do and love! Tell me about it in a comment below: