5 'Getting to Know You' Activities to Begin the Year With FREEBIES

When students begin the new year, they are anxious about meeting their new teachers, moving up to a new grade, the classroom expectations, and fitting in with their new classmates. Most teachers begin the new year by explaining all the rules and expectations. This can be so overwhelming. And, to tell you the truth, students won't remember what you've told them. Their minds are elsewhere! I have 5 Getting to Know You Activities to Begin the Year that will help your students relax and enjoy the beginning of the new school year. It will also help lay the foundation for a positive and safe environment.

5 Getting to Know You Activities to Begin the New Year - Cover image
When you implement icebreakers or 'getting to know you' activities, you can immediately learn so much about your students. It's an opportunity to see who the class leaders are, learn about individual interests, and to calm the beginning of the year jitters. You can even cover some of your grade-level standards through icebreakers. Building classroom community is essential in developing cooperative learning skills. These activities will help in building teamwork, tolerance and acceptance, and positive self-esteem.

1. Project Based Learning

Have you ever thought of beginning the year with a project based learning unit? This PBL unit incorporates cooperative learning, building a classroom community, and sharing student interests. Some of the activities in the  unit includes: coming up with a class motto, mascot, and designing a class t-shirt. Students will even decide on class service project. They can even take it a step further by hosting a Back to School Snow Cone Party

Cover Page for Project Based Learning Beginning of the Year Activities

2. Digital Escape Rooms

I'm hooked on Digital Escape Rooms. Digital Citizenship needs to be emphasized at the beginning of the year and this escape room teaches students in an engaging way. Digital EDUcational Escape Rooms are very similar to scavenger hunts. They involve students to work in teams to use clues to crack multiple locks in a set amount of time. Digital Escapes apply learning in a fun and engaging way. This escape requires students to use a Google Form™ instead of actual locked boxes. Digital escape rooms enhance team-building and involve collaboration and communication among your students. Learn more about this Digital Escape Room. Grab a FREE introduction to Digital Escape Rooms. 

Other Digital Escape Rooms you can implement at the beginning of the year:

3. All About Me Activities

There are so many different types of All About Me Activities. Here are a few ideas:

  • iPad Theme All About Me - These are fun for students to complete and they look so cute on the walls of your classroom. Students can go around and learn about their new friends. They can learn how much they have in common and appreciate differences.

Preview image for iPad Theme All About Me product

  • Digital Slideshow Bright Beginning to a New Year - Students will use Google Slides™ to share interests, goals, summer activities, and more. This can be used each year and you can easily delete the slides you do not want to use. This activity is fun to have available for Back to School Night. It's so easy to use. Students just create text boxes and type their information. Older or more advanced students can easily add photos or Google images.

cover page for Bright Beginning for a new year .    slide from Bright Beginning product

Google slide for Bright Beginning Product .    Google slide for Bright Beginning Product

  • All About Me Flipbook - This is another fun activity for students to do at the beginning of the year. Students can make their flipbooks and read them out loud to their classmates. Another way to present them is to have students introduce a a fellow classmate by reading their flipbook. 
  • All About Me PicCollage Activity - Students can create a collage of words that describe themselves or select stickers that represent their favorites. Take individual photos of the students at the beginning of the year. They import their photo and then can cut out the background so they can design their collage. Then, do the same thing at the end of the year. Your students can see how much they have changed.
PicCollage sample image for All About Me

4. Read-a-loud Books - There are so many excellent books you can read to your students at the beginning of the new year. One of my favorites is The Name Jar. Students learn about acceptance, tolerance, making connections, making new friends, and cultural backgrounds. I love this book! 

The Name Jar preview of the book companion product

Another favorite book is The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires which teaches Growth Mindset. She has great books to read at the beginning of the year. You can download FREE activities to go along with the book. 

5. Hands-On Activities - Even though I'm a techie person, I love Interactive Notebooks and Lapbooks. Students can work in teams in designing their notebook or lapbook. When teaching Cyber Safety, students can use Interactive notebooks

Cover image for Digital Citizenship INB .       photo of digital citizenship INB templates

To help elementary and middle students to overcome the beginning of the year jitters, try these 'Getting to Know You' activities. I've provided ideas for building community and self-esteem. This is perfect for 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grade students. #backtoschool #gettingtoknowyou #pbl

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