Creative classroom management strategies from fellow teachers and our experts.
Tower of Me
Each student gets seven 3-by-5-inch notecards. On the cards, I write a title: favorite things, family, hobbies, goals, etc. Students respond to the prompts through pictures and words. Then, with scissors, they make two small slits at the top of each card and arrange them on top of one another to build a tower. (I build a tower for myself as well, to model the result.) When all the towers are built, we have a gallery walk!
A paper snowball fight! Students write down three interesting, but not widely known, facts about themselves on slips of paper, leaving off their names. Then, everyone crumples their paper into a ball and we have a “snowball” fight. Each student finds a snowball, reads the facts, and tries to find the student whose snowball it is.
When my students enter the classroom, I have them grab squares from a roll of toilet paper. (There are giggles and embarrassment when they realize they have to grab squares of toilet paper.) Some students grab one square, while others grab several. For every piece they take, they have to share one thing about themselves.
I get students to use Flipgrid to record a 30- to 90-second video introducing themselves, and then I present the videos throughout the week when we have a few extra minutes. This keeps them from feeling nervous right away or put on the spot!
I have a puppy puppet sing a song and say the names of the students. Each one has a chance to come up to the front of the room and pet the puppet with the class watching. It helps kindergartners feel what it is like to have everyone looking at them in a safe way.
Superheroes x 25
Students have to create a superhero name for themselves related to math. They list their math superpower and their Kryptonite, and then design an emblem that represents their superhero. I ask a few students each day to share who their superhero is.
I set up an interactive smartboard game in the style of Family Feud! Students guess the top five supplies they’ll need, the top five science topics they’ll study, the top five books in the classroom library, and so on.
Pieces of a Whole
I give students a puzzle piece with their name on it. Everyone decorates their piece, and then the class works together to assemble the puzzle and figure out what the shape is. We leave it up all year to remind us how we all “fit together.”
Ask students to draw three circles, one inside the next, like a bull’s-eye. In the inside circle, have them write what they are most comfortable doing (playing basketball, camping). In the middle circle, something that makes them nervous (public speaking, roller coasters). And in the outside circle, something they are scared to do. Try again at the end of the year to see how much they’ve grown!
Photo: Adam Chinitz