Can you believe that teachers in my district start back to school next week?! Crazy! If you are also headed back to school soon, you are going to want to start thinking about fun back to school activities! If you just started your summer break, pin this post and get back in the pool!
My third graders had such a fun time with this simple activity. It got them talking with one another and working as a team from day one.
You will need plastic cups, 4 paper clips per group, gummy worms and gummy lifesavers.
Fred, the worm, was riding in his boat, the cup, when it tipped over. Fred is on top of the boat and he doesn't know how to swim. Lucky for him, he brought a life preserver, the lifesaver. The problem? The life preserver is stuck under the boat.
Students will work in groups to plan a way to get Fred inside the life preserver. They cannot touch the worm, the boat or the life preserver with their fingers. The only tools they can use to help are the four paperclips. I divided my students into groups of 4. First, they talked together about how they wanted to approach the task. When the group had a plan, they could begin their work. Throughout the task they were laughing, strategizing and working together. It warms my teacher heart to see all of this happening on the first day of school!
After they have completed the task, I had them write and illustrate about their strategy. The different groups shared with one another.
My school used this activity as an icebreaker when we came back to school last year. It was a fun team competition that had students creatively working together.
You will need to give each group uncooked spaghetti noodles and large marshmallows. Each group should have about the same amount of supplies.
Students work in groups to see who can build the HIGHEST structure in the specified amount of time. They can only use the spaghetti and the marshmallows. The winner is the team who has the highest structure when time is called. Many will build tall structures that fall before time is up.
One of my groups built a medium sized structure. Groups around them were building taller ones, but this group stopped. I came by and asked why they weren't building. They said that they figured the other towers would fall and they were taking their chances with the shorter by sturdier structure. Smart, right? They won!
Groups drew pictures of their creations and reflected on what they learned about building.
Everyone giggled a lot and it was a great time to talk about good sportsmanship and how games are played fairly in our classroom.
Toothpaste Tube Task:
Right from the beginning of the year, I want my students to be mindful of the words they choose to use with one another. They will be offering suggestions on writing and problem solving all year. We will spend countless hours working with partners or small groups. They need need to understand that words CAN indeed hurt.
Every group will need a tube of toothpaste, a spoon and a plate or tray.
Have the group squirt all of the toothpaste out of the tube and on to the plate. They will think this is silly and you will get some giggles. I love giggles!
Now tell the students that their task is to get every little bit of the toothpaste back into the tube before your timer goes off. They can only use their fingers and the spoon. EVERY BIT!
Guess what? It's NOT possible!
After kids have had an opportunity to try and time to wash (it's kind messy but your room will smell minty fresh!), have a class meeting. Read the book My Mouth is a Volcano and talk about how words are like the toothpaste. Once they come out, it is impossible to put them back in. You could get some of the paste back in the tube, but their was still a mess. You can apologize for your words, but you can't erase the memory or the pain they caused another person.
Students go back to their seats and reflect on this lesson.
Play Doh Creations:
I used this as the very first thing students did when they walked into the classroom on the first day of school. I wanted to set the tone from the start that our classroom would be different and fun. So when students got to there desks, they found a small container of Play Doh. They were told that they could work alone or work with each other to create ANYTHING they wanted to. The only rule was that the Play Doh had to stay on a desk or table and not be on the carpet. Some kids chose to work together so they had more doh and multiple colors to build one creation. Other students preferred to work alone.
While they were working, I was able to deal with paperwork, attendance and bags of supplies that were handed to me on the way in. This was a much better way to start our day than starting with a discussion of the class rules or where to put their supplies. There was time for all the logistics later! Fun first!
Would you like to grab all of my planning/reflection sheets for FREE? Just click on the picture below to download.
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