Building classroom community early on in the school year is so important for a strong, healthy school year.
But if your students need a refresher after a long break or because of tensions that have arisen from an incident in or outside of the classroom, the following activities will work just as well.
Your attitude toward the class and the community that you want to build.
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Here are seven different activities and ideas that can be used to build classroom community in elementary, middle, and high school.
They have one important thing in common – they get students smiling, talking, and working together.
Strategies for Building Classroom Community
While you can certainly do all of the activities below, there may be some group activities for kids that your students prefer over others.
Take that into consideration and pull out those activities when your class needs a little community spirit refresher!
Questions are the key to the soul, but sometimes getting kids to participate can be like pulling teeth.
The trick? Have yes/no, either/or questions.
That way students only have to pick from two answers and there’s none of that awkward open-ended question anxiety that shows itself at the beginning of the school year.
Why put your students on the spot?
That does nothing to build trust or classroom community.
Would You Rather Questions are, unquestionably, my favorite way to do this.
They’re usually fun and they give you insight into your class and your students get insight into one another.
You can download a free sampler pack of Would You Rather Questions below to start using with your students from day one!
Download a FREE Would You Rather Sampler Pack to see how much fun it is to use them with your kids!
Complete a Goal or Project
When the class works together to complete a goal or project it can be a powerful tool for building classroom community.
It could be working together to decorate the bulletin boards in the classroom or the hallway or decorating a lunchbox box or even just wiping down desks and cleaning the room.
One of my favorite ways to do this from Day 1 was to let the students decide how we should arrange the desks.
As the teacher, you, of course, have veto power, but giving them the opportunity to arrange the space in a way that makes sense to and for them is powerful.
I have to admit that silly jokes are one of my favorite ways to build classroom community.
They produce collective groans and make students smile and laugh.
There’s nothing that builds classroom community faster when the whole class is groaning at a silly joke that you told!
These are especially effective around the holidays when everyone is feeling a little bit stressed out!
The set of November Jokes for Kids is a great example of funny (and punny!) jokes that will make even your toughest students crack a smile!
Finding the right jokes can be tricky though!
Some teachers love doing a call and response to get students’ attention and refocus the class.
If that’s something that your students respond well to, try coming up with a fun call/response that’s just for that class.
It will make them feel special and create a bond that only they will understand.
An example might be instead of saying “Peanut Butter/Jelly” try “Bologna/Cheese” or something else that has meaning for those students.
Playing games is always a fun way to build classroom community.
If possible, head outside every now and again to play.
Even a silly game of duck, duck, goose can get your students laughing and bonding.
Red Rover, Octopus Tag, and others are also fun options.
Create a chart paper-size BINGO board that students can work together to complete.
While many teachers like to put behavior outcomes on the BINGO board, I have found that to be a really tricky thing when I have students who have or may need behavior modification plans.
Sometimes it’s a better idea to have things like “Someone wore striped pants” or “Came to school in pink socks” than “No one blurted out today.”
Create a Wall of Fame in your classroom that celebrates all of your students.
When something fun or special has happened in their lives, jot it down on the board under their picture.
It’s not about the accomplishment that they have achieved, it’s about the fact that they are being recognized and seen in the class.
The Key to Classroom Community
No matter what activities you try or how you attempt to build classroom community, the key to it all is your attitude and outlook as the teacher.
If your students know that you value and care about how they get along and the community that they build, they’ll be much more likely to bond.
Approach it with an open mind and heart and show enthusiasm for building a classroom community that will make them and you proud!