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Get to Know Your Students Ideas and Freebies

It's back to school season and quite possibly my favorite time of the year. Even more than Christmas! I mean, I love, love, love all things back to school; the decorating, the prepping, the new teacher outfit. Going back to school is fun! If you're like me, you especially love meeting your students for the first time, and getting to know your students too!

Imagine, it's the first day of school, all your students have come in and they're looking up at you. Take advantage of those first few moments to leave a lasting impression. What can you do? I've got a list of four fun activities to use at the beginning of the school year.

The first weeks of school always have little pockets of time that need to be filled. And I want to share with you four ideas that you can plug in throughout to help you get to know your students better!

Paper Bag Introductions

This is a great activity to do so that your students get to know you! Prior to the first day of school, find 5 items that represent you. Next, place them in a paper bag. Finally, use the items in the bag to introduce yourself to the class.

Take this activity a step further and have students bring their own bags and share them with the class about themselves! A fun spin is to keep it anonymous, students bring in their bags and the class has to guess who it belongs to.

Ask for their Opinion

I bet not too many students are used to being asked, “What kind of teacher do you want?”!

They are used to hearing from others how they should behave but not too much on how their teacher should behave.

Ask them! And chart it!

poster of student ideas with the question what kid of teacher do you want

This activity will only take about 5-10 minutes but will be so powerful. It will help you get to know your students and what they want, more importantly, what they need.

You will be surprised by the cool ideas that they come up with.

End the activity by promising them that you will uphold those ideas. Let them know that you value their opinions, that their ideas and opinions matter to you. Even though they have smaller voices, they are being heard when they are with you.

I'd suggest posting this chart in a special place that you will be able to see daily.

Beach Ball Throw

This is fun and inexpensive! Have a beach ball or a few? Write some easy get-to-know-you questions on the ball. Place students in one circle or multiple circles, if you have more beach balls. Students throw the ball and whoever catches it, has to answer the question that is facing them.

Possible questions:

  • Tell one place you went to this summer.
  • Share one fact about your favorite animal.
  • What kind of games do you like to play?
  • Do you prefer warm weather or cold weather?
  • What is your favorite sport?
  • How many siblings are in your family?
  • Do you like to bike ride? Where do you go?

Want to do this year-round? Instead of writing the question on it, write a number on the beach ball! Then you can have a set of index cards with the corresponding number and a question. Use it for science, math, social studies etc.

beach ball with numbers on it

Find a Friend

In this Find a Friend activity, students walk around and get to know their classmates by asking questions; and in turn, helps you get to know your students too. They find things they have in common or learn things about each other and write their new friend's name in the square.

Back to school freebie to help students get to know each other.

This is a great activity to get kids up and moving and talking with each other. If you don't have time to finish the whole page, do it in short spurts throughout the week. If you have an extra 10 minutes to fill, have them “find a friend”.

This FREEBIE is available in my Resource Library.

Build Community

The first weeks of school is the best time to start building a strong classroom community. Similar to the game Find a Friend, if you get the students to start talking and getting to know each other better, you'll get to know your students too! It's a win-win!

Do you have a lot of students that are new to the school on the first day of school? The best thing you can do is find ways to quickly get kids talking to each other so those friendships can form. Have your class generate questions they want to ask each other. You can also use these Ice-Breaker Questions ready-made slides or the all-time-student-favorite cootie catchers.

Does this work?

There was a time – when I was a brand new teacher- that I didn't take the time at the beginning of the year to get to know my students. I don't know why? Maybe, I felt that teaching them the rules was enough. Or maybe I felt that I didn't have enough time and had to get started with curriculum right away.

If you've been in this boat you're probably nodding your head.

But the truth is, you can't afford to not make time. What I've learned (the hard way) is that your students need to feel cared for and be able to trust before they put their guards down. Students' emotional needs should always take residence over academics. By slowing down at the beginning of the school year, you are building a strong foundation that will carry you through the year.

Need more Back to School ideas and resources!

This freebie is part of my First Week of School Teacher Plans! In this 100 page resource, you'll find everything you need to have a successful first week of school. It has

  • planning pages
  • check-off lists
  • student activities
  • editable student letters
  • editable parent pages

Save your pin now and come back later!

FREE Back to school ideas and activities. Get to know your students and community building activity!

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