During my 20-year teaching career, I have learned that when you work hard to create a community of learners, behavior problems go down and the level of student engagement goes up. Teamwork is a large part of the academic and professional world. So learning to communicate and befriend others is an important skill for children to learn.
I spend a large amount of time at the beginning of the school year incorporating community-building activities and strategies into my class.
I continue to revisit and build upon activities and strategies that strengthen student relationships in the classroom.
Valentine’s Day is a great time to celebrate friendships and to revisit the importance of working together in the classroom. Take a look at some of the activities I incorporate into my classroom on this day of love and friendship.
What makes a friend?
I have my students brainstorm what they think makes a good friend. After this discussion, I present them with several different scenarios and have them identify which is an act of a friend and which is not.
Friendship From the Heart
This activity should be completed after you have discussed the characteristics of a friend. Give each of your students a small heart with the name of a classmate on it. Have each student write one adjective that describes that classmate on the heart. Glue each student’s small heart to the large heart in the classroom. Hang it in the classroom so students can remember the qualities of a good friend.
Who’s Your Friend?
By this time in the school year, your students are well aware of the names of their classmates. But can they recognize their voices? This fun game tests that ability. To play this game, select one student to be “it.” This child should sit with his eyes closed in front of the other students. Select a student to walk up behind him and say, “I’m your friend,” in a regular voice. After the second student returns to his seat, the student who is “it” must guess who it was.
I do this activity with my younger students but it’s fun to do with all !
Can You Mend My Broken Heart?
Cooperative learning activities promote friendship and teamwork in the classroom. Divide your class into small groups of four to five students. Give each group the pieces of a broken heart (made from paper). Each group must work together to mend their broken heart before time runs out. The first group to repair their heart wins the game!
Give each of your students one half of a broken heart cut in different ways. Instruct the students to move around until they find the classmate with the matching heart. Once all the students have found their partners, explain that for the day, they will work and play with their partner. Encourage students to learn at least two new things about their partner and share it during closing circle.
Each child makes a panel for this write-and-read valentine banner. Make aclass set of a heart banner template as shown in the photos . Give each child a secret valentine. Have children write the name of their secret valentine at the top of the banner pattern. Have them fill in a clue about themselves. Guide children in following directions.
Cut the secret flap door on the dotted lines and fold it back.Glue a piece of light-colored construction paper on the back of the heart so that it covers the opening of the door.Draw a picture of yourself and write your name on the construction paper.Close the door and decorate it with bits of paper, ribbon, doilies, foil, and othercraft materials.Cut out the heart. Glue it to a sheet of construction paper and decorate.
Have children put their completed panels together to make a banner by taping them side to side. Display on a wall or in the hallway. Let children find their names on the banner, then use the clues to guess their secret valentines…I have them play a guessing game, by reading the clues myself to the class….real fun!
It’s amazing how happy students become when they take the pieces of paper down and read all the positive comments their classmates have written! They feel loved!
A love chant
This is popular among my third graders..We make bird finger puppets, like the ones in the photo and chant it all together moving the birds according to the chant which goes like this:
” Two little birds, sitting on a wall
One called Mary, one called Paul
Fly away Mary, fly away Paul,
Come back Mary, come back Paul
I love you Mary, I love you Paul
Hope, you enjoy this special holiday with your students every year ! I do!