5 Easy Community Building in the Classroom Activities

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In our classrooms, we are constantly finding ways to create an atmosphere of family. This leaves many teachers searching for the best community building in the classroom activities. These activities go far beyond the typical ice breaker you might decide to play on the first day of school. Community building in the classroom activities should take place throughout the year and always help students ‘play nice’ and also encourage them to work together as a team.

The following activities are designed with these goals in mind. They are great options for your early childhood or elementary school classrooms, but could easily be adapted for middle or high school groups too! These community building in the classroom activities can be used during any season of the year, and your students will be totally engaged and focused the entire time.

Community building in the classroom activities are something that your students will remember for years to come. It’s a great way to make a positive lasting impression on your students. They will not only remember the fun they had but also how it made them feel to participate in these activities. They will learn to work together as a team because you took the time to set up community building in the classroom activities that were meaningful and impactful for them.

Community building in the classroom activities helps ensure that students are developing socially, emotionally, mentally, and academically. The activities are designed to help students learn how to effectively communicate with each other, problem-solve, think creatively, take turns, practice good sportsmanship, share their ideas and opinions respectfully with others, listen attentively to others in the group, follow directions from teachers or supervisors, etc.

Community building in the classroom activities are created in such a way to help students feel included, felt valued, and respected. They are developed to promote kindness, caring for others, self-esteem, responsibility-taking ownership of their actions or words towards others in the group. It’s never about winners or losers but rather everyone participating having fun and learning at the same time.

The Listening Jar:

Students love this activity! You simply pass out a sheet of paper and write an action verb on the board (i.e., walk, run, skip, hop…). Then give each student a piece of paper and pencil and tell them to quietly walk around the room and write down their favorite action verb on their sheet of paper. After they return to their seats, collect the papers, and have students go through and circle the verbs that were repeated by other students in the class. Each student then shares out why they chose that particular action word.

Why is this listed for community building in the classroom activities?

This activity allows students to be part of a group without feeling overwhelmed. It also encourages students to think about their classmates’ opinions and share them during circle time.

community building in the classroom activities

The Name Game:

Next on the list of simple yet effective community building in the classroom activities, collect as many whiteboard markers as you have students in class.

Write each child’s name on the board in a different color, starting with my own. I then asked students to walk around the room looking for their names written in their favorite color. When they find it, they let you know by saying “I found my name!”

Why is this listed for community building in the classroom activities?

This activity allows students to explore and find their classmates’ names and gives those shy students the opportunity to participate in an engaging way. It also builds feelings of trust by allowing each student to physically see his or her name on a daily basis.

Partner Scavenger Hunt:

I’d like to preface this activity by saying that your class of students will need to know the following vocabulary terms prior to playing this game.

-Shared Resource: A resource that can be used by two or more individuals at the same time, for example, water.

-Common Resource: A resource that is available in quantities large enough to support a group of users but that is still finite, for example, a single tube of paint.

-Inaccessible Resource: A resource that cannot be used by all the individuals within an area without causing damage to other users, for example, sunlight.

The first step in this community building in the classroom activities is to prepare index cards with students’ names on them and a word that describes a type of resource [i.e., shared, common, or inaccessible]. Ask students to think about how they function in a group and what types of resources each individual student uses. Index cards could be anything from construction paper squares to simple slips of paper with the above words written on them!

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Next, have students pair up with someone they don’t already know very well. It’s important to note that some classmates might not have a partner, so it’s good to have a group plan in place for these students.

Once a pair is established, give them one index card and have your students start walking around the room searching for their matching resource type. I had my learners play in one room of my classroom, but if your school has more than one classroom, you can have students search in different rooms.

When a student finds his or her matching resource type, the teammate will signal their partner from across the room. Once their pair is together again, they switch cards and continue to look for the second half of the scavenger hunt.

Why is this listed for community building in the classroom activities?

This activity allows students who don’t know each other to play and talk with one another while searching for their partners. It also encourages students to pay attention to how resources impact others and provides them will vocabulary that they can use throughout the year.

L.O.C.K.:

For this community building in the classroom activity, I gave each student a Post-It pad and wrote out expectations for behavior [L = Listen, O = Offer ideas, C = Collaborate (talk with your neighbor), K- Keep working].

Next, I explained that when they heard me say “LOCK” (in a much louder voice than the previous three words), they should stick their Post-It pad on top of their desk or in another visible spot. The goal was for students to walk around the room and see how many classmates were following classroom expectations.

Why is this listed for community building in the classroom activities?

This activity allowed students to see the behaviors that were expected in my classroom and gave them an opportunity to model those same expectations for their classmates. It also encouraged students to think about how they can contribute as group members.

Chips Challenge:

This activity was a huge hit with my learners! Prior to playing, I wrote numbers from 1-20 on Post-It notes and then cut them into smaller squares.

Next, I attached each number to a different color chip using Velcro. The chips were separated out into equal groups of 5 numbers [i.e., 5 yellow chips with the number 1, 5 orange chips with the number 2, etc.] so that there were 20 chips in total.

Finally, I explained that my learners would play a partner game where they would work with two other classmates to get the highest score possible. However, there were a few rules! First, students needed to stand up and be fully engaged during their round of Chips Challenge since this was a team-building activity. Secondly, each group needed to decide on their team name before they began playing.

Lastly, I explained that each group’s total score could not go above 100 points [i.e., 5 yellow chips = 5 points] so if a group was getting close to the maximum point value, they needed to pass or trade in some of their chips with another group in order to keep their scores under 100.

Why is this listed for community building in the classroom activities?

This game allowed students to work with one another to solve problems and explore different strategies for increasing their scores. It also gave students an opportunity to see that they could help each other succeed by finding ways to make group decisions!  The possibilities are endless with this activity and it was a great way to get my students up and moving.

Finding the Best Community Building in the Classroom Activities

Keep in mind, community building in the classroom activities are not one size fits all.

You will need to take time in order to assess the needs of your students and then design activities that will meet their unique needs. The five examples listed are just a few that have worked well for me in my own classroom, but they should give you some great ideas for how to foster community building within your learning environment.

The purpose of searching for community building in the classroom activities is to find ones that will work for your students. You want them to learn and feel empowered so be sure to take the time to reflect on your students and adjust your plans as needed. Keep working hard and remember that community building can look a little different for every learner!

I love engaging with my students and seeing their authentic personalities shine! I recommend classroom activities for a lot of students, but I especially love working with students who have a little bit more of an active imagination. Those kids have been keeping me on my toes! They are so full of passion and energy that they need to be more engaged in the classroom community. You won’t have students like this every year, but when you do, it’s magical.

Don’t be afraid to keep trying. Classroom community is everything. You will find a balance soon! Please share any activities that have worked well for you in the comments section below!

Community Building in the Classroom Activities and the 4 Keys

Finding community building in the classroom activities that work well for your students isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.

If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.

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