20 Unique Activities to Get To Know Your Students Better

20 Unique Activities to Get To Know Your Students Better

It is never too late to get to know your students better. Too often it feels that “getting to know you” activities are slated for the first month of school only. However, students just start to feel comfortable by the end of that first month. That means you’ll actually learn more about your students if you continue to incorporate get-to-know-you activities later in the school year. Whether you’re playing a game, making a craft, or just having conversations with students, getting to know your students and ensuring they feel safe and seen is arguably the most important responsibility that a teacher has.

Here are 20 activities to get to know your students better!

1. Have students find and share with the class their favorite part in the book they’re currently reading!

Not only does this idea include reading, but it also can be really telling as to what interests students in their own lives. Is it a funny scene they choose, a character receiving a new puppy, or a surprise twist? Students’ personalities are easily revealed during this activity.

2. Focus on learning more about the history behind each student’s name.

Ask students if they were named after someone, if their name has a meaning, or if their family and friends have any nicknames for them. You’re likely to learn about where students’ families come from and maybe even a few family traditions by discussing the origins of names! If students are too young to fully know the history of their name, consider making this a home-school connection project. Involve families in this activity and enlist their help!

Note: Be aware that not all kids, especially those who were adopted or in foster care, know the origins or history of their names. Discussing what they think their name might mean or what they’d choose if they could pick a different name are inclusive options.

3. Play “People Bingo”

In People Bingo, students will need to find a different student for each box on their Bingo card. The Bingo card includes categories like “born in the summer” or “has a brother.” Students will walk around asking classmates if each category is true for them, and, if it is, they can write in their name. Students may not repeat names! The teacher should participate so that he/she can learn about students and vice versa.

4. Assign “All About Me Bags”

Give students a paper bag to take time. Instruct them to put four things that represent them in the bag. They then bring the bag back to share with the class. This can be modified for distance learning by telling students to put their items in a backpack or pillow case until the big onscreen reveal.

5. Create a Facebook bulletin board that students can fill out each week.

Choose one student per week to take over the bulletin board. Students can bring in pictures from home to put up on the bulletin board and should be prepared to fill out their “likes” and extra “info” about themselves. You could also create an Instagram or TikTok bulletin board with the same overall goal!

6. Conduct post-it note interviews.

Via: @mathwithmsrivera

Write a question on the whiteboard and have students jot down their answers on post-it notes and stick them to the board. Compiling the post=it note responses into a typed list can be a classroom job for a student.

7. Play “First to Last”

In this activity, the teacher will give students a range of items within a category (like types of fruit) and students will need to order them from their most favorite to their least favorite. You can play this with printed pictures in class or digitally using Google Slides to drag images in order. Teachers will learn all of their students’ favorite things!

8. Get to know students’ reading interests better by giving a reading inventory!

Ask students questions like how often they read, what genre they most enjoy, and what character from a book they most relate to. You may also learn more about students’ personal interests based on their reading interests! Check out this free download of a reading inventory. Tip: Send home a similar survey to parents to get their point of view of their child as well.

9. Read together about following your dreams, and then have students detail their own dreams.

Hopes and Dreams Get to Know Students Books

Read aloud options include Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum, Matthew’s Dream, or More Than Anything Else. Any of these books will jumpstart the conversation of why hopes and dreams are so important. Students’ hopes and dreams will show teachers what is important to them.

10. Create a tangled web.

While sitting in a circle together, give one student a ball of yarn. The student should hold on to the end of the yarn and share something new about him/herself. After sharing, the student holds on to the end and passes the ball of yarn to another student across the circle. That student hangs on to the string, shares, and passes the ball along to someone new. Soon, you’ll have created a tangled web!

(Note: of course, save this activity for when it is safe to pass items around in this way!)

11. Make magazine collages.

Stock up on magazines and newspapers (ask parents of students to help you out with this if needed). Tell students to search through the magazines and newspapers for phrases and images that represent them. They’ll cut out bits and piece them together into a collage that is unique to them. Give students a chance to share their collages and explain why each image or phrase represents them.

12. Play “Three Things”

In this trivia game, students will write down three facts about themselves on an index card or post-it note. They will not put down their name on the note. The teacher collects all cards and reads aloud each one at a time. Classmates will guess who the card belongs to based on the three written facts. Remind students to write down facts that are a bit mysterious and really interesting!

13. Create acrostic name poems.

Each letter in a student’s name should be an adjective that describes them. Get a free template here or have students use a blank sheet of paper to create their masterpiece from scratch.

14. Play “Food for Thought”

This game is similar to “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…” Students will say their name and a food item they enjoy that also starts with the same first letter as their name. For example, Julie may say, “My name is Julie and I like jam.” The next student will repeat all examples before their turn and then add on their own food for thought. The last person in the class will need to recall every person’s name and their food item.

15. Use dice to get to know your students.

Hand out one die to each student and create a question for each number that students would need to answer if they roll that number.

For example:

1 – Who is your hero?

2 – What is your favorite sport?

3 – What food item would you never eat?

4 – If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

5 – What is your all time favorite TV show?

6 – What qualities do you look for in a friend?

16. Create autobiography presentations.

If students have access to computers, they could create a Google Slides or PowerPoint presentation all about themselves. Alternatively, students can write a report or create a poster. Students can either share their presentations with the class or in small groups. Projects should be interesting and include fun facts that classmates do not already know about their peers!

17. Play “Agree or Disagree”

The teacher will read aloud one statement at a time that students will need to agree or disagree with. For example, the teacher might say “Breakfast is the best meal of the day” or “It’s easy for me to get up in the morning.” Students can either do a thumbs up or thumbs down to agree or disagree OR students can physically move to one side of the classroom for agreeing to a statement or the other side of the room to disagree. Students will see who they have things in common with and the teacher will get a better idea of students’ personalities.

18. Do a daily check-in.

One of the best ways to get to know students better is to check-in with their mental health daily. Have students fill out a google form or paper form each morning that asks if/what they had for breakfast, asks them to choose an emoji to describe how they’re feeling, asks about something that might be bothering them, and gives the opportunity to share anything the student wants with the teacher. Teachers learn so much from these quick check-ins.

19. Set students up with gratitude journals.

Each day, students will write down three new gratitudes different from previous days. They should do this for several days in a row. Students will get chances to share their gratitudes with the class, but make sure to be respectful of those who aren’t fully comfortable doing so with the entire class. Teachers will learn what students have and appreciate in their lives.

20. Have 1:1 conversations with your students.

Invite students to have lunch with you (in-person or virtually), set aside time at the end of the day to sit with a student uninterrupted, or schedule a student-teacher conference ahead of time. There is truly no better way to get to know your students than to simply sit down with them and chat about life.

Students will have so much with these activities, they’ll be begging for more throughout the entire school year!

Also Check Out:

20 Activities to Get to Know Your Students Better - FB Cover Draft

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Jenna Marcal

Veteran Legend

Jenna is a 5th grade teacher in Upstate New York! She loves to cook, dance, and dance while cooking! When she's not taking care of her succulent babies, Jenna can be found grading a stack of papers with one hand and holding a chilled glass of white wine in the other.

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