Two activities I used this year to create collisions, conversation, and laughter between my student learners were Inside/Outside Circles and Spin to Win. I teach 6th graders social studies (1 class) and science (3 classes)! Inside/Outside Circles: I wrote a 6-box grid on the board filled with prompts like 'Favorite food, snacks" and "Funny or cool story about me." The kids filled it out and then they started talking. Wouldn't you know that each class chose to go outside!
The kids suggested the inside/outside circles activity as a way to get to know each other and learn names in 1st hour. We did something different in each class, per class suggestions and vote.
Spin To Win: This little gem became a part of my yearly classroom culture through a student project in 2003-04! I use it for games with points and I use it for fun/getting-to-know-you sorts of activities with CANDY. Fun and laughter are necessary for a vibrant learning community. The Spin to Win launches this beautifully for me each year.
How the Spin to Win worked this past week: Say your name and then SPIN the wheel TO WIN!! If you land on '1 point,' you pick one piece of candy out of the treasure chest. If you land on 2, you pick out 2 pieces of candy. If you hit the one and only LUCKY LUCKY slot on the wheel you get to plunge one hand deep into the treasure chest and grab as much candy as you can in that one hand. We had 3 winners last week. You can see them in the picture above.
My little twist on the game is on the 1/2 point sections. The kids get 1/2 a piece of candy!! I use a hammer or a plastic knife to split Jolly Ranchers, suckers, and Starbursts. Of course, I eat the other half since I don't believe in wasting good food. :)