Dare I say it? *whispers* It’s almost time to go back to school! 😬 Please don’t hurt me; you know it’s here. Alas, summer break is coming to an end, and stores everywhere are reminding us that kids and teachers alike will be heading back to their schools over the next several weeks. While I’m no longer in the classroom and am therefore missing out on this annual fun fest that is going back to school, I do have a couple of engaging back to school activities for teachers from when I was still in the classroom a few years ago.
People BINGO, or Get to Know You BINGO
Back to school activities for teachers don’t get much more common than this. I know you’ve seen this activity before because it’s been around for a long time — clearly, because I used it in my first year of teaching during the 2012-2013 school year! In 2018, I completely overhauled my version of the activity, and BOY, was it popular with teachers during last year’s back-to-school season! I know you’re busy, and you don’t have a lot of time to work with, so having resources that are ready to go is super important. Don’t worry — I’ve got your back here!
My goal with this activity is for it to be used as an icebreaker activity at the beginning of the school year. A lot of times, your students are just meeting each other for the first time, and you’re meeting them for the first time, so it’s an easy, low-pressure way for everybody to introduce themselves to each other. I recommend not putting any kind of academic pressure on the activity; it’s really just a fun icebreaker. You can set whatever parameters you want, such as having students actually get a BINGO (if you’re short on time) and possibly stopping once the first (or first couple) BINGO has been achieved. Or, if you have more time to work with, you can encourage students to try to get their whole BINGO board signed. If you do need to take a grade, then take a participation grade, but I doubt you’ll be required to grade something like this. Oh, I also recommend that you play the BINGO game with your students! Get in there and mingle with them; it will help you lay the foundation for building rapport with them.
This year, I made some tweaks to my People BINGO activity to make it even better. Generally speaking, though, this resource includes a completed PDF that’s ready to print and use right away, if you’re short on time and if the items that I put on the BINGO sheet work for you. Although I haven’t been in the classroom for a few years now, I do still tend to stay up-to-date on current social trends in schools and such due to my work as a Teacher-Author and as a virtual assistant for other Teacher-Authors. That being said, I tried to make sure that the items I put on the BINGO board are fun and current to pop culture today and that sort of thing. However, if some of what I put on the BINGO sheet isn’t applicable to your school community, then there’s an editable PowerPoint file included so you can change the items as needed! One last note: I provided both a color option and a black-and-white option.
The original resource that I had in my store was for middle school (6th grade through 8th grade), but since it’s such a generic activity that doesn’t really need to be standards-based or academically focused, I decided to create versions for upper elementary (3rd grade through 5th grade) and for high school (9th grade through 12th grade), as well. That’s not to say that there’s no standards alignment, because there is, just in case you need it. 🙂 Anyway, the point here is that there are three versions of the activity, so you can choose whichever one works best for you based on what grade you teach!
Following Directions Test
Do your students struggle to get back into the school routine in those first few weeks of school? I know we struggle with that transition as adults, so they surely do, too! When I first created this activity in my first year of teaching, I actually used it as a test prep activity. I was teaching in a charter school at the time, and the school offered Saturday school to help students prepare for the state standardized tests. Being a first-year teacher on a low salary, I volunteered to teach Saturday school for a little bit of extra income. Hence, I came up with this activity to help remind my students of the importance of reading all of the instructions on their standardized tests!
But where did I get the idea for it? From my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Shumaker! When I was in 4th grade, Mr. Shumaker used a fake test like this as part of his classroom management system. Students who found the real instructions and followed them got to become “lawyers” for the class, and as “lawyers,” we represented our classmates when they had disputes with their peers. Thanks for the idea, Mr. Shu!
While the Following Directions Test is still a great activity for test prep, it can also be used with your other back to school activities at the beginning of the year! In this scenario, it’s perfect for helping your students get back in the mindset of listening to and following their teachers’ directions, as well as fully reading the directions on the activities and assignments given to them. This resource has three different versions: two fake or trick versions that have silly instructions taking up the bulk of the page with the real instructions in small text at the very bottom and one real version that has common start-of-class routines that teachers might be doing. While this resource is not editable, you do get all three versions, as well as both color and black-and-white options for printing.
Like the People BINGO activity above, I originally only had this resource in my store for 6th grade to 8th grade. But, again, because it’s just a silly, fun activity that shouldn’t be taken for more than a participation grade, I decided to create upper elementary and high school versions, too.
Would you like to get both of these resources at a 20% discount? I’ve created mini-bundles for each grade band so that you can do just that!
What are some of your favorite back to school activities for teachers? Please share in the comments!
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