I don't want to reinvent the wheel! Help me have a successful beginning to my first year as a 7th and 8th science teacher with your awesome and amazing tips!!
To Whom It May Concern,
Hi! I hope I'm not too late in responding! There are some great ideas out there for kicking off the year with your kiddos! I usually like to start off with a fun ice-breaker or two, to get the kids interacting. Education World has a TON of great ideas posted on their website ( see http://www.educationworld.com/back_to_school/ for more info. )! One of my favorites over the years has been "Snowball Fight!" Instruct the students to pull out a piece of paper, and record 3-5 interesting facts about themselves. It can be anything: from favorite food to craziest thing they've ever done (usually the more unique, the better :-). Make sure to inform them NOT to write their names down though; their papers need to remain anonymous! Then have them crumple them up into nice, compact "snowballs." Have everyone jump up out of their seats, and give them 1 min. to have an all-out, no-holds-barred snowball fight across the room. Feel free to get in on it yourself too (the kids always get a kick out of that :-)! When the time is up, instruct each student to find and unravel 1 snowball. Their challenge is to try and identify the person that wrote it. Once they do, they need to introduce themselves and write down the person's name. Once everyone's found their paper's owner, have them use their snowballs to introduce them to the rest of the class. The introductions can take a little time, but it's well worth it.
Another thing that I like to do the first few days of school is teach about lab safety. Before we get started with the year, the kids need to know how to play it safe during our laboratory experiences. A great website that I've found for this is http://mjksciteachingideas.com/safety.html. I use a different Lab Safety Contract with my classes, but the one on this site works pretty well too. We start out by discussing the rules together, so that they kids understand why we have them. Then we'll divide up into groups and play the "Safety Scenarios" game (see website). It provides different lab scenarios, and the kids have to figure out what's wrong and which rules aren't being followed. (This can lead to some great discussions sometimes!) I'll usually give the winning and runner-up teams a prize at the end. I also enjoy having them do the "Safety Poster" activity as well (see website). They have to design a cartoon poster that emphasizes one of our lab safety rules. Sometimes I'll even turn this into a contest, with prizes for the best designs. Afterwards, I like to hang their finished products around the room as a reminder of our safety rules. These are just a few things that seem to help us get started on the right foot together. I hope they prove useful! Don't forget to teach and practice your classroom procedures with them the first few weeks too!! (For more info. on this, see Harry & Rosemary Wong's book, "How To Be An Effective Teacher: The First Days of School.") Time spent hammering out your procedures at the beginning saves time tenfold throughout the rest of the year! You'll have fewer discipline problems as well! Anyways, just a few thoughts to consider. (Sorry for getting a little lengthy!) Best wishes on your new adventure!
CNJJHS 7th Science