Stars and Wishes- Building a Community in the Classroom!

As soon as I saw this link-up with Mandy from Mandy's Tips for Teachers I knew I had to participate! I absolutely LOVE {Stars and Wishes} and have been using them in my own classroom for awhile with my students!

As teachers, we are always reflecting on what we do- things that we do well and things we want to do better! The beginning of the year is great because it's a fresh start and a great time to improve on our {wishes}! It's also the more important time of the year for setting the mood in your classroom and creating a positive environment with a sense of community. So, here are my {stars} and {wishes} for building a community in my classroom! 

A fun way to build community in your classroom is to plan fun, engaging activities that allow the students to get to know each other!

On the first day of school, I always begin with an easy community building activity that only requires a ball of yarn! This ball of yarn will become a special part of your classroom and will be used throughout the year! 


To begin, I have all my students sit in a large circle around the carpet- I make sure that I am in the circle as well! I start by holding the ball of yarn and sharing something special about myself (my family, what I did over the summer, hobbies/interests, anything!). Then, I hold onto my piece of yarn and throw the ball to one of my students. It is now their turn to share their name and something about themselves! After they are done, they hold onto their piece and throw the ball to another student. This continues until all of the students have shared and you have a very large (and tangled) spiderweb in the middle of your circle! We discuss how this spiderweb is unique to our class and that it can never be created exactly like that again! You may have to cut off the yarn from the original web because of the tangled mess, but make sure to keep the ball!

Throughout the school year, anytime a student leaves or joins our classroom the ball of yarn comes back! When a student moves we get back into our circle and make a special web just for that student. We share special things about this student and why we will miss them! If a student joins our classroom, we use it as a time to share important facts about our classroom and any rules or routines that the students would like to share!

At the end of the school year, usually on the very last day, we once again get out our special ball of yarn! We use it to make another web and share our favorite memories of the school year! Afterwards, I cut a piece of yarn for each student to make a special bracelet! Such a special sentiment to take with them! 

What fun activities do you use in your classroom at the beginning of the year to build a community?
Building a community does not happen overnight and definitely does not end with the first week of school! In order to continue a strong sense of community throughout the entire year,  I hold {Morning Meetings} each day! These meetings tend to be pretty quick, but they are a great way to start the day on a positive note!

We always begin by greeting each other. I've done this in so many different ways and change it from year to year. I've had students shake hands, I've had them turn and talk to each other, and they've just said good morning! It honestly just depends on the group of kids and how much time we have! 

Next, we go over our daily schedule! I love using Cara Carroll's Schedule Cards to post on my "What Are We Doing?" board! I use this time to introduce my kids to the activities that we will be doing throughout the day. I know that I always like to know what I will be doing, so I try to do the same for them! 

In the past I always did a Morning Message, but when I started teaching 2nd grade I stopped. It was time consuming and I didn't feel like my 2nd graders really needed it every morning. 

My school has school-wide Morning Meetings that we use to discuss important school-wide issues. I {love} that my school does that! Last year we focused on The 7 Habits of Happy Kids! For each of these meetings we would read a book and follow up with discussion questions. We had some great conversations! 

How do you do your Morning Meetings?
Even though I build a strong community within my classroom, I always feel like I can do a better job of extending our community and getting to know my students families. One of my weakest areas as a teacher is parent communication.  I'm not always great at calling them and inviting them to classroom events! One way that I would like to extend our classroom community is by making weekly {Sunshine Calls} to my students' parents to let them know how great their kids are doing! It's always easier to make a positive phone call than a negative one- and as a parent I always want to know the good things that my own kids are doing! I made this simple checklist to keep track of when I make my {Sunshine Calls}! Wish me luck!!! 

Have you made Sunshine Calls in the past?

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For more {STAR} ideas from more than 40 bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you! Thanks for visiting!

An InLinkz Link-up

Happy Teaching, 

8 comments

  1. Great suggestions! I use the yarn community building activity, too! We call it a spider web. We try to put it back together, but that never happens successfully! And, I LOVE Cara Carroll's schedule cards, too! Perfect for my agenda! Thanks for sharing!

    What I Have Learned

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    1. Thanks for reading! I just love that activity! I keep trying to put it back together, but it just never works out for me!!

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  2. I LOVE the yarn suggestion! I especially like that you do it again when you get new students. What a great idea! I was great at making "Sunshine calls" for the first two weeks of school last year and then I REALLY fell off the wagon. :) Good luck!
    Jean
    Diving Into 2nd Grade

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    1. Thank you Jean! I hope you are able to use that activity with your kids!
      Hopefully we can both be better at them this year! So hard to keep up with everything we have to do!!

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  3. Thanks for sharing! I've actually used the yarn web idea, but totally forgot about it! I try to squeeze in a morning meeting with some sort of team building activity each day, but it doesn't always happen. Thanks for sharing!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

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  4. I'm so glad I just found your blog! I love all these ideas. I'm definitely going to use them in my class!!!

    -Katie (your newest follower)
    I'm new to the blogging world. Check out my blog http://thepawsitivepencil.blogspot.com/

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  5. I think the simplest reflection technique is the 'Start, Stop, Continue' tool taught at NYLT and Wood Badge. I've seen boys run these reflections very effectively once they get the hang of it. Team building activities for kids.

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