The beginning of the school year is the best time for building community in the classroom activities. Building a cohesive and supportive classroom and school community is the key to a successful school year for the teacher, children, and staff. Creating an environment where students, teachers, parents, and staff feel connected, respected, and valued is paramount to the success of every individual involved. It is my goal from the very beginning to let my students know they are my first-grade family. I want them to meet the staff and learn the importance of all the adults in the building. We learn quickly what a community is and how a school has its very own community within its walls. Here are 3 of my favorite building community in the classroom activities.
Classroom Community Building Activities
We begin the year by reading Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen. This story discusses what a family is and how a class can be a family too. After reading this book, we make our very first classroom book to put in our library. We simply illustrate a picture of ourselves and I bind it with the cover. Students write their names on their own page and we keep this in a bin for read-to-self time. The first year I did this, I made two books. One with their illustrations and one with a glued photo from the first day of school. This way they could learn their classmates’ names and faces quickly.
A great extension to this story is to compare and contrast a home family and a school family. I have a card sort that you can display on a pocket chart and/or the children can cut and paste this sort too. I love to complete the simple comparing worksheet too and the checklist.
Finally, we make a larger portrait of ourselves to hang in the hallway. I add the family portrait letters and our class is a family to it as well. This could really be displayed all year long. You can purchase the Our Class is a Family set on TpT or here on my website.
School Community Building Activities
Shannon Olsen created a sequel to Our Class is a Family and recently released Our School is a Family. This story introduces the people who work in the school building and their role in creating a school family.
This story would be a great introduction to the school staff. I created a checklist that students can use as they walk around the building to meet the staff. If your students are in an older grade, it would be a great refresher and opportunity to welcome them back and say hello. After visiting the staff, your students can work on matching the staff member with their job description. There is also a fun sort for students to complete and a matching one for the teacher to display. You could have your students each pick a school member to draw and hang them around your class family members in the hallway too.
Finally, another great way to build community in the classroom and school is to learn a little bit more about each school member and what their role in the building is each day. Understanding one another not only eliminates questions when staff walk around the building, or interact in the classroom, but it creates respect for one another. You can purchase these Our School is a Family activities on TpT or here on my website.
I wrote a nonfiction mini-reader that discusses what a school community is and all the important members that make up a school community. You can use this story purely for discussion or work on some of the nonfiction informative text feature standards. After reading the story, you can read a longer description of the school member’s role and match their name to the description. There is also a schoolhouse craft that you can make with options to add the staff members’ names and pictures.
A strong classroom community serves as the foundation for a positive learning experience. In such an environment, students feel safe to take risks, express their thoughts, and share their ideas without the fear of judgment. Ultimately, when a school community thrives, students develop the skills and confidence they need to navigate the challenges of education and life beyond the classroom.
You can find and purchase the books by Shannon Olsen and other fun books for back to school in my Amazon store. Be sure to read about these other great activities for back to school: