Over the summer, I dreamt of how to create the perfect classroom environment. The supplies would be perfectly organized. The students would sit together in color-coded table groups. How would I know who could handle sitting by each other? I could easily eliminate this problem if I started off the year building a strong classroom community. I wanted my students to feel included and to include each other. After wracking my brain and jotting down some ideas, I came up with a game plan for creating this caring community.
Start every morning off together as a class. Sing a song or do a fun activity to greet each other. Talk about what to expect that day. Sit around the rug so every child feels included. Have different students help “lead” the meeting and choose the greeting. In our class, we made up a song to sing together each morning. We used the tune to “Good Day” by Nappy Roots and tweaked the lyrics. Watch it in action here!
If you start off the day as a class, why not end it together, too? This is a great way to debrief about the day. Ask children to share some glows (awesome things) and grows (things to work on) from the day. Brainstorm together how to solve the problems and shout out the accomplishments. Always end on a positive note. In our class, we sing the “Good-Bye Song” from Out of the Box (where are all the 90’s kids out there?) You can find it here!
I’m obsessed with children’s books. The illustrations, the lessons they teach…I could go on and on. Children love to hear a good story. And so do teachers. Books are a great way to relate issues about social skills and friendship to kids. Read a book and open up the floor for a healthy discussion. Here are a few of my all time favorites: Chester’s Way and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann.