Building Classroom Community is always first and foremost at the beginning of the school year for me. But… this year looked much different. My normal games and activities that I use every year to “get to know my students” did not lend themselves well to distance learning. So, I had to reinvent the wheel and come up with activities for Building Community in the Virtual Classroom. Thus far, my favorite has been our class “Talent Show”. 🥰
Learning through games can help break up the long hours spent listening behind a screen. Give the kids and yourself a break with these fun virtual games.
- Pictionary – Private message a student with a word. Have them draw the image on your virtual whiteboard, or on a piece of paper in front of the camera. You can make them themed to fit the lesson you are teaching. It’s fun and can be used as a review.
- Bingo – I love Bingo because it’s easy, and you can theme it around practically anything. You can do math equations and answers, sight words, phonics, and more. This is another great way to review information from a lesson. You can have them make their own boards on a piece of paper, or you can create boards and have them print them out or use them virtually. The possibilities are endless, and so is the fun!
- Jeopardy – When I was a student I loved playing jeopardy in class to review information. This is a super easy one to make virtual! You can create an interactive PowerPoint themed around the lesson you are teaching, and use it as a review. Maybe add a reward system as well!
- Charades – This is a fun one to share some laughs, but can also be themed around the lesson you are teaching. Message one of your students with a word, and have them act it out on camera. It’s a great way to take a break, and have some fun!
Get to Know You Activities
One of the downsides of virtual learning is the lack of social interaction. A lot of the time it’s just going through the same motions every day, spitting out information. However, keeping the social aspect of a school is still important, so here are some fun virtual activities to build classroom community.
- Mad Libs – As a kid, I loved these! I still love doing them with my kids. They are fun and can bring on the laughs. They also allow the students to get creative! So take a break from the learning, and break out the mad libs. (Not to mention your throwing in some grammar practice..shhh.)
- Snack Time – Take a 15-minute break to have a snack, and chat with your students about life, not school. Find out what’s going on with them lately, how they are coping with quarantine. This is a great way to assess your students and build a relationship with them. Also for them to build relationships with each other. To just be able to chate like they would in the hallways at school.
- Show & Tell – This is a fun way to take a break and to see the things your students are excited about, and what is important to them. Have them share what they are into right now, maybe a book they are reading, a favorite show, or game. Let them connect with other students and with you.
- Talent Show – This is a fun one, and also gives them a chance to share something they are proud of. Let them Share a painting, drawing, song, dance, an epic Lego tower! This is a way for them to share and express themselves. Take note of what’s important to them, and their passions. This could help you learn how to teach them individually.
Activities That Get You Moving
We all need a break from sitting in front of a computer screen for hours at a time. Take a break and get your bodies moving and grooving to break up the screen time! Don’t forget to have fun too! Here are some of my favorite ways to get moving:
- Dance Party – Take a break, throw on some fun appropriate music, and have a dance party! Get those bodies out of the chairs and get grooving. I find younger students love this, and can bring some great laughs.
- Scavenger Hunts – This is a fun one too! Pick a theme of objects, set a timer, and have them race to go find specific objects or themed objects. It can revolve around a lesson as well. Gets them up, and may even get the parents involved in helping too!
- Freeze Dance – Play a song, and have them freeze randomly. Weed out the ones who move until one is left standing! Another fun version is “The Floor is Lava”.
- Yoga – This can be a great way for everyone to stretch, and loosen up their muscles. You can easily find kids yoga videos on Youtube. It can also help calm down anxious students who aren’t great at sitting still for long periods.
Virtual Classroom Themed Days
Something that gets every student excited is theme days. With virtual school, kids are missing out on pep rallies, and fun themed days. Well, don’t be afraid to add one of these fun-day ideas once a month!
- Pajama Party – Have a day where you pop some popcorn, wear some comfy pj’s, and watch a movie. It can be a movie that goes with your unit study or just a fun appropriate movie. This can be great for you and your students. You can spend time afterward discussing the movie, plot, character points, etc to make it more educational.
- Crazy Hair Day – Bring out the hairspray, wash out hair dye, clips, ponytails, and more. Do something crazy with your hair! Laugh with your students, and show up to class with some epic crazy hair!
- Holiday Parties – Put on a holiday party themed around the times of the year. Halloween costume party, thanksgiving feast and crafts, winter holiday party to celebrate the different holidays represented by your class, so many different ways to celebrate and have fun!
- Book Parties – Dress up as characters from a certain books and read stories, eat snacks, and make crafts!
Even though many of us are teaching virtually, it doesn’t mean we can’t build classroom community. Come up with ways to make learning fun! We as teachers are innovative, out of the box, and we have a passion for our students. Do what you can to make this time easier for you and your students. Don’t forget to have fun!
Have more ideas for building community in the virtual classroom? We would love to hear them down in the comments!
Written by: Brittany Coleman
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