5 Project Ideas for Building Relationships with Students

So you want to get to know your students over the course of the first few weeks, but you also want to start teaching ELA skills, introducing the fundamentals of your course, and helping students to feel like they’re accomplishing their goals. Understandable. Sometimes too many icebreakers can feel like a waste of valuable time, and yet you want to prioritize SEL and help kids transition gently back to the classroom, especially this year.

I get it.

So here are five ideas for projects you can do over the course of the first month that help you get to know your kiddos AND move the needle on ELA skills and introducing classroom activities.

#1 One-Pager Activities: About Me, Reading Profile, Hexagonal Identity, Name Tents

You know how I feel about one-pagers. They’re the fudge-frosted, rainbow-sprinkled cake in the bakery window as far as I’m concerned. Helping students see that they can share ideas in powerful ways by combining images and ideas is a big priority over here at Spark Creativity. So introducing this concept in the first few weeks sets you up to use it all year long, AND it makes for a great way to get to know students.

You can have kids create name tent one-pagers on card stock that you can then use to learn their names and a little about them over the first week or two. You can have them create hexagonal one-pagers about themselves and then make connections with their classmates. You can have them do full page one-pagers sharing what they love and a bit of their history. You can even have them create reading profile one-pagers, all about the books that have impacted them and the genres they prefer.

You can’t go wrong. Pick one or mix and match.

#2 Podcast Stories

Love podcasts? Me too.

If you’re hoping to listen and record some with your students during the year, why not get them warmed up to the concept with a personal podcast early on in the year? Invite them to record something short about themselves or about one of their passions, or have them do a quick interview with a family member or friend. You’ll get to know them better and they’ll walk through the door of the podcasting world.

#3 6 Word Memoir

Turns out, you can say a lot about yourself in six words. This can be a fun way to introduce a unique form of short story and activate some creative writing interest at the same time. Find out more in this full post of fun ways to use the six word memoir genre in class.

#4 I Am From Poems

The “I am from” poetry workshop is a consistent win in most classrooms. I love doing them with kids, and I’ve heard from SO MANY teachers about their success with the form as well. For students, the guiding template, based on the original “I am from” poem by George Ella Lyon, takes the stress out of writing poetry and makes it fun. Plus, it helps kids think about the small details and sensory images that help ignite poetry.

Find all the details in this post, “How to Use I am From Poems in Class.”

#5 One-Word Project

Choosing one word to guide your year is always popular on January 1st, but it can be just as helpful at the start of school. Have your students set intention words for the year and write about their meaning, then create a powerful wall of goals in your classroom. They’ll make an extra fun display if you have them illustrate their words with quotes, drawings, and/or explanations, one-pager style.

OK, that’s a wrap! These are five of my very favorite classroom activities, so this post was really fun to write for you. I hope you and your students can connect through some of these creative projects in the coming weeks. As usual, I’d love to see how it goes! Tag me on Instagram @nowsparkcreativity any ol’ time.

By the way, if you love the one-pagers you’re seeing in this post, you might want to sign up for my free kit of one-pager templates (with full instructions and a rubric, don’t worry) for any novel! I’ve given away more than 20,000 copies so far and I’d love to send them to your inbox today. You can find them right here on my Free Resources page.

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I'm Betsy

I’ll help you find the creative ELA strategies that will light up your classroom. Get ready for joyful teaching!

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