Miss Buzzeo's Grade One Class

Building Classroom Community 

Classroom Quilt

To begin the year, each student in the class decorated a square piece of cloth with their name and picture. The students were given time to share with their peers. During this time each child introduced him or herself and then shared a couple of things about themselves. Once everyone had a chance to share, we piled up all of the squares and talked about how each of the squares could help to keep us warm. We soon realized that alone the individual squares could not help us too much. As a group, we decided to put all of the squares together into one large quilt. Just as all of the small pieces played a part in making a big blanket, every person in our class plays an important role in our circle of friends.

 

Good Morning Hand Shakes

Each morning the children begin their day with a good morning cheer. They cheer Good Morning by yelling out each letter in the spelling of the two words followed by a clap. It sounds like the old school yard cheers. ( G- O – O – D  M- O – R – N – I – N – G, Good Morning, Good, Good, Good, Good Morning ) After the cheer I ask the children to give me a  thumbs up to show how they are feeling that morning. It gives me a good indication of how the children are feeling and any problems that may need to be addressed. From there, the children stand up and give four other children good morning handshakes. A good morning handshake is when, you look your partner in the eye, shake hands, say good morning, give your partner a compliment and tell them how you are doing. We worked very hard at the giving compliments part of this exercise. We did a lot of role playing and modeling. This is a nice way for the children to interact positively with one another. It also helps to always start the day off on a positive note. Once all of the handshakes are complete, we gather and share compliments that were shared.

 

Our Classroom Promise

In order to create a safe learning environment, we created a classroom promise. It took us three days. On the first day we developed a list of all of things that we needed in a classroom to make it perfect. On the second day, we organized those things into three charts, things that would make the classroom safe for our bodies, safe for our hearts, and safe for our minds. On the third day, we role played and acted out all of the things that we brainstormed. I took pictures of the children as they did this. From there, we wrote out our promise on a heart and then we signed it. We displayed all of the things that we need to do to make our classroom perfect in picture form around it. This promise serves as our set of class rules as well as our creed. Our promise reads: We promise our class will be safe for our hearts, safe for our bodies, and safe for our minds.

 

Star Child

Star Child is a fantastic exercise which encourages the children to get to know one another and allows the teacher to get to know the students a little bit better as well. To begin with, each child is assigned a day. On his or her special day, they get to be on the Star Show. On this show, the children, or the audience get to ask questions to the star child. For example, what is your favorite color? What do you like to do? What color are your eyes? After all of the questions have been answered the studio audience creates a paragraph about the star student using both modeled and shared writing. The star child takes pleasure in leading the class as they read the star chart together in a shared read. At the end of the day, I copy the paragraph onto a piece of paper and put it up on the wall. For the duration of a week, we practice reading the paragraphs up on the wall. At the end of the star show, when all of the children have had a turn, we bind all of the paragraphs together into a book. This activity was taken and adapted from the book Phonics Month by Month – Grade One.

 

Bring in the back pack

This was an activity used at the start of the year for the students to get to know each other. To begin with, I brought in a backpack full of things that were special to me and that described me. I took each one out and shared them with the class. After this, I gave each child a brown paper bag, and access to a large stack of magazines. Their job was to create a bag that described them. They could draw pictures, cut pictures out of magazines, or create small paper objects to go in the bag. Each child had a bag full of stuff that described them. From there, we paired off and shared our bags with another person. Then we found new partners and shared again. This last time, we created a book page using pictures about what each partner shared.

 

A Circle of Friends

Our classroom is a circle of friends. To set this up we began the year with a friendship celebration. At this celebration we each decorated a rock with our name and a way that we could be a good friend. We also shared the story, The Rainbow Fish. As a finale to the celebration, we blessed each member of the class into our circle of friends. This means that we are a whole and that we agree to try to work together and to make others hearts feel good. To bless each other, we passed a bowl of water around the circle and after a child got blessed with a cross and the words, “Help me be a good friend.” he turned and blessed his neighbor. After our blessings we learned the song “Friends are like Flowers.” Now, when a guest enters our room, we bless them into our circle of friends with the song, and a small cross upon their forehead.