3 active listening games that get kids to learn about each other

It's great to play games with kids year-round, but especially at the beginning of the year.  There are good reasons to keep playing them as Back-to-School days turn into weeks!  
Active listening games
It's easy to get caught up in the "We have so much to cover" mentality that you skip over ways for your students to learn about each other.  I know I did.  And then I'd be surprised, when a month into school, they still didn't know all of each other's names.  This was especially true when I had three sections of 25-27 kids that we mixed up for all classes.

There just are so many good reasons for kids to know about each other.  Like making your classroom feel like a safe place to learn!
Active listening games for upper elementary
I enjoyed using this one early in the year, but also anytime I introduced a new topic or unit.  It's easy to play and doesn't require anything other than your questions.

To Play It: Tell your students that you're going to say a word or a phrase.  After they hear it, they're to get up and line themselves across the room on the diagonal (the best way for me to fit them all in a line) from "I totally hate it" in one corner to "It's my favorite thing" in the other.  Ask about anything - Crocs, missing the bus, getting a bad grade, historical fiction.

The Cool thing: Students learn that others feel the same (or differently) than them and it creates some new connections.  A great way for them to learn about each other that has nothing to do with who's cool or who's smart or whatever labels they put on each other.

Active listening games for upper elementary
To Play It: Click here to bring up the spinner on your screen.   Choose a student and let them spin the wheel.  They have to answer the question.
OR pair students up with an inner and an outer circle.  There should be an equal number of students in the inner circle as the outer one; students in the inner circle face the ones in the outer circle.  Spin the wheel and have each pair take a minute to answer the question.  Then, have one of the circles move a certain number of people to the left or right and spin for another question.

The Cool thing: Students get a chance to talk to each other a little more than in the previous game.  There's a little more engagement and storytelling about themselves; I found lots of connections got made this way!
Active listening games for upper elementary
To Play It: Hand out an index card to each student and tell them to write their favorite thing in all the world on it.  One word only!  OR you can give it some parameters like their favorite dessert, book, memory, etc.  Then, students walk around the room and find someone else who falls into the same category as them.  Once they've found someone, those two link arms and go search for others.  In the end, each group has to be prepared to explain the grouping, so it can't just be random.

The Cool thing: This forces students to have to think outside the box a little, trying to see if there are ways that chocolate ice cream could be grouped with potato chips.  One year, my students found a way to include everyone in the class into their group.  How welcoming is that?!  It was pretty wonderful to hear them explain the overarching category they gave themselves.

I hope these leave you feeling a little more prepared to start - or continue - the school year!

  • Looking for other games to play like these?  Check out the Back to School products in my TpT store.

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