About Paula Kay Glass

Paula has a Masters degree in education with an emphasis on child development and child behavior. She has been an educator for 22 years. She founded a private elementary school in 2003 and is now working through the Moore Public School District in Moore, Oklahoma as a special education teacher. Paula is also a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and has a children's book published. Paula has three grown children and resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. You can contact her at glass foundations@sbcglobal.net or paulaglass@moorepublicschools.com.

It is so important to make our students feel comfortable upon the first day of school. We need to remember the backgrounds that our students come from. And we can’t assume that just because we have kids from middle-class homes that they are coming from places that have everything together.

We also need to remember the kids who are new to the school, or those who are maybe joining an inclusion class from being in a lab all day the year before. Most kids will come back eager to see their friends and ready to make new ones, but some kids will not have anyone.

I usually try to play some games on the first day of school, just to ‘break the ice’, even with my young kids. Click To Tweet

One of the games we play is called Piece It Together’. I have puzzle pieces from old puzzles that I have spray painted. Each child gets a piece. When I say go they have to find one other person that their piece fits together with. When everyone is matched up, I have them stop and visit with that person. When I say go again I have the pairs team up with another pair. Again when I say stop the groups visit with each other. Sometimes I will have the groups go and completely match up until all the pieces are together and we talk about how we are a group and all pieces need a partner. The kids love this game and it works really well when you have a large group of kiddos.

Another game I play is called Find It! and it uses a map that I’ve drawn of my classroom. The kids have to physically go to each place that has a star and write down the name of the students I have at those places. I then have the kids gather around and ask each student to choose their favorite area of the classroom. Those kids come together and visit with each other. This activity works well for smaller groups of kids.

Finally, I have a game called ‘I Have, Who Has’, which is a knock off of the science and language arts games by the same title. I have programmed index cards with different activities that kids do during the summer, such as swimming, going to the lake, going on vacation. I hand all of the cards out, but I keep the first one. It reads, “I have flippers and swim in the water. I splash and make people laugh. Who has…” and the kids will usually fill in the blank for me with, “dolphins!” or “Sea World!”. Then the person who has the matching card gets to read it. Inevitably, at least one student will always identify with one clue and will want to share a story which leads to a discussion with other kids. This game takes some preparation ahead of time, so be sure you are ready to do it.

What kinds of activities do you do in your classroom on the first day of school to ensure that all kids feel at ease?

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