Back to school is just around the corner. For some much closer than others. Regardless when your fall semester begins, it will be here before we know it! I think it’s important to get to know my students beyond the time I spend teaching them. I want to know what makes them tick. Their likes and dislikes. I want to know what music they like and listen to but I also want to know what they do outside of school, what their favorite food is or movie. There are so many ways to get to know our students better. Get ready because this post is jam-packed with fun ideas!
When my students return for fall semester I like to do a fall kickoff. I’ve mentioned fall kickoff before on my blog but if you haven’t heard of it before, it’s basically a time for students to get together as a group before regular lessons begin. I announce and introduce our new theme and practice incentive (many students are anxiously awaiting for this information), showcase their summer practice projects and we play a game. This allows for more a “softer” return to get back in the swing of things while they are getting back to school routine as well. The following week we begin our official fall schedule.
Speaking of games! There are a bunch of getting to know you type games you can play with your students. Here are 15 of my favorites!
Bingo– Make a getting to know you bingo sheet simply filling in the squares with things like “long hair”, “owns a dog”, “plays two instruments”, “likes to sing”, etc. For the free space, have your students write down something fun about themselves and then share those free spaces with each other after bingo is won.
Catchy Names– Students think of an adjective that starts with the first letter of their name. Each person goes around and says their “new” name. For example “Jolly Jennifer”. To make this a memory game, simply have students include the names that went before them. If you wanted to, you can easily combine this one with the rhythm name game!
Fidget Spin– Fidget spinners are all the rage right now so why not make a getting to know you game out of it? My favorite spinners are the light up ones that you can click on or off the individual lights. Just leave one light on or 2 on and one off. If you don’t’ have a light up spinner, just mark the spinner in some way. (add a little stick note to it, make a mark with a sharpie, etc.) then simply set a spinner in the middle of the questions and wherever that mark (or light) is pointing to, the student answers the question. I made a getting to know you template for you that you can download for FREE! Enjoy!
Hot Potato– Simply turn on some music, grab something to pass (it’s more fun when it’s something musical) and when the music stops ask a getting to know you question for the student to answer!
Human Spinner- You will need a chair that spins around. A student sits in the chair with their legs straight out. Spin them gently around. Whoever their legs point to answers a question. You can use this with all sorts of Q and A games. I’ve asked all sorts of musical questions with this game. Students LOVE it!
Let’s Mingle- Write down some questions on a paper that you would like to see the answers and have students mingle to find their common “partner”.
M&M game– Yep! This means you will be buying some chocolate M&M’s (though skittles would work too!) Simply assign a question to a particular color. For example blue- what is your favorite thing about music? Green- What is your favorite song? Pass around the bowl of candy and have students take out a piece. (another option is to have them grab some and share that many facts about themselves. So if they were a little gung ho- they might be there for a while). You can also do a version of this game without candy. Use toilet paper where they rip off some and then they have to share a fact per sheet they took.
Musical Duck Duck Goose- Technically this isn’t really a getting to know you game but I just came up with a way you can turn it into one if you wanted to (see version 3) It is a favorite so I wanted to include it.
Version 1: With Rhythm or Version 2: With Pitch. Duck represents a certain rhythm or pitch and Goose represents another.
Version 3: Share the facts with each other before the game begins. Student calls out a fact about someone. Or you can turn it into a name game where they call out a students name.
Rhythm Name Game– Students chant their name in a fun rhythm as you go around the circle. Spice things up with a silly voice or action! If you want it to be a little more challenging and fun, have students repeat the students before them to see if they can make it all the way through the circle!
Roll the Dice- Several years I bought these differentiated instruction cubes and love them because they are very versatile for a lot of different game possibilities.
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I just wrote some questions on a paper, slipped the paper in each square slot and then they toss or roll the dice to each other. They answer whatever the top question is at the top of the dice when it lands. If you want to use a regular dice, you can easily sign a number to a question you want them to answer.
Spider Web Game– I love this one too and have used it in other settings as well. Sit in a circle. Take a ball of string (or yarn works really well) and have the first student grab the end of the string and share 3 facts about themselves. Then without letting the end go, they hand the ball of string to another student (works out best when it’s not someone sitting right next to them). Then that student grabs their end and when they are done, they keep holding to their end and pass the ball to the next person. When everyone is done sharing they will have created a pretty cool “spider web” design. Be sure to tell them 1) No pulling or tugging. 2) Keep holding on to your end. Don’t let go.
Here is a video that shows you what it looks like! “Spider web” – game
This or That? This is very similar to “Would you Rather?” but you are asking questions like pet dog or cat? Beyoncé or Lady Gaga? Piano or Trumpet? Indoors or outdoors? Wendy Stevens made a music version of This or That here if you don’t want to make your own.
Two Truths and a Tale- This is always a fun game. I’ve done this at parties (not music related) and they are always very telling. Students simply share 3 things about themselves. Two of them are true, one is a tale. Be sure to take the opportunity to talk about what a tale is.
Unwrap- At my daughters’ bridal shower we did a super fun game that I thought I must figure out how to make it relevant for a group activity and I think I did! Original version– while one person is trying to roll a double on a pair of dice, the other person is trying to unwrap the ball of saran wrap as quickly as they can. When the person rolling the dice, rolls a double, the other must pass the ball of saran wrap on.
My musical version- Similar to hot potato turn on some music. While the music is playing whoever has the ball of saran wrap is quickly unwrapping it. Once the music stops they must pass it on no matter what. To add in the getting to know you component you can have them share something about themselves before passing it on.
Here is the kicker! Inside the ball of saran wrap are some goodies. You can wrap candy, treasure box goodies, whatever your heart desires. The fun really gets going when things start spilling out. When things spill out the person that has the saran wrap ball gets the goodies. So much fun! But be prepared for high energy!
Here is a short sample video of us playing the game at my daughters’ bridal shower…
Would you Rather? This is a really fun game where you give a scenario like, “would you rather practice piano on a beach during a sunset or in a cabin amongst the beautiful pines? “Would you rather play a piece with sharps or flats?” (Similar to This or That?)
After fall kickoff we resume to our regular fall lesson schedule. This is when I have my students fill out a getting to know you sheet. I use these sheets for so many things. 1) To simply get to know them better 2) Student of the Month spotlights and 3) The occasional student highlight. For example, for my last recital, I made a PowerPoint of all my students and a few things about them and displayed them on a projector while they played. It was so easy to put together because I already had their information.
When we take the time to get to know our students better we are showing them how important they are to us and that we really care about who they are. I also feel that it helps me as a teacher to connect with them better. When I know their favorite pop star is Taylor Swift or their favorite movie of all time is Guardians of the Galaxy, then that can clue me in on making a more personal connection with them and their music.
What do you do to get to know your students better? I would love it if you wanted to share!
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