So, it’s about 3 or 4 weeks into the school year (what?!), but I wanted to go back and reflect on the interventions and activities I’ve used so far.
I work in a school for children with emotional/behavioral disorders who essentially have difficulty in a regular mainstream classroom. I go room to room and bring my supplies. Many of the children have a very negative association with the word “therapy,” so some of the things I will share on here are a mixture of educational and therapeutic materials. Most can likely be adapted to suit therapeutic needs, and I will definitely share some of my own goal areas, but I wanted to mention that so help alleviate possible confusion.
ANYWHO! Here we go:
For the first week of school (or any first session in general), my main focus, of course, was building rapport! I found some activities online that I will link below that encouraged socialization and allowed me to get to know the students’ and their interests.
“Hot Potato” question ball: That’s how I worded it for my own sake in session plans. It’s super easy — I brought in a small to medium sized ball I purchased at the dollar store and had the kids throw it around to one another. When I paused the music, I asked whoever was holding the ball a question. I was originally going to write the questions on the ball and whatever their thumb landed on or was closest to would be the question they answered, but I wanted to be able to adapt this for younger classes who might have difficulty reading, so I just kept my own list of questions and read them out loud. Initially these questions were based on their music tastes (name 3 artists/bands you like, if you could see anyone in concert who would it be, etc.), but later I branched out and asked fun questions like “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” (kids loved this question, and I usually let everyone in the class answer it – not just the person holding the ball) and “what is your favorite food?” This was a fun activity that got the kids interacting with each other and me in a positive way. It went over well in all my classes.
Credit: This is a common icebreaker activity using general get to know you questions — I just added my own musical spin on it.
Rumble If: I like to use this with younger classes, because they essentially just get to make noise with instruments. I usually start off by asking for everyone to give me a “rumble” on their instruments, and I explain what that means. Then I’ll call out different things such as, “Rumble if you’re wearing blue,” “Rumble if you like pizza,” “Rumble if your favorite color is red.” It’s a good socialization activity because I usually point out similarities (“Ooh, look, your friend likes pizza too!”) and I acknowledge that it is okay not to rumble for something because we all have different likes/dislikes. After a little while, I let the kids each take turns offering a “Rumble if.” Again, this allows me to develop relationships with the kids through a fun activity.
Credit: To be honest, I’m not sure if I made this one up on my own or found it somewhere online, so if anyone comes across this somewhere, please let me know and I’ll add a link here!
Paper airplane name game: I also tried a name game with a few of my older classes, but they weren’t as into it. I had everyone write two questions on a piece of paper — one related to music, and one could just be general. Then they folded their paper into a paper airplane and threw them around the room for about a minute or two. Then they were supposed to pick up a random one and answer the questions. Perhaps I didn’t present this in the best way, but my particular kids weren’t as interested. The idea of getting to throw paper airplanes was kinda cool for them though.
Credit: click here
Person Scavenger Hunt: I found this neat musical scavenger hunt on Pinterest (click here), and I had some of my classes complete it. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically you have the students fill in their answers, and then roam about the room trying to find people with the same answers as them. Again, another great positive socialization activity, and it gives me something tangible to walk away with that has their preferences on it.
I’ll hopefully catch up on the rest of the weeks of school pretty soon!
– Arianna (: