As educators plan for the return of school, it is clear that the pandemic is not over! And with the new Delta variant (and our youngest not yet able to be vaccinated), many parents and educators are feeling the growing anxiety. And our kids can feel it too.
Students will only learn if they believe that they can and will succeed in your class, so it is crucial that we remember the mind-body balance, and not simply focus on the CDC Guidelines for the physical safety of everyone in our school.
Creating an inclusive, welcoming environment isn’t always easy when there’s perspex, masks and hand sanitizers separating everyone (let alone the physical distancing requirements), but we wanted to share some fun and simple ice breakers and Back To School Resources that can easily be implemented within CDC Guidelines, that focus on optimizing the mind-body balance for your students and set them up for a successful year ahead!
- Lip Sync Battle: Have your students express how they feel through song and dance! Just ask your students to: (1) select a song to fit their mood, (2) think about how they can express it through their body movements and facial expression, then (3) hit record to make a lip sync video. Finish it off by (4) watching them back as a class and reflecting on how that felt, what they learned and what surprised them!
- Share Your Favorite Song: It’s amazing what song preferences tell you about a person, so have your students share their favorite song, explaining why they love it! Ideally have them record themselves and share the video – it works on public speaking skills, self awareness and confidence! (Plus it’s. Great memory keepsake for the year ahead!)
- Who Is Your Alter Ego? Let your students explore the power of adopting an alter ego, giving themselves permission to express an aspect of their personality that is somehow forbidden by their usual self! Ask them what their name would be? What would they stand for? Then have them record themselves as their alter ego and share with the class.
- Class Theme Song! Have your students experience the power of music, and how it makes us feel. Ask your students to think about how that might translate to a class theme song. How do they want students to feel when they walk into the classroom? How can music welcome, motivate or inspire, or make you feel like you belong there? Then have them share their proposed song and explain why they chose it! Better yet, play some of those songs in the coming weeks to welcome in your students!
- What You Loved This Summer: a lighthearted reflection that shares back something your students loved this summer, have them make a music video to the Calvin Harris hit Summer – starring the object. Fun, silly, and totally creative!
(NB: WURRLYedu is about to unveil their state-of-the-art web recording tools! Also on offer are thousands of fully licensed popular songs that your students can record with. It is compatible with any device that has a Chrome Browser and audio/visual recording capability – including Chrome Books!)
And here are 5 of our favorite activities:
- Watch this short video with your students about emotions and start a conversation about what they learned.
- Have your students create some emotion character popsicle sticks (they should include as many emotions as they feel regularly)! Then start the day with a 1 minute emotions check-in! Have your students select the characters that are coming up for them right now and place them in a cup. Explain that emotions never come alone so encourage students to look past the loudest emotion, and see what else is coming up for them! It will give them the opportunity to look at the relationship between emotions, and it gives teachers an insight into what emotions the students are walking in with!
- 5-10 minute minute yoga honoring emotions – students can volunteer a few emotions they are feeling, and practice the accompanying yoga pose! Students can use the time to check in with themselves and see if they feel that emotion in them too. Then honor and acknowledge and let go of any attachment to it!
- Start a regular journal practice (can be video, drawn or written), with prompts like “How are you feeling today and why?”, “What was the rose, bud and thorn of your day?”, “what surprised you today?”
- Act it out! Use body language and facial expressions only to express an emotion, then have the rest of the class guess the emotion. Take it further by taking note of the order, then discuss the relationship between the emotions!
For more information on the My Mama Says SEL program, check out www.mymamasays.com