“Getting to Know You” Activity for the New School Year

IconIt’s never too early to begin planning for a new school year. I know that my colleagues and I were always preparing our classrooms and sharing ideas all summer long! Here is a simple idea for the first day of school to use with students. This activity may be modified to meet the needs of your students. You can use MindWing’s Icon STAMPede Stamp Activity Set to print the paper. (You can use the other stamps for activities to reinforce the Setting, Kick-Off, Feelings, etc.)

  1. Review the SGM icons. Talk about the Character icon. 
  2. Print as many character icons as needed, two of each color paper.
  3. Laminate and cut the icons out. (These may be used all year to group students for other activities as well and are easily stored to be used with your groups!)
    Character Icons and Storage
  4. Randomly, distribute the icons to the students.
  5. Ask students to find the person who has the same colored Character icon.
  6. If students have used the SGM Character Map (Braidy [page 159] and SGM [page 140] maps shown) have them work together to fill out a map about each other. You may take this time to model how you would fill out the map. This is a wonderful way to review the components of the Character Map.
    Braidy Character MapSGM Character Map
    Another option: Ask the students to use the question(s) below (modify/change to meet the needs of your students) to get to know their partners:
    • What is your favorite color?
    • How many people are in your family?
    • What do you like best about school?
    • What is your favorite activity to do when you get home?
    • What was one thing you did that was fun this summer?
    • What is one thing you like to eat?
    • What is one goal you have for yourself this year?
    • What is your favorite book or movie/why?
    • Do you have a pet? If not, what pet would you like to have?
    • Do you walk to school or ride a bus?
    • What is your favorite season and why?
  1. Invite students to orally share what they have learned about one another using the map (or questions).
  2. You may focus on one area such as Likes/Dislikes, depending on available time and student comfort level.

    This option (Likes/Dislikes) is shown below. I created the cards and laminated them. Students used a dry erase marker so that the idea could be reused with stories throughout the year.
    Laminated Cards 1
    Another thought would be to make a blank Character card and write the category or question yourself (ex: Physical Appearance). Again, these may be used throughout the year.
    Laminated Cards 2
  3. If you choose the Character Map or questions, save them so that students may use them to contribute to a bulletin board that highlights all the CHARACTERS! One way we accomplished this was to have a bulletin board that featured a Character of the Week. One at a time, a student could bring in special items to share along with the information gathered on the first day. This was a very popular activity and can be tailored to meet your goals for your students.

We will be sharing other ideas to kick-off the new school year. If you have one that you have used involving the SGM, please take a few moments and share it with us on our Facebook page!

Sheila Zagula
Sheila Zagula


Sheila Zagula works with MindWing Concepts in product development, drawing on her expertise and talents as well as many years of implementing the Story Grammar Marker® and related materials. Her teaching career spans thirty-eight years, most recently as literacy coach in the Westfield Massachusetts Public School System. Sheila has experience as an early childhood educator, a teacher of children with special needs, and a collaborative instructor within an inclusion framework serving children in grades K-5.

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