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Our class is a family: An activity to build community in the classroom

As an educator, I know it is essential to build a sense of community in our classrooms. The sense of belonging and being a part of something deeper than just a classroom full of bodies motivates students to learn and allows them to feel safe, seen and heard.

Here is a fun activity to help you achieve this in your own classroom using a read aloud, “Our Class is a Family” by Shannon Olsen.

1. Read the story to your students.

“Our Class is a Family” talks about how family isn’t always your relatives. This story has a powerful message about creating a home away from home in our classrooms. This school year, I opted for playing the Vooks version of this story for my students. 

2. Take time to discuss it together.

After watching the video, we discussed ways our classroom is a family. We compared and contrasted both in a discussion; upper grades can even do this using a Venn Diagram. We came to the realization that because we spend so much time together, we know there will be disagreements like there are in families. However, families work things out and make up. 

3. Brainstorm.

Then we brainstormed some promises we can make to each other, just as families do. How would the students like to be treated? How should we treat each other?

4. Write down responses.

I passed out sticky notes and allowed students to write out a promise to their peers. Some examples I saw were, “I promise to be kind” and “I promise to have faith in you.”

5. Display the results.

Finally, students stuck their sticky notes on a poster I made. The poster had a school house drawn on it with the words “We Promise to…” My plan is to have this up all year long so students can see their promise to each other, as the family that we now are.

What are some of your go-to activities to build a sense of community in your classroom? Let us know at @ArizonaEducator on Twitter or Arizona PBS KIDS on Facebook.


About the author

Marissa Will is the mother of two, Olivia (6) and Logan (4). Writing was her first passion: she’s a freelance writer and a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumna. Will is currently educating the future leaders of tomorrow: She has spent the past nine years educating third grade with a master’s degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University-Yuma.

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