students and a teacher sitting around a table doing a bonding activity

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The start of the school year can be daunting for kids, especially if they’re among new classmates, in a new school, or – let’s face it – returning to school after a long stretch of remote or hybrid learning.

But the key to helping students bond is to establish activities that allow them to get along. This can create positive memories, get them talking and laughing, and help them feel as though they’re part of a team.

That’s easier said than done, but we’ve got you covered with four activities to teach students to get along and help kids break the ice. These activities can help form new bonds through shared physical and creative activities. With the right approach, those first days back in the classroom can be full of fun, learning and new experiences – rather than the usual back-to-school jitters.

Activities to Help Students Get Along

Team Up

A great way to help kids form fast bonds is through team games and sports. If the weather’s good, consider getting kids outside for some simple but fun team events, like egg and spoon relays or three-legged races.

Inside the classroom, there are plenty of games to be played and bonds to be made. Try a game of Pictionary by splitting the class into teams of two or more and having a representative from each team draw on a Post-it® Super Sticky Easel Pad. Peel the finished sheets off the pad and stick it to the wall to use as classroom decorations. Bonus points if they’re curriculum-related!

Whether physical or creative, grouping kids into teams is a great way to create a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose, build empathy, and have them share a few laughs together – the quickest way to make friends!

Quiz Time

Team games are great for building shared experiences, but get-to-know-you games can also be a great way to help kids learn more about each other, share information about their own lives, and make each other laugh in the process. Helping students get along with each other through fun games is a great way to form new relationships.

Depending on the age group, games like Two Truths, One Lie can be fun classroom activities to help students get along. Have each student write two truths and one lie about themselves on a Post-it® Super Sticky Note, and either have each student vote on which statements are truthful or not (points can be calculated this way), or simply have students shout out guesses until the student confesses. Encourage them to get creative – the sillier, the better!

Take Turns

Large groups can be intimidating, even for adults. Kids can often feel more comfortable in smaller groups or one-on-one situations, so look for ways to get kids in pairs or groups of three.

Try a game of ‘Partner Portraits’: have students partner up and get each to ask the other about their background and family members, and then draw them on Post-it® Super Sticky Easel Pads or grab a marker and draw sketches on a Post-it® Flex Write Surface whiteboard. When the exercise is finished, post the portraits on classroom walls to give other students a chance to get to know more about their fellow students.

Spread Kind Words

Building a supportive environment isn’t just important for the first few weeks back at school – it’s always important. To maintain a positive atmosphere all through the school year, consider building a ‘Kindness Tree’ on a spare classroom wall. Give each student their own stack of Post-it® Super Sticky Notes and ask them to write one kind thing about each person in the class. Outline the tree trunk and branches using painter’s tape (or actual paint), and then have students post their sticky notes along the branches.

To take it one step further, give each student a chance to read out loud one of the Post-it® notes from the mural. You can also update the tree regularly or intermittently throughout the school year. For example, ask kids to write down one nice thing someone did for them, or something they did for someone else, or other kinds of positive anecdotes, experiences, and kind words.

We hope you enjoyed these tips on helping kids bond during back-to-school season. Check out more 3M products that can help you and your students stay on top of the school year.