3 Ways to Get to Know Your Students on the First Day of School

Name Art

If you haven’t started already, the school year is quickly approaching. This is the time to think about your first day. Figuring out your classroom decor and first-day lessons are important. But it’s also vital to think about how you can get to know your students those first few weeks.

Fostering positive relationships and building a positive classroom culture are huge parts of classroom management.

Check out 3 ways you can get to know your students on the first day!

art room

1. Have your students fill out an “All About Me” inventory.

One great way to get to know your students is by asking them direct questions about themselves. You can cover everything from personal favorites to what they like to do in art. Whichever questions you choose, be sure to also leave a blank space for them to share anything else they feel you should know.

When designing these, think about the age of your students. The questions may become deeper the older the students get. In addition, think about how you might design a sheet like this for emerging readers. Leaving space to draw instead of write will be important!

We have two downloads for you to print and use in your class. There is one for younger students and one for older students. Download them both by clicking the image or button below.

interest inventories art class

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Or, you could make your own using your favorite word processing program or an online design platform like Canva. If you’re looking for an interest inventory about art class specifically, you can find that here!

You could also ask students to write or draw about what they did over the summer on the back of the sheet. Each student has a different home life. This prompt allows you to get a glimpse into what lifestyle they might have.

No matter the questions, students will know right away that you want to get to know them. Make sure to review the answers and make notes for your class. This will help you as your class progresses to make changes along the way and better engage your students if needed.

2. Play a Name Game.

The version I like to play in my classroom involves alliterative adjectives and student names. It also challenges students’ memories! It’s a fun group activity in which you and your students get to know each other better in a silly way.

Here is how to play!

  1. Form a circle with your students. Let them know you are going to do a memory activity that is a bit silly but a great way for them to get to know each other.
  2. As the teacher, be the first to give an example of the name game. Say a name and choose an adjective that starts with the same letter. For example, Awesome Amanda.
  3. Let students know they really need to pay attention. After the first person says their silly name, the next person must repeat it and then add their own silly name. So the second student would point at and say, “Awesome Amanda, Daring Dylan.”
  4. Once the second student repeats the first student’s name and adds themselves, it is the next student’s turn to say the previous names and add their name.
  5. This will continue until the circle is complete.

If a student messes up, he or she must start over. If that gets too time-consuming, you can allow them to get help from classmates. Be sure to share the rules and expectations for this activity so students are not calling out of turn.

3. Make some Bubble Name Art

Name Art

The third way you can get to know your students on the first day is by doing a fun art project that allows them to share personal details about themselves.

For this art activity, you just need white drawing or construction paper and drawing tools such as Sharpies, markers, and crayons. If you want to make it a table tent instead, give your students an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper and have them fold it in half before beginning the activity.

Now, let’s take a look at the steps for this project.

  • Give each student a sheet of paper.
  • Have students write their name in bubble or block letters.
  • Instruct your students to fill up their name with things about themselves. Students may choose to include favorite colors, food, television shows, family members, etc.
  • Once your designated time for the project is over, have students share their work with the class.

If your students are too young to write bubble or block letters, let them write their name and draw the images all around their name on the paper. While there are many things you can do on the first day, these projects are a good start to getting to know your students from day one!

And, if you’re looking for even more ideas, don’t forget to check out the First Day Activities PRO Learning Pack. You’ll gain specific ideas to excite students on day one through choice, simple routines, and organized stations. Plus, learn why it’s important to have a successful start and how simple changes make a big impact!

How do you get to know your students on the first day of school?

How do you maintain a positive classroom community?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Wynita Harmon

Wynita Harmon is AOEU’s Chair of Faculty Development and a former AOEU Writer and elementary school art educator.

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