Leaving old friends and familiar surroundings can make students feel alone and isolated. Typically, meeting a new friend (or two) and learning the procedures and layout of the building can do wonders to ease their anxiety. Meeting with your new students in a small group setting is extremely helpful in getting the biggest bang for your time.
New Student Small Group Session:Step 1: Obtain your new student list
Step 2: Determine how many new students you have and consider how much time you have to devote to the groups. I enjoy having groups of 6 or less, but this is a luxury (especially when running from building to building). Typically, I have 8-10. I have done more than that with 3rd-5th and while it can be done, it severely reduces the participants to form a sense of community. I would much rather have two groups of 7 & 8 than have a group of 15. But like I said, if you must...then you must.
Step 3: Schedule one 30 minute group session with the teachers.
Tip on Scheduling: I send out a spreadsheet at the beginning of the year so the teachers can mark their DO NOT DISTURB (DND) time, with the understanding that I will do my best to avoid this time. Keeping the teachers' DND time along with specials, computers, and library times in mind, I find a two or three time slots per group and ask the teachers which they prefer. I have found that the scheduling seems to go smoother if the groups are organized by grade level.
Step 4: Pick students up at the scheduled group time & begin your group
Here are a few activities that I do during my New Student Group:
Icebreaker: Name GamePlay this fun memorization game to encourage interaction, help improve name retention, and have fun!
Tell the students to do the following:
- Put their thinking caps on and think of their first name
- Think of the first letter of their name
- Now think of a type of food that begins with your name (You can mix this up a bit & make it more challenging by having older students think of an adjective that starts with the same letter. Since I am not always aware of their academic ability during our new student group, I tend to go with something that works with all ages.)
Start with the student on your left and have them say their first name and the name of the food -> the next student then says the first person's name and food and then adds their name and food -> the third student starts with the first, then the second, and then adds theirs. Do you see where I am going with this?
Continue all the way around the table. Provide enough wait time for students to answer but feel free to provide hints as necessary!
Guess who the lucky duck is that gets to go last? YUP! It's you!!!! Kids love this part of the activity and are pretty impressed when you get them all right. I've had a few students keep their "food name" as a nickname throughout the year. Hey, kids these days...go figure.
M&M New Student GamePrep: Print out M&M New Student Game, glue onto card stock or file folder and laminate.
- Give each student a snack size bag of M&M's.
- Have the students pick only 5 colors...they can eat the rest later
- Reveal one color of the M&M New Student Game board at a time.
- If the student has that color, they can answer but they have to wait for all of the answers to that color before they can eat it. I have chants for each color. <-chocolate and goofy rhymes...ah, yes please!
- Lastly, if they do not have the color they say "pass". Not having one of each color tends to promote the attention span and involvement of the students.
New Student Autograph BookThe last thing I do is give them a New Student Autograph Book and send them on a scavenger hunt of sorts. The autograph book has pages for various roles around the school.
- I recommend talking to everyone that can get approached for an autograph (including all of the aides) and letting them know what is going on when they are asked for their "autograph".
- Before school, after school, during specials, and at lunch
- Bring a pencil
- They can turn it into my box any time through the year, but if they loose it they will need to start all over.
- You may not interrupt a class or adult to get an autograph.
I give the students a copy of the School Counselor Introduction Brochure to take home and share with their parents.
I've also included a checklist. If you notice, it has a spot for inviting the students. Time is usually too tight for this to be feasible, but it is nice to send them a small "invitation".
Wonderful New Student Ideas Found on the Web:
|New Students are O'Fishily Awesome Activity|
Michelle over at Creative Counselor posted a really cute scavenger hunt idea to welcome new students: You're O'Fishily Awesome.
The students start off with a clue, that leads them throughout the school building. At the end of the scavenger hunt they have a snack of fishy crackers. Fun & Yummy!
|New Student Welcome Baggies|
Angie over at Two things in Common whips up these new student welcome baggies so she is ready to go when a new student arrives at her door.
I have done this one before, but with items that relate to the counseling program and transitioning into a new area:
- Welcome Letter
- Counseling Brochure
- My Business Card
- School Brochure
- Fun Pencil & Eraser*
- Parks & Rec Activity Guide*
- Local Map*
I would love to hear what you do with your new students in the comments section!