One of the activities I like to do in the beginning of the year to build community is teach my class to sing and dance Little Tommy Tucker's Dog. It's an awesome brain break, and if you use Responsive Classroom, this makes a great activity. This activity is great for a number of reasons.
1. It gets the students up and moving.
2. It gets students interacting with each other in a non-threatening situation.
3. Put it in poetry folders to practice fluency.
Learn the dance:
Stand in a circle. Assign partners very quickly. Assure them that they will have lots of different partners during this activity so it does not matter who they are partnered with.
When singing 'bow, wow, wow," stomp your feet. (one stomp per word)
When singing, "Whose dog art thou?" hold your hands up in a questioning way.
When singing, "Little Tommy Tucker's Dog," Hold hands with your partner and turn so you change places.
When singing, "bow, wow, wow," for the second time stomp your feet again.
Now students turn around to face the person behind them. That person is their new partner.
When teaching this to my class, I first teach the song by having them echo sing. Then I ask for a volunteer to help me teach everyone the dance. We stand in the center of the circle and model the dance. When we've modeled it, I quickly walk around the circle assigning partners. Remind the students of the actions after each line. When the song is over, I tell them, "don't turn around, but just turn your head and peek behind you to see who's standing there." Once everyone has looked behind them, I say, "Turn around and look at the person behind you." That person is your new partner! Then we do the dance again. Eventually, students should end up with the same partner they started with.
Community Building Tip!
One other thing I do to get the students talking to each other is give them quick things to say to their partner each round,
Give your partner a high five and say, 'I'm sure glad you're my partner!'
Shake your partner's hand and say, 'This is so much fun!'
Wave at your partner and say, 'Partner, those are some cool shoes!'
Smile at your partner and say, 'Howdy partner, you're lookin' good today!'
I learned this at Kagan training. This is a really fun way to 'break the ice and get kids talking to each other. It can be used anytime you are assigning partners.
See and Hear it in Action!
Below are some videos I found of people singing and dancing. The actions sometimes vary slightly from mine. You can alter them to suit you. I've played this game successfully with end-of-year kindergarteners and beginning of the year first graders.
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