It’s that time of year again! What time of year you ask? The time of year when the boys start jumping all over each other’s nerves. It’s that time between parent/teacher conferences and Thanksgiving break when the boys are so comfortable with each other that they begin wondering how far they can push each other before someone loses it.
It is apparent in the hallways as you see 1st graders turned around in the hallway yelling, “STOOOOPPPPP PUUUSHHHING MEEEEEEE!” Or on the playground with the 4PreKers when every 1 minute a new “tattle” is brought to the bench, “He keeps following me.” And yes even in the classroom with 3rd graders when you hear, “Turn around and stop looking at me.”
See what mean? All over each other’s nerves.
I decided to start focusing my lessons on some problem-solving skills for these hard Oct/Nov weeks before Thanksgiving Break.
For 1st grade, we tried some cooperation activities to help them recognize the importance of working with, not fighting with each other, and knowing how to work in a group.
Cooperation – Work it Out!
Topics Covered: Communication Skills, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Problem-solving
Character Skill: Responsibility
Adapted from Puzzle Pieces.
I figured the best way to eliminate the problem in 1st grade was to force them to cooperate, anticipate a disagreement, and help them work through it. Here’s how it all started:
I gave every boy in class a letter. I instructed the boys to walk around the room and create a word using letters from other friends. Once they made a word, they stood where they were. Once a letter was used and was placed in a word, it could not be used again. Once everyone was matched up or not, we looked around the room at all the words. Then, we addressed the boys left with no word to join. How did it feel being the person who couldn’t join a word? Was anyone willing to help you find a word or were you left alone to do it by yourself? How did this make you feel?
We tried it 3 different times, each time giving the boys different letters to use. After each time, we talked about how some boys were left out of words and in most instances no one bothered to help them find a word. We talked about how this sometimes happens in the playground. We also discussed how people were talking to and treating each other. Were people yelling? Were people pushing? How did these action affect the others?
Next, I gave the boys sequencing cards (out of Puzzle Pieces). They were instructed to place the cards in order, but they couldn’t talk to their partner to do it. To place the cards in order, they had to give their partner clues with only their body language. Their body couldn’t push or grab the cards out of a friend’s hand, but needed to help and guide a friend who might need help.
Last, the boys joined new partnerships and were given cut up shapes. This time they were allowed to talk as they put the shape back together. They practiced how to talk to a friend when they were working together. We also discussed how to stay engaged with your partner and not walking to another desk curious about another group’s work.
At the end of the lesson, we came back together and discussed how cooperating with each other appropriately could help us in the classroom, the playground, and the hallway.