March 27, 2007
Classroom Community Building Exercise
Kindergarten through Grade Twelve
The following idea was borrowed from Frank Serafini. In his book Creating a Space for Readers (2001), he describes this activity as a creative way to help his
students become familiar with one another at the beginning of the year. However, it can be done at any time—and then when new students come in to your room,
too. This paragraph is an excerpt from his book:
• Every student will need to bring a shoebox with 3-5 items that symbolize his or her life.
• The teacher will need to bring a shoebox with 3-5 items that symbolize his or her life.
1. TW instruct students to bring a shoebox with 3-5 items that symbolize his or her identity for the next day. Students may need to be reminded not to bring
pets, valuables, or perishable items. Students should also have permission from their parents to bring the items chosen. A parent letter might be helpful.
2. TASW meet in small groups (or whole group depending on the dynamics of the classroom) and share the contents of the shoeboxes.
3. TW take photos of each child with his or her box and post it in the classroom on a community bulletin board. T can extend the activity by having students
write about their shoeboxes.
4. TASW share these photos (and writings if chosen) with new students who will then bring their own shoebox autobiographies the next day.
• Through this activity, we get a glimpse into the lives of each student, and therefore each other. Things we might not share otherwise end up in these
shoeboxes and help students see the similarities, differences, and interests between each other.
• New students instantly become part of the classroom community when 15 minutes is set aside to introduce fellow classmates.
• Students may bring inappropriate items.
• Students may bring items for which they do not have permission (from parents).
• Student items might disappear if not put away immediately in a place where others do not have access.