Bring a bear - Why teachers need to do this at the beginning of term 1
Want to start the school year off with an engaged and smiling bunch of students? You need to do this!
Have a class teddy
If you have a class teddy or stuffed animal of some sort, you can put the request out for some stuffed friends to visit and spend the night at school to keep the class toy company. There is a good reason to do this and I'll explain later.
My daughter's Pre-Primary teacher did this and the class monkey 'Martin' wrote a very messy but entertaining message on the notice board outside the classroom asking the children to bring him some friends for a sleepover. The children were excited to leave their little friends with Martin for a sleepover at the end of the day.
Time to bring a bear! Getting your students to bring in a stuffed friend
Do this in the first or second week to help your students settle in. It might make them feel more comfortable to bring a 'friend' to school for the day. It might also be a nice way for each student to share something about themselves. The start of school can be daunting for some students more than others, so this is a nice way to make school feel more welcoming. What you do with the teddies during the day is up to you, but you can build some nice activities around the stuffed friends.
Students leave their teddies at school for a teddy sleepover
This really is key to the whole thing. It's the start of the year and your students still aren't entirely sure about the classroom set up. At the end of the school day, you're going to arrange the teddies around the classroom to show the children how they can play in their class. What each area in the classroom is for, how they should interact with everything.
It's very funny to walk into a classroom and see four teddies - two putting on a puppet show and two more sitting nicely on chairs watching. You can do this to show them where and with what materials they can draw, paint, build with blocks, use play dough, etc.
Before you know it, your students have engaged in exploring their classroom and it has been pretty fun doing so. These teddies do some really funny things when no one's around.
Adding rule breakers and mischief makers
If you're game to, you can have some of the teddies doing things they shouldn't. This can be a way to explore your class rules and structures. Part of the 'game' can be to pick out which teddies are doing things they're allowed to and which teddies are breaking some rules (i.e. in out of bounds areas or using things they're not meant to). This can be an easy way to show your students the activities you do and don't want to see them doing.
Really, what you do and how you do it is up to you. There are so many possibilities and benefits for your students and it doesn't take a whole lot of time or effort. Give it a go, and have some fun!!