All Hands In!

This week was our first week back and, boy am I tired!  My class is great though...very inquisitive and eager to learn.  They take their work seriously and are actively working most of the day.  Who could ask for more??

We did quite a few things this week, but I want to share with you one "get to know you" project we did that really came out great.  I seriously can't stop staring at it!

I saw this pin on Pinterest.  I love how it looks and thought it would make a great welcome sign.

Using a circle map to help the students figure out the important things about themselves.Now, on the pin, the hands seemed to be just colored in.  I wanted something a bit more.  So we started with creating Circle Maps about ourselves.  What made us special?  What are some things that have shaped us?  Where did you go in your life?  etc....Most of the kids finished these Circle Maps in class on the first day of school.

I then asked the students to trace their hands and arms on a piece of 11 x 17" piece of paper.  They then had to draw, write, decorate, etc...the traced in hand with items from the Circle Map.  The goal was to teach their fellow classmates about themselves in a visual way, without giving away too much information (ie: I didn't want them to write paragraphs.)  That is pretty much how far we got in class.  So, the first homework assignment the students had to finish the project at home.  I gave them this sheet so that they could be a bit more focused on their project and add a bit if they wanted. (but if you are going copy-less, just forgo this. They can write the information on a sheet of paper instead.)

The next day, the hands came back to school...and they were great!  I had the kids get into groups and share what they decided to put on their hands and why.  The kids learned a lot about each other in that 15 minute session!
My non-picture perfect classroom is not goregous, but that is OK!  Kids will still be able to learn and focus in the room.  As the year goes on, student work will fill up the room
You can see some of them used words as well as pictures to tell about themselves.  I love the one directly in the center of this picture!

Others just used pictures, like the one in the middle here.

When I went to put them around a piece of poster board, like in the original pin, they didn't fit :(  I think if I had used a smaller piece of paper to trace their hands to begin with they might have.  Oh well!  I decided to put them up as if the hands were all in a line, raising up.....and it came out great!  I overlapped the hands, so I was able to get 5 or 6 on one piece of large construction paper.  I then mounted them on my wall.  I love it!

All Hands In display in a 5th grade classroom.  Kids told all about themselves using their hand shape and we hung it around the room.
All in all, this was a fun little project that served as a great way for the kids to get to know each other and make a nice display!   What is something you do during the first week of school to help the kids get to know each other and for you to learn a little about them?

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  1. Great idea! I am going to try this with my own group.

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE this, Steph! A fabulous first week activity - and a great display, too!

    Runde's Room

  3. I love this idea. Just might snag it for my beginning week!

  4. Our theme this year is "Step Up to Leadership" so I am going to do this, only having the students trace their feet instead of their hand/arm!

  5. I love this idea! Thanks for posting!!

    Pencils, Books, and Dirty Looks

  6. Great Idea, and I saw it on Pinterest too. I love pinterest!

    Ms. Chae Charges In

  7. Love this project. Yours turned out great.

  8. I saw that the students had a sheet with information about how to complete the assignment. Is that something you have could share, or is it available in your TpT store?

    Thanks! Love this!

  9. I LOVE this!! I am going to steal the idea because I think it's such a great opening activity!! Thanks for sharing!
    Fifth Grade Ramblings

    1. Don't even call it stealing...she's giving it away!

  10. This is a beautiful project. We are currently doing an assignment for homework where the students learn about their names from their families. Then we will make name posters. I think I will incorporate your circle map idea in with the name poster project.

    Miss Rorey's Room

  11. Last year, I had my third and fourth graders do a "Me Box" and this year I tweaked it to be a "Me Bag". I got the idea from a blog or TpT store, but when I looked for it, I couldn't find it anywhere. :( But basically, they put items representing their family members (and selves) in the box or bag, then share with the class. We ask questions and notice things in common or things that are unique. I think it's a great way to learn about my students and also get their families involved in their schooling the first week! I also start teaching about public presentations when we do this.

  12. These turned out great! Thank you for sharing such a fun back to school activity.

    Have a great week!


  13. WOW, Stephanie, these turned out great!
    I love being two weeks behind you so I can enjoy all of your great ideas (and borrow lots of them too!)
    Sending you big hugs and lots of happy back-to-school wishes...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  14. I love this project. I think I'm going to try to sneak this into my plans this week. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  16. LOVE this!!! Can't wait to use it next week. Thank you so much for sharing!

  17. Just found this a year later and wanted to thank you--what a fabulous activity!

  18. Can you show me what instructions you gave the kids for the circle map? Thanks!

  19. I agree with Alexis. Can you explain the circle map in more detail?

  20. Great idea for students in different ages :) Thank You Stephanie!

  21. I love this! Great way to introduce circle maps, too, which we will use a lot in Units of Inquiry. We will be using ours as a door display. I will post a link, once it is done, and the photo is on our blog! Thanks, from Grade 4 and 4, St Thomas's, Viterbo, Italy.

  22. I love the All Hands In activity and did it for the first time this year. As we just started school in NY on 9/9, and with 9/11 two days later, I connected this activity to discuss Sept. 11th as well as introducing each student. I was able to relate the activity with some of the reasons behind 9/11 and how we should respect each other's differences and unique qualities while being one class community that works as one, just like how all of the country came together to support the US and wave the American flag and be as one United nation. It worked out so well and put a positive spin on such a horrible tragedy. I will do this every year! Thank you so much!!

  23. I really like this idea. Thank you for sharing.

  24. I really like this idea. Thank you for sharing.

  25. I just stumbled upon this great idea. I am adding it into my plans for tomorrow! Thanks for the information. I love the way it looks and the message it sends to the kids.

  26. Thank you so much for introducing us with this beautiful activity and providing the instructions for the students.
    What a wonderful way to begin the year :-)

  27. Amazing activity indeed. It also helps the teacher to have an idea about the students' level of creativity. Thank you Steph!

  28. I like this idea! Would this be too challenging for fourth graders?

  29. Five years later this idea still sounds as an excellent idea for starting the school year and get to know your classmates and yourself, too. Thank you!


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