September Snapshot – Classroom Scavenger Hunt
Happy September and welcome back to school! In an effort to tap into the wealth of knowledge our PAWLP team has to offer, we are running a regular feature focused on sharing ideas about how we start the school year. Please check in daily to enjoy our September snapshots. If you are interested in contributing one yourself, please contact us!
The Classroom Scavenger Hunt
For years I, like many teachers, spent time early in the school year telling students about the various resources available to them around the classroom. I wanted them to feel comfortable and orientated right from the first week. However, for years, I had students asking where to find the bathroom hall pass in October, or how to sign a book out of the classroom library in November, or where they could sharpen their pencils in December.
So, a few years back I designed a classroom scavenger hunt. As you can see from the image, the hunt invites students to study a map of the classroom, move around the space themselves, and discover through investigation where and what resources are available to them.
I gamified this activity by borrowing an idea from PAWLP Teacher Consultant Charlie Keeler. Accordingly, the scavenger hunt is run as a silent seek and find. There are only two rules to this game: 1. students are silent 2. students move about the room empty handed. These rules ensure that students are 1. finding the information for themselves rather than asking or copying what their classmates have found and 2. holding that information in their brains for at least the amount of time it takes for them to walk from the location back to their table to record it.
Finally, I try to make the game as meaningful as possible. So, students aren’t only discovering where the pencil sharpener and hall pass are located, but they are also visiting and sifting through every classroom library. They visit the new arrivals book display and notice a title that peaks their interest. They check out the book club books and find a title they might want to read with others. They investigate the general classroom library and note a genre they like. They look through the picture books and write down a title they want to read to their future kindergarten buddy. Some even walk out of the room with a book or two in hand.
As a bonus, students visit me last and are invited to jot down any questions they may have about the school, the class, or me. This year, some of my favorite questions included “Do we get to read a lot in this class?” Answer: YES! And “Why did you want to become a teacher?” Answer: YOU!
What are some ways you orient your students to their new classrooms? Please add a comment below to share your strategies.