The authors of Literacy Beginnings stress this need for community. They also give some circle games to play to help kids build community together. In reading through their ideas, I was reminded of a game that my kids love. In fact the past few classes of kids want to play this game over and over. They call it the "Switching Chairs Game."
I have cards with all of the kids' names on them. We sit together in a circle. I hold up a name and we read it together, until we've read all the names. (This is good review and helps each child feel important when he sees his name. I guarantee that the child will smile when his name is held up and read.) Then we start the game.
I place the cards in my pocket. I pull out two names and those two children switch chairs. I continue until I go through the entire stack. I usually slip the cards back in my pocket at the end and we continue the game, switching chairs again. Sometimes I will pull out three or four cards. (That gets a little trickier as the kids try to figure out how to work it out so all of them get a new chair.) And usually at some point, I'll pull out all the cards so everyone switches chairs at the same time.
We practice reading names, play together, laugh together and build some traditions and memories. (And I'll put the cards in the writing center during center time so kids can use them to write each other's names.)
(Note: Read more about building community and chapter 2 of Literacy Beginnings at Deborah's blog, Teach Preschool.)
How do you build relationships and community in your classroom?