Building a community of learners who truly care about each others is more important that the curriculum you will deliver!
In this perilous world in which we live, it is more important than ever that we give students opportunity to truly know, stop, and appreciate each other; take time to learn about each other, to note each other's differences, to respect other's likes and wants.
I have two activities that I like to do in my classroom. The first is borrowed from "Teacher Deb," a great teacher on my current team, and the second is an activity that I have done in my classroom for over two decades.
The first activity, "Friend of the Day," is use right from the onset of school. The purpose of this activity is for students to notice there are other children that are sharing the classroom, and to learn their names. To take a moment to find out their favorite color, and then help make a book for that student by drawing his picture and writing his name. I usually do the students in alphabetical order as I am introducing the alphabet during my 26 day push. I start with the first A student and add their names to the word wall as they are introduced. I can't worry that we are perfectly matching the letter of the day because that would be impossible.
The next activity goes into greater detail. After each student has had a focus day, I move to giving each child a focus week! With this activity, the purpose includes getting to know the student, but with more depth. We now look at their pictures they have brought to school, talk about their families, and then ask 5 questions so we can know them better.
There are many literacy purposes that are included with this Star activity. We have shared and modeled reading and phonics opportunities that support the project. It really is a great literacy boosting time as well.
To further community building in the classroom, I love to use Wondergrove's Life Skills program. Take a look, you will love it!
If you are looking to build community in your classroom as a start to making this world a better place, you will enjoy both of these activities.