Please excuse the Welcome Back, Kotter title, I am from Brooklyn after all. I like to start off the year with an nice, easy welcome activity and this has always worked well.
My student are brand new to junior high when I get them in September. Everything is very overwhelming. Their first homework assignment for me is to research their name. Why was the name chosen? What nationality is it? What does it mean? If you could change your name, what would you change it to? The next day, we share our stories. Since I usually have 5-6 different nationalities in my classes, this gets the ball rolling that even though we’re all in the same class, we are all special and unique. BTS Welcome Activity
Then for Thanksgiving, I have a potluck party. If a student wants to bring in food, it has to be a dish from their culture. It’s always a big hit, and there’s food from all over the world; Muslim desserts, pierogis, samosas, taquitos, macaroni pie, and even jerk goat one year (which was delicious by the way).
Names and food are two icebreakers that work well with everyone. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and everyone likes to eat. It’s an easy way to highlight what makes us special individually and what makes us awesome in a group!