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3 Creative Activities to Start the School Year

August 26, 2020

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The start of this school year is unlike any we’ve had in the past. It is a high-stress environment for all stakeholders, and there are many unknowns. Although you might not be sure what instruction, delivery, and class composition might look like this year, there are a few knowns to work with. One big “known” is the importance of creating a community in your classroom.

Whether your classroom is virtual, face-to-face, or a hybrid model, you can still foster connections and help students bond with their classmates. In all environments, you can provide students with opportunities to share and create at the beginning of the school year. This blog post features three customizable activities for students!

Creative Activities with Spark

All three of the activities below showcase the Adobe Spark tools. If you haven’t used these before, Spark Post is a graphic design tool, Spark Video lets students create movies, and Spark Page is perfect for designing and publishing landing pages. I’ve featured Spark lots of times on the blog, and Ben Forta and I have a book full of activity ideas. It’s called 40 Ways to Inject Creativity into Your Classroom with Adobe Spark. Let’s dive into the three creative activities for starting the school year!

Download my free Spark Video graphic organizers here >>>

My Favorite Things Video

If you’ve joined me on a webinar this year, you might have seen me model this activity. A “my favorite things” video lets students share their favorite foods, books, movies, subject areas, you name it! You might create an example with your favorite things as a way to introduce yourself to your students, too.

Get ideas for how to start the school year with creative activities you can use in distance learning or while students learn together in your classroom.

For this project, encourage kids to make a list of 5-7 things they love. They can add an image, text, icon, or video clip to go along with each one. You might ask students to add captions and record their voice on each slide. Students can also choose a theme and music that connects to things they love.

All About Me Poster

An “all about me” project is an excellent way for students to introduce themselves to their classmates. Whether they are all together or learning from a distance, this introductory activity can spark conversations and help students get to know each other. For this type of poster, you might ask students to use the layout feature in Spark Post. They can choose a set number of images as their background and layer text on top to act as labels.

Get ideas for how to start the school year with creative activities you can use in distance learning or while students learn together in your classroom.

In the example above, you can see how I added four boxes and filled each one with an image. Students can add their pictures and use the text tool to place their names in the center and label each of their boxes. Spark Post makes it easy to export content, so students can download their graphic and upload it to Seesaw, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or another space where they post their work.

Goal Setting Journal

For the third activity idea on our list, a goal-setting journal, I’ll point you to a blog post from last year. It includes a video goal setting idea, and you could try it out in this format, or set it up as an activity in Spark Page. Spark Page is the tool that lets you create a beautiful landing page you can update during the year. This feature makes it an excellent option for a journal activity.

Get ideas for how to start the school year with creative activities you can use in distance learning or while students learn together in your classroom.

In addition to the blog post linked above, I’ve added a podcast episode where you can listen to another goal-setting activity idea below—press play to listen, or find this episode on your favorite podcast app.

The Added Value of Creating at the Start

There are many benefits to starting the school year with a creative activity. It can help you:

  • Introduce new tools: including ones you’ll use throughout the school year
  • Set routines: like giving feedback and sharing student work
  • Establish a baseline: help you identify where students might need extra help
  • Early celebrations: with community building at the start of the year

I can’t wait to see what type of creative activities you set up for students this year. If you’re committing to include more creativity in your classroom this year, check out the Adobe Creative Educators program. It’s free, and I’m very proud to be a founding member!

Learn more about the program on this landing page, or head over to Spark for Education’s website to learn more about setting up your students for success with Adobe Spark.

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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16 Responses to “3 Creative Activities to Start the School Year”

  1. Rose Carrasquillo

    I want to give a Shout Out to Monica for share her ideas with all of us. The Goal Setting Journals are great for middle school students. Especially the 7th and 8th graders – they are able to look back and see if they are following their goals.

  2. alexa bluth

    I really like the all about me poster idea!! I think this activity is fun and students would be able to be themselves when creating their poster and it could really help you get to know students!

  3. Hannah J

    I love the idea of the video of your favorite things. I feel like it gives students the ability to be creative. Due to it being a video, students can also watch each other’s on their own technology device. I love the amount of creativity that they can use and it is also fun for the teacher as well!

  4. Anna Johnson

    Wow! What great ideas! Building community right off the bat, I believe, is so important, and these activities foster even more than that. The students are able to see everyone else’s projects, the similarities and differences, and start to make friendships right away. I know I feel more comfortable and learn better when I’m surrounded by familiar people and friends, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. This is an important atmosphere to create for students too. Wonderful post!

  5. Elizabeth Clark

    I always love the idea of starting the year off with an all about me poster! With technology skyrocketing I love the idea of using an online format so that it is easier for students to add in pictures of specific things or places! Love it!

  6. I love all the tips that you have to give. I can see students having fun with that and expressing themselves in a new way. I ways wanted to bring technology in the classroom but was never sure how to do so. Thanks for the great ideas!

  7. I love the idea of doing a video to introduce yourself. I think the students would find it fun to use technology that way, and they would feel confident because they are talking about themselves!

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