Animal Crossing

A TeachersFirst elementary ice-breaker activity for the first days of school 
(Using a little math and imagination to get to know each other)

Duration: about 30-45 minutes

Materials: pre-made sign (see below), wide strips of butcher or colored paper, crayons or colored pencils, scrap paper for upper elementary grades.

This activity will give your children a chance to share a little about themselves and create a door or hallway decoration outside your classroom. There are different versions for upper elementary and primary grades.

Upper elementary version:

  • Have your class form small groups of 3-4. You can use classroom rows or “tables” as groups. In each group, have the students count how many of the following items the entire group has, in total. (It is easiest if they have a sheet of paper to write their totals):
    • dogs
    • cats
    • sisters
    • brothers
    • other pets (what kind and how many?)
  • Have the class turn to pay attention together from their seats in their groups, and write a grand total from the entire room on the board.(Students can help with the math). React to the numbers as the class finds out more about the others in the room.
  • Now ask which children did not have any pets to be counted in the small group. Ask each what imaginary animal he/she would like to have as a pet. Add them to the list on the board (wild or unusual animals are welcome).
  • Provide each table/row group with a wide strip of butcher paper or colored paper long enough to go across your door or hallway hanging space. Strips should be able to fit one above the other on your door or space, so strips about 1 foot wide should work. Have these ready with the start of the wording:

    This class has (space) dogs

    This class has (space) cats.

    This class has (space) brothers.

    This class has (space) sisters.

    This class has ...(one strip like this for each "imaginary" animal. You may have to spell the animal)

Allow each group to decorate their strip with crayon, colored pencil drawings, or decorative numbering and lettering. Limit time to ten minutes.

Collect the strips and hang them outside the room with a large sign at the top:(Of course you do not show this to the students until AFTER the activity!)



Enter carefully and watch us learn.

Can you guess which animals are imaginary?

Primary grade version:
Instead of working in small groups, have the children raise hands to count the total for each item. If they are capable, have them count the raised hands to themselves, then ask for the total as you write the numbers onto the strips for the children. With younger classes, count aloud. Hang each strip on the board with magnets after you count. After all strips are complete, divide the class into small groups to decorate the strips and continue as above.

If more than one classroom on the same hallway does this activity, don't forget to compare your room with your neighbors as you walk to lunch!

Want to see more ideas?

See a full list of reviewed resources ideal for first day activities.