8 Ways to Mix Students Up
- Give each student a Popsicle stick with a word on it before they leave the classroom for lunch. Within each class, each student should have a different word. When students arrive at the cafeteria, have them find students from another class who have the same word on their Popsicle sticks and sit with them.
- Give each student a lollipop and have them sit at a table with people who have the same color lollipop.
- Give each student a playing card as they enter the cafeteria. Tell them to sit at a table where everyone has a card of the same suit or type (everyone with an eight sits together; everyone with a jack sits together).
- Decorate each table with a large cutout of a Life Savers candy, using a different color for each table. Hand each student an individually wrapped Life Savers candy, and have them sit at a table that matches their candy color.
- Label tables with the names of the 12 months and have students sit with others who share their birthday month.
- Label tables with letters of the alphabet and have students sit with others whose first name starts with the same letter.
- Colors! Strips of paper, round stickers, paint chip samples can all be used to send students to the matching table.
- For younger children, decorate tables with geometric or animal shapes and stamp students' hands with shapes to match.
Students sit in a circle and decide on one person to be “it” first. This student has to tag another person in the group. However, unlike a typical game of tag where you run and use your hands, this game requires you to tag a person with your words. The student who is “it” will say another student’s name in the group, give her a compliment, and then say, “Tag! You’re it.” The person who gets tagged responds by saying, “Thank you,” and the person who gave the compliment responds with, “You’re welcome.” The person tagged then picks someone else and so on until everyone has had a chance to give and receive a compliment.
After the game of tag, it is always a good idea to have some discussion questions for the class to consider. Was it easy to give someone a compliment? Do you think it is possible to practice giving compliments on your own? How did it feel inside when you had a compliment given to you? How many compliments do you think you could give each day?
Once students are at their tables, have them pair up with someone they don't know well, a new buddy. The buddies introduce themselves to each other, using prompts. Some prompts include: What’s your name? Where are you from? Do you have sisters and brothers? Do you have a pet? What’s your favorite color or food or game? After buddies have introduced themselves to each other, each person takes a turn introducing his or her buddy to the rest of the group.
Have each group solve a particular problem during lunch. For example, put a piece of construction paper (8" x 10") and a pair of scissors on each table. Ask each group to cut the piece of paper so a student can step through it. Afterward, talk about how the problems were solved and what makes a group function well together.
It’s About Me
Each student brings a photograph to school that shows someone or something important to them. It might be a picture of them at an important event or of a special family member, friend, pet or place they love. An alternative to a picture could be an object that relates to something important to or about the student. It might be something given to them by a loved one, something they made or an object that symbolizes something important to them (e.g., a badge they got after they hiked a certain trail). Students introduce themselves to the people at their tables using their photographs or objects.
What’s Your Name?
Have students go around their table, introduce themselves and tell people about their name. For example: What does your name mean? Are you named after someone? What do you like about your name?
Once students are at their tables, have them pair up with someone they don’t know well. Have each pair discuss and nominate two of their favorite superheroes for Best Superhero. Gather the nominations and project them on the wall. Then, ask the whole lunchroom to vote for their favorite (other than the one they nominated). Announce the winner at the end of Mix It Up at Lunch.
Type quotes from civil rights activists onto strips of paper or onto index cards, and hand each student a strip as they exit the lunch line. Once students are seated, have them discuss their quotes with others sitting at their table.
Building Sentences and Stories
One person says a word that will start a sentence. The next person chooses a word to be the next word in the sentence and says it aloud. Students continue until the group has constructed an entire sentence. The next person whose turn it is to speak recites the whole sentence. Then the group begins again, creating a sentence to follow the first one. Students can think of the activity as creating a story, one word and one sentence at a time.
Fact or Fiction
Each person writes down four facts about themselves, one of which is not true. As each person takes a turn reading their list aloud, the rest of the group writes down the one fact they think is not true. After everyone has read their list aloud, each person then reveals the "fact" that is not true. Group members compare their written responses with the correct answers.
Making New Friends
Use a technique such as distributing playing cards or “Life Savers in the Lunchroom” to get students to their tables and mix them up. Once students are at their tables, have them pair up with a new friend. The new friends introduce themselves to each other, using prompts. Some prompts include: What’s your name? Where are you from? Do you have sisters and brothers? What’s your favorite class (or music or game)? After the new friends have introduced themselves to each other, each person takes a turn introducing their new friend to the rest of the group.
What Do We Have in Common?
Divide the students into pairs. Give each pair 30 seconds to find five things they have in common. At the end of the 30 seconds, put two pairs together and give the group a minute to find something all four students have in common. Finally, each group can present the list of things they have in common.