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WE ARE Activity for Upper Elementary [Back To School Ideas]

Get to know your students and start discussing characterization with this WE ARE activity for Upper Elementary.

WE ARE Activity for Upper Elementary (Back to School Ideas) Pinterest Image

Characterization is one of those topics that we have to continue to grow on throughout the school year. We start by teaching about different character traits, and then we grow on them and talk about how a person or character’s actions can contribute to their own perception of their character or others’ understanding of their character. 

To get started right at the beginning of the year, we like working through the WE ARE activity with students.

How to prepare for the WE ARE activity.

To prepare for the WE ARE activity, cut out strips of colored paper big enough for students to write a word or short phrase in marker. You’ll want the words/phrases to be read from a distance, so consider that as you cut out the paper strips. 

Now, depending on how you want the final display to look, you may prefer that each strip be the same size/shape, but if you are okay with a more eclectic display, the strips can also be different shapes.

Option: You can totally go for a theme with the shapes you choose. For example, maybe you cut out a bunch of flower shapes, so the end result looks more like a garden, or you use leaves to create a final display that looks like a tree, or maybe even papers cut to look like book spines to create a ‘bookshelf’ display. This is totally up to you and the level of creativity and detail you want to add to this activity.

Next, print out a Character Traits A to Z booklet for each of your students. These booklets can be used for various activities throughout the year, so I suggest a copy for each student. 

We have many different ways to use the Character Traits A to Z booklet in this blog post if you want to see even more ways to use it!

Finally, decide where to display the WE ARE board when you finish the activity. This works well on a bulletin board, blank wall, or even the classroom door. Make sure the space is big enough to hold 3 strips of paper for each student.

How to work through the WE ARE activity

Once you have the pieces prepared, you can actually work through the WE ARE activity for upper elementary with your students.

Start by spending some time talking about character traits. Give students time to look through the character traits list and ask questions about the different traits. 

I like talking about the traits unrelated to the students themselves to start. One way to do this is to talk about what traits different characters might have.

Start by reading a short story or book to the students, then discuss or map out what character traits they would assign to the different characters in the book.

After talking about the traits related to fictional characters, turn the attention to the students themselves.

Give them 3 sentence strips (or whatever shape you decided to go with), and ask them to evaluate the list and choose 3 positive character traits they think they have.

Ask them to write the traits on each of their pieces of paper.

Finally, create a WE ARE board where students can post their strips or papers and will be easily able to see them. I know a lot of teachers who do this on their classroom doors, but any space (even a public space) would work great.

Presenting students’ WE ARE traits

This step is optional, but it can be very effective.

Consider asking your students to present their character trait choices before adhering them to the display board. 

Each student will simply stand up and say, “The character traits I have chosen to pick for myself are ____, ____, and ____. I chose ____ because….” They will repeat the because part for each of their choices. If they are comfortable doing so, encourage students to try telling a story of a time they portrayed that trait.  This will help students begin to see how traits are tied to actions and moments, as well as general feelings. 

As your students continue to learn about character traits, you may find resources like this Character Traits Digital Review Activity to be really helpful!

WE ARE Activity for Upper Elementary (Back to School Ideas)

This a great back-to-school activity for upper elementary or even middle school students. It not only gives students a chance to self-identify as having specific traits but also provides a fun way to start talking about characterization and character traits in general.

If you want more back-to-school activities to try, check out this blog post!

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