How I Am Like/Unlike My Pinecone! Introductions Activity
by Mike Barrera
(Phoenix, Arizona, USA)
Each summer, I pick up pinecones from under the trees around my property in the mountains of Arizona. I begin each school year by having my students pick a pinecone from a box. (You must have more pinecones than you have participants.)
I then distribute a 5x8 notecard to each student and ask them to describe on their notecard how they are like and not like the pinecone. I encourage students not to put answers like: "I am brown like the pinecone." or "I am short like the pinecone."
I ask my students to share their responses with others or the entire class; this is voluntary. You should be sure to wander around the room to view the various responses and call on those that are unique to share.
Some participants will describe how they are not like the pinecone, but that is okay. Some responses you might get will be: "My personality is sometimes prickly like the pinecone." or "I am open and flexible like this pinecone."
I also ask the students to describe how the pinecone is like school or the class subject (I teach American Government).
Then I ask students to make a creative and colorful namecard on the back side of their notecard. I display the namecards throughout my classroom for the duration of the year.
I have also used rocks of different shapes, textures, and sizes for this activity, which has worked with both adults and teenagers.
Occasionally, I have a participant ask if they may keep their pinecone/rock and of course I say yes.
This activity helps me get to know my students and lets the students know the class will be unique. It also shows students that they must participate and think outside the pinecone.