Walton Burns

Classroom Community Builders: Activities for the First Day and Beyond

ebook, paperback

This is an indispensable book, for novice and experienced teachers, for teachers of young learners or adults, or in the ESL or EFL context. —Scott Thornbury

With solid pedagogical explanations for the exercises rendered in these pages, Burns offers a worthy professional tool for fellow teachers —Kirkus Reviews

Buy direct or wherever you get books, in ebook or paperback.




Don’t Break the Ice. Build Community.

We all do an icebreaker on day one of class. Then how often do we forget about our keeping strong rapport with students and between students? Until there’s a problem? Classroom community builders are more than empty icebreakers; they’re a way of ensuring your classroom is a place where students work hard and treat each other with respect.

Classroom Community Builders: Activities for the First Day & Beyond is a collection of activities that build community in the classroom while students learn. The heart of the book is activities that have students working together toward meaningful, and mutually beneficial goals, activities that meet the four conditions for building classroom community.

  • Plane Crash Survival: Students decide which items are most useful to them after their plane crashes
  • Create a Country: Students choose a new country, draw a map, give it a government, and devise new laws
  • Tell Me About Me: Students try to figure out how much they know or can guess about the teacher. Turn the tables on the typical icebreaker by having them get to know you instead.
  • Settlement: Given a map, students figure out the best place to build a new settlement where they can access food, water, shelter, and stay away from wild animals.
  • Follow Directions: Give each student one part of the directions to communicate to the rest of the class. You can have them build Legos or do a tangram or even origami.

Clear instructions, ideas for varying or adapting the activities, and links to free printable downloads make this a must-have book, whether you are a new or experienced teacher.

Preview Classroom Community Builders

Additional information

Weight 9.5 oz
Dimensions 6 x 9 x .475 in

ebook, paperback



Publication Date

15 August 2017


Teacher Tools





Here are some free Classroom Community Builder Activities. These are free downloadable and printable worksheets and other resources you can use with the activities in our book, Classroom Community Builders by Walton Burns. These activities build rapport among students while also doing meaningful and fun tasks. Good classroom community builder activities bring a class together and create a classroom atmosphere of hard work and mutual respect.

Here you’ll find some old favorites as well as newer activities to bond the class, as well as icebreakers and activities to help students learn the rules and expectations of the classroom. The book, Classroom Community Builders, contains complete directions on how to use the resources below, and ideas for many more activities!

Activities to Set the Tone

Classroom Community Builder Tasks

Getting to Know You Activities



My favourite activity [is the] ‘Different Thoughts’ activity at the start of Working Together. It’s great for helping students to appreciate the different ways of approaching a task.

– Peter Clements, British Council

This book contains a wide variety of activities and worksheets that will be useful for those who are new to the ESL classroom. The exercises are creative and will keep students interested, on track, and help them beyond the classroom.  Kudos to Burns for bringing together all these materials into one solid book!

– Dr. Pamela Vittorio, The New School

Since the vast majority of the activities are highly communicative or involve productive skills, they do double duty, ensuring that community building can be carried out along with meaningful language practice in a way that maximizes every minute of class time.

– Delpha Thomas, Professor, Portland Community College

What a wonderful resource for ESL teachers!  This book offers activities which foster classroom community and establish class rules and procedures through innovative communicative activities. Each activity has clear language objectives, which teachers may want to preview for beginning students. Collaborative activities are essential in today’s ESL class and this book offers teachers a wealth of ideas for ESL instruction.

– Dr. Daryl Gordon, Associate Dean , Adelphi University School of Education

I wish I’d had access to a book like this when I was starting out as a teacher. Besides the practical lesson plans that I’m sure I’d have used again and again, it’s full of common sense and sincerity, just what a teacher needs.

– Katherine Bilsborough
Author at Oxford University Press, blogger at British Councils, teacher, trainer.

Activities presented in the book will enliven your classroom and help you develop students’ problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, teamwork and creativity. It is definitely one of the books any teacher who wants to achieve authentic communication in the language classroom should have.

– Barbara Anna Zielonka
English teacher at Nannestad High School, Norway; co-author of Skills

Walton Burns’ new book takes as axiomatic the idea that a (language) classroom is a small community, and that communities are made, not born. The many and varied activities in this book are all designed to facilitate this ‘community-building’ process, whether cementing ties between the learners themselves, or between the learners and their teacher. And not only do the activities support and strengthen the classroom dynamic – they do this through the medium of the target language, hence they provide authentic opportunities for language practice.   Because all language learning is contingent on there being a social context to support it, this is an indispensable book, both for novice and experienced teachers, for teachers of young learners or adults, or for teachers teaching in an ESL or an EFL context.

– Scott Thornbury, author of The New A-Z of ELT

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