Back to School Activity: 3 Truths and a Lie for Bonding and Practicing Research

Since 3 Truths and a Lie is a game typically used for bonding, it is a great back to school activity! But did you know it can also be used to practice researching?

Although there are many tasks to check off the ol’ to-do list at the beginning of the year, of those items, building a safe, fun classroom culture ranks high above the rest. 

You can always take the time to test math and reading levels later, but getting to know your students and making them feel safe needs to start right away.

We have so many ideas for creating a positive classroom environment in your elementary classroom, and we’ve outlined 5 of those back to school activities in this post! However, we did not cover them all…

Today, we’ve got another activity you can add to your repertoire, but this one is not just a back to school activity, it is also a great tool for researching practice throughout the year!

The basics of 3 Truths and a Lie (or 2 Truths and a Lie)

In my classroom, I like to play a game called 3 Truths and a Lie.

Note: I’ve heard of many people who play this game with 2 truths and one lie, but the concept is exactly the same either way.

If you are already familiar with the game, jump down to the next section for suggestions on how you can vary this game for the classroom!

This game is pretty simple. Each student writes down four things about themselves. Of those four things, one of them must be a lie.

For example…

  1. I like crafts.
  2. I have two dogs.
  3. I like to go on cross-country vacations.
  4. I buy new tennis shoes every school year.

From these items, three of them are true, and the other one is false.

Once students have their items written down, we read them out loud, and as a class, we try to guess which one is the lie. 

Variations and Suggestions

When preparing to do 3 Truths and a Lie, you can choose from a variety of options for playing. Since you may do this at different times of the year, the way you choose to play when using the game as a back to school activity may be different than when you play at another time.

Here are some suggestions of different ways you can modify, up-level, and direct the game in your classroom. Each idea will provide different results and ask the students to practice different skills.

  • Students can play in pairs or small groups and then report back to the teacher via a documentation sheet.
  • The game can be anonymous. In addition to guessing the lie, students have to try to guess who the student is that wrote the answers.
  • 3 Truths and a Lie can be a whole class activity that you do all in one day or you can do one student a day for many days.
  • You can create a handout or worksheet where students’ names and items are listed. Then the other students can read through everything their classmates wrote and circle the items they believe are not true for each student.
  • You can have students use FlipGrid to explain their four items and reveal the answer. You can also combine this with the handout above to gamify the activity even more.
  • Use a Google Forms sheet to collect all the answers and create a quick spreadsheet for students to use during the activity. This is possible when you view the results of the Google form as a spreadsheet.
  • Ask students to create small posters with their four items and then have the class go around the room using dabbers or sticker dots to vote for the statement they believe is false on each poster.

Truly, there are so many great options here, so I would highly recommend trying different versions and seeing which one you like best.

The value of follow up

When using this back to school activity to work on classroom culture, it is not enough just to do the activity, guess at the lie, and move on. This activity is only as good as the discussion it creates. That is why we suggest taking time to discuss some of the topics brought up by the students.

In the example above, you could focus on the second statement about pets, and give students a chance to bring in pictures of their pets, or create a small narrative where their pet (or dream pet) is the protagonist of a story. 

If you focus on the fourth statement on the list about shoes, you can ask students if they have a favorite brand of shoes or if they even notice when people get new shoes. 

Activities like this build awareness of others’ perspectives, empathy, and help create a positive classroom culture through safely guided discussion.

Using 3 Truths and a Lie resources to practice researching

In addition to using 3 Truths and a Lie for ‘getting to know you’ activities during back to school time, you can also use it as a way to study content.

I’ve created a whole series of 3 Truths and Lie digital activities that allow students to learn about popular topics while playing the game.

I like using 3 Truths and a Lie for other topics because the game promotes reading, Internet research skills, critical thinking, and constructed response. 

The way that we use these resources includes students reading statements about high-interest topics and then sorting out the truths and lies. Then, they will use their new knowledge to turn each lie into a truth and provide one more interesting fact about the topic.

In a world where information is thrown around willy-nilly and assumed to be true, this activity teaches kids the importance of research and seeking out truths in a sea of misinformation.

Of the topics we’ve created 3 Truths and a Lie resources for, some of my favorites are topics like…

  • skateboards
  • donuts
  • Komodo dragons
  • roller coasters
  • …and so many more!

To check out all of our 3 Truths and a Lie topics and resources check out the store!

Introducing a new game as a back to school activity and then using the same game to do other activities throughout the year is an awesome way to create cohesion, reduce confusion, and get students to feel at home in your classroom from day one.

We absolutely love 3 Truths and a Lie, and we hope that it finds its way into your classroom this year too!

What is one of the craziest things you learned about your students from doing this activity? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment or drop us an email to tell us about your experiences with this game.

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