by Rachel Wells
The first day of school is quickly approaching, and icebreaker activities can greatly assist in building meaningful relationships with students, while helping both students and teachers overcome any first day jitters. These activities are a great first step towards creating a comfortable environment where students aren’t afraid to ask questions or take risks.
House of Cards Challenge
Put students in groups of 4 or 5 and have them talk about their likes and dislikes. Give each group about 30 index cards and have them label each card with something they all have in common. After all the index cards have been written on, challenge students to build index card towers that are at least 10 inches tall!
Put students in groups of 4 or 5. Give each group 20-30 dry spaghetti noodles, tape, string, and one large marshmallow. Each group will need to work together to build the tallest structure they can that can support a large marshmallow on the top.
Switch Sides If…
Have all your students start by standing on one side of the room. The teacher will make a statement, and if that statement applies to a student they get to walk to the other side of the room. Students can continue walking back and forth each time a statement applies to them.
“Switch sides if you have a sibling.”
“Switch sides if you have even been in an airplane.”
“Switch sides if you have a pet fly.”
Silent Line Up
Give students a task, such as lining up alphabetically by the first letter of their names, however they have to all line up without talking. They will have to work together and figure out other ways to communicate in order to accomplish the task. You can also challenge students to line up by birthday order, how many pets they have, etc.
Have each student write three things about themselves on a piece of paper, then crumble the paper into a ball. Once everyone is done, students get to have a “snowball fight” with their paper balls for one minute. When time is up, everyone runs and grabs one of the snowballs off the ground, reads it, and has to try and find the person who wrote it. After a student finds their partner, they have to come to the front of the room and share the three cool facts they learned about them.
Name That Person
Pass out small pieces of paper to each student and tell them to write down two facts about themselves on the card, without writing their name on them. Collect the cards in a basket and mix them up before handing them back out to the class. Students will take turns reading the facts from the note cards to the class while the other students try guess which person wrote the card.
Would You Rather Lineup
Line students up in two lines facing each other. Tell them to come up with a fun “Would you rather….” question to ask their partner. After each student has a chance to ask their partner a question, have the lines move down so everyone gets a chance to partner up with someone new and meet everyone in the other line.
Find Objects to Describe Me
Have students go through their backpacks, folder, pockets, even the classroom, and find three things that describe them. Give each student a turn to describe their objects and why they choose them as items that describe themselves.
The Book of Me
Have students create a book cover about themselves. Simply fold a piece of paper in half to make the book cover. On the front, encourage students to come up with a fun title that describes them, and decorate it with images to represent who they are. On the back cover have students write a short biography of themselves (similar to an ‘About the Author’ section). You can take it a step further and include a table of contents inside that includes any special dates, hobbies, etc. that they could make sections for if they were to write an actual book.
Love, Like, Don’t Like
Have students fold a piece of paper into thirds. On the top of each section write either “love”, “like”, or “don’t like”. Choose a topic – i.e.: sports, foods, TV shows, colors, etc. Each student will start by writing one item from each category under the appropriate heading (i.e.: one food they love, one food they like, and one food they don’t like.) They will then walk around the classroom to find a partner and ask them their “love”, “like”, or “don’t like” and write their partner’s answers down. Have students continue the process with different partners to see the variety of responses they get.
Have students sit or stand in a circle. Take a ball of yarn and holding tight to one end, toss the ball to one student. Ask them a question, such as “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” After they answer they will hold onto a piece of the yarn and toss the ball to another student, who they will ask a different question to. Continue on until the ball has been tossed to every student and you have a pretty cool spider web in the center of your circle.
Before doing this activity write the following code on a large piece of paper. Keep it covered until you are ready to begin.
Red – Your favorite summer memory
Orange– Your favorite sport or activity
Yellow– Your favorite book
Green– Your favorite food
Blue– What makes you really happy
Purple– What makes you laugh the most
Pink– Your favorite song
White – Free choice… share anything
In a basket, place pipe cleaners with the same colors. When you are ready to begin pass the basket around and have each student choose three different colors of pipe cleaners. Now you can show them the chart. Give everyone a chance to introduce themselves and answer the questions for each of the colored pipe cleaners they chose.
After the activity is finished you can give students a chance to twist their pipe cleaners into a bracelet.
Find Someone Who…
Set aside time for students to ask each other questions in order to complete their CLASSMATE BINGO cards. You can choose to have students cross off all the squares or get a single row to complete the activity.
Line students up in two lines facing each other. If there is an odd number of students you will need to play too so everyone has a partner across from them. Give students 30 seconds to look each other over paying close attention to all the details of their partner. After 30 seconds, the students in one line will now turn around and face the other way, while the other line of students each change one thing about themselves without making a sound! (Maybe a girl takes off a hair bow or bracelet, a boy untucks his shirt or unties a shoelace.) After another 30 seconds, the line that turned around will now turn back and try figure out what their partner changed. Be sure to play again so each line has a chance to guess the difference as well as be the ones to change themselves.