The beginning of the year sets an important tone for the entire school year. Things like establishing rules and procedures, and building readers, writers, and mathematicians are vital from the start. One of the most important things to start nurturing and growing from day one is classroom community. Classroom community is the root of how well your students work together, speak to each other, and get to know one another. One of the easiest and most fun (we’re still allowed to have fun, right?) ways to start building classroom community is to complete icebreaker activities.
Icebreaker activities, when implemented the correct way, allow students to get to know each other and begin to settle their nerves. Try choosing activities that allow class clowns to show their silly side, but won’t push reserved kids to take risks they aren’t ready for yet. After all, you are nurturing a safe environment for all learners. Oh, and the best part…drum roll… they are easy to implement with minimal planning or prep! Yes, I said it. MINIMAL! Because who has time to add any further prep to their beginning of the year checklist due to repetitive PDs, bloodborne pathogens trainings, teacher nights, parent calls, all of the things!
Clever Icebreaker Activities For Your First Week Back to School
All About Me
An “All About Me” project is a great icebreaker activity to kick off the week. It allows students to be creative, list or show their favorite things, and tell a little about themselves. With lower elementary students, try an “About Me Bag” or “Show and Tell” approach. Students can bring in some of their favorite items from home to show to the class. With upper elementary, try a print out or poster board with “About Me” facts. Something involving emojis or related to social media will be sure to gain their attention.
Find-Someone-Who gives students a good chance to interact with their peers without having to speak in front of the class yet. You can make this as silly or as serious as you want. On a paper or print off, list off things like “can touch their tongue to their nose,” “went on a family vacation,” “knows all of the primary colors.” Students find a peer that can answer yes to that task and writes their name in the box.
This may be the easiest on the list of fun icebreaker activities, but it is a major hit every year! Give each student a piece of notebook paper and have them write one fact about themselves on the paper (they SHOULD NOT write their name). On the count of three, have students wad their paper into a “snowball.” Then, count to three again and have students throw their snowball across the room and then go find someone else’s snowball. Students unwad the snowball they found and search around the room for the person that it belongs to. Students love throwing paper snowballs in class because it’s something that isn’t typically allowed. It’s like breaking the rules… but not!
Okay, here’s another one that’s simple and an absolute student favorite! Give students some facts about you. I usually talk about how many kids I have, how many dogs, the grades I’ve taught. Then, I go a little more in depth, like my kids’ names, dogs’ names, favorite foods, etc. It’s a pretty typical “About the Teacher” introduction but at the end, I pass out paper and say POP QUIZ and tell the students to number their paper 1-5. I then ask students questions about the facts I gave them. Their goal is to see if they can “ace” the test. They love the “About Me” spotlight being on the teacher and not themselves. Not to mention, you can very discreetly test their listening comprehension! Oh, the sneaky things we do!
Build About You!
This is a hands-on activity that can be used with several different materials. In the past, I’ve used Legos, Play-doh, and toothpicks and marshmallows. All students don’t have to have the same material if you don’t have enough for a class set. Ask students to build or create a sculpture of something they enjoy (this could be at home or at school). I’ve had students create animals, books, cars, sports equipment, all kinds of things. After students have built their sculpture, let them carousel around the room to look at their peers’ artwork.
For this fun icebreaker activity, each student needs a pipe cleaner and pony beads. Students could count out their pony beads and put them in a Ziploc bag as part of their morning work. They need one bead for each student in the class. Put some “get to know you” questions on a PowerPoint slide or on the board. When ready, play music, and when the music stops, students have to find a partner. They must answer the question on the board to their classmate. After answering the question, they exchange a bead with one another. You can do this as many times or as few times as you want. When finished with the music and questions, students go back to their seats and construct their bracelet from all of the shared beads from their classmates!
If you haven’t pegged the class clowns yet, you will with this one! Using questions from some of the previous games or creating new ones if you’d like, students play a game of Charades. They have to act out their answer to the question given, while peers guess their action. Tip: reserved kids may not be quite ready for this type of spotlight. To nurture that safe environment, give them a choice whether or not they want to participate.
I hope these fun icebreaker activities work out well in your classroom! So finish up that bloodborne pathogens training and get ready for your best game of Charades, because yes, you’re still allowed to have a great time.
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