Before we talk about icebreaker activities, I want you to imagine this…
It’s the first week of school. You’re standing at your door greeting your new students as they come in. You watch as they find their seats and look around, absorbing their new learning environment. It’s a scenario we all know too well, but there’s something important to know about this moment if you haven’t realized it already: your students are nervous.
And that’s okay, but it’s our job to ease those nerves and diminish those fears. What better way to do that than icebreaker activities? They’re fun and are an easy way to build classroom community and positive classroom culture.
When I think about icebreaker activities for the first day of school, I’m looking for activities that set students apart as individuals. Your students are still learning one another, trying to gain a foothold within your classroom, and need to feel welcomed and accepted as a part of your classroom.
Individual icebreaker activities are the best way to do that at the beginning of the school year. Let’s take a look at five easy-to-do icebreaker activities!
Icebreaker Activity #1: Name Tags
I start with name tags on the very first day of school each year. Why? Because names are the most important words to our students, we must create a classroom culture that values them.
I like doing name tags because they give students a chance to share their names and interests with the class. Students display this name tag on their desks for the entire first week. This is an easy way for them to share a little about themselves, learn what their classmates like, and help others know what name to call them.
Icebreaker Activity #2: All About Me Sculptures
All About Me Sculptures are individual icebreaker activities, but they help get students talking to one another. Students create about me sculptures that represent them and their interests. They earn the materials to create their sculptures based on facts about themselves.
Once their sculptures are complete, students can see their similarities to and differences from others in their class. I love to use Venn diagrams afterward to help students compare and contrast themselves with someone in the classroom.
Introducing Venn diagrams at the beginning of the year helps build familiarity. This is extremely beneficial since we will continue using them throughout the school year across subjects.
Icebreaker Activity #3: Cup Stacking
When your mind goes to cup stacking, it may not sound that fun, but this version of cup stacking totally is. This cup stacking requires a partner or two, a rubber band, and four strings. This is one of my students’ favorite icebreaker activities because they have to work together to stack the cups without touching them.
Students must pull the four different strings to move the rubber band around the cups and stack them. I usually set the timer for this activity for 5 to 10 minutes. When the time is up, I look for the students who use strong communication skills to create the tallest stacking tower.
Icebreaker Activity #4: Getting to Know You STEM to Win
An activity that my students love is STEM to Win. During this icebreaker activity, students answer yes or no questions and earn materials based on their answers. For example, a question may be, “Do you have a dog?” If I have a dog, I say yes, and I earn 2 STEM materials, but if I don’t have a dog, I say no, and I earn 0 STEM materials.
The amount you earn varies each time, and you must be honest to receive anything. Once students have answered all of the questions on the game cards, they use their materials to create a tower.
This is a way fun for students to see how creative their fellow classmates are. Students also learn about themselves and each other alongside a few laughs and giggles.
Icebreaker Activity #5: Chain Name
The final icebreaker activity that I love for the beginning of the school year is called Chain Name. To do this, students sit in a circle. One student will say their name. Then, the second student beside them will say the first student’s name and their own name. Next, the third student will say the first and second students’ names and add their own names.
This pattern repeats until you get to the end of the circle. The final student has to say everyone’s names starting with student one all the way to themselves. Keep practicing this activity until students have all learned each other’s names. This one is a lot of fun, and laughter always ensues.
Surveys Aren’t Icebreaker Activities, but They are Helpful!
This one isn’t really an icebreaker activity as much as it is a getting-to-know-you activity for me. It’s important for me to know my students quickly so I can tailor my teaching to their learning styles.
I love using surveys in my classroom! Interest inventories and attitude surveys help me determine what motivates my students, their confidence level entering the classroom, and how I need to interact with them.
Through these surveys, I can learn who feels most confident in math, who needs more support in reading, what types of prizes and praise they respond best to, and more. It’s a great way for me to have a fuller picture of who my students are before the year gets going.
We want our students to have the best school year, and one way that we can do that is by planning fun icebreaker activities to bust those classroom jitters beginning on day one.
Now you’ve got some great icebreaker activities for the first week of school, but did you know you should be doing these five things for a successful back to school? Tap the link to read more from my blog!