At the beginning of every school year or at the first meeting of a new club, there’s that awkwardness of not knowing the rest of the kids in the group. A couple of children may huddle in the corner, while the rest of them stare at the floor or busy themselves with shoelaces. For these times, we teachers have to reach into our bag of tricks and come up with a get-to-know-you activity to break the ice.
Some ice breaker activities are silly fun, while others are rather clever mnemonic methods for remembering names. Here’s my list of five favorite ice breaker activities.
Before the beginning of class, make up a bunch of bingo cards on 5 x 5 inch squares of paper. But, instead of filling in the grid with letters and numbers, scribble in description questions such as “Who has two different colored eyes? Who has twin siblings ? Who owns a brown & white dog?” Do mark the center as “free space” just as you would on a genuine bingo card! Make enough copies for all the children and yourself, and pass them around at the beginning of the class.
The goal is for the students to ask each other these questions, and then gather the signatures of the students who fit the description. To prevent one student from filling up a single card, make a rule that each person can sign only two spots per card. The first student to completely fill up the card with signatures is the winner.
What’s my name?
This game begins with the children writing their middle names on a small card which gets tossed in a box. Mix up the cards, and pass the cards to the students. If someone gets their own card back, replace it with another. The goal of this ice breaker is to match the middle name up with the right person.
Bean bag toss
The game begins with the children gathered in a circle. The teacher holds the bean bag in her hand and introduces herself with a “I am Mrs. M” then adding a country or habitat that also begins with the letter M. She tosses the bag to a child, who continues the game “I am Denise and I live in the Desert.” Denise then throws the bean bag to Mrs. M and continues by saying, “This is Mrs. M and she lives on a Mountain.”
Mrs. M. must then throw the bean bag to a third child (let’s say Steve), who recites his name and a habitat. He tosses the bag to Denise and continues, “that is Denise and she lives in the Desert.” When Denise tosses the bag to Mrs. M, Steve will continue with “and that is Mrs. M and she lives in the Mountains.” Every time the teacher tosses out the bean bag, the recipient must identify himself and choose a habitat, and then correctly identify the kids and habitat that came before him. As the queue gets longer, it will be harder to remember the sequence, but by then, the rest of the class will want to chime in and help. This is one of my favorite ice breaker activities since it helps me remember the childrens’ names as well!
For this crazy ice breaker, you may want to break the class into two groups. Each group stands in a circle, sticks out their hands into the center of the circle and randomly grabs some one else’s hands. The object of this game is to untangle the human knot without letting go of the hands.
Shoe Bag Upset
With this silly game, all the students take off their shoes and throw them in the center of the room. Once the shoes have been piled up, each student must gather two non matching shoes and put them on his feet. Be sure that the right shoe is one the right foot, and the left shoe is on the left foot! If the shoe is too small, he can just slip his foot in part of the way. At the signal, the students must try to find the mate to their mismatched shoes, and stand next to the person wearing the shoe.
The game will be a little crazy and wild at first, but eventually the kids will form into the shape of a large circle, with one matching shoe on their left, and the other on their right. This ice breaker is sure to bring lots of giggles
The beginning of the school year is often a little nerve wracking and stressful for new students and teachers alike. An ice breaker activity is a perfect way to introduce new students to each other in a way that’s tons of fun for the entire group.