|image credits: New Class/ Ice Breakers|
Everyone loves a good icebreaker—it’s a great way to get to know other people and help people feel relaxed in stressful situations, such as the first day of a new school year.
Here are a few icebreakers and some variations to the icebreakers to try during the first week of school to build a good sense of community in your classroom that will last throughout the year!
1 - Name Chain Games
By far and away the best way to learn and retain student names is to do a name chain game to start off the class. You can vary the specifics to fit the needs of your particular class, for example: the first student says 1) his or her name, 2) his or her home country, 3) one interesting fact about himself or herself, and 4) his or her favorite English word. The next student must then repeat all of the information about himself or herself and then say the name and favorite English word of the preceding student. The third student introduces himself or herself and then says the names and favorite English words of the preceding two students, and so on until the last student.
2 - New Year’s Resolutions
Your students may be familiar with this popular tradition in January, but a new school year should bring about new resolutions for students and teachers alike. Have students partner up with each other and discuss what goals they have for themselves for the school year. Encourage them to be specific with the things they would like to accomplish and what they want to be different. Make sure that you as the teacher make some resolutions too!
3 - Name That Person
Another great activity to get to your students to know each other a little better is a guessing game. Pass out small pieces of paper or notecards 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 redistributing them to the students. Students take turn reading out the facts from the note card and the other students guess which person wrote the card.
4 - Find Objects to Describe Me...
A classic get to know you activity is to have students go through their backpacks, folders, pockets, etc... and find 3 or 4 things that they feel describe them very well. Students then need to describe their objects and why they chose them as their defining objects. Put students into pairs to share their objects or share as a whole class so that way everyone can hear about their new classmates!
5 – I am cool because…
If students are getting sluggish and you need them to move around the first day, do this activity. Have all of the students seated in a circle and you as a teacher stand in the middle. To start off the activity, you will say “I’m cool because...” and then finish that sentence with something that’s true about you, for example, you’re wearing blue jeans, you speak 3 languages, etc... Then, every student who shares that fact in common with you must stand up and find a new seat. You also will need to find a seat meaning that one student will be stranded in the middle. This game is great for finding commonalities and getting in some good laughs!
Variation: Play “I have never....” instead. When students are in the middle, have them call out things they’ve never done and have the students move who have done those activities.
6 - 3 Common, 1 Unique
This activity is good for small groups. Randomly group students into three or four and give them a time limit to discover three things that all members of the group have in common and one thing that is unique for all of them. When the time is up, have each group report to the class. Then, change up the groups and have them do it again with their new class members. If it starts to get too easy, start ruling out common answers like “We’re all from different countries” or “We all breathe oxygen.”
Variation: Try this with the whole class after doing it in small groups. If they’ve been good listeners, they should be able to recall many things that all students had in common. It may take awhile, but there are surely at least 3 things the whole class has in common!
Source: Busy Teacher (slightly abridged)