Icebreakers to Get to Know Your Students
The beginning of the school year can be one of the biggest challenges for teachers as they get to know their students and attempt to acclimate them to the new environment and curriculum. Icebreakers for teachers to use are a great way to help students feel more comfortable in the new setting, while offering an opportunity for students to meet everyone and forge new friendships. Here are five icebreakers that can be used the next time you need to break the ice in the classroom and kick off the school year on the right foot:
“Find Someone Who”
For this icebreaker, you will need to create a list of interesting facts that will pertain to at least one person in the room. Some teachers are able to compile this list themselves, while others may want to pass around a questionnaire to gather information about the students to use for the list. Once you have created the list, print a copy for each member of the class.
On the first day of school or whenever you choose to use this game, you will give each student a sheet of paper. Students are then encouraged to move around the room and talk to the other students, finding one person who matches each fact. When a student finds someone who matches the fact, that person should sign the paper next to his or her fact. Some teachers only allow a person to sign on each piece of paper once, while others allow one person to acknowledge more than one fact on a piece of paper. This exercise allows students to open up to their peers while learning interesting facts about them.
Get to Know Each Other with Technology
Today, many students use technology to stay in touch with friends and meet new people. If you are teaching older children who are already familiar with the use of technology, you can use this to your advantage to help them get to know each other. Two popular ways to use the Internet to help students break the ice is through a class blog or PowerPoint presentations.
If you will be using a class blog, set up a private blog and share the login information with your students. Instruct your students to write a blog post telling the class about themselves, their families, what they like to do and anything else they would like the class to know about them. The students can then log in and read all the entries to get to know their classmates better. Having each student post an image of themselves will help students know who is who.
Another option is to require each student to create a PowerPoint presentation that tells the class about themselves. Students will then take turns presenting their PowerPoint to the class. This method helps students match faces to names.
Who Done It?
Many students have life experiences others may not have had. This can lead to interesting discussions and help students identify others with whom they have something in common. For this game, you will need to pass out several index cards to each student. Students must then write one interesting thing they have done, particularly one other students aren’t likely to have experienced, per card.
Once you receive all the index cards, shuffle them and then read them off one by one. Students must then guess which student completed the activity listed on the card. You can even split the class up into teams and play against each other to see which team can guess the most correctly. You can also ask students to write their answers down on paper instead of shouting out the answers.
Learning about the other students can help everyone feel more comfortable in the classroom. When you play candy introductions, you will give students the opportunity to share facts about themselves. This can help them feel more comfortable talking in front of the class and help them identify similarities. To play this game, you will need one or several bags of candy that offer variety, such as different colors or different candy types. You will need enough for each student to take about five pieces.
Pass the bags of candy around, asking each student to take five pieces. They should not eat the candy until after the game. Once every student has five pieces, assign a category to each color or type of candy, such as number of siblings, pets, favorite color, hobbies, dream job, or any other piece of information that might interest others. Students will then go around the room, introducing themselves and sharing one relevant fact for each piece of candy they have. The bonus is students receive a special treat at the end.
The string game is a great way to spark conversation and learn about your class. You will need a ball of yarn or string that is cut into many pieces ranging from 12 to 30 inches or even longer. Ball up the cut strings together, so students can’t tell the length. You can use different colored string to make things more interesting.
One by one, students pull out one string from the ball. Then, the student must slowly wrap the piece of string around their finger while sharing interesting facts until the string is completely wrapped. The varied lengths keep things interesting and encourage students to speak up.
These and other icebreakers for students are useful tools for teachers to use. When you encourage your students to get to know each other, you are creating an open, safe atmosphere conducive to learning and teamwork.
Photo by Geoffery Kehrig