Getting to know a new class can be as exciting as it is nerve-wracking. As a teacher, you want to set the tone for your class while taking the opportunity to bond with students. Building a healthy rapport is essential to the learning process, since it results in students being more open to asking questions and interacting with one another, and it also aids in establishing a classroom community.
Certain activities can help “break the ice” among students and teachers who don’t know each other very well yet, or who need a little boost in getting the day started. The best icebreakers are simple in concept, don’t take too long to complete, and have plenty of replay value among student groups. The following are three examples of good icebreakers to help students connect with their teachers and peers.
1. “Where the Wind Blows” is a game where everyone is seated in a circle with one student in the middle. The student in the middle declares, “The wind blows toward people who _____,” where the blank is something like “enjoys scary stories” or “drank orange juice this morning.” Everyone who fits the stated category must then stand up and find a different place in the circle to sit—including the person in the middle. This means there will always be one student left without a seat, who then becomes the new declarer in the middle of the circle.
2. “Two Truths and a Lie” is an activity where each person makes three statements about themselves, but one isn’t true. For instance, a student could say, “My middle name is Ingrid, my favorite food is sushi, and I have a pet rabbit”—which is all true except that they actually have a pet dog instead of a rabbit. The rest of the class must then guess which statement of the three is false. Teachers can play, too!
3. “Who Am I?” is a game that works well with older students, where they must identify the celebrity or the name of a specific famous individual in history. To play, the teacher writes the names of famous figures (that the students would undoubtedly know!) on sticky notes and has each student put a note on their own back without looking at the name on it. Mingling around the classroom, students must ask each other Yes or No questions about the famous person whose name is stuck on their back, until each student figures out their identity by process of elimination. Examples of questions to ask would be, “Am I living?”, “Am I an actor?”, and “Have I written a famous song?”. Keep in mind, it’s best to keep this activity lighthearted instead of competitive, so that all students feel comfortable.
Icebreakers help to establish a fun atmosphere in the classroom and facilitate low-risk introductions to other students that help all players bond. These types of activities are an especially great way to start the year with a new group of students!