Five Icebreakers for the Beginning of the School Year

The first day of school can cause anxiety for many children. They often worry if they will know anyone or make friends. Ice breakers are quick, fun activities that help put students at ease and often help them realize commonalities among their classmates. Here are a few popular ones to try in your room.

Explain that each person will hear a whisper of an animal name.  Move around the group, giving each person the name of an animal.

The challenge will be to find all other animals of one's own kind.  No one can talk - only animal sounds can be made.

Depending on your class size give 4-5 children the same animal.

*Choose animals that make sounds children will most likely be familiar with: dog, cat, cow, sheep, monkey, etc.

This can be done in a classroom, but works better in a gym or multipurpose room where you have more space.

Tape a different colored piece of construction paper to the wall in each corner of the room.

Have all the students start out in the middle of the room.

You will call out a thing that some might have in common and tell them if it is true for them to go to a certain color: If you have a cat – go to orange! If you have ever been on an airplane – go to blue! If you have a birthday in June – go to green!

If playing in a smaller space, avoid call-outs that are most likely to include larger groups such as: if you are a boy, if you like pizza, if you have brothers or sisters.
Sit the group on the floor in a circle with everyone facing toward the center of the circle.

Tell everyone you will be going around the circle and each telling their name and one favorite thing (decide ahead of time what the one thing will be: favorite animal, color, ice cream flavor, etc.) You will go first to demonstrate.

After sharing and holding firmly to the end of the yarn, toss the ball of yarn to someone in the circle.

That person repeats the process. Remind them not to let go of the yarn and hold it tightly.

He or she tosses the yarn ball on to another person and so on until everyone has had a turn. They will be surprised to see they’ve created a giant web!

Arrange the chairs in room in a large circle and have all your students take a seat.

Tell the kids that you are going to ask a “Did you…” question. If they can answer yes to the question, they will need to get up and change chairs with someone. Tell them they cannot take the chair to their immediate left or right. Then ask a question you think is likely that most can answer yes to: Did you go swimming this summer? Did you watch TV yesterday?

Be prepared when the kids get up to quickly remove one chair. (This is the ONLY chair you will remove.) The child that ends up without a chair goes to the middle of the circle and gets to ask the next question.
Divide students into groups of five. Give each group a sentence strip and a pencil.

On your signal, the first person in the group writes one word at the beginning of the strip and passes it to the next person.

The second person leaves one finger space and then writes one more word.

The writing continues without any talking until each student has had a turn. (Do not tell them at the start that they are working toward a joint goal.)

When everyone has had a turn the first person reads the sentence to the group or class.

The next time have a different student in the group begin. In the beginning they are not likely to even have a sentence. After a couple times the kids will find that their sentences will greatly improve.

What icebreakers do you like to use at the beginning of the year?