At the start of each year, teachers tend to spend the first day (or the first several days) laying out their expectations. It’s a “make or break” time; the way you act the first few days of the year will have a major impact on what kind of year you and your students are going to have.
Getting to know your students and bonding with them is an important part of this, in my opinion. Even though I am now at a college prep school with a much more rigourous curriculum, I still took time the first day to play an icebreaker game or two. Here are some of my favorite icebreakers:
- People Bingo: Each student gets a bingo card with things written on it like “Is the oldest child in the family” or “Can name at least four ‘Twilight’ characters” or “Can stand on one foot with eyes closed for 7 seconds”. It’s a fun way to get the students up and moving around (they have to talk to the others and get them to sign their initials in the others’ square if it applies to them) and watching them try to sing, recite things, or stand on one foot is definitely hilarious. I’ve been known to play along, too.
- The Toilet Paper Game: Hand a roll of toilet paper to a student and say, “Take as many sheets as you think you need.” When they ask for clarification, just repeat those same instructions. After they take some sheets, tell them to pass it to the next person. When everyone has some toilet paper, instruct them to stand up. For each sheet they pulled off, they have to share one thing about themselves with the class. I always play along, too.
- Student Info Sheet: This is not so much an icebreaker, but it is a good way to get to know your students. Give them a sheet asking them their name, if they have a nickname they prefer, their birthday, how to contact their parents (yes, they might lie or claim they don’t know their parents’ numbers, but at least they know you are serious about WANTING to work with their parents), and then questions such as “What is your favorite subject? What is your favorite thing about school/least favorite? Are you involved in any activities at school/outside of school?” Depending on how detailed you want to get and how much reading you want to do, you can also ask things like, “What is your favorite type of music/favorite band/favorite show”, etc.
- Two Facts and a Fib: Each student writes down two facts about themselves and one fib. The class has to guess which one is the fib.