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Students giving eachother highfives
Vania Hasegawa Jul 28, 202310 min read

Icebreakers for a Memorable Back to School

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As back to school approaches, teachers are looking forward to the opportunity to meet their students and establish a positive classroom community. Participating in icebreakers is an excellent way to initiate this process. Engaging in these activities not only helps students connect with each other but also fosters a constructive and welcoming learning environment?

The beginning of a new term brings plenty of new faces into the classroom. Building connections and initiating new conversations can enhance the learning experience throughout the year, regardless of whether it is a secondary, vocational, or higher education class. Icebreakers are an excellent way to help students get familiar with one another. They can foster collaboration and promote the development of a powerful community.
This article will provide educators with a variety of icebreaker ideas to make the back to school experience enjoyable.

Activities for Primary and Seconday School students

Focus Keyword

Name Game

This presents a great opportunity for students to connect and improve their ability to recall names.
• Ask each student to introduce themselves by stating their name and sharing something unique or special about themselves.
• Ask the next student to repeat the names and distinctive features of all the previous students before introducing themselves.

Find Someone Who

• Prepare a list of interesting facts about your students.
• Have them move around the room to find classmates who match each item on the list. For instance, "Locate an individual who engages in a physical activity" or "Discover a person who has siblings."

Two Truths and a Lie

This game is an excellent tool for students to develop critical thinking skills and build relationships with one another.

• Ask each student to share three facts about themselves, two of which are true and one that is false.
• The other members of the class are required to determine which statement is false.

Human Knot

This activity fosters teamwork and problem-solving skills while also providing an enjoyable means of bringing students together.

• Instruct the students to form a circle and hold hands with the person standing across from them.
• The students must work together to form a circle while still holding onto each other and without getting tangled.

Scavenger Hunt

This activity encourages students to be active, collaborate with one another, and become acquainted with their surroundings. Design a scavenger hunt that takes place in the classroom or school, where students must solve clues to progress.

For University/ Vocational Students

Focus Keyword

Guess Who

This activity is a fantastic way to increase student participation In order to participate, larger groups need to be divided into smaller groups.
• Distribute an index card to each student and instruct them to write their name along with three intriguing facts about themselves.
• In case you have multiple groups, it is recommended to assign a leader to each group. The leaders should then gather and shuffle the index cards.
• The team members should try to guess the person being referred to while someone repeats a fact from a card. In case the person described on the card remains unidentified, the leader must proceed to read the second fact aloud, and subsequently, the third fact.
• In the event that the subject of the card remains unknown, they should reveal their identity.

My Favourite

This icebreaker is a quick and simple activity that can be done either as a one-time event or on a weekly basis. In this icebreaker, every member will have the opportunity to take turns and identify their favourite thing.
Consider using the following categories as a theme for this particular activity:
• Food
• TV Series
• Song
• Actor/ Actress
• Movie
• Season of the year
• Flower
• Colour
• Animal

To play My Favourite, ask your students to recall a peer's favourite thing from the previous round before sharing their own favourite thing that fits into the current designated category.

Beach Ball

This particular icebreaker is relaxing and involves physical activity. Students will enjoy answering engaging questions and gaining insights into their classmates' personalities.

• Before class, you can prepare an inflatable beach ball and use a permanent pen to write different get-to-know-you questions on each segment of the ball.
• Please ask your students to form a circle.
• Dividing larger classes into smaller groups could be an appropriate choice.
• The student who catches the ball asks the question that is closest to their left thumb, answers it, and then passes the ball to another student.

Suggestions for questions
• What was one of your highlights from the summer?
• Who is your celebrity idol and why?
• What is your favourite song?

Where In The World…

• Gather your group and allow them some time to reflect on three clues that define their origins.
• After distributing the clues to each group, proceed to visit each group and ask the students to present their clues. This will enable the other members of the group to identify their place of origin.
• The first student who correctly guesses or comes close will take the next round.
I Chose This University/Institution Because…
• Gather the students into a circle.
• The first person introduces themselves and tells why they chose this college.
• The second person repeats the names of everyone who came before you, as well as the reason for the college choice.
• You may do this again by asking each student to state their major and why they chose it.
• The last person must name everyone, indicate their major, and explain why they chose it.

The Movie of Your Life

• Give the participants a few minutes to imagine the type of movie that would be made about their lives and the actor or actress who would portray them.
• Please ask each participant to introduce themselves by saying their name, and then share their movie fantasy.
• Could their lives be the topic of a dramatic film featuring the talented actress Julia Roberts? Does it resemble a Steve Carell comedy?
• Consider inviting participants to share the type of movie they envision their lives to be as an alternative option.

For remote/online class

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Sharing our favourite things

• To manage a large class, it is recommended to divide them into smaller groups and assign them to breakout rooms.
• Request that each student select a personal objective, such as a beloved pet, cherished photograph, or any other item that holds significant value to them.
• Ask them to tell why this is so meaningful and what are the memories that it brings.

Story of Your Name

This activity aims to promote a better understanding of the diverse backgrounds and family histories of students.
• Request that each student takes a turn to introduce themselves by sharing their name and the story or origin of their name.
• Students who come from similar backgrounds or cultures can relate to each other through this practice.

Deserted Island

• Divide the students into small groups and instruct them to imagine that they are left on a deserted island.
• Once the students have been divided into teams, provide them with a list of essential items for survival.
• Before working as a group, students should prioritise and rank each item individually.

This not only challenges their problem-solving abilities but also helps them differentiate between individual and collective needs.

Where were you?

• Choose a random year or month and year.
• Encourage the students to share what they were doing, such as their place of residence, their favourite part of school or work, or how they utilised their free time, or if they were playing any sport, for example.
The answers may surprise you.

Ole Lindgren’s favourite icebreakers

Ole Lindgren, who has over 10 years of teaching experience, currently works as a pedagogical consultant at itslearning. Since the first day, Ole has been using icebreakers to create a sense of community among his new students.

"As a pedagogical consultant with years of experience, I believe that icebreakers are a fantastic tool for fostering a sense of community among students. The beauty of these activities lies in their ability to stimulate laughter and conversation without delving into personal territory. This ensures that no student feels uncomfortable or singled out. My favourite icebreakers involve quirky and amusing questions that help students get to know one another in a fun, light-hearted manner. As the weeks go by, these icebreakers can evolve to explore deeper facets of each student's personality, further strengthening the bonds within the class." Says Ole.

He discovered that the activity's most enjoyable aspect was the absence of personal questions. Instead, the questions were humorous and peculiar, making it perfect for ensuring that no student felt insecure. Let us explore Ole's preferred icebreakers.

Gather all of your students and arrange them in pairs. Kindly instruct them to ask these questions to one another, and afterwards, convene in a circle and select a few to vocalise.

1. Who are you?

1. If you had a boat, what would you call it?
2. What is the best thing you've ever bought?
3. If you had to change your name - What would your new name be and why would you choose that particular name?
4. What is your closest experience with real magic?
5. What is the most bizarre thing a teacher has ever done?
6. Who is the most disorganised person you know?
7. What is your most useless talent?
8. Which dinosaur is your favourite?
9. What flavour would you be if you were a flavour?
10. What superpower would you choose if you could have one? (And what would you do with it?)
11. What song would play every time you stepped into a room?
12. If you were granted three wishes by a genie in a lamp – what would they be (you cannot ask for more wishes)?
13. If you had to eat a crayon, what colour would it be?
14. What colour is this dress?

Focus Keyword

After a few weeks, you can take another round of questions, as they will have gotten to know each other a little better.

2. Important things to know about the students
1. Would you rather fight a duck the size of a horse than a horse the size of 100 ducks?
2. What would the name of your debut album be?
3. What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?
4. What do you think of garden gnomes?
5. Name five things you can use a stapler without staples for?
6. If a hippo falls into a hole, how would you get it up?
7. Pepsi or Coke?
8. How would you get an elephant into a fridge?
9. On average, how many times a week do you hurt yourself dancing in the shower?
10. On a scale of 1 to 10, how intolerable do you find the holiday photos on Facebook?
11. How many bowls of cereal do you eat every single day, and why don't you eat more?
12. Who would you let punch you in the face?
13. How many days have you gone without showering?
14. How old were you when you realized that Santa and the Easter Bunny probably never actually knew each other in real life?
15. Can you fit your whole fist in your mouth?
16. Who was your favourite Spice Girl?
17. How violently do you have to fight the urge to shout when you hear the ice cream truck coming?
18. How many times do you fall in love each day?
19. How many friendships have you ruined because you weren't nice when you played Monopoly?
20. How many times do you have to listen to a song that you like before you start to hate it?

Finally, this is important, so please pay close attention: What do you think cats dream about?

Now it is your turn

Icebreakers play an important part in setting the tone for a successful and enjoyable school year. They help in building relationships, creating a positive classroom atmosphere, and fostering trust among students. The activities proposed in this blog post are merely suggestions. You are welcome to adjust and customise them according to the unique requirements and preferences of your students.
It's important to keep in mind that a successful community is built upon these crucial yet minor interactions. Break the ice and make this back to school season one to remember!

If you like to stayed tuned in our latest resources to support teachers in Back To School, please check our "Back to School" website.