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Classroom Icebreakers for Back to School

by Diana Benner

The first day of a new school year can be awkward and nerve-wracking for both teachers and students. Why not break the ice that day (or week) with a few, fun, getting-to-know you activities? Giving your students a chance to share special facts about themselves and learn about their teacher at the same time will help ease first-day jitters. And it helps to build a sense of community in the class, an important requirement as they collaborate with each other throughout the year.

Below are some of my favorite icebreaker activities. The activities are fun and easy. Best of all, they help get the first day of school off to the right start. And they don’t require that students take a big risk by speaking in front of everyone or by revealing something too personal.

Emoji Puzzle

Students these days use emoticons all the time. So why not have an icebreaker activity that incorporates them?  As your students enter the classroom, hand them an emoji puzzle piece that will match one other student in the class. After all the students are in the class, have them walk around the classroom and try to find the other student that has the matching emoji puzzle piece.

Once they have found their match, students can interview each other or quietly talk about themselves. Give them some guiding questions, just in case they get stumped for what to talk about. (Have them share birthdays, their favorite snack food, best song to listen to while studying, etc. Just make sure it’s nothing too personal.) You could repeat this activity each day until every student has talked with every other student. If you would like to see a template, check out this one I created in Google Slides. Simply print it out and cut the emojis into puzzle pieces. Make a copy of the template here.

Conversation Starter Stones

Conversation Starter Stones are a fantastic way to help your students get to know one another. In addition, they are cheap and easy to make. Drive to your local dollar store and buy some large glass stones. You can find a pack of about 30 stones for one dollar at the Dollar Tree. Next, get some clear glue and scissors. Cut out the starters individually and paste one on the bottom of each stone so that the writing is visible through the stone. Here is a template of conversation starters I use for the stones. This template was created in Google Drawing, so you can simply add it to your drive, edit it, and add your own topics.

Conversation Starter Stones

Conversation Starter Stones

As your students enter the class, give them a stone. Next, pair them up with another student and have them discuss the topics on their stones. They could even trade stones to keep the conversation going. For an extension activity, have your students create a Google Slide or Office Sway from their starter that could be presented or shared with the entire class or on their blog. You can see examples of completed Sways using the stones here. Make a copy of the template here.

QR Code Icebreaker

QR codes are still everywhere and are so easy to create. As you know, once scanned, a QR code can take you directly to a website or reveal images or clues. For this activity, created by TCEA’s own Peggy Reimers, print the QR codes and cut them into four pieces. Give each student one of the four pieces of the code. Next, have your students find their group based on their category. Once in their group, have your students scan the QR code to reveal if their category word is correct. Lastly, ask each student in the group to follow up with their favorite item in the category, such as favorite color, favorite food, etc.

Two Truths and a Lie Padlet

With the Two Truths and a Lie Padlet icebreaker, you must first create a collaborative Padlet. If you have never used Padlet before, it is an online bulletin board and an easy way to get your students to collaborate with each other online. After you have created your blank Padlet, give your students the link and have them add three sentences about themselves (or their summer vacations). Two of the sentences should be true and one should be a lie. Next, each student (including you, teacher!) gets a chance to share their three sentences while the rest of the class takes turns guessing which one is the lie. Take a look at this sample padlet.

All About Me Google Drawing

All About Me Padlet

All About Me Padlet

The All About Me Google Drawing combines two of my favorite tools, Google Drawing and Padlet. Have your students create a Google Drawing from scratch that will share information about themselves. They can add text, images, and links to the Google Drawing as they record facts such as where they are from, favorite sports, hobbies, etc. Once your students have completed their drawing, have them save it as an image and upload it to a collaborative Padlet. If you would like to see an example, take a look at my All About Me Padlet.

As your prepare for the first day of school, don’t forget to try one of these icebreakers. Giving your students the opportunity to get to know one another on day one will make it easier for them to work together the rest of the year.

As always, we love to hear your feedback. Leave a comment below with some of the icebreakers that have worked well for your students.


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