5 new icebreakers to try in the classroom

We've all been there. It's day one, you're looking for an engaging way to begin class. You're sick of two truths and a lie and everybody already knows how many brothers and sisters everyone else has. So, in the spirit of mixing things up, here are 5 icebreaker ideas that stray from your usual grab bag.

Art Dictation

To play: Divide the class into pairs and give each pair two markers and two pieces of paper. The students sit back to back so that they aren´t able to see their partners´s paper. Each student draws a simple picture on one side of their paper. Then, the students take turns describing their picture to their partner while their partner draws what s/he hears. After, the partners compare pictures to see how they did at listening.

Time: 5-10 minutes (30 students)

String a Story

To play: Cut enough pieces of yarn for every person in the group at different lengths. Bunch the yarn up into a ball. One by one, have students grab a piece of yarn from the ball. The idea is to get each person to introduce themselves, sharing whatever they want, for as long as it takes to wind the yarn completely around their finger. The fun part is that some students will feel very rushed to even say their name and others will have to speak for a while!

Time: 10-15 minutes (30 students)

A What?

To play: Bring various everyday items to class. Arrange the class in a circle and present the first item to the student who will begin. Say, "this is a [pen]." The student responds with, "a what?" and you repeat "a pen." That exchange continues as the students pass the item around the circle. Continue to introduce new items to the circle until you have many rotating at once. If students mess up, they remove themselves from the circle and the game continues until only one student remains (or until you've had enough!).

Time: 10-15 minutes (30 students)

Hodge Podge

To play: Arrange the class in a circle with everyone facing the center. Begin to clap a slow beat - slap two hands on the legs for the first beat, clap for the second. Chant "hodge podge, hodge podge" on beat to get started, speaking one word per beat. Then, begin by saying a word. The next person in the circle should say another word on the next beat, adding to the sentence. The idea is to form complete sentences. For example, "Girls just want to have fun." If someone makes a grammatical mistake or says something that doesn't make sense, the group starts over.

Time: 10-15 minutes (30 students)

Picture Hunt

To play: Make a list of 5-10 things that can be found around the school and easily photographed. Example: an exit sign, a broken desk, a basketball net, something sweet, something green, three appearances of the letter "P," the funniest thing you can find. Divide the class into groups and give a copy of the list to each group. Give the groups 5-10 minutes to take their photos as evidence. The first group to return with photos of each of the items on the list wins.

Time: 15-20 minutes (30 students)

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