By: Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist, Renaissance USA
The end of summer is bittersweet, but the beginning of a new school year is exciting. Fresh notebooks, pristine bulletin boards, and new faces await. Whether you’re about to begin your first year of teaching or your thirtieth, the first week can bring nerves and jitters—for students and teachers alike. Take this valuable time to build initial relationships and trust with students by using icebreaker activities. Not only will you get to know your students, but you’ll set them up for success in the months to come. (Want more tips? See Christina’s blog post on building connections with students through reading here.)
Below, we’ve highlighted a few icebreaker activities from our Renaissance Royals™community to help students (and you!) learn a thing or two about each other and start the year off right!
Morgan Foshee, a first-grade teacher, recommends using M&M’s to spark classroom discussions. To do so, create a few questions that correspond to each colour in an M&M packet (e.g., Blue = What is your favorite movie? Red = What are you most excited about this school year? Yellow = Name something you did over summer vacation, etc.). Then, give each student a pack of M&M’s. Taking turns, have students reach into their M&M bag and grab one M&M without looking. Depending on the M&M’s colour, have each student answer the corresponding question for the whole class to hear. Go around until the whole class has gotten a chance to share.
What’s more fun than a game of bingo? Liana Ferrer, a fourth-grade teacher plays “Hello, Bingo!” with her students. She says, “It’s a way for students to get to know each other because they need to fill out each square with the name of a different person. They learn interesting things about each other as well as me.” Intrigued? To play, have students fill out a blank bingo sheet with different activities, likes, and dislikes. For example, one spot could be, “Someone who traveled to a different state this summer.” Students would then need to find another student that traveled to a different state over their summer vacation and have them sign their bingo sheet.
Deana Sain, a library media specialist, will often play “two truths and a lie” with students. Students write down two facts about themselves that are true and one that is a lie. Students can either read the two truths and lie out loud or write them on a whiteboard for others to see. Then, students are able to guess which one is the lie. You might be surprised at the results!
The Defenders. Iron Fist. Luke Cage. Jessica Jones. The list goes on and on. With the recent surge in superhero movies and TV shows, superheroes are popular as ever with students. To take advantage of this, Sharla Voepel, a sixth-grade teacher, incorporates a superhero into her classroom. She says, “I give each student a ‘faceless’ superhero to decorate and we add a photo of that student’s face. Each student has to describe his/her superpowers and why they need them.”
Angela Domond, a fourth-grade teacher, recommends having students complete a puzzle together. She says, “My desks are usually in groups of five. I give each group a 50-piece puzzle to put together. They have to work as a team. When they complete it, I put puzzle glue over it so I can display them on the wall.” The hard part? Finding a worthy puzzle!
Icebreaker activities can make the first week of school a little less stressful. Not only do icebreaker activities encourage students to voice their thoughts and opinions, but they support students in making meaningful connections with those around them.