Plan Epic Icebreakers to Build Community

I feel for my students on the first day of school. It’s an overwhelming experience for my 9th grade students who are navigating a new campus and acclimating to new classes and classmates. I like to plan fun icebreakers to help them get past their fear (most are terrified) and get to know their peers! Here are three of my favorite first day icebreakers

#1 Personality quiz 

Instead of calling roll, I ask students to put their new schedules in the corner of their desks. Then I provide them with two part personality quiz to complete as I walk around silently taking roll. This efficient way of handling roll on the first day is a welcome relief to most students who are tired of listening to a long list of names at the start of class.

You may be questioning, “why a personality test?” First, students love answering questions about themselves. Second, it helps me to design their collaborative seating assignments after that first day.

This year I’m using this fun 5 Minute Personality Quiz, which asks students to rate words in the order they describe their personalities. After determining whether they are a lion, otter, Golden Retriever or beaver, I ask them to go to the corner of the classroom with that animal posted. As a small group, they read through the description of their personality type and discuss how accurate they feel it is.

The backside of this more structured personality quiz, is a “Would you rather…” activity. I list a collection of statements, like “Would you rather vacation at the beach or at the snow?” and “Would you rather go without your phone or a car for a month?” These statements range from intriguing to absurd, but students love it. Plus, it provides fodder for additional icebreakers asking students to stand on the side of the room that matches their particular selections.

#2 Design a Class Scavenger Hunt

This year I put together a class scavenger hunt compiled of questions, like “Who worked at a summer job?” and “Who speaks three languages?” and “Who watched the final game of the World Cup?” Students have to fill in as many of the blanks as possible and can only use a student’s name twice.

This activity gets students out of their seats and out of their comfort zones. To answer the questions, they have to walk around the room meeting people and making conversation.

#3 Socrative Space Race Ice Breaker 

I love Socrative and use it for everything from quizzes to review games to icebreakers. On the first day of class, I put students in small groups of 4 and challenge them to compete in a space race. Each group only needs one devices to make this activity work.

Prior to that first day I design either a pop culture quiz or a name that movie line quiz. I try to keep the topic fairly accessible to the majority of students. Then the groups compete against each other to answer the questions correctly. Because I run this quiz as a space race, students can see their rockets zoom across the screen as they answer questions correctly, which adds to the competitive nature of the activity. Most students forget to be nervous they are having so much fun.

If you are looking for more icebreakers, check out this Google document I started and blasted out on Twitter inviting my PLN to add their favorite icebreaker activities. If you have a fun icebreaker you use, please add it to the document so it continues to grow!

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6 Responses to Plan Epic Icebreakers to Build Community

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  3. Jackie says:

    I love that animal personality quiz–my school has an advisory system and I can see this being a fun tool, especially towards the beginning of the year. This would also be a great activity before a group project to help kids think about what elements combine to make a group that works well together.

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