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. As I walk around silently taking roll, students complete a personality quiz. 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, people love answering questions about themselves. Second, it helps me to design their collaborative seating assignments after that first day. The 16 personalities quiz is based on the Myer-Briggs personality type indicator. It takes about 10 minutes to complete and is a nice fit for secondary students, who can share their results with you. Their four-letter acronym provides insight into their personalities and can be helpful in designing groups.
I also ask students to complete a “Would you rather…” activity. I list a collection of statements, like “Would you rather vacation at the beach or in 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 device 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!