Blogger | Teacher
While American schools usually start the new year in August, it’s a little different for schools around the world. Many countries begin their school year in April with the change in seasons. As a teacher in Japan, I am currently preparing to meet my new classes and start a new year.
In order to make my classes as welcoming as possible for the students, I brainstormed and researched fun icebreakers to open the course. Whether you are a teacher in the middle of a term or about to begin a new chapter with a whole new set of faces, playing with your students and allowing them the opportunity to have fun and get to know each other better is a great way to bring warmth and security to your classes.
Here is a list of some of my favorite icebreakers and games to help you learn more about your students and give them a much-needed break from all the stress in their lives. School can be a scary and daunting challenge, so it’s good to give them a chance to relax from time to time.
The Name Game
One of my favorite English-themed icebreakers is “The Name Game.” This is great for ESL and Middle-School level English classes – not only is it fun, but it will also help you gauge your students’ English abilities early in the year!
The rules are simple: Students must take turns coming up with nicknames for themselves using an adjective that begins with the first letter of their first name, followed by their first name. For example, one student may call themselves “Funny Freddie” while another is “Considerate Courtney.”
The next student must try to remember all the names that were said before them AND come up with their own name. While the first student will have it easy by only thinking of their own nickname, the second student until the end has to recite all the other names before they can say their own. This game is lots of fun and is also a great test of memory, quick-thinking skills, and knowledge of adjectives and descriptors!
Can you think of your own fun nickname?
Would You Rather
Classic icebreakers are favorites for a reason, and “Would You Rather” is one of the most popular icebreaker games out there. To use this game in class, you have a few options on how to control the gameplay. First, you can write small “would you rather” questions on slips of paper, and students can take turns choosing them at random and answering each question.
You can also play the game with a little more impromptu question-making by giving them the two options on the spot or allowing the students to come up with the questions. How you play is completely up to you! It will be lots of fun to see what your students choose between the two ridiculous options, such as “Would you rather sleep in a bed of spaghetti or walk through a giant spiderweb made from cotton candy?”
Two Truths and a Lie
Another one of the most classic icebreakers, two truths and a lie is a great way to get to know your students better and allow them to introduce themselves to their classmates. For this game, each student must think of three facts about themselves – two of which are true, and one that is a lie.
The other students must then decide which facts are true and which one is not. It’ll be a great way to get your students to relax and for you to learn more about them!
Guess the Word
For teachers looking for fun team-based icebreakers, then “Guess the Word” is the perfect game for you! Split your class up into teams and have them choose one student to go up to the front. The teams will then take turns trying to get the student at the front to guess the “secret word”. You can either put the word up on the board or hold it up behind the student at the front so the team can see while the guesser has their back turned.
The students will then take turns being the guesser. At the end of the game time, the team with the most points wins!
Heads Up 7 Up
One of my favorite icebreakers in school, Head Up 7 Up is a game beloved by generations of students. For this game, choose seven students to come up to the front of the class. Then, have the rest of the class put their heads down on their desks.
Each of the seven students will then tap another student on the shoulder. Once they all return to the front, the students who were chosen will then have to say which person tapped on them. This is a great activity for helping your students remember each other’s names!
Truth Tower (Jenga 20 Questions)
One of my favorite icebreakers that is easy to play, Truth Tower is a fun way to enjoy 20 questions with your students. The only materials you need are Jenga blocks to create a tower. On the bottom of each Jenga block, tape a slip of paper with a question for your students to answer.
The students will then take turns pulling a block from the tower, answering each question, and then putting the block back on the tower. There is also a challenging aspect to this version of 20 questions as the students try to keep the tower from toppling over. If the Jenga blocks fall, the last student who pulled a block out loses!
You’re Just Like Me!
This is one of the best icebreakers for helping students make friends when they first enter a new class! For this game, students will be given a category such as “Favorite color” or “Favorite Disney movie.” They must then get into groups with other students that have similar answers to theirs.
There are no winners or losers for this game – it’s simply a fun way for students to find friends with similar personalities and thoughts as their own! This works well for students moving to a new school (such as starting elementary school or going up to middle school) as they will be able to get to know the students they are meeting for the first time.
One of the icebreakers that work well for creative classes or to encourage students to think more artistically, have your students design a new tattoo that they think best embodies their personalities or includes their favorite things. You can either have them show off their art to the class or pin up the pieces to see if students can match the drawings to the artists.
Make sure to encourage the students to draw freely and not worry too much about whether they think they’re skilled or not. The pictures don’t have to be professional-level to be good – the students just have to draw something that’s true to who they are.
Do you know of other fun icebreakers to help your class get to know each other? Tell us your ideas in the comments!
About Draven Jackson
Draven is an avid writer and reader who enjoys sharing her opinions on movies, books, and music with the rest of the world. She will soon be working as a teacher in Japan and hopes to use her experience to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. Draven spends most of her time at home with her family, her dogs, and her ferret.
To see more, view all posts by Draven Jackson here.