On the first day of school teachers try to engage their students and get to know them. You are also building your class climate, and it is important to remember what you want that to be. You need to choose activities that help you to get to know your students, for them to get to know each other and to get to know you. If you’re selective, and keep an end goal in mind, you can use ice breaker activities to start building a community that is inclusive, respectful and collaborative.
Here are some fun activities to do that work on different skills:
|Activity||Materials||Instructions||Time and Space||Skills|
|Cup Stacking Challenge
Mildly ActiveAny Age
|6 (or 10) Plastic cups per group
At least 1 Rubber band per group
Long pieces of string (1 per group member, approx. 20cm)
|Groups of 4 or 5 students (I found 6 to be too many)
Each group must stack the cups into a pyramid(3 on bottom, 2 middle, 1 top)
BUT no one can touch the cups (no body parts)
Easier on tables or desks
I have made the ‘tool’ for the groups ahead of time (tied the strings to the rubber band) for younger groups and for shorter times
I added in new rules (e.g. no talking) and timed them to add incentive
I also got them to switch groups to try with other people
Extra rubber bands and string pieces made this go smoothly with a rambunctious group
In the past, discussion about challenges, or why they thought I’d get them to do the activity were really interesting and helped with their reflection
|Teacher and students sit in a circle
No other materials
|Ask a question of the group (see notes for examples) and either have them go around and choose to share, or randomly have students participate||20+ minutes, it depends on the students||Communication
I usually build this into my year (once a week, once a month, or when needed/requested). My grade 8s rolled their eyes the first few times we did it, but then I started getting requests. I usually do this in my first week of school, the first day is sometimes too soon.
I always made participation a choice – and so some students may not share, and that is ok. Respect and active listening are never a choice.
Some first week questions could be:
“What should school do for someone?”
“What do you need from teachers to be successful this year?”
“What do you hope we learn about?”
“What are you most proud of?”
“What do you love to do?”
|Anarchy (Everybody’s It)
|No materials||Everyone is it!
This means everyone, chases everyone. If you’re tagged then you sit down UNTIL the person who tagged you is tagged (If Kelsey tagged Morgan, she sits down. If Kelsey gets tagged, she sits down but now Morgan is back in the game).
Large space (half a field/half of a gym)
This game is very fun, but it also allows students to use up some energy while building alliances, employing some strategy and running around!
Sometimes I use smaller areas to make the game more challenging.
No one is “out” so they need to be following the game, because suddenly they could be back in.
Every so often, I will call out that everyone is back in – to start the game again, or to stop the same person from winning all the time.
These are three of my favourite first week activities – they can be as short or as long as you’d like, they’re fun and you get to know your students. I like to use them because I find that teamwork and communication are such integral elements to strong classroom climate and getting everyone involved.