The start of a new school year stirs up many emotions within teachers and students often including excitement, anticipation and nervousness. My number one goal on that first day (and weeks) is to melt away my students' fears. By the end of each day, I want them confident that they are going to have a great school year filled with lots of new friendships. I find the best way to dissipate those feelings of nervousness and begin to foster those new relationships is with a fun classroom icebreakers.
My goal is to develop what will become a close-knit community of learners, and icebreakers help build a foundation for friendships...
There are many benefits to starting the school year off with fun classroom icebreakers, which include:
Easing nervous tension
Getting to know classmates
Promoting team building
Creating an atmosphere of positivity
Starting the year in a fun way
After the t-shirts are finished, ask the kids to share them with the class and to briefly explain some of their favorite things that they did on that vacation. Depending on your class size and time available you may need to do this in small groups rather than as an entire class. String a clothesline across your classroom and hang the t-shirts up using clothespins for everyone to admire.
A possible extension would be to have your students write about the vacation that they chose for their t-shirt. This is a quick and easy way to get some baseline writing data on your students. I find this informal writing sample provides me with a good starting point for my initial writing lessons.
Download my Where did the summer go? Activity now!
I use this time capsule activity to both start and end my year. Available for download is a time capsule worksheet that asks the students a variety of questions such as what is their favorite food, subject, book, and so on. After the students complete their time capsules I allow them to share what they wrote on their time capsule sheet in small groups or with partners. I then collect the time capsule sheets, which I will return to the students on the last day of school for them to compare what has changed or stayed the same.
*Optional: Roll up the time capsule sheets and place them in empty paper towel rolls. Wrap the paper towel rolls with tissue paper & tie each end with a string. It is wonderful to see the students’ excitement on the last day of school when they enter the class to see the wrapped time capsules placed on their desks.
Download my Student Time Capsule Activity worksheet now!
A fun way for you to get to know your reading students better and help them get to know each other is by having them create a book jacket cover and table of contents about themselves.
Ask students to create a clever book title that represents them and to decorate their book cover with an illustration. On the back cover, have students write a brief description of themselves. In the table of contents, ask them to write briefly about their family, their likes and dislikes, and reading habits.
Download my Book Jacket Cover and Table of Contents Activity now.
This is an icebreaker that helps kids learn new facts about each other in a sweet, tasty way. The students pick several pieces of candy from a bag, and associate each piece with a different fact about themselves.
*A slightly healthier alternative to this game would be to use prepackaged gummy snacks. Many versions of gummy snacks provide kids with 100% of their required vitamin C for the day and you can even buy an organic version if you wish.
Materials: Any candy (or prepackaged gummy snacks) with about five different variations (of color or candy type) such as gummy bears, Life Savers, gum drops, Skittles, M&Ms, Jolly Ranchers, etc. Be sure to purchase enough candy for each student to have at least five pieces.
Instructions: Pass around the candy and tell each student to choose one to five pieces. Tell them not to eat the candy yet. After they have chosen their candy, you will tell them what each piece of candy represents.
On a whiteboard, chalkboard, or chart paper write the following:
If you don’t have the above colors, change the items in the list to match the candy colors or types that you have. Each student takes a turn to introduce him or herself, beginning with his or her name, and then sharing one fact for each candy color or type that they have.
Two Truths and a Wish is a twist on the icebreaker game Two Truths and a Lie. In this game the players tell two truths about themselves and one wish (instead of a lie). The object of the game is to determine which statement is the wish.
Instructions: Tell the students to arrange themselves in a circle. Instruct each player to think of three statements about him or herself. Two statements should be true, and one should be a wish. Each student shares his or her three statements with the class in any order. The goal of the icebreaker game is to determine which statement is the wish. The class votes on which statement they believe is the wish. The student then reveals the wish.
Here are some possible sentence starters for those students that need may them:
Fun classroom icebreakers will ease nervousness and to encourage conversation. They are a great way for classmates to get to know each other and build friendships. Spread these icebreakers for elementary students throughout the first month of school and your students will look forward to the start of each new day!