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Math Blog

A K–8 resource to support deep comprehension of math skills and concepts

August 1, 2022 3-5-number-and-operations-in-base-10, 6-8-the-number-system, other-seasonal

A Math Icebreaker Your Students Will Love, Grades 3–8

Today, I’m sharing a math activity that I've used throughout the years as a back-to-school math icebreaker to get students out of their seats and interacting with each other. Plus, you can get my printable A Handshake and a Question Icebreaker Activity, along with 12 additional math resources, when you download this FREE Math Back-to-School Kit!

Math Icebreaker for Elementary Students – I’m sharing a math activity that I've used throughout the years as a back-to-school icebreaker to get students out of their seats and interacting with each other. Download A Handshake and a Question Icebreaker Activity now.

Math Icebreaker for Elementary and Middle School Students

A Handshake and a Question Activity

As a new school year approaches, I begin to look for activities to use with my students, so that we can get to know each other and I can briefly observe their math skills.

One math icebreaker I've used for most of my teaching career is called,  A Handshake and a Question Icebreaker Activity. I continue to use this ice breaker with students because it has a component to it that teaches a basic concept of social interaction...This activity offers the opportunity to teach students how to shake hands and introduce themselves, a skill that isn’t included in most textbooks.

As my new students participate in this math icebreaker I assess their current math skills and observe how students interact with each other. This activity allows me to see which students are initially shy and which are naturally more gregarious.

You can also continue to use this icebreaker throughout the year as a way to review and assess students'  fact-based knowledge.

To assist you in implementing this icebreaker activity in your classroom, I've created a printable download with instructions and directions to cycle students through a set of interactions!

BONUS: Get the icebreaker activity, along with 12 additional printable math downloads, in the Math Back-to-School Kit!

Before you dive into the details of how it works, I want to inform you that the process of this activity is a bit challenging. This icebreaker math activity is worth the initial confusion, so hang in there!

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Download Now

More Back-to-School Resources

In addition to planning icebreaker activities so you can get to know new students, the beginning of the new year can be stressful with teaching classroom routines, establishing a classroom community, assessing students’ previous knowledge, and diving into content-area instruction.

Download the Math Back-to-School Kit filled with resources that will help relieve some of the stress and ensure teachers, academic coaches, and administrators lay the foundation for strong math instruction! Kit includes:

Classroom Set-up

- Math Keywords Poster & Tip Sheet
- Visual Models to Show Addition Poster & Tip Sheet
- Visual Models to Show Subtraction Poster & Tip Sheet
- Visual Models to Show Multiplication Poster & Tip Sheet
- Visual Models to Show Ratios Poster & Tip Sheet

First Week of School Activities

- Tell Me What You Think About Math Survey
- Figure Me Out Math Activity
- A Handshake and a Question Icebreaker Activity

More Ways to Enhance Math Instruction

- Ideas to Make Math Class More Fun Survey
- Prompts for Think-Pair-Share and Discussions
- STEAM Project Sample Rubric
- Six Solid Figure Tasks and Rubric
- Helping Struggling Learners in Math Tip Sheet

In addition to planning icebreaker activities so you can get to know new students, the beginning of the new year can be stressful with teaching classroom routines, establishing a classroom community, assessing students’ previous knowledge, and diving into content-area instruction.  Download the Math Back-to-School Kit filled with resources that will help relieve some of the stress

Download Now