Ah, back-to-school. It’s exciting and thrilling and overwhelming and nerve-wracking and everything in between (for both students and teachers!) Calm those first-week jitters with these fun back-to-school icebreakers that will get the whole class engaging with each other and ready to start the year off right.
1. “Our favorite first-day activity is called My New Classmates Scoot (grades K-2),” says Silly Sam Productions. “Students scoot around to each desk and either copy the names, or just write their own on each template. After that, they brainstorm some good questions and interview four new friends. They end up going home with a list of names and four friends that they got to know a little bit. This helps families keep the conversations flowing about their child’s first day and helps the kiddos remember some names!”
2. From Mundo de Pepita: “I teach Spanish K-4 for my Kindergartners. This is usually their first introduction to Spanish… or so they think! We do a fun activity I call ‘¡Ya sabes español! (You already know Spanish!) where I have pictures and items of things we say in Spanish all the time: taco, piñata, quesadilla, burrito, armadillo, nachos, salsa (a lot of them are food!) and have my kiddos name them themselves. As we go, I get to point out, ‘See, you already know a lot of Spanish!’ This activity gives my students a sense of confidence and motivation, especially for those who are nervous that they don’t know anything in Spanish.”
3. “I created this Superhero-themed resource (grades 1-2) to help build classroom community,” explains First Grade Diva Creations. “Time is precious, so I created it to focus on 1st and 2nd grade speaking and listening skills. I think it will be fun but will also really help set the culture of how we hold classroom discussions.”
4. “Here’s a fun activity for the first day of school (grades 3-5),” says Elementary Lesson Plans. “Your students are going to think you are the coolest teacher when you pass out BUBBLE GUM!”
5. “My Fun Drama Prompt Cards (grades 3-7) keep kids engaged and working together!” says Smartsy and Artsy.
6. From Pamela Kranz – Desktop Learning Adventures: “Hi-Lo (grades 4-7) is my absolute favorite way to start my math class each year. It gives me an opportunity to do a quick number sense check, it’s easy to learn and play, and it puts everyone at ease. I play along with them, letting them know I usually lose because I like to take risks. They love that part.”
7. “In science, students need to work together and communicate all the time!” explains Scienceisfun. “I love this simple activity to get them thinking about teamwork. In the Circle of Words Challenge (grades 5-12), students take a combination of single words and combine them with other single words to form a common compound word or common phrase like ‘game day’, ‘ball boy’, ‘background.’ They create long strings of these compound words by communicating their ideas in groups of three to four (or more!). It’s a great icebreaker with a purpose!”
8. From Kacie Travis: “This secondary Back-To-School poster activity (grades 6-12) allows students to comfortably share about themselves and get to know others. They complete several fun questions about themselves on the poster, and they then get partnered up with a random classmate through a card match. They must then interview each other and present one thing they learned about their new friend. It takes the pressure off talking about themselves. The best part is the teacher gains a ton of insight into their brains!”
9. “My students are going to do an icebreaker activity that will also help me create a colorful bulletin board for Back-to-School Night,” explains The Daring English Teacher. “They’ll create a classroom quilt square and share the information on it. We’ll then display our quilt on the wall for everyone to see. This is just one of the activities in my Back to School Activities for the Secondary Student pack (grades 6-12).”
10. Science Stuff says, “I do a Biology ‘Get to Know Me’ Scavenger Hunt (grades 7-12, FREE). It combines biology with icebreakers so that the students can meet some new faces. They’re so relieved that the first day in my class isn’t an hour of the teacher reading from a syllabus! Here’s a blog post with more details.”
“My goal in the classroom was always to make sure they were having so much fun that they didn’t realize they were learning.” – Rick Riordan, former teacher