5 icebreaker activities for the first week of school

By Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist

The end of summer is bittersweet, but the beginning of a new school year is exciting. Fresh notebooks, pristine bulletin boards, and new faces await. Whether you’re about to begin your first year of teaching or your thirtieth, the first week can bring nerves and jitters—for students and teachers alike. Take this valuable time to build initial relationships and trust with students by using icebreaker activities. Not only will you get to know your students, but you’ll set them up for success in the months to come. (Want more tips? See Christina’s blog post on building connections with students through reading here.)

Below, we’ve highlighted a few icebreaker activities from our Renaissance Royals community to help students (and you!) learn a thing or two about each other and start the year off right!

1. M&M’s

Morgan Foshee, a first-grade teacher, recommends using M&M’s to spark classroom discussions. To do so, create a few questions that correspond to each color in an M&M packet (e.g., Blue = What is your favorite movie? Red = What are you most excited about this school year? Yellow = Name something you did over summer vacation, etc.). Then, give each student a pack of M&M’s. Taking turns, have students reach into their M&M bag and grab one M&M without looking. Depending on the M&M’s color, have each student answer the corresponding question for the whole class to hear. Go around until the whole class has gotten a chance to share.

2. Hello, Bingo!

What’s more fun than a game of bingo? B7? B7? Liana Ferrer, a fourth-grade teacher plays “Hello, Bingo!” with her students. She says, “It’s a way for students to get to know each other because they need to fill out each square with the name of a different person. They learn interesting things about each other as well as me.” Intrigued? To play, have students fill out a blank bingo sheet with different activities, likes, and dislikes. For example, one spot could be, “Someone who traveled to a different state this summer.” Students would then need to find another student that traveled to a different state over their summer vacation and have them sign their bingo sheet.

3. Two truths and a lie

Deana Sain, a library media specialist, will often play “two truths and a lie” with students. Students write down two facts about themselves that are true and one that is a lie. Students can either read the two truths and lie out loud or write them on a whiteboard for others to see. Then, students are able to guess which one is the lie. You might be surprised at the results!

4. A classroom full of superheroes

The Defenders. Iron Fist. Luke Cage. Jessica Jones. The list goes on and on. With the recent surge in superhero movies and TV shows, superheroes are popular as ever with students. To take advantage of this, Sharla Voepel, a sixth-grade teacher, incorporates a superhero into her classroom. She says, “I give each student a ‘faceless’ superhero to decorate and we add a photo of that student’s face. Each student has to describe his/her superpowers and why they need them.”

5. Putting it all together

Angela Domond, a fourth-grade teacher, recommends having students complete a puzzle together. She says, “My desks are usually in groups of five. I give each group a 50-piece puzzle to put together. They have to work as a team. When they complete it, I put puzzle glue over it so I can display them on the wall.” The hard part? Finding a worthy puzzle!

Icebreaker activities can make the first week of school a little less stressful. Not only do icebreaker activities encourage students to voice their thoughts and opinions, but they support students in making meaningful connections with those around them.

What icebreaker activities do you use? Are you hoping to try one of the activities mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below, post on our Facebook, or tweet us at @RenLearnUS!

Are you ready for back-to-school season? Check out our back-to-school landing page to see the latest product updates, help files, and resources for this upcoming fall.

Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist

Ken Stoflet is the Marketing Communications Specialist at Renaissance. He has been with the company since 2015 and can be found crafting anything from a press release to a tweet. In his spare time, Ken enjoys spending time with his friends, lifting, and making trips to the Frozen Tundra to cheer on the Green Bay Packers.

Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist
Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist
Ken Stoflet is the Marketing Communications Specialist at Renaissance. He has been with the company since 2015 and can be found crafting anything from a press release to a tweet. In his spare time, Ken enjoys spending time with his friends, lifting, and making trips to the Frozen Tundra to cheer on the Green Bay Packers.

41 Comments

  1. Lisa Capon says:

    I will definitely use one of these

  2. Laura says:

    I love the idea of creating my own superhero!

  3. Brenda Curtis says:

    I give students a blank outline of a person from shoulders up. Use small pieces of construction paper, they make a mosaic that looks like themselves, and I hang them up around the room. It gives me an idea of where the student it developmentally (bigger pieces generally show up as a few more academic struggles, tiny-meticulous pieces end up being higher students), and gives me an idea of how a student views himself!

  4. Josy says:

    Thank you for sharing the Ice Breakers. I love the M&M activity for my first and second graders. I can check that off my “To Do” list now!!

  5. Thonisha Davis says:

    I like the two truths and a lie ice breakers. The students will remember other students by something unique.

  6. christina says:

    I love doing a search and find a classmate who…this gets kiddos up and out of their seats and interacting with peers that maybe they would normally not talk too.

  7. Andrea says:

    Summer Bingo with activities written in each box and classmates find others to sign the square if that activity is one they did.

  8. Alecia Walkuski says:

    I think I will try the Bingo activity this year. I like the idea that students will learn different things about their classmates, and it helps students to socialize after summer break–it goes with the flow, rather than against it.

  9. Mario A. Sanchez says:

    The ice breaker activity that I use is “Student Interview”. I randomly pair students and they will be giving a set of questions they need to ask their partner. Even though the students might know each other from past years, answering some easy questions about their partner they might find out something they didn’t know about him/her. After they finish their interview, they can present their partner to the class.

    • Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist says:

      Very cool! What are some of the questions that your students ask each other?

  10. Rita Platt says:

    Fun ideas!!!

  11. Carly says:

    Students share their names and their favorite sport or hobby, which I keep a list of. After each new child shares out, s/he repeats all the names and likes of the children who went before. If a child gets stuck, everyone helps. Then I turn my list into a bar graph that shows the most popular choices and other. I then let students try to “close a bar” by remembering all the people and their likes for any one bar. Students who match names to likes correctly are rewarded with Skittles.

    • Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist says:

      That’s an awesome idea. What tends to be students’ favorite sports/hobbies?

  12. Angela Steele says:

    I enjoy the BINGO and the 2 Truths and a Lie. I also do paper bag introductions, where students bring things from home ( a toy, a photo, or something of significance) to introduce themselves to the class.

  13. Dee Johnson says:

    I love the M&M Ice Breaker, but I will use Gummy Bears….

  14. Liana Ferrer says:

    I use hello bingo.

  15. Susan Lareau says:

    With the upper elementary students, they finish this sentence: Over the summer I read, or Over the summer I did…With my new grade level I give them a piece of paper or index card and have them draw/write 3 things they like to do, and 3 things they like to eat.

  16. alisha king says:

    I LOVE the MMS and hello bingo! we’re in the second week, but I might just use these anyway!

  17. Timothy Holland says:

    I do an activity with my sixth graders where I tell them we are going on a trip. Each student is allowed to bring one item and the first letter of that item must correspond with the first letter of their name. Each succeeding student must repeat all of the previous students’ names and items. Of course we will help any student that needs it, so they are not uncomfortable early in the year. It is a great way to learn names for the first year in middle school for me and the students.

  18. Marcia Humphrey says:

    My class loved the M&M activity and will use again next year.

  19. LeeAnn Needham says:

    I had students create pop art drawings I gave an example and then each kid had to come up with their own question. For example, if you have a dog draw a blue square in the left corner. If you like baseball draw a wavy line across the top. And so forth until every kid added a question. We then held up our art and saw how we were all unique but had things in common too. I kept a list of each question and later had kids write a paragraph about someone else’s drawing about what they could tell from the shapes, patterns, and colors.

  20. Cathy Kelley says:

    I know we have been in school three weeks now, but I am planning on trying the M&M activity with my first graders this week.

  21. Cathy Kelley says:

    I am planning to try the M&M activity this coming week.

  22. Amber AuBain says:

    I am trying the two truths, one lie activity this year!

  23. Beth says:

    I love the M&M idea- have done a couple of the others- but will try M&Ms!!!

  24. JASON says:

    I like the superhero idea.
    I’ve tried different ice-breakers overs the years and never found anything I truly love doing year after year. When I taught social studies, I would usually have one that dealt with geography when completing a task such as a bingo card or fill in the blank activity. Example: Find someone that has been to Texas. Find someone that has traveled by plane. Etc.

  25. Cynthia says:

    These are great ideas!!!

  26. Ami K. Edwards says:

    I might try the puzzle activity. Neat ideas!

  27. Kineu Donald says:

    I think I am going to try these ideas, especially the puzzle one!

  28. Barbara Ziz says:

    I use a Bingo type of activity where students have to complete a grid with someone who has done the things in the squares. Then we talk about what we learned about each other. I love the Superhero and M&M ideas, though, and want to try these, as well.

  29. Missy Berry says:

    awesome ideas!!

  30. RENEE P GRAHAM says:

    We do a Scavenger Hunt where students must find students who meet certain criteria. They learn a lot about each other!

  31. Mary says:

    I love the puzzle idea! Especially now that we are having super hot days with in-climate schedules with no recesses and shorter lunches. I will try it with my Second graders….but with less pieces!

  32. Tanya C says:

    I like the ideas of two truths and a lie. The puzzle activity is also good for calming students down as they can be nervous. Good ideas!

  33. Laurie says:

    Love these ideas! I have never thought to do puzzles. Cute!

  34. Nicole Erwin says:

    Fun!

  35. Chimere McRae says:

    I love chocolate to I like the M&M activity.

  36. L. Q says:

    Two truths and a lie sounds fun. Great ideas!

  37. Cynthia S. says:

    I like these ideas. I will be starting rehearsals for our annual musical and would lke to use an ice breaker that is appropriate for grades 1 – 8. Any suggestions?

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