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First Day of School Ice-Breakers

Updated on September 2, 2012


First day back at school can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience for teachers - What activities shall I do? First impressions are VERY important so what can we do to get our students involved in the learning experience - yes, even "play" is learning I have taught high school with the kds who have come out of jail, parents in jail, on probation etc and they enjoy these activities. My middle schoolers that I currently have enjoy them but tend to be more reserved. Some of them you may have heard of or used before. There are many many activities to use on the first day of school. This goes for public or private school education

1. I start off by saying "my name is Mrs. , and _____, and if I could be an animal I'd be a Cheetah because I like to run. I give the students a few minutes to think about what animal they think they would like to be. THEN, Starting with the first child who says his/her name and the animal they would be like and why. For example, "My name is Susie and I'm like a turtle because I walk slowly. Then I repeat my name, "I'm Mrs. blab blab and I'm like a hyena because I like to laugh, this is Susie, and she is like a turtle because she walks slowly." This is repeated after each student as the teacher strives to remember each person's name-and-animal combinations in order.

This is fun and the kids have had a good time, thus making them more relaxed and ready to listen to what the teacher has to say. It also shows the students that it's okay to and by the time the last child has finished everyone is laughing because the teacher isn't perfect and it's okay.

This leads very nicely into the next activity.

2. On the first day of school, I have my students draw and color their name on a picture of a plain T-shirt on paper. They can decorate the T-Shirt how they choose and include info such as hobbies, favorite sports team, their family members, etc. When finished, the T-shirts are placed on the wall and the kids love it. . They add things about themselves, including their birthdays and their favorite things to do. The posters are then displayed on the wall in the classroom. Seeing their work displayed allows the student to take pride in their classroom and their work.

3. Students, You are a Detective! I hand out a Class Clue sheet to each student. We go over the statements on the sheet, and then I ask the students to quietly (in other words, no talking) fill in the blanks in statements such as:

  • My favorite jpast time/hobby is.........
  • When I grow up, I want to work as a ...........
  • The most fun thing I did all summer was..............
  • One food I cooked this summer was..........
  • My favorite color is..................

Now, I tell the students I do NOT want them to put their name on the paper BEFORE handing out the sheets and again after the instructions.

When they have finished they quietly bring me their sheet, they pick up and read a book or magazine (Scholastic or something like that) off my desk and quietly read until everyone is finished. As a middle school teacher I have 50 minute blocks so if they take too long, then I set a time limit.

When everyone has finished answering the question on the sheet I hand an anonymous Class Clues and a blank Class Clues Sheet to each student. They should not have their own sheet, if a student does ends up with their own sheet, we swap again. Next I tell them, "Let's see if you can solve the clues." I instruct them to walk around the room and ask their peers questions from the list trying to locate the owner of the "missing" Class Clue Sheet. They like this as they get to talk and move around the room.

4. This is the equivalent of the old game, "I packed my bag and in it I put...." Yes, this is likely dating me :> Taped to the front of each desk is a 3-by-5 card and printed in big, bold letters that is easily read is the student's first name (I have made these ahead of time). The first person begins the game by saying his/her first name along with a rhyme, an adjective, or a nickname describing him or her. For example, "my name is Mary and I like math" or my name is James and I jump a lot". The next person does the same, and then repeats what the first person has said. and so on until everyone has said his/her name with the nickname, rhyme, or adjective.

The last person of course has to repeat everyone's name and info. The name cards on the front of the desks help as a reminder for everyone. Naturally, the teacher is the last to go and all the kids are focused to what he/she does. This is a Fun game that relaxes everyone.

5. On the first day of school, students write a letter to themselves. The children write a letter to themselves on the first day of school. In the letter they are to write about what their expectations are for the new school year and include what they would like to learn this year, their likes/dislikes from last year, what are they looking forward to the most - you can put anything that would apply to your students.

Start the letter with Dear (child's name). The students turn in the letters and they are put in an envelope, an individual one is better. At the end of the school year, pass the letters back to the students for them to read. The responses and reactions vary but it evokes discussion and individual reflection. This helps the teacher to know the students at the beginning of the school year and brings smiles and laughter from the children at the end of the school year.

6. Students write three things about themselves on a piece of paper - name, their likes, hobbies, what they're good at etc... Then the paper is scrunched in a ball - now we engage in rather precarious behavior as the students get to throw the "ball" at each other for about a couple of minutes - definitely no more. Now, at the end (you can have a timer or a bell if you like) have each student pick up the closest ball with the intention of finding who it belongs to. When everyone has located the owner of the ball, each person introduces the person whose info was on the ball by sharing at least three facts the person wrote.

It would be great if you'd like to share some of your ideas on activities for the beginning of the school year.

More icebreaker activities


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    • BJC profile image

      BJC 5 years ago from Florida

      Thank you Wrenfrost56 :)

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 5 years ago from U.K.

      What a great hub, really liked the ideas you have got here. :)

    • arizonataylor profile image

      arizonataylor 7 years ago from Arizona

      Great site. With your permission, I think I would like to add a link to this site.

    • ahmadraza212 profile image

      ahmadraza212 7 years ago from Pakistan

      very nice hub dear please keep it up for this type of hubs

    • catwoman89 profile image

      catwoman89 8 years ago


    • Kimberly Bunch profile image

      Kimberly Bunch 8 years ago from EAST WENATCHEE

      Great Hub! Here's a good one too:

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 8 years ago from Florida

      That would be funny!!

    • landthatilove profile image

      landthatilove 8 years ago from ohio

      Might want to clown it up and don some hockey gear that day.

      Just thought of a discreet way to know if they all brought cans. Have them deposit them in the hall when they come in. Then you can count them and add to the pile so each kid has a can and then pass them out randomly yourself. Each kid will probably have something different than what they actually brought in.

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 8 years ago from Florida

      This sounds hilarious!! Not that my students would want to "accidently" get me with the can. Great activity for a worthy cause.

    • landthatilove profile image

      landthatilove 8 years ago from ohio

      I remember we had a "can roll" Each kid brought a can of food to school and when the teacher told us to get out our cans we rolled them up the aisle to the front of the room. Did not occur to me then but it is now how harrowing that might be for you as an innocent bystander getting clonked in the shin. But after all the cans were then collected we were told how much food we had all brought to donate to hungry kids. This exercise is way fun and makes the kids feel good inside about sharing with others. So it is not just empty fun it has a positive ending.

      BTW you should bring extra cans in case some kids were not able for whatever reason to bring one and find a way to discreetly give it to them so that they can participate too.

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 8 years ago from Florida

      Thank-you very much. I do try to make it fun and have a riddle on the board for them to solve - this really is great to help develop critical thinking skills.

      Thanks again.

    • landthatilove profile image

      landthatilove 8 years ago from ohio

      I wish I had had you as my teacher. Great activities but why stop at ice breakers? Why not start each day with something that gets their juices rolling? They will look forward to coming in to your class. This country needs more teachers like you! Good work!

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 8 years ago from Florida

      Cossete, thanks!! My middle school students love them and it's fun to get things more relaxed.

    • profile image

      cosette 8 years ago

      that is wonderful. what great ideas for not only breaking the ice, but sparking friendship and camaraderie.

    • profile image

      VINNULU 8 years ago

      OOPS I MISSED TIS ALL........

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 8 years ago from Florida

      You are very welcome!


    • profile image

      EdenvaleShoppes 8 years ago

      Very good information.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 8 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for your comments. The one with the directions is really a fun to use. Keep me posted on how they work.

    • pop tina profile image

      pop tina 8 years ago from Greece

      Great ideas! I'll try some of them next month when school starts!

    • profile image

      BJC 8 years ago

      You're welcome and thanks for your kind words. I have some more info to put on my hub tonight for the beginning of school.


    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      great information. thanks for share.

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 8 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for your comments. Brian, your comment about the font is valid - will work on that.


    • BrianFanslau profile image

      BrianFanslau 8 years ago from Eagan, MN

      great hub, but I would say to put less bold throughout the hub as it makes it hard to read.

    • Catlyn profile image

      Catlyn 8 years ago from Somewhere in the OC

      Thank you - Thank you - THANK YOU !!

      I have been racking my brain, trying to come up with some fun first-week activites! Some you mentioned I am familiar with, but you have given me some great ideas as well!

      God Bless!!

    • profile image

      L. Andrew Marr 8 years ago

      I love the idea of number 5...seems like great fun lobbing bits of paper around the class at each other.