Breaking the Ice

Aug 27, 2021 | Posted by Jennifer

As exciting as a new school year can be, it can also feel a bit intimidating to walk into a classroom or pop into an online class, only to be met by the stares of a bunch of strangers. One of the ways teachers can help students feel comfortable is to integrate icebreakers into the start of their classes. In this post we hope to share some suggestions with you that you can use with your students whether you teach in person or online. Some of these ideas work best for younger students, and some work for older students. We hope that you will find a suggestion that will suit your class.

My Favorite

In this icebreaker no supplies are needed. All that you need to do is begin with the phrase, “My name is __________, and my favorite …” Going around the room, students can share something about themselves that reflects their favorite, whether it be flavor of ice cream, sports team, color, music, or book. In a similar manner you could use the prompt, “My name is __________, and I am good at __________.”

Snowball Fight

Have your students answer three questions about themselves on a piece of paper; then have the students crumple it up and throw it across the room. Send the students over to pick up a “snowball” and find the person who answered those questions. You can have each student share what he learned about the other student.

Tasty Tales

Offer a bowl of M&M’s™ candies, and have the students take as many as they like up to a certain preset amount. Color-code each of the candies to represent a category, such as the following:

  • blue - hobbies
  • red - friends
  • green - family
  • yellow - favorite book, music group, or television series
  • brown - favorite sports team
  • orange - favorite food

Whatever color or number of M&M’s™ the students select indicates the number and category of facts they need to share.

Wheel of “Getting to Know You”

This icebreaker is especially handy for online classes. You can share the game online through a platform such as Zoom and have your students take turns spinning the wheel and answering the questions.

Getting to Know You Pictionary

For this activity have students decide on an image that represents a specific category. You could have them draw their favorite food, favorite activity, or favorite subject to study. Have the rest of the class guess what is being drawn.

The Mingle Game

Give each student a card with a set of questions on it. Start some music, and have the students begin to walk around the room. When the music stops, they need to stop and find the person closest to them and share the first question on each of their cards. Both need to answer each of the questions. Mix up the order of the questions so that each time there are two different questions being answered.

This or That?

In this game, select two sides of the room for students to go depending on their answers. The questions should all be focused on one of two preferences. Examples you could choose would be salty or sweet, beach or mountains, summer or winter, Mexican or Italian food, camping or hotel, spa or gym, chocolate or vanilla, etc. The students move back and forth across the room depending upon their preferences.

What’s the Truth?

On a card, kids write two facts: one that is true and one that is not. The teacher reads the person’s name, and kids try to figure out which of the two things are true. Or the students write three things about themselves, and the teacher reads them. The kids guess who it is.

Hopefully you found an activity or two that might be fun for your class. Do you have an icebreaker that you like to use with your classes? Email your idea to We may share your ideas in a future post.

Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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