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Icebreakers to Create a "Cool" Class Environment

By Rhonda Stewart on August 14, 2014
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

As I write this blog post, I am filled with mixed emotions. I am so grateful to reconnect with my audience and share my ideas for the 2014-2015 school year. But it is also a sign that the days of sleeping late, lounging in the sun, relaxing, and enjoy my free time are slowly coming to a close. However, I can also look back on how I stayed true to my summer reading list and while looking forward to swapping summer reading stories with my students this year! Now that the back-to-school television commercials are signaling the onset of the school season, my focus is getting ready for my students.

Besides reviewing the curriculum, setting down my ideas for classroom setup, and revamping my welcome letters, I am also beginning to think about how to break the ice with my new group of students. So to welcome you to this new year with me, I thought I would share some ice breakers that help ease the first day jitters and allow me and my students to get to know to know each other.

Two Truths, One Fib (a.k.a. True or False)

(Please note that this is the one time students are allowed to share an untruth without any repercussions!)

Here's how I start the game of "Two Truths, One Fib" in my classroom. I stand in front of the class and introduce myself and then tell the students three things as follows:

Welcome, I am Mrs. Stewart.

  1. I am going to be 57 this year.

  2. I do not get first-day jitters.

  3. I completed my summer reading list.

One of these statements is a fib. The idea behind this activity is that each person gets to share some information about him or herself as the audience tries to figure out which statement is incorrect. In addition, everyone is the class gets to see what they have in common with each other.

Model this activity for the students as in my example above. The next step would be to ask the students to respond to my statements and choose which one they think is the fib. For example, a student could say what I said about my age is the fib. I would let the student know they were incorrect, and then identify which statement is actually not true. After the fib is revealed, I would briefly talk about my statements and then choose a student to give their three statements. If time is an issue, select groups of students each day until everyone has had a chance to share.

Click on the image to download your Truth/Fib Icebreaker

Find Someone Who . . .  (Scavenger Hunt)

This activity can be found in the book, Super Ways to Jumpstart the School Year. I have played this game with my class for several years and it does a great job of getting the students out of their seats and moving.

Students are given a sheet of paper that lists different personality traits. Their job is to find a classmate that has one of the characteristics listed. You can give a time limit for them to complete the task. Also, I often announce that a student can only list a classmate’s name no more than two times. The point of the game is to get the kids to circulate and to talk to as many students as possible. Click on either "Find Someone Who" activity sheet to download both.


















Calling All Partners (Small Group Activities)

Where’s ?

In your welcome letter or postcard, ask your students to bring in a small memento of their summer vacation. On the first day of class, students place the item on their desk and then look at their classmates' items to see if they can a common theme. Ask the students to arrange themselves into groups based on these themes. (For example, if one student brings a beach ball, another a sea shell, and a third a starfish, they would make a great beach-themed group.)

Once students are in their groups, they can talk about their vacations, finding one detail they all have in common to share with the rest of the class. (During their talk, maybe the beach-themed group discovered that they all ate ice cream every night.)

Postcard Match

In your welcome note to your students, include the title of a book, popular song, or movie. Ask the students to bring the postcard with them on the first day of school. Students then find the students with similar items on their postcard and form a group in which each tells one interesting fact about him or herself. (For students who forget, have some extras handy so that everyone has someone to meet.) Or if you are not able to send a welcome note, use index cards on which you have written the same information pieces and have the students find their matches.

I really want to try this having the students find matches between book titles and characters, but would need to use books that I am sure all students would be familiar with. I am still up in the air with this. School does not start until September, so there is some time to decide.


Pearls of Wisdom Remember to circulate during the icebreakers and gently coach students when needed. You want to make sure that your students are on task. Also, use this as a way to reinforce your class routines and procedures.

For those of you who are returning — welcome back! And for new readers, thank you for tuning in. For everyone, I am looking forward to sharing my class and our learning with you.

As always, I want to hear your ideas too! Any tips (ice breakers) that work in your classroom? Please share!


Comments (13)

Thanks Rhonda! As i sit here contemplating what to do the first day, you have given me a great idea. Two truths and one fib, I'm in!

Love the ideas. I've also used 2 Truths/ 1 Fib in my classroom as a activity to discuss the need for details in writing. I have students create details to support their truth or their fib and share those details. Then we discuss how the details helped in the game.

Thanks David, I like the twist on the activity. I might try your version.

hey-see you soon-going to try some of your ideas-like the truths and fibs

Thanks Judy, let me know how you make out.

hey-see you soon-going to try some of your ideas-like the truths and fibs

hey-see you soon-going to try some of your ideas-like the truths and fibs

Thanks for the great ideas Rhonda. Are the first few days of school strictly used to establish your classroom routines and environment? Is content mixed in? What is the best balance?

The first days are a mixture of all that you have mentioned. Over the years I have found that establishing classroom routines are most important to set the tone for learning in the classroom.

Sometimes I put the scavenger hunt ice breaker in the form of a Bingo game board. They write the name of the person who matches the trait in the box.

That sounds like so much fun and an interesting way to learn about each other in the class.

Great ideas! Each year I give each student a few TickleMe Plant seeds.
At first I don't call them TickleMe Plants seeds, I just ask them what do you think is special about these seeds? Slowly I give them hints until I finally tell them that with these TickleMe Plant seeds you can grow a real house plant that moves when you Tickle it! Yes - The leaves fold and the branches droop when you tickle it! Now isn't that cool?
I found the supplies to grow this amazing fun plant
at http://www.ticklemeplant.com We use the classroom kit because it comes with the TickleMe Plant book now.

What a "cool" project to try with the students! Thanks for sharing!

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