Back-to-School Icebreakers for Every Classroom


The school year is quickly approaching and with it comes excitement, anticipation, and maybe even a little nervousness about the first day. One strategy for helping you and your students feel more comfortable during the first day—and the first few weeks—is to use icebreakers. Icebreakers are quick and easy activities that allow your students to get to know each other and to know you! They’re easy to implement in your classroom, and they’ll get your students talking, laughing, and working together!

Here are a few tried-and-true icebreakers that can be modified to fit the diverse needs of your students and classroom:

  1. Getting to Know You Bingo:
  2. Create a bingo board and fill it with statements that you feel will be applicable to your class. All statements should start with the phrase “Find someone who…” For example: Find someone who traveled out of state this summer or Find someone who had a summer job. The object of the game is for students to find a classmate who has completed an activity, get their signature in the applicable box, and continue until they have filled the board. Each student can only sign one box. The first to fill the entire board wins! Here’s an example to get you started.

  3. Yes or No:
  4. Place a sign with the word YES on one side of the room and NO on the other, then, pose statements to the class, such as “Pokémon GO™ is awesome.” Have students choose a side of the room to stand on. Once they’ve chosen a side, ask them to turn to a student in their group that they don’t know very well and explain why they chose that side. Try to choose statements that students will feel split about so they don’t all go to the same side of the room.

  5. Summer Suitcase:
  6. Bring in a box of objects representing what you did this summer, like a flower from your garden or a shell you found at the beach. Put students into randomly selected groups and give each group one object. Tell the class that these objects represent what you did this summer, and their job is to make up a story about how you got the object. Extra points will go to the group with the most creative story! After a few minutes, have the groups share their stories. At the end of the icebreaker, you can share the real story with your class. This is not only a great activity to get your students working together, but it’s also a fun way to teach them something new about you!

If some of your shy students are reluctant to participate in your icebreakers, you may want to try offering prizes as a way to engage their competitive instincts. Prizes can be as simple as a pack of pens, a piece of candy, or something more enticing, like a homework pass.

You can also take a look at our Pinterest board, which is filled with fun, unique icebreakers. For more ideas about engaging your students either at the beginning of the year, first thing in the morning, or when introducing a new lesson or unit, check out our course Getting off on the Right Foot with Bell-Ringers.

What is your favorite icebreaker for the first day of school? Share your ideas on our Facebook page!

About the Author:

Karen Mercado is an Advancement Courses facilitator and a veteran teacher of 10 years in the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She has a Bachelors in Childhood Education and a Masters in Professional Studies. Karen’s specific passions are history and special education. She currently resides with her son and husband in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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