Learning happens best in a welcoming environment. Classroom icebreakers are a great way to establish such an environment. They help instructors to build meaningful relationships with students and encourage new students to get to know each other and feel comfortable in the classroom.
Many people consider fun games and activities as trivia, however these can really break the ice in the classroom and make students communicate.
And finally, breaking the ice and exciting learners builds a strong foundation for instructors to keep students interested during the whole class time, which consequently enhances learning experience.
Below I have compiled the most effective classroom icebreakers, separating them in appropriate groups: middle school icebreakers, icebreakers for high school and icebreakers for college students.
1. Middle school icebreakers
Middle school students represent the most challenging age group. They get distracted easily and it is difficult to keep them focused. So, middle school icebreakers can be just right for them.
1.1 Personality flags
One of the cool middle school icebreakers is “personality flags”. As its name suggests, learners use papers (white or colored), scissors, glue and markers to prepare a flag and to reflect their personality on it.
Give them 30 minutes to finish the task. They can divide the flag in sections and depict their life from different aspects in each one. For example, one section can be about their hobbies, the other one about their family or a profession the prefer.
After finishing the task students should present their flags to the whole group.
1.2 Educational “Would you rather”
“Would you rather” is a favored game among students. The educational version of it can be one of the most welcoming middle school icebreakers.
To play the game with an entire class, prepare the list of edu-themed “Would you rather” questions. Examples can be:
“Would you like to have a classroom of large number of students or small?”
Then you should divide the students to 3-5 groups (depending on the number of students). Groups should answer the question and a representative from each group should explain why.
1.3 Question students
Asking students “getting-to-know-you” questions is another icebreaker activity for middle school kids. It helps students to get to know each other and find what they have in common.
Questions could be:
Instead of using traditional paper and pen, use students’ internet-connected technological devices. It will excite students further, as the trends go, nowadays students are addicted to their technologies and they like to use them frequently for different purposes – to check their social media accounts, to search and find information, etc.
This method will satisfy that need meanwhile helping to break the ice among learners. Now in more detail.
Choose a live-polling platform (we suggest Swift Polling) and create an open-ended question, such as:
Students can mention 1-3 countries. The results will be updated in real time and then you can discuss them.
It will be amazing to play that game by creating a word cloud question. The repeating responses will become larger and larger. Kids would be excited to see the biggest word.
2. Icebreakers for high school
Providing effective icebreakers for high school teens can be more challenging as compared with middle school kids. To help high school students socialize and feel comfortable when working in a group of classmates, we present the following icebreakers:
2.1 Empower students to speak up
Students at this age are already on their own. So this activity is one of the most effective among the icebreakers for high school. Give students some authority to make decisions regarding their education. Ask them questions about the teaching method they prefer:
Create a multiple choice questions such as:
Do you want your teacher…?
1. To change each week.
2. To be the same throughout the week.
Analyze the results, do some cost and benefit analysis, apply the decision accordingly.
Making this process anonymous will help them be honest. Additionally, doing it online, will help you keep the records digitally.
2.2 Unique student
Another fun activity that belongs to the list of icebreakers for high school is “Unique student”. Again, as its name suggests, at the end of the game students and the instructor choose the “unique student” of the classroom.
To play the game, allocate 3-5 minutes and ask students to write down as many fun facts on them as possible. It is important for the facts to be unique and not be repeated.
Then, when the time is over, each student shares his/her facts with others and they get points for each fact that is really unique.
The one, who has more unique points, wins.
You can organize and play the game once a month to “have a new unique” student each month and to prevent probable atrocity among students.
2.3 Getting to know you
“Getting to know you” game well matches icebreakers for high school. Again, it can be played either using papers and pens or internet-connected mobile devices.
Give a topic to students, such as books, music, movies, food, etc, and ask them to write down their names, then list the most favorite topics out of what you gave them. Afterward, collect the papers in order to read the answers.
Otherwise you can use an online feedback collection platform and ask students to send their response.
In case the classroom is very large, divide students into groups and tell them to guess whom each list of favorites belong.
Give points for each correct answer. It the end, the group that will have more points will win.
3. Icebreakers for college students
Icebreakers for college students are not far less important than for middle and high school students. During the college life they need to collaborate within different projects, live in the same dorm or participate in the same activity. Classroom icebreakers will help them to Know each other better creating a sense of unity and encouraging them work together easily.
3.1 Three-question interview
“Three-question interview” is one of icebreakers for college students.
Create some fun questions, print them on paper and put each of them in the bag.
Separate the students into groups of two and ask them to take out three questions from the bag.
Then team members will use that questions to interview each other.
After the process, teammates will introduce each other to the whole classroom based on what they learned during the “interview”.
Question examples can be:
3.2 Class preview
“Class preview” is one of the most effective icebreakers for college students. Among many other classroom icebreakers this one helps to improve the quality of the subject or the whole course. Let’s see how to play it.
Professors introduce the course to the students and ask them to write down what they already know about the topic. Then, with the help of the audience feedback collection platform instructors gather students’ responses.
They display the results in real time and address each one explaining whether it’s right, wrong, or irrelevant entirely.
3.3 Most Embarrassing Story
This is one of the most fun icebreakers for college students.
Ask them to tell one embarrassing story about their life in front of the whole group.
The essence of the icebreaker is to make them vulnerable but protected. This will create a trustful environment.. Moreover, this activity is super funny. Make sure to control the negative reactions within the class. The aim is to create reliability, not a ground for bully.
You can infer that classroom icebreakers should not only be fun, but also really inclusive and relevant to age groups of students. Always be in control and you will have a unified classroom ready to work together.