Use these short, fun activities at the start of the school year to establish a welcoming learning environment and foster trust and acceptance among your students. Continue using them throughout the year to get things going in the morning or after a break.
- Bring in an unusual object that students are not likely to recognize. Spend some time eliciting basic descriptions of the item and guesses about what it is and how it is used.
- As a class or in small groups, brainstorm people who help others in your school and community. Make a list of ways everyone can help others. Consider making a poster out of the list and hanging it in the room or hall.
- Have students design a magazine cover that features a story about them. They need to name the magazine, include an image of themselves or an image that symbolizes them, and write a headline for the story.
- Write the names of people, concepts, places, or other subject-related vocabulary onto 3″ x 5″ cards and attach a card to each student’s back. Students then mingle, asking each other yes-no questions to determine what their card says.
- Read the beginning of a short story, then have students write or discuss what they think will happen next. Discuss why they make these predictions. Finish reading the story and discuss.
- Have students design logos that represent themselves. Imagine they might go on a shirt, business card, or vehicle. Share the logos in pairs or with the class, explaining the meaning behind them.
- Talk briefly about universal symbols, such as those for “no smoking” or “restrooms,” and share some examples. Direct students to invent a symbol to represent something. Share symbols and see if people can figure out their meaning.
- Show examples (real or made-up) of vanity license plates. Have students make their own on one-third of a sheet of construction paper. Only seven characters allowed! Plates should say something about the student.
- As a class, briefly brainstorm common conflicts that happen at school. Put students in small groups and have them choose a conflict and come up with a way to solve it peacefully. Consider having groups role-play their conflict and solution.
- Have students pair up and interview each other, then have volunteers “report” to the class on the person they interviewed in the style of a TV news story. For younger students, you may provide interview questions.
- Group storytelling! Sit in a circle and open your story with one sentence. Then toss a small ball or stuffed animal to a student, who makes up the next sentence before tossing the ball to another student. Continue until everyone has contributed.
For more activities and icebreakers, check out Classroom Warm-Ups In a Jar®: Quick and Meaningful Activities for All Grades.
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