Get ready for back-to-school with these in your lesson plan!
The first day of school is a whirlwind of excitement and possibilities. It's the perfect time to foster a sense of community and introduce activities that will set the tone for the rest of the year.
Whether you're a math teacher, an ELA instructor, or a world language educator, we've got you covered with a variety of teacher-tested back-to-school icebreakers that cater to different grade levels and are sure to engage your students and kick off the school year on the right note.
This adaptable icebreaker game is great for upper-middle or high school students. Starting with simple sequences, like cardinal numbers, students take turns posing math-related questions to their peers. As the chain continues, it encourages active listening and participation, setting a precedent for engaged classroom discussions and learning throughout the year.
Give the classic back-to-school icebreaker a math twist. Group students into teams and hand out rolls of toilet paper. Each group collaborates to write math-related information on the sheets, such as perfect squares or equations. This activity promotes creative thinking, teamwork, and mathematical exploration.
Turn the typical scavenger hunt into a math-themed adventure. Students search for classmates who fit certain criteria, such as having a birthdate with a multiple of 3 or a height between specific values. This icebreaker game not only gets students moving but also encourages them to interact with different peers and use math in real-life scenarios.
ELA Icebreakers: Elementary
Engage students' senses with this activity. They share their favorite tastes, smells, feelings, sounds, and sights. Through this, they learn to express themselves and lay the foundation for sensory-based writing in the coming months.
Get to know each other by writing questions on a beach ball and having students toss it to each other. When they catch it, they answer the question closest to their right thumb. This promotes sharing and bonding, all while discussing simple topics like favorite foods and books.
This is an activity you can do at the beginning of the year and revisit at the end of the school year to see how your students grow! Students create acrostic poems using their names to share personal characteristics, hobbies, and preferences. This activity not only introduces them to their peers but also encourages vocabulary exploration and spelling.
Ease those first-day nerves and lighten the mood with this silly activity. Students choose animal sounds, find peers making the same sound, and identify commonalities between them. It's a lighthearted way to get students talking, forming connections, and boosting auditory processing.
Get those imaginations running by having groups collaborate to create short stories that incorporate random objects from a bag. This activity promotes storytelling, creativity, and group discussion while having fun with shared stories.
ELA Icebreakers: Middle School
Start the school year with a flurry of excitement! Students write three facts about themselves on paper, crumple the papers into "snowballs," and toss them around. Then, they guess which student wrote each fact, leading to conversations and connections based on their shared and unique experiences.
Pairs of students discuss questions in a timed rotation, providing opportunities to interact with multiple classmates and engage in meaningful discussions.
Classic icebreaker activities like Two Truths and a Lie and Never Have I Ever encourage students to share personal information, building trust and encouraging creative thinking and communication.
ELA Icebreakers: High School
Bingo takes on a new twist in this back-to-school edition by incorporating questions about reading preferences and experiences. Sharing these insights helps students connect over their interests and develop a sense of belonging.
Sharpen those social skills! Students create their own questions, walk around the room, and engage in conversations with various classmates. This activity empowers students to guide their discussions to promote further discourse throughout the year.
Students respond to prompts related to their preferences, experiences, and opinions. These prompts spark discussion and reflection, fostering deeper connections among students.
World Language Icebreakers
You can do this low-prep, back-to-school activity with a second-level or higher world language class. Students listen to sentences in the target language and interpret them through drawings, encouraging active listening, comprehension, and artistic expression.
Roll into a year of exciting conversations and language learning! Students roll dice to select questions to discuss with their peers, promoting engagement, conversation, and interaction in the target language.
The art of conversation meets the thrill of discovery! Students share harmless information about each other in the target language, encouraging conversation, and developing language skills.
The ordinary becomes the extraordinary as everyday details about ourselves become the star of the show. This fresh take on language learning invites students to share three facts while honing their skills in the target language.
This activity is a high-impact way to maximize language input and low-affective-filter output while getting to know your students, even in Level 1. Students use basic language phrases to find common interests among their peers, facilitating interaction and language practice.
Students modify statements in a fun and creative manner, engaging in writing, speaking, and collaboration while learning about each other.
Game-Based Learning All Year Round
Games and playing aren't just great ways to get to know each other. They're also perfect for learning throughout the school year! Learn about 5 tools to meaningfully bring play to your classroom—and download the free Playful Learning rubric—in our blog post below.
Carnegie Learning is helping students learn why, not just what. Born from more than 30 years of learning science research at Carnegie Mellon University, the company has become a recognized leader in the ed tech space, using artificial intelligence, formative assessment, and adaptive learning to deliver groundbreaking solutions to education’s toughest challenges. With the highest quality offerings for K-12 math, ELA, literacy, world languages, professional learning and more, Carnegie Learning is changing the way we think about education, fostering learning that lasts.Explore more related to this author