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When the first day of school rolls around, whether it is your 1st or 20th, we are all in the same boat – we want to plan a fun day and start to get to know those little people we will be sharing our classroom with for an entire year.

We like to sprinkle icebreaker games throughout the first week of school. They are a great way to learn names, start to discover student’s interests and also see how the class manages as a whole when exciting things, such as games, are implemented (it will assist you in deciding what sort of classroom management strategies will work best with your cohort).

Here are 7 games that we always use at the beginning of the year and can be adapted for a range of age groups:

1. 2 truths and a lie

Students sit in a circle and tell the class 2 things that are true about themselves and 1 thing that is not. The students need to guess which one is the lie. This is a great one for you to model to begin with so the students get to know you too. (A word of warning: Make sure students are prepared before they have a turn, otherwise it can lead to a long game of watching someone think).

2. Puzzle mixup

Grab some of your classroom puzzles and split the pieces up randomly into bags (i.e., each bag might have 5-6 pieces from different puzzles). Put your students into small groups and give them a bag of mixed puzzle pieces. Ask them to work together to solve the puzzle. Soon enough, they will realise that they need to work as a class to put the puzzle together.

3. Name detective

Ask students to fill out a short questionnaire about themselves secretly. Put them all in a hat and then during lesson breaks, before and after lunch or at the end of the day, randomly choose a few slips to share. The students need to listen to the facts and try and guess the mystery classmate. Find a FREE template for this game here.

4. Lucky Dip Questions

Have a bag of coloured blocks, counters or if you want to make it more fun, sweets such as skittles, m&m’s or snakes. Sitting in a circle, students take turns to pull out a coloured object and answer the questions matched to the colour. For example, Blue = Where were you born? Yellow = Who is your favourite superhero?

Alternatively, you can play this game with a ball that has different questions written on it. Students throw the ball to each other and answer the first question they can read.

5. The paper plane game

Give each student a piece of paper (it is fun if you have a few different colours). Ask students to write an interesting fact about themselves on the piece of paper and fold it into a paper plane.

Then, everyone throws their paper plane to somewhere around the room. Students pickup one plane that landed closest to them.

Bring students together and ask them to read the fact on the paper plane that they ended up with. As they share the interesting fact, they need to try to guess whose paper plane they got.

6. Speed Friending

Sit students in pairs and get them to take turns asking and discussing ‘Would you rather’ questions, after a minute or two, students swap partners. You can make questions serious or silly (or a mix of both). We have some ready-to-print ‘Would you Rather’ cards that are perfect for ‘speed friending’ here.

7. Team building towers

Provide students with a pile of newspaper, and in small groups, students have to work together to build the strongest and tallest tower. You can mix up this activity by providing students with your choice of materials and having them work together to construct something. You will learn quite a lot about who are the leaders in your class, who cracks under pressure, who doesn’t like confrontations and who is a team player.

Bonus idea: Place Value ‘Who Am I’

Makeup cards that represent a number. Give each student a card and ask them to mingle while they find their match. This is very similar to a loop game but students are moving around the classroom. It is a great way to start conversation, and for students to help each other using mathematical language. We created these using paint chips from Bunnings and a marker, so simple, cheap and so effective!

There are so many ice breaker games out there for young and old. If you have one you love to play with your class, please share! One can never have too many games in their teaching toolbox.

Need to save time? Check out our ready-to-print icebreaker games here.

If you are looking for more ideas or help with planning the start of the school year you will want to read these posts next:

8 Things I do to get ready for Back to school

What to do on the First Day After a School Break

Ways to Save Money this Back to School Season

5 Easy Back to School Activities

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