At the start of school, you have a classroom full of nervous, shy, and excited little faces looking at you and each other. It’s important to build a classroom community and make relationships at the beginning of the year. Here are five icebreaker games for kids you can play on the first day of school.
The Name Game
I play this easy icebreaker game every year. The children sit in a circle. The first student says his or her name. The next student says the first name, and their name. The third student says his or her name, then the second student’s name, then the first student’s name, and so on.
At the end of the game, you say all your new student’s names. This way you learn their names too!
Here’s a fun variation: Assign a food name that begins with the first letter of their name. I was always Rachael-ravioli. Play the game the same way but with their new “food name”. For example, Gabby-grape, Ethan-egg, Alex-apple, and so on.
Add a sticky note to each corner of your room with the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Have students stand in the middle of the room. Tell them, “Go to corner #1 if you like popcorn, corner #2 if you like chips, go to corner #3 if your favorite snack is yogurt, and #4 if you love cookies the most.”
The topic can be changed and this game can be played all year long for brain breaks and classroom transitions.
If you are remote learning, this can be done on a zoom call by holding up the number of fingers for each snack.
Would You Rather?
You know this game right? You have two choices, and you only get to pick one. My own children play this and it’s gross. They try to come up with the most disgusting scenarios. But they’re teenagers, so what can you do? In the classroom, I adapt this to some slightly tamer choices: “Would you rather have toasted or burnt marshmallows on your S’mores?
Find A Friend Who...
This back to school icebreaker game is one of my favorites. Students stand in the middle of the room. You say, “Find a friend who has the same favorite animal as you. Once they find a friend, they sit down together and discuss their favorite animal. You can use this for any topic like:
- Same number of siblings
- Same bedtime
- Favorite TV show
- Food they dislike
- Same pets
Books are a good source of topics. Read “First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg. Then, say “Find a friend who was nervous about starting school!” You can get a copy of the book here.
I use this every year the first week of school
I took all the materials I use the first week and put it together in a great resource to help you get going those first few days. There is soooo much to do the first week, having your lesson plans done in advance makes such a difference. Use this resource along with a few icebreaker games for back to school and make the first week a breeze. Check out my resource here –
This First Day Jitters product is NEWLY UPDATED WITH DIGITAL RESOURCES.This thematic unit for kindergarten and 1st grade differs from other products with a focus on reading comprehension skills and cross curriculum activities. Five days of NO PREP lesson plans and anchor charts are included to teach the reading comprehension strategies main idea, sequencing, drawing conclusions, and making connections. These cross curriculum lesson plans (math, phonics, grammar, science, and social studies) can be used to teach a fun back to school unit and meet your common core standards.
You will call the name of a classmate and toss the ball to them. That student says something about themself like “I like sea turtles.” Then, they will call on a classmate, and toss the ball. Keep going until all students have had a chance to participate.
These quick back to school icebreaker games can be used as one small part of creating relationships with your students. Building a classroom community begins before your students arrive at the start of school. Read more here.
My friend, Kate also wrote a fantastic article about organizing the first day of school, you can check it out here!
Online Icebreaker Games For Kids
At the beginning of the year, I use Seesaw to start a class blog. I post a selfie they take on the blog for everyone to see. My students love using Seesaw. But teaching them how to USE the Seesaw Class app was always challenging. I wanted them to use the Seesaw tools responsibly and not play with them all day. So I made learning how to use the components a game!
I have a fun AND free Scavenger Hunt for my students to use while they’re learning how to use the Seesaw Class app. This takes them step-by-step through each of the Seesaw tools so they’ll use the platform responsibly. You can get your free copy here!
Is it a struggle to teach your students the Seesaw tools? I’ve created a FREE game for your students that will help them learn to use the Seesaw tools responsibly!