Icebreakers: Fun and Effective Getting to Know You Activities for the First Week of School

What is an icebreaker? How do you get to know your students? What fun ways can my students get to know each other during the first week of school? This post has some fun ideas to help you build your classroom community starting on the first day of school!

An icebreaker is an activity to get people (students) talking in order to get to know each other better. Breaking the ice gets the awkward part over with so you can get to the real conversation.

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Image of students in a huddle.  Text: Icebreakers: Fun and Effective Getting to Know You Activities for the first week of school

Icebreaker #1: *Name Challenge

Learning our new classmates’ names is an important part of the first week of school. I do this activity several times a day until everyone has had a turn. During our morning meeting, usually at the end, I go around the circle and say everyone’s name to help me remember.

Then, I give the kiddos a turn! They start with themselves and go around the circle, saying everyone’s name. If they get to someone they don’t know, they politely ask, “What is your name, friend?” That person tells them their name, and they stop. They will get a Name Hero sticker if they get around the circle and know everyone’s name. If they don’t get all the way around, they can try again on another day. Keep practicing until everyone knows each other’s names!

Image of Name Hero Stickers. Text: Name Challenge

#2: Getting to Know You Cootie Catchers

This one is for students who are a bit older. Second graders and up will probably be the most appropriate for this activity. You can make the cootie catchers (fortune tellers) yourself or teach your students how to make them! It’s up to you.

Image of a getting to know you cootie catcher.  Text: GTKY Cootie Catchers.

Have the students get together in partners or small groups. Students get to know each other better by choosing items on their partner’s cootie catcher. Then they move the cootie catcher several times and pick a different prompt. Then, the next person goes. The cootie catchers are all different, so your students can have numerous conversations with one cootie catcher! Check them out:

Icebreaker #3: *In Common Corners

Image of colorful numbers 1-4 with a sheet of "In Common Corners" prompts.  4 Corners Game.  Text: In Common Corners

This is a fun icebreaker activity for when your students need to get up and move around. It’s the game Four Corners. You will assign a different topic to each corner or area in your classroom. Students choose the topic they are interested in and go to that corner. The other students in the corner will have that topic in common! Give them a minute to talk about the subject and maybe give a follow-up question that students can talk about. Then, switch the corner topics and let them choose again!

Example: The four corners (or designated areas if you don’t have corners) are: What is your favorite food? Corner or area 1: Pizza. 2. Tacos. 3. Hamburgers. 4. Hot dogs. Students move to the corner of their favorite food. Once they are there, ask, ” What toppings do you like?” Let the students discuss. Do a few rounds to help your students get to know each other better.

Get to know your students better by playing along. If you have students who are shy or have trouble, go with them. Help them find someone they can talk with. I always waited until everyone else was in their spot before I made my choice. Some students will wait for me to see the “right” choice. We also talk about it beforehand. This is a good time to talk about opinions and how to respect each other’s views.

#4 Icebreaker: *This or That?

Image of This or That prompts.  Text: This or That

This fun getting-to-know-you activity is almost the same as in Common Corners, but the students choose between 2 options: this or that? This one can also be played with students standing up and sitting down. Stand up if you would rather have a hamburger, sit down if you would rather have a salad. This or That also makes excellent opinion writing prompts! After playing this or that, choose one for the students to write about!

#5: *Friendship Bracelets

Friendship bracelets are all the rage right now! Let your students make friendship bracelets for each other! There are many ways to do this, so I will highlight two, and you can decide what works for you! Before starting, I would have a conversation about treating others the way you want to be treated, so be respectful of the wishes of your classmates. Use appropriate words on the bracelets (make a list beforehand).

Image of paper and bead friendship bracelets. Text: friendship bracelets
  1. Use friendship bracelet beads (Amazon Affiliate Link)! Let each student choose the beads that they would like for their bracelets. Then, they will give their beads to a partner (they choose, or you choose, or choose randomly). Each student will make their partner’s bracelet! If you have leftover beads, save them for next year or put them out at inside recess and let students use them.
  2. Use paper friendship bracelets. Copy and cut the bracelets apart. Let students choose a paper bracelet and color them for their friends. Add any leftover paper bracelets to your classroom writing center. Marker Stampers (Amazon Affiliate Link) would be perfect for this activity!

#6 Get to Know You: Writing Activities

Image of first week of school journal and blank journal. Text: Writing Activities

You set up all your classroom rules and procedures during the first few weeks of school. Setting up your writing block is the perfect chance to use your writing activities to get to know your students better!

Getting to Know You Sentence A Day: Get your students writing on the first day! These are short, targeted sentence writing lessons, one a day. Students will practice writing sentences correctly while writing about themselves to share!

*Interview a Friend: Pair your students up and have them interview their partner. Students ask each other questions to learn more about their partner. Then, they write about their new friend on the back. Need an interview sheet? Sign up for my weekly teacher newsletter and get it for FREE in my Free Resource Library!

*Back to School Class Book: Making a class book is one of my favorite getting-to-know-you activities. Each student gets a page in the book. If you feel super ambitious, you could take pictures of your students to include in the class book or have them draw pictures of themselves. I LOVE to use this fun Math About Me printable as the student page. You could also fill out a page to include in the class book!

#7 *Getting to Know You Glyphs

Image of a Getting to Know You Crayon Glyph Icebreaker.  Text: All About Me Glyphs

This is a fun, getting-to-know-you activity you can do during your math time! Have your students make a getting to know you glyph! A glyph is a pictograph of information. Students will color their crayons certain colors according to the instructions. For example, color your crayon (top and bottom) with the color of your favorite special class. Gym=red, Music=yellow, Computers=green, etc. Then, hang them somewhere with a key to colors. Give students time to review the glyphs and discuss what information can be learned! You can also sort your class glyphs and compare/contrast activities with the getting-to-know-you glyphs.

Icebreaker #8: *All About Me Playdough Mats

Image of All About Me STEM Playdough Mats. Text: All About Me Playdough Mats

Playdough Mats are my favorite first-day-of-school activity! They are a great way to get to know your students as well! Students will be using their dough to create items that describe themselves! They make their name, something that is their favorite color, favorite food, and hobbies! They can share with their friends. Another activity I liked to do: Students leave their completed play dough mats on their desks, and the students walk around to look at each other creations, like a museum! Students LOVE to see each other’s creations!

*These activities are in this super fun Back to School Getting To Know You Icebreakers Pack!

Pin the image below to keep these fun activities handy!

Image of students in a huddle. Text: Icebreakers: Fun and Effective Getting to Know You Activities for the first week of school

Happy Teaching!


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