Classroom IceBreakers
Here is one of my favorites. It can be completed in a relatively short amount of time and can be used with any grade level students. Kids write the following three statements about themselves and then share:
  1. something they have in common with everyone in the class
  2. something they have in common with most people in the class
  3. something unique about themselves
-- contributed by Lynn Case

One of my favorite ice-breaker activities is "Amnesia." Take some historical figure or famous person and write their name on a piece of paper, one for each student. Tape the piece of paper on the students’ back. The students then circulate the room asking other students to look at the name on their back, and then the students can ask two questions to try to find out who they are. They can only ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no. After their two questions, they can make a guess and if they are not right, they must move on to another person. I put five minutes on the clock for this and challenge them to be the first completed before time is up. It's a blast. This could be used with students from any grade level.
-- contributed by Brian Thomas

Trait Trader
Essentially this is a revised version of the "Autograph Game."
You have just taken a job as a trait trader in the fictitious exchange, the Personality Market. You are new executive and it is very important to you that you do well in your new job. To do so, you must trade wisely and end the game with a trait that applies to you.
  1. In a moment, you will be given a piece of paper (trade slip) with a personality or character trait written on it (e.g. tall, creative, adventurous, quiet, etc.) Write your name on the back of the slip IF the trait applies to you! (Hint: Attach sticky notes to the back of the trade slip so that you may reuse the trade slips)
  2. When the bell rings to signal the opening of the Personality Market, you must trade your slip with someone else. If your new trait also applies to you, write your name on that slip. If not, move to step three.
  3. Trade again. Your goal is to end up with a trait that applies to you AND to have written your name on more slips than anyone else.
  4. When the bell rings and the teacher calls out “exchange closed.” The game is over.
  5. You may not stop trading until the exchange closes! Remember, your goal is to end up with a trait that applies to you AND to have written your name on more slips than anyone else.
Over 5’8”, Born in the 70s, Red Hair, Curly Hair, Athlete, Creative, Talkative, Adventurous, Quiet, Bossy, Demanding, Funny, Dare Devil, etc.) You design the slips based on your group. Remember to be sensitive to age, gender, etc.
Allow 10-12 minutes for the game and then call “exchange closed”. Next, ask everyone to turn their trait slip to the side that holds the names of the traders. Ask your first trader to say his or her name and to read his or her trait, stating whether or not it is true about him/her. Then, ask the others in the group to raise their hands if the trader’s name appears on their trade slips. Count the hands. Move to the next trader and repeat. When done, award the prize to the trader with the most slips signed who has a trait that describes him or her on the final slip.
-- contributed by Amy Greene

The first week of school I used a few ice-breakers to make my students feel comfortable. They loved it. I teach 10th and 12th grade and even my seniors were upset that I didn't have another ice-breaker planned for the second week. One that was a bit difficult but fun -- "Identity Crisis." Place a sticky note on the back of every student with a historical person's name (I also included modern celebrities and musicians). Participants must ask another person 3 yes or no questions to find their identity. Once they find out who they are, they become a consultant and assist others. Some of the kids struggled with some of the historical names (which told me who I needed to teach about). The great story about this ice-breaker was my principal who walked in and found that he was one of the famous people on someone's back! He liked being famous! I have used "Identity Crisis" when I train adults as well. I also played TRUE and FALSE with my students -- they write 3 things about themselves and one statement is false. Objective is to trick other people and earn points. The partner has to guess which one is false. My kids had a great time with this one!
-- contributed by Jennifer Jolley

An ice breaker I learned from a colleague is a version of the "Find someone who.." ice breaker. Instead of finding someone who has the same birthday or went on vacation, the students (eighth grade) are given a grid of review questions based on topics they learned the previous year in seventh grade. The students have to walk around the room and find someone who knows the correct answer to the question and then the student who knows the answer signs his/her name in the box. It allows the students to interact with each other while reviewing important concepts at the same time.
-- contributed by Suzann Schmanski

© 2013 - Teachers' Curriculum Institute | Social Studies Textbooks & Curriculum for K-12 Schools