We as caretakers know how important first days are. Your new students often feel nervous or shy. You want to set everyone up for success and start strong, and the best way to do that is with an icebreaker Games!
An icebreaker is a game or activity that will “break the ice” for your learners. These game ideas don’t have to just be for the first days, either! You can use these any time. In fact, I’d recommend using these often. Routines are a great way to help children feel comfortable, and playing these activities regularly will be great for getting your kids warmed up.
You can change any of these games to fit your children’s level, age, or group size. Though older kids might grumble a bit at the thought of playing “childish” games, these are tried-and-true classics that will get everyone off their feet.
You can’t go wrong with these 12 icebreaker games for kids that will wake them up and get them talking!
1. All My Friends…
This icebreaker is similar to musical chairs. All the kids will stand or sit in a big circle with one volunteer in the middle. The volunteer will say “All my friends…” and think of something that they enjoy! For example, “All my friends like to ride bikes!” or “All my friends like ice cream!”. It can be anything.
If they agree, the other students must stand up and find another spot anywhere in the circle. Whoever is left standing is the next volunteer. Repeat until most everyone has been in the middle.
2. Two Truths, One Lie
Many great icebreaker games, the following one is a classic one for kids. Have the learners think of three sentences: two are true, one is a lie. For example, it could be something like:
- My favorite subject is English
- I like dogs more than cats
- I went to New York this summer
The other students then have to guess what two are true and what is the lie. This icebreaker is great for introducing the students to each other.
There are many variations to this, too! You can allow the students to write two lies and one truth.You can also turn this into a game by having the students write down how many sentences they got right as points, and see who ends up with the most by the end!
3. One Rose, One Thorn
If you’re coming back from a long vacation (or just a weekend), you can have your learners share what they did. They’ll give one “rose” = best part of it and one “thorn” = worst part of it.
Usually kids will love talking about their lives. Plus with this icebreaker game, you’ll get them thinking about the positives and negatives of something they did.
4. The Human Knot
For this one of the next icebreaker games split the learners into two teams. They will start in a big circle. Have everyone lift their left hand, reach across, and shake another person’s hand. Then have them raise their right hand and take a different person’s hand. Make sure no one is holding hands with the person directly next to them.
They must figure out how to untangle the knot and become a circle again without ever letting go of hands! First team to finish wins. This icebreaker is great for getting them to communicate and cooperate with each other.
You can play this game with one big team or several smaller ones. If you like, you can also make the game harder by blindfolding a few players or by requiring no talking.
5. Inside-Outside Circle
Have the kids form two circles with an equal number of members. One circle will be on the inside, the other will be on the outside. Each kid in the inside circle will pair with a student on the outside. Then, the leader (can be the teacher or another student) will come up with a topic, such as “favorite foods.”
The students will have ten seconds to share their favorite foods. When the time is up, they’ll move clockwise to the next person and repeat with a new topic until they’re back at the beginning.
This icebreaker game is a great way to have the students familiarize themselves with each other, and they have to think fast on their feet.
6. Pass the Ball
Students will start in a big circle sitting on the ground. They’ll have a big beach ball or similar fuzzy one and you’ll play music. They must pass the ball quickly (no throwing!) around the circle until the music stops.
When the music stops, you can have them say whatever you like! For example, they can introduce themselves, say something they like or don’t like, or review the material they’re learning. The student with the ball can then stay in the circle or leave–your choice. Then, they keep playing.
7. Four Corners
Start by labeling each corner of the room with Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. Learners will start in the middle of the room.
The teacher will read out a statement, such as “I love pineapple on pizza” or “I think P.E. is better than art.” The students will then move to the corner that represents their opinion best.
You can add a timer, play music or count down so the students have to move quickly–or you can request they walk. It’s fun to see what their opinions are, and this icebreaker gets the kids making decisions fast!
8. Find My Partner
Write out matching names on index cards. For example, “Ariel” and “Prince Eric” or “Peanut butter” and “Jelly”. Tip: Disney, Marvel or other popular movies and tv shows are good to use!
Then give each learner a card. They can hold it up to their forehead or you can tape it on their back. They’ll stand up and ask the other kids yes-or-no questions so they can find hints as to a) who they are and b) who their match is.
Some questions they can ask are:
- “Am I a cartoon?”
- “Can you eat me?”
- “Am I a boy?”
- “Do I have magical powers?”
Once everyone is matched up or time is up, you can ask who they think they are. Then they can reveal their cards and see who got it right!
9. Who Started It?
Pick one child to leave the room. Pick another child to choose a motion, like rubbing their heads, jazz hands, or clapping. All the other students will copy their movement.
Then, have the first student come back into the room. They will have three chances to guess who started the movement. Repeat until several people get the chance to guess who started it!
10. Tell Me A Story
Have your learners get into a big circle on the floor. One student will start the chain story by saying 4 words, such as “Once upon a time,” or “Last weekend I saw.”
The next student will repeat what they said and add one word. Then, the next student will repeat everything and add another word. This will keep going until someone messes up and can’t remember the sentence!
This icebreaker game tests their memory and can also create some really silly stories.
11. Silent Line
For this icebreaker, the students must organize themselves in a line silently and as quickly as possible. The line can be based on any criteria, like height or birthday. They must do all of this without talking, but you can allow them to use their hands or whisper.
You can make this more competitive by having them face off against another classes’ time. This is a great way to get them working cooperatively even on the first day!
12. Silent Interview
The last one of our icebreaker games is a little like charades. Start by pairing off students. They will then have 3 minutes to tell their partner three things about themselves, like their favorite movie, food, or sport without talking, mouthing, or whispering. They can only use their body!
After the time is up, call everyone back and ask the other student to introduce their partner and tell the class about their three things.
This game is best played with older children because it can get a little challenging. You can also play it as a whole group instead of pairs if you want to make it easier for younger children.
There you have it!
12 engaging, thought-provoking icebreakers games for kids
that will have your learners getting familiar with each other–and you–fast. Again, feel free to adapt these to your class’s individual needs. With these icebreaker games, even shy or quiet students will want to jump in and play!