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How-To: Get Started

Breaking the Ice Marianne Francone

The first day of school can be uncomfortable for both staff and students. Planned "Ice Breakers" can allow for trust building while having fun. The following are some activities that are adaptable for all ages.

Objective: To allow members of a class, group, or team to reveal characteristics and strengths of their personalities.

Supplies: Basket or bowl, one lb. of M&M's (peanut), two lbs. M&M's plain, napkins.

  • Pass out napkins.
  • Begin passing the basket of mixed M&M's while instructing the students to take a handful. (Yes, some handfuls will be bigger than others!)
  • Explain that students must refrain from eating until their turn is completed.
  • For each plain M&M, students are to tell something about themselves; for each peanut M&M, students should identify a strength or talent.
  • Teacher should begin the sharing as a role model.
Culmination: Eating!

THE GREAT CHASE: Objective: To learn about peers while participating in a cooperative activity. Supplies: Pencils, prepared worksheets

  • Before the first day of school, seek information on each of your students. Checking files, speaking to past teachers, or calling parents can reveal interesting tidbits (e.g. a student may be bilingual; a student may hold a black belt in karate).
  • Make a list of experiences or characteristics, including one for each student and staff member. If you are unable to individualize for each child, create some generic items
    • ___loves to eat pizza
    • ___has driven a motorcycle)
Directions: Find a person who matches an experience or characteristic. Have the person sign on the blank. Use each name only once.

Culmination: First one finished earns a reward. Have the winner read each item and the corresponding name.

Objective: To interact positively with peers and staff.

Supplies: 3x5 cards (with names of well-known people on them), masking tape.

  • Before the start of class, write the name of a well-known person on one side of each card. Have enough for each member of the class (and a few extra).
  • Names can be real or fictional.
Directions: Each student will be assigned a card but will not be told the name of the well-known person written on it. They will need to find a partner and ask YES or NO questions leading to the discovery of the person.

For example:

The person is George Washington.

  • Is it a man?-yes
  • Is he alive?-no
  • Was he a sports hero?-no, etc.
Students will enjoy helping peers after they have discovered whose name was written on their own cards.

Culmination: Allow the students to try some on the teacher!


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