Are you searching for some fun, new ‘getting to know you’ classroom activities or icebreakers for kids to build student relationships on the first day of school or to encourage team-building in the classroom?
We know you have so much to prep to welcome students back to the classroom, so the teachers on the Teach Starter team have put together some of our favourite ways to help students get to know their classmates. We hope these will help you save a little time on your classroom prep!
What Is a Getting to Know You Activity?
The first weeks spent with a new group of students are so important in setting up your expectations for the year. We don’t just mean your behaviour expectations — even though they are crucial for classroom management. This is a time when your students will begin to understand the value of knowing a little bit about each and every other student in their class.
Getting-to-know-you activities — sometimes called icebreakers — are a great way for you to begin learning about the different personalities in your new class. They will help you to see which kids are leaders and which may prefer to sit back. You can also plan fun activities that help you to informally assess how each of your new students is faring in terms of specific knowledge or skill development.
Save time with a curated collection of teacher-created icebreakers for kids!
Getting to Know You Ideas for Kids
We have included a variety of ‘getting to know you’ ideas for the classroom in the list below — something for every year level. Explore the whole list, and choose the activities that seem right for your students!
Two Truths and a Lie
This game is a classic (and fairly addictive) getting-to-know-you exercise for kids that can be played as a whole class or in small groups.
- Each person in the class comes up with three statements about themselves — two true statements and one false. Some students may find it easiest to write these down.
- In turn, each student presents their statements for the rest of the class to determine which statement they think is false.
Some different ways to play this game are:
- to have the entire class vote on which statement they think is false
- have each student write down which statement they think is false and see who gets the most correct
Teach Starter Teacher Tip: Not sure about the idea of having students tell lies? You can change the game to two truths and one exaggeration!
Beach Ball Icebreaker Game
The Beach Ball Icebreaker game, shared with us by Lana at 4theloveofteaching is a classic and FUN way for you to get to know your students, and for your students to get to know each other!
- Use a permanent marker to write a question on each panel of a blow-up beach ball.
- Standing or sitting in a circle, students throw or roll the ball to someone else in the circle.
- When students receive the ball, they answer the question that is facing them. Then they pass or roll the ball to someone else.
This game can be so easily tailored to suit the context of your classroom or the time of year. You could prepare a variety of beach balls to bring out for brain breaks too!
For example, with a new class, you may write some more basic getting-to-know-you questions such as “What is your favourite thing to do on the weekend?”
Returning from holidays with a class you already know you may write different questions like “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?”
How about letting each student decorate their own personali-tee to share a bit about themselves with their classmates?
Just print a ‘getting to know you’ t-shirt template, hand out the coloured pencils and scissors, and let students get crafty! Next, separate students to different ends of the classroom by what they put on their t-shirt.
For example, everyone whose shirt says ‘8’ go to the right side of the classroom, everyone whose shirt says 7 goes to the left, and so on.
These are a wonderful way to help students identify commonalities and learn something new about each other. When you’re done, you might like to make a classroom display of all the brag bags like the “unbeleafable” one from Queensland prep teacher @live.it.with.t below!
Bingo is a classic in the classroom, and another fun ‘get to know you’ game for the first day of school is human bingo! We have two different human bingo, or getting to know you bingo game cards, for you to choose from for an exciting twist on an old favorite:
Students each receive a copy of the human bingo playing card and move around the room to find a person who can answer “Yes!” to the statements on the grid. When they find someone who says “Yes!” they write that person’s name in the box. The first person to complete the grid and sit down is the winner.
All About Me Cube
This is a super fun, hands-on activity that can be used in different ways. Simply download and print the All About Me Cube Template. Make sure you print enough for every student in your class and a few spares to go into any ‘new student packs’ you may have prepared for kids to join your class later in the year!
You may like to enlarge these to A3 size for extra creative space and to make a fun display.
Here are a few different ways you could use the cubes to turn this craft activity into a group-sharing, icebreaker activity.
#1 Cube Clumps
- The teacher calls out one of the topics on the cube (e.g. birthday months, hair colour, special places, favourite hobby).
- Students find all of the other people in the class who share that same month, characteristic or interest and stand in a ‘clump’.
- For topics that leave students standing alone (i.e. they are the only person in their class with that birthday month, characteristic or interest) use this as a way to highlight the amazing diversity and individuality in your class!
#2 Cube Mix
- Students complete all sides of the cube except for the name and self-portrait sides.
- Collect the cubes and mix up in a bag or box.
- Hand a cube out to each student making sure they don’t get their own cube.
- Students look at the cube they received and see if they can figure out who it belongs to.
#3 Cube Stack
In groups, students use the complete cubes to create 3D sculptures or displays in your classroom by stacking cubes with the same face out.
- The name and birthday side can be used to create a birthday display by stacking all of the cubes from each month together.
- Stack the cubes with the portrait side facing out to make a 3D sculpture.
- Use the “special people” or “special places” sides to create a display, or even to use as writing prompts throughout the year.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities make fantastic icebreakers as you can have students work together in small groups with a common goal: Tackling the challenge!
These sort of activities also take some of the pressure off shy students who may feel uncomfortable with activities that focus on aspects of themselves and their own lives.
Teach Starter Teacher Tip: Use STEM tasks to assess where your new students are at in terms of general knowledge and higher-order thinking skill development. Additionally, you will be able to see how students work in groups which will help with classroom and behaviour management planning.
This variation of ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ is a great one to help new students remember each other’s names.
- Students sit in a circle with one person, “it”, standing on the outside.
- The person who is “it” walks around the circle, gently tapping each person on the head, saying that person’s name as they do (instead of saying “duck”).
- If the person who is “it” taps someone and says the class name instead (e.g. “2D” instead of saying “goose”), the tapped person has to stand up and chase “it” around the circle trying to tag them before “it” takes their spot.
My Memory Matching Game
Another twist on a familiar classic, this is a great game for older students. In this game, students create their own cards to play a game of memory with a partner.
- Provide students with an even number of blank cardboard squares or rectangles at are all the same colour and size. They will create two memory cards for every fact about themselves. (To create 3 facts every student needs 6 cards. To create 5 facts, each student needs 10 cards.)
- On each pair of cards, students write or draw a fact about themselves. You may like to provide students with a list of prompts to help.
- When they have finished creating their My Memory cards, students shuffle their cards with a partner and play a game of memory.
- Students can rotate to play with other new partners too.
No, we don’t mean the card game! This fun ‘fishing to know you’ game includes heaps of prompts to get your students sharing information about themselves with you and their classmates!
“‘I cut up all the “fish’ and put them in a container … Students had turns to “fish” out a question and read it aloud to everyone. They loved it and it sparked some fun and interesting discussions in our classroom.”
Wipe That Smile Off Your Face
We said these games were fun, didn’t we? Well, this one is Fun with a capital F! It’s sort of like the challenges that are popular on YouTube these days that challenge students not to laugh, but we promise this is 100% classroom-appropriate.
How to play:
- Students sit in a circle and the teacher chooses one person to start the game.
- That person smiles their widest, biggest, cheesiest smile at everyone else in the circle, trying to make them laugh. However, they must be silent, and cannot pull faces or be silly, all they can do is smile.
- For every person in the group who laughs at their smile, the smiling student receives one point.
- After they have smiled at everyone in the group, they ‘wipe’ the smile off their face with their hand and ‘pass’ the smile to the next person in the circle.
- The student with the most ‘points’ can get a prize such as being a line leader or perhaps a printed bookmark.
Hand out pieces of blank paper to each student, and ask them to write down three facts about themselves. Students then ball up their paper to create a ‘snowball.’
When you say ‘go,’ students throw their papers about. After 1 minute, everyone has to stop throwing and get the paper nearest them, read it and have 3 guesses to work out who it is.
Interactive Icebreaker Wall Display
We love a good interactive wall display to engage students in their surroundings, and this one doubles as a getting-to-know-you activity and interactive icebreaker wall display that can be used for the whole first term of the school year.
The resource download includes a display banner, lily pads with ‘getting to know you questions,’ and decorations to help create this super cute pond display.
You can use the cut-out frogs as markers to remember which questions you have completed. Alternatively, why not use the display like a board game? Each morning, pick a student to roll a dice and then the student moves that many lily pads along the pond and the question/activity that the frog lands on is what the whole class completes that morning.
The beauty of this resource is its flexibility. Choose what you think is going to work best for your students in your class. Perhaps you feel it would be best to partner up your students to talk about their answers to a question from the display.
Or, perhaps you’re keen to see some of their writing abilities. Why not turn it into a quick writing session? Pick and choose what works best for you and your class.
We also love this idea from Brisbane teacher @mrsloudlife (below). She printed out each of the getting to know you questions, and her teacher’s aide popped them onto a key ring for easy access!
Partner Likes & Dislikes
Have students take this getting-to-know-you activity in pairs! Print out blank Venn diagrams, and hand them out to each set of partners.
Students put their name in each circle and talk with each other about things they like, things they both like and the things they don’t like.
You can model one about you and another person in the room so they get to know a bit about you also!
Our teacher team loves this activity on the first day especially as you don’t have to manage a whole class activity when you don’t yet know every student by name!
Skipping Rope Fun
28 Icebreaker Activity Cards
This icebreaker activity pack includes 20 different icebreaker activities for years 3 to 6! Each task card features a fun and engaging getting-to-know-you activity that your students will absolutely love!
Don’t stop there — this interactive getting-to-know-you activity pack includes 18 different games, plus a spinner template!
Explore more fun back-to-school activities for your classroom!
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