The first day of school is quickly approaching and you may be looking for ice breaker activities. First impressions are always significant. Students are very uncomfortable the first day of school and if you teach high school you really want them to buy in and be engaged. You want them excited and you want them to like you and respect you. You also need to work on building their trust right away. Let’s be honest most icebreakers are lame and have been overdone. This post contains affiliate links.
High School Back-to-School Icebreakers
You want the High School Back-to-School Icebreakers to be fun, and engaging, and if they have been done quite a bit that students are not bored with them.
I have been teaching High School for many years. What I am about to tell you might make you cringe. I would advise you not to go through the rules and procedures on the first day of school. You want to avoid it because they have probably gone over it 7 other times in other classes. You will quickly lose their attention and they won’t remember it. Plus, that is so boring if you have been sitting all day in the same seat listening to the same rules and procedures from all your classes. Avoid the boring icebreakers and check out my favorite!
When you are starting to think about which activities make the most sense, you want to begin by thinking about what students are really wanting to know on their first day of class.
What high school students really want to know on the first day of class:
- Who else is in my class?
- Do I like the teacher?
- Is this class going to be fun?
That is it. That is all they want to know! So as much as you would like to stand up in class and give them a syllabus and let them know you are serious about work, and due dates, and keep their cell phone put away…just SKIP it for the first day of school.
Tell yourself, “I am not a regular teacher. I am a cool teacher.”
Icebreakers are designed to create a positive classroom environment and encourage interaction among students. The main points of icebreakers include creating a sense of belonging and community within the class, allowing students to get to know one another, building trust and rapport between students and the teacher, and establishing a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere for learning.
At the end of the year, I will give out surveys and ask students one thing they remembered we did in class that they liked and this was it! I had no clue they enjoyed it that much until the end of the year.
As students walk into class give them a piece of paper with 2 to 3 prompts for them to answer about themselves along with their name. While they are answering you can work on taking attendance.
Later in class ask them to take their piece of paper and tell them they have 2 minutes to make the best possible paper airplane they can make without looking anything up. Only a few really know how to make them which makes it funny. Don’t tell them but a wadded paper works fine. Just let them know they only get that piece of paper and no other.
Have them take their airplane, go out in the hall and have them take turns flying it to see who can fly theirs the furthest! Then begin pairing them up with planes that were the closest. This gets students out of their seats and for some reason, it is so fun!
Once they are in groups they have to introduce themselves and share what they wrote down with their group.
Would you Rather With a Twist
My favorite one to do is play Would you Rather and I like to find the funniest and most hilarious questions. This year I purchased this game from Amazon to use in other classroom conversations. Here is the trick to playing this game. There are different stages and you need to follow all of them for the most successful result.
The first step is to announce to your class that you are looking for 100% participation. Begin asking Would you Rather questions and make sure every single student has raised their hand. Catch someone who didn’t raise their hand and do not call them out. Just tell the class. “Great job, but I said I needed 100% participation. If you were one who didn’t raise your hand let’s try again. Let them know there are no right or wrong answers.” When you do this the students who try to fly under the radar or don’t feel like their participation matters know it does with you. They have been seen. If your entire class did every question correctly you can pretend that you didn’t see someone raise their hand. This way students will know if they were thinking of flying under the radar, it won’t work with you.
After you have gone through the first step and explained how this relates to class you can tell them it is time to move on to Step 2. Give everyone a shoulder partner (a student they are sitting next to) and have them figure out who is going to be A and who is going to be B. Then explain how in class listening is just as important as participating. Explain that there is only one of you and maybe 25 of them so they might have to lean over to a partner for help in class. Then take turns giving Would you Rather to each partner but make sure you stress that they have to answer and until they have answered the other partner can not talk or participate. They are welcome to discuss AFTER the other person.
The level of challenge so far has been pretty easy. They just had to raise their hand and then talk to one other person.
Now for the third step break them into groups with their partners. Have them number off and repeat step 2 where each person in their group gets to answer a different question and has to tell their group what they would rather do.
The last step is they are done with their groups and you go around the room and ask Would You Rather to each student asking them to answer out loud. They have already warmed up and laughed a lot at this point. It is so easy for them to answer. Try not to repeat their answer but ask someone from across the room to repeat it for the class. That way they know everyone will have to listen and everyone has to answer.
Going on a Trip
At the end of this game, most students will know everyone’s names at the end. The rules are simple. Students have to say their names and pick something they want to take on the trip. Write this quote on your board for everyone to see.
“My name is BLANK. We are going on a trip. I am taking BLANK.”
Each student says the quote loudly replacing it with their name and what they want to take on the trip.
The teacher (you) gets to tell them if they can take it or not following the secret rule.
SECRET RULE: If what they are taking starts with the letter of their name.
You will be telling a LOT of students they can’t take anything and it gets funny when Lisa wants to take shoes and you tell her she can’t. Eventually, you will do one or two rounds around the class and you can start giving hints to help them. Your hits should be something like, “Clark you can take shoes. Sorry, Lisa, you still can’t.”
When kids start figuring it out and playing right other kids start figuring it out. At this time there are so many laughs and frustration (not in a bad way) that you can challenge a couple of students to stand up and try to say everyone’s names on their own. Every time I have played this game, students end up learning everyone’s names. I have been told that my class is the only class where they actually know everyone’s names!
Have you tried these Icebreakers?
If you decide to use these icebreakers this year, I want to know how it went! This would make me so happy if you tried them or are planning to try them! Let me know!
Do you have a favorite icebreaker, if so let us know!
More Icebreaker Games I Purchased for This Year:
- Pictionary Card Game: Made by Mattel. Get kids on teams and let them use your whiteboard. Kids LOVE drawing on the board and Pictionary is always so fun!
- SUSSED The Wacky ‘Would You Rather’ Card Game: This game has 200 questions and WYR and conversation starters. You can easily pass out some cards and partner students up together to break the ice! Find it on Amazon.
- Family Charades Card Game: This fun card Charades Game includes Over 300 Charades. As teachers, we have to get kids out of their desks.
If your budget is tight add them to your Amazon Wish List and Check out the best places to share your Amazon Wish lists.