The first day of school can be quite daunting for students. Whether they are starting the year at a new school or simply experiencing the usual first-day jitters, teachers should be well prepared to ease the tension. As we all know, teaching is a difficult balancing act: educators are constantly toeing the line between entertaining lessons and meaningful material… And planning a first-day icebreaker activity is no different. We’ve sifted through the Internet and compiled a list of our favorite and most engaging icebreakers:
Personal Identity Map
We love a good theme, and we can’t stay away from travel! Have your students map out the major moments of their lives, comparable to destinations, and outline the route that contributed to who they are today. Not only will this give you insight into their identities, but it serves as an excellent reflective activity.
Let music paint a clear picture of your students’ personalities! Ask each student to contribute 3 songs to a classroom playlist. Give the activity more depth by asking them to provide a brief explanation for each submission. Bonus: play their playlist during busy work and see them connect through their favorite artists.
A Letter to Yourself
This activity is a personal favorite! Have your students write letters to themselves. Provide little instruction; explain that the goal is to present a snapshot of their identity. Suggest writing about their interests, family, and goals. Inform them that they will receive the letters at the end of the school year. If you’re teaching first-year students, consider sending them their letters on their last day of middle or high school.
Don’t miss an opportunity to give your students a voice. Collaborate with your class to create a list of shared goals. This can be impactful in several different ways: First, it will show students that they are active agents in their own educational experience. Secondly, students will be more motivated to learn and retain material if they understand its purpose.
No matter how you approach the first day of school, students should be engaged and feel welcomed!