Homework Help

First Day of School ActivitiesWhat are you favorite activities to do with your class...

user profile pic

aggieteacher88 | Elementary School Teacher | eNoter

Posted July 2, 2011 at 9:31 PM via web

dislike 2 like
First Day of School Activities

What are you favorite activities to do with your class on the first day of school? Do you feel it is important to do ice breakers? How much time do you spend on ice breakers the first week? Do you ever do ice breaker type activities throughout the school year?

 

32 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 2, 2011 at 10:35 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

I do not use ice breakers at all. Most of my kids know each other, whether I know them or not, and I will get to know them soon enough. Some kids are very reluctant to speak up, or may be dealing with other issues which can cause ice breakers to fall flat and the teacher to form an early wrong impression. I ask my students to fill in a brief information sheet which tells me something about them, and ask them on that sheet to share any information they think I should need. I emphasize to them anything they write on their info sheet will be held in strict confidence--and it is.

After that, I share some information about my self, the course, its requirements, etc. and leave time for questions. It has worked out well over the past fourteen years.

user profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 2, 2011 at 11:32 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

I don't use ice breakers on the first day, either. Aside from the required stuff (personal forms, book distribution, etc.), I usually introduce myself and provide a brief list of expectations (rules, outline of study for the first few weeks), and then give a short writing assignment so I'll immediately be able to get an idea of the students' writing and vocabulary skills. I often use the oldddd example of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation," but I allow it to be a fictionalized account for those kids who either didn't have anything substantial to write about.

user profile pic

MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted July 3, 2011 at 4:56 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

No icebreakers here either. I find that students are reluctnant to share aloud on the first day of school, so I save those kinds of presentations for later when they're more comfortable in the class. I introduce myself, and offer some "true/false" statements about me, with the students guessing which are correct. Then I have them write me an introductory letter, asking them questions about what they enjoy reading or writing, why they've decided to take the class, what their expectations are, etc. Then I have them put 2 true statements and one false statement about themselves, and I guess their falsity before I give the letters back. It's a nice way for me to get a feel for the class without embarrassing anyone, and it's worked for the past 6 years.

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 3, 2011 at 10:40 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

I have only used icebreakers when I have worked in Adult Education and we receive a new group of students who do not know each other at the beginning of each year. I have used "Name Bingo" or "Find someone who..." to act as an icebreaker which involves everyone getting up and talking to each other at the same time. This has worked really well. However, now that I am teaching in a High School setting, I hardly ever use them.

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 4, 2011 at 12:56 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

I do several learning style activities where I can get familiar with how they learn best as a group and individually...this helps me differentiate my lesson plans throughout the year.  I color code the learning styles (for instance red=visual; blue=auditory; yellow=kinesthetic) and I put that color dot (or dots if students learn equally in multiple ways) by the students' names in my gradebook.

I don't do a lot of ice breakers, but I do have them pair up, intereview one another, and the introduce their partner to the class.  It helps me become familiar with my kiddos in the first couple of days.  I also pass out index cards and have them put their info (address, phone, email, class schedule, hobbies, thing they like and dislike most about English).  This helps me get to know them, and also gives me a place to record parent contact throughout the year (I note on the back of the card when and why I call or email, if I got an answer or left a message, etc.)

One other thing I like to do is make a list of controversial issues or choices.  I mark the room "agree" "disagree" or "undecided".  The statement is read, and the students move to the appropriate spot in the room according to their answers.  No one can remain "parked", and I often follow up by asking the biggest group or sometimes the smallest group why they think that way or for more info.  Some examples are:  "I have traveled out of the country.  I believe in vampires.  I would rather have hot breakfast to cold food.  I believe in the death penalty.  People who are pro life and pro death penalty are hypocrites.  Chocolate should be a food group."  Some are fun, some are serious, some are connected with current events stuff.  It's a way to get them moving and talking and ready for the year. 

 

user profile pic

Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 4, 2011 at 6:39 AM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

Check this one out and please share if it works:

Go online and search for a list of 20 questions that are typical to profiles ad cool surveys. Or come up with them on your own.

Write down the 20 questions as statements.

Have the students make a sign (or write it on small whiteboards if you have them). On one side of the sign, they will write down "that'll be me", in one color, and "that's SO NOT ME" on the other side, in a different color.

Write the names of the students on the board on a list, or as in a chart. You will be doing tally marks next to each name.

Begin making the statements: For example, "I am a big fan of Katie Perry".

So, those who are will raise the sign where it says "That'll be me" while those who do not, will either leave their sign down, or show the opposite side.

Some of the most popular questions I've used are:

1. I have eaten raw meat

2. I own a very scary pet.

3. I plan to get a tattoo when I reach the legal age.

For the little ones, some good lines are:

1. I have a baby brother or baby sister

2. I love eating broccoli

3. I believe in Smurfs.

etc, etc, etc- It is a sweet icebreaker, you get the kids to laugh a bit that first day, and they get to know one interesting fact or two about each other.

user profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2011 at 1:03 AM (Answer #8)

dislike 0 like

I do very little in the way of icebreakers. I might give a short, random quiz about me as a way of disseminating some information (such as the fact that they may not use pencil for assignments) or do a short round of "would you rather...?" In general terms, students are ready to do something productive and I like to capitalize on that harnessed energy.

user profile pic

bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted July 5, 2011 at 5:07 AM (Answer #9)

dislike 0 like

I am a firm believer in ice breakers on the first day, followed by an exciting introduction to your topic. For example, on the first day of Senior English, we do an opening icebreaker to loosen up and get to know those around us, then I introduce the elements of literature by making the class human plot diagrams.

The students get in groups of 4 and lie,stand or kneel to represent exposition, initial incident, rising action, climax, falling action,and resolution. I make them move about as I talk about chronological vs. In media res plot structure, etc. It produces giggles but also imparts information.

This is much better than reading rules and going over syllabi for the whole period. I think you kill the excitement of back to school that way.

user profile pic

litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2011 at 12:03 PM (Answer #10)

dislike 0 like
At my school, the first day is shorter for me. I only have my students for one period instead of two. I also have had all of my students before, because I have them for more than one year. So we do some reconnecting activities. They are not really icebreakers. My favorite is to write questions on a beach ball and toss it around. They answer the question their finger lands on. The questions ask them about summer.
user profile pic

iislas104 | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted July 13, 2011 at 6:10 PM (Answer #11)

dislike 0 like

 I like to use the Two truths and a Lie Ice Breaker. I tell my student this is the one and only time it is okay to lie in my class. I find out the most unusual/interesting things about my students that I most likely would never have even thought to ask them. Also it is quite interesting to watch students struggle to come up with that one lie because they all tell me how they are honest and never lie. So I tell them I bet in 2 weeks when I ask you for your homework you will be able to think of a lie very quickly. Of course they deny it. Another interesting observation is how many students get confused and forget which one is the lie. It is a very fun icebreaker for my 11th graders and me. Here's how it works:  

Materials Needed: 3 note cards per student

Instructions: Tell the students that each of them will introduce him or herself by stating two truths about their life and one lie. The rest of the class will guess which statement is the lie. They should write each statement on a differnt note card.  I usually go first to demonstate and give the students a chance to learn something about me. Then I give them about 10-15 minutes to write their statements. It's really alot more fun than you think. Give it a try and see.    

Example: Hi, I'm Mary. My hair was almost to my waist in high school, I talked to Cher in an airport coffee shop, and I speak four languages.

 

user profile pic

nishamnm | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 16, 2011 at 6:50 PM (Answer #12)

dislike 0 like
First Day of School Activities

What are you favorite activities to do with your class on the first day of school? Do you feel it is important to do ice breakers? How much time do you spend on ice breakers the first week? Do you ever do ice breaker type activities throughout the school year?

 

I teach middle school so most of the students know each other.  So in addition to having them fill out a response sheet on the first day of schoo I have them do a think-pair-share on what they like and don't like about school.  Then I do a whip around where they share either answer.  I start and share both my answers letting them know that it is ok to have negative feelings about school.  This only takes a few minutes and gives me a chance to see my challenges.  During the first week I do other ice breaker activities such as the name tag, alike and differenent, and give one get one.  I also do other ice breakers throughout the year focusing on respect and responsibility.

user profile pic

nishamnm | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 16, 2011 at 6:58 PM (Answer #13)

dislike 0 like
At my school, the first day is shorter for me. I only have my students for one period instead of two. I also have had all of my students before, because I have them for more than one year. So we do some reconnecting activities. They are not really icebreakers. My favorite is to write questions on a beach ball and toss it around. They answer the question their finger lands on. The questions ask them about summer.

I have been looking for a beach ball I can write on - where do I get that from?

user profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted July 17, 2011 at 12:31 PM (Answer #14)

dislike 0 like

Nishamnm, I think that you can write on any beach ball with Sharpie markers. You can buy beach balls that are all one color at http://www.orientaltrading.com/

just put "beachball" into the search box on the main page of the site. They are also a great and inexpensive source for all sorts of fun odds and ends for the classroom.

user profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted July 17, 2011 at 12:39 PM (Answer #15)

dislike 0 like

For my freshmen in Physical Science class, I usually do a lab the first day. This is their first "real" science class, so they feel very important putting on safety goggles and aprons. I have them measure out a small amount of hydrocholoric acid into a test tube, drop in a piece of magnesium metal, and then invert a larger test tube over the top to catch the gas that fizzes out. Then they stick a burning splint into the gas tube, and it explodes! The quantities are very small, so they get a safe little pop! and a bit of flame. I tell them they have officially begun their high school science career "with a bang", and then I use that activity as a springboard into both lab procedure and elements and atoms.

It's been a very popular activity and a good hook to get their attention.

user profile pic

kestorey | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 19, 2011 at 12:40 AM (Answer #16)

dislike 0 like

I like to ask students unusual questions to see what their answers might be. The answer is less important (I think) than the explanation. In the past 2 years, I have asked my students the following:

1. If you were a candy bar, which one would you be and why?

2. If you were a breakfast cereal, which one would you be and why?

Though simple, these questions engage the students and you learn where your creativity is in the classroom, as well as where your deep thinkers are.

user profile pic

mr-guyer | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted July 19, 2011 at 12:37 PM (Answer #17)

dislike 0 like

Aside from the boring procedural stuff, I read to my new students an open letter addressed to them, laying out who I am, why I became a teacher, and the importance I invest in public education (such that it is). Then I ask the students to reciprocate: they write me a letter explaining who they are, what they hope to get out of my class, and what kind of students they see themselves as. Because I open myself up to them, I find that they are extremely candid and willing to share a lot about themselves.

user profile pic

chandrahough | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 21, 2011 at 6:50 AM (Answer #18)

dislike 0 like

I teach 5th grade in a middle school.  During the first 2 1/2 days of school, I do a lot of community building activities.  One of my favorites is dividing the kids into small groups, giving them 40 straws and 36" of masking tape, and asking them to build the tallest free standing structure they can.  The catch?  They cannot talk as they do it! 

Another community building activity I do is based on "home-field advantage" -- we in the class are the home-field, and we should be cheering each other on.  After discussing this concept, I pair them up to create posters to be displayed all year long on what that concept means to them.

user profile pic

jerveelim | College Teacher | Honors

Posted July 21, 2011 at 6:30 PM (Answer #19)

dislike 0 like

I don't use ice breakers on the first day. The most important day of school is the FIRST DAY. I strongly believe that as a teacher, you have to seize the moment by being on time and early in class. By this, students will think that you are serious with the subject and with the class.  Give all your class rules and as much as possible look strict so that they will not take your subject for granted. Give them an impression that your subject is the best and that you are the best teacher for that subject.  Of course, for the next coming days you can be yourself and show them that you are approachable and that your class is FUN.

user profile pic

shoes100 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 27, 2011 at 12:44 AM (Answer #20)

dislike 0 like

Check this one out and please share if it works:

Go online and search for a list of 20 questions that are typical to profiles ad cool surveys. Or come up with them on your own.

Write down the 20 questions as statements.

Have the students make a sign (or write it on small whiteboards if you have them). On one side of the sign, they will write down "that'll be me", in one color, and "that's SO NOT ME" on the other side, in a different color.

Write the names of the students on the board on a list, or as in a chart. You will be doing tally marks next to each name.

Begin making the statements: For example, "I am a big fan of Katie Perry".

So, those who are will raise the sign where it says "That'll be me" while those who do not, will either leave their sign down, or show the opposite side.

Some of the most popular questions I've used are:

1. I have eaten raw meat

2. I own a very scary pet.

3. I plan to get a tattoo when I reach the legal age.

For the little ones, some good lines are:

1. I have a baby brother or baby sister

2. I love eating broccoli

3. I believe in Smurfs.

etc, etc, etc- It is a sweet icebreaker, you get the kids to laugh a bit that first day, and they get to know one interesting fact or two about each other.

Really fun and interesting idea.

user profile pic

dguern1 | High School Teacher | Honors

Posted July 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM (Answer #21)

dislike 0 like

Aside from the boring procedural stuff, I read to my new students an open letter addressed to them, laying out who I am, why I became a teacher, and the importance I invest in public education (such that it is). Then I ask the students to reciprocate: they write me a letter explaining who they are, what they hope to get out of my class, and what kind of students they see themselves as. Because I open myself up to them, I find that they are extremely candid and willing to share a lot about themselves.

I really like this idea. I always give a spiel about me, but an open letter would give students an idea of what is expected of them in return. Not only does it give you an idea of who they are, but you get a sense of where they stand in writing skills.

user profile pic

aimeefarnum | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 4, 2011 at 7:33 AM (Answer #23)

dislike 0 like

I also agree that icebreakers are important no matter what grade.  Every class is a new group of students and whether or not they know each other, they need to form a team.  I think it is a great way to introduce group work expectations and rules while providing excitement for the class.  I love the survival scenerios at wilderdom.com or the marshmallow challenge.

user profile pic

jessica20 | Student | eNoter

Posted August 5, 2011 at 5:27 PM (Answer #24)

dislike 0 like

Hello Folks, All have shared very great ideas.

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 7, 2011 at 6:48 PM (Answer #25)

dislike 0 like

One of the the things I do is have students fill out an inventory of questions.  I have about ten questions on there and I tell students that no one else will read them but me.  Some of the questions are about who they consider a hero, the hardest teacher they ever had, where their strengths in a class lie, where their weaknesses are, the greatest achievement in the history of humanity.  We start it in class, take any questions and they write.  At the end of the period, I collect them or the next class and I seal them in an envelope.  Over the course of the year, I look back at them and see where kids are and talk to them based on what they put down.  It helps to open dialogues with students about their initial thoughts on issues and the hopeful growth evident.  They get their personal inventories back at the end of the year to see their change.  The questions usually require about three to five sentences to answer, so it also serves a great baseline for assessing their writing and thinking skills.

user profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 8, 2011 at 1:03 PM (Answer #27)

dislike 0 like

I teach high school English, so I like to start off right away by talking about books.  I ask them what is the best book they have read for school and the best one they have read for pleasure. Their answers are very insightful for me -- I learn very quickly what types of books are most appealing and whether they like to read for pleasure in the first place.  They kind of enjoy reminiscing about the good and bad books for their past.

user profile pic

luv2teachu | Middle School Teacher | eNoter

Posted August 14, 2011 at 8:05 AM (Answer #29)

dislike 0 like
First Day of School Activities

What are you favorite activities to do with your class on the first day of school? Do you feel it is important to do ice breakers? How much time do you spend on ice breakers the first week? Do you ever do ice breaker type activities throughout the school year?

 

When I send out my welcome letter, i ask the students to prepare an "all about me" containing items that tell the story of who they are. I also bring in one to share about me. I then have the students write an essay about what item they would choose to take on an island.  I also play the song RESPECT by Aretha Franklin and have students discuss this topic. Then they compose Acrostic Poems with the letters R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I also have students brainstorm the rules of the class, reinforcing the theme of community.

user profile pic

casey-p | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 14, 2011 at 1:54 PM (Answer #30)

dislike 0 like

As a student, and a youth theatre director, I feel that ice breakers ARE important. They're a good way to let the kids get to know you. Vice versa isn't that important cause as a teacher you'll get to know them throughout the year but kids like to feel comfortable with their teacher or instructor. Also if there are any new students it's a good way to get them involved with the other students who may already know each other.

Doing games where kids are on teams and have to compete against each other is a good way to get kids to work together and switching up the teams works well too. Tbh. Try some theatre games. Those are always fun for kids.

user profile pic

taravictoria | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 16, 2011 at 3:28 AM (Answer #31)

dislike 0 like

Even after teaching for 10+ years I still love back to school-time! I see some of my former students and gain new ones. Even at the high school level I still use some ice-breakers - it makes it a little more cozy for new students in the class, they may be new to the district as well. It also gives kids a sense of who you are, as the teacher.

Most of my ice breakers have to do with how the class will be structured, what we will be learning, etc. Of course, the first week or so of school is broken up with holidays and the such (for us), therefore, I try to use the ice breakers to work the class into an understanding of what to look forward to as well.

I also have students make collages about themselves and their goals for the class (for the year). The collages are posted on a wall for the year and students love to look at them and read one another's. They also are reminded, throughout the year, of what some of their goals and expectations are as well.

Enjoy another great year!

user profile pic

hpus12 | Student, Grade 10 | Salutatorian

Posted August 18, 2011 at 3:09 PM (Answer #32)

dislike 0 like

NEW HAVEN – New Haven High School’s principal, Greg Mohler, kicked off the school year Wednesday with what he called a brief morning announcement about unity, cooperation and expectations.

 

 

user profile pic

recee312 | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted August 19, 2011 at 8:22 AM (Answer #33)

dislike 0 like

well i think that you should go over some of the things that you will be doing inside of chool and get them into like a wake up call and so they will have an idea on what they will be learning. and then i would suggest doing games and what not and i normally let my class have like a free time the whole entire first week and then , they will get to know each other a little better. and i will give them work though. and as soon as that first day on the second week i turn into like the mean lady.

user profile pic

ms-einstein | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted August 20, 2011 at 2:48 AM (Answer #34)

dislike 0 like

I like to set the tone for the school year by demonstrating that school work can equal fun. I ask students to write a passage that describes some moment when they realized they were going back to school. I encourage them to take to back to that moment and make me feel it. What were they doing? What happened? How did they feel? I ask them to be as specific as possible. I have found students returning to school usually have some profound feelings to share.

user profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:29 AM (Answer #35)

dislike 0 like

There are already a number of terrific "First Day" icebreakers here already, but since you've inquired about ones throughout the year, I will give you an idea that is designed for a literature survey course.

Almost every literature anthology of the twentieth century includes Langston Hughes's poem, "Theme for English B." We all study the poem first, of course, and talk about its structure: how the speaker physically arrives at his university, then his pleasures and dreams, and finally how the speaker interacts, reflects, and communicates with the professor.

THEN I ask them to write their own "Themes." I wrote one personally for them, as I never ask my students to do anything I would not do myself. (As I have been doing this for some time, I also read poems submitted in previous courses. They really seem to like hearing those as well. It makes them feel less intimidated and able to accomplish the writing.)

Sometime I use class time, other times I assign it as homework. The next class, they get with their writing groups and share their work. This is best done mid-year or close to year's end as the students are far more comfortable with one another as the semester (or year) progresses. My classes all work with their partners all semester, so by this point they share quite easily. The partners offer constructive criticism.

I then ask for anyone who wants to do so to read to the whole class (or let their partner read it aloud, or myself, if they are shy). You would be surprised how many are willing and eager to do so.

I love this exercise because I learn so much about my students and since it's later in the year, their growth as writers becomes apparent.

 

user profile pic

cheezea | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:30 PM (Answer #38)

dislike 0 like

#7 seems great, as long as the questions are not too personal :P

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes