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Instructional Practice

10 Team Builders and Icebreakers for the Beginning of the Year

Find-a-Friend Bingo
Create a bingo chart and fill each square with categories like, ‘I have been to another country’ and ‘I have more than 3 siblings.’ The kids go around and find people for whom those statements are true and write their names on the line. The first student to fill the sheet or get ‘Bingo’ wins. At the end you can read out each category and have kids raise their hands if it’s true for them. It’s always a lot of fun for them to find out who has done some of the rarer things and it also gets them up, moving, and having fun.

The Human Knot
This is a team building activity that’s a lot of fun. Put the students in groups of 6-8 and have them stand closely together in a circle. Then they reach their right handout and clasp hands with someone on the other side of the circle. Then with their left hands they clasp hands with someone different. Now they’re all knotted up and the task is to try to untangle the human know without letting go of anyone’s hand. The different groups can compete for who can finish first. At the end about you can have a group discussion about what they had to do to complete the task successfully, who emerged as leaders, what role did people play, etc.
Back to School Back Pack
For this activity, the students bring a backpack filled with items that represent themselves and then each student shares about their items and themselves with the class. This works well with smaller classes or self-contained elementary rooms, but also can be spaced out throughout the first couple of weeks of school for bigger groups.
Snowball Fight
Each student write their name and three facts or pictures about themselves. Then they ball up the paper and when the teacher says to, they all throw their ‘snowball.’ Then each student picks up a random snowball and reads out the name and facts to the class. One variation on this is to have them write the facts on slips of paper, put them in balloons and then the students all pick a balloon to pop and read out the facts.

Two Truths and a Lie
In this activity, each student comes up with two true facts and one lie about themselves. The students read out their 3 facts and the class tries to guess which is the lie. This is always a lot of fun!
Five Finger Introduction
Students trace their hands onto a sheet of paper for this get-to-know-you activity. Then the teacher reads out a category like ‘favorite food’ or ‘favorite vacation spot’ for each finger and the students write or draw their answer on their traced hand. Then they can share out or post their hand prints for everyone to see.
ABC Line Up
This activity makes a basic get-to-know-you more interactive and gets the kids out of their desks and moving. You say a category like, ‘dream job’ and then the students line up in ABC order based on the first letter of their answer. Then they share out and you repeat with new categories and they reorganize themselves in ABC order again. It’s especially fun if kids have the same answer and so end up beside each other and get to make a quick connection.
Create your Family Crest
This is based on the old European cultural tradition where each family has a crest to represent them. In this activity, students draw pictures or symbols that represent themselves on a blank paper template (easy to find on-line). Then they can share out whole class, small group, and hang them on the walls.
Class Quilt
Similar to the family crest idea, each student creates a paper quilt square with pictures to represent themselves. This version takes a little extra leg work for the teacher, because the idea is that they are all stapled/glued/taped together and a paper border added so they can be displayed on a classroom wall.
Silent Line Up
This one never gets old! Task the class with getting in order by birthday, shortest to tallest, or alphabetically by first or last name all without talking. It’s always fun for the teacher to watch them negotiate this one J
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