Six fun and different ice-breakers to use this back to school season

Even if you all love your school and your class – new beginnings make people naturally nervous, and especially if the "new"-s multiply: if there are new students in the class, if you're a new teacher, or if the entire class is new.

That's where ice-breakers come in. These simple, usually verbal games, will facilitate some much-needed communication and bonding in your classroom. 

Here are six ideas for some cool and easy ice-breakers.

Associations game

Association word game is always a catchy and simple way to break the silence in the class. One student says a word, and the student next to him or her says the word it reminds them of.

If you want to make it more challenging, make it a rule that the associated word should begin with the same letter the first word ends with. For example, if Student #1 says Flower, Student #2 could say Rose.

Telephone Chinese Whispers

The telephone Chinese whispers game is always hilarious and can be used as an ice-breaker in both novel and already bonded class communities.

Get students to sit in a line (more than 10 to 12 might not be practical, if this is the case make two or three lines). The first student in a chain should whisper their statement to the student next to them, and so the sentence’s journey to the end of the line begins. By the time it gets to the last student, it will be amusingly distorted. When the last student gets the message, the first student should proclaim what they said, and the last one what they actually heard. The difference will cause bursts of laughter.

If you're afraid the rest of the students waiting on their turn will get bored, they can make up the first sentence that you will whisper to the first student in line, and the game can begin.

Name chain game

This is a great game if you have a new class and want them to remember each other's names.

Put four or five chairs in front of the class facing others, and tell the first group of four or five students to sit down. The first student will say his or her name, favorite English word, and another fun fact about him or herself. The second student will do the same but will have to repeat the name and one piece of information about the first student. As you go down the line, the amount of information the students need to remember increases. So be kind to the last student in line, who will have to repeat four names and four facts. But the challenge is where the fun lies.

Pass the note

Note passing is a favorite old-school pastime for students. Although it is not traditionally appreciated by teachers, you can make the practice work in your favor by using it as an ice-breaker.

The students need to be divided into pairs. They should then write notes to each other, writing down interesting facts about themselves for their partner to read and remember. The only rule is that there is no talking. Continue to do this for about 10 minutes. In the end, each student should tell a story about their partner based on what he or she received in the notes.

Toss and Tell

Get a soft ball that is easy to catch. Get your class to sit in a circle. You will start the game - ask a question about the summer holiday or any other light and vivid topic and throw the ball to a random student. The one who catches the ball answers the question, and then asks a question and randomly throws the ball to another student. The random tossing act will keep them focused, and since they will naturally avoid throwing the ball to the same people, everyone will get to tell their story.

Good graffiti

Grafitti – the practice of writing on walls – has been a human expression medium from the dawn of civilization, starting with cave drawings. Here is a way that you can offer your students to set their feelings free in a classroom setting using graffiti that does not include writing directly on walls. 

Before your students enter the classroom for the first time in a year, take big sheets of construction paper and put them on the biggest classroom wall you have. Make sure the wall itself is protected, either by tape or another, darker paper beneath the one that you will be drawing on. Write a positive, upbeat message such as "Welcome," "Happy," or "Woohoo!" in bubbly letters.

When your students come in, explain to them how graffiti has been used for millennia. Although we all know about profanities and destructive attitudes of modern graffiti, explain to them that your classroom messages should be positive and uplifting, because you want your school year to be just like that. Other than that – there are no limitations. Just draw and write, and celebrate the new beginning.

If you are looking for a low prep back to school options why not check out my Back To School Resources Available HERE.

How to celebrate Parent's Day as a teacher with children of your own this summer holiday

Being a teacher is not a job, it's a way of life. That is why it's so hard to stop thinking about school when you're on holiday. It can also be why you can't help but act as a teacher towards your own children (if you have them).

The habit of being a teacher to your kids might be useful at times, however, your children probably already have their own teachers at school. What they really need this holiday is a loving parent.

Parent's day is a perfect date to decide to turn the teacher habit around and get back to being a warm-hearted mom or dad.

What is Parent's Day?

Parent's day was established in 1994 in the United States, to "recognize, uplift and support the role of parents in rearing children" (National Parents' Day Council website). It is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of July every year. Parent's Day is similar to Mother's Day and Father's Day but it is it's own distinct holiday.

Parent's Day is all about family bonding, about doing exciting and inspiring activities together. Here are several ideas of things to do with your kids that won't agitate your inner teacher and prompt him/her into action.

Get creative together

Conceptualise the project so that it is simple, intuitive and make it so that you are all participating equally - you want to avoid getting into your teacher's role again by doing something complicated and instructing others what to do.

Some ideas to try: hand and feet painting, splatter painting, making colorful, simple beads out of polymer clay and then making necklaces or other jewelry.

Get active together

Active family bonding is a symbol of Parent's Day. Physical activity will get your joy hormones going, and that promises a fun day out. Go on a family biking tour, or play a fun family frisbee game - the choice is yours. It is better to go with cooperative rather than harshly competitive games and sports.

Go camping or on a picnic

Picnics are always a joy. They're not too difficult to organize and promise relaxed family leisure time. Camping is also an option if you're feeling up to it and you're sufficiently equipped. Campfire talks always promote attachment between fellow campers, and it might be just what you need to tell family stories or help your quiet teenager open up.

If you're already on holiday, pick a special location to visit. Picnics and camping might also be an option when you're away, but just visiting a unique locality you all like might be exciting enough.

Organize a cook-off

If Parent's Day catches you at home, you can organize a cooking competition. Find one or a few recipes for a simple dessert, such as cupcakes – something really easy to make and easy to experiment with. In the end, give special acknowledgments to each competitor - for example, the prettiest, the most creative and tastiest cake. This way the sweet taste of this Parent's Day might be long remembered.