If you’re looking for ice breaker games for kids, you’ve come to the right place!
With back-to-school looming in the not-so-distant future, teachers everywhere are organizing their classrooms, finalizing their lesson plans, and thinking of fun and creative ways to make the transition from summer break to school as seamless as possible. This year is especially tricky given that schools are offering a mix of in-person and virtual learning options. It feels like everything is still very much up in the air, and we’re all feeling anxious and overwhelmed. This is uncharted territory for everyone, and it’s more important than ever that we find ways to ensure our kids feel comfortable no matter which education option they are following.
Ice breaker games for kids are a great way to squash back-to-school jitters on the first few days of school. Finding ways for students to get to know one another can help facilitate friendships for new students, and collaborative activities can help boost self-confidence, improve communication, decrease bullying, and create a safe and comfortable environment for students and teachers.
Whether you’re teaching kids in-person or online, these ice breaker games for kids are sure to be a hit!
14 Ice Breaker Games for Kids
1. TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE
Ask each child to write down 2 personal truths and one lie about themselves, and then ask them to take turns sharing the items on their list while their classmates determine which item is the lie. This is a quick and easy way to lighten the mood and get kids laughing while learning personal facts about one another.
2. WOULD YOU RATHER
‘Would You Rather’ is one of my favorite ice breaker games for kids because it’s easy to setup and suitable for every age. To play this game, all you need to do is write out a list of questions with 2 scenarios, and then read them off while your students take turns telling their classmates which scenario they prefer. You can make this easy for younger kids (Would you rather it be summer or winter? Would you rather eat cookies or cupcakes?) and more thought-provoking for older kids (Would you rather be able to fly or be able to breathe under water? Would you rather travel back in time or visit the future?). Once your students get the hang of this game, they can branch off into smaller groups and take turns coming up with their own questions!
3. I WENT TO MARKET
This is another one of my favorite ice breaker games for kids as it usually gets pretty silly towards the end. To play, one person starts off by saying, ‘I went to market and bought a ______’, adding a grocery item he or she would buy. The next player continues by saying, ‘I went to market and bought a <first player’s item> and a ______’. Each player continues, adding items to the list as they go along. When a player makes a mistake, they are eliminated and the game continues until there is only one person left.
Telephone is another great ice breaker for kids and it’s suitable for all ages and stages. To play, one person comes up with a phrase or saying (the sillier the better!) and whispers it into the ear of the person next to them. That person then whispers it to the next person, and once it has been whispered to the final person in the group, he or she must say the phrase out loud. The words almost always get mixed up, resulting in something completely different than what was originally said!
5. NEVER HAVE I EVER
Did you ever play Never Have I Ever in college? It’s such a fun way to get to know people on a more personal level, and while you probably played an R-rated version with your college buddies, lol, you can create a G-rated version to add to your collection of ice breaker games for kids. To play, write out a list of 10 child-friendly statements (examples: never have I ever eaten a bug, never have I ever eaten food off the floor, never have I ever been sent to the principal’s office) and ask everyone to hold their hands out in front of them, palms facing outwards. As you read off the items on your list, ask everyone to fold a finger down for each item they have experienced.
6. THE LINE UP GAME
If you’re looking for ice breaker games for kids that you can do periodically throughout the school year (i.e. when a new student starts, when you’re looking for team building activities for kids, etc.), this is a great one to consider. The idea behind this activity is to get your students to line up in the order of something specific, like their birthdays, height, etc. To make this extra difficult, and to promote additional teamwork, tell them they cannot, under any circumstances, talk during the activity! Consider setting a timer, and then work together as a class to make corrections before challenging your students to do this a second (and third) time!
7. TEAM SCAVENGER HUNT
This will require a bit of upfront work on your part, but it’s a great way to get your students to work collaboratively and you can easily create an online version! Divide your class into teams of 4 or 5 and provide them with a set of clues to see who can work together to find all of the items the fastest. What I love most about scavenger hunts is that you can create subject-specific scavenger hunts to compliment your lesson plans. Teachers Pay Teachers has TONS of great ideas you can purchase for a small fee.
8. GROUP JUMP ROPE
Did you ever do this as a kid? I did and it’s super fun and challenging! Divide your class into teams of about 5 or 6 and challenge them to jump in tandem while 2 adults turn the rope. You’ll need a long jump rope like this one, and while this activity sounds easy, it really does require teamwork for everyone to jump at the same time. Give each team a trial run, and then setup a challenge to see which team can jump the longest.
9. SHOW AND TELL
If you’re looking for ice breaker games for kids you can do online, another idea is to ask everyone to share something that has personal meaning to them, and explain why it is so valuable to them. This could be a special toy or their favorite room in their home – the possibilities are endless! Giving kids the opportunity to share items of importance to them and giving their classmates a glimpse into their homes is a great way for them to get to know one another better.
10. FINGERTIP HULA HOOP
Split your class into teams of about 6-8 students, have them stand together in a circle with their arms raised above their heads, and then place a hula hoop on their finger tips. Using nothing but their fingertips, each team must work together to lower the hula hoop to the ground without dropping it. This is a great way to encourage your students to work as a team!
11. PICTURE DAY
Sharing photos and videos of your students outside of the classroom is another great way for them to get to know each other on a more personal level. Ask your students to email a baby picture of themselves to you, and then share them during your next class or online call and see how many people are able to accurately match each picture to the corresponding student. Or, have everyone share an important photo from their personal life, explaining where it was taken and why it has meaning to them.
12. LEGO BUILDING CHALLENGE
I actually played this during a corporate retreat when I was in my 20s, and I’m excited to include it in this list of ice breaker games for kids. The idea is pretty simple, but the activity itself is surprisingly challenging. To play, the teacher must create a simple(ish) structure using LEGO pieces, divide the class into groups of 2, and provide each group with a bag filled with each of the LEGO pieces used to create the structure. The structure is placed somewhere out of sight (i.e. on a table in the hallway), and one person in the team is tasked with walking out to view the structure and reporting back to his or her partner with verbal instructions on how to replicate it. He or she cannot use his or her hands at any time. This is all about communication and can be both fun and frustrating!
13. GUESS THE PERSON
If you’re looking for virtual ice breaker games for kids to help you and your students get to know one another on a more personal level, ask everyone to send a few obscure (but true) facts about themselves ahead of your next call, mix them up, and compile them into one master document. Next, send out a printable document to everyone with the names of each student (and photos if you’re feeling creative) along with space for everyone to take notes. During your class call, read out each item and ask everyone to record which fact they think corresponds to each classmate. It’s a fun way for everyone to learn interesting facts about one another!
14. BALLOON WALKING
The final item on my list of ice breaker games for kids is a great one for students in middle school and beyond. Ask the class to line up side-by-side and hold hands before placing a balloon in between the shoulders of each student. The object of the activity is for the entire class to walk in a line without any of the balloons popping or falling to the ground. It’s heaps of fun!
I hope this list of ice breaker games for kids inspires you to find new and creative ways for you and your students to get to know one another better during the first few days of school. Whether your school is opting for in-person instruction, virtual learning, or a combination of the 2, there are heaps of ideas here to help with those first day of school jitters!
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