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Going Back to School and Breaking the Ice

August 25th, 2021 | 5 min. read

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It’s that time of the year again! Summer has come to an end meaning teachers and students are gearing up for another school year. The 2020 school year met educators with challenges unlike any other forcing teachers to adapt and innovate their teaching strategies to continue serving and educating their students. In planning for the fall semester, check out iCEV's Back to School guide below for tips, resources and tutorials. 

Whether your classroom will be face-to-face, hybrid or virtual, creating meaningful connections and relationships with your students has never been more important. Building rapport with students allows them to feel confident and comfortable in their learning environment thus increasing engagement and the comprehension of concepts taught in the course.

Getting to know you activities in the initial stages of your course offer numerous benefits such as making a great first impression to develop a meaningful relationship for the future. Check out these “ice-breaker” activities designed to create a fun and memorable first day and first impression to build a lasting connection with your students.


In-Person Activities:

Wall Talk   

Place pieces of paper on the wall around the room each with its own conversation topic. Students then can be divided into groups and rotate to each conversation topic, join your students in the conversation! Below are a few conversation topics to include. 

- What is something you learned over the summer?
- What is something you’d like to learn how to do?
- What are you looking forward to in this class?

River Crossing

Form small teams of 2 to 5 people, challenge each team to solve the puzzle: Using a small rowboat, transport a chicken, a fox and a bag of corn to the other side of the river in as few moves as possible. In their teams, ask students to describe the step-by-step solution to get all three items safely to the other side of the river.

To govern fair-play, the solution must acknowledge three critical parameters:
– The rowboat can only carry one person and one item at any point in time.
– The fox and chicken cannot be left alone.
– The chicken and the bag of corn cannot be left alone.

Solution: The man and the chicken cross the river, (the fox and corn are safe together), he leaves the chicken on the other side and goes back across. The man then takes the fox across the river, and since he can't leave the fox and chicken together, he brings the chicken back. Again, since the chicken and corn can't be left together, he leaves the chicken, and he takes the corn across and leaves it with the fox. He then returns to pick up the chicken and heads across the river one last time.

Candy Confessions 

Buy colorful candy (i.e. skittles) and give each person a handful.  or each color, they must share one fact about themselves. For example, for each yellow Skittle, share a favorite food or for each red Skittle, share an interest/hobby.

Blobs and Lines 

In this icebreaker, students are prompted to either line up in some order (i.e. by birthday or alphabetically) or gather in “blobs” based on something they have in common (i.e.similar shoes, for example). For students to get to know each other well, come up with at least five topics to call out during this activity.

The Observation Game

Line up the students in two lines facing each other.  Give students 30 seconds to look each other over really good, paying attention to all details about their partner. The students in one line now turn facing the other way while the other line of students changes something about themselves. For example, a girl might take off a hair bow, or a boy might un-tuck his shirt. When the kids in the first line turn back around, they have to guess what their partner changed. Now switch and let the first line make the changes and the second line guess the difference.


Virtual Activities:

Please note, the ideas below are optimized for classrooms or organizations to “meet” on Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or another telecommunication channel.

What is That 

 Ask a participant to pick one random object that is in the room they are in and not tell anyone what it is. Explain that the other participants will have to guess what it is, by asking questions that require a yes or no answer.

Story Stretch 

This ice breaker is great to get students energized and engaged in conversation virtually. Inform students that in this activity they will take turns adding to a fake story that the class will create together. However, the story must be engaging meaning as a student adds to the story, they should incorporate a movement to visually show what is happening in the story.

 For example, if a student were to say “…then a rabbit jumped over the fence” the student should then jump in the air to represent where the story is going.

Virtual Background Game

Invite students to change their virtual background to a classroom-appropriate image of their choice. Now, have each student explain why they chose their background. Offer suggestions like a family photo, vacation photos, favorite album cover or a picture of their favorite sports team.

Virtual Red-Carpet Interview

Assign students a partner and provide three to five questions for them to use in a mini-interview. Using breakout rooms have students ask each other questions about each other.  When the class joins back in one room, have the partners introduce each other to the class.  Possible questions could be “What is your greatest success?” or “What is a goal you have for the upcoming year?”.

Virtual I Spy 

Have everyone use gallery view in Zoom or Teams so that you can see everyone’s screen. Choose one student to “spy” something in the background of someone’s window on their screen. Provide each student a chance to either ask a question about the object or guess what it is.


Building rapport with your students allows you to support your students emotionally and academically which is a key component to truly engaging students in their education. By taking time to intentionally engage in activities or experiences to develop rapport with your students you are setting the groundwork for a productive and purposeful school year. iCEV wishes you a great first day and an even greater school year!