“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.” ~ H.E. Luccock Olson

Beginning the school year is often very frightening for children. It’s no wonder when you consider that children are walking into  a room full of people they hardly know and for some children this will be one of their first times learning how to socialize with others. Young learners are still developing their social skills and for them to be success in your class, it is important to show them how to build relationships with their peers and teach them the right way to play with other kids. Getting to know you activities are fun and help us ensure we have a semester full of lasting memories. These relationship building activities help prevent bullying from occurring, teach kids the social skills that are needed for their development, help them work effectively in teams and pairs, and promote a culture of trust and scaffolding. Beyond these benefits, these activities will motivate your students to use language related to their real world experiences. In this way, they personalize their learning. Watch the recording of my recent webinar on this topic here!

Getting to Know You Activities

Pass the Ball

  • Students sit in a circle
  • Each student says his/her name
  • Introduce 1 ball to the circle
  • Give students the ball & instruct them to roll it to another student.
  • They have to say the student’s name & ask a question

Toy Mingle

  • Each student brings in a favorite toy
  • Divide the class into 2 lines and seat them across from each other.
  • The teacher starts the timer for 1 minute and the pairs play with each other
  • They switch partners

Group the Toys

  • The teacher brings in various toys
  • Class sits in a circle
  • The teacher lays out the toys and asks which would go together
  • The class groups the toys
  • Then the teacher puts them in a bag
  • Each student grabs a toy then finds a partner to play with

Who Am I?

  • Each student tells a favorite food, place of travel, etc.
  • The students record it/ write on a Post-It
  • Put all recordings/Post-Its in a bag
  • Students reach in, grab one, & find the person

ShoeTalk

  • Divide the class into 2 groups & give them each 1 trash bag
  • Put each group at opposite sides of the room
  • Each child takes off 1 shoe & places in the group’s bag
  • Swap bags between groups
  • Students reach in, grab a shoe, & find their partners
  • The student asks a get to know you question
  • When finished they sit back in their line.

My Favorite (A hand-out you can download and adapt here)

  • Instructions: Ask the children to draw, one in each section, their favorite toys, food, person and animal. When they have finished, sit the children in a circle with all the pictures in the center. Can they guess whose is whose?

My Memory Matching Game

  • Remember the matching memory card game where students have cards in rows, face down, then try flip each til they find it’s matching pair?
  • In this activity, students create a memory card game but the cards must explain something about themselves
  • You can give them a list of questions to make it easier for them to create their games
  • They have to make 2 of every card that explains a favorite food, a pet owned, # of siblings, etc.
  • They then pass their game to a partner to play. When the partner makes a match, the partner also has to guess what the matching pair represents about that student.
  • The class gets into a circle & each student reports what they found out about their partners.

Teach Us HowTo…

  • Each student shows the class how to do something
  • Make sure that it is something that when the student teaches it, everyone else can also try to do it.
  • For example, students can show the class how to make a paper airplane, free throw, origami frog, etc.
  • You can video record these and add on a website

An Exhibit of Me!

  • Give each student a box
  • Students create an exhibit that displays information about themselves
  • Display them in the class
  • Invite parents
  • This idea was tweaked from this hand-out!

Stuff Animal Interview

  • Students bring in a stuff animal
  • The class sits in a circle
  • Each child in the circle asks the stuff animal a question

Line Up!

  • All children stand up
  • You yell out a category and students line up again the wall if the category applies to them
  • For example, the teacher might say, “Line up if you have a pet.”
  • Encourage discussion by taking it further and having kids find another peer who either likes the same thing or has the same thing. In this example the teacher gives the children about 30 seconds to find someone with their kind of pets

Picture Share

  • Kids bring a picture from home like a picture of a favorite memory or of their families and pets. They can also bring in baby pictures of themselves. They shouldn’t be easily identified by the picture.
  • Tape these pictures to the wall or on the whiteboard.
  • Students guess which picture belongs to the whom
  • The student shares the memory with the class

About Me Charades

  • Create cards with categories like favorite animals, food, places, colors, etc. or dislikes/likes
  • The student grabs the card and whispers in your ear the answer to the question
  • Then the student acts it out for other students to guess
  • If your students have low English skills, then you may want to have flashcards available so that they show you what their answers would be.

Ideas with favorite webtools!

Bookmarks of Tools

Find many more icebreakers listed here!

Check for examples of tools in my PearlTree of Resources: Getting to Know You Kids!

Getting to Know You Kids in Back to School / Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

Every Friday I conduct a Free Webinar thanks to American TESOL. Please check the Livebinder for times, video archives, and more.

Challenge:

Try any of these ideas with your students this year and tell us how it went.

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