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This article was updated for back to school 2023

Back to school time is here and it’s essential for educators to start building a comfortable and secure atmosphere in their classrooms from day one. 

One way to ease into the new year is with icebreakers – shared exercises and activities that help students shed their first-day anxieties and get to know their new classmates. Teachers can also learn about their new classes through icebreaker activities, which carry none of the usual stress of assignments and exams.  

Unlike many other classroom activities, icebreakers aren’t graded and have no “right” answers. Participation is the only required element! The following icebreakers are designed to engage kids’ interest and make them feel at home with their new classmates. Expect laughter (but not mayhem).

Best Digital Icebreakers

Icebreaker Bot
Put aside your (justifiable) fear of chatbot overlords and try this fun and super useful Icebreaker Bot (IB). Simply  enter a topic or idea, and Icebreaker Bot will quickly return several imaginative icebreaker activities. For example, for the prompt “back to school,” IB returned three fanciful yet highly doable thought experiments that give kids a chance to stretch their creative wings without worrying about grades. Ingenious. 

10 First Day Of School Activities Shared By Teachers
Ten simple and easy to implement ideas for getting kids started off right in your classroom. These low-key, low-stakes activities are designed to make it easy for kids to get to know their peers, and for teachers to get to know the new class. Activities range from building plastic cup towers to blindfolded jigsaw assembly to student superheroes. Top notch.

Elementary Student  Back-to-School Icebreakers
Interesting collection of outside-the-box yet accessible icebreakers for elementary school includes a book read-aloud, time capsule, fun with emojis, and (my favorite), a math activity that challenges kids to create equations to describe their age, name and other characteristics. Activities are suitable for both in-person and remote learning. 

Magnetic Poetry Kids
Simple, free, and easy-to-use digital “magnetic” poetry game lets users quickly create original poems and download them as .png images. Kid-safe word pool. No refrigerator needed! 

Me – The User Manual
What makes you tick in the workplace? What makes you ticked off? How do you like to communicate? What do you value? The answers to these and other key questions will help your new colleagues get to know you as a person while collaborating more effectively. Edit the questions appropriately, and It’s also a great pictorial and/or writing assignment for K-12 students. 

Storyboard That Icebreaker Questions
Six engaging digital icebreakers that will prompt kids’ thinking and imagination. Includes KWL (know/want to know/learned) charts, conversation cubes, riddles, and more. 

7 Digital Icebreakers using Google
Ideal for both remote and in-person teaching, these digital icebreakers make use of free Google tools—Docs, Sheets, and Slides—to help kids get to know one another and find common ground with their classmates. 

Read Write Think
“My Summer Vacation” is a popular writing assignment in the new school year. Consider this interactive timeline as a fun twist on the old standby. Kids simply click to add events such as sports, summer camp, family vacations, or summer jobs, then add a written description and images. The final product can be downloaded,  printed, or exported as a PDF file. Free, no account needed.  

Fun Icebreaker Ideas & Activities
Searchable by group size and category, this free site offers more than 100 icebreakers, team-building exercises, group games, family-friendly activities, worksheets, and more. Among the dozens of great classroom icebreakers are “Personal Trivia Baseball,” “Time Hop,” and “Memorable Catchy Names.”

A fun site at which students can create animated and speaking avatars to introduce themselves to their classmates. Free basic account for one teacher, five students. 

21 Free Fun IceBreakers
Explore these classic and modern free digital icebreakers and select the perfect ones for your in-person or online class. 

Magnetic Poetry
Having a limited set of words is a great entrée into self expression. Choose from Kids, Nature, Geek, Happiness, or the Original digital magnetic word collections and have your students get creative. Be prepared for the unexpected! No account required. 

Teachers place students into groups and have each one write a page of a story, then share with the class using BoomWriter’s innovative writing and voting process. Free trials available.

Share my Lesson icebreaker activities
Dozens of high quality icebreaker lessons and activities created by your fellow teachers. Searchable by grade, subject, standards, and attributes, these activities include games, quizzes, speaking topics, and more.

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