It is challenging to show up in a new place and get on doing things with our everyday vigor and confidence, even for outgoing personalities. While this is hard for everyone, including adults and more mature age groups, it is particularly hard for elementary groups who are constantly faced with such challenges as showing up in a new classroom or new neighborhood or even joining such activities as kids’ campouts. You will always need an icebreaker if you are in charge of such groups.
What is an icebreaker? Merriam-Webster defines an icebreaker as something done or said to overcome the first difficulties in starting a conversation or discussion. An icebreaker for kids is an organized activity where children are encouraged to play, communicate, and interact with their peers. Icebreakers make children feel comfortable, safe, and happy in their new learning environment, develop a close-knit community of learners, and build a foundation for friendships that will last through the school year and beyond. The following are engaging icebreakers for elementary small groups that can help them break from their shells and get involved:
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1. Introduce a Partner
Introducing a partner is an exciting icebreaker that will get the kids to know each other well and be a foundation for lasting friendships. It is done by pairing up the kids and giving them a few minutes to know each other, then each stands before the rest and introduces their partner to the class or whichever elementary group you are dealing with. This game is perfect when the numbers are even such that they can sufficiently pair up. In case they are not even, ensure no one is left out by having one participate in more pairs.
Besides getting them to know and feel comfortable and easy around each other, Introduce a Partner helps elementary groups learn interview skills, improve their memory, and sharpen their public speaking skills.
2. Alphabet Name
The alphabet name is an exciting icebreaker and mind-engaging, depending on how you organize it. You get every kid to introduce themselves and add something that starts with the same letter as their name. For instance, a kid would say, I am Beldine Bee, Candy Cashmere, Ben Banana, Apple Anastacia, et cetera., Ensure they don’t get derogative in the process and only use words that diverse groups are comfortable with. Discourage such names as Brian Bully, for instance.
To make it more engaging and a little advance, the next kid to introduce themselves starts by repeating the predecessor’s name before saying their name. This game enhances memory, thoughts, and speaking. You may realize that finding something that fits your name takes much mental engagement.
3. Play a Favorite Animal Sounds Game
Irrespective of where they were born or raised, children are always crazy about animals. Bringing animals on board remains a great idea when dealing with kids. In this icebreaker, kids are asked to choose their favorite animals and try to play their respective sounds. There is no harm if you find two kids who want to roar like King Lion. This could be a reasonable basis for determining who appreciates their favorite animal the best.
To make it fun, you could keep the animals a secret so that no kid knows what their fellow has and task the rest to determine each other’s favorite animal from the sounds. This is when all who woofs discover that they love dogs, and all who oinks discover they are pig lovers. Playing a favorite animal sound is all about creativity.
4. Try the Marshmallow Challenge
To do the Marshmallow challenge, you must place simple items such as pasta sticks, tape, and string. With all these, the kids must build the tallest structure supporting a marshmallow. The one who manages the tallest structure that can support a marshmallow becomes the winner. Marshmallow challenge incorporates engineering and design skills while developing students’ creative thinking and ingenuity. You can get kids to do it in groups or as individuals. As an individual, it promotes creativity, while in small groups, it enhances creativity and teamwork.
5. “Something I like….”
In the “Something I like…” icebreaker, the elementary kids will tell the class something they like or are good at. It can include something they would like to be when they grow up or dream about. You can then group them into closely related areas of interest and ask them to tell each other what they can do to improve at what they like doing or think of becoming. This icebreaker can equally help you to know what an elementary kid likes, and this will help you know what you can give more weight to help them grow and align their learning outcomes to areas of relevance with their interests and capabilities.
6. Two Truths and a Wish Game
Two Truths and a Wish is an exciting icebreaker where you get the elementary kids to say two truths about themselves and something they wish was true about themselves or would like to become. It is a twist on the icebreaker game Two Truths and a Lie. The engagement object of the game is to have the rest of the kids determine what a wish is from the three things someone says about themselves.
To play the icebreaker, have the kids/students arrange themselves in a circle and instruct each player to think of three statements about themselves. The rest vote on which statement they believe is the wish then the player reveals the answer.
7. Candy Colors Game
You will need to put in place a bag of multicolored candies. You then ask the students/kids to pick several pieces of candy from the candy bag and associate each piece with a different fact about themselves. This icebreaker helps kids learn new facts about each other in a sweet, tasty way and appreciate the meanings hidden behind different colors. And just in case you have health concerns with candies, you can use prepackaged gummy snacks, which are a slightly healthier alternative.
Before you start the game, ensure you have enough candies for all the kids, and you can control this by staging the numbers each should take. List the meaning of all the colors in the candies and let the students know about them once they have made their choices.
Icebreakers are great ideas for the elementary groups to open up and be part of the new engagements they get exposed to. This article presents seven great icebreaker ideas that best work for elementary students and kids. Find what best works for you based on the availability of props or materials needed to accomplish them.