The first day of school is an exciting time filled with new friends, faces, and fun. And virtual icebreakers are a great way to make strong first impressions in an online classroom. Meaningful introductions in virtual settings can be a creative challenge–especially without getting lost on screen. But welcoming students to a new year of learning means meeting and greeting them in ways they remember, which also helps ensure higher learning achievement.
Try these fun icebreaker games to kick off your year in the virtual classroom. These are just a few ideas. For each game, use relevant tools to help make your students’ first day memorable.
Three Word Self-Portraits
Umbrella space algebra. Funny sunflower freckles. That’s easy, right?
This is a first-day introduction game that is sure to get laughs. But, remember, the key to an excellent three-word portrait is never thinking too hard.
- Ask students to choose a string of three words that describe themselves. Bonus points if the words are unrelated. Have fun with this. Encourage creativity.
- After one student goes, ask them to pass it to whomever they choose next. Keep passing until you cycle through the class.
- If you prefer a fast run, speed it up with a timer. The quicker the game, the more bizarre the word strings get.
Ask students to type their adjectives into chat to keep a running log.
If you put Pictionary, improv, & popcorn into one activity, you get PictoPop. This game gets the creativity flowing and the laughter!
- The teacher starts with a shape, a line, or anything simple on the whiteboard. In Class, you can turn on the “allow participant editing.”
- One at a time, let students take turns adding a simple shape or line to the drawing.
- You can stop them at any time, then popcorn a story about the drawing the team has created. Then, you can do a one-word popcorn or a full-sentence popcorn.
In addition to the virtual whiteboard, open the chat to discuss what the drawing is starting to look like. You can add a shape in the middle of a picture to change the direction of the drawing.
Where in the World?
This game is excellent if classmates come from different geographical locations. Use this game to learn about each other’s dream adventures.
- Show a map on the screen. It can be a map of the world, an individual country, or a region.
- Ask students where they would like to visit. See if you and your class can find all the places on the map. Then, ask students why they’ve always wanted to visit to keep the conversation going about each location. Or have each student share a fact they know about the place.
- If working with a student collaboration tool, pin each locale with a note or tack. Keep this image of your class’s map as a reference for the year ahead.
Use a student collaboration tool like Miro, Padlet, or Google Jamboard to make the map interactive and pinnable.
Nothing breaks the ice better than imagination. This is a great game to have fun with–and get smaller groups of students talking and working together.
- Break students into smaller breakout rooms. Launch a photo, word, or another prompt into each room uniquely. (You can also put multiple images on one board to prompt more connections).
- Give each group 10 minutes. Then, ask students to write a short narrative using the prompt. Length isn’t necessary–it’s all about the details.
- When the time is up, resume together as a class. Ask each group to present their story. Use the same board with the images, and ask them to show how they developed it.
Use breakout rooms to set up storytellers in small groups. Keep track of all students at once with tools like Class, where you can monitor all breakout rooms side-by-side together.