Math Wheels for Note-taking?

Engaging Icebreakers to Help Middle Schoolers Make New Friends!


Are you ready to spice up your classroom community builders with a burst of excitement? Whether starting a new year or needing a fun activity, connecting with our students to create a positive learning environment is priority. That’s why I’m here to share how fun icebreakers will have your students buzzing with enthusiasm from day one! No more awkward glances or uneasy vibes! These activities aren’t just about giggles and games. They hold immense value in fostering strong relationships, breaking down walls, and setting the stage for a successful school year. I have several icebreakers that I want to share to help your middle schoolers grow comfortable in your classroom!

Why Are Icebreakers Effective?

We all have witnessed how math class sometimes starts with awkward vibes and nervous glances. Icebreakers help create a positive and inclusive classroom vibe. Math might seem intimidating, but we can turn those hesitations into high-fives with icebreakers! Students will feel more at ease and ready to take risks to tackle those numbers!

Icebreakers also work wonders in forging connections between students and their teachers and among the students themselves. My favorite moments with icebreakers are when two classmates realize they have something in common and strike up a conversation! My teacher heart soars even more when I see them connecting outside my classroom because of a quick icebreaker.

Icebreakers also encourage teamwork and collaboration! Math can be a brain teaser. Through these icebreaker activities, we teach our students how to work together, combining their knowledge for epic problem-solving moments!

They also add an element of fun and excitement to the math classroom. Adding a bit of playfulness to the learning process can make it more enjoyable. Plus, it helps remove some of the fear of failure that some students may experience in math. When students are engaged and having fun, they become more motivated and open to tackling math.

Math Truth or Dare Getting to Know You Icebreaker

The free Getting to Know You Math Truth or Dare activity is a favorite icebreaker to use to kick off the year.

This icebreaker is different from your typical run-of-the-mill game. It’s a set of 30 engaging questions designed to help you connect with your students. Equally important, they allow your students to bond with each other.

Set up is super easy! Print and cut, and your students are ready to start getting to know each other. There are 15 “Truth” cards and 15 exciting “Dare” cards. I give each of my students a recording sheet, so they can collect their classmates’ answers. Plus, you can collect the recording sheets and check over their work to see how they did!

These questions are all about math, sprinkled with a touch of getting to know you! The “Truth” questions will unveil fun facts about your students. While the “Dare” questions will put their math skills to the test with computations based on facts about themselves. Since the computations are based on facts about themselves, it’s okay if several students are asked the same question. Their answers will all be different!

Our middle schoolers will jump at the option to socialize with one another. So, we might as well have them practice their math skills while they sit and chat. You can use these cards as a whole class, small groups, partners, or for first week of school centers!

Meet the Mathematician Math Wheel Icebreaker

Meet the Mathematician Math Wheel is another perfect icebreaker to kick off the school year or start a new semester with a blast!

This engaging math wheel is all about helping you learn more about your students. It also lets them show off their math skills in a laid-back way. The wheel is divided into six sections. Your students can express their unique personalities and their love for all things math! The different sections include:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Hobbies
  3. Favorite Math Topic
  4. Birthplace
  5. Math Skill to Improve
  6. Favorite Food

This doodle wheel is not just any ol’ questionnaire – it’s also a creative and fun doodling opportunity! Your students will get to add phrases, draw pictures, and add color to their wheels!

Outside the wheel, there are 8 different items your students get to answer. All the answers will be numbers, so I encourage my students to write their answers as expressions that equal their number responses! How cool is that?

I’ve included a second wheel without the section headings, so you can customize it to best fit your vision! You can also add different headings or let your students come up with their own creative ideas! The possibilities are endless!

This icebreaker is not only fun for your students, but you can also get a quick peek at their math skills. Whenever you can incorporate topics that interest your students, I highly recommend you do so! This math doodle wheel is a perfect opportunity to do so!

Use Back to School Footloose Task Cards for an Icebreaker

My students need to move to use their energy, especially at the start of the school year or after a break. Another free icebreaker, Back to School Footloose Task Cards, is an excellent chance for your students to learn more about each other while you get to see their math skills in action!

Back to school footloose cards like these will help get your kiddos up and moving and are a great addition to your icebreakers activities for your middle school students this year.

Footloose task cards are quick and easy to prep! Print, cut, and spread cards out around your learning space for your students to move around the room. With 24 cards covering various 6th-grade math topics, your students will have a blast solving problems while revealing cool things about themselves.

This pack includes the Footloose grid – a space for your students to record their answers and personal tidbits. As they solve each math problem, they’ll jot down their answers in the corresponding boxes. Based on their answers, they’ll respond to getting-to-know-you questions!

Your students will have a blast freely moving around the classroom, solving problems, sharing fun facts, and making connections!

Icebreakers Build Teams

Our Pentomino Exploration Team Building Back to School Activity is an icebreaker packed with fun challenges and loads of brain-teasing adventures!

Pentominoes are not just any puzzle pieces. They are the keys to unlocking critical thinking, problem-solving, and perseverance in your math class. Your students will take on the challenge of fitting the pentominoes into the frames without leaving any gaps or letting anything stick beyond the edges. It sounds simple, but trust me, it’s a brain workout that’s accessible to all students!

It’s also a golden opportunity to observe and learn more about your students. Watch as they share ideas, collaborate, and communicate with each other. See who’s eager to dive in headfirst and who takes a more strategic approach.

This amazing resource includes three different-sized sets of pentominoes and frames, colored and black-and-white options. So, you’ve got plenty of choices to suit your needs! I recommend printing them on cardstock and laminating them for many future uses!

Whether it’s the first day of math class, fast finisher activities, or exciting centers, this icebreaker has it all!

To learn more about how I use pentominoes the first few days of school, read my post First Day of Math Class Activity – Free Pentomino Exploration.

The Power of Icebreakers

After exploring these fantastic icebreakers, I hope you see they are loads of fun. They also hold immense value in building strong relationships and setting the stage for a successful school year. From Math Truth or Dare to the Meet the Mathematician Math Wheel and the Back to School Footloose Task Cards, each activity offers a unique opportunity for students to bond, learn, and grow together. With pentomino exploration, we take team-building to a whole new level, unlocking the power of critical thinking and problem-solving.

It’s time to get ready to create a positive learning environment where our students will be excited from day one! Let the fun, connections, and math adventures begin!

Save for Later!

Remember to pin this post to your favorite math Pinterest board to return to when you are looking for engaging icebreakers to learn about your students!


Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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Engage students in taking math notes with this FREE Fraction Operations wheel and 3 wheel templates!