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Middle School Icebreakers for the Start of the School Year

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Kick off your school year on the right foot with these fun and exciting middle school icebreakers your students will love.

The first week of the school year at the middle school level is always fascinating to witness. I’m busy trying to learn all of my students’ names while they’re figuring out where they fit in amongst their peers. There’s a mix of excitement to start off the new year and a bit of sadness that summer is over. I’ve noticed that some students are easier to connect with than others, but I always manage to break through their “too cool for school” exterior with the help of some fun icebreakers! Sure, you might get some initial eye-rolls, but soon enough, they’ll be engaged and let their coolness guard down. Today, I’m sharing a few of the middle school icebreakers that have been successful for me!

Why Spend Time On Middle School Icebreakers?

Middle school can be quite a tough transition for many kids. They’re dealing with new classmates, more challenging work, and the ups and downs of a new chapter in life. I have found that making relationship building and connecting a key part of the first weeks of the school year is a very helpful way to ease that transition. Icebreakers help create a sense of community and make the classroom a welcoming environment. When our students feel comfortable, they’re more likely to participate and engage in lessons.

Using middle school icebreakers at the beginning of the year will help students feel more comfortable overall and foster a sense of community in your classroom from the start.

Icebreakers also help me, as a teacher, get to know my students better. Understanding their interests, strengths, and personalities early on can make a huge difference in how I approach teaching each of them. Plus, it’s a great way to establish a positive classroom culture where everyone feels valued and included. It can be a place where we can have a few laughs together, do our work, and see each other as humans.

Spending time on icebreakers at the beginning of the year sets the tone for the rest of the school year. It shows our students that, while learning is important, having fun and building relationships are also key components of our time together. Trust me, those few minutes spent on icebreakers are worth it when you see how they positively impact classroom dynamics and student interactions.

7 Middle School Icebreakers That Are Fun and Effective

Now that we understand why icebreakers are so important, let’s explore some of my favorite middle school icebreakers, which have proven to be both fun and effective. These activities help my students get to know each other while also setting the stage for a positive and engaging classroom environment.

1. Two Truths and a Lie

This is a classic icebreaker that always gets the class buzzing. Each student thinks of two true facts and one false fact about themselves. When it’s their turn, they share all three statements with the class. For example, they might say, “I have a pet snake, I’ve been to France, and I can play the guitar.” The rest of the class then tries to guess which statement is the lie.

Have students write down two true statements and one false statement about themselves on an index card. Use these to play the Two Truths and a Lie Icebreaker.

On the first day of school, I like to have students write the three statements down on an index card. It’s our first day of school exit ticket. They turn them in as they leave and I hold on to the cards for a day or two. Then I pull them out a day or two later to play this ice breaker game.

I like to announce the student’s name and then read each of the statements to the class. While this is not completely necessary, I have found that it allows all the statements to be read consistently. I have seen many a student give away their lie with a smirk on their face or a giggle when they said it. But you can also have students read their own card. However you choose to play, your students will love trying to stump one another with their false statement.

This game is always a hit because it reveals surprising and interesting facts about each student, sparking lots of laughter and conversation. Plus, it’s a great way for me to learn unique details about my students right from the start! Oftentimes, these facts help me to remember their names, too!

2. Human Bingo

Human Bingo is an absolute favorite of mine out of the middle school icebreakers for getting my students to mingle and learn fun facts about each other. Before class, I create bingo cards with different statements in each square, like “Has a pet dog,” “Has traveled to another country,” or “Loves to read mystery books.”

Human BINGO is another fun middle school icebreaker to try during the first week of school and will help your students find things they have in common with their classmates.

During the activity, I have my students walk around the room and talk to their classmates to find someone who matches each statement. When they find a match, they write that person’s name in the corresponding square. The goal is to get a bingo by filling a row, column, or diagonal with names. The first student to achieve bingo wins a small prize, like a sticker or a piece of candy. This game is a fun way to get everyone moving, talking, and learning quirky details about each other. Plus, it’s always exciting to see the competitive spirit come out in such a fun and friendly way!

3. Would You Rather?

Would You Rather? is a fantastic middle school icebreaker to spark conversations and laughs. I pose fun and sometimes silly “Would you rather?” questions to the class, like “Would you rather give up social media for a month or give up gaming for a month?” or “Would you rather eat pizza for every meal or never eat pizza again?” I call on students throughout the game to share their choices and explain their reasoning.

These Would You Rather questions and others like it are a great way to learn more about your students.

Before we play, I like to grab a notebook and jot down some questions. I like a mix of realistic and silly questions. I also like to tap into things that are current trends or popular in pop culture. Having questions ready makes the game flow because I don’t have to think them up on the spot.

This game is not only simple but incredibly engaging. It helps them open up, express their opinions, and learn more about each other’s personalities and preferences. Plus, the answers often lead to hilarious and memorable discussions that help break the ice and build a sense of community in the classroom. I do suggest closing your classroom door for this one because they do tend to speak passionately and loudly!

4. M & M Game and Toilet Paper Game

The M&M Game is a sweet and colorful way to break the ice! I give each student a few M&Ms (or any colored candy). Each color represents a different question they need to answer about themselves. I like to use the following questions:

  • Red: What’s your favorite movie?
  • Green: What’s one thing you did this summer?
  • Blue: What’s your dream job?
  • Orange: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
  • Yellow: What is your favorite place to visit (local or out of town)?
  • Brown: What is one word that describes you?

Students take turns sharing their answers based on the colors they have. This game is not only fun but also a great way to learn interesting and unique things about each student.

If candy isn’t an option for your class, I have a fun alternative using toilet paper. I don’t tell the students what it’s for, initially. Instead, I hand them a roll of toilet paper and allow them to take as many squares as they would like. Just be warned that you might need to set a limit on the number of squares one person can take.

Once everyone has their squares, I reveal that each square represents a fact about themselves that they need to share with the class. For example, if a student has five squares, they share five facts. This version is equally engaging and often leads to lots of laughs as your students get creative with their facts.

5. The Line Up Game

The Line Up Game is a way to encourage non-verbal communication and teamwork among your students. I challenge them to line up in a specific order without talking. That’s what makes this really challenging! For example, they might have to arrange themselves by birthday, height, or alphabetical order by first name.

This silent ice breaker will get your students gesturing and acting in order to complete the challenge.

This activity requires students to use gestures, facial expressions, and creative thinking to figure out the correct order. It’s always fun to watch how they solve the puzzle together and to see their teamwork in action. Plus, it’s a great way to break the ice and get everyone interacting and collaborating right from the start. This game builds on communication skills and helps build a sense of unity and cooperation in the classroom.

6. Meet the Mathematician

In math class, it’s important for our students to see themselves as mathematicians capable of tackling the math we will encounter this year. One of my favorite middle school icebreakers to help them do this is my Meet the Mathematician doodle wheel. This activity is a fun way for our students to introduce themselves while connecting their personal experiences to mathematics.

Sections in the Doodle Wheel

  • Who Are You? – Students write their full name and nicknames. They also share who they are such as a sister, brother, cousin, bookworm, etc. If space allows, they can also draw a small self-portrait.
  • Hobbies – In this section, students write about their hobbies or doodle symbols or pictures to represent their interests. These often lead to classmates making connections and starting conversations.
  • Favorite Math Topic – Students describe their favorite math topic. Whether it’s geometry, algebra, or another area, this helps me understand what they enjoy and can guide me in making the subject more engaging for them.
  • Birth Place – They write and doodle the place where they were born.
  • Math Skill to Improve – Students identify a math skill they want to improve this year. This honesty helps them acknowledge areas for growth and gives me valuable information to tailor my teaching strategies.
  • Favorite Food In this section, students write their favorite food (or foods!)

In the pattern around the wheel, there are eight items for students to answer. All are number answers, so I ask students to write their answers as expressions that equal their number answer or just write the numbers themselves. For example, if their age is 16, they might write 42. If time allows, I give time for my students to walk around the room and try to solve different problems from their classmates’ wheels.

7. Using Emojis for Middle School Icebreakers

Utilize technology in your middle school icebreakers with a fun Emoji activity for students to use to start insightful conversations.

Emoji Introductions are a fun way to reference technology and get your students to share a bit about themselves. I ask each student to choose an emoji that represents them, describes them, or shows how they’re feeling that day. They can draw it on a sticky note or show it on their device if they’re allowed.

Each student then explains why they chose that particular emoji. This can lead to some really fun and insightful conversations. It’s a great way to tap into their creativity and get a sense of their current mood or personality. Plus, using emojis is something they’re all familiar with, making it an easy and relatable activity that helps everyone feel more comfortable and connected.

Build Rapport With Students With These Middle School Icebreakers

These seven middle school icebreakers are sure to help your students feel more comfortable, connected, and ready to dive into the school year.

From classic games like Two Truths and a Lie to creative activities like the Meet the Mathematician Wheel, these icebreakers will not only break the ice but also set a positive and engaging tone for your classroom.

If you’re looking for even more fun and effective icebreakers with a math twist, be sure to check out Getting to Know You Activities for Middle School Math for even more ideas to keep your students excited about math all year long!

Save for Later

Remember to save this post to your favorite math Pinterest board for when you start planning middle school icebreakers!

Ellie

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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