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August 22, 2016

Book Buzz: Icebreaker Activities

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    I am starting at a new school this year and so, I am a bit like my sweet kindergarteners in the way that I don’t know a lot of people in my new environment. While I am super excited for all the adventures that await me in room A05 at Wittenburg Elementary in Taylorsville, North Carolina, I still have some jittery nerves. And if that is true, I am sure my prospective students are feeling beyond nervous.

    One way I will help my room full of strangers to become a caring community is with icebreaker games and activities. Use these four books and four icebreaker activities to help your class begin the bonding process.

    You will notice that several of the activities revolve around names. That is due to the fact that every year I have kinders who struggle to learn their new friends' names. You can easily tell these children because three weeks into school they still come up to you with sentences like, “Teacher, her just made me mad.” or “Mr. Smith, herm (a cross between her and him) just took my pencil.”

    Icebreaker Book/Activity One

    A Tiger Tail CoverMy favorite new book for the beginning of the year is Mike Boldt’s A Tiger Tail. The illustrations are adorable and the story perfectly speaks to the first day jitters that lots of kids experience. This book is about a little girl who wakes up on her first day of school and discovers she has grown a tiger tail. How will everyone react? Will she fit in?

    Before reading this book to my class, I set out sentence strips, construction paper, and crayons and markers. Their directions are to pick their favorite animal and create a body part of that animal. It could be their tail, their ears, their feet, their eyes, or anything that stands out about that animal (such as a giraffe neck or an elephant nose). This is such a fun and creative way to find out the students' favorite animals.

     

    Rabbit Ears Giraffe Neck Elephant Trunk

    Reading A Tiger Tail while everyone is wearing their animal part really puts your students smack in the story, but don’t let the fun stop there. Afterwards, have them "herd" up (like animals get together) into groups and have each group discuss why they chose their particular animal.

    Bonus Idea: Another fun activity to do while students are dressed in their animal part is to have each student stand one at a time in front of the class. Have the class guess what their animal is based on the body part that the student is wearing.

    Icebreaker Book/Activity Two

    Spoon CoverI have always loved Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books. I mean what’s not to love, right? If asked which of her books is my favorite, I would have to respond with her wonderful book, Spoon. It’s all about being yourself and knowing that everyone has a special place in your classroom.

    After reading this wonderful book, have your students play Where’s the Spoon? This game is very similar to the old game Doggie, Doggie, Where’s Your Bone?. Here are the simple rules:

    1. Place a chair at the back of the room turned away from the class and place a spoon under the chair

    2. Choose a student to sit in the chair and close his eyes.

    3. One student (teacher selects by silently pointing to the chosen student) walks to the chair, gets the spoon, and walks back to her seat and hides the spoon.

    4. The class then says “Student name, student name, where’s your spoon?”  (“Alex, Alex, where’s your spoon?” or “Lisa, Lisa, where’s your spoon?”)

    5. The student who sat with his back to the class and his eyes closed then gets up and makes three guesses as to who has his spoon.

    6. If they guess the child who took the spoon, then they get to be the guesser again.

    7. If they don’t guess the kid who took the spoon, then the student that hid the spoon becomes the guesser and moves to the back of the room to have the spoon taken from them.

    Ice Breaker Book/Activity Three

    Time for Earth School Dewey Dew CoverIn the Leslie Staub book, Time for Earth School, Dewey Dew an alien arrives for his first day of school. In this alien environment, Dewey Dew must navigate his way around the school day. Walking around my new school this summer, I felt a little bit like Dewey Dew because I didn’t know where anything was or what the procedures were. Having a little bit of those feelings as an adult reminded me of how my rising kindergarteners must be feeling on their first day.

    Who Are You Question JarAfter reading Time for Earth School, Dewey Dew I use my "Who Are You?" Question Jar. It’s just an old mason jar that has a label on it and is full of questions such as Who is your favorite hero? or What makes you laugh most? to help your students figure out who is in their class this year. Each student comes up to the front and pulls out a question that I read out loud and they answer!

    Bonus Idea: Later in the year you can use this same idea for a review before an assessment.

    Ice Breaker Book/Activity Four

    Thunder Boy Jr. CoverI love the book Thunder Boy Jr. By Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Thunder Boy Smith Jr. wants a new name. He has many suggestions like “Can’t Run Fast While Laughing” or “Star Boy.” The text is simple but gets the point across beautifully. I can’t imagine this book ending any other way because it is, in my humble opinion, perfection.

    The activity is simple but so much fun! Each of our students has special gifts and this activity allows them to share their gifts with the class. I give each student a sheet of paper (white paper, newsprint, whatever you choose that is appropriate for your grade level) and ask them to draw something they are really good at. Then have them copy the words (knowing that copying from the board is VERY difficult for many beginning kindergarteners): My name would be. I then go around and write out their selected name. They share their new name and picture with the class and then they get to share something that they are really good at!

    I hope you love these ideas as much as I do! Make sure that you take time to get to know your kids (and those new teachers in your building) because it’s totally worth it!

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

    I can’t wait to see you next time!

    I am starting at a new school this year and so, I am a bit like my sweet kindergarteners in the way that I don’t know a lot of people in my new environment. While I am super excited for all the adventures that await me in room A05 at Wittenburg Elementary in Taylorsville, North Carolina, I still have some jittery nerves. And if that is true, I am sure my prospective students are feeling beyond nervous.

    One way I will help my room full of strangers to become a caring community is with icebreaker games and activities. Use these four books and four icebreaker activities to help your class begin the bonding process.

    You will notice that several of the activities revolve around names. That is due to the fact that every year I have kinders who struggle to learn their new friends' names. You can easily tell these children because three weeks into school they still come up to you with sentences like, “Teacher, her just made me mad.” or “Mr. Smith, herm (a cross between her and him) just took my pencil.”

    Icebreaker Book/Activity One

    A Tiger Tail CoverMy favorite new book for the beginning of the year is Mike Boldt’s A Tiger Tail. The illustrations are adorable and the story perfectly speaks to the first day jitters that lots of kids experience. This book is about a little girl who wakes up on her first day of school and discovers she has grown a tiger tail. How will everyone react? Will she fit in?

    Before reading this book to my class, I set out sentence strips, construction paper, and crayons and markers. Their directions are to pick their favorite animal and create a body part of that animal. It could be their tail, their ears, their feet, their eyes, or anything that stands out about that animal (such as a giraffe neck or an elephant nose). This is such a fun and creative way to find out the students' favorite animals.

     

    Rabbit Ears Giraffe Neck Elephant Trunk

    Reading A Tiger Tail while everyone is wearing their animal part really puts your students smack in the story, but don’t let the fun stop there. Afterwards, have them "herd" up (like animals get together) into groups and have each group discuss why they chose their particular animal.

    Bonus Idea: Another fun activity to do while students are dressed in their animal part is to have each student stand one at a time in front of the class. Have the class guess what their animal is based on the body part that the student is wearing.

    Icebreaker Book/Activity Two

    Spoon CoverI have always loved Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books. I mean what’s not to love, right? If asked which of her books is my favorite, I would have to respond with her wonderful book, Spoon. It’s all about being yourself and knowing that everyone has a special place in your classroom.

    After reading this wonderful book, have your students play Where’s the Spoon? This game is very similar to the old game Doggie, Doggie, Where’s Your Bone?. Here are the simple rules:

    1. Place a chair at the back of the room turned away from the class and place a spoon under the chair

    2. Choose a student to sit in the chair and close his eyes.

    3. One student (teacher selects by silently pointing to the chosen student) walks to the chair, gets the spoon, and walks back to her seat and hides the spoon.

    4. The class then says “Student name, student name, where’s your spoon?”  (“Alex, Alex, where’s your spoon?” or “Lisa, Lisa, where’s your spoon?”)

    5. The student who sat with his back to the class and his eyes closed then gets up and makes three guesses as to who has his spoon.

    6. If they guess the child who took the spoon, then they get to be the guesser again.

    7. If they don’t guess the kid who took the spoon, then the student that hid the spoon becomes the guesser and moves to the back of the room to have the spoon taken from them.

    Ice Breaker Book/Activity Three

    Time for Earth School Dewey Dew CoverIn the Leslie Staub book, Time for Earth School, Dewey Dew an alien arrives for his first day of school. In this alien environment, Dewey Dew must navigate his way around the school day. Walking around my new school this summer, I felt a little bit like Dewey Dew because I didn’t know where anything was or what the procedures were. Having a little bit of those feelings as an adult reminded me of how my rising kindergarteners must be feeling on their first day.

    Who Are You Question JarAfter reading Time for Earth School, Dewey Dew I use my "Who Are You?" Question Jar. It’s just an old mason jar that has a label on it and is full of questions such as Who is your favorite hero? or What makes you laugh most? to help your students figure out who is in their class this year. Each student comes up to the front and pulls out a question that I read out loud and they answer!

    Bonus Idea: Later in the year you can use this same idea for a review before an assessment.

    Ice Breaker Book/Activity Four

    Thunder Boy Jr. CoverI love the book Thunder Boy Jr. By Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Thunder Boy Smith Jr. wants a new name. He has many suggestions like “Can’t Run Fast While Laughing” or “Star Boy.” The text is simple but gets the point across beautifully. I can’t imagine this book ending any other way because it is, in my humble opinion, perfection.

    The activity is simple but so much fun! Each of our students has special gifts and this activity allows them to share their gifts with the class. I give each student a sheet of paper (white paper, newsprint, whatever you choose that is appropriate for your grade level) and ask them to draw something they are really good at. Then have them copy the words (knowing that copying from the board is VERY difficult for many beginning kindergarteners): My name would be. I then go around and write out their selected name. They share their new name and picture with the class and then they get to share something that they are really good at!

    I hope you love these ideas as much as I do! Make sure that you take time to get to know your kids (and those new teachers in your building) because it’s totally worth it!

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

    I can’t wait to see you next time!

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