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Make this year more effective by enhancing students' comfort level in your class. Health education covers various topics that, to most, may be a difficult topic to talk about. Personally, this is the reason I enjoy this subject so much. It’s the teacher’s role to create a classroom environment to invoke and support discussion of difficult topics. Comfort and safety is not only important for students to feel around their peers, but to feel with their teacher as well. A health education teacher is a potential resource for students, providing comfort for any students reaching out. Students may challenge themselves in your classroom if they feel it's a safe place. The question is, how do you create this classroom environment? I usually found success when starting the year on a positive note with a few classroom icebreakers and group problem-solving activities.

Ice Breaker Questions: Have Learned, Will Learn, Want to Learn

This activity is quite similar to a KWL chart. This will get students interested in the class material itself. It will also be a nice review to what was covered the year before; the students will think back to what they remember about last year's essential content.

In a storyboard, students will create a visual of

  • What they learned last year in the first cell
  • What they guess or were told would be covered this year in the second cell
  • What they want to learn in your class in the third cell

Have the students share it with the class to open up a great discussion of what they did last year. Understanding the previous year's content builds a great foundation for new lessons while shaking off the summer rust. It also allows you to see what concepts may need to be reintroduced or reinforced as students continue to build on their learning.

Ice Breaker Questions: Conversation Cubes

Story cubes are a great way for you to mix up the conversation in class by adding a little spontaneity to the questions you ask. Teachers and students can create conversation cubes that include questions that cover everything from the student's goals to what they already know about a certain topic. When students roll the cubes, they can answer the question, tell a fact about themselves, a goal they have, or something they learned last year depending on what's written on the cube faces.

If you'd like to use the cubes as conversation prompts during a lesson, consider doing this activity at the beginning of a new unit. Use one of the story cube templates to write several questions that you'd like students to consider. These questions can range from ones that give students an opportunity to tell you what they already know about a topic or ones that allow you to dispel any misconceptions ahead of time.

At the beginning (or end) of the class, roll the dice and ask the students to answer the question as part of a discussion or have them write their answer on an exit ticket. As the year progresses, you may want to move exclusively to having students answer the question aloud, as they become more comfortable discussing their opinions and understanding on a topic.

Question/Prompt Suggestions:

  • What is the most interesting thing you learned last year?
  • What are some things you've heard about X topic?
  • What are you looking forward to this year?
  • What do you think the effects of X are on Y?

Find more story cube templates to get started!

Ice Breaker Games: Who Am I?

This activity is a great way to get to know students and see how well they know each other. When students understand more about each other, they are less likely to have conflicts. The teacher should make a storyboard as well to show the class as an example. This way your students can get familiar with you too and will take the edge off the pressure to share something about themselves.

Have the students create a three cell storyboard with titles.

First cell: Hi, I’m your classmate in the title box

Students will create a character for themselves

Second cell: I like to ___________

Students will create a visual of one of their interests

Third cell: My goal in life is ______________

The students will create a goal or career for after they graduate

After the students have finished their work, they can either submit it to the teacher or print it out. If the students submitted it, the teacher can share the images on the projector and the students can try to guess who is who! Or if they printed it out, you can make a guess who wall where you go over the pictures as a class. Each storyboard has great talking points to ask details about your students.

Ice Breaker Games: Island

Ask students to imagine themselves on a deserted island. The problem is, they can only bring three things with them! They must choose wisely.

The purpose of this exercise is not only to build comfort with peers, but also to recognize different values. Recognizing personal differences while participating in health topics is essential. This is especially important when covering discussion topics like sexuality, addiction, or healthy relationships. For this activity, students could be given a template with the island and blank descriptions for them to fill in. This will save time and not stall the start of the year rush. You may want to limit some of their options to keep the learning goals in mind. The first cell should be a visual of themselves on the island. The following three cells should be visuals of their important objects and descriptions to explain them.

Ice Breaker Games: Riddle

Problem solving in a group setting is a great way to quickly develop acceptable forms of communication. There are two goals for this activity. While one objective is to see the students working together to overcome obstacles, we also want to establish communication standards for the class.

Break students up into small groups. How you make the groups is equally as important to the activity itself. If you allow them to pick their groups earlier on, it may build cliques within the classroom. The goal is to create a safe environment. Randomize the groups by asking student to group up with people wearing the same color shirt, or by counting the students off. Once the groups are all set, show them the provided riddle. While the students brainstorm the answer, walking around and saying “I like how this group is communicating” points out positive behaviors to them, but also to the groups around them.

The answer is there are no stairs in a one story house.

After you could break the groups up again by separating them by style of shoes or month of birth and give them another riddle. This riddle is a bit tougher and should give students more time to work the answer out while working on communication.

The answer is no, because of the use of fuel during the drive across the bridge.

Ice Breaker Games: Mirror Image

Have student get into pairs or small groups. The groups/pairs are going to create a two-cell storyboard. The first cell should be an over-complicated cell with lots of details. Have the students copy it exactly into the next cell. In that second copied cell, students should change five things (and only five things). The ideal outcome of this activity is to have students challenge their peers while problem solving. After both cells are completed, they should save the work while leaving the storyboard on their screen or print their work out. Each group will be walking around and trying to find the five things changed while writing it down on a piece of paper. Having the students walk around to each computer or printed out storyboard will make the activity interactive and give various opportunities to build problem solving skills.

How to Design an Ice Breaker Activity that Aligns with Your Lesson Or Event Goals


Identify Your Goals

Determine the lesson or event goals you want to achieve through the ice breaker activity. What do you want participants to learn or do as a result of the activity? How can the ice breaker activity set the tone for the rest of the lesson or event?


Consider Your Audience

Consider the age, background, and experience level of your audience. What ice breaker activity will be most effective for engaging and motivating them?


Brainstorm Ideas

Brainstorm ideas for ice breaker activities that align with your goals and audience. Consider activities that are fun, interactive, and relevant to your lesson or event.


Choose an Activity

Choose an ice breaker activity that aligns with your goals, audience, and time constraints. Make sure the activity is appropriate for the setting and age group. One common activity to use is "Two Truths and a Lie" to create a welcoming and inclusive classroom environment where students feel comfortable and engaged. In this activity, students take turns sharing three statements about themselves - two true and one false. The rest of the class tries to guess which statement is false. At the end of the activity, debrief with students by asking them how the activity made them feel and how it relates to the rest of the semester.


Plan the Logistics

Plan the logistics of the ice breaker activity. Determine the materials, space, and timing needed for the activity. Make sure you have everything you need before starting the activity.


Introduce the Activity

Introduce the ice breaker activity to participants, explaining the goals and how it aligns with the lesson or event. Provide clear instructions for how to participate in the activity.


Facilitate the Activity

Facilitate the ice breaker activity, making sure participants are engaged and understand the instructions. Monitor the activity to ensure everyone is participating and adjusting as needed.


Debrief and Connect to Lesson or Event Goals

After the ice breaker activity, debrief with participants about their experience and how it relates to the lesson or event goals. Connect the ice breaker activity to the rest of the lesson or event, highlighting how it set the tone and prepared participants for what’s to come.


Evaluate Effectiveness

Evaluate the effectiveness of the ice breaker activity in meeting the lesson or event goals. Reflect on what worked well and what could be improved for future activities.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ice Breaker Activities

What are Ice Breaker Activities?

Ice Breaker Activities are games, exercises, or group activities that are designed to help students get to know each other and the teacher, feel more comfortable in the classroom, and establish a positive and supportive learning environment.

Why are Ice Breaker Activities important?

Ice Breaker Activities are important because they help students feel more comfortable and engaged in the classroom, establish positive relationships with their peers and teachers, and create a supportive learning environment where students feel safe to take risks and make mistakes.

When should Ice Breaker Activities be used?

Ice Breaker Activities can be used at the beginning of a school year, a new unit, or after a long break. They can also be used as a way to break up a routine or to energize students during a long class period.

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