As the summer starts to come to an end, the new school year can be very daunting to your middle schoolers!
It can be a very socially overwhelming time for students, so it is very important to make sure that we ease them into the year, building their confidence and encouraging them to be themselves!
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 middle school ice-breakers that will get your students chatting with each other in no time!
These unique and engaging activities will start the year off right, and set them up for a fulfilling middle school experience. Let’s dive in!
If you’re looking for a game that will get your students laughing and talking, Beginnings and Endings is definitely for you!
This game requires a small amount of setting up. Before class, you will need to write some fragments of sentences on pieces of paper. This can be things like ‘this morning my cat…’ or ‘…in the kitchen.’
To start the game, give each student a piece of paper with one of these sentence fragments on it. Have the students walk around the room, attempting to pair up their sentences.
A student with a sentence beginning must pair themselves up with a sentence ending.
This game doesn’t need to be completely sensical, instead, you should encourage your students to be imaginative with their pairing. Nothing is too far-fetched in this game!
This is bound to get your nervous middle schoolers giggling and feeling more confident with their peers in no time.
When the students have paired up to form their sentences, encourage them to share their sentences with the rest of the class.
Sharing these will bring the students closer together and relieve some of the stress that comes with the first week of middle school!
If you are looking to expand this game, you can always split the class up into different groups and these groups can use their sentences to make a story.
This can be quite difficult because groups of 6 will only have 3 sentences to work with, but it will encourage students to use their creativity and work together to create a story.
This is a great way to encourage students to show their personalities and make connections with classmates.
Working on lighthearted projects like this will also ensure that students feel more confident participating in all activities.
2. Common Ties
Have a list of some very simple questions available for your students to answer about themselves. You could either write these on the board or have a printed sheet on each table.
These questions could involve the student’s favorite music, foods, celebrities, or hobbies. Give the students a few minutes to consider their answers.
For each question, you should divide the answers into categories so that they can be aware of their commonalities.
For instance, if you are considering your favorite music, divide the room into music genres so that the kids can share this common interest.
Send the students to the corner of the room that correlates to their answers, and give them a few minutes to discuss the similarities and differences between their answers.
After this time, encourage the groups to share with the rest of the class why their music genre is the best. This will encourage the students to start discussions and make connections with each other.
It is also a great activity to encourage the students to practice forming arguments and debating their side of the argument.
This activity can be repeated for the first few weeks of the school year, using a new topic every day for students to compare.
Finding these connections will give students a lot more information about their peers without having to ask for it.
3. We Are All Special
To organize this game, you will need your middle school students to write something down about themselves that they think is individual to them and different from all of their other classmates.
Your students should think of something a bit different rather than just their favorite color, so encourage them to think deeply about what makes them special.
For instance, this doesn’t have to be simple things like their favorite film or color, it can be a funny story or habit that they want to share with their peers.
If more than one student has chosen the same thing that makes them special, then the students will need to all do something, like raise their hands.
As your students are sharing their responses, you should make some notes about what they say. There are bound to be lots of connections between the answers that the students give.
At a later date, you will be able to match these students up to work on projects together as they have things in common.
4. Subject Ladder
For instance, their layouts and schedules will change from having one teacher for every subject to having a different teacher depending on the subject.
No matter what subject you teach in middle school, you will want to be aware of the preferences of your students and where their strengths lie so that you can encourage them as much as possible.
Subject ladder involves asking your students to make a ladder that ranks their subjects. They should put their favorite subject on the top and their least favorite subject on the bottom.
Not only will this provide you with this information, helping you to understand your students’ strengths and weaknesses, but it will also allow you to pair up students who have similar interests in projects later on.
You can also create a pie chart which details which subjects are ranked where and how popular each subject is.
This is a great game to break the ice between your middle school students.
The more understanding you have of your students from the start, the easier it will be to use this information to determine what you do in class, and what groups you put your students in.
This game involves all of the students adding something to the story, with everything new that is added starting with the word ‘Suddenly’.
For example, a student will start the story off with something like: ‘I was walking down the street…’ and the next student would say ‘Suddenly I saw a tiger walking towards me…’.
This game will continue in this way until everyone has contributed.
After the story is finished, you can ask the students to remember what was said to test their memory and recall skills. You can record the story to ensure that you remember, too.
Refer back to the story a few days later, too, to see if the students have any memory of this.
This is a great game to ensure that your students are more comfortable around their peers and in class. It will have them collaborating on a project and working together to share ideas.
There will be lots of laughs from this great game!
6. Picture Patterns
This picture should be from when the children were babies.
You should collect all of these pictures and hand them back out to the students at random. Ensure that you don’t give the same picture back to the same student.
The game aims to return these pictures to the students that they belong to.
This game is a personal favorite because it encourages the students to look one another in the face, and interact on a one-on-one level.
This can be very difficult for middle school students, but it is a great way to get the kids to chat with each other and work together. It also encourages there to be openness in the classroom.
You can expand this activity by encouraging students to have further discussions about how they have changed since they were babies.
This will also encourage the children to be able to assess ways that they are changing throughout the school year, too.
7. If I Were A
You can change the game depending on what classes you teach. For instance, if you are a science teacher, you could use this game to help with teaching the study of plants.
To play this game with your middle schoolers, write the phrase ‘If I were a…’ on the board. When the students come into class, they should complete the sentence with the name of the plant and a description.
With tasks like this, it is very useful for students to have examples to work from on the board.
You should give your students a few minutes to think about their answer and write it down before collecting the answers up. As they share their ideas, you can add your own from the curriculum, too.
These icebreakers are a great way to build connections between the students because those who have made the same personal choices in their choice will have something in common with the rest of the class.
The students can be grouped depending on the different categories of their plants, for example, trees, flowers, etc. The groups that the students are placed into can be groups for their later presentations.
This game doesn’t have to be curriculum based, it can be more lighthearted and based on leisure activities rather than the subject.
This will get the students talking on a more personal level, too. This is a great icebreaker for middle school students as it gives them something to talk about.
8. Guess Who
For instance, this could be skiing or playing the violin.
Remember to write down some examples on the board to give them an idea of what to write.
Once these have been written down, they should be collected to distribute back out to the other students.
You should give these kids a minute to think about the answer they have in front of them to consider who they think it is.
The next stage of this game is a scavenger hunt. The students will have to hunt around the classroom to find the person they think this is about.
If the students guess wrong, this can be even more interesting, as it shows that everyone has their own, surprising interests.
Once all of the activities have been matched up to the people, encourage the students to find commonalities between the responses.
These connections can be anything from complex to basic connections.
9. Desert Island
Set the scene by telling the students that they were in a plane crash and that they are now trapped on a desert island with those in their group. In their book bag, they have just one item each.
Each student will choose one item that they can contribute to the survival of the whole group. The students should work together to choose their items and collaborate.
If the students do not communicate well, their items may not help them as a team, so you should make sure they know that they need to save everyone.
If you want to mix this game up a bit so that you don’t get all the same answers, give the students a few items that they already have.
Give the students around 15 minutes to discuss, and then they should choose their items. They will each present this to the class.
Hopefully, the objects will be very different in each group. After this is finished, ask your students to reflect on their answers and whether they would stick with their item.
10. Around The World
They should find students with cards of countries similar to theirs in location, culture, or language.
For example, two students from countries that speak the same language can match themselves up.
Get the students to chat about what connections the two countries have, and to list the things that they have in common.
These groups should then sit together and draw on a piece of paper the similarities they found to present to the class.
This is a very good game for a geography class, but it is also suitable for other situations.
If you want to expand this game, get the students to set up a small presentation or written assignment about their country.
This is a great ice-breaker as it gives the students something to talk about while also being related to school work.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should You Do If A Middle School Student Is Struggling?
It is important to make sure that our students feel comfortable in school, and that they feel like they can be themselves.
They should be able to rely on the teachers to listen to them and ensure that they are flourishing in school.
Activities like the ones listed above are essential because they help the students to build relationships with the other students.
This will create a space for students where they can build relationships with others where they can express themselves and find meaningful connections surrounding their interests.
This will make the students feel much less lonely at school, helping them to fit in well in class.
How Do You Break The Ice On Zoom?
While it is much more difficult to have your students engaged and interacting on zoom when the kids are remote learning it is even more important to ensure they have a relationship.
You can carry out a large number of the ice-breaker activities on this list on zoom if you adapt some of the activities.
You can also play games where you type out a question and everyone has to send a one-word answer. The students with similar answers can pair up together.
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So, there you have it! If you have a class of middle schoolers, these icebreakers are a perfect way to get them all talking and communicating.
Starting middle school is a very difficult time, and it can be very hard for the students to get to know each other.
These games will link the students together with others to give them something to talk about.