Icebreakers. Kids hate ’em. You hate planning and facilitating ’em. But, you continue to go back to the drawing board every year and pretend to half-smile your way through yet another year of class introductions, builders, and breakers.
I have one fool-proof exercise that seems to be appropriate for the wide spectrum of middle school monkeys of all stages of development and fails to tire itself. I begin by drawing puzzle pieces onto a piece of posterboard. I make sure to draw one piece for every student, one “title” piece, and one piece for myself. I write “back” on the back of every piece so that students have a sense of direction and draw on the correct side.
Instructions are simple. Decorate your piece with images, words, designs that represent who you are. Things to consider: your family, interests, hobbies, friends, strengths, etc.
Next, I have students share with a partner and then introduce to the class (if the number is manageable). Then, students assemble and glue the pieces to a second piece of poster board. I hang the puzzles on my wall and have quite a display from prior year’s classes.
Overall, idea achieves the purpose of class introductions without the cheesiness, forced nature that so many introduction activities have a tendency to do. It also is a nice addition to the classroom on Back to School Night.