Icebreaker Idea

Sandy Millin’s recent (ish!) post, “A map of me”offers a simple yet effective means of breaking the ice in a novel way – important when breaking the ice is a regular requirement, as is the case in language schools with a continuous enrolment system. I am also currently working in a school that uses such a system, and Sandy’s post has inspired me to get creative and expand my repertoire of such activities. So, here is one that I have come up with:

  1. Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to write down a list of information about themselves on it. Specify the number of statements and stipulate that some of the information should relate to things they’ve done in the past, some should be true of now and some should relate to future plans. (The number of statements and the number of stipulations will be level-dependent). NB Students must NOT write their names on their papers.
  2. Take in their sheets of paper and redistribute these so that each student has a piece of paper belonging to another student, identity unknown.
  3. Students should now mingle and ask questions in order to find out who their sheet of paper belongs to. The catch is, they cannot ask yes/no questions. E.g. If a student has written “I have two dogs and a cat”, the questioner cannot ask “Do you have two dogs and a cat?” – they should ask something like. “Have you got any pets?” and proceed from there.
  4. Students continue mingling and questioning until everybody has discovered whose piece of paper they are they are holding. Challenge early finishers to find out as much as possible about everybody in the room by the time the rest of the students finish.

Stipulating a range of time frames for the information encourages learners to use different tenses, so you can get a feel for which they are less comfortable with and for varying levels within the class. Meanwhile, the students get to know one other a bit better, and you can also get to know them a bit better through monitoring and/or through making copies of their information sheets.

This activity is as yet unnamed – if you have any suggestions, answers on a postcard! (Aka in the comment box below :-p)

And if you use it, or come up with any variations on it, let me know how it goes, or what your variations are so I can try them out too! 🙂


12 thoughts on “Icebreaker Idea

  1. Thanks for planning my first activity tomorrow 🙂 I learnt from a teacher that it’s fun to get the students to screw up their pieces of paper and throw them across the room, then pick up a random one, putting it back if they get their own. Easier to be random than when swapping paper! 🙂
    PS No name ideas…yet

  2. its a gud activity but how can it be managed in a class of 35 to 40 its better to break the class in a group to ten or so.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, I wasn’t thinking of large classes – the maximum class size at my current school is 16 students! With 35-40, I agree you’d probably want to be splitting them off into groups. Maybe you could then have some kind of reporting back stage to finish, so that the ss could learn about the ss who weren’t in their group too. 🙂

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