7 Ice Breakers for the First Day of School in the Upper Elementary Classroom

7 Ice Breakers for the First Day of School in the Upper Elementary Classroom

There is so much to plan during back-to-school season. 

From curriculum to meet the teacher night and everything in between. That is why I love to use these tried and true simple icebreakers with my upper elementary students. Not only are they fun and engaging, but they are unique, so chances are your students have not done them before! 

There are many benefits to using icebreakers in the classroom

Icebreaker activities can help create a positive classroom environment, foster connections, and build a sense of community among students. Some benefits include...

  • Students immediately begin to feel comfortable in the classroom
  • You get to know and build relationships with students from day one
  • Students get to know each other quickly
  • Your classroom community is beginning to form

Read on to learn about 5 simple icebreakers that you can use in your upper elementary classroom this back-to-school season! These activities are designed to encourage participation, develop communication skills, and make the transition back to school smooth and enjoyable.

1.  Four Corners

Four Corners is a fun icebreaker game to help elementary students get to know each other better. It's a simple and interactive activity that promotes movement and social interaction in the classroom.

  • Before starting the game, assign each of the four corners of the classroom a number (1, 2, 3, 4). You can use 4 pieces of colorful construction paper with each number 1-4 to display the numbers clearly in each corner.
  • Have all the students gather in the center of the classroom.
  • Display a getting to know you question on your smartboard or simply read aloud a question to strengthen listening skills.
  • Pick simple questions on topics that the kids love to talk about, like favorite season, favorite sport, favorite drink...just topics to get the kids chatting in the corners!
  • Display four choices, each matching a number 1-4. (what is your favorite season 1= winter, 2 = fall, 3 = spring, 4= summer)
  • Students answer the question in their heads and go to the corner with the number matching the selected answer.
  • Repeat the process for each new question you ask!

Four Corners is a fantastic icebreaker game that will help energize the classroom and create a friendly atmosphere, helping students to see all they have in common with their new classmates.

2.  What is Your Name? What is your initial?

I LOVE completing a variety of name activities at the beginning of the year, even in upper elementary classrooms. I love to read the Name Jar and complete name reflection activitiesGrab the free name activity here.

A fun twist on name activities that you can use to decorate your room is the My Name is activity. For this activity, simply...

  • Go around the room and have the students say, My name is ____, it starts with the letter ___, and the letter ____ is for____.
  • Example: My name is Jeaning, it starts with the letter J, and J is for jumpy!
  • Whatever word they select should represent a bit about them. It is a jumping-off point before the next activity.
  • Once all students share, pass out big bubble letters, giving each student the letter that their first name starts with.
  • Students then decorate the letter with pictures, words, phrases, magazine clippings, and crayons to represent them. Have them cut them out and then proudly display them around your room.
  • This is a fun in class or at home project for the first month of school

Go one step further and have each student share their letter and explain different elements that they used to decorate it.

Grab free bubble letters to try out this activity!


back to school read aloud upper elementary

3.  Same, Same, But Different Read Aloud

Bust out the Venn diagrams for a fun and interactive reading of this picture book! This book follows two young pen pals, one lives in America and the other lives India as they learn about each other and realize how they are the same, but different. This book perfectly celebrates recognizing each others' differences and similarities...que the Venn diagram!

Have a big stack of Venns copied and ready to go for some "Speed Venn Diagramming." Circulate the kids around the room until they can complete a Venn diagram for every new classmate. 

Go one step further and reread this book for reading, writing, and word work lessons on: 

✅ Reading: Comparing and Contrasting

✅ Writing: Personification

✅ Word Work: Decoding Multi-Syllabic Words

✅ Back to School Focus: Building Friendships

Take a look a the interactive read-aloud pack HERE.

first day of school activity teacher quiz

4. Teacher Quiz

The kids get a kick out of having their "first test" on the first day of school when that test is all about their teacher! It is fun, easy, and the kids love it!

  • Create a T/F quiz about yourself with a mix of interesting tidbits that the kids can relate to.
  • I use about ten questions. (see the template here)
  • Have the kids take the quiz and then go over all the questions.
  • Engage the kids in discussions about your facts to see if you share anything in common with them! 
  • Go one step further and have the kids write a sentence about themselves on the back and then ask YOU if you think it is true or false.

The kids love learning about what they have in common with their new favorite teacher!

5. Two Truths and a Lie

"Two Truths and a Lie" is a classic icebreaker activity that encourages students to share interesting facts about themselves while trying to trick their peers. Here's how to implement it:

  • Divide the class into small groups or pairs.
  •  Instruct each student to think of two true statements and one false statement about themselves.
  • One by one, students share their three statements with their group without revealing which statement is false.
  • The group discusses and tries to identify the false statement for each student.
  • After a few rounds, encourage students to share the false statement and explain the truths to get to know one another better.

This activity helps students get acquainted with their classmates and develop critical thinking and listening skills.

find someone who activity first week of school

6. Find Someone Who

"Find Someone Who" is an interactive icebreaker activity that encourages students to communicate, mingle, and discover commonalities among their peers. Here's how to use this idea:

  • Distribute a "Find Someone Who" worksheet or create a grid on the board.
  • Provide a list of statements or characteristics, such as "Find someone who has a pet" or "Find someone who enjoys reading."
  • Instruct students to walk around the classroom and find classmates matching the criteria.
  • Students can ask questions and discuss whether their peers meet the criteria.
  • Once students find someone who fits the statement, they can sign or write their name in the corresponding box on the worksheet or board.
  • When students complete all the boxes, they are done! Bonus points for those who finish first!

This activity promotes active participation, communication, and collaboration while encouraging students to find shared interests or experiences among their peers.

about me bag for the first day of school activity

7. About Me Bag

The "About Me Bag" activity allows students to express their individuality, interests, and aspirations through a creative and visual project. Here's how to give it a try:

  • Provide each student with a picture of a brown paper bag or an actual lunch bag
  • Instruct students to create a collage using magazine cutouts, drawings, and written descriptions that represent themselves, or you can have the students fill the bag with three items that represent themselves.
  • Encourage students to include elements such as their favorite hobbies, aspirations, favorite books, or places they have visited.
  • Once the bags are complete, allow each student to share their collage with the class, explaining the meaning behind their chosen elements.
  • Hang the collages around the classroom as a visual representation of the diverse personalities and interests within the class.

This activity not only allows students to express themselves creatively but also provides an opportunity for their peers to learn more about each other.

Icebreaker activities are valuable tools for establishing a positive and inclusive classroom environment at the beginning of the school year. By implementing these simple icebreakers, you can help upper elementary students connect with their peers, develop communication skills, and create a welcoming classroom community. 

These activities set a positive tone for the year ahead, laying the foundation for a successful and engaging academic journey.

You will also love reading:

Check out my favorite back-to-school activities HERE

Like this one filled with community building and getting to you know activities that kids love!  

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7 Ice Breakers for the First Day of School in the Upper Elementary Classroom

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