Here is a list of different community building activities that you can bring into the classroom:
Inner circle/outer circle: Have students get into two circles facing each other. Ask the students a get-to-know-you question. After about 2 minutes, have the outer circle rotate one person to the right. Ask the next question. Repeat as many times as you’d like!
Musical discussions: Have students walk around the room as music plays. When music stops, they find the person closest to them. Ask a question for them to discuss. Try giving them the question before the music plays to give them some thinking time! The day before this activity, have students write down their favorite songs on an exit slip and play those songs for musical discussions! This way, everyone gets to know each other more through music, and they get to listen to some of their favorite songs that day.
Discussion ball: Write questions on a bouncy ball. Have students get into a circle. Students throw the ball to another student, wherever their right thumb lands, they say that question out loud and then answer it. You can have multiple balls in small groups or 1 for the whole class.
Community Jenga: Write different questions on Jenga pieces. Students play Jenga! When they pull out a piece, they answer the question. This is better in a smaller group. You can have stations with Jenga being 1 station or have multiple games going.
Soundtrack of your life: Have students create a soundtrack of their life with their favorite songs or songs that symbolize different aspects of themselves. Students can share these soundtracks with each other after!
Identity handprints: Students cut paper in the shape of their hand. On each finger, they write an important value, trait, or aspect of their identity. They decorate the rest to best represent them. These are on display in the classroom and can be looked at in a gallery walk. You can also arrange these in the form of a flower or tree as a bulletin board display.
Interview a peer: have students interview each other (and come up with their own interview questions). Option to have students present what they learned about their partner to a small group or whole class.
M&M game: Everyone gets a fun-size bag of M&Ms. Each color represents a different question (blue=favorite tv show, green=favorite food, etc.). Student pulls out an M&M and answers the question in a small group or whole class.
Human Bingo: create a bingo spreadsheet with a different fact in each square. (Can play an instrument, has a pet dog, etc.). Students roam around the room freely trying to find others that fit each square until they get Bingo.
Paper plate game: students put a paper plate on top of their head. You describe something for them to draw (a house with a window in the front, a tree to the right of the house, etc.) with the plate still on top of their head. Afterward, display the plates for a gallery walk. This is pretty silly/fun.
The west wind blows: the class gets in a circle, one person is in the middle. The person in the middle says a statement like, “The west wind blows for people who watch Greys Anatomy.” If it applies to you, you move to another part of the circle. This will leave another person in the middle to say the next statement. The person in the middle must say a statement that also applies to them so they can move inside the circle. I have a few statements written down in case a student has trouble coming up with one.
These are just a few community building activities to bring into the classroom; many of these are discussion-based and can be adapted to review questions surrounding content as well! While most of these activities are very social, a few of these are focused more on individual reflection (soundtrack of your life, identity handprints, paper plate game, etc.) because sometimes too many hyper-social community building activities can be stressful or exhausting for more introverted students.
Here is a list of potential ice-breaker questions or prompts for the above exercises:
- How do you like to spend your weekends?
- What are you really passionate about?
- If you could only watch one TV show for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- Recommend a book.
- Recommend a movie.
- What is your favorite movie or book genre?
- What is your favorite snack?
- What is your favorite subject in school?
- If you could solve any problem, what would it be?
- What social or political issue are you really passionate about?
- What is your favorite season?
- What is your favorite sport?
- What is your favorite color?
- If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
- If you could have any super power, what would it be?
- If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would it be?
- If you could have dinner with any famous or historical figure, dead or alive, who would it be?
- What is your favorite holiday?
- If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
- Cats or dogs?
- What is your favorite meal of the day?
- Sweet or savory?
- Do you sleep with socks on?
- What would be your ideal job when you grow up?
- What are your goals for after high school?
- What is a personality trait about yourself that you really like?
- Are you a morning person or a night person?
- Who is your favorite teacher you have ever had?
- Do you have any pets?
- What do you usually do after school?
- What’s your most recently played song?
- What’s the last thing you took a photo of?
- If you could go to any concert, who would you go see?
- What is the worst song that can get stuck in your head?
- Do you have a favorite sports team?
- What’s your favorite board game or video game?
- Who is a person you really admire?
- If you had one extra hour of free time every day, how would you spend it?
- If you could instantly become an expert on something, what would it be?
- What was your favorite childhood TV show or movie?
- What was your favorite toy growing up?
- If you could time travel, when would you go?
- What’s your biggest pet peeve?
- What is something you are really proud of?
Hopefully, those are just a few icebreaker questions to get you started. Ask your students to come up with questions too–they always come up with the most creative and insightful questions to discuss with their peers!
Feel free to add more community building activities or ice breaker questions to the comment section!