Teaching Advice: Ice breakers

Having a number of icebreakers up your sleeve can be incredibly useful! They  can be used initially to warm up a class  or to form a ‘break’ between sections of a lesson. They can be used as a way to introduce yourself to a new class or to introduce a new topic.

Entering a new class can be daunting, but starting with an icebreaker is a sure way to make yourself and the class feel more at ease! They help you to get to know one another and feel more like part of a ‘team’.

Icebreakers can be in the form of songs, games, rhymes or drama. They are characterized by being short, engaging and fun and help the class (and you) feel more united!

Students playing fruit salad

Students playing fruit salad


  • ball games: balls or anything similar are easy resources to take and can be used in a variety of icebreakers. Initially they can be used to find out children’s names, ages and other introductory facts. Whoever catches the ball has to tell you their name or age etc. They can be used as in team games, such as the ‘balloon game’ where 2 teams have to race to see who can get the ball to the end of the line using an over and under technique.
  • simon says: a really good game to encourage shy children to engage and build up their trust. Useful to gain the attention of an unruly class! Great way to introduce a topic on parts of the body!
  • swap seats: can be used for a variety of topics, for example, swap seats if you have brown hair, long hair etc can be used as an introduction for a lesson about yourself.  Swap seats if your favourite  food is mango, could be used in a lesson about food.
  • hangman: in my experience children get really competitive with this, so will act as a sure way to get their attention and to get them focussed!


Songs can be used to introduce a wide number of topics! They are a sure way of gaining a class’ attention. You can divide the class into 2 to introduce an element of competition! They are a useful tool to help children overcome their inhibitions.

  • number songs: 5 green speckled frogs; 5 little fish; 10 green bottles etc
  • animal songs; we went to the animal fair; old McDonald had a farm
  • other useful songs: rainbow song; heads, shoulders, knees and toes; copy me;
You will have to make a fool of yourself to make this work – but no better way to get integrated into your new role!
  • Acting adjectives. Children have to pull out a card from a bag with an adjective written on it. They then have to act this out without words. You can vary the adjectives depending on your topic or the level of English in the class.
  • Acting nouns. Same as above but using nouns!
  • Roleplays – give different students roleplay scenarios to act out in front of the class, you can give them some time to write and practice their dialogue.
Here are a few websites where you can find more icebreaker ideas……

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