The first day of class sets the tone for the rest of the term. As students file into your college classroom, they bring certain experiences with them. For some college students, the topic of your class may provoke feelings of excitement, while others may be filled with anxiety. Some students are excited to learn from you, while others are simply there to fulfill a graduation requirement.
College class icebreakers give you a chance to learn about the unique individuals you’ll be teaching. While going over the syllabus sets the tone for their future learning environment, icebreaker activities set the tone for the classroom community you’re fostering.
Tips for College Class Icebreakers
When choosing icebreaker activities for your classroom, you want to look for activities that aren’t too silly. Some students may not know anyone else in the classroom and be nervous about making a bad first impression.
You may also want to choose a variety of activities so that you can break into small groups for some of them and stay in large groups for others.
Finally, it’s important to choose icebreakers that can be made inclusive for the entire class. It’s best to have a few ideas ready in case any students are unable to take part in certain activities.
Best Icebreaker Activities for College
#1 – Two Truths and a Lie
In this quick and easy icebreaker, students come up with three fun facts about themselves. Two of them are true and one is a lie. The other students have to guess what the lie is.
#2 – Birth Map
Birth maps are a great activity when you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to icebreakers. All you need for this is a large world map and a bunch of pins. Have your students mark where they were born, then show the birth map to the whole class.
#3 – Create a Marshmallow Structure
Break the classroom into small groups. Hand each group a box of dry spaghetti, a bag of marshmallows, and a roll of tape. Set a timer and see which group can build the largest structure before the timer goes off. This is a great way to get creativity flowing and encourage collaboration in your classroom.
#4 – Trading Cards
Hand out index cards and markers, and have each student make a “trading card” that represents who they are. Tell them to include a drawing, their name (and any nicknames), and a fun fact about themselves. When they’re done, they can get up and start trading the cards around. Require that they read each card before trading. When you’re done, have everyone show off the card they have.
If you want to take this game a step further, you can collect all the trading cards and make laminated copies of them after class. Then, for the rest of the year, you can give out trading cards as rewards for getting trivia questions right or answering questions in class. You may be surprised by how much students enjoy collecting the cards and creating a finished “set” by the end of term.
# 5 – Cross the Room
Use tape to denote two sides of the classroom. Then, pose questions with two answers, and have students gravitate toward the side of the room they agree with. For example, you might say, “What do you like better, watching TV or being outside?” People who like watching TV better would go to one side of the room, while people who prefer being outside would go to the other side of the room.
The goal of this is to help students see what they have in common with each other and celebrate differences. Just be sure you ask a wide variety of questions, and that your questions can’t be construed as embarrassing or personal.