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5 Reasons to Use Ice Breakers in the Classroom

Why ice breakers are a teacher's best friend


Ice breakers aren't just for introductions any more, although they're very good for that purpose. We've got five good reasons you should be using ice breakers in your classroom for more than introductions on the first day of school. How many ways to do you use ice breakers? Share your ideas with us! We'd love to hear from you.

1. Get Students Thinking About the Next Topic

Jack Hollingsworth - Getty Images
Jack Hollingsworth - Getty Images

In a previous life, I wrote training programs for corporations. I started every new lesson in every program with a short warm up exercise that lasted just five or 10 minutes. Why?

No matter where you're teaching adults—at school, in the workplace, at the community center—they come to the classroom with minds full of the myriad things we all balance every day. Any pause in learning allows those daily responsibilities to creep in.

When you start each new lesson with a short warm up that relates to the topic, you're allowing your adult students to switch gears, once again, and focus on the topic at hand. You're engaging them.

We've got 10 ice breakers for you that make great warm ups: 10 Warm Ups for Lesson Plans

2. Wake Them Up!

Student laughing by Stockbyte - Getty Images
Stockbyte - Getty Images

We've all seen students who look bored out of their minds, whose eyes have glazed over. Their heads are propped up on their hands or buried in their phones. Do they think you don't notice?

Take action! You need an energizer to wake people up. Party games are good for this purpose. You'll get groans, but in the end, your students will be laughing, and then they'll be ready to get back to work.

The idea behind these games is to take a quick break that's very easy. We're going for light fun and laughs here. Laughter pumps oxygen through your body and wakes you up. Encourage your students to be silly if they want to.

Here are 10 games to try: 10 Party Games as Energizers

3. Generate Energy

And Images - Getty
And Images - Getty Images

When something is kinetic, its energy comes from movement. Some of the energizers in No. 2 are kinetic, but not all. In this collection, you'll find games that get your students moving in a way that creates kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is good because it not only wakes up your students' bodies, it wakes up their minds.

Whether you need something quiet, like scarf juggling, or have the freedom to bang on the desks, you'll find something here to get the juices flowing: Top 10 Kinetic Ice Breakers

4. Make Test Review More Fun and Effective

Students laughing by Stewart Cohen - Getty Images
Stewart Cohen - Getty Images

What could make test prep more fun than playing a game to review the material?

Show your students how fun you are by choosing one of our 5 Games for Test Review. They won't all fit your situation, but one of them is sure to. At the very least, they'll inspire you to come up with a test review game of your own.

Research shows that students who vary the way they study and the places they study remember more, partly because of association. That's our aim here. Have fun before test time, and see if grades go up.

5. Inspire Meaningful Conversation

Table Topics
Table Topics

When you're teaching adults, you've got people in your classroom with loads of personal experience. Since they're in the classroom because they want to be, you can pretty much expect that they're open to meaningful conversation.

Meaningful conversation is one of the ways in which adults learn--through the sharing of ideas.

Inspire meaningful conversation in your classroom by following Ron Gross's ideas: The Importance of Meaningful Conversation, and by using Table Topics, cards with thought-provoking questions.

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