By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant
Icebreakers for After School Programs Part 1
It’s time to head back to school and that means after school care for a large number of students. It’s great to jump back in using icebreakers to help kids remember the names of others, as well as to find commonalities and start forming new friendships. Icebreakers are typically intended to make a group of individuals feel more like a team and to help folks learn a little something about each other.
When leading an icebreaker, allow your participants to have fun with it for a while. Stop play at the first sign that they are over it. Debrief when finished to discuss what they got out of it. What did they learn? How can they use that information? Etc.
In the first of our two ice breaker blogs, we will explore introductory icebreakers to help your students get to know one another in a fun, active fashion.
The Name Game
- 4 hoops
- 1 piece of equipment per 3 participants using a variety of equipment such as foam balls, beanbags, rubber chickens, etc.
- Participants form a large circle.
- Place hoops around the outside of the circle 5 paces behind the circle and spread equipment in hoops.
- In “The Name Game”, we will learn each other’s names. We will also practice safety and courtesy.
- How quickly can we create a large circle?
- We will go around the circle starting with me. On your turn, step forward, say your name and act out your favorite physical activity.
- Then, everyone else will repeat your name and act out your activity.
- (Practice with your name and then go around the circle 1X.)
- Now we are ready to share equipment. We will start with a foam ball. I will call someone’s name to get their attention. When they look at me, I roll the ball to them. They say “Thank you” and my name, and I say “You’re welcome” and their name.
- When you show me you can give and receive objects safely, I’ll add more.
- (Continue until all toys are being tossed and rolled around the circle.)
- Let’s see how many names we’ve learned. Put the toys back in the hoops. We will step in one at a time and others say our name and try to remember our favorite activity.
- (After going around the circle once more…) Debrief: Let’s stretch together and discuss what we’ve learned. (Names, getting someone’s attention before passing, handling equipment safely, including everyone, being courteous, etc.)
Hi, Hi, Hello
- Participants wearing nametags on their chest with name written big and bold.
- In “Hi, Hi, Hello, you will meet as many others in our group as you can before the signal.
- On the music, move through the group, saying “Hi,” and their name to the first person you meet. Repeat to the second person you meet. To the third person, say, “Hello!” but this time you don’t say their name).
- If the person you say “Hello” to says “Hello” back to you, it is a match and both of you celebrate! (Dance, shout, or jump up and down – you choose how to celebrate.)
- Repeat until the signal, always going in order: Hi, Hi, Hello.
- How many matches can you make?
- How many names can you learn before the signal?
- SPARK It Up!
- Try it with a different language.
- Do a high 5 for “Hi” and high 10 for “Hello!”
Have You Ever…?
- Participants standing in a large circle.
- In “Have You Ever” you will share commonalities with others in the group.
- I’ll begin by saying, “Have you ever…?” And I’ll fill in the blank with something I have done. If you have also done that activity, walk across the circle to an open space on the circle.
- After I’ve done a few to warm us up, anyone may start the activity with their own “Have you ever…?”
- (Continue for several minutes. Have a few extra activities in mind in case your participants are shy.)
- Debrief: How did you feel when you found out some of your friends have some things in common with you?
3, 2, 1
- Pair students; scattered in area.
- In “3-2-1” you will learn some interesting facts about each of your partners and group members.
- After introducing yourselves, your first task is to come up with 3 unique things you and your partner have in common. (i.e., favorite food, author, TV show, etc.).
- Once you have identified your 3 items, show me a thumbs-up. We will share 3 pairs’ commonalities.
- Now, your pair joins another to form a group of 4. Introduce yourselves.
- Your group of four needs to identify 2 unique things you all have in common. We will share 3 groups’ commonalities.
- (Encourage students to dig deep for commonalities because you cannot use items you have previously identified).
- Finally, your group will join another to form a group of eight. After introducing yourselves, the goal is to find 1 unusual event, interest, or activity that all of you have in common. All groups report to the whole group at the end.
- Debrief: In this activity you were able to learn more about the people in your group. How would this affect the interaction between your group mates?
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will try out new icebreakers that will get your students working together and will test their listening skills.
For more icebreakers and a comprehensive physical activity program that you can implement with your students, check out the SPARK After School Physical Activity Program.
For additional activity ideas, products, and resources to deliver programs that inspire youth to play, explore, and create, please visit School Specialty Out-of-School.