I spent a lot of time searching for icebreakers that I felt would be of value for my class. I was hoping to find some to help make my students and myself less nervous. After a lot of searching, I decided that my initial activity would be an icebreaker with a lesson that lasts.
I gathered a cloth pouch courtesy of a holiday Crown Royal purchase (luckily there’s only branding on one side, so no one could see it), as well as 14 semi-random objects that I could fit in the bag. I chose a small ball of yarn, post-its, a pen, bottlecap magnets, a snowman ornament, an orange paracord bracelet, a tiny music box, a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, and a handful of small plastic animals. When it came time to start class, I began taking the objects out of the bag. I gained the full attention of a number of the students in the front, but some of the students in the back were still chatting away with their neighbors or were otherwise oblivious to what was going on. I returned all of the items to the bag, and asked everyone to take out a piece of paper and list as many of the items as they could remember. Some began making their list, some asked others for paper, and others had a minor meltdown.
I told them that I would be repeating this exercise, and took the items out again. Something very cool happened. I looked up to see that not only had I captured the attention of the students in the back, but now, many of the students at the tables in the back of the room were standing up, and peeking around the group in the front. I put the items away again, and asked the students to make a new list. Of course, they all got more items, and one student in the front was able to list all of the items.
One student came to the conclusion on her own as she said “Alright, I think I need to rethink my seating choice” and moved to the front. I was so impressed with this little activity! Not only did it illustrate that it is important to pay attention, and to arrive punctually and prepared, but it caught everyone’s attention and I think really hit home for them.