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3 Fun Icebreakers for Kids and Adults in the Classroom

3 Fun Icebreakers for Kids and Adults in the Classroom

Teaching a new group of students can be challenging. Especially, if you have limited course materials, you may need to prepare an introductory lesson for the first day of class. Fortunately, there is an easy solution for this typical scenario. After reviewing the course syllabus and term schedule, you can do some fun icebreaker activities to introduce the students to each other.

Icebreaker Games for Small Groups

Here are three fun icebreaker activities that you can use teaching in a kindergarten and adults in small groups. All of these games require very minimal preparation and encourage plenty of participation.

1. Hot Seat

This first icebreaker is very similar to the popular board game called Headbanz.

First, demonstrate the game in front of the class so that they understand what to do. Pick a student to volunteer to be on the “hot seat” and tell them to close their eyes. If you like, put a handkerchief or a hat over their eyes. Write a word on the board so that the rest of the students can see the word clearly.

For example, write “Iceland” on the board. Then, give hints about what the word is. For instance, it is a country. It is cold. It is an island. They have lots of green energy there. Eventually, the student on the hot seat will guess the correct country.

After modeling the activity, divide the class into smaller groups. Everyone in each group takes turns closing their eyes while the other group members describe different words. The student gets a point for each word that is guessed correctly. Make sure that each student has a chance to play the role of the guesser on the hot seat.

Teach in China_Fun Icebreakers for Kids and Adults in the Classroom

2. Two Truths and a Lie

Another activity that works well with all ages is Two Truths and a Lie. 

Again, model the activity first before assigning the task. To begin, write three sentences on the board about yourself. Make sure that one of the sentences is a false statement. The other two statements are true statements.

You can adjust the complexity of the sentences based on your students’ levels. For example, for a beginner-intermediate class, write three simple sentences:

  • I have a dog.
  • I watched a movie last night.
  • I will play a computer game tonight.

Next, tell the students that one sentence that you have written is a lie. Tell them to ask you questions to determine which sentence is the lie. Then, they could ask you questions, such as:

  • What is your dog’s name?
  • What movie did you watch
  • What game will you play?

Based on your responses, body language, and acting skills, the students should be able to decipher which sentence about you is false. At the end of the question period, take a class vote to see how many students think which sentence is the lie. Finally, reveal the answer.

After modeling the activity, divide the students into small groups. Everyone writes out three sentences: two truths and one lie. Then, each student takes a turn answering their classmates’ questions. By the end of the game, the best “actor” in each group wins!

Teach in China_Fun Icebreakers for Kids and Adults in the Classroom

3. Cup Pong

For the final icebreaker activity, you can adapt the classic drinking game of Cup Pong for practicing English.

To prepare for the game, you will need a few plastic/paper cups and a ping pong ball. If you don’t have cups, try improvising with some cardboard boxes.

Assign a number and a letter to each cup that you have lined up on the floor (or on a desk). Each number is the amount of points received if a ball lands in the cup. Meanwhile, each letter represents a language task that students must perform.

For instance, if you have five cups, label them from A to E with different point values based on the task difficulty. Below is an example of how you could configure a possible scenario:

  • Cup A – Spelling (1 point)
  • Cup B – Punctuation (1 point)
  • Cup C – Present Tense (2 points)
  • Cup D – Past Tense (3 points)
  • Cup E – Future Tense (3 points)

In this case, if a student lands their ball in Cup A, then they would have to spell a word. If they spell correctly, they get 1 bonus point. On the other hand, if someone lands their ball in Cup E, then they would have to form a sentence using the future tense. If correct, they would receive 3 bonus points for completing the more challenging task.

The beauty of the Cup Pong icebreaker is that you can adapt the rules and tasks to match your students’ abilities. All in all, it is a fun engaging kinesthetic learning activity for all ages.

Other Fun Icebreaker Activities for Kids and Adults

These three games are just a few ideas that you can use to introduce new students in class. If you would like to learn about other ESL icebreaker activities, visit ESLexpat.com. The site also features extra ESL activities for kids and adultsEnglish idioms and phrasesTESOL blog articlesteacher surveys, and more resources for teaching English abroad.


David O Connor

David O Connor

David is China by Teaching’s chief contributor. When not offering sage advice about teaching in China, David is a headmaster of a Bilingual kindergarten in Beijing. David is a lover of craft beers, book clubs and super long road trips.

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