7 Excellent First-Day-of-School Icebreakers for Students

First-day-of-school icebreakers are meant to alleviate the anxiety students often experience on their initial day back to school.

While some teachers may be eager to dive into their first-day-of-school checklists, it proves beneficial to allocate time for activities that encourage students to interact and learn about one another.

There may be students who lack friends or are new to the school, making them nervous.

By creating an environment where students have an opportunity to genuinely get to know their classmates beyond surface-level interactions, they become more receptive to learning and feel comfortable in their surroundings.

Choosing engaging icebreakers for the first day of school that avoid putting anyone on the spot or causing discomfort is essential.

The activities should be enjoyable, prompting students to participate willingly.

In this post, we have outlined seven excellent first-day-of-school icebreaker ideas that teachers from any grade level or subject can utilize to help students connect, build trust, and create a warm, nurturing, and productive classroom culture.

First-Day-of-School Icebreakers

The following back-to-school icebreakers help teachers build a positive classroom community from the first day of school.

1. Find Three Things In Common.

To begin, the teacher divides the students into groups of three.

Within each group, the students engage in discussions to identify at least one thing they all have in common.

After a designated time, a signal prompts the students to rotate and form new groups with different classmates.

The process continues for a few rounds, allowing each group to discover shared interests or experiences.

2. Solve the Emoji Code.

In this fun and engaging back-to-school icebreaker, students each take a piece of paper and use emojis to depict aspects of their personality or interests.

Once they’ve created their emoji codes, each student shares the emojis they’ve chosen to represent themselves, describing their unique traits and preferences to their peers.

This first-day activity not only helps students get to know each other better but also encourages critical thinking as they select emojis that best capture their identities.

3. Answer Would You Rather Questions.

“Would you rather” questions are an excellent icebreaker activity for the first day of school.

Have all the students sit in a circle, and then you take turns asking each student a different “Would you rather” question.

Alternatively, you may want to ask the same question to all the students and go around the circle to hear their answers.

Be sure to choose a mix of fun and interesting “Would you rather” questions that will resonate with your students’ age group and interests. 

Here are some questions to get you started…

  • Would you rather have the ability to fly or be invisible?
  • Would you rather be able to speak and understand all languages or have the power to read minds?
  • Would you rather live in a world with only black and white colors or a world with only one color?
  • Would you rather have the power to time travel to the past or to the future?
  • Would you rather be a professional athlete or singer?
  • Would you rather live in a treehouse or a castle?
  • Would you rather have a superpower of super strength or the ability to control the weather?
  • Would you rather explore the deep ocean or travel to outer space?

4. Contrast and Compare With a Classmate.

Pair students and give each duo a Venn Diagram graphic organizer. 

Each student will fill out their own section of the Venn diagram with information about themselves.

The real interaction occurs in the overlapping middle part of the diagram, where students collaborate to identify shared attributes or interests.

The goal is to encourage students to delve beyond superficial details and explore similarities in their likes, dislikes, tastes in books, music, and more.

By doing so, students build deeper connections with their peers.

5. Conduct Surveys and Polls.

Arguably one of the best icebreakers for the first day of class is to have students do surveys and polls.

There are two ways to implement this activity: as a whole group or in small groups.

In the whole group version, the teacher asks questions to students such as, “Who has a birthday in January?” and then tallies the responses.

Other question topics include lunch choices, how one goes home after school, and favorite subjects.

Alternatively, individual students go around and ask questions to their classmates from a pre-made list, such as, “Who was your teacher last year?” or “What’s your favorite food?”

They record the responses in a worksheet or on a clipboard, noting the names of students and their specific answers.

At the end of the activity, students review their notes to see which classmates share common experiences or preferences.

6. Give Simple Introductions.

Write a list of criteria on the board or display it on a projector. 


  • Favorite dessert
  • Favorite color
  • Birthday month
  • Favorite animal
  • Favorite hobby
  • One thing you did this summer

Students take turns going around in a circle, answering the questions.

7. Do Team-Building Activities.

Team building activities promote a sense of camaraderie among classmates.

By working together towards a common goal, students develop a positive team spirit that will benefit them throughout the school year. 

One popular option is Minute to Win It games, which involve quick and fun challenges that groups must complete within a minute. 

Other options include…

  • Build a Tower Challenge – Provide small groups with Legos or marshmallows and challenge them to build the best Lego structure or the tallest marshmallow tower. 
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Teams – Encourage table groups to work together to complete a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Group Origami – Provide each small group with origami paper and instructions for a simple origami creation. They collaborate to make the creation.

Final Thoughts On First-Day-of-School Icebreakers

Back-to-school icebreakers are a great way to help students get to know each other and create a positive atmosphere on the first day of school. 

Utilizing these engaging icebreakers for the first day of school, you’ll have a class full of students who feel safe, included, and ready to learn.

This will ultimately result in a prosperous school year for both teachers and students.