3 Fresh Icebreakers for Teens

You have gregarious introverts in your classroom (yes, that’s a thing, and I know because I am one). You also have extroverts who take a little while to warm up (yes . . . because I’m married to one). And then you have gregarious extroverts who come out of the gate at full gallop and don’t stop until they hit a wall (yes . . . because I’m raising one). Then you have those quiet introverts, the ones who start that way, stay that way, and have no interest in changing their ways.

We need to get these kids talking to each other. Here are three fun ways to start conversations without overwhelming them with small talk or allowing anyone to suck up all the air in the room.

  1. Impossible Scavenger Hunt          

Create a simple one-page twenty-grid table and add to each cell a trait, act, taste, or preference. Students have to find others who can sign for those items being true for them, and conversations will happen. Cells might run along these lines:

*has never eaten broccoli *has broken a bone doing something stupid *has sneaked into a movie   *is the only child of an only child    *has lied about being vegetarian or vegan

2. Abstract Art Personality Groups

Pull four or five abstract line drawings from any source online, print them out, post them around the room, and have each student decide which of them best represents his or her personality. Students who migrate to the same one mingle and compare their reasons for choosing that artwork. Be sure to choose art that is conservative, dramatic, simple, and elaborate in order to give students distinctive choices.

  3. Ink Blot Gallery Walk

Pull six Rorschach test images from the Internet and label them A through G. Post them around the room and have students work in pairs to discuss what they see. Give them a recording sheet (designated A through G) so that they can jot down their observations. As students go to each station in the gallery walk, they will see with new eyes what their peers are seeing, and they’ll start to talk!

I’ve put together a set of directions for each of these ice breakers along with the student handouts required to make them work. Check them out here.

icebreaker, ice breaker, gallery walk, ink blot
This ink blot gallery walk is a student favorite! What do you see?

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I’m a recovering high school English teacher and curriculum specialist with a passion for helping teachers leave school at school. I create engaging, rigorous curriculum resources for secondary ELA professionals, and I facilitate workshops to help those teachers implement the materials effectively.