What are some ice breakers I can do with my student?

Icebreakers are meant to help you build a connection with your student. If one of the activities below requires showing your personal space or a photo of your friends/family, please make sure your student is comfortable sharing and do not pressure them. 

Significant Objects: Ask your student to share 1 or 2 objects in their home/room that mean a lot to them. They should show it on the screen and share why it's meaningful to them. Tutors should do the same. Ask questions as your student shares to get to know them better. 

Snap Shot: Ask your student to share 1-2 recent pictures from the week/weekend and the story behind the picture. Ask questions as they share. Try to get to know the people and things in their life. Tutor should do the same. 

Two truths & a lie: You and your student should take 5 minutes to think of 2 truths and 1 lie. You will share your 2 truths and 1 lie with each other and will try to guess which one is the lie. *Optional-- you can ask each other questions to try and determine which one is the lie. Once you've determined the lie, you should still spend some time asking about the 2 truths to learn more about the student and share more about yourself. 

Bucket List: Outside of tutoring and academics, your student is a person with aspirations and goals. Ask your student to share some bucket list items they want to achieve in the future-- these can be school related or just fun bucket list items! Either way they will be inspirational and open the floor for you to encourage your student to pursue their dreams. Don't forget to share yours too! You can even create a fun way to share these via google slides or on a whiteboard using an actual image of a bucket and allowing your student to list them out visually. 

Would You Rather: A classic game played at summer camps everywhere, "Would You Rather" is an excellent, quick ice breaker. Here are a few "Would You Rather" questions to get you started:

  • Would you rather only have summer or winter for the rest of your life?
  • Would you rather never use social media sites and apps again or never watch another movie or TV show?
  • Would you rather have a horrible short-term memory or a horrible long-term memory?
  • Make up your own! 

Name that Tune: Music brings people together! Take turns whistling, tapping, or even playing an instrument (if you have one) to the tune of a popular song and try to guess the name. This is a great way to learn your student's taste in music and incorporate that into your lessons moving forward!

I Spy: Ask your student to find something in your background and say "I spy something <insert color>." You should then look around the room you are in and try to figure out what the student is guessing. This might mean showing different things to your student and telling them more about your tutoring space. If your student feels comfortable, you can switch. *Make sure you know what is in your background and that it's all appropriate to discuss with your student.

Random Conversation Questions: This site has all sorts of question wheels or simple get-to-know-you activities. You can use this as a one-time ice breaker or open each tutoring session with a few spins of the conversation wheel!

Ask me about poems (better for high school students): Allow 5-10 mins for you and your student to write 5-10 lines of a "poem" where every line begins with “Ask me about…” This doesn’t have to rhyme, but it can if you want. Here is an example: 

  1. Ask me about art days with my cousins
  2. Ask me about casseroles on Christmas morning
  3. Ask me about my happy place, etc, etc,

One person shares their poem and the other person asks them about 2 or 3 of the lines. Then switch! *Optional- Each line can also begin with “My People Are…” and make references to your family, community, country, planet, etc. 

My fuel is (better for high school students): Give yourselves 5-10 minutes (or longer if you need) to answer these 2 questions: 

  1. What motivates you? Think about different aspects of your life and really try to understand what drives you to make decisions. 
  2. Where does your motivation come from? Are you influenced by your family? By the environment? By a teacher? By a specific experience? etc. 

Spend the next 10-15 minutes sharing your responses with each other. Feel free to ask questions to each other to make it more of a discussion. Remember to keep the tone open and accepting. This activity can get deep and personal, but please only share what you feel comfortable sharing.

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