We know the #1 component that leads to immersive learning starts with relationships. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five get-to-know-me activities for middle school that actually work! That’s right… Not “another” ice breaker but fun and meaningful activities to get to know the personalities in your class this year and for them to get to know YOU too!
1. This or That?
Help students find common ground with each other in this easy activity that gets students on their feet and mingling with each other. Prepare some statements that encourage students to take a stand or voice an opinion on a casual topic like “pizza is better than pasta.” Students then have to pick a side and physically move to the side of the room that represents their position. As a team, they take turns presenting their position to the class. This activity not only builds students’ confidence as they share their perspectives with their new classmates but also lets students see what they have in common with each other.
Here are some examples of this or that statements:
- I would rather vacation in the mountains than at the beach.
- Living in space is better than living underwater.
- Attending a concert is better than going to the movies/theater.
- One month without electronics is better than one month without junk food.
- I would rather have no money than no time.
Credit: Cult of Pedagogy
2. Get-to-know-you Bingo
What better way to get to know each other than by asking each other questions? In get-to-know-you Bingo, each student receives a 5×5 Bingo card. Each square has a specific characteristic like “is left-handed”, “plays the piano”, or “has an elder sibling”, “has the same birth month as you”. You can create your own, or use an online tool like this to create them.
Students ask each other questions to find a classmate who fits the criteria for each box. The first student to get BINGO wins, but the game can be extended to ensure all students complete the entire card. This game is sure to get students chattering as they discover interesting tidbits about their new classmates!
3. Class Playlist
“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen
For middle school students going through physical, mental, and emotional changes, music is a way to express themselves. Creating a class playlist can be a great way for students to showcase their personalities, even the shy ones who hesitate to speak up. Ask students to contribute a song of their choice to a class playlist and let them bond through shared tastes in music. This playlist could also come in handy throughout the school year for an impromptu dance party!
Credit: We Are Teachers
4. Sweet Secrets
If you want to get to know your students better and win brownie points for being the sweetest teacher (pun intended!), you’ll love this activity. Bring a bag of colored candy (Skittles are a good option!) to class and announce that everyone can take as many as they want from the bag. After each student has collected their candy, reveal that each color corresponds to a category (e.g. yellow for sports, red for food). For every piece of candy, they have to share a fact about themselves related to that category. For example, if a student has two yellow candies and one red candy, they might say – I broke my leg rollerblading last year, I hate swimming, and I’m allergic to peanuts.
For a more intimate sharing session, put students in small groups to encourage discussion and deeper connections. Allowing students to get to know each other in a smaller group setting also nurtures SEL skills and fosters more authentic relationships among new classmates. And of course, everyone gets to enjoy their candy at the end of the session!
5. Summer Pen pals
The first day of middle school can be downright scary for some students – new teachers, new classmates, possibly even a new school! Help ease your students’ first-day jitters by setting them up with summer pen pals. Students will have their summer vacation to exchange emails and get to know each other better – and a friendly face to navigate the first days of school!
Randomly put students in your class in pairs or groups and start them off with some questions that encourage them to share more about themselves. You could even model the activity for them by sharing a fun introduction of yourself! Not only will it put students at ease knowing who their teacher and some of their classmates are going into the school year, but it is also a great way to learn more about your students and their writing abilities before the year starts. An extension of this activity could be to ask them to bring a hand-written letter to give to their pen pals on the first day of school!
Credit: Time Out For Teachers
In the midst of setting up your classrooms and planning your lessons, don’t forget to sign up for your free Read to Lead account this year! Keep students engaged in literacy, life, and career skills through engaging learning games, enrichment activities, and more. Get started today!
About Read to Lead
Read to Lead uses the power of game-based learning to empower middle school students to build literacy, life, and career skills. Teachers can sign up for a free account to get started!