Ice-breakers: tried and tested

It’s that time of year when new cohorts of students are getting to know you and getting to know each other. Here’s suggestions for a couple of ice-breaker activities:

1. Four “facts” about me: this is one I’ve used a lot over the years. Everyone (including yourself) is asked to introduce themselves and say four facts about themselves. However, one of the facts needs to be false, and everyone needs to guess which was the bogus information. Works best when you give the students a bit of time to think about it and tell them to make the lie plausible.

2. Human bingo: inspired by Julian Park’s session at a recent pedagogic forum, this year I tried something different. I created a 6×6 “bingo” grid of statements and the students had to try and complete as many lines on the board as possible in a set time by trying to find peers that fitted the given description. I included a few more rules:

(i) they could only have given person once on their board (although another tutor with a smaller group expanded this to allow two references to each person, which worked well)
(ii) they could include themselves (but only once)
(iii) to ensure conversation they needed to start by asking up to 3 questions “did you go to an olympic or paralympic event?”, “do you have a tattoo?”, etc but if they got three “no”s they could then ask the person to pick a category that was true about them. Depending if they were kind or devious they might pick an answer that completed a line or was no help whatsoever.

After the allocated time, the winner was the person who had the most completed lines of six (rows, columns or major diagonals). A small prize could be offered, but if it is make sure it can be shared for circumstances when there are more than one winner.

My bingo card is available here (as an editable word document), and is shown below. In a group of 35 students we failed to find anyone willing to admit to being vegetarian or knitting, but we did have someone who had been arrested (“though it was all a big mistake”).

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