Four fun ideas for lesson ice-breakers

Simple and fun ice-breaker activities are great for first lessons or lesson starters. They help students warm-up and get to know each other and the teacher in a relaxed setting. They also give the teacher an opportunity to gage student abilities and interests which can help lesson planning later. As with all activities, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes setting the schema and/or modelling the activities first.

Below are four of my favorite group ice-breaker activities.

1. Pick the lie!

The teacher writes three simple sentences about themselves on the board. Two sentences are true and one is not true ie. the lie (it’s more fun if the ‘lie’ seems like something true).

Students are then asked to guess which of the sentences is a lie. One way to do this is with a show of hands. After showing the students your ‘lie’ (see Fig.1), give the students more information about your true answers. eg. “Yes, I can actually speak four languages – English, French, Spanish, and Japanese!”


Students are then asked to do the same thing for themselves on a piece of paper. Then, in small groups of around five, students take turns reading and showing their sentences and trying to guess each other’s lies (and then giving more information about their true answers). At the end, as one group, the teacher can prompt for interesting things they found out about other students.

2. The find someone game

The teacher prepares a sheet for each student with around ten simple tasks. Students are then asked to try and complete the tasks by mingling and talking freely with other students. If they find another student that answers ‘yes’ for any of the tasks, they write that student’s name next to the task number (see Fig.2).


Give the students 10-15min to get as many ‘yes’ names as they can, The winner is the student with the most names at the end. Then, as one group, the teacher can prompt for which student/s answered ‘yes’ for the tasks.

Continued below

3. Mystery numbers

The teacher writes their first name on the board and then four numbers around it. Each number is related to the teacher in some way (see Fig.3). Students are then asked to guess the meaning of each of the numbers by asking the teacher questions. For example, “Is ‘1996’ the year you got married?”, “Is ‘7:30am’ the time you woke up today?” The teacher gives hints and prompts until all the answers are correct.


Then, in the same way, students are asked to write their name and four numbers related to themselves on a piece of paper. In small groups of around four, the students take turns guessing each what each other’s numbers mean. At the end, as one group, the teacher can prompt for things they remember about the other students.

4. The holiday mingle

The teacher prepares and gives students a sheet with five simple holiday questions (see Fig.4). Students are given around five minutes to read the questions and then answer briefly for themselves in the ‘For me’ column. Then students are asked to interview a partner taking turns asking and answering the same questions (while briefly recording their partner’s name and answers in the ‘Partner 1’ column).


Every five minutes the students are asked to change to a new partner and repeat the process (like speed-dating, and the teacher will need to act as a time keeper). At the end, as one group, the teacher can have students report on some of the more interesting information they got from other students.

Extra tip!:  These ice-breakers can easily be adapted to make lesson review activities. For example, ‘Pick the lie!’ can be used to review use of simple past tense eg. four sentences about things you did yesterday. The find someone game can be used to review present perfect eg. ‘1. Find someone who has been skydiving.’ etc.

Related links

Ten tips to get your students reading more outside class

Ten recommended TED Talks on language learning

Ten tips for teaching low-motivation learners