Some Ice to Break

This post is written as a part of preparation for our Teacher Sharing Day 3.0 (or number three, that is) with EduHub in Dnipro, Ukraine. 

I always ask everyone I know in the world of ELT and beyond what ideas they have about starting an event (or a lesson with a new group, or a course with a new group of participants) and creative ways of doing so. The ‘creative’ part is less about the fountain of new and impressive activities but more about simple ways to ‘melt the ice’ and bring comfort to the people who are going to spend a day together (or a week, a month, term… you got the point!)


I have been playing with several ideas to try out. Will share them below, along with some thoughts on what may work, and what’s tricky about them. Your advice and feedback appreciated!

Getting ready for the game…

  1. Offer cards with ice-breaker activities described on each of them (can also be 3-5 different colors, with about 10-12 activities in total) and letting the attendees read the description and try the activity out with the person next to them. Possibly, this would help everyone feel comfortable talking with the person next to them, and people may opt out of doing the task. I am not sure I will have the time to write things up nicely though, so the idea might have to wait till the future event we co-organize

2. Offer Questions about Breaking Ice to discuss:

  1. Think back about an ELT event (conference, workshop, webinar) you attended recently. Was there any ice-breaker at the beginning? What was it? Did you like it? Can you adapt it for your students?
  2. How do you like starting out the very first lesson with a new group of students? Share an ice-breaking activity you like using.
  3. Is there an ice-breaker you personally hate for some reason? Describe it. What exactly do you not like in it? How can you adapt/modify it to start liking it more?
  4. Have you ever started a course (a lesson) without any special ice-breaking activity? How did it go? What did you learn?
  5. (add your own question about breaking ice)

The great(est?) thing about this idea is zero preparation for me: it does not break the ice as such, and may even turn into a competition (who knows fancier activities, who has attended more events in the past month, etc.)

3. Offer this task as a small group (or pair) work: Can you think of an ice-breaker activity that involves the following:

  • interviewing a peer
  • sharing a picture from one’s camera roll
  • drawing a picture
  • ‘Do-It-Yourself’ task
  • a board game (a dice game)
  • numbers
  • guessing
  • a competition
  • moving around
  • using an App

Choose one and try it out in your pair or small group. 

This has some pros and cons, too: on the one hand, the ‘discussion’ part may be interesting for more experienced people in the field, and the newer teachers may feel they have nothing to add (that they have not passed the ‘entry test’ of some sort?) On the other hand, the idea to try an ice-breaker of their choice may be a fun idea. On the third hand (I know this does not exist in English!) the whole thing may take way more time than we have for getting us started in the morning…

I will leave you here, with all the questions about ice-breakers in my mind. It is one of those posts (for me) written as a way to procrastinate creatively and productively. Hope you enjoyed sharing my break with me!

Thank you for reading!

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
This entry was posted in Trainer Reflections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Some Ice to Break

  1. Sandy Millin says:

    Thanks for sharing these ideas Zhenya. And ‘on the third hand’ does exist when you’re joking, and you used it in exactly the way I would. 🙂 Here’s an ngram for it:

    Liked by 1 person

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