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Icebreaker for the first day...the first week... Normal is a Cycle on Your Washing Machine




I know you are thinking about the first day of class. So, I wanted to share one of my favorite icebreakers.   Have a great semester!


Normal is a Cycle on Your Washing Machine

It is a new semester. It is a new opportunity to challenge and engage young minds. Are you a, “normal” teacher?  Don’t be a normal teacher. Normal is a cycle on your washing machine. How about moving outside of your comfort zone with an unusual icebreaker? Try the paper plate activity (or use an index card).


Paper Plate Directions:

  1. Have students pick up a paper plate as they enter the classroom.
  2. Display 3 questions on the board or overhead projector.
  3. Students only write the number and the answer to the question on their paper plate. No talking is allowed. No names are recorded on the paper plates.
  4. After 2-3 minutes, collect the paper plates and share as many responses as time will allow.


Suggested Questions:

  1. I like teachers who….
  2. I learn best by…
  3. One thing I hope to learn in this class is …
  4. I am really good at …
  5. I would love to improve my …
  6. I dislike it when teachers…


This simple activity has several benefits: 1) It is unusual and grabs the student’s attention; 2) It gives students a moment to reflect and have an immediate voice in the classroom; 3) The instructor receives some valuable information from the students; and 4) You have created a warm, inclusive environment where learning can flourish by engaging the students.


How can you use/adapt this activity in your class? Please share your favorite icebreaker or brain-warming activity.




Thank you Sandy. If you try this icebreaker, let me know how your students respond.