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Back-to-School Icebreakers and Team Building Activities

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Maria Corte

The first day of school is right around the corner! Maria Corte shares her Top 5 icebreakers and team building activities for the first week of school! Check them out below!

Ice breaker activities are a great way for students’ to connect with their classmates and teachers upon returning to school.  The first few days of school many students are unsure about the class and their relationships with other classmates.  Creating a warm and friendly climate for your class is essential for your student’s success as well as the success of your program.  Making your class inviting and comfortable will not only give your students the confidence to perform well, it will also make you more familiar with your students to decrease any potential management issues.  The following are my top favorite activities that help me, as a teacher learn all the amazing personalities I’ll have the pleasure of working with all semester.

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Rock Paper Scissors Tournament

Students pair up and throw R, P, S shoot.  The winner finds another winner, while the defeated student now cheers on the person that defeated them. This goes on until there are only two students left in the tournament.  Now you have half the class cheering for their “guy” and the other half of the class cheering for their “guy”.  It’s loud, it’s fun and it never fails!

Hint: When you get to the last two remaining students, the winner is now the best 2 out of 3.  



Instruct your students to find other students with the same common interests or likes. The first common interest I use is their favorite COLOR.  Next, MONTH they were born and finally FRESHMAN, SOPHOMORE, JUNIOR OR SENIOR.  Once they have their group, they sit down in a circle and go around stating their name and grade.  (When doing the birth month, have them state their name and the DAY they were born)

Hint:  This activity allows the teacher to immediately identify students who will be leaders, followers, loud, shy, etc…


Partner Tag

Have students find a partner and decide who chases who.  Once the music starts, the student who is chasing will spin around three times before finding and catching their partner.  Once they catch or tag their partner, they reverse roles and the chaser now gets chased. 
Next, have the partners’ pair up again, but this time link arms.  They will now pair up with another group of two linked partners, making it 2 on 2.  They repeat the above process, but must stay linked with their partner, even on the beginning spinning part.
Next, have the linked partners link arms with the linked partner(s) they were chasing making it 4 on 4.  They repeat the above process, but this time the chasers will only spin once.


Team Juggling Name Game

Now that you have groups of 8 from the above Partner Tag game, have them get in a circle (standing) and give each group 3 tennis balls.  They will number off from 1-8 consecutively.  Now have the #1 student take one tennis ball and toss it to #2 student while saying their name and their #.  For example, Joey who is # 1 will say “Joey 1” before throwing it to the #2 student.  This will continue until the ball gets back to #1 student.  Now have the students mix up in the circle and stand next to two different people. Start with student #1 again and have them toss the ball consecutively.  Add another ball and then a third ball to make it more challenging.  

It’s that time of year again-- put away the flip-flops and get out those tennies.  How and what we plan in these last few weeks before the start up of school will determine the success of your program. Being organized now will help ensure success later.

Top 10 Back-to-School Keys to Success:

1. Curriculum

  • Create your semester outline
  • Develop your student calendar
  • Write your daily lesson plans

2. Create Your Course Syllabus

  • Expectations/Rules and consequences signs
  • Dress and grading plan

3. Compose Your Letter to Parents

  • What to expect from your PE program
  • Dress and grading requirements
  • Welcome parents to visit
  • Update your school website

4. Bulletin Boards

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  • Welcome back; Health and Fitness tips; Safety; School Pride, etc.
  • Make them colorful and inviting – ask students to read them

5. Music Preparation

  • Stay current; avoid inappropriate language
  • Organize your mp3 playlists

6. Equipment Room

  • Clean and organize
  • Assure equipment is in working condition

7. Prepare Your Grade Book

  • Rosters

8. Purchase Orders for Equipment and Supplies

  • Check school budget and ordering policies for the year
  • Make sure you have the essentials! (whistle, passes, pens/pencils, Band-Aid’s®)

9. Facility Sharing

  • Know who is where and when... this also applies to equipment

10. Emergency Plan

  • Know the school first aid policy
  • Establish your first contact for help
  • Use walkie-talkies and/or cell phones

Is it realistic to expect all students to reach specified fitness standards? What factors control fitness performance, and how much control do children have over their fitness accomplishments? Heredity directly impacts all aspects of health-related fitness. Various factors, such as environment, nutrition, heredity, and maturation, affect fitness performance as reflected in physical fitness test scores. In fact, these factors may have more to do with youth fitness scores than activity level. Lifestyle and environmental factors can also make a difference. For example, nutrition is a lifestyle factor that can influence test scores, and environmental conditions (heat, humidity, and pollution) strongly modify test performances. Fitness performance is only partially determined by activity and training.

Beyond heredity lies another factor that predisposes some students to high (or low) performance. Recent research has shown that differences in “trainability” are strongly influenced by genetic predisposition. Trainability explains why some individuals benefit from training (regular physical activity) more than others do. Suppose two students who are equal in ability perform the same workload throughout a semester. Student A improves dramatically, but student B does not. One can imply that student A has inherited a body that responds to training. Student A improves and scores well on the fitness test and concludes, “My hard work pays off.” Student B scores poorly and concludes, “Training doesn’t improve my fitness, so why bother?” Trainability and genetic endowment differences limit or enhance performance, making it important to have different expectations for students.

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A recent study showed that about 20% of adults fail to improve aerobic capacity with intense endurance training and 30% do not enhance their insulin sensitivity. These authors concluded that life-style interventions must be tailored to each individual’s genotype. It shows the importance of explaining to students why some will perform well with little effort, whereas others, no matter how hard they try, will never perform at a high level. Many physical traits illustrate genetic differences, such as speed, jumping ability, strength, and physical size in individuals. Understand that a few students will work hard to improve their fitness performance because they respond well to training. However the goal for teachers is to help students who have less genetic ability learn how to play, be active, and enjoy their bodies without worrying about how they compare to others.

Students want to succeed. They try to behave in ways that please the teacher and impress their friends. When the teacher says fitness scores can be improved by working hard each day, most students are believers. Students who have been exercising regularly expect to do well on the fitness tests—and teachers expect the same. But if their scores are lower than expected, students can be disappointed. They are discouraged if the teacher concludes that their low fitness scores reflect inactivity and lack of exercise. Such conclusions as, “You weren’t as fit as some of your peers, therefore you must not have worked hard enough” can be destructive. Conversely, it can be incorrect to assume that students who score high on fitness tests are active. Students who are genetically gifted may be inactive, yet still perform well on fitness tests. If teachers do not teach otherwise, these students incorrectly develop the belief that they can be fit and healthy without being active.   

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