What is your favourite icebreaker or first day of school activity?

My first day of school with my classes actually happens in June not August with the exception of the new S1. So some of these icebreakers and first day activities I have already done this year.

I like to start classes with a problem solving task. This gives me great insight into how well the pupils follow instructions, tackle a problem, work with each other, communicate results and engage with a challenge.

Here are some of the different problem solving tasks I like to set:

**The Handshake Problem**

**Pentominoes**

**Grid Challenge**

Draw a 5 by 5 grid.

1. Place 13 counters. Arrange them on the grid so there is an odd number of counters in each row and column and the two main diagonals.

2. Place 10 counters. Arrange them on the grid so there is an even number of counters in each row and column and the two main diagonals.

I also like to play a few number games. I always like to get a feel for the numeracy skills of the pupils.

Here is an example:

**Make 24**

This is a game for 2 players. Each player writes down two numbers between 1 and 10 on a piece of paper, making sure not to reveal their numbers to the other player.

Then both players reveal their numbers and try to make the target of 24 by using a combination of operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and brackets). The winner is the first player to find a solution.

The files for the Handshake Problem and Pentominoes can be found here.

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I have 2 hours on the first day of school with “primetime” kids. This is sort of like a homeroom but we only meet 9 times per year. I ordered a breakout box (http://www.breakoutedu.com/) to do an activity with them, but processing is taking 5 weeks right now so I’ll be cutting it close. It’s like a breakout room, but kids unlock a box to retrieve whatever is inside instead. If it does not arrive in time, it will still make a great tool for exam review. They offer a make your own option via amazon, but when you buy theirs you support their presence (giveaways to teachers) at EdCamps, etc. So I chose to take the risk and wait 5 weeks.

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Thank you for sharing your activities! I love the idea of problem solving right away!

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