When the last school bell rings, students with new and familiar faces will bounce into your after school program, bursting with excitement from the start of a new school year! Besides reinforcing rules and student expectations, the first week of school provides a great opportunity to foster relationships and build community among students. Check out the following icebreakers and team-building activities to foster a sense of community in your program:

Ball Trivia

  • Materials: Beach ball, permanent marker
  • Instructions: In each section of the ball, write a question like, “What did you do over the summer?” or “What is your favorite sport?” Students will toss the ball around the circle, and when they catch the ball, they must answer the question on which their right hand lands. The game continues until everyone has answered at least three questions!

Photo Finish

  • Instructions: Line students up side-by-side behind a line on the floor or ground. Students must cross the line and touch the ground with their feet at exactly the same time. If the group is out of sync, the leader must shout, “Click!” and the group must start over again. Keep going until the task is completed!

Card Blocks

  • Materials: 3-4 decks of cards
  • Instructions: Divide students into groups of three or four, and give each team a deck of cards. Each team has ten minutes to design and construct a tower of cards. The team with the highest tower wins!

Getting To Know You

  • Materials: Beanbag or ball
  • Instructions: Gather students in a circle. Start by throwing the beanbag or ball at one of the students and simultaneously ask a question, such as, “Do you have a brother or sister?”, “What’s your favorite color?” and so on. The person who catches the beanbag/ball must answer the question and then throw it on and ask his own question. The game continues until everyone has answered at least two questions.

Wheelbarrow Race

  • Instructions: To begin, mark start and finish lines, and pair up the students. Here’s the challenge: one student will “walk” on her hands while her partner holds her legs. Students will race to the finish line – the first team to finish wins!

These activities are sure to break the ice and help build lasting relationships among students in your program. You can check out Activity Village and Venture Team Building for similar activities. Let’s kick-off the new school year with a bang!