Number one for English language teachers

Mingle activities: Snowball fight

Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Extra

A short ice-breaker activity which encourages students to mingle and share information about themselves.

Materials: Four sheets of blank paper per student (preferably recycled paper).

Procedure:

  • Say hello to students. Introduce yourself and, as you do, write your name on a sheet of paper and hold it up for students to see. Do the same with, for example, your age, nationality and favourite music group.
  • Then hand out four sheets of paper to each student and ask them to write the same information on the four sheets of paper, one item per sheet. It doesn't have to be a complete sentence.
  • Then ask all students to hold up one piece of paper and scrunch it up into a ball. Do this with all four sheets.
  • Now ask students to stand up and divide them into two teams standing at opposing ends of the classroom. Tell them they are going to have a snowball fight with the paper balls they have just made.
  • Tell students they have 10 seconds to throw all the snowballs on their side of the classroom at the other group, but when you shout STOP everyone must stop. Build up the beginning of the game by counting down from 3. Once they begin throwing the balls begin counting down from 10 and finally shout STOP.
  • Then ask students to pick up any four snowballs that are, by now, scattered over the floor, sit down and open them up to see the information inside.
  • Once they have all done this, elicit the questions they need to ask to make another person in the class give the answer they have on the sheet e.g. 'What's your name?' for the information 'Pepe'.
  • Now tell students to mingle and find the person who wrote the information on the paper and write that person's name on the paper.
  • When all students have finished ask them to tell the class what information they found about other people in the class.

This is an immediate ice-breaker for the all-too-often tense first class and acts as a get-to-know you activity at the same time. This can also be used for any grammatical item you wish to practise later in the course.

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