Tuesday, July 19, 2016


ABCs of Me a No Prep Icebreaker

Here's an easy no prep activity that students love and can be easily tailored to best fit your students' levels.

I don't know how your first day is...mine is CHAOTIC. Students are always switched out or moved in, or just added late. I really feel like I don't want to teach anything day one because I'll have to re-teach it for the following week.

Technology is usually working on the first day, so I have an Kahoot activity with my students for information on me. Students LOVE it. However, this year I taught summer school. I had no tech, no class list and had just moved into the classroom. Of course!

I wanted to get an idea of how my students were as far as writing level. This was a remedial English class, so I just wanted to know if they could write a sentence.

As such, I brought back an OLD ESL activity. "ABCs of Me" and threw it into a Snow Ball fight .

In the end this activity was such:
  1. Students write down the alphabet (one letter on each line of their paper) and try to write COMPLETE sentences with the letter. 
  2. You can adjust this according to students' levels. For more advanced classes have each sentence connect (so the entire page would read like a paragraph or story). For lower levels, just have them focus on a word per letter (adjectives or nouns).
  3. I gave my students a few ways to do this. I let them write a word that starts with the letter and then the sentence, OR have the sentence start with the letter. I tell them NOT to use their name. I also walk around and help kids who are stuck on letters (or tell them to skip a letter)
    • So, "A teacher is what I am." Good
    • "Birthday: My birthday is in January" Good
    • "Carissa is my name." Bad
    • "Dad. My dad is a basketball coach." Good 
  4. Once they’ve written as much as they can (5-10 minutes) I tell them to crumple the paper up and we have a two minute “snowball fight.”
    • Make this fun! Play "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" or "The Eye of the Tiger" Students usually don't go too crazy with this, but if you notice they are targeting someone you may need to put a stop to it.
  5. Once you stop they grab a paper uncrumple it and try to match it to the person who wrote it. 
    • I have them put their name at the bottom if they found the author, but the author should NOT write their name (yet), so you can play again!
  6. Repeat if needed / desired. 
    • I like to play a few times. The last time they play the author write their name on the top and sits down with their paper.
  7. Have students share something they read about someone else they thought was interesting OR about themselves.
This helps me because I can gauge what they think a sentence is as well as their vocabulary. I also learn a bit about the students.

Students are also eager to share because it isn't their information... they're sharing about their classmates. The pressure it way off.

It's an easy, no technology nor prep activity that students LOVE.

If you try it let me know how it goes.


  1. Hi Carissa! I work for the British Council Facebook page and I hope you don't mind but I just wanted to let you know that there is a typo (sorry) in your text.'You can adjust this according to students' levels. For more advanced classes have each sentence conect.' Love the activity btw! Tina

    1. Hi Tina. Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know. If you were a student, I'd give you extra credit right now :)

      I am about to hop in and edit. Thanks!

  2. Fantastic ideas! I cannot wait to do a Kahoot with my students on the first day! And I will surely try the snowball idea with my more advanced students. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! :)


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