One of the most challenging age groups to work with are students in middle school. They are often easily bored, competitive, and difficult to please and control.
Our selection of icebreaker games for middle school students have taken these characteristics into consideration. You will find many games designed to settle a group and make them think. We have, of course, included some fun and active games. Just make sure you choose any involving something sweet at a time when you want to increase the middle schoolers’ energy level!
Table of Contents
- 1 Introductory Icebreaker Games for Middle School Students
- 2 Story Telling Icebreaker Activities
- 3 Active Indoor Icebreaker Games for Middle School Students
- 4 Outdoor Icebreaker Games for Middle School Students
- 5 Word Game Icebreakers
Introductory Icebreaker Games for Middle School Students
Many times a group of middle school students are working with people who they either do not know or do not know well. Our introductory icebreaker games involve learning names and also learning specific information about each other.
Flags are fun and usually have a symbolic meaning. In this icebreaker activity, students make a personal flag and present it to the group. Allow at least 30 minutes for completion of the flags.
- Begin by providing the supplies required. You can use plain white paper or colored construction paper for the flags. Also provide glue, scissors and colored markers.
- Explain to your group of middle school students that they are to make a flag depicting their personality. If your group is one needing detailed instructions, tell them to divide the flag into four sections and have one sections represent their family, one themselves, one their pets, and one their favorite hobby or pastime.
- When all the middle school students are finished, have them take turns presenting their flag to the group and explaining the meaning of the pictures, colors, and symbols they used.
The Company You Keep
Make a list of categories you think appropriate for this getting acquainted icebreaker activity for middle school students. For example, birthday months, favorite something, the hand with which you write, the color of your shoes, etc. After you clear some floor space so the students may move around easily, call out a category. The students are to locate as quickly as possible all the people whom they would associate with the given category.
For example, right-handers get together as do left-handers. If there are more than two choices possible – birthday months, for example – there will be more than two groups. When students have formed the clusters, ask them to shake hands with “the company they keep,” and introduce themselves to each other. Announce the next category and continue having the students divide into groups until the students know each other.
My Life in Pictures
Provide students with newspapers and magazines scissors, a blank sheet of paper, and glue. Instruct the students to use pictures and words to create a collage that tells the group about themselves. When the students are done, have each student share and explain their collage to the group.
This middle school team icebreaker activity requires some materials and preparation, but provides an excellent way to break the ice in only 10-15 minutes. The goal of this game is to guess a secret word or phrase using only a teammate’s drawing. Provide each student a plain white piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Create a word list to use based upon one of the following categories, or choose a category of your own.
- Famous people
- Famous Places
Divide your group of middle school students into teams of 4. Have a volunteer from each team serve as the first drawers. Those drawing are not allowed to talk, use hand motions, or draw letters, symbols, or numbers. Show the first drawers the first word and have them return to their teams. On your command of “Go!” the volunteers start drawing the object. The first team to raise their hand and guess the word correctly wins a point for their team. Continue having team members take turns in the same order until all the words have been used. You can vary the length of the game by choosing more or less words to draw and the number of points required to win. For a 10-15 minute game, use at least ten words. The team who reaches the number of points required wins.
Quick Change Icebreaker Game
- Divide your group of middle school students into partners and have them face each other.
- Give them a few minutes to look at each other and then have the pairs turn back to back and make two changes in their appearance. For example, they may move a hair accessory, button or unbutton a shirt or blouse, roll sleeves, cuff pants, etc.
- Then the students face each other again and attempt to identify the changes. Those who do so correctly receive a point.
- Change partners and repeat as many times as you wish.
- The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
This relatively simple icebreaker word game takes no preparation and works for any size group.
- The first middle school player says, “I went to the supermarket to buy an apple (or anything else you can buy in a supermarket that begins with the letter A)”.
- The next player repeats, “I went to the supermarket to buy an apple and a b______”. (Use the name of any item that begins with a B.)
- Continue with each student reciting the items that have already been named and adding one that begins with the next letter of the alphabet. If a player cannot think of an item within 5 seconds or misstates the order or an item, they are out.
- The winner is the student who successfully reaches the end of the alphabet – or gets the farthest. You may want to play this game more than once.
Story Telling Icebreaker Activities
Story telling is always fun and middle schoolers are extremely creative, and sometimes silly or gross, when they use the following story-telling icebreaker activities.
Object Story Icebreaker
- Collect a number of everyday objects and place in a canvas bag, basket, or box. Some suggestions are a pencil or pen, key ring, mobile phone, and a small toy or stuffed animal. Also include some unusual ones such as a wig, feather, a silly photograph, and a rock.
- Pass the container around inviting each student to choose an item without looking.
- The leader begins the story including the object they are holding. After 20 seconds (or longer if you wish) the next student continues the story mentioning the object they have chosen.
- Continue until every student has added to the story.
Tall Story Icebreaker
Another fun, story-telling icebreaker, this one begins with the leader starting a story with a sentence that ends in “suddenly.” Each student takes a turn adding a sentence that also ends in “suddenly.” It is fun to record the story and play it back after all the students have added their sentences. This story-telling icebreaker is quick, easy, and can be used with any size group.
Active Indoor Icebreaker Games for Middle School Students
These two active icebreaker games are perfect for cold days when you need to get your group active and ready for learning or play. The first works well with a large group and the second with any size group. Both require a bit of pre-planning and some supplies. Have fun!
An active icebreaker game for any size group, you will need four baskets, masking tape, enough chairs for all the players, and 20 minutes to complete this game.
- Use the masking tape to divide the room into two equal sides. Arrange the chairs in 3 equally spaced rows. Place the four baskets at the corners of each side.
- Have each team choose a runner who will be able to get up from their chair and pass the ball to teammates.
- The runners cannot shoot the ball.
- The leader says, “Go!” and each team tries to toss the ball into the basket.
- A basket made from the third row equals three points, second row two points, and first row one point.
- The team that gets the most points in fifteen minutes wins.
This icebreaker game gets everyone involved and active, especially since the students eat chocolate!
- Have every one sit in a circle on the floor. In the middle of the circle, place a plate with a large, unwrapped bar of chocolate, a knife, a fork, and clothing – gloves, a scarf, and a hat.
- Each student takes turns rolling a dice. If they throw a six, they run to the middle of the circle, put on the clothes, and eat as much chocolate as they can before another student rolls a six. The trick is that they can only use the knife and fork for eating the chocolate which is not very easy to do.
- The game ends when all the chocolate is eaten. If you wish, you can make this a team game by providing candy and clothes for each team.
- The team that finishes their chocolate first wins.
Outdoor Icebreaker Games for Middle School Students
All three of these active outdoor icebreaker games involve water, so you will need plenty of towels for drying off. They are best played on hot summer days and work especially well with a large group.
Water Balloon and Bottle Race
A fun and active icebreaker game perfect for summer, this game must be played outside. The goal is for teams to fill up a water bottle using the water from water balloons.
- Provide each team of 5 middle school students with a basket of water balloons – about 60 for each team.
- Have each team line up and give an empty water bottle to the student at the end of each line. The students should be about ten feet apart.
- When you give the “Go!” command, the first person in each line tosses a water balloon to the second person.
- The goal, is to pass the water balloon to the end of the line without breaking it. If a balloon pops, the team must start over.
- When the water balloon gets to the end of the line, the last person pops it and empties the water into the empty plastic bottle. However, the water balloons cannot be put into the bottle and then popped.
- The game ends when each team’s basket is empty. The team managing to get the most water into the bottle(s) wins.
You may need to provide additional bottles for filling.
Over and Under Icebreaker Game
Another outdoor game involving water, this game needs two orange squishy sponge balls, and two buckets of water. The goal of the game is to pass the ball over, under, over, and under down a line as quickly as possible.
- Divide your middle school students into two equal teams. After they line up in parallel lines, drop a sponge in each water bucket.
- The leader says, “Go!” and to the first person in each line grabs the wet sponge from the bucket and passes it over their head to the second person.
- The second person passes the ball between their legs to the third person. This pattern repeats until the sponge ball reaches the end of the line.
- Then the ball is passed back to the front in the same over-under pattern. The first team that gets their sponge back in their bucket wins the game.
Word Game Icebreakers
For this word association icebreaker game, have your group sit in a circle. The first person says any word they wish. The second person links another word to the first. This continues around the circle with each person adding another word. For example, the first person might say, “Green.” The second person adds, “Lettuce.” The third person adds, “Salad.” Therefore, by person number three, you have, “Green lettuce salad.” Allow only five seconds for each word link and eliminate those who cannot think of a word or take too long to do so. The last two middle school students remaining are the winners.
- The leader begins this icebreaker game by thinking of a word and giving the group the first letter.
- The first student thinks of a word beginning with this letter and provides the second letter.
- This continues with each student adding a letter.
- The goal is not to complete a word.
- Every time someone completes a word or cannot think of a letter, they are out of the game.
- The winner is the last player left.
We hope you enjoy playing these icebreakers games and activities. Remember that they can be used at the beginning of a get-together, in the middle if the action slows down, and to give a memorable ending to the time middle school students spend together.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.