Icebreakers and Games for Distance Learning

Do you need ideas for getting started virtually with your students? This post lists 40 ideas in 2 categories from fun and games to relationship building. If you like listening to podcasts, then check out Vivify STEM.

10 Activities in Relationship Building with your students.

  • Show & Tell: Ask students to find an object to share with the class. This is a perfect way to have students share their personal sparks. Another option is to share a meaningful object and tell a related story.
  • Costume or hat day: Ask students to dress up as their favorite character or wear a silly hat. Students who are shy on camera might also prefer wearing a hat or mask during video chats. Students can also dress up related to their spark!
  • 1 Truth & 2 Lies: A twist on the classic game, ask students to share 3 sparks with only one being their true spark. The rest of the class then puts up one finger if they thought the first statement was true, two fingers if they thought the second statement, and three fingers for the third statement.
  • Charades: Send a word to a student via private message. The student acts out the word, and the class tries to guess what it is. Here is a fun list of words. Students can also act out their sparks for the class to guess.
  • Create a video: Send students a video where you explain your spark or show it in action. For example, love baking? Show students how to make your favorite recipe!
  • Flipgrid: We love Flipgrid! Set-up topic boards for your class and have students submit video responses. Videos are moderated by teachers to create a safe environment. We use Flipgrid for students to share sparks and introduce themselves in the beginning of the year.
  • Zoom In: Find a photo that represents your spark. Zoom into the photo and have students guess your spark. Keep zooming out until they figure it out. You can also have students take a photo of something from a weird angle or extreme close up and have the class guess the object.
  • 20 Questions: Have students try to guess your spark by asking yes and no questions.
  • Current events: Share a news story or real-world video related to your spark. For example, if your spark is space, you can share a video of a recent NASA mission.
  • Virtual Backgrounds: Ask students to create a virtual background that represents their spark. This provides a great visual to help you refer to their spark during the class session.

30 Ideas for Fun and Games to increase engagement during live class sessions. Click on details for game suggestions.

  • Scavenger Hunt
  • BINGO Game
  • Tell a Joke
  • Describe & Draw
  • Pictionary
  • Virtual Field Trip
  • Guess the Baby
  • Mad Libs
  • Quick Share
  • Mystery Bag
  • Secret Word
  • Would You Rather
  • Guess the Sound
  • Mystery Guest
  • Writing warm-up
  • Trip ABCs
  • Class Story
  • Two-Minute Talent Show
  • Memory Game
  • Boggle & Noggle
  • Learn to Draw
  • Spin the Wheel Activities
  • Guess the Disney Character
  • Tongue Twisters
  • Good News Sharing
  • Never Have I Ever
  • MUTE-iny
  • Guess the riddle
  • Tomato Ketchup
  • I Spy

STEAM Solve for Tomorrow Contest

Samsung ContestDesigned to boost interest and proficiency in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM), the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest challenges public school teachers and students in grades 6–12 to create solutions using STEAM skills that can be applied to help improve their community. All you have to do now is start thinking about a local or relevant issue that impacts your school. Once the next school year begins, Samsung will remind you to brainstorm a solution with your students for a chance to win a share of $2 million in Samsung technology for your school. Sign up now to receive Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest emails and updates to be the first to know when the contest officially starts.

Design Challenge Learning

Design Challenge Learning is a 21st-century learning style geared to challenge and innovate students through hands-on activities that foster skills in critical thinking and in solving real world problems.

The Tech, Museum of Innovation is a good resource for design challenge lessons that can be done in less than an hour, 1-2 hours, or over multiple sessions. Lessons are thorough and labeled by grade level.  From a teacher’s point of view, the opportunity to observe and question students through their challenge sheds new light on how students get more from a lesson by working together and thinking out loud.  Give it a try and see how your students do with the whole engineering process.

Weekend STEM Project

Alexa is a 5th grade student who enjoys being creative. On Sunday, April 26, 2015, she was inspired to build a parlor for several of her “Littlest Pets” using wood scraps saved from her Gramma’s woodworking projects. Alexa used the following supplies:

  • wood scraps of all different sizes and types
  • wood glue
  • clamps
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • markers
  • scroll saw (with supervision)

Alexa started by gluing together a platform. She built a small wall for the sides and back before creating and designing her store front. As she grabbed pieces of scraps, you could see the wheels turning in her head. As her Gramma, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and teach Alexa how to use a scroll saw. She became even more excited because now she could be a little more precise about the pieces she wanted to use. She glued, clamped, and sawed wood until her design finally took shape to what she had painted in her mind. While the main store was drying, Alexa created a road sign for her store and a crib for her smaller “Pets”. She was so proud of her creation and so was I. Her design is far better than what you can buy already built in the stores. 🙂

I asked Alexa if you she could tell me what the SCIENCE was in her project and she said it was in the structure. TECHNOLOGY was using the scroll saw, ENGINEERING was her putting it all together, and MATH came in to play when she measured and marked pieces of wood that needed cut. Click the images to see the detail in a larger view.  Way to go Alexa!  High Five!

Those Darn Squirrels!

VCEC Conference – February 28th and March 1st, 2013
STEM Session – Pulling It Together

Design Challenge:  Work with your group to design a machine that will get the squirrels to the bird feeders.

Those Darn Squirrels
Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin
Design Engineers: Sylvia and Alana
Your machine must use at least one simple machine. Use only the materials given to you.