Building a strong rapport with students is a key aspect of effective school-based counseling. Rapport building activities should be done for the first session, but may also be necessary for another week or two if your student or students seem like they need more warming up to counseling. Icebreaker activities are an excellent way to break down barriers, foster communication, and create a positive atmosphere.
Here are seven fun and engaging icebreaker activities to help you connect with your students.
Just click on any pics of activities that you’d like to learn more about.
1) Two Truths and a Lie:
This can be a fun and prep-free way to get to know your students. Lying can be fun and it let’s your students share their creative side. To Play:
Have each student in the group go around and share two true statements and one false statement about themself. The students take turns trying to guess which statements are true…and which is the lie. This way students learn about each other, but also get to show their sneaky side.
2) All About Me Worksheet:
This is how I start 50% of my counseling sessions in week one or two. It’s a good way to have students share a little about their families and interests. Sometimes, I will do one for myself with them, so that they also get to know me (on a surface level.) Kids like this activity because they like the focus to be on them. It’s like, “finally an adult is interested in me!”… And most kids like coloring.
3) Paper Airplane Compliments:
To play: Each student writes their name on a paper airplane and throws it into the air. Students pick up a random airplane, unfold it, and write a compliment for the person named. This activity promotes positivity and boosts self-esteem. It’s also perfect for a Social Skills group because these students may need to work on the art of giving compliments.
4) A Collaborative Art Project or Puzzle
For the Art project, provide art supplies and ask students to create a collaborative piece of art. This activity encourages teamwork and creative expression. For the puzzle, you can go to the Dollar Tree and find a few puzzles with varying difficulties and themes. Choose a puzzle that is best (gender, developmentally appropriate) for your counseling group. Both activities serve as a metaphor for the value of working together and help kids work on collaboration.
5) Rapport Building Games
These games are somewhat similar with questions, but give the feeling of novelty if you do more than one because they are different in style. For Jenga, just number your Jenga pieces 1-30 and print out the game. The same print out works for the Beach Ball Game, but you will need to number a beach ball. This is fun for kids because they get to stand in a circle and catch a ball before reading them the corresponding question. If your tight on space, Jenga, Candy Land, or the Card Game versions are the way to go, however.
6) A Scavenger Hunt:
Scavenger Hunts are fun because they involve students to interact with each other in a collaborative way. To make a basic scavenger hunt, create a list of items or traits to an item (ex. something blue) for students to try to find in pairs in a given time limit in your office, classroom, or on campus.
7) Do Restorative Circles
Restorative Circles create a safe-space for discussion, improve behaviors, and increase learning of Social Skills, such as turn taking and listening. Circles can be an important tools for nurturing relationships and feelings of community and can have a profound impact on bullying. While typically circles are thought of as a classroom SEL activity, they can be done as an icebreaker at the beginning of each counseling session as a way to bring students into the present moment.
Remember, the key to successful icebreakers is to create a comfortable and inclusive environment. These activities aim to not only break the ice but also set the tone for a positive and supportive relationship between you and your students. Enjoy the process of getting to know each other!