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AMIGOS believes in learning by doing. Classroom ice breakers are step one in our training program.

Before we send our volunteers to Latin America, they take part in a comprehensive, hands-on leadership training program. This prepares them for their AMIGOS project and allows them to build community with their peers. They develop technical skills, practice public speaking, and learn about project management.  But most importantly, training is also fun!

Every teacher can appreciate a good class activity, but these can be more than just name learning games. Through these classroom ice breakers, your students can discover their capacities for creative problem solving and teamwork. They also can gain new perspectives about themselves and their peers.

During icebreakers, students get a chance to focus on indicators rooted in Positive Youth Development Theory:

  • Team building by exploring leadership roles and improving communication
  • Personal growth by assessing strengths and weaknesses and trying out different responsibilities
  • Diversity by appreciating differences and working with people from various backgrounds
  • Recreation by laughing together and incorporating physical movement

These activities encourage students to learn in a myriad of ways while providing a break from the everyday. So to help you add more learning by doing in your classroom, here are a few classroom ice breakers and team-building games used in the AMIGOS training curriculum:

Crossword Connections

Each person is given a paper plate on which they are to write their name in bold letters across one side. The group is then given 5-7 minutes to mingle with other volunteers and finds “connections” (similarities) they have with one another. When you discover a “connection,” write your new friend’s name in crossword-style to connect with your own name. Then turn the plate over and write the hobby/characteristic/interest you have in common. The student who discovers the most connections with different people wins the game!

Process point: Individuals are so unique, but there is common ground between each person in this world. 

River of Life

Give each person a sheet of plain paper and make plenty of crayons, markers, or colored pencils available.
Ask each person to draw the river of their own life, going back to the source (early years in their families) and the different periods of their lives, such as quiet peaceful times and wild stormy times (or rapids and waterfalls).

Major influences which contributed to the growth of your river can be shown as tributaries and labeled. And small drawings, showing the important people, events and experiences can be drawn beside the river.

Give 10-15 minutes for the drawing. Then ask people to form groups of 3-5 to share the experiences illustrated by the River. It is not advisable to share in a large group, but if people wish they can put the drawings on the wall and explain them informally to each other.

Process point: This personal reflection can lead to greater self-knowledge and is a strong basis for small group sharing, leading to greater trust in the group.

Spinning Webs

The group stands in a circle. The facilitator needs a large ball of string/yarn as they answer a process question such as “What ways can we express ourselves when we don’t know another’s language?” or “How can small actions eventually change the world?” (Any question works). After the first person answers, they hold onto the end of the string and toss the ball of string to someone across the circle. The process repeats until each person has answered the question and the ball of string returns to the first person. Everyone should be holding onto a corner of string, and a web should be visible in the circle’s center.

Process Point: While looking at the web, discuss the value of unique perspectives in teamwork, brainstorming, group input, how we all might be different, but we are connected.


Looking for more educational resources? Want someone from AMIGOS to come to your classroom and share more about learning by doing? Please reach out to [email protected] for more information!


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