The Best Name Game Ice Breaker
Any time I have a new group of students, this is my go-to activity for the first day as a Spanish ice breaker. I originally posted about my name game ice breaker, which I call Name Game Speedball in 2014, so it was time for an update since I have since played this game with 12 separate exploratory classes, as well as every since class period when I started at a new school. Here are my go-to first-day plans with a new novice class.
**Update! Get new Name Game Slides for free at the bottom of this post! Use these to project to help teach the vocab & explain the rules.
1st Day of School – Name Game Speedball
- Teacher – My name is Sra. W. What is your name?
- Student – *blank stare* or joke about not speaking Spanish yet
- Teacher – (repeats with exaggerated gestures) My name is Sra. W. What is your name?
- Student – My name is…
- Teacher – Repeats the students’ names back with a welcoming greeting
Once everyone has been personally greeted and is wearing a nametag, motion for everyone to form a circle. Do this in the target language with big gestures. In Spanish circle is a cognate, so they catch on quickly. In my deskless class, it is easy to form a big circle, but if you have desks I would make sure they are arranged so you have a lot of space on day 1.
Name Game Speedball
- Example Round – Teacher models, as well as points to what is written on the board in the target language “My name is…” “What is your name?” and passes the ball to the student standing next to the teacher. This continues until everyone has been introduced. (If anyone laughs or makes fun of anyone immediately shut it down and emphasize that this is a safe and positive environment).
- Round 1 – Teacher says in the target language “My name is…” “What is your name?” and underhand tosses the ball to another student, first making eye contact. Tell students they need to remember who throws it to them, and to who they throw it. This continues until everyone has been introduced. Repeat as many times as the class needs to get these phrases and the order down.
- Speed Round 1 – Here it is important to challenge the kids and play it up that you bet they can’t go through the whole order and beat a certain time or another class’s record. I then ask for a timekeeper (who thinks it is awesome that they are getting to use their phone in class on day 1.) I record their new time each round on the board. This can keep going as long as there is high interest. The key is to end on a high note and keep them wanting more. To mix it up you can move to new phrases in Round 2 if they are catching on quickly.
Round 2 – Name Game Speedball
- Teacher models “his/her name is…” During this round, everyone will say “My name is…” “His/her name is…“ while making eye contact and tossing the ball to another student. This will continue until everyone has gotten it once. They will once again need to remember the order.
- Speed Round 2 – You can now see if you can beat your own time from the first speed round. Once again end on a high note and keep them wanting more.
- Optional challenge – See if anyone in the class can volunteer to name everyone. Give them a small treat if they can.
** Social Distancing Options for a name game icebreaker
- Play outside in a very large circle. Have everyone wear masks, and sanitize a ball, and hands before and after playing.
- Play at desks facing the front without a ball. Have everyone stand in front of their desk. Instead of a ball students play, throwing an imaginary pass or “passing the snap.” Or students could do a specific action and then pass it on.
Why Name Game Speedball?
The hidden agenda here of this Spanish ice breaker is that I personally want to learn every student’s name on day one. So even if the students all know each other, let them know how important it is to you to learn their names, and they will appreciate it. That along with building positive and supportive classroom culture makes this the perfect first-day activity. If I remember, I also like to get a class picture on day one with everyone wearing their name tags. This way I can study if needed. It is also fun to look back on this group’s pictures at the end of the year.
What if we have some extra time at the end of class?
With a little extra time, you can do first-week logistics as stations get logged into Google Classroom, Sr. Wooly, and other accounts for class, fill out a student interest survey, pass out the syllabus and parent newsletter or go over class expectations. There are always a ton of “must-do” activities from admin the first week, that I personally like to wait until the end of class to do since I want the high engagement right away during the prime input time.
**More ideas for the 1st day of Spanish Class
How can I use this game beyond day 1?
Speedball could be used for future classes with many new get-to-know-you phrases such as “I like” or “I am from,” while doing the Super 7 unit in Spanish (or now French!). It is a great brain break and students love getting to move and throw a ball. You could use higher-level phrases in upper levels as well.
What to do on Day 2 of Spanish class?
On Day 2 of Spanish 1, we start our two week Super 7 present tense unit, using special persona interviews to continue building our positive classroom community.
What about Spanish 2 and above day 1?
If you do not know the names of the class or they do not know each other, a quick round of name game speedball would still be great. You could mix it up so that they say something more advanced like “My name is… & I went to…” Then you could move into my 1st Day Plans for Spanish 2, 3 or 4.
If you are looking for more, my Back to School Bundle has everything you need for a successful first week. Or if you need a mix of everything in an uncertain year Super 7 Bundle.
More Spanish Ice Breakers
*Update! Make sure to grab new Name Game Slides for free below
Use these to project to help teach the vocab & explain the rules. Thanks to mi amiga Profe Sierra for her help in collaboration with them.
Name game speedball originally published 8.13.18 (based on a post by Allison Wienhold on Mis Clases Locas in 2014) – most recently updated 5.16.23