11 Awesome Spanish Icebreakers for High School Students
Because of COVID-19, more than 50 million students in the U.S. started learning virtually, according to EducationData.org.
That’s a huge number of students!
Distance learning has been quite a journey for many students and educators over the past year. While interacting with students online has its own set of challenges, you can still make it fun with these 10 awesome icebreakers for high school that are guaranteed to reduce the first-day jitters!
What is an Icebreaker?
“Icebreaker” in Spanish is una actividad para romper el hielo that’s designed to reduce shyness or awkward tension among students and their teacher who aren’t yet fully acquainted with one another because it’s their first time together.
While this activity is certainly not limited to high school students, this specific article hones in on the best icebreakers for older students who are engaged in virtual learning.
Icebreakers make your class more fun, interactive, and dynamic, which inspires students to actively speak, participate, and get to know each other better within a virtual environment.
Here are 10 of the best icebreakers for high school students perfect for the first day of school!
Distance Learning Icebreakers for High School.
Gauge your students’ fluency levels on the first day of class by adjusting the difficulty level of the following oral activities:
1. Student Introductions (Basic and Advanced)
Introducing oneself is a great way to break the ice. If you’re teaching a basic online Spanish class (for first-time Spanish learners), you’ll want to give them four basic icebreaker questions and statements in English with their translations in Spanish, such as:
¿Cómo te llamas?
What is your name?
Me llamo _____.
My name is_____.
¿Cuántos años tienes?
How old are you?
Tengo ___ años.
I am ____ years old.
Where do you live?
Vivo en ____.
I live in ____
¿Cuál es tu color favorito?
What is your favorite color?
Mi color favorito es ____.
My favorite color is ____..
They will be speaking Spanish in no time, and talking about themselves as well.
To appeal to a more advanced Spanish class, ask each student to repeat another student’s introduction using the third person (ella se llama…) instead of first person.
2. Two Truths and a Lie
Some icebreakers for high school are ideal for Zoom meetings or virtual learning in general, and this is one of them!
Start by saying two facts and a lie about yourself after which your students have to vote (Zoom’s whiteboard feature is perfect for this!) for which statements they think are true and which one is a lie. When all votes are in, let them know who got it right!
After you go, ask your students to prepare their two truths and lie so they can present and allow other students (and you, the teacher) to vote.
This is an engaging, laughter-inducing way to learn more about one another with a relaxing, game-like activity.
Some useful Spanish verbs for this activity are:
- ser (to be)
- tener (to have)
- gustar (to like).
Soy: alto(a), guapo(a), amable, extrovertido(a), introvertido(a), cariñoso(a)…
I am: tall, handsome (or pretty), kind, extrovert, introvert, affectionate.
Tengo: un perro, dos gatos, cien peces, tres hámsters, una iguana, una serpiente…
I have: a dog, two cars, one hundred fish, three hamsters, one iguana, one snake…
(No) Me gusta: el helado, el tocino, los tacos, los niños, las mascotas, los deportes…
I (do not) like: ice cream, bacon, tacos, kids, pets, sports…
If you want to crank up the difficulty, ask students to talk about someone else in the class to practice third person, or some experiences they’ve had to practice other verb tenses.
Mi mejor amigo(a) es: el (la) presidente de una gran compañía, un(a) genio…
My best friend is: the president of a big company, a genius…
Yo he comido: sushi en Japón, gyros en Grecia, gulash en Hungría, pizza en Italia…
I have eaten: sushi in Japan, gyros in Greece, goulash in Hungary, pizza in Italy…
3. ¿Qué Ves? What Do You See?
This remote icebreaker requires that your students turn on their cameras and show everyone the location in which they’re taking their class online.
Pick five things that you see in your student’s background and ask them to name these objects in Spanish if they can.
After finishing round one, come back to some of them at random to review the vocabulary and verify that the student’s learned them.
This activity teaches and reinforces basic vocabulary of objects that students interact with every day and makes it easier for them to incorporate Spanish into their daily lives.
Some objects you may cover include:
|television||la televisión o el televisor|
|drawers||las gavetas o los cajones|
|nightstand||la mesa de noche|
|piece of furniture||el mueble|
|Spanish book||el libro de español|
|doorknob||la perilla de la puerta|
4. Q&A on Parts of the Face
Another great high school icebreaker game for Zoom is to teach the parts of the face in Spanish (since your students can only see your face).
Put your finger on top of any of the parts of your face and ask them:
¿Dónde está mi dedo?
Where is my finger?
Students answer with responses such as:
- en tu ojo (on your eye)
- en tu nariz (on your nose)
- en tu oreja (on your ear)
- en tu mejilla (on your cheek)
- en tu frente (on your forehead)
If you want to add a descriptive element to this icebreaker game, ask students to describe their faces to the rest of the class:
Mis ojos son cafés.
My eyes are brown.
Mi nariz es grande.
My nose is big.
Mi cabello es liso.
My hair is straight.
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5. Sing Songs and Watch Music Videos in Spanish
Fire up YouTube and share your screen to give students a taste of a fun, famous song in Spanish. Some good options include:
For an easier transition, pick simpler songs such as:
Share the lyrics in a PDF over Zoom chat and let you students sing their hearts out!
6. Play the Classic Vocabulary Game ¡BASTA!
Why not play games as icebreakers for high school? This is an awesome and super fun icebreaker game to test your student’s vocabulary level or teach a ton of new words.
To play ¡BASTA! (enough) through Zoom, explore one of the following ways:
Use a Whiteboard
Open up the whiteboard and write between 4-7 categories, making a chart with them, dividing the whiteboard in 5, 6 or 7 different columns.
Ask one of your students to start saying the alphabet in their mind at any pace they want and someone else has to tell them to stop. They will say the letter on their mind and then you write that letter on the first column.
The other categories should be filled creatively by you.
The second column is usually titled “names,” the third “food,” fourth “animals,” fifth “countries,” and so on. In the final column, leave a small space to sum up the points at the end of the round.
Once that’s set up and your letter is ready (the letter B for example), enable your students to write on the whiteboard and have them fill up the categories with words in Spanish.
The first student to complete filling up the board yells ¡BASTA! forcing the others to stop writing.
How to sum up the points: If a student’s answer is not repeated among any others, they get 10 points. If the answer does repeat, they get five points, and if they missed a category, they get 0 points.
Play via chat
Another way to play is through chat. Tell your students a random letter, give them the categories, and the first student to send their completed message through the chat will be the one who types out ¡BASTA!
Use the same criteria above to sum up the total points.
7. Round of 20 Questions
This is a fun digital icebreaker for your students to practice asking questions in Spanish. This icebreaker isn’t a good fit for beginner Spanish students, as it requires the ability to ask basic questions that solicit “yes or no” answers.
Think about a famous character or person. Your students will have 20 questions to figure out who you are thinking about. For example, if you were to choose Frankenstein, the round of questioning would look like this:
¿Es hombre? – Sí.
Is it a man? – Yes.
Is he alive? – No.
¿Está vivo? – No.
(16 other yes or no questions that could possibly get them closer to the answer).
¿Es Frankenstein? – ¡Sí!
Is he Frankenstein? – Yes!
This game is perfect to play online since you won’t be needing any extra material or a lot of effort from your students.
PRO TIP: You can play this game again once you know your students a bit better, and instead of thinking about someone famous, think about one of them. This can make the activity super fun.
8. If You Were Stranded on an Island…
Fire up your students’ imagination with storytelling icebreakers for high school. Tell your students the following scenario:
“You are about to move to the island of your dreams, where you will live peacefully and happily, but you won’t have access to things from the outside world. Before you leave your house, you will be able to take 5 things that you love to the island. Which things are you going to take?”
For beginner Spanish classes, pre-teach vocabulary by asking students to name some things they love and use often. Once you get a list of objects written in Spanish and English, then begin the scenario.
Answers in this game vary and some of your students will start speaking to each other and commenting on each other’s decision.
PRO TIP: If you teach via Zoom, use the application’s breakout rooms to divide your class into pairs or groups. This way they can have more of a private discussion to present an activity or organize themselves for the icebreaker.
Digital Icebreakers for the Advanced Spanish Class
Teaching basic Spanish can be a lot of fun, but if you have a more advanced group, some of these games work well as fun icebreakers to make your group actively participate in your class.
9. Yo nunca…
This is the Spanish version of the game “Never have I ever.” This game is perfect to teach your students the pretérito perfecto (present perfect), using the following structure:
Yo nunca he faltado a clase.
I have never skipped class.
Yo nunca he remojado papas fritas con helado.
I have never dipped fries into my ice cream.
Yo nunca he visto un partido de fútbol.
I have never watched a soccer match.
While playing on zoom, tell your students to raise their (virtual) hand if they have done what their classmate is saying, and have them tell the short story about it.
10. ¿Qué preferirías…?
This is the Spanish version of “Would you rather?”
Think about various options a student could choose to do and have them choose.
This game teaches el condicional (conditional tense).
¿Qué preferirías; teletransportarte o detener el tiempo?
Would you rather be able to teleport or stop time?
11. The best ___ is…
This icebreaker gives your students the opportunity to express their opinions on various topics while they practice the usage of el superlativo (superlative). Examples might be:
El mejor futbolista del mundo es Lionel Messi.
The best footballer in the world is Lionel Messi.
El animal más veloz del mundo es la cheetah.
The fastest animal in the world is the cheetah.
La torre más alta del mundo es la Burj Khalifa.
The world’s highest tower is Burj Khalifa.
Break the Ice!
¡Rompe el hielo! Which icebreaker is your favorite? Do you know of any other super fun and highly effective icebreakers for high school that you would add to this list? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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