1st Week Icebreaker: Fishbowl!

1st Week Icebreaker: Fishbowl!

The first week back is always an endurance test for students, teachers, and staff alike.
Administration assistants who have been working the summer in relative calm find themselves nearly overwhelmed with freshmen student questions, parent phone calls, and a slew of emails and paperwork. Freshman anxiously race around the school hoping to enter a new class before the bell. Meanwhile, teachers do what they do – plan, adapt, and try the best they can.
In the first week, you may find your room is 82 degrees, because the heater has been stuck since the winter and the maintenance worker who knows have to fix it retired last year. The computer’s operating system was likely upgraded, but none of the presentation programs were, so as you begin to welcome your class with a Powerpoint Orientation, the program begins an update…
…an update that will likely need several hours.

Because I am a vocational school graphic arts instructor, my job relies on technology. If my students didn’t have access to a computer, I wouldn’t be able to prepare them for a career in today’s market. They simply wouldn’t have the necessary knowledge or skills. However, another part of my responsibility in a vocational school is a constant focus on professionalism and support the student’s growth in interpersonal skills, confidence in public speaking, and teamwork.
Ice-breaker lesson plans are necessary during the first week and while I wouldn’t do FishBowl first, student should certainly be ready for it by the third day.

The game is called “Fishbowl.”




1) Ss get 3 pieces of paper.

2) They must write down three subjects – one on each piece of paper.

The subject must be popularly known.

For instance, “roller skates”, “Darth Vader”, “rhinoceros”.

You may want to check for duplicates and have students choose something else without telling other what the duplicate was.

3) The kids fold the paper and throw in the bucket.

4) Divide into teams. Determine who goes first.

5) First team has one member start. This part is like “Family Feud.”

6) Set the timer to one-minute.

7) Start the timer, student has one minute to grab a folded paper w/subject.


8) During this first round, Ss can only describe the subject – but CANNOT say the written subject or physically act anything out.

9) If the student’s team guesses correctly – student puts correctly guessed slip into a team pile – and next team member pulls another folded slip.

It’s important to involve each team member as much as possible, so one clue = one student.

10) If they fail to guess correctly, they get stuck and waste the minute.

11) The opposing team should NOT shout out guesses, but they should listen closely in case they get the same folded slip of paper.

12) The teams alternate until all slips are gone. Teams count up the sum of their correctly guessed slips. Tally.

13) The next round is drawing, but no writing or sound-making.

14) The next round is silent charades.

15) The next round is allowing the student to only emit ONE sound – not a word, just a sound. The student can repeat the sound as often as possible, but cannot alter the originally uttered sound.

After these four rounds, the game is done, and you are ready to tally and announce the winner!

You’d be surprised how much fun this could be and how animated people can get – enjoy!




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