5 First Day Activities

5 First Day Activities

5 First Day ESL Activities

The first day of term is probably the most difficult day for any teacher but especially so for new teachers. Having been there myself, I decided I would put together a post of some easy first class Ice breakers and activities. This post is for kids and young learners  but also includes activities for teens and adults.

Question Me

Activity Time:  10 minutes +
Materials required: White board and marker.
Skills practiced: Listening, Speaking, question forming and Vocabulary.
Level: Young Learners, Teens This first activity is simple to set up and take very little preparation time. Its a great way for the students to get to know you. Method 1. On the board, draw a stick man/woman to represent yourself (Those more artistically gifted can of course make a more interesting creation!) 2. Draw lines coming from your figure. At the ends of these lines, you write numbers, nouns etc that have significance to you.
A rough example of what you should have.
3. The students now take turns in asking questions that these words and numbers may be the answer to. i.e Student: “Have you two brothers or sisters? Teacher: “Yes, very good. I have two brothers.” 4. Next student asks a question. Only answer if they have guessed the correct question.* 5. Follow up by students doing the same exercise in pairs etc. *If the question is formed incorrectly, ask the other students to help form it correctly.

Class survey

This can be a great mixer activity and can be used in conjunction with the activity above. Activity Time:  10 minutes +
Activity type: Group work
Materials required: White board and marker, paper and pencils for each student .
Skills practiced: Listening, Speaking, question forming and Vocabulary.
Level: Young Learners, Teens
1. On the board draw up the following grid with information you would like the class to find out about each other.
 You can add as many questions as you like. Review last years topics etc.
2. The class copy the grid into their notebooks and begin by filling in the information about themselves.
3. They then go around the class and ask each other the questions and find who in the class has the same information as they do. To extend this activity further, you can get the class to tell you who shares the same information.
This is a great way for the class to get to know each other and for you to get to know the students as well.

This summer I ……

Activity Time:  10 minutes +
Materials required: White board and marker, pictures(optional)
Skills practiced: Listening, Speaking, Vocabulary.
Level: Young Learners, Very Young Learners.
This is a great activity for young learners and very young learners on the first day of term. It gives you a great way to practice, refresh the past tense and the students’ vocabulary. It’s particularly good for young learners because it allows the use of pictures as their vocabulary may be lacking.
1. On the board, either draw six to eight pictures or print pictures that represent your summer. Look at the picture below.
2. Illicit the vocabulary from the class. In this example, it would be pizza, beach etc.
3. Then write a model for the young learners. i.e “This summer I went to the beach.
4. Go though each of your own examples with the class and then have the students create their own summer chart with sentences to go with them.

Hot seat 

Activity Time:  10 minutes +
Activity type: Group work
Materials required: A seat facing the class.
Skills practiced: Listening, Speaking, question forming and Vocabulary.
Level: Teen, Adults
1. Each member of the class gets one minute in the hot seat.
2. The other students ask the person any questions they want for one minute.
*This activity depends on the country that you’re teaching in and the type of class you have. Don’t force anyone to do it if they don’t want to and avoid this activity with very low levels. Otherwise, it can be a fun way to get to know each other. I would also suggest that you, as the teacher, go first. Be careful with teens – they often ask awkward questions!

5 Questions

Activity Time:  10 minutes +
Activity type: Group work
Skills practiced: Listening, Speaking, question forming and Vocabulary.
Level: Teen, Adults
1. Ask the class to collectively write five questions that they would like to ask you as the teacher. 2. When the students have decided on and written five questions, select one student who is going to pretend that they are you. 3. A student volunteers to take a turn of going to the board and writing a question. As a class, the students decide if the question is correctly formed using the correct verbs, spelling etc. 4. The students then ask the student playing the role of the teacher the question. 5. If the student answers correctly then the teacher writes the answer beside the question. That concludes this post. If you would like more suggestions or posts on this topic or any topic, please get in contact either through the comments form below, via Twitter or on Facebook. Don’t forget to check out the Kids and Teens sections for even more ideas.
More ESL Ice Breakers
Discover more first class activities for kids, teens and adults. Human Spelling – In this activity, students are put into teams and given a clue. First they must work out what word the clue is and then spell the word using only their bodies. Dead or Alive – A simple first class speaking activity for teens and adults. Numbers in my Life – A simple first class activity where students speak about important numbers in their lives
ESL Vocabulary Fortunes – an online game for teens and adults that is a great way to practice vocabulary on many topics. ESL Creativity Activity –  a simple creativity activity to get students thinking Find more first class ice breakers here


  1. Great ideas! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the feedback Punky. I appreciate your kind words. Much more on the way!

  3. I used the first two ideas in my class last night, and it was a lot of fun! Thanks again for sharing, and I’ll be checking back 🙂

  4. practical and amusing
    thanks a lot!

  5. Excellent! Will try this on monday! Thanks for sharing

  6. Thank u! Greetings from Colombia.

  7. Thanks a lot for the great ideas! Starting a conversational course for tweens in Italy and this will be very helpful.

  8. Tomorrow will be my first day at a new school so I’ll see how this will go but it looks very promising 🙂 Thank you!

  9. Great ideas! I am going to try some of them in my first week here in Spain. Thanks so much!!

  10. Thanks a lot, really useful ideas.
    I am going to use them with my students

  11. Thank you for sharing! It was really helpful!

  12. hinda khogali

    Really useful! Used them in my first class here in Korea! Thanks so Much!

  13. Susan Pinkston

    Thanks for posting these activities. I’ll definitely try them.

  14. Jeanne Niedermeyer

    Wow wow wow. I can’t wait to get to Hungary to teach my conversational English. I have been going the 10 years to a Word of Life Christian camp and many of my ideas/activies are pretty stale. I try to avoid paper & pencil activities as much as possible. Games are great.

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