Build Relationships Throughout the Year With These Awesome Icebreakers! Free Template!

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”- Mattie Stepanek

Relationships are the most important factor in your effectiveness as a teacher and your student’s success! Knowing students and them confiding in us and working with us and their peers helps us figure out their interests, strengths, insecurities, struggles, and passions. It doesn’t matter how behind your students are, strong bonds lead to student success. Building relationships is continuous but you don’t have to dedicate hours of your curriculum. The following teambuilding and get to know you activities often take less than 5 minutes and have helped my students build strong bonds with each other and me! See illustrated examples in the slideshow.

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Fostering Peer-to-Peer Relationships in the First 5 Minutes

We must also continuously foster peer-to-peer relationships. I teach multiple grades in elementary and I have noticed how mean students can be to each other, especially since they are used to trash talking each other in video games they play daily. I do a lot of team building within the first 5 minutes of class. Students follow a procedure where they walk into my classroom and sit down on lined duct tape and prepare for the warm up.

  • When I notice a class especially mean to each other I explain to them, “Most of you are going to be in classes together over the next 5, 6, 7 or more years so you might as well learn how to get along and help each other. Life is hard enough without friends to get you by.” Then I will divide them in pairs or small groups of 3 and ask them to invent a handshake/dance in pairs before they are dismissed to their seats.
  • Sometimes I divide the class in 2 lines across from each other and walk them through high fiving each other as they say, “GG, good game, great work” or other nice comment. We do this after a discussion about being a great team player.

More Get to Know You Activities

  • Copy my Get to Know You Bingo handout to print and edit here. This is the one I plan on using during the first week of school.
  • This is the digital Get to Know You Bingo for 1 to 1 settings. It is more colorful. Feel free to edit the colors and clipart.
  • Find tons of get-to-know you activities and icebreakers I’ve created here.
  • These are get-to-know you activities specifically for young learners and children.
  • These are get-to-know you activities for teens and adults.

Challenge: Do a teambuilding or get to know you activity at least once a week to continue cultivating relationships! Some of these take 5 minutes or less.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


  1. Dear Shelly.
    You are right about relations, they are important

    Danish national TV has an annual PhD cup, and two years ago it was won by Louise Klinge, talking about relations.

    You can translate or just read the summary in english here, if you like

    If you like you can watch the videos with subtitles

    PhD defense

    The presentation on national TV

    Greetings from Denmark

    Have a nice summer


  2. I tried to access the bingo documents but got error messages on both. How can I get these documents?

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