Digital Activities & Icebreakers for Gen Y

6 min read
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“The number one benefit of educational technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative … productive … learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential.” – Steve Ballmer

Our students’ digital behavior influences our learning, language, rituals, values, routines, customs, and communication. What we share, post, like, and comment on impacts us, our peers, and people around the world. Just think, a person took a picture and posted it online with the word, “Selfie!” Many took their own selfies and selfies with others, including the Pope. Selfie was the word of the year for 2013 (Brumfield, 2013). This example illustrates the power of our digital acts and choices. It is important we help our students create meaningful messages and learn to effectively collaborate and respect their peers. Below are slides, resources, and bookmarks to help you get your students to reflect effectively on their digital acts. This way you can facilitate and guide your students to make positive choices when they interact online.


  • Get students to create avatars and introduce themselves. Younger kids, especially, benefit from creating avatars. Find a list of avatar creation tools and ideas here!
  • Pair or group students for projects. In Learning to Go, you’ll find handouts for designating roles and permissions.
  • Give them learning missions you grade with digital badges. Find out more in this post about learning missions. Check out my bookmarks for creating digital badges.
  • Hashtags are one of the most important inventions of our digital learning. Hashtags help students and you find the most relevant and updated resources in any field. Hashtags also help you find and connect with subject matter experts (SMEs) in any field. Searching a hashtag on Google will often produce better resources than keywords. You will find hashtags used on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, and many other social networks. Check out these hashtags-  #Edchat, #ELearning, and #Edtech. Find more hashtags listed here.
  • Create a hashtag for your classes and learners. Check out my course hashtag where my students share their work,!
  • You need to get parents on board with your technology integration. Get them to sign Responsible/Acceptable Use policies. Find example templates and other resources for engaging parents in my survival tips for engaging parents!
  • Taking selfies is much easier with a selfie stick, but in case you don’t have one, press the time delay in your camera settings to give you 3 or more seconds to prepare. You can also use the CamMe app, which lets you take photos through gestures.
  • Other great selfie apps include TouchCast (make a video selfie), Aviary, Pixlr, PicsArt, BeFunky, Pic-Collage, Image Chef, Looksery, Selfit, and Group Shot.
  • Here is a post with 20+ Ideas for Teaching with Instagram
  • Here is a post with 6 Second Learning: 2+ Ideas for Teaching with Vine

Some Digital Icebreakers

  • Digital Bingo
  • Mobile Show and Tell– Divide students into small groups (3 to 5 students). Each student spends about 30 seconds sharing a personal photo from a mobile device and the anecdote behind the photo.
  • Recreate a Photo– Students choose one of the Mobile Show and Tell images to recreate as a group. They share the original then the newly created photo.
  • Selfie Adventures– Pair students or divide them into small groups. Show them the Animal Selfies Tumblr or the Selfie Animal Tips video. They choose a favorite and write down reasons they liked this selfie. Then give each pair a stuffed animal, doll, character, or sock puppet. They will have to create 2 or more awesome selfies of this character. Check out this Epic Selfie adventure for teachers!
  • Draw and Dash– Each student will need to use a piece of paper or a drawing app like Tackk, Educreations, Magic Paintbrush, or Sketchbook Express. Name a category like favorite dessert, cartoon, sports team and so forth for students to draw the answers to on their tablets. Give them 30 seconds. When the time is up they should lift up their drawings and run to a peer they believe drew a similar choice. Give them 1 minute to talk about their drawings and exchange one fact or experience related to the choice. Find the Knowledge Swap handout that accompanies this activity in Learning to Go.
  • Mobile Me Pictionary– Give each student 3 notecards. Students write on one side a category like a talent, hobby, dream job, or favorite place. On the other side they write down an answer but show no one. Divide students into small groups. Each group will need to use a drawing app like Tackk, Educreations, Magic Paintbrush, or Sketchbook Express. Students stack all the cards with the categories facing up. When you start the timer, one student chooses a card and draws the word(s) on the app. The group tries to guess the answer and who it describes before the time runs out.
  • Avatar Bucket Lists– Students write down 3 activities they want to complete within their lifetime. They get into pairs and discuss their lists. They choose one bucket list activity to animate in a short video or comic strip. Useful web tools include GoAnimate, Powtoons, Little Bird Tales, ToonDoo, and Makebeliefs Comix. Useful apps include BuddyPoke 3D Avatar Creator, TellagamiDrawing Cartoons, Comics Head, and Friendstrip. Find more activities and ideas in this lesson plan I wrote, A Visual Bucket List.
  • Vision Boards– Students can use digital poster and scrapbook tools and apps to create goal collages and vision boards. Try any of these tools: BunceeTackkBiteslidesSmore, Pinterest, Glogster, or Pic-Collage.
  • 3, 2,1 Introduction– Students use a web tool or app to create a video, comic strip, poster, book, or slideshow that includes the following: 3 things we should know about you, 2 hobbies, 1 dream job. This idea came from Nicky Hockly.
  • Avatar Introductions– Students can introduce themselves with a Voki avatar or try one of these free avatar creators! Find several student examples here.
  • Name Poems– Use a word cloud tool like Tagxedo or the Image Chef app. They can also do this as a digital poster using tools like BunceeTackkBiteslidesSmoreThingLink, or Pic-Collage.
  • My Timeline– Students create multimedia timelines highlighting significant moments using a tool like Capzles or Popplet which both have free apps for i-devices.
  • Icebreaker Mingle– Find my lesson plan that uses the Icebreaker question app here.
  • If you have icebreaker handouts like Human Bingo, use Nearpod (accessible on any device) to get students to fill them out digitally. Download my Human Bingo handout here.

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