Welcoming Activities to Build Community and Friendship

Resource Roundup

Welcoming Activities to Build Community and Friendship

How do we embrace the “new kid”—the kid who eats alone, the kid who walks the playground alone, the kid who may not look other classmates?
As students enter a new school or a new classroom their main concerns are less academic than social-- they will have friends; will they feel as if they belong?
This Resource Roundup focuses on “Boundary Breakers” and “Ice Breakers,” two engaging and effective strategies that can easily be adapted to most classrooms to help educators create an inclusive community of learners that fosters friendships, understanding, and concern for one another


Using questions designed to engage students, Boundary Breaking exercises “break” down walls and bring together individuals as they get to know and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and others.

PROCEDURE:   Leader -Teacher or student can lead this activity. Be sure that if one student leads a session that each student has the opportunity over time to do the same.

1. Seat students in a circle (be sure that no one is left out-including the leader). Try to make the circle as tight as possible.

2. Explain to the group what this session is all about: To get to know one another and gain a deeper understanding of oneself and others. oneself.

 3. The leader selects a question from Part I: “Structured Conversation” and each member of the group is asked to respond, including the “leader” (Note:  select those questions that are most appropriate for the group).

4.  After asking a few questions, switch to the "Synthesis Set" while interest is still strong.

Always ask all four questions in the "Synthesis Set,” posing the first, having everyone go around the circle and respond, then asking the 2nd questions, and so on.  This is the most important part of the entire “Boundary Breaking Session”

5. Involving students in “Boundary Breaking” is especially valuable at the beginning of the year, but it an excellent strategy to use throughout the year at your discretion. 

INSTRUCTIONS:  Please share these with participants as often as necessary to ensure that the activity is as powerful as possible (it might be helpful to display in a prominent area):

  1. Encourage each member to respond in turn.  A person may pass , but remind them that the leader will return to him/her later.
  2. An honest approach and serious attitude is crucial.
  3. No one should interrupt each other While each person is answering, watch him/her closely; you can learn a great deal by the look on the face, the movement of hands, the turn of the head…and by what they do not say.
  4. Responses are not to be explained in depth or debated. If a person does not understand a question, repeat it with the same wording. Tell each person to respond to what he/she hears. DO NOT interrupt with questions or comments.
  5. We are here to listen and learning about one another. We are here to look for the person that is each of us and to better understanding those who share our world.



Lower Elementary:

1.     What makes you the happiest?

2.     What animal would you want to be if you weren’t a human?

3.     What do people like about you most?

4.     What is your favorite TV show or phone app?

5.     Choose a word that best describes you.

6.     What is your favorite thing to do when you are at home?

7.     What is the perfect day?

8.     If you were a color in the crayon box, what color would you be?

9.     What makes you sad?

10.  What is the best way to make a new friend?


Upper Elementary and Secondary:

1.     Who is someone who has had great impact on your life?

2.     What is the most beautiful quality about people?

3.     What is the most sacred thing in your life?

4.       What do you like most about Judaism?

5.     What is the most beautiful sound you have ever heard?

6.     What is the greatest crime one person can do towards another?

7.     If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go first.

8.     If you were a parent how would you raise yourself differently?

9.     What emotion is strongest in you?

10.  What do you think is your greatest quality?

11.   When do you feel most lonely?

12.   What day in your life would you like to live over?

13.   What is your greatest weakness?  What color is love?

14.   If you could change speak with one type of animal what would it be?

15.   What do you like least about Judaism?

16.  What do you want to be doing ten years from now?

17.  What do people like in you the most?

18.  If you could travel to only one place on earth, where would you go?

19.   Who has had the most influence in your life?

20.  When do you feel most lonely?

21.   What are the three top qualities that you think a leader should possess?

22.  What is your greatest fear?

23.  Happiness is….

24.  If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?

25.  What one book inspired you most?



1. Which person did you learn most about?

2. Which person do you think was the most honest?

3. Which person do you want to learn more about?

4. Which person is most like you or with whom you have something in common? 

Boundary Breaking: An Interactive Experience For Groups” was used in part to help create the guide above. 


Icebreakers: “For a group to function well, its members must be comfortable as well as familiar with each other. The effectiveness of the group will be directly affected by the ability of the group to work together. Using icebreakers promotes just what the name implies: they break the “ice” that forms when unfamiliar people meet together.”

The fout Icebreakers included in the link below are designed for a variety of ages and were selected for their ability to engage learners, build community,  encourage sharing,  cooperation and discussion.   As always, read through them carefully to select from each that what is most appropriate for your community of learners.

20 Great Icebreakers for the Classroom from Education Matters 
Icebreakers and Connection Activities
Classroom Icebreakers40 Icebreakers for Small Groups 

Additional Articles:

A 4-Part System of Getting to Know Your Students 
It is essential that teachers too break down boundaries in terms of getting to know their students—their needs, their realities, their hopes, and more.     This article includes relevant strategies (including ice-breakers) to help teachers forge lasting relationships as they build a community of learners in their classrooms.

Posted in  hidenews
Tagged in Community , Friendship