Monday, August 12, 2013

Ice-Breakers for Day One

In my last post I mentioned I'd have other Ice-Breakers for Day One, so here I am with some activities for each level of German!


  • Deutsch I: Find Someone Who...  This is a basic find someone who activity that's (almost) all in English.  Students look for other students who already know a little bit about German culture and language.  
  • Deutsch I: Survival Vocabulary  Maybe not as much fun as the other activities, but this is a list of words and phrases that are important to surviving in an immersion classroom.  Have students try to figure out what the words mean first, then go over as a class.  I usually have a 
  • Cognate Activities   Another way to build student confidence early on is with cognate activities.  You do need to remember to warn students, though, that not every German word is a cognate and it won't all be this easy.

    The activities linked above are really useful.  I wish I could take credit for them, but to be honest I have no idea where I got them from.  If anyone recognizes them, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

    I have other cognate activities available on my TeachersPayTeachers site - please take a look at German Cognate Cards and German Cognates: A Pre-Quiz.
  • Wer bist du?  This is a homework assignment I give out each year.  Students have to create their own personal page with their name and at least five pictures that represent them.  They can draw their pictures, use actual photos, take pictures from magazines, or use their computer - it doesn't matter.  This is a great way to begin associating each student with what makes them them.  Students love to make their personal pages and like seeing what other students put on theirs.  Definitely have them share these with their classmates and put them on the wall!


  • Classroom Expressions  Similar the Survival Vocab worksheet above, this has a list of phrases that will be important throughout the school year.  This list is much more thorough and can be used by any class above level one (in fact, by the end of level one a lot of these phrases will be familiar to students already).  The list is broken down into two lists - what students need to be able to say and what the teacher will say to them.  There's even room at the bottom in case students have other phrases they want to add.

    This list is based off of a list I received from my mentor teacher way back when.  I'm not sure if his was the original or if it came from somewhere else first.
  • Partner Interviews  Here are a couple of partner interview activities.  These get students both listening and speaking in German and on a topic they know a lot about (namely, themselves!).  The first interview activity in the file is one I have my German 2 students do, while the second is for German 3.  Note that for Level 2, the questions are already there and they can just focus on the answers.  For Level 3, they will have to generate both the question and the answer.
  • Culture Review  Quick "quiz" for students to try and complete.  All the questions relate to German speaking-countries, but mostly Germany.  This is a nice little review for German 2.

    Also check out my German Trivia Cards if you're looking for a similar type of activity for upper level classes.
  • Find Someone Who...  Unlike the version above for Level 1, these two are entirely in German.  The first one is a bit more basic in vocabulary, while the second one is slightly more complex.  Both use primarily the present tense, but the second one does have some more difficult grammar forms (past tense).  Typically I use the first one with German 2 and the second with German 3.  Unfortunately my German 4 classes are usually so small that activities like this don't really work.

    Both of these boards are, I think, based off of ones I received from other teachers.  I've changed them over the years based on which boxes are almost always left blank.
  • Scattergories: Vocabulary Review  This is a review game I do with my students based on the board game Scattergories.  Students are given a list of themes.  A letter is randomly drawn (or you can pick it).  Students then have to come up with a German word that starts with that letter for each of the themes on the list.  After a few minutes, students compare words.  They get a point if they wrote a word that no one else has.  No points if multiple people wrote the same word.  I really like doing this game because you can adjust it to any themes you've covered in previous levels and it can be quick - an end of class review or a beginning of class opener.
  • Most Used Words hast a list of the Top 30 Spoken Words and the Top 100 Written Words in German.  With upper levels, I like to have them guess the top 20 from each list, just to see what they think the most common words are.  It's a fun (and often frustrating) game for the students and a quick way to review very core vocabulary words.  Also a great discussion for the differences between spoken vs written language.
Hope you enjoy these activities and get the chance to try them out!  Let me know how they go or if you have any recommendations.

- Frau Leonard