One of my favorite ice breaking activities to begin a school year involves a room of newly christened sixth grade students… and toilet paper. I’ve run this activity for the last several years and it has never failed to fill the room with excitement and laughter. This activity will require 1-2 rolls of toilet paper per class (single or two-ply, your choice) and a little bit of time (for a class of 25 kids, it takes me the better part of 50 minutes; crunching the numbers, that’s about 2 minutes of activity per student, on average).
As the kids settle into the room, I set up the activity by telling them we are going to play a little game, and then wave a roll or two of tp. This odd behavior gets their attention. Next, I hold a roll in between two fingers (mimicking a toilet paper holder you’d find mounted to a wall) and, with a giant grin, ask each student to “take as much as you think you’ll need”, and nothing else. When the whole class has their wad of tp in hand, I inform them they will have to tell me one fact about themselves for every square they took. Give them a moment to think of something to say, ask kids at random (or in order), and let the good times roll.
In my experience, it’s usually the boys who take several yards of toilet tissue and the girls who act more conservatively. When the actual activity is announced, the entire class erupts in a combination of laughter and groans, but everyone rocks a smile. How much time you have together will dictate how quickly you run through the facts and whether or not you have to cut anyone off. Either way, the kids get to make a mess and have a good laugh and I learn something about my new kids.