Using an ice breaker to begin your class helps put your adult students at ease. Ice breaker activities can also serve as transitions in your lesson, freeing up minds and getting the students comfortable working together.

The Aliens Have Landed

This ice breaker takes about 1 hour and is best used in a team-building environment. Begin your session by announcing that the aliens have landed and that they would like to know how to take a shower on this planet. Recruit the class to teach the showering process to the aliens by flowcharting the instructions out. Provide one large sheet of paper and a set of magic markers to each table seating four to six people. Each team is on its own in preparing a presentation. The point of this exercise is to get the group working together and agreeing on a method for alien shower taking. Each group must assign a presenter. Give the groups approximately an hour to create their presentations, and allow about five to ten minutes per group for presentation time.

Bling My Name Tag

As your students walk into the room, direct them to a table with supplies for making a name tag. Each student may write or draw whatever she wants to on the name tag -- except her name. The purpose of the name tag is to tell a story about the person wearing it. For example if he is a Steelers fan, he may want to bling his name tag with the colors and logo of the team. Tell the participants to express themselves using glitter, crayons, construction paper and markers. When it is time to begin class, ask them to take their seats. Have each class member ask the person sitting next to her about his name tag. Participants can ask any question except "What is your name?" After 5 minutes, ask them to reverse roles, so that the person who was interviewed before is now the interviewee. Students then takes turns introducing the people they interviewed to the rest of the class.

Can You Help Me?

Create a series of sticky tags that have the names of objects written on them, such as bread, flowers, soap or hammer. Then create a matching series of name tags that name the stores that would sell the products that you put on the previous name tags. As each student walks into the room, put a sticky name tag on his back naming an item he needs to purchase. He must then select a "manager" name tag for a specific type of store such as "Sally: Manager: Sally's Flower Shop," and attach the tag to the front of his shirt. Each player must ask the other players, "Can you help me?" Based on the tag on the questioner's back, each store manager answers "Yes" or "No." If the answer is "Yes," the questioner poses further queries to identify the item listed on his back.

Who Am I?

Have preprinted name tags with various famous people's names. Place a sticker on the back of each student as he walks into the room. People walk around and ask questions about who they are and try to guess. Use current and age-appropriate famous names. For example, don't expect a bunch of 18-year-olds to recognize Frank Sinatra -- but he's a perfect choice for a crowd of 60-year-olds.