A couple of days ago I came across a video that could be used as a nice springboard for an ice-breaking activity at the beginning of a course.

Levels: strong Intermediate / Upper-Intermediate

Lesson type:

[option 1] students watch a video and do an ice breaker activity; length: 30 minutes

[option 2] students watch a video, explore ways in which they can react naturally while making small talk, and then do an ice breaker activity; length: 60 minutes

Materials: Option 1 is a materials-free lesson – you’ll only5 slips of paper for each pair of students in class; for option 2, print out the first two pages of the worksheet:

Procedure: Project the following image, elicit what this is called (a ball pit) and ask the students if they’ve ever been in one.

Tell the group that they’re going to watch a video about people sitting in a ball pit discussing some questions. First time the students watch the video, ask them to note down the questions (after they’ve watched the video, let the students check in pairs, then go through the questions together, replaying and boarding them; the questions are at 0:43, 1:13, 1:53, 2:23, 3:00 and 3:44); second time they listen, the students take notes about the replies people give (s/s compare in pairs / brief class feedback).

[Optional] Do tasks 2 and 3 in the worksheet to explore the way people show their reactions – both verbally and through body language

[option 1] S/s simply discuss the questions from the video in pairs. [option 2] Assign each of the questions on the board to a pair of students and ask them to write it on a slip of paper. Ask each pair to brainstorm 3-4 more questions that would be good for a ball pit and write their questions on separate slips of paper. Alternatively, print out and cut up some ice-breaker questions beforehand, e.g. from here or here . Collect and redistribute the slips. The students mingle, talking about the questions they’ve got on their slips. Each time two students have discussed the questions on their slips, they swap the slips.

Hi Olya, I took the lesson to class today. I made them understand the answers to the discussion questions as well, so that was an extra listening task (and one more listening). The final discussion was organised in a way that the students had to come up with hte new topics,in small groups, they took notes, then they were regrouped, and they discussed the questions in new mini-groups (of 3). But this way they produced lots of things to discuss. Thank you for the fantastic idea, I enjoyed the lesson myself! The students really loved it and I think it improved their listening and speaking skills.

Great material, I’ll take to class! Thank you!

Thank you, Gabriella! Let me know how it went. =)

Hi Olya, I took the lesson to class today. I made them understand the answers to the discussion questions as well, so that was an extra listening task (and one more listening). The final discussion was organised in a way that the students had to come up with hte new topics,in small groups, they took notes, then they were regrouped, and they discussed the questions in new mini-groups (of 3). But this way they produced lots of things to discuss. Thank you for the fantastic idea, I enjoyed the lesson myself! The students really loved it and I think it improved their listening and speaking skills.

Hi Gabriella, thanks a lot for letting me know how it went! So glad to hear this was an enjoyable lesson! =)