12 Icebreaker Ideas For INSET Day

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Lynn How

Lynn is the Editor at Teacher Toolkit. With 20 years of primary teaching and SLT experience, she has been an Assistant Head, Lead Mentor for ITT and SENCO. She loves to write and also has her own SEMH and staff mental health blog: www.positiveyoungmind.com. Lynn...
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What if your INSET ice breaker was actually fun?

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of an ice breaker. I’m the one inwardly rolling my eyes whilst having to pretend I’m actually enjoying myself alongside the other senior leaders.

However, I’ve found that once I have overcome my initial lethargy of being in school on INSET day (In-service training), then forced myself to be sociable (only once fully caffeinated), some ice breakers have not been that bad. I have even been known to admit that I am enjoying them occasionally!

Here is a collection of INSET ice breakers, which I would find acceptable (and in many cases, also useful!).

Pat on the Back

Have everyone outline their hand on a sheet of paper, then tape it to their back. Ask group members to mingle and write things on everyone’s back that tells them something positive. Top tip – use pencils to avoid permanent marker stains on clothes!

Person information hunt

Just like you do when you meet your class or form group. For each of the items listed here, find one staff member to sign beside the criteria that applies to them. Or you can make up your own list.

Scavenger Hunt

Staff work in teams to find school-based items such as a dried-up glue stick, a teacher mug and a green highlighter. You can also add some ‘planted’ bonus point items, such as a helium balloon or a rubber chicken! Top tip – set rules of not going into teachers’ desk drawers unless it’s your own!

What’s on your T-shirt?

Individually design a T-shirt with personal values on or in small groups, and design one with school values on. You could get actual T-shirts for this and fabric pens. Teachers can then wear their designs. If not, just a template on paper would suffice.

Ask me about …

Everyone has a sticky note on which they write something they could be asked about e.g. summer holiday, pets, family etc. Staff have 2 minutes to find out about their partner’s sticky note before a bell is sounded to change partners.

Hula Hoop Pass

In one large circle, group member hold hands to connect the circle. Place a hula hoop into the circle by disconnecting two people’s hands, placing the hula hoop on one person’s arm and them reconnecting their hands. The object is to pass the hoop around the circle by stepping and wiggling through it. The goal is to go completely around the circle without breaking hands. It is highly likely that your early years pupils will manage this more successfully! Video it for their amusement if everyone is in agreement.

Caption competition

Search Google for teacher memes, print and cut off the writing (or paste into PowerPoint or similar, placing a white box over the words). In small groups come up with funny teacher captions for the photo (try and keep it professional!).

Story Time Game

The facilitator starts a story by stating a sentence. It then goes in a circle, each person adding a sentence onto the story after repeating each sentence that’s already been added. Top tip – write it all down as you go round to save having to memorise it and bonus points for fronted adverbials! Possible starting sentences could be:

  1. Suddenly I looked up and a hippo was sauntering across the playground …
  2. On our year six residential trip to the deepest darkest rainforest known to man …
  3. I walked through the stock cupboard door and entered a parallel teaching universe where …


Ask all the staff (primary), to bring all the construction toys such as Lego, or interlocking maths cubes from their classes. In small groups set them tasks for building. Here are some Lego  and multilink ideas.

Sunshine cards game

Everyone writes their name in the centre of a piece of paper and draws a small sun around their name. Pass your paper around to the person on your right. That person will write something positive about you without signing their name to make a sun ray. Continue to pass the papers around until everyone has written something on everyone’s sun and there are plenty of positive rays! This is a nice wellbeing keepsake for your desk drawer to refer back to on a difficult day.

Silly photos

Task staff with creating silly photos around the school. For example, teachers playing in the role play area or teaching in the wrong departments. Or upskill your staff by using photo editing software to take the background off of an action photo of themselves. They can then add them to different backgrounds. Use the photos them to make an amusing PowerPoint to show your pupils in assembly.

Hope your INSET day is an enjoyable and inspiring experience, which sets you up for the year ahead!

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