Picture of Adeeba Jafri

Adeeba Jafri

Adeeba is the author of several books including The Baby Garden, A Zoom with a View and Show Yourself.

An icebreaker is an activity, game or event that is used to welcome and warm up the conversation among participants in a meeting, class, or team building session. Icebreakers are used in multiple areas, at school, at college orientations and even at corporate events. I find them incredibly useful when opening a new season of Islamic studies with Muslim youth, especially when working with middle schoolers.

Even when the participants know each other from previous years, icebreakers help to introduce new topics and focus the students’ energy on what to look forward to in the coming year.

Here is a breakdown of various activities that we’ve done in the past when starting a new Islamic studies term.

The Adjective Game (Ok, I couldn’t think of another name for this).

It works really well with younger kids. Basically, everyone sits down in a circle and you go around introducing yourself with an adjective. The next person has to repeat your name and the adjective, before introducing themselves. It can get very silly!


The instructions are on the website. This one was a lot of fun. We had the kids say three things about themselves before throwing the yarn to another person. As you can see, it was a hit.


I’ve used these cards in a pre-Ramadan unit for elementary age children so the kids could think of all the different things they can do while fasting.

Food Bingo

This is a set of ten different cards. I used these prior to Ramadan but bingo can be played anytime.

This is the sheet that has all the answers on it. You’ll have to print out multiple copies for yourself so you can play the game more than once.

Summer Bingo

The main idea is the same. You have to X off five in a row, diagonally, horizontally or vertically. You X off each box by finding someone who fits each category. To make the game more difficult, you can ask them to find at least two people. Or have them complete two lines of five. I made up the categories in this version.

Find the word. Find the Ayah

I made up this game. It works really well with Hifz students and it’s a great way of encouraging the kids to recite Qur’an out loud (something NO middle schooler wants to do)


Divide children into equal teams (pay attention to which kids are strong in Hifz and which aren’t). Give a team a word from Qur’an. The team works together to think of:

An ayah that contains that word – 1 point

The name of the Surah you’re reciting – 2 points

The next three ayahs afterwards – 3 points

There are three rounds – easy, medium and hard (although some kids claimed that my categories weren’t hard enough… :/


Must say Bismillah or the ayah does not count

If the surah ends anyway, you get two points

What’s in a name?

I came across this website when I was looking up games and activities that promote tolerance and diversity. Prior to our first session, I will ask the moms to tell the kids what their names mean. By encouraging students to share this information with classmates, they can start a dialogue about the diverse backgrounds they come from within the comfort zone of a small, familiar group.

There are loads more icebreakers that we’ve used in the past. I’ll add more as I think of them! What icebreakers would you suggest?