Toilet paper ice-breaker

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Toilet paper ice-breaker

Unread postby gec » 04 Mar 2009, 16:51

This is an ice-breaker idea that I found on the Internet. I think that it has potential but that the resulting task doesn't make good enough use out of the 'material'. Does anyone have any ideas to improve it?

"Toilet Paper Icebreaker
Level: Any Level
This activity is used as a "getting to know you", icebreaker on the first day of class.
Teacher takes the toilet paper roll and takes several squares of toilet paper, then hands the roll of toilet paper to a student. The teacher tells the student to take some, more than three.
After everybody in the class has some paper, we count the squares we have, then we have to tell that many things about ourselves, in English.
This activity works well with substitute teachers also.
The toilet paper is such an attention getter." (from

As I say, I think the basic idea will grab students' attention, but that the "now say x things about yourself" bit is really weak. Does anyone have any ideas to improve it?

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Re: Toilet paper ice-breaker

Unread postby saulpope » 12 Mar 2009, 13:18

I've seen various versions of this activity over the years, and you're certainly right that it grabs the attention. I think that the use of toilet paper should be treated with caution, though, as in some cultures it could be seen as a little odd or even offensive as part of the first lesson! In Russia and in the UK I have substituted toilet paper for either sweets or coloured bits of paper, and, as in the original activity, I have encouraged students to then take as many as they want.

As for the activity itself, telling x number of things about yourself is probably an adequate challenge for a beginner. However, you're right that it's not that exciting for a higher-level group. Instead I have got students to write x number of questions to ask other students in the group, and then got them to mingle and interview as many people as possible. After this, if there is time, you can ask each student to select questions to ask the teacher.

Hope that helps...

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Re: Toilet paper ice-breaker

Unread postby gec » 20 Mar 2009, 22:43

Great, thanks for the ideas, saulpope - and indeed the warning.

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Re: Toilet paper ice-breaker

Unread postby EnglishClick » 28 Aug 2012, 18:51

This is a really good activity with lots of potential! :D

You could possibly use this idea and change it slightly as a "review" game for students. For example, if you were working on "questions" and you wanted to use the "colour bits of paper" idea, why not write a question word on each bit of paper and have students formulate questions using the words they pick on either a topic of your choice or theirs??

Just a little something that popped into my head when reading this post.

Happy teaching!! :D

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