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ESL Icebreaker Game for Kindergarten: Ball Toss Name Game


The “Ball Toss Name Game” is an invigorating and interactive icebreaker, ideally suited for young ESL (English as a Second Language) learners in kindergarten.

This game combines the fun of a physical activity with the foundational language skill of name recognition and repetition.

By engaging children in a simple ball-tossing exercise, the game not only enlivens the ESL classroom but also plays a crucial role in building a sense of community and familiarity among students.

kindergarten Icebreaker Games ball toss

Kindergarten Icebreaker – Ball Toss

We have loads of icebreaker games here on the site for all ages, you can check out the full list for kindergarten on the link directly below but we also have icebreakers for adults, primary and high school here which you can check out as well.

How to Play

  • Game Setup: Children sit in a circle with a soft ball in hand. The teacher demonstrates the game first to provide a clear example.
  • Basic Rules: A child gently tosses the ball to another child in the circle. Upon catching the ball, they say their own name or the name of the person they are throwing the ball to. This can be alternated in different rounds to maintain engagement.
  • Game Variations: As children become more comfortable with the game, introduce variations such as saying a favorite color, animal, or food along with the name.

Educational Benefits

  • Enhances Name Recognition: Essential in early classroom settings, this game helps children learn and remember the names of their classmates.
  • Promotes Motor Skills Development: The physical aspect of tossing and catching a ball is excellent for developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Fosters Classroom Community: By repeating each other’s names, a sense of familiarity and camaraderie is built among the students.
  • Encourages Speaking and Listening: Children practice speaking in front of the group and listening attentively to others, which are critical skills in language acquisition.

Resources Needed

  • A Soft, Lightweight Ball: Appropriate for young children to handle safely.
  • Space: A clear area in the classroom where children can sit in a circle without obstructions.

Playtime Guidelines

  • Duration: Recommended to be played for 10-15 minutes, making it a perfect warm-up or closing activity.
  • Pace: The game should be played at a gentle pace, ensuring every child has time to speak and listen.
  • Group Size: Ideally suited for small to medium-sized groups. For larger classes, consider splitting into smaller circles.

Adapting to Different Learning Levels

  • For Beginners: Focus on simple name recognition and repetition. Use the ball toss as a fun way to reinforce this.
  • For More Advanced Learners: Introduce additional elements like favorite things or simple adjectives, encouraging more complex language use.


The “Ball Toss Name Game” is more than just an icebreaker; it’s a foundational exercise in building language skills and classroom rapport among young ESL learners.

This game exemplifies how learning can be seamlessly integrated into play, creating a nurturing and inclusive environment conducive to language acquisition.

By incorporating such activities, educators can ensure that the first steps in a child’s language learning journey are filled with fun, interaction, and meaningful connections.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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