Icebreaker Activity: Learning Each Others' Histories Through "Hair" Stories

July 23, 2014

A great icebreaker or get to know you activity for back to school would be reading "Hairs" by Sandra Cisneros and then have students write and share their own "hair" stories.
This activity was inspired by the chapter entitled "Hairs" in Sandra Cisneros' novel, The House on Mango Street. It is also published as a children's book with side by side English and Spanish text.

We read the children's book and did the following activity as a part of our pre-institute for the Philadelphia Writing Project Summer Institute.

For the ice breaker activity, each student or individual gets a piece of paper and some coloring utensils, and divides their paper into four. About five - ten minutes is given for the drawing of "hair" stories; four moments or events from a person's life connected to his/her hair. It could be a bad haircut, a change of hairstyles, getting it dyed a new color, starting to go gray or lose hair, anything!

After the drawings are complete, participants pair off and share their stories with their partner. After each partner has shared, they introduce each other to the group by showing their partner's drawing and sharing their accompanying stories.

You'll learn a little about students, the past experiences and possibly also their families. It's also a light and humorous activity that doesn't ask students to share too much on the first day of school.

My "hair" story: When I was young I had a bowl cut and I looked just like pictures of my mother when she was young. As I got older I started to grow my hair longer. In sixth grade, I decided to grow out my bangs (then my mother did too). In high school I decided I wanted a change so I cut off my long hair, all the way up to my chin, and donated it to Locks of Love. Now that is something that I do every two years. Grow it out, cut it short, donate it, repeat cycle.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Hairs for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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