Introductory activities

Pass the Ball & How Do You Make Rice?

The purpose of this activity is to engage in a discussion about identity and difference.

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Pass the Ball & How Do You Make Rice?
Educator prep: None
Student prep: None
Breakout rooms, Shared online space
Duration: 5-30 mins

Activity purpose

The purpose of this activity is to engage in a discussion about identity and difference.

Useful for

  • Icebreaker.
  • Humanizing through storytelling.
  • Discussing how people may learn the same topic, in different ways, with the same outcome.
  • Discussing how everyone comes to the class with a unique background and lived experience, which influences how we approach a conversation, how we do things, and how we might answer a question.
  • Relationship between culture and background, identity, and how we do things
  • Build community and create an inclusive, open, caring classroom culture.


  • Slide with prompt on it, directions and time.
  • If using breakout rooms you can put people in randomly, or pre-plan them ahead of time.


  • Describe activity and why doing it.
  • Tell people why you find it interesting and helpful to hear the story of how their family makes rice.
  • Explain they can share as much or little as they are comfortable.
  • Pose some questions to spark what story they want to share
    • How was rice cooked in your home when you were growing up?
    • How do you cook rice now?
    • Does it have any cultural or historical meaning?
    • Is there a story or experience related to how you cook rice you would like to share?
  • Let them know it can a personal story, or about their culture.
  • Let them know they have 2 minutes to share. If using Zoom you can set a timer.
  • If people are going into a breakout room ask that someone be assigned as timer, note taker, and person who will share back.
  • Set up a collaborative document such as a Gdoc or Onedrive so that the small groups and write down their story. Then add in a shared space so that others can read everyone’s story at a later time.



  • If less than 10 people you can facilitate as whole group.
  • If more than 10 people, suggest putting people into groups of 3-4.
  • 3-5 minutes explaining the activity, why you are doing it, and putting people into groups if needed.
  • 2 minutes per person to share story.
  • If people shared in small groups 1-2 minutes for each group to share something back that they learned.
  • 5 minutes to wrap-up and highlight importance of what they learned, how connects to the community and ways they will be working together.

Adaptations and examples

  • Alternative tools could be an asynchronous discussion tool such as Voicethread, Flipgrid, Yellowdig or LMS discussion.
  • An adaptation could be doing asynchronously.

Technical requirements

  • If a large group suggest using breakout rooms.
  • Gdocs or other collaborative tools can be used as a way for small groups to share their stories in their small group, and then they can be shared so the whole class can see them.

Useful resources


More 'Introductory activities' activities:
Equity Unbound Activity
Language Portrait
Reflect on language experiences with your students and share biographical information.
Francesca Helm
Equity Unbound Activity
What kind of animal are you?
Fun introductory or warm-up activity.
Irene Maweu
Equity Unbound Activity
Tour of Where You Are
The purpose here is to build community through students sharing where they are studying from.
Patrice Prusko

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