I have a couple of ideas that might work for you - I really believe in mixing up the class periodically. I think that this helps kids know each other. So every quarter I switch seats. Also have you tried some of these, they are fun and the kids learn more about each other. Pair up students in a random way, I like the one where they choose a card from a basket and they have to figure out the connection, like teams with presidents names on them, teams with artist names, etc. You can pick the groups, but it could be any way. Give a student a card with a picture on it, I like animal cards, but art cards would be great. Have one student try and describe to the other student what is on the card and have the other one try and draw it the student can not use the name of the animal so it is much more difficult. Later the student reveals the picture and see how far off they are. I ask!
them how difficult it was. When they are done they switch. Afterwards I tell the students that it is often hard for a teacher to relate verbally to a student a visual image to them. I may even think they understand but their mental picture is far different than what I assume. This is why visual pictures are so important, and why I try to give students information in many ways, I also have them write about the experience.
Another exercise that is fun is the one where the students throw one shoe into a box, they then randomly are give a shoe from the box they must first do a drawing of the shoe and then they find their partner who has the other shoe and they must do an icebreaker exercise with questions you devise to find out information about the other student, then have them present their picture and the information to the class about their partner.