Category: Team Building Ice Breakers

Ice Breaker Games For Team Building Events

Ice Breaker Games

Ice breakers serve as a vehicle for getting all the participants of the team building event to introduce themselves, break down barriers and nervousness and importantly provide a positive atmosphere.

The best time to use these ice breaker games is when the group first meets or the start of a team building session. By doing some of these simple tasks first, you help participants develop trust and a rapport with each other, which leads to a positive experience for them during the main activity.

Animal Name Game

Organize your group into a circle and select someone to start the game. The person selected begins by saying their name, and then an animal that begins with the same letter as the first letter in their name (e.g. David the Dingo). The person sitting next to them in a clockwise direction, then repeats the first person’s name and animal and then adds their own name and animal. This continues around the circle, with each person repeating everyone else’s name and animal before adding their own. The last person in the circle will find the game the most difficult, as they have to repeat the names and animals of the whole group. If someone messes up, the person who went before them has to repeat their turn and the game continues from there.

Animals

Write down the names of various animals that make a distinct noise (such as an elephant, monkey etc) on different slips of paper (ensure you do this at least twice for each animal). Give the slips out to your group and tell them that they have to find other people in the group that have the same animal without talking. Most participants will start making animal noises and/or gestures. This is a fun way to put people into teams for other activities, games or ice breakers.

Dots

Great for organizing smaller groups and works well with both adults and children. Fix a coloured dot onto the forehead of each participant. Get participants move around the room and try to find out what colour their dot is without talking. Once they know what colour their dot is, they must then find others with the same colour and that will be their group for the next activity. This is a great game for encouraging non-verbal communication. Don’t forget to give some thought to how you want to mix the groups.

Desert Island

Tell your group that they are going to be whisked off to a desert island in just 5 minutes. Each person is allowed to take three items with them. They need to write these three items onto a post‐it note and be prepared to place it on a flip chart (or wall) opposite their name. Hand out some post it notes and pens allow some time for participants to give thought to their 3 items. After 5 minutes ask for a group member to come forward and place their post-it onto the flip chart and explain to the rest of the group what they have chosen their items. Continue this until everyone has described their three items.

Fear in the Hat

Fear in a Hat is a good activity to run at the beginning of a team building event to understand how participants are feeling and promote unity as a team. Group members write their personal fears (anonymously) on sheets of paper, which is then collected in the hat and read out by the facilitator. Each person tries to describe their understanding of the person’s fear. This leads to a discussion about fears. As a trainer it is your job to eliminate those fears and put your learners at ease.

For Sale Advert

Each person has to write an advert for themselves as if they were going to be sold in the local paper. The variation of this ice breaker is for participants to write a for sale advert for someone else in the group.

Group Juggle

Stand in a large circle and throw one soft ball (or sponge, beanbag, rolled up socks, etc.) to another group member. They then catch it and throw to another person. Each time the thrower must shout out the catcher’s name. This continues until each group member has caught and thrown the ball just once. It should have ended back at the start point. Ask each group member to identify who threw them the ball and who they threw it to next. Test this out by throwing the ball in the same order until it arrives back at the start point. The next stage is to introduce more balls and see how many balls the group manage at the same time. You can also try reversing the throwing sequence to confuse the group – so start at the end and work your way to the start. Have one ball going forwards, whilst the other works backwards.

Group Story

Form a circle. One person starts to tell a story, they then pass the story on to the person next to them at any given time. All they have to do is include the words “and then” in the context of the story. The next person in line carries on the story from where it had been left.

Human Map

Describe an imaginary map of the appropriate area (national or local) and get your group to visualise it on the floor. Ask them to stand on the part of the map where they currently live (if you are meeting the group for the first time, also get them to state their name and a unique fact about themselves).

Interview and Introductions

Have the group pair up (if there is an odd number of people the leader can pair up with someone). Each person will take around three-four minutes interviewing their partner. At the end of the allotted time, everyone will introduce the person that they interviewed to the rest of the group.

Introduce Your Partner

In this game you must speak about the person seated to your left for 30 to 60 seconds. Anything you say must, as far as you, know be made up/false.

It’s Obvious

Say three things about the person on your left. First sentence starts with the words “It’s obvious …” (this sentence you state something that is obvious about them.) The second sentence starts “I notice …” (this sentence you state something less obvious). The third sentence starts “I think that you ….” (this sentence you guess what they will be like/something about them).

Jigsaw Groups

Give a jigsaw piece to each person. Ask them to walk around the room and find other people in the group with pieces of the jigsaw that go with theirs. Eventually group members join up and match up their pieces to make the picture, and they become a team for the next activity or challenge. Remember to try and link this to your event workshop objective or a particular theme. You can also use printed pictures, split into smaller pieces.

Name Game

Form a circle. The first person to go will state a word that describes themselves that starts with the first letter of their name followed by their first name, for example: Giant George or Footie Fred. The next person in the circle has to repeat the first person’s name and follow up with their own. Continue around the circle, with the next person repeating the previous names and adding their own. If someone messes up, the previous person that went has to repeat their turn and the game continues from there.

Picture Yourself

Hand out some coloured paper and coloured pens to each person. Ask group members to paint a picture that expresses who they are. Give them about 10 minutes and then pair them up with a partner – they must now explain their picture to each other. Next, gather everyone together and organise into a group circle. Group members will now take it in turns to introduce their partners to rest of the group using the picture they have just created.

Speak in Pairs

Get your group to partner up and sit them opposite each other. Once everyone is ready, pick a random subject. Each pair must then speak simultaneously for one minute and try to make what they are saying so interesting that their partner stops what they’re talking about and listens to them instead.

The Last Line

Split everyone up into groups and give them a silly sentence on a piece of paper. Tell the group that they have to make up a story, act it out, and have the story end with the sentence that you have given them.

Toilet Paper Game

Pass a roll of toilet paper around the room and tell the group to take as much as they want (or the amount of toilet paper they use in an average day). After they have taken at least one square of toilet paper, have them go around the room and share one fact about themselves for each square of toilet paper that they have taken.

Unique Fact

Each person writes a unique fact about themselves that is unknown to the rest of the group. The unique facts are collected, shuffled and handed out at random. The new owners of the fact, must then read out the fact to the rest of the group and the team must try to identify the owner.

Who’s Missing?

An easy to deliver game for groups of any age. Organise the group into an inward facing circle with their eyes closed or heads down. Next tap one of them on the shoulder and remove them from the circle. The first one to guess who is not there wins. Great as a quick game or an ice breaker when you are trying help groups learn each other’s names.

Team Building Ice Breakers for Small Groups

Team Building Ice Breakers for Small Groups

The following are some fun ideas for ice breakers suitable for smaller groups.

Ping Pong Blows
Divide your team into groups of not more than ten members. For this ice breaker, you will need to make two parallel lines on the floor, spacing them 15cm apart. The participants are then told to lie down on their stomachs behind the line facing each other. Throw a ping pong ball in between the two teams which they have to blow over the opposition’s line for a point. No part of the body is allowed to cross the line. First team to reach a predetermined number of points wins the game.

Crossed or Uncrossed
Sit your team in a circle. Hand an empty shoebox to someone in the team and ask him/her to write an X anywhere on the box. Explain to the team that there are two ways to receive the box and two ways to pass the box. The two ways are either straight or crossed. The facilitator starts the game by saying he has the box straight or crossed, and then passes the box either straight or crossed. The team will be focused on the x, trying to determine how they receive and pass the box. In reality, the x has nothing to do with the game. Having the box straight or crossed has to do with whether your legs are crossed or not crossed (straight). If someone passes the box to me and my legs are crossed then I will say “I have it crossed”. If I leave my legs crossed when I pass the box, I would say “I am passing it crossed”. If my legs are uncrossed I would say “I am passing it straight”. The game is completed when everyone figures out how it works.

Banana Creation
Divide the team into groups of 4-5 each. For each group, you will need a banana and odds and ends such as cocktail sticks, bits of material, beans etc. The point of the game is for each team to create a man or woman using the banana and the other items that was given to them. The banana must have a personality and a style. At the end of the allotted time, one member of the team must present their “person” and tell everyone about him/her such as their name, personality, likes, dislikes etc.

What’s That Song
For this ice breaker, you will need a 1.5L bottle of drinkable water and a cup for each team member. The facilitator will then ask a team member to hold some water in his/her mouth. The team member will then be shown a song title which he/she will have to gaggle. The rest of the team must then guess the name of the song. The team that guesses the most songs correctly wins.

The Skittle Game
For this ice breaker, you will need a bag of skittles or something similar. The facilitator passes out five skittles to each team member. The team members are then told to mingle and talk freely amongst each other with the purpose of winning skittles. To win a skittle they have to get another team member to say yes, no or shake or nod their head. If someone is caught doing that, they have to hand over one of their skittles to the person talking to them. At the end of the game, the person with the most skittles is the winner.

Word Game
For this game, the facilitator needs to prepare a list of alphabetical letters beforehand. The letters need to be commonly used letters that lend themselves to make words or names. The team is then divided into two groups, and each group is given a pen and paper. A letter is then allocated to each group. Within a certain time limit, the groups have to write down as many names as possible starting with that letter. The group with the most names wins.

The Pointless Quiz
Make up a list of ten random questions. Before you begin with this ice breaker, you need to select three team members that will be in on the joke. The rest of the team should not know that these three team members are working with you. Ask each team member the same question until you have gone around the circle. Whatever the answer, if a team member answers immediately, you have to say: “that is very bad”. If they ask a while later, you have to say: “that is good”. If they take a long time to answer, you have to say: “that is excellent”. The idea is to get the team members to realize what is going on. If they do not get it after a while, you can tell them what you have been doing with their answers.

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Team Building Ice Breaker – ‘Who is Who in the Zoo’

‘Who is Who in the Zoo’ is an excellent Ice Breaker for a team building event, especially where participants need to be divided in to groups. This Ice Breaker helps the participants to get to know each other better in a hilariously funny way while at the same time,  random groups are formed and cliques broken up in a non-threatening way. It is an extremely easy activity to prepare for, and all that is required is a pen and few sheets of paper.

Team Building Ice Breaker

The team building facilitator needs to know beforehand how many participants there will be, and into how many groups they will have to be divided. For each group,  you need to select an animal that will represent that particular group. For example, three groups could be represented by pigs, cows and sheep alternatively. Other suitable animals that you can use are monkeys, elephants, donkeys or any other animal which you can think of that can be acted out.

Now take the number of participants and divide it by the number of groups required, for example, 21 people can be divided into three groups of seven. You will need a small piece of paper for each participant on which you write down a name of an animal. If you have three groups of seven, you will write down one animal on seven pieces of paper and another animal on another seven pieces of paper for the next group and another animal on seven more pieces of paper for the last group. You will then, for example, have seven pieces of paper with the word pigs written on it, seven pieces of paper with the word sheep written on it and seven pieces of paper with the word cows written on it.

All the pieces of paper are mixed up and thrown together in a suitable container such as a hat. Before the team building event starts, and after the facilitator has done the introductions and discussed the purpose of the event, the participants are invited to draw a piece of paper from the container. The participants are told not to show or tell anyone what is written on the paper which they have drawn. When everyone has drawn a piece of paper, all the participants are told that the animal name written on their piece of paper represents the team in which they will participate. They are then told that they need to find their team mates by acting out the animal or making the sound of the animal which represents their team.

The result is usually hilarious chaos, with the various animal actions and sounds the source of considerable entertainment. This Ice Breaker also gives the team building facilitator the opportunity to see how the different personality types react to the task. The facilitator can also see which team members are reluctant to participate. The ‘Who is Who in the Zoo’ team building Ice Breaker is particularly effective to loosen everyone up and prepare each participant for the team building activities ahead.

Image Source: suneko

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Quick and Easy Ice Breakers for Team Building

Ice breakers are a particularly good way to start a conference, team building retreat, company get together or any other social or business event. It helps team members to get to know each other better in an efficient and non-threatening way. The following is a short list of some quick and easy ice breaker games that can be done with little preparation and resources.

Quick and Easy Ice Breakers for Team Building
Team Building Ice Breakers

Paperclip and Straw Sculptures

This is a brilliant activity to start off a team building session and can even be used as a team building exercise on its own. All you need for this ice breaker is a box of straws and a box of paper clips. Participants are divided into groups and given the task to build a structure using only the straws and paperclips provided. The creations that result can be judged on a variety of criteria such as the strongest, tallest, most creative or most functional structure. This activity is not only an effective ice breaker but also encourages teamwork within the group and is particularly useful for identifying leadership skills.

What I did last night

This ice breaker is ideal for a conference or team building weekend. First thing on the second morning of the event the participants are divided into groups and asked to act out something they did the previous night. It could be the meal they ate, a movie they saw, a place they visited or anything else that may have occurred the previous night. The activity is acted out individually or in groups, in front of all the participants who have to guess what the activity was.

Human Bingo

This tremendously fun way to play Bingo is a remarkably effective ice breaker where participants get know each other better in an informal manner. Little preparation is required as Bingo cards need to be created before hand with categories consisting of things that people may have done before, such as hot air ballooning, skydiving, hunting and bowling. Each participant gets a copy of the card and is told to circulate it among each other. They are then asked to find someone who has done one of the activities on their card and sign their card accordingly. The first participant to get all his/her blocks signed shouts bingo and collects their prize.

All Tied Up

For this ice breaker, all participants are divided up into groups of 6 to 10 members. Each group is asked to from a tight circle, standing and facing each other. The members of the group are instructed to extend their arms and take hold of the hand of another group member. Each hand should be holding another hand, and one person cannot hold both hands of the same person. The result is a knot which the group is told to try and untie without letting go of each other’s hands. Team work is required to complete this task as people climb over and beneath each other’s arms in order to untangle the knot. This activity is not just an excellent ice breaker but is also an extremely beneficial team building activity in its own right. The activity promotes team work and identifies leadership within the group.

Pass the toilet paper please

All you need for this ice breaker is a roll of toilet paper. Circulate the roll of toilet paper through the group and ask each person to take as much of the toilet paper as they need, no further explanation should be given. After each member has received their portion of toilet paper, they are told that they now have to share an fascinating fact or something about themselves for each block of toilet paper that they have.

Happy Birthday

This is a quick ice breaker that requires no preparation. Ask all participants to form a line and then tell them to organize themselves according to the their birth dates, starting from the 1st of January and ending with the 31st of December. The catch is that they have to do this without talking to each other or writing anything down.

Circle of Friends

This ice breaker is particularly useful for the start of a conference or team building event where a large group of people is involved. It is an especially valuable tool where two different departments come together for the first time. All the participants are asked to make two large circles, one within the other. The participants in the inner circle are asked to face the participants in the outer circle. The participants, facing each other, introduce themselves to each other and then the circles moves slowly in the opposite direction, allowing two new participants to meet each other until all the people in the inner circle had a chance to meet all the people in the outer circle.

Story Telling

Many people may remember this game from their childhood, but it also makes for a fun ice breaker game. The facilitator starts the story with one sentence. Each member of the group has to add to the sentence after repeating the preceding sentences. This usually has hilarious consequences as members try and remember the previous sentences of the story.

Lying Game

In this ice breaker,  each participant is instructed to write down four things about themselves on a piece of paper. Three of these things should be true about themselves, but one should be a lie. As each person reads out the four things about themselves, the rest of the team members write down  one statement that they suspect is a lie. After everybody has read out their four things the first person starts again, this time telling everybody which statement was not true. The rest of the people can then see how successful they were in spotting the lies from the truth.

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Rip It Team Building Ice Breaker

Ice breakers are valuable resources to promote interaction, creative thinking, challenge assumptions, illustrate new concepts or to introduce a team building activity. Team building ice breakers also help to gather groups together and move forward as a team.  The team building ice breaker that we will be introducing today deals with communication and is called ‘Rip It’.

Team Building Ice Breaker

To begin the ice breaker, each participant is given an A4 piece of paper.  The participants are instructed to hold the sheet of paper in front of them and close their eyes. They are then told that they have to follow the directions given to them without opening their eyes or asking questions.

The participants are then given the following directions which need to be carried out without opening their eyes:

  • Fold paper in half
  • Rip off upper right-hand corner
  • Fold paper in half again
  • Rip off upper left hand corner
  • Fold paper in half again
  • Rip off lower right hand corner

Team building participants are told to open their eyes and unfold the paper to see the results. Although all of the participants received the same instructions, the results are usually vastly different to each other and to the team building facilitator’s paper.

To encourage interaction and thinking, participants can be asked why the papers do not match despite the fact that everybody received the same instructions. Some responses that can be expected are that the instructions were not clear enough, or it is because they could not ask questions. This could also lead into a discussion on how the same set of instructions can be interpreted in different ways.

This ice breaker is an excellent lead into team building activities addressing two-way communication. Over the next few months, TBAE will be sharing some more team building ice breakers. Please subscribe to the TBAE Feed (enter your email address in the box in the upper right side of this article and click on subscribe) to receive email notifications when a new ice breaker is published.

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