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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.