Icebreakers

'Icebreakers' are games or activities that help "break the ice" at events where there are lots of people who don't know each other. These games are easy to play and help the group to mix in a neutral challenge/s. this is by no means an exhaustive list and we always welcome suggestions of games you find that are good icebreakers. (email us)

Ape, Man, Girl Game

Both "Ape, Man, Girl" and "Elves, Wizards, Giants" are funnier team variations of the scissors, paper, stone game.

Have people pair off. Then, when the signal is given each person strikes a pose like an ape, man, or girl. Be sure to demonstrate what each looks like ahead of time (and you can decide that!). The ape beats the girl, man beats the ape, the girl gets the man. Eliminate the losers and pair the winners until you get a champion.

Balloon Game

Posted on the Christian Youthworkers egroup

Tie a balloon on a string (at least two feet long) to each person's ankle. The objective of the game is to be the last person with an un-popped balloon around one's ankle. Note: this game takes some prep work. Balloons must be blown up and string cut in advance. It is a fun game, though. Don't try in someone's living room if you want to be invited back!

Catch the Ball, Head the Ball

Suggested by Neil Savory

Arrange all participants in a circle. To start off - pass the ball to each one in turn with instructions as you throw the ball to them. They have to complete the opposite. i.e. If told "Head the ball", they have to catch it, and "catch the ball", they have to head it.

Players that get it wrong have to sit down. As the game gathers momentum, start passing to individuals at random until you have a winner.

Communicating Challenge

Try the "Line up game" this way....

Give everyone a number. They have to arrange themselves in numerical order communicating with each other without speaking or holding up fingers. They make up their own sub-language or sign-language and it often is pretty amusing. Round two. Have people arrange themselves in order of birth or in calendar months.

Counting Game

Posted on the Christian Youthworkers egroup

Have everyone in your group pair up and face each other. Each person holds up zero to ten fingers behind their back. On the count of three, have them pull their hands from behind their backs. The first person to yell out the correct sum of all the fingers wins. Do best two of three. Then the winners play each other until you have a champion.

Variation:

The Math Game

Competitors hold just one hand behind their back, revealing the number of fingers at the signal. Whoever yells out the sum of the fingers wins the first round. For Round 2, multiply the fingers. Round 3 is the difference between the two numbers. Rotate through as many rounds as you want, but or the championship round (between the two survivors) have them square the total of the two sets of fingers. For example, Person A shows three fingers, person B shows four, so the winning answer is 3+4 = 7 * 7=49

Crash

aka: 'Clump'

Everybody mingles, constantly moving until the leader shouts out a number. All players must then try to get into groups of that number, any group/s that don’t succeed are out.

Variation: 

Players find others who have things in common, such as same shoe size.

Elves, Wizards, Giants

Another team version of the old game of `Scissors-Paper-Stone’, but has funnier actions and noises which each team has to act out. Each character (Elf, Wizard, Giant) has a specific action or noise.

Elf

Squatting down and imitate pointed ears by holding two fingers up by your ears (similar to making bunny ears). Make "Eeeking" noises while doing this.

Giant

Standing on tip toe, arms raised in frightening posture making growling / roaring sounds

Wizard

Standing normally but with arms outstretched as if casting a spell. Make appropriate spell casting noises.

As with Scissors-Paper-Stone each character/icon can win against one character or loose against the other. In this case if wanted teams can make the appropriate actions for winning or loosing.

 

Winning team: Action/s:
Elves shoot Wizards: Elves win Elves pretend to shoot an arrow, Wizards make dramatic gestures as though struck in the heart.
Wizards frazzle Giants: Wizards win Giants pretend to shrink.
Giants squash Elves: Giants win Giants pretend they are squishing something small.

Each team finds a quiet corner and decides on a character to be as a team, after choosing their character each  team stands facing each other with hands behind their backs. On a given signal (e.g. the count of three) the whole team acts out their character with the points going to the team that chooses the winning character. If both teams pick the same character there is a draw.

Human Bingo

Sent in by Roy Brown

"This is a game I have had to do when training for youthwork and find it helps to make the group interact and start getting to know each other in a friendly non threatening way."

Create a bingo card grid from a sheet of A4 and dividing it into a grid of fairly large squares (say 3 or 4 cm minimum) using a thick pen/pencil and a ruler. In some of the squares write a phrase such as "Has climbed a mountain", "Rides a bike", "Has run a marathon", "Works for a charity", Etc. Things that it would be interesting to know about someone. The number of squares you fill in is up to you but the more you create the more time it'll take to complete. Blank out all remaining squares by colouring them in and then photocopy enough copies so that everybody who'll be there can have one.

At the start of the session/meeting give each person a copy and tell them to find one person who has done each thing. I.e. ask the other players whether they have climbed a mountain or whatever. If the player being asked has done that activity they sign their name to that box. Players can only each time they meet a person one question before moving on (but they can meet the person again later and ask another question.).

Keep going until someone has all of the boxes filled in.

[Kit: - If you have time or the opportunity it might be interesting to ask participants before turning up to the meeting to something about themselves and use that information.]

I am..

Sent in by Ruel Acupan, Jesus Reigns Ministry in the Philippines

Each person thinks of an adjective (or two!) that describes themselves, however, the catch is that the adjective should start with the initial of their name. Eg " I am romantic Ruel" or "I am merry Mary".

I Have Never

(Credited to Mark Lussier)

Find this and other games at Jonathan's Resources.

Another good game for finding things out about others....

Have everyone sit in a circle except one person. The person in the middle says something that they have never done (ie. I have never drank. or I have never worn a dress). All the people who have never done that have to get up and find an empty seat (from someone else who just got up). The person stuck without a seat is now in the middle. This game has no time limit.

Light Sabers

Sent in by Kiani Young

Have your kids pick a partner (preferably one they do not know, and they will be needed to find out that persons name), then have them take their hands and hook them pointing at each other with the index finger. After they have done so tell them that the object of the game is to poke each other (as if you have a light saber : note in appropriate places) once you have been poked you sit down and the partner that’s left finds a new partner and so forth until it comes down to two and one will be the ultimate champion… its quite a fun icebreaker and lets your kids get to know one another.

Line Up Game

Posted on the Christian Youthworkers egroup

Get in groups of five to ten people each. First group that gets itself into order according to the category you name, wins. For example first letter of middle name, shoe size, height, birth date, etc. Just be sure to pick subjects that people can line up easily.

M&M Game

Posted on the Christian Youthworkers egroup

Pass around a bag of M&M's and have each person take as many as they want. For each colour of the M&M's have a question that they have to answer. For instance, red can be, "Describe your first crush."
You can play this with Skittles or other coloured candies.

Mystery Person

Prep one or people before the meeting but don’t let anybody else know. Give each of these mystery person/s a different number that they have to remember. Now run a game that gets everybody mingling (such as Ape, Man, Girl). At the end have the mystery person/s remember who they met on the number you gave them. Announce to the group who the mystery person/s was and the person they met on the number you gave them. Give both a small prize if you wish.

Paper Roll

Sent in by AEHendricks

Don't tell anybody what is going to happen, but get a roll of toilet paper and tell all those playing not to take to much but to take however much they want. One all the players have taken the number of sheets they want each has to tell one thing about themselves for every sheet they have.

Question Ball

Sent in by Jessica E, Charleston, WV

Before starting prepare in advance a largish ball such as a blow up beach-ball or a bouncy one and write questions on it using a marker pen. E.g. What's your favourite colour, favourite food, favourite cartoon, etc. When you start the game throw the ball to any person, when they catch it where ever their right thumb is that is the question they have to say aloud and answer. The game can go on for a long time and be used a time filler.

Scavenger Hunts

Person Scavenger Hunt Bingo

Posted on the Christian Youthworkers egroup

Instead of creating a Bingo board with numbers, create a Bingo board of things anybody could have done or might have in their possession. Give each player a copy of the board and get them to go around asking the other players if they match any of the details on the squares. If a player does they have to sign their name in that square/s (For example, one square can be, "Find a person with 3 brothers & sisters," another can be, "find someone who forgot to brush their teeth morning"). Give players a time limit. The winner is the first person who gets a row or at the end has most names.

Group Scavenger Hunt

Have audience break into 3 - 4 groups. Leader calls out different items or activities for the groups to produce. The first group (the entire group does not have to go) to come up to the front with the item gets a point. Group with the most points at end wins.
Suggested items and activities:

  • Red (or another colour) shoelace - to be removed from the shoe
  • Pen with a chewed cap
  • Penny or any coin with a certain date
  • Paper clip
  • Stamp
  • Family picture
  • Guy wearing red lipstick
  • 2 people with their shoelaces tied together
  • Gum in the wrapper - MC thanks the person and then eats the gum
  • Key chain with at least 8 keys
  • Church bulletin
  • Book mark
  • Store receipt
  • Singing Contest

    Divide the crowd into 3 or 4 groups. Give a topic or theme (such as songs mentioning a colour or a girl's name). Then have each group, in order around the room, loudly sing the appropriate line from the song. No repeats are allowed. Last group left with a song is the winner.

    Silly Scrumple

    Sent in by Nicole O.

    [Kit: This could be used as an ice breaker if group is allowed to mix and have to swap with each person they meet. Leader periodically then calls on two people to carry out the actions described on the pieces of paper.]

    One person is selected as the leader (who remains out of the game) all players then get into a circle and each gets given a piece of paper to write a silly thing to do on with out letting others see what they have written (e.g. Bark like a dog or sing a song). Each player then crumples their paper up so that the contents cannot be seen. On the leaders command players then start to pass the pieces of paper around the circle waiting for the command to stop. When this happens two people are chosen to carry out the instructions on the pieces of paper they have, without laughing. Those who laugh are out. Repeat until only two people left.

    Sit Down if...

    Posted on the Christian Youthworkers egroup

    Have a list of questions (with the next one getting wilder, and the wilder the better) beginning with the phrase, "Sit down if you (blank)". Find out who remains standing after each round.

    [Kit: If you want a good idea of how this games works in action and perhaps some types of question being asked this was used by Graham Norton at the start of his shows.]

    Shoe Pile

    A good way to have new people meet everybody. Everyone takes off one of their shoes and throw it into a big pile. Then each person picks up a different shoe from the pile and finds the person it belongs to. Works well for large groups.

    Spinning Pairs

    Get into pairs and face each other. Place your palms on other's palms between you a little above shoulder height. Both partners close their eyes and pull their palms apart (approx. 12 inches) while keeping their palms at that height. Both then turn around on their respective spots 3 times at the same time. The goal is to reconnect palms after spinning while keeping your eyes closed.

    String Toss Game

    Posted on the Christian Youthworkers egroup

    Get a spool of string or yarn. Have each person answer a question of some sort when they have the string in their possession. They then hold on to string and throw the ball/spool to another so they can answer the question. You eventually create a web of some sort. In the end, describe how the web analogous to the group in that we all play a part in creating the web, and that if one person was gone it would look different. Likewise, it is important that we all take part to make the group what it is, unique and special.

    Tell a Story

    Sent in by Miriam W.

    The leader starts a story that begins with something funny... and then passes it on to the next person who adds on to the story. If desired it could be about people in the group. Continue until the last person finishes. This one is a good way to bring humor into group settings and finding the humor in story telling.

    Two Truths And A Lie

    Have each person write 2 truths and a lie about themselves. They then pass the paper to the group and have the others guess which is the lie.

    What kind of animal are you?

    Suggested by Alicia Saenz, Childbirth-Lactation Educator, Thomason Hospital/Nursing Support Services

    Have all participants stand in a circle. Talk about parents in the animal kingdom ie, the lioness and how she ferociously protects her young. Then have each of them say what kind of animal they would be and why. Brings out interesting ideas about parenting and how we see ourselves.

    Who am I? 

    Prepare a card for each of your guests and write on it the name of a famous man or woman. On arrival, pin a card on the back of each guest who must then ask questions of each other in order to find out their identity. When they succeed, the card is pinned on the front of them.